Out of Control Policy Blog

Down on democracy?

If there's more to your melancholy mood than the concern that your side won't do well tomorrow, you're not alone.

Here's Bryan Caplan on voter irrationality:

    Like moths to the flame, voters gravitate to the same mistakes. They do not cancel each other out; they compound.

Caplan's no O'Reilly/Dobbs populist. He argues that the average voter usually gets it wrong and that the experts usually get it right:

    Economists and the public hold radically different beliefs about the economy. Compared to the experts, laymen are much more skeptical of markets, especially international and labor markets, and much more pessimistic about the past, present, and future of the economy. When laymen see business conspiracies, economists see supply-and-demand. When laymen see ruinous competition from foreigners, economists see the wonder of comparative advantage. When laymen see dangerous downsizing, economists see wealth-enhancing reallocation of labor. When laymen see decline, economists see progress.
    ...
    So what remedies for voter irrationality would I propose? Above all, relying less on democracy and more on private choice and free markets. By and large, we don't even ask voters whether we should allow unpopular speech or religion, and this "elitist" practice has saved us a world of trouble. Why not take more issues off the agenda? Even if the free market does a mediocre job, the relevant question is not whether smart, well-meaning regulation would be better. The relevant question is whether the kind of regulation that appeals to the majority would be better.

Interesting stuff. Read the whole essay here.

Ted Balaker is Producer


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