Interesting Definitions From The Wikipedia

I guess, I have a reputation as kind of being a cut and paste creep by now, willing to just steel any stuff I can to win an argument. With that in mind, here are a few definitions from the Wikipedia that should be studied and memorized by people living in Pittsburgh.

Iron Triangle

In United States politics, “iron triangle” is a term used by political scientists to describe the policy-making relationship between the legislature, the bureaucracy, and interest groups. On the Federal level, the phrase refers to the United States Congress — in particular, the congressional committees responsible for oversight of specific industries — along with the Federal agencies (often independent agencies) responsible for regulation of those industries, and the industries and their trade associations. One of the earliest formulations of the “iron triangle” concept was by political scientist Grant McConnell, in Private Power and American Democracy (1966).

Corporate Welfare

Corporate welfare is a pejorative describing a government’s bestowal of money grants, tax breaks, or other special favorable treatment on corporations. The term was coined by Ralph Nader in 1956.[1][2] “Corporate welfare” creates a satirical association between corporate subsidies and welfare payments to the poor, and implies that corporations are much less needy of such treatment than the poor.

Public Choice Theory

Public choice theory attempts to look at governments from the perspective of the bureaucrats and politicians who compose them, and makes the assumption that they act based on Budget-maximizing model in a self-interested way for the purpose of maximizing their own economic benefits (e.g. their personal wealth). The theory aims to apply economic analysis (usually decision theory and game theory) to the political decision-making process in order to reveal certain systematic trends towards inefficient government policies. There are also Austrian variants of public choice theory (suggested by Mises, Hayek, Kirzner, and Boettke) in which it is assumed that bureaucrats and politicians are benevolent but have access to limited information. The assumption that such benevolent political agents possess limited information for making decisions often results in conclusions similar to those generated separately by means of the rational self-interest assumptions.


“In public choice theory and political science, capture is said to occur when bureaucrats or politicians, who are supposed be acting in the public interest, end up acting systematically to favor particular vested interests. The theory of capture is associated with the Nobel laureate economist George Stigler, one of its main developers.Public choice theory holds that capture is inevitable, because vested interests have a concentrated financial stake in the outcomes of political decisions, thus ensuring that they will find means–direct or indirect–to capture decision makers.”

Regulatory Capture

“Regulatory capture is a phenomenon in which a government regulatory agency which is supposed to be acting in the public interest becomes dominated by the vested interests of the existing incumbents in the industry that it oversees.”

Government Failure

Government failure (or non-market failure) is the public sector analogy to market failure and occurs when a government intervention causes a more inefficient allocation of goods and resources than would occur without that intervention. Just as with market failures, there are many different kinds of government failures. However, while market failure has been widely studied, government failure has only recently come into common usage as the lenses of Public choice theory and New Institutional Economics (NIE) or Transaction Cost Economics (TCE) have begun to explore the problems. Just as a market failure is not a failure to bring a particular or favored solution into existence at desired prices, but is rather a problem which prevents the market from operating efficiently, a government failure is not a failure of the government to bring about a particular solution, but is rather a systemic problem which prevents an efficient government solution to a problem. The problem to be solved need not be a market failure; many solutions potentially solvable by government means are preferred to viable market solutions by subsets of voters.

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