Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics
Review of The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society, by David T. Beito, Peter Gordon, and Alexander Tobarrok, eds.
Volume 7, No. 2 (Summer 2004)
Perhaps the best concise summary of this book is given by editor Alexander Tabarrok in his concluding chapter. As he points out, where most urbanists see market failures, the authors of The Voluntary City see market opportunities. Needless to say, such a perspective will come as a shock to theorists and practitioners whose raison d’être is built around notions such as public goods and externalities.
While The Voluntary City is mostly an attempt to provide a stepping stone to illustrate how services that are currently provided by politicized bureaucracies could be better delivered through market-based arrangements, the editors have had the good sense to frame their discussion not so much in terms of market versus public planning, but rather along the lines of civil society (which includes not only market processes, but also nonprofit firms and other not-for-profit organizations) versus bureaucratic-political procedures. (But while this may be a good rhetorical strategy, I suspect that in its present-day incarnation, the nonprofit sector has essentially become nothing more than a grab bag of cheap-labor extensions and lobby groups of government agencies and that casting too much hope in it might prove disappointing. Yet, reminding readers of what it once was and might again be is a useful task.
Cite This Article
Deshochers, Pierre. "Review of The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society, by David T. Beito, Peter Gordon, and Alexander Tobarrok, eds.." The Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics 7, No. 2 (Summer 2004): 99–101.