"Buchanan was an important figure in my intellectual development. I remember how I studied his Cost and Choice when it first came out during my senior year in college. I was so overjoyed that an economist of his stature in the profession would see merit in LSE-Austrian subjectivism. As the years went, I became very interested in the political philosophy of David Hume and the role of rules in society. Buchanan led the way here. I will miss him."I do need to read Cost and Choice this spring I think. I've read bits that people point me to as a re-education effort for my errant ways in thinking that externalities are quite important, but with a book that short you can't really justify reading bits but not read the whole thing. It's just so far from my day-in-day-out work that I haven't gotten around to it (for those of you who think the Urban Institute is some kind of knee-jerk lefty organization with a big lefty library, I actually got my copy of Cost and Choice from the library when it was shutting down and getting rid of its books).
Another part of my reluctance to pick it up has been that it's always been pushed on me (usually in the comment sections of blogs) as Buchanan showing that you have to think about subjectivism and opportunity cost when you think about externalities! That sort of promotional effort always pushes me into filing it under "probably overrated" (since that word has been floating around - although I don't attach the term to Buchanan's whole body of work). After all, I am on board with subjectivism. I am on board with the importance of opportunity cost. I am on board with the concerns about government failure. If these are the arguments I doubt my view will change much because I am on board with all that. Like Bryan Caplan responded to Peter Boettke in his debate over Austrian economics, when we say "we are subjectivists" and Austrians respond "well then we are radical subjectivists", people like Bryan and me tend to roll our eyes and start to lose interest.
Anyway, I am rambling now. My point is: (1.) thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Mario, (2.) I really should just read the damn thing, and (3.) I think my reasons for putting it off have been rational, even if they may not be right in the end.