Government Failure and Over-Government

By Arthur Seldon
Edited and with a New Introduction by Colin Robinson


In the fifth volume of The Collected Works of Arthur Seldon, Arthur Seldon uses public choice economics research to support his theory of over-government. The term “over-government” was coined by Seldon and is defined as the failure of governments to govern well, leading the public to avoid government programs in favor of markets.

Seldon explains how the results of government programs are always at odds with what the people would have chosen for themselves, because governments seek to impose taxes and legislature based on their own agendas. This increasing control and restraint by the government will continue to force people to abandon those ineffective programs for more open markets and other countries that support them. Seldon argues that government bureaucrats rely too heavily on unions, labor groups, and lobbyists and act in their own interest instead of opening those options up to the people they serve.

Seldon purports that any government that continues to force its own views and desires on the unwilling public will lead to its own demise as the public searches elsewhere for a more representative democracy.

Arthur Seldon has been writing on classical liberal economics since the 1930s, when he was a student at the London School of Economics during Friedrich Hayek’s time there. For over thirty years, from the late 1950s, he was Editorial Director of the London-based Institute of Economic Affairs, where his publishing program was one of the principal influences on governments all around the world, persuading them to liberalize their economies. His Collected Works in these seven volumes are a major contribution to classical liberal thought.

Colin Robinson was a business economist for eleven years. He was then appointed to the Chair of Economics at the University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom, where he founded the Department of Economics and is now Emeritus Professor. He is the author of 23 books and over 150 scholarly articles and has edited many other books. For many years he has been associated with the Institute of Economic Affairs and from 1992 to 2002 he was the IEA’s Editorial Director.


May 2005 | 6 x 9 | 217 Pages

Volume 5

Introduction, index.


978-0-86597-546-0 Hardcover
978-0-86597-554-5 Paperback