From Hoover Press: Free Markets under Siege: Cartels, Politics, and Social Welfare, by Richard A. Epstein

Thursday, January 24, 2008
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In Free Markets under Siege: Cartels, Politics, and Social Welfare (Hoover Press, 2008), Richard A. Epstein, the Hoover Institution’s Peter and Kirsten Bedford senior fellow, exposes the danger and folly of deviation from the sound classical liberal principles—limited government, strong property rights, and free exchange. A deviation that he describes as contributing to major constitutional and policy mistakes in the United States, as well as to parallel adjustments in the political practices of Great Britain and the European Union. “The most important economic and social issues of our time depend on lifting the siege that today surrounds the operation of free markets,” Epstein says.

Epstein argues in the first half of the book that the central distinction of the organization of government and political life is that between competition and protectionism. Competition produces systematic gains unrivaled by any other system of production and distribution, Epstein says, whereas protectionism uses state coercion to introduce measures that lead not only to a loss of political liberty but also to state monopolies, high tariffs, and economic stagnation. Building on these insights, the second half of the volume examines agricultural and labor markets to show the baleful results that ensue when political forces displace economic competition with an unwholesome mixture of subsidies and barriers to entry.

Free Markets under Siege: Cartels, Politics, and Social Welfare is being released by the Hoover Institution as part of its new Hoover Classics series. The series features reissues of significant books published by Hoover Press that have helped to shape public policy and opinion.

Richard Epstein is the Peter and Kirsten Bedford Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago.

Free Markets under Siege: Cartels, Politics, and Social Welfare
by Richard A. Epstein

978-0-8179-4611-1 $14.95 cloth
99 pages January, 2008

by Richard A. Epstein