This is a succinct but comprehensive account of the research programme in rent seeking launched by Gordon Tullock's argument that the availability of monopoly rents through government encourages self-seeking individuals to waste economic resources in competitive bidding for those rents.
Rent Seeking reviews each of the contributions for which Professor Tullock is famous, including his basic insight, the cost of transfers, competition for aid, the political market in rent seeking, efficient rent seeking, the transitional gains trap, and the cost of rent seeking, and shows how these insights have triggered a burgeoning research literature. Gordon Tullock skilfully draws out the dangerous implications of rent seeking behavior for private property rights. In characteristic fashion, he returns to his path-breaking work on the economic theory of constitutions in search of novel ways to secure the right to life, liberty and property through a reinforced constitutional republic. Both for the specialist scholar and for the new initiate, this is a great instructive essay.
"There is evidence in support of Stigler’s challenge. A particular striking example is the experience of the American Automobile Association (AAA) which provides a number of selective incentives to attract funding for its lobbying activities. One such service is the provision of carefully designed route maps for members who request such assistance. The larger gasoline companies determined that they could provide route maps at a lower average price than the AAA because they diverted no part of the revenues for collective actions. Thus, AAA suffered a considerable financial reverse and loss of membership. It is now much less active in political lobbying and focuses its activities much more specifically on its members’ direct car needs."
Gordon Tullock (1922) is University Professor of Law and Economics and Distinguished Research Fellow in the James M. Buchanan Center for Political Economy at George Mason University. He holds a joint teaching position in the Department of Economics and the School of Law. Professor Tullock received a J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1947. Tullock is one of the fathers of public choice theory.