The Feel-Good Franchise
Sheldon Richman seizes upon the senseless sequester squealing as an opportunity to make more general points (via Cafe Hayek). There’s nothing strikingly original, but it’s all impressively sound. The point of departure is Bryan Caplan’s analysis, which Richman summarizes as the question: “…if the ‘informed voter’ is a chimera, how can we expect democracy to yield desirable outcomes?”
Since democratic large numbers drown out both the effectiveness of any vote, and the private consequences of subsequent policy …
… it’s costless to vote for the candidate who makes you feel good about yourself. As Bryan Caplan has shown, given these incentives, people tend to vote according to their biases, which for most people embody economic fallacies.
Yet the keepers of the system (pundits included) play a game in which they pretend that voters are informed and make wise decisions.
Common rhapsodizing about democracy notwithstanding, the details of what Leviathan does are beyond comprehension. (Remember, members of Congress don’t read the bills.) Even an enthusiast for big government can’t tell if this government’s policies do good or harm. Yet the cult of democracy aims at maximum participation in elections. If a small number of ignorant voters is not good, how can a larger number be an improvement?
Here’s a better idea: let people cooperate with one another in the free market, and leave as few matters as possible to the overrated democratic arena.
Good luck with that.