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Public and Private Decision Making

Why Sugar Beet Farmers Get Government Subsidies but Apple Farmers Don’t

Markets and governments are perhaps, along with religion, the oldest human institutions. According to some research,1 stone axes may have been traded by humans hundreds of thousands of years ago. Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations described the urge to “truck, barter and exchange” as a “general disposition” of men. As for government, the idea of a caste of humans with the power to forcibly extract resources (as with modern taxation) and use them for the ruler’s purposes (sometimes for the broad benefit of the public, sometimes not) and ...

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