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Public Finance: Government Revenues and Expenditures in the United States Economy

Опубликовано на портале: 13-04-2004
Minneapolis/St. Paul: West Publishing Company, 1996
The subject matter of public finance has evolved a great deal in the last half of the twentieth century. Earlier in the century, when government activity fell within limited and well-defined boundaries, public finance was primarily the study of taxation. As government has grown, public finance economists have become increasingly interested in public expenditures, both from the standpoint of analyzing the actual expenditures of governments and from the standpoint of developing a theory of public expenditures. Public expenditure theory provides a rationale for government activity and can help guide policymakers toward the design of more effective public programs. In the decades since World War II, the study of public finance has been extended to examine the public sector decision-making process to understand how resources are allocated within political institutions. Public policy, after all, is not the product of policy experts but rather is the result of democratic decision making. A complete understanding of the public sector must incorporate an understanding of those political institutions that actually produce public policy.

This book attempts to integrate the study of the various aspects of public finance by viewing all the government's activities as a result of the democratic decision-making process. This theme manifests itself throughout the book. For example, the tax system is examined not only in terms of traditional equity and efficiency criteria but also as a product of a democratic decision-making process. The analysis of public expenditures is also developed within the context of the public sector decision-making process that produces expenditure programs. Likewise, government regulations and intergovernmental relations are viewed as products of collective decision making and are analyzed the same way. To provide a foundation for this approach, the book contains three chapters devoted specifically to an economic analysis of political institutions. Thorough coverage of these chapters is not necessary to understand the rest of the book, but, for those who are interested in studying the allocation of resources through political markets in the public sector in the same way that economics analyzes the private sector, these chapters should prove helpful. A distinguishing feature of this book is that it analyzes political institutions in much more detail than do most public finance books and therefore creates a closer tie between economic analysis and public policy.

The unifying theme of this text-that government activity is the result of a democratic decision-making process-is significant for two reasons. First, one’s understanding of public finance will be incomplete unless one understands the process by which democratic decision making has created the existing public sector institutions. Second, unlike the invisible hand of the market that is the result of human action but not of human design, the public sector of the economy is the result of conscious human design, so that every voter plays a part in the process. The better the process is understood, the more likely we are to design public sector institutions that behave as we intended. By analyzing public revenues and expenditures in the United States economy as a product of the democratic decision-making process, the many aspects of public finance can be presented as a unified body of knowledge rather than as a collection of different models of the public sector.


    PART ONEIntroduction

  • CHAPTER 1: The Public Sector
  • CHAPTER 2: Principles for Analyzing Government

    PART TWO: Economic Efficiency

  • CHAPTER 3: Property Rights and Economic Efficiency
  • CHAPTER 4: Externalities
  • CHAPTER 5: Public Goods
  • CHAPTER 6: The Economic Role of the State

    PART THREE: An Economic Analysis of Democracy

  • CHAPTER 7: A Theory of Collective Action
  • CHAPTER 8: Public Sector Demand
  • CHAPTER 9: Supply and Demand in Political Markets

    PART FOUR: Taxation

  • CHAPTER 10: Positive Principles of Taxation
  • CHAPTER 11: Principles of Tax Policy
  • CHAPTER 12: Taxes on Economic Transactions
  • CHAPTER 13: The Taxation of Income
  • CHAPTER 14: Personal Income Taxation in the United States
  • CHAPTER 15: Taxes on Business Income and Wealth
  • CHAPTER 16: The Tax System in the United States

    PART FIVE: Federal Government Expenditures

  • CHAPTER 17: The Government Budgeting Process
  • CHAPTER 18: Taxation and Redistribution
  • CHAPTER 19: Government Redistribution Programs
  • CHAPTER 20: Social Security
  • CHAPTER 21: Health Care
  • CHAPTER 22: National Defense

    PART SIX: Other Activities of Government

  • CHAPTER 23: Borrowing and Money Creation
  • CHAPTER 24: Regulation
  • CHAPTER 25: The Federal System of Government