Kleptocracy is that form of government by which government officials routinely engage in theft or confiscatory policies. Although in familiar political discussions kleptocracies are taken to be corrupt versions of the range of acceptable variations of government forms, libertarian political science suggests that nearly all governments are, in fact if not in intent, much closer to kleptocracies than one would at first suppose. This conclusion is implied by “public choice” theory developed by James Buchanan and Gordon Tullock in their famous work, The Calculus of Consent. Buchanan, together with Tullock, were the prime movers in developing this area of economics. As a consequence, Buchanan received the Nobel Prize in economic science in 1986.

Public choice theory is predicated on the assumption that everyone pursues his or ...

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