Chris Coyne celebrates his birthday today. Chris is currently the F. A. Harper Professor of Economics, and the Director of Graduate Studies at George Mason University. He is a celebrated teacher and scholar in the fields of economics and political economy. As Bill Easterly pointed out in his JEL survey on development economics, Chris has been the major first mover in the political economy of failed and weak states, and in partricular on the topic of after war efforts at economic and political reconstruction.
Mises famously argued that praxeology was the general science of the study of human action, and that economics was but the most developed branch of this general science. Chris has taken that argument seriously and sought to stretch praxeology analysis into areas of research which had previously been underdeveloped.
To appropriately celebrate his birthday, I would like to suggest that everyone spend a bit of time today becoming familar with Chris's tremendous contributions in the field of the political economy of war. His book After War: The Poltical Economy of Exporting Democracy (Stanford, 2007) is an exemplar of how the use of positive praxeological analysis can lay bare the claims of would be social engineers, who may even claim to be pursuing the noblest of pursuits. His work (co-authored with Peter Leeson) on Media, Development, and Institutional Change (Edward Elgar, 2009) addresses the role that media and free flow of information play in initiating and sustaining political reform. And, his edited work with Rachel Mathers, The Handbook on the Political Economy of War (Edward Elgar, 2011) surveys the entire field of war studies.
Coyne's forthcoming work with Stanford, Doing Bad By Doing Good continues in this tradition of positive praxeological analysis of political, legal, social and economic consequences of government led efforts to address post-conflict and post-natural disaster reconstruction. HIs work is brilliant and it is of utmost importance in a world that appears to be trapped in perpetual conflict and plagued by man-made disasters.
In all these works Coyne writes clearly and in plain language. It is a straight-forward analysis of means/ends as it relates to government efforts to promote democracy and free markets, and to bring relief to those in need. Coyne's work is an exemplar of what the praxeological approach and its method of analysis can led to in the hands of a master practitioner.