IF YOU dip into any of the top academic journals in business or economics there are barely any without the highly fashionable phrase "rent-seeking behaviour". It is a piece of jargon designed to bamboozle the rest of us, but it is a notion sweeping through all the disciplines that study business behaviour.
The term is derived from the noted economist Professor Gordon Tullock. My own hunch will be that it must earn him the Nobel Prize for Economics.
His admirers and his critics have a sort of self-interest in awarding him the accolade because they, like the rest of us, are "rent-seekers".
Prof Tullockâs reputation is built on a lifetime of high-grade learned articles, but they all flow from an essay in the Economic Journal of 1967 with the austere title The Welfare Costs of Tariffs, Monopolies and Theft.
Prof Tullock, whose family roots are in Moray, has created a new way of observing economic behaviour - particularly economic behaviour where it touches upon government. His basic theory is that when businessmen get near to political authority, they seek favours and privileges. After all, life is much easier with a subsidy and easier still if you can get the state to bar your possible competition.
The breakthrough Prof Tullock has made i