Archive for August 19th, 2013

Suicide Express

In an intriguing post on migration and ‘expressive voting’ in Alsace-LorraineĀ  after the 1871 annexation, Bryan Caplan notes that although “over 90% of the new citizens of the Second Reich voted for … anti-Prussian regional parties” only 5% decided to emigrate back to France. Clearly in this case, migration patterns revealed genuine commitments — based perhaps on economic opportunity — while elections were merely an occasion to express ethnic emotionalism without consequence. As usual in human affairs, microeconomics was aligned with approximate reason, whilst politics was possessed by destructive irrationality, redeemed only by its impotence.

It’s hard to imagine what Caplan is seeing as the politically-correct take-away from this example. What it demonstrates starkly is that even populations characterized by scrupulous rationality in their private economic affairs will exploit electoral opportunities to vote for insanity — as judged by their own revealed preferences. Expect even model immigrant workers to expend their votes signalling an adherence to ethnic zealotry and ruinous economic populism — and in particular, the reproduction of exactly those social pathologies they have migrated away from. Like the French in post-1871 Alsace-Lorraine, they’ll probably vote as if they want to live somewhere they manifestly don’t want to be. (But that’s not supposed to be the message, is it?)

August 19, 2013admin 12 Comments »
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