Conception of an Encyclopedia
Edited By Jürgen G. Backhaus
Public Services As Productive Factors – An Italian View Giuseppe Eusepi
1. Fiscal Archeology Or Searching For Precursors? The Italian School of Public Finance was not at all a homogeneous body of doc- trine. In particular, there were two strands – one essentially ‘democratic’, the other a non-democratic, or ruling class, strand that should not be neglected since it produced significant analysis and outstanding results. Overall, the Italian School of Public Finance embodied dozens of scholars and, at least, about one hundred books and papers. To attempt a complete treatment would require more time than a paper affords. A task of the sort has in any event already been fulfilled by James M. Buchanan at the end of the fifties1. This paper has a more limited task of critically examining only the democratic strand of the Italian School. This body of thought maintained that the logic of market and exchange ought to be extended to the state, although somewhat cau- tiously. If this school was an inspiration for the extension of the idea of contract to the state, then De Viti de Marco must be given some of the credit for laying the foundations of the contractarian approach. A final remark before entering the substance of my paper. De Viti wrote in Ital- ian, on subjects and with methods outside the mainstream of his discipline. His Principles2 is a marvel of scholarship. Yet, the language barrier has given rise to adverse selection. The fact that De Viti is unknown abroad is a glaring example of this. When ideological motivations or simply misfortune...
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