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Citation 20 is Clearly a Farce[edit]

If anyone with an economics background had read the Dougan paper they would realize the absurdly simplistic accounting is a satire for ridiculously large sums spent on rent seeking. In four pages, Dougan apparently proves, QED, that the only government that doesn't completely wealth is an absolute monarchy. Clearly a joke. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:01, 18 July 2013 (UTC)


I am a non-economist who came to this article to find out about rent-seeking as the phrase is beginning to turn up in my reading on other issues.

This article is just about unreadable. It is awful. For one example:

"The simplest definition of rent-seeking is the expenditure of resources attempting to enrich oneself by increasing one's share of a fixed amount of wealth rather than trying to create wealth. Since resources are expended but no new wealth is created, the net effect of rent-seeking is to reduce the sum of social wealth."

What on earth does this mean? This: "... the expenditure of resources attempting to enrich oneself ..." is poor grammar. It is such a shame as language like this drives non-specialists away and it really does inhibit learning. hypotaxis (talk) 21:57, 10 December 2011 (UTC)

good point. I tried to solve it by rephrasing the lede. Rjensen (talk) 23:06, 10 December 2011 (UTC)
Rjensen, I think your changes were an improvement, but the article is still overall pretty incoherent. For example, I just reread it several times trying to make sense of this sentence: The term "monopoly privilege rent-seeking" is an often-used label for the former type of rent-seeking. Often-cited[citation needed] examples include a farm lobby that seeks tariff protection or an entertainment lobby that seeks expansion of the scope of copyright, and I have been completely unable to figure out what "former type" is referring to. I think that whole section needs a rewrite to make it coherent and understandable. I don't have time to do it myself right now -- I'm not an expert, so it would take me ages. But I'll watchlist the page, and if nobody else tackles it within a month or so, I will try to do it myself. Thanks Sue Gardner (talk) 20:43, 8 January 2012 (UTC)

Hypotaxis... Don't apologize for your non-economist status. I have a degree in econ from a top-tier university and I couldn't fathom the rhetoric, grammar or content either. Of course, part of the problem is that the concept is relatively new, somewhat vaguely defined, difficult to quantify, and, therefore, somewhat controversial with rather loose Ad hoc applications that defy objective tests of validity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:20, 1 May 2012 (UTC)

How about just calling it a "shake-down"? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:51, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

How Rent seeking could be resolved[edit]

I believe that rent seeking could be resolved through different means.economic awareness of their own political development must be present, to choose the right leaders who would abide by the constitutions fairly with the society. No to discrimination and filled with pride must be invisible. having the right leadership skills and right leaders would surely rejuvenate the falling countries. so as, you could also avoid rent seeking through the trust of these elected leaders. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

"No to discrimination and filled with pride must be invisible." Hear, hear.

This page is basically an essay on rent-seeking, not an article. The NPOV stuff should really go.

I think you meant the POV stuff. Anyway, I've tried to bend the article a little more towards NPOV by characterizing many statements as expressions of criticism rather than flat assertions of fact. The article still slants against rent seeking, however, which may be inevitable because the term itself is perjorative. Casey Abell 02:33, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
Some POV has been snuck back into the article by pushing many comments towards flat statements of fact rather than expressions of critical opinion. I'm not going to get into a revert war, but this article frankly falls foul of NPOV. The key problem is that "rent seeking" is more an accusation than a genuinely scholarly concept. No writer ever compliments somebody on rent-seeking, or even uses it as a neutral description. It's always an allegation of nefarious or at least unhelpful conduct, often used by political partisans against their favorite hate-objects (for instance, corporations and conservative governments for left-wingers, labor unions and welfare recipients for right-wingers). It may actually be impossible to write a truly NPOV article on this subject, but we should make a better effort than the current version. Casey Abell 21:26, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
How is this different from, say, market failure? That too can be an accusation, but it is also a genuine scholarly concept, as is rent-seeking. --FOo 23:38, 11 February 2007 (UTC)
I'd like to see fairly extensive comment in the article about how "rent seeking" is often used as an accusation for political purposes. Truth to tell, I think the term is usually employed that way. For instance, see the Leon Felkins article in the external links section. He uses "rent seeking" allegations to push a political point of view on various issues — "corporate welfare", Bosnia, public television. I think you could get sources for such a section and write it in a reasonably NPOV manner. But I didn't want to get into a stink over the article. After all, I came here as part of the wikification project and was at first interested only in technical fixes (section headings, a toc, ref/cite footnotes, external link descriptions, etc.)
But after I started on the technical things, I noticed a lot of the "NPOV stuff", as this page puts it. So I modified some of the language to nudge the article in a more NPOV direction. Sure enough, several of those edits got reverted or heavily modified.
I don't want to edit war over this article (or any article). But I would like to see a more neutral approach here, including some healthy skepticism about claims of "rent seeking" tossed around by political partisans attempting to discredit their opponents. Casey Abell 01:08, 12 February 2007 (UTC)
I think the best way to resolve any NPOV questions would be to pull all of the examples to the end. Start with a technical definition (which is good as it stands) Procede to a discussion of why it's bad (the economic factors), then quibble a bit with an overlap section (ways rent is created in an acceptable manner, I.E. regulatory actions that protect consumers but also create rent due to the barrier to entry). Finish up with your discussion of the difference between actual, platonic rent-seeker behaviour, and what we actually see here in the real world. At the very end, set up a list of situations that are accused of being rent-seeking behaviour, I.E. the Taxicabs, Marriage Taxes and doctor's licenses. Give each it's own minisection and let people slug out the individual examples data AFTER all the terms have been defined. Granite26 (talk) 19:17, 27 March 2008 (UTC)

rent seeking in the aggregate imposes substantial losses on society. That sounds like opinion, not at all encyclopedic. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:22, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

discovered in 1967? are you kidding?[edit]

at the very least, this should be reworded Blablablob (talk) 15:30, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

How about "first described in 1967" or "first formally studied in 1967"? FrumpyTheClown (talk) 04:20, 7 April 2009 (UTC)

rent seeking in the aggregate imposes substantial losses on society.

This reads like opinion, rather than being encyclopaedic, doesn't it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:20, 31 May 2009 (UTC)

Clearly Biased[edit]

"Less obvious than the small-scale examples above, but of far greater impact, rent seeking is supported through broad governmental policy aims. The U.S. government's commitment to ensuring cheap fossil fuels, for example, and the many billions of tax dollars allocated to securing that end through military and infrastructure expenditures, as well as the limited efforts to ameliorate the externalized costs of industry, constitute a very large subsidy to the larger centralized firms who depend on cheap global transportation in order to dominate local economies."

This is certainly not well settled, and at best should be removed, and at worst should be cited compellingly. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Dj spinster (talkcontribs) 08:08, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Yeah, without cites that's too far out. I pulled it, and removed the bias tag. CRETOG8(t/c) 14:25, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Maybe it's best to put the bias tag back in place. Most of this article blames government and makes private enterprise out to be angels of pure light. It was obviously written or combed through by a crazed free-market fanatic. How can they blame the government for corporate lobbyists? That's ass-backwards.

There's also a peppering of totally uncited claims, of course solely focused on attacking public employees while ignoring any responsibility for corruption on the private side. Deadphonescell (talk) 07:57, 20 November 2009 (UTC)

This article needs a bias tag. Post-GFC I would have thought that the finance sector required at least a mention as an example of rent-seeking. Alan (talk) 18:22, 25 November 2010 (UTC)

Much of this article, in particular the entirety of the "Possible consequences" section, seems to treat rent-seeking and regulatory capture as one and the same. It reads as if the only sources of rents in a modern economy are regulatory lobbying and government corruption. A discussion of rent-seeking, as such, deserves to be much broader than this. (talk) 15:27, 5 August 2012 (UTC)

Spelling: Hyphen[edit]

As any compound of a noun and -seeking requires a hyphen, so does rent-seeking. The Economist, notoriously language-conscious, agrees, along with the dictionaries: Merriam-Webster, Oxford (#5), Cambridge, Longman, Macmillan. Can we correct the spelling in the article? --EnOreg (talk) 13:21, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

Done --EnOreg (talk) 16:35, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

By the way, EnOreg, you may be interested to know that the Chicago Manual of Style seems to counsel otherwise. See, for instance, their table of guidance for hyphenation, in which they say about constructions of the form "noun + gerund" that when they are used as nouns, they are "usually open," and when as adjectives, they are "hyphenated before a noun." Thus "Mountain climbing is fun," but "a mountain-climbing expedition." As to that qualification usually, it contrasts with those few examples like bookkeeping and copyediting that are set closed; so the exception does not seem to support your preference for hyphenating "rent seeking" when the term is used as a noun.

Don't worry, I'm not going to go and undo all of your hyphens. I merely wished to let you know that on this issue—as on so many matters of writing style—authorities are not unanimous.—PaulTanenbaum (talk) 13:25, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

That's indeed interesting. Thanks much, Paul, for the pointer. I particularly appreciate your note on my talk page.
So far the CMoS is the lone dissenter but certainly a weighty one. --EnOreg (talk) 13:53, 19 November 2012 (UTC)

modern professional licensing[edit]

These edits added "modern licensing practices" to the lead. I believe that whether, which, and where modern licensing practices are rent-seeking versus their believed social benefit (consumer protection, preventing corruption, whatever) is contentious. It shouldn't be listed in the lead as a general factual conclusion. Adding some material, with references, on arguments of what kinds of licensing are rent-seeking would be a good addition to the article. CRETOG8(t/c) 03:12, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Would the current push for perpetual copyrights be an example of rent-seeking?[edit]

John Lennon isn't going to have an incentive to create new Beatles songs, but the EU just passed a copyright extension covering the catalog of tunes. This is similar to the Mickey Mouse Protection Act here in the States. Essentially, powerful lobbyists and politicians perpetuate a theft from the public domain (the artists and music corporations made the songs under the old rules, and the new rules are suddenly backdated), which would seem to be a type of rent-seeking behavior that could be used as a current example. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:46, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

9 Country? What country?[edit]

Reference to the study by Laband and Sophoclus should make it clear what country they were studying, if 'country' is to be mentioned at all. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:06, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

revision 532307928[edit]

The quoted reference by Krugman provides no useful information to describe how financial innovation can be related to rent-seeking. The other two references, although informative, make no mention of rent seeking, and belong in another article. PAR (talk) 07:03, 10 January 2013 (UTC)

Oh, really? It seems pretty explicit to me:
"... the rapid growth in finance since 1980 has largely been a matter of rent-seeking, rather than true productivity. (As Paul Volcker says, it’s hard to come up with any clearly productive financial innovations of recent decades other than the ATM)."
"... while there clearly can be beneficial financial innovation, there are fundamental reasons why innovation and finance tends to be less likely to produce beneficial social impact and more likely to produce rent extraction, than innovation in other sectors."
"I suggested that some of the activities which went on in the trading rooms of some banks in the run up to the financial crisis were ‘socially useless’. People have asked me whether I regret those comments. The answer is no, except in one very small respect. Which is that I think it would have been better to use the phrase ‘economically useless’ or ‘of no economic value added’."
I'm restoring the deleted edit. JS Uralia (talk) 07:32, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
My mistake, the last two references are informative regarding rent-seeking. The Krugman article provides an unsupported opinion, no insight at all, and I will delete it. PAR (talk) 07:44, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
The reference to Volcker's observation that the ATM is the only well-known productive financial innovation of recent decades seems more like the citation of an eminent authority on an indisputable fact than an opinion to me. JS Uralia (talk) 08:03, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
You can't really believe that. It's an off-the-cuff hyperbolic sound bite used to draw attention to Volker's possibly well thought out opinion. If Volker's opinion is well thought out and published, then by all means include it, but not Paul Krugmans unreflective repetition of Volker's sarcastic sound bite. Its certainly not an indisputable fact because even Turner admits that some, but not all, financial innovations are rent-seeking. Turner understands that some financial innovations provide liquidity and efficiency to the market, and the question of whether that is a good thing and whether it outweighs any social bad things is certainly arguable. PAR (talk) 15:41, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Justification in the lead[edit]

The last sentence in the lead states:

People accused of rent seeking typically argue that they are indeed creating new wealth (or preventing the reduction of old wealth) by improving quality controls, guaranteeing that charlatans do not prey on a gullible public, and preventing bubbles.

This was added here. I am unable to find discussion of this in the body of the article. Are there sources to support this statement and to support adding expanded content to the body of the article? (talk) 03:07, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

Please help put this article in layman's terms[edit]

Rent-seeking is an important concept but anybody without a background in economics would be confused as to what "economic rent" really is, and even the article on economic rent isn't much help. Would it be fair to say rent-seeking always involves using social and political means to artificially restrict the supply of a desired good or service? ObtuseAngle (talk) 21:13, 5 August 2013 (UTC) I think this article is well written except it has rather bad repetition of the lead and could do with tidying. Like a lot of terms used by economists the phrase and it's use are unfortunately slightly unintuitive for a layman. This article is otherwise very clear and gave me a much broader understanding.

More problems with lede[edit]

I think the lede is just plain wrong. Rent-seeking CAN be "political lobbying", and frequently is. But clearly not ONLY "political lobbying" qualifies as rent-seeking. The obvious example (and I simply don't understand why this was ignored) is regulatory lobbying. Not all rent is established in political (legislative or via an elected body) forums since clearly not all "authority" is held by government politicians. I think that in general, any "authority" can be the dispenser of "rent" generating property or rights. Again, the glaringly obvious example is governmental regulators, which have many, many times allowed/promoted some economic interests at the expense of others. It would seem to me that if I owned property a stream ran though, and I had the power to allow some people to use the stream and prevent others from its use then I could be the target of rent-seeking (assuming their use resulted in their economic benefit). I don't need to be a political entity to be influenced by rent-seekers. So, in other words, rent-seeking is the attempt to influence any authority's actions for the purpose of economic/financial benefit. (talk) 17:58, 9 December 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Problems with "Criticism" section[edit]

Layman here. Came to this article to learn about rent-seeking. It's generally explained well, but the "Criticism" section is currently pretty weak. The first sentence/paragraph is fine, but the second paragraph lacks citations and is pretty confusingly phrased. For example, it's not clear what "distinction" is being drawn, and whether it's distinguishing rents from profits, or what. A rewrite from someone who understands where that "criticism" (nuance?) is coming from would be great.

Also, I don't think the conclusion of the paragraph follows from the premises. It states:

Rent, by contrast with these two, is obtained when a third party deprives one party of access to otherwise accessible transaction opportunities, making nominally "consensual" transactions a rent-collection opportunity for the third party. The high profits of the illegal drug trade are considered rents by this definition, as they are neither legal profits nor the proceeds of common-law crimes.

To me, the illegal drug trade seems like an example of profit, not rent. Drug users demand drugs, and the illegal drug trade supplies them. Where is the "third party" mentioned in the previous sentence, who's making transaction opportunities inaccessible? Is it the government, who bans the drugs? If so, are taxes the rent in this situation? This example is poorly chosen or poorly explained, and this whole paragraph just muddies the waters.

I'm also not sure what's up with "guaranteeing that charlatans do not prey on a gullible public" in the final paragraph of the section. It sounds like the author had a specific example of rent-seeking in mind, but it's not clear what that was. (talk) 05:51, 5 February 2016 (UTC)