1. Jason Brennan, The Ethics of Voting. Published in 2011, this is one of the most provocative books Ive read in the last few years. Brennan develops a theory of what it means to vote ethically given that the consequences of bad governance are so dire. He argues that you have to vote based on having justified beliefs about what will actually advance the common good. This requires a familiarity with basic economics, for example, and it is a familiarity that most elected representatives sorely lack. Brennan echoes a theme from the economist Bryan Caplans 2007 book The Myth of the Rational Voter: we do not get bad public policy because the system is corrupt. We get bad public policy because people vote for it, enthusiastically.
2. Christopher J. Coyne, After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy. For good or ill, governments make war. It behooves us to understand the consequences of foreign adventures. While no one would seriously object to peace and freedom in the Middle East, for example, it is a serious mistake to equate worthy objectives with good policy ideas. A goal is not an outcome: wanting peace and prosperity in the Middle East doesnt mean that we can get there by fighting wars. In After War, Christopher Coyne describes the track record of American interventions abroad. It isnt good. Another excellent read along these lines is Ralph Raicos Great Wars and Great Leaders: A Libertarian Rebuttal. PDF and ePub versions are available from Mises.org for $0. Heres the PDF.
Art Carden is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California and an Associate Professor of Economics at Samford Universitys Brock School of Business.