Bootleggers, Baptists, and Political Entrepreneurs

Key Players in the Rational Game and Morality Play of Regulatory Politics

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Abstract

Politics makes strange bedfellows, including alliances of profiteers and moralists who lobby for the same regulations, but for vastly different reasons. Whether such coalitions promote alcohol prohibition (as did the bootleggers and Baptists to whom similar “unholy alliances” are likened), tobacco restrictions, NAFTA, or climate-change policies, political entrepreneurs are the glue that holds them together.
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By Bruce Yandle
PERC Senior Fellow

Randy Simmons, a PERC Senior Fellow,  and co-authors Ryan Yonk and Diana Thomas have made a significant and useful contribution to the evolving Bootleggers & Baptists theory of government regulation and action.

According to Google Scholar, there have been more than 3,000 references to the theory since it saw the light of day in 1983. But Simmons, Yonk, and Thomas have done more than just refer to the theory or apply it; they have supplied a missing part to the evolving story—the political entrepreneur, the one who makes things happen. Their efforts help us to understand better how the world works and in this case, how difficult are the prospects for obtaining efficiency-enhancing actions through government regulation.

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The Independent Review
Randy T. Simmons is a political scientist who emphasizes the importance of economic reasoning to better understand public policy. He believes the study of politics cannot be separated from the study of markets. Simmons uses this framework to evaluate environmental and natural resource policies. The real challenge of the social process, as he sees...
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