Speaking of new papers, I'm glad to have finally gotten my paper on Privatization and the Law and Economics of Political Advocacy out the door and submitted to law reviews. The paper is available from SSRN, and so is the companion technical paper.
(The companion technical paper is called Privatization, Free-Riding, and Industry-Expanding Lobbying. I definitely encourage you to read the plain-English paper, but I only encourage you to read the technical paper if you want the same idea expressed formally, with math and greek symbols.)
Here's the abstract of the plain-English paper:
A common argument against privatization is that private providers will self-interestedly lobby to increase the size of their market. In this Article, I evaluate this argument, using, as a case study, the argument against prison privatization based on the possibility that the private prison industry will distort the criminal law by advocating for incarceration.
I conclude that there is at present no particular reason to credit this argument. Even without privatization, government agents already lobby for changes in substantive law — in the prison context, for example, public corrections officer unions are active advocates of pro-incarceration policy. Against this background, adding the "extra voice" of the private sector will not necessarily increase either the amount of industry-increasing advocacy or its effectiveness. In fact, privatization may well reduce the industry's political power: Because advocacy is a "public good" for the industry, as the number of independent actors increases, the largest actor's advocacy decreases (since it no longer captures the full benefit of its advocacy) and the smaller actors free-ride off the largest actor's contribution. Under some plausible assumptions, therefore, privatization may actually decrease advocacy, and under different plausible assumptions, the net effect of privatization on advocacy is ambiguous.
The argument that privatization distorts policy by encouraging lobbying is thus unconvincing without a fuller explanation of the mechanics of advocacy.
And I've finally gotten it down to just under 25,000 words. As a former editor of my mother's once said, shortening only makes it better.