Last weekend I attended the Public Choice Society meetings in San Antonio. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the meeting. We stayed in a hotel on the Riverwalk and the papers presented at the meeting were unique and insightful. I thought I'd jot down a few of my thoughts about the meeting in this post.
First, I want to make sure readers know what the conference was about. Public Choice is a field of economics that deals primarily with political issues. The field is often described as "politics without the romance." Typical topics you'd find at the conference or in the society's journal Public Choice, are voting behavior, lobbying, rent seeking, economic freedom, regulation, and other topics at the intersection of economics and politics.
The sessions I attended were interesting and covered a range of topics such as war, healthcare legislation, and democracy and economic freedom. Each session had some good conversation with the crowd and the use of discussants really added depth. As you might expect, I was most interested in the sessions on regulation and applied topics more generally. The few theoretical papers I ran into were also quite good.
One of the biggest positives of this conference for me was the opportunity to network. I met several faculty and staff at George Mason U affiliated with the Institute for Humane Studies and the Mercatus Center. My conversations with a few people at the Mercatus Center were especially productive and I hope to work on research related to agricultural regulation with them in the near future.
Another group I was excited to meet was the Libre Initiative. This group is dedicated to bringing free-market solutions and ideas to Hispanic populations in the US. This seems to me to be a worthwhile initiative and the group has already had some success in Mission, TX helping to organize community groups to solve local issues. I look forward to exploring research opportunities with them in the future.
Of course, one of the primary things we want to get out of a conference is constructive criticism of our work. I got a few comments from my discussant and people I spoke with seemed interested in the paper and the topic in general. While it's not as big as the GMO debate or animal welfare concerns, EPA regulation of agriculture is something most people know something about and have some interest in, so I want to continue this line of inquiry.