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Response to Kuehn: Buchanan on the Rules for Public School Funding: Additional Thoughts*

David M. Levy (George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA)
Sandra J. Peart (University of Richmond, Richmond, VA, USA)


This article responds to Daniel Kuehn’s critique and expands on the discussion of James Buchanan’s later essay, which has received insufficient attention. The focus is on the 1965 revision of the “Virginia Plan for Universal Education” by Buchanan and Warren Nutter. While the revision is acknowledged by all, its significance is debated. The authors argue that Nutter and Buchanan’s original contribution lies in contrasting implied majority rule with explicit proportional representation, a distinction not found in Milton Friedman’s work. The period between 1959 and 1965 witnessed changes, including the development of an economic approach to constitutions and the attempt to prevent parents from using vouchers for integrated schools. The 1965 addition highlights the importance of alternative democratic decision rules and sets the stage for Buchanan’s subsequent work on racially determined policies. Buchanan’s involvement with racial issues extended beyond the voucher proposal, including his support for affirmative action. The addition to the 1965 voucher proposal addresses the impact of decision rules on minority well-being. The mischaracterization of minority concerns is addressed, drawing on Lani Guinier’s book and quoting Buchanan’s principles of fair representation. The essay concludes by emphasizing the importance of the 1965 addition in Buchanan’s work on racial fairness and its connection to Lani Guinier’s perspectives.



Levy, D.M. and Peart, S.J. (2024), "Response to Kuehn: Buchanan on the Rules for Public School Funding: Additional Thoughts*", Fiorito, L., Scheall, S. and Suprinyak, C.E. (Ed.) Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology: Including a Symposium on Hazel Kyrk's: A Theory of Consumption 100 Years after Publication (Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 41D), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 153-157.



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