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VI.: Other Examples - Geoffrey Brennan, The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Vol. 10 (The Reason of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy) 
The Collected Works of James M. Buchanan, Vol. 10 (The Reason of Rules: Constitutional Political Economy) Foreword by Robert D. Tollison (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1999).
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Through the analysis of three familiar policy issues from the macroeconomics of the 1980s, we have presented the public-private time discount disparity in stark and simple form. Many other examples could be examined outside the macroeconomic area of inquiry, but only a few will be noted in passing here.
The “punishment dilemma” and the “Samaritan’s dilemma” were examined by one of us in earlier writings.8 Neither of these focuses directly on the time discount discrepancy. Both, however, illustrate the temporal dimensionality issue and point to the need for imposing commitments. In the punishment dilemma, a short-term utility-maximizing strategy dictates weighting the disutility of the punishee or criminal much more heavily than any long-term maximizing strategy would suggest. As a result of short-term maximization, policy tends to “coddle criminals”; crime increases, and we suffer the long-term consequences. A genuinely long-term perspective would suggest increases in both the certainty and severity of punishment, but unless participants in democratic politics could be assured that future political coalitions would not reverse current reforms, the necessary costs of imposing such reforms would continue to outweigh the benefits promised in the longer term.
In the Samaritan’s dilemma, much of the problem of the modern welfare state is explained. A short-term maximizing strategy calls for heeding the obvious sufferings, here and now, of those observed to be needy. Such strategy calls for the financing of assistance, despite the recognition that increased transfer payments generate long-term increases in the number of indigents. A strategy of austerity with respect to eligibility for transfers would increase the ranks of the self-reliant in the long run. But unless the individual who participates in politics today can be assured that such a strategy will be adhered to in the future, the austerity policy applied today may seem unduly callous and cruel.
[8. ]See James M. Buchanan, The Limits of Liberty (University of Chicago Press, 1975), ch. 8; and Freedom in Constitutional Contract (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1977), ch. 12.