Michael Munger

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Michael Munger
Born (1958-09-23) September 23, 1958 (age 62)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materDavidson College
Washington University in St. Louis
Known forContributions to bleeding-heart libertarian theory
Scientific career
FieldsPolitical science
InstitutionsDuke University
Dartmouth College
University of Texas at Austin
UNC-Chapel Hill

Michael Curtis "Mike" Munger (/ˈmʌnɡər/; born September 23, 1958)[1] is an economist and a former chair of the political science department at Duke University, where he continues to teach political science, public policy, and economics. He is a prolific writer, and his book Analyzing Policy: Choices, Conflicts, and Practices is now a standard work in the field of policy analysis. In 2008 he was the Libertarian candidate for Governor of North Carolina.


Munger earned a B.A. in economics at Davidson College (1980), an M.A. in economics at Washington University in St. Louis (1982), and a Ph.D. in economics at Washington University (1984) for thesis titled Institutions and Outcomes: Two Essays on the Importance of Legislative Structure for Understanding Public Policy. He is a past president of the Public Choice Society and (since 2013) a co-editor of The Independent Review. He has been published in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, and the Journal of Politics and has had books published with the Cambridge University Press and the University of Michigan Press. Since March 2012 he has been a member of the Board of Visitors of Ralston College.[2] He also serves as an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute[3] and as a member of the Academic Council of the Jack Miller Center.[4]

He writes for the Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog[5] and the Learn Liberty blog.[6]


Munger has worked as a staff economist for the Federal Trade Commission and taught at Dartmouth College, the University of Texas at Austin, and UNC-Chapel Hill before becoming a political science professor at Duke University in 1997. In 2000, he became the head of Duke's political science department.[7] His research centers around elections and campaign finance.[8]

At Duke, Munger says he works "across the aisles – there aren't a lot of other Libertarians there."[9]

Three scholars, namely Melvin Hinich, Douglass North and Barry Weingast, were reported to be heavily influential to Munger.[10]

In 2011, Munger portrayed a security guard at the beginning of a video titled "Fight of the Century", featuring a rap battle between actors portraying economists John Meynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek, discussing the effects of government spending on the economy. As of December 2017, the video has amassed over 3.8 million views.[11]

Gubernatorial campaign[edit]

Feeling that North Carolina voters needed an alternative to the two party duopoly, Munger ran as a Libertarian candidate for Governor of North Carolina in 2008. Early in the year, Munger said that Democratic gubernatorial challenger Bev Perdue was a "Stepford Wife" and the Republican nominees were "circus clowns."[8] Prior to May 2008, the North Carolina Libertarian Party and Munger gathered 100,000 signatures of voters in order to qualify to appear on North Carolina's ballot. They, along with the Green Party, sued the state unsuccessfully over the ballot access rules. Munger appeared as an expert witness in other cases on behalf of the Green Party and the ACLU.[8]

Munger appeared as one of two keynote speakers at the national Libertarian convention in Denver in May 2008.[8] He later made history as the first third-party candidate to participate in a live, televised gubernatorial debate in North Carolina.[8]

The progressive Independent Weekly said of Munger: "Were there no substantive differences between the major-party candidates, we'd be recommending a protest vote for Libertarian Party candidate Michael C. Munger, based on the elements of his platform that make him the self-proclaimed 'liberal in the race.'"[12]

On election day Munger received 121,585 votes for 2.85% of the total vote.

Following the election, Nick Gillespie of Reason magazine wrote: "I humbly submit that Duke University political science professor Michael Munger, who ran a strong bid as a Libertarian Party candidate for governor in North Carolina, set his eyes toward an even bigger and remote target in 2012, that stationary Death Star known as the White House."[13]

Political positions[edit]

Munger made education a centerpiece of his gubernatorial campaign, saying that allowing more charter schools is the first thing he would do: "Rich people have choices now. I want everyone to have a choice."[14] He would give $1,500 education vouchers to low-income students in the poorest 40 counties of North Carolina; since most would stay in public school, this would have the effect of increasing aid to poor schools.[9]

Munger has taken more socially liberal positions on many issues than the Democratic candidate for governor, Bev Perdue. "One reason I haven't been allowed in all the debates is that I'm taking votes from the Democrats. Sixty percent of my supporters are voting for Obama. I'll talk about gay marriage, and Perdue isn't, or doesn't want to."[7] While Democratic candidate Perdue has taken a hard line on illegal immigration similar to that of Republican Pat McCrory, Munger has a position more aligned with Barack Obama.[15]

Munger opposes the death penalty, and believes children of illegal immigrants should be allowed into University of North Carolina System schools and community colleges.[12] He believes that the government should do what it can to prevent illegal immigrants from entering the country, but once they are here, they should be treated fairly and given access to education or an "apartheid" will result "with fertile pickings for gang recruitment and exploitation by unscrupulous employers."[9] He believes that more rural roads should be built rather than "urban highways."[12]


  • Tomorrow 3.0: Transaction Costs and the Sharing Economy (2018). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1108447348.
  • Ideology and the Theory of Political Choice (1996). University of Michigan Press. Co-authored by Mel Henich. Ebook ISBN 978-0-472-02739-2

See also[edit]


  1. ^ News & Observer profile Archived November 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Ralston College". Retrieved April 7, 2012.
  3. ^ "Michael Munger". Cato Institute. Retrieved 2015-12-15.
  4. ^ "Our Staff - Jack Miller Center". Jack Miller Center. Retrieved 2015-12-15.
  5. ^ "About Us - Bleeding Heart Libertarians". Bleeding Heart Libertarians. Retrieved 2017-06-08.
  6. ^ "Learn Liberty blog". Learn Liberty. Retrieved 2017-06-27.
  7. ^ a b "The Third Man". Reason. 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  8. ^ a b c d e Hall, Christine (2008-10-29). "Michael Munger". Duke Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-12-19.
  9. ^ a b c "Mike Munger: third party, but not a third wheel". Independent Weekly. 2008-10-15. Archived from the original on 2008-11-23. Retrieved 2008-11-25.
  10. ^ Rowley, Charles K.; Schneider, Friedrich, eds. (2004). "Biographies". The Encyclopedia of Public Choice. 2. Springer. pp. 376–77. ISBN 9780792386070.
  11. ^ "Fight of the Century": Keynes vs Hayek Rap Battle Round Two. Econstories. 2011-04-27. Retrieved 2017-12-28.
  12. ^ a b c "Statewide Offices". Independent Weekly. 2008-10-22. Archived from the original on 2008-11-17. Retrieved 2008-11-24.
  13. ^ Gillespie, Nick (2008-11-21) "As We Look Past the Next Four Years of Virtually Certain Unmitigated Crapitude, Here's a Couple of Thoughts on Election 2012", Reason
  14. ^ "McCrory, Perdue differ on charter schools". Charlotte Observer. 2008-10-25. Retrieved 2008-10-28.[dead link]
  15. ^ "The State of Things: Issues Roundup". WUNC. 2008-10-28. Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2008-10-28.

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