Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan, an economist and legal scholar, holds the James J. Freeland Eminent Scholar Chair in Taxation at the University of Florida's Levin College of Law. His research addresses economic and philosophical aspects of justice between generations, and he is particularly interested in policies that affect budget deficits, the national debt, health care costs, and Social Security.

Columns by Neil H. Buchanan
How Dead is Dead? Democracy is in Slightly Less Danger Today Than It Was a Week Ago

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan considers whether the outcome of last week’s election should cause him to revise his description of the United States as a “dead democracy walking.” He argues that while things do look slightly better, the odds are still incredibly long against our survival as a constitutional republic.

Political Violence in the United States, Part Two of Two

In this first of a two-part series of columns about the reality and threat of political violence in the United States, UF Levin College of Law professor Neil H. Buchanan assesses the current political situation and its implications for the immediate future. Professor Buchanan argues that, with respect to the long-term threat of political violence, the Republicans’ surprisingly narrow victory might not be the silver lining that liberals and progressives have been celebrating since Tuesday evening.

When Do Politicians Face “the Wrath of the Financial Markets”?

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan discusses the power and limits of financial markets by looking at three examples: (1) the brief tenure of former British Prime Minister Liz Truss, (2) the markets’ lack of response to the US federal debt, and (3) the possibly cataclysmic consequences if, after the midterms, a Republican-controlled Congress refuses to increase the federal debt ceiling.

The Ultimate Rebuttal to Anti-Debt Fearmongering: Businesses Love Debt

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan offers yet another illustration of why we need not worry about the national debt—the biggest businesses do it. Professor Buchanan points out that nearly every Fortune 500 company carries debt because doing so is good financial management, and if our country were to be running a surplus, that would mean that the government is collecting more in taxes than it needs to cover current spending.

Why Is The New York Times Giving Front-Page Coverage to Non-News About the National Debt? Part Two of Two

In this first of a two-part series of columns responding to a front-page article covering “non-news” about the national debt, UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan responds to the only substantive claim the article raises. Specifically, Professor Buchanan debunks their claim that higher interest rates will create hyperinflation while the bond market melts down.

Why Is The New York Times Giving Front-Page Coverage to Non-News About the National Debt? Part One of Two

In this first of a two-part series of columns responding to a front-page article covering “non-news” about the national debt, UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains how the reporters misleadingly frame a familiar (and wrong) anti-debt argument. Professor Buchanan argues that the reporters highlight an arbitrary “milestone” and inexplicably assign significance to an unremarkable and all but inevitable fact.

The Declaration of Independence Was a Call for More Government and More Taxes—And That’s Still an Important Lesson for Us Today

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan points out that contrary to claims by the Republican Party over the past forty years or so, the Declaration of Independence called for more government and more taxes. Professor Buchanan describes the historical context of the Declaration and argues that taxes are necessary if we want to give Americans the best kind of future that we can possibly create.

Social Security’s Good News is Good News

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan comments on the recent announcement that under one scenario, the depletion date of the Social Security trust funds is now one year later than previously predicted—now 2035. Professor Buchanan explains the significance of this announcement—that Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s visionary program will continue (for now) to protect all generations of Americans despite efforts of Republican autocrats to destroy it.

The Complicity of the ‘Comfortable Liberals’ in the Decline of American Constitutional Democracy

UF Levin College of Law professor Neil H. Buchanan points out that some Democratic elites are complicit in the decline of American constitutional democracy when they support conservative policies and talking points in order to preserve their own personal comfort. Professor Buchanan points to the acceptance of the empty idea of “cancel culture” and the rejection of progressive prosecutors as two examples of this complicity.

How Did the Public Discussion About Inflation Become Even More Ridiculous?

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that the political posturing about inflation in this country is becoming increasingly ridiculous. Professor Buchanan points out that we have no idea what is an acceptable (or unacceptable) level of inflation and that despite endlessly criticizing Democrats in power for higher rates of inflation, Republicans have proposed no plan for how to reduce inflation.

Are Activist Judges Efficient? Who Cares? What Matters Is That They Do Justice

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains why it is “efficient” (in one sense of that fraught word) for courts to sometimes act like legislatures—i.e., to legislate from the bench. Professor Buchanan points out that deciding cases too narrowly or incrementally causes unnecessary litigation to try to identify where courts will draw the line, particularly when the judges and justices already know where they want that line to be. He emphasizes, however, that efficiency is not the ultimate goal of the law, and minimizing litigation costs should never supersede the pursuit of justice.

Is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ a Pre-Documentary? What an Autocracy—Theocratic or Otherwise—Looks Like: Part Two in a Series

In this second of a two-part series of columns, UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains why “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a pre-documentary—not in that it predicts what literally will happen in the United States, but in that it accurately describes America’s shift toward becoming a dystopia. Professor Buchanan points out that the mechanisms are already in place for an autocratic government to dispossess citizens of their property, and the rest can be changed at will.

Is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ a Pre-Documentary? The Surprisingly Interesting (and Scary) Financial Side of the Story

In this first of a two-part series of columns, UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains why the financial situation in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ (specifically, the TV series version based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel) is entirely possible in real life under current US law. Professor Buchanan points out that currency is merely a construct based on perceived value, and strategic changes in policies by an autocratic government could easily deprive anyone of money they think is “theirs.”

Could the Next Coup Attempt Hinge on the Meaning of the Twelfth Amendment? Why Risk it?

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that Democrats should expressly reject (rather than implicitly accept) Republicans’ erroneous interpretation of the Twelfth Amendment, on the off chance it matters in the next coup attempt. Professor Buchanan explains why the Twelfth Amendment’s fallback provision applies only when the Electoral College vote is a tie.

So-Called Cancel Culture Is a Vacant Concept, So It Can Be Turned Back Against the Culture Warriors

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that the label of “cancel culture” is a vacant concept, but because of its now widespread use, we should overuse the phrase so as to dilute and mock it. Professor Buchanan points out that, despite current popular opinion, the right to speak is not the same as a right to have other people listen.

No, America Does Not Have a Free Speech Problem—At Least, Not the One The New York Times’s Editors Imagine

UF Levin College of Law professor Neil H. Buchanan responds to a recent editorial in The New York Times lamenting the alleged erosion of the American right to speak one’s mind and voice one’s opinions in public without fear of being shamed or shunned. Professor Buchanan explains why the editorial board erroneously conflates the right to free speech with an expectation of speech without consequences.

Second Thoughts? How the Anti-Government Protests in Canada Affect Americans Who Might Want to Move There

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan continues his exploration of options available to Americans who are considering emigrating, considering whether the anti-government protests in Canada affect his calculus. Professor Buchanan argues that the recent news from Canada does not come close to tipping the balance toward staying the United States.

Fighting Lies with Deceptions: Inflation Politics in 2022, Part Two

In this second of a two-part series of columns, UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains that there is nothing a president can do to reduce inflation, but there are certain things a president should do to appear to be doing something. Professor Buchanan argues that Biden administration’s announcement that it will intensify the fight against monopolies serves precisely that purpose and achieves some good in the process.

Fighting Lies with Deceptions: Inflation Politics in 2022, Part One

In this first of a two-part series of columns on inflation, UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that the current concern over inflation is nonsense. He explains that the measured inflation rate is an average of all price changes, and a healthy economy will see some prices rise at any given time.