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The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies - New Edition
Princeton University Press
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34 Reddit comments about The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies - New Edition:

u/fancytalk · 19 pointsr/AskReddit

I am not super into birthday gifts and had said he didn't have to get me anything but he insisted he was going to for more than a month after my actual birthday. Eventually he just handed me a hockey stick that I was already permanently borrowing for intermural games and a jersey for his intermural team (we were in different leagues) that he had replaced when it ripped.

Turns out he had been procrastinating out of anxiety since I had made fun of the last birthday gift he had given me. At the time I thought it was good-natured teasing but in the end it turned out I'm just kind of a shitty person.

u/Ho66es · 18 pointsr/books

Off the top of my head, in no particular order:

The Undercover Economist: Easily the best of those "Economics in everyday life - books"

The Blank Slate: Steven Pinker on the nature/nurture debate. This really opened my eyes on questions like "Why are the same people who fight against abortion for the death penalty", for example.

Complications: This and his second book, Better, gave me an incredible insight into medicine.

Why we get sick: Very good explanation of the defence mechanisms our bodies have and why treating symptoms can be a very bad idea.

How to read a book: An absolute classic. Turns out I've been doing it wrong all those years.

The Art of Strategy: Game Theory, applied to everyday situations. Always treats a topic like Nash equilibrium, Brinkmanship etc. theoretically and then goes into many examples.

A Random Walk Down Wall-Street: Made me see the stock market completely differently.

The Myth of the Rational Voter: The shortcomings of democracy.

The White Man's Burden: Fantastic account of the problems faced by the third world today, and why it is so hard to change them.

u/MELBOT87 · 7 pointsr/badeconomics

I think The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan is a good mix of economics and political science.

The Calculus of Consent by Buchanan and Tollock
is also important in the development of public choice theory and is more wonky.

u/PlayerDeus · 4 pointsr/CapitalismVSocialism

I think an ideology of authoritarianism fails, and we have plenty of authoritarianism to demonstrate these.

The USDA dietary guidelines are flawed and have been flawed for a long time. They are not evidence based! Their basis was that of old commercials about what was healthy for humans to eat, and of some unproven hypothesis. We were told saturated fats and cholesterol were bad to eat and to reduce consumption, and then over 5 decades later as journalists started looking at the studies that were done, that was all proven wrong.

But this is how they think: "I would only argue that senators don't have the luxury that a research scientist gets in awaiting until every last shred of evidence is in." - McGovern

The origin of the commercials and for advocacy of vegetarian diets was entirely driven by a religious group called the Seventh Day Adventist, who believed that meat lead to sexual thoughts, and the ideas of vegetarianism were from Ellen G. White who had visions from God.

This included influences of Kellogg (as in the inventor of breakfast cereals):

These are the same people that promoted circumcisions as being for health reasons, but their reason was they thought it would reduce masturbation:

So despite all this, the dietary guidelines are not evidence based, and if you look at the numbers people do end up following the guidelines (reduced fats, increased carbs), rather the sellers of products end up following the guidelines and people buy products which follow the guidelines:

And this is just 1 thing. There are plenty examples of government intervention producing worst outcomes, such as the fact that the FDA has killed more people than it has helped. The Montana Speed paradox, where the addition of speed limits resulted in more car accident deaths because politicians in their rush to do these things do not always do them right.


More importantly, it is obvious if people are irrational shopping for goods in the market, how are people going to rationally choose the best experts to run their life? And the people they elect, how are they going to be less irrational than those they are to represent?

There are arguments that people in a collective their votes end up being more rational than the rationality of individual voters but Bryan Caplan does a great job destroying the idea of the rational voter:

u/DoctorMort · 3 pointsr/WhitePeopleTwitter

> Is your current assessment seriously that “people always vote for the most reasonable and prepared candidate but the parties just won’t put them out?”

Nope, I pretty much agree 100% with what you said. I would agree with the notion that the parties won't put out their "best" candidates, but it's not like I would expect the populace to vote for a candidate based on his/her merit anyway.

You might like the book the Myth of the Rational Voter.

u/[deleted] · 3 pointsr/europe

>Since last week’s Brexit vote, new evidence has emerged suggesting that the result many have been influenced by widespread political ignorance.

I think it's naive to think that this phenomena is only limited to the Brexit vote. Every election everywhere, voters are extremely uninformed about what they are voting about. Rational ignorance is a systemic problem with democracy. Populism and demagoguery are the norm, not the exception, and the leaders of democratic nations are most skilled in such crafts, not expert analysts or well-learned renaissance men.

u/popssauce · 3 pointsr/productivity

I mostly read non-fiction, and am interested in politics, morality and how smart people can come to construct completely different versions of reality... soooo if any of that kind of stuff is your bag, I can recommend:


One Nation, Two Realities

The Myth of the Rational Voter

Stop Being Reasonable

Mistakes were made by not by me

The Big Picture


The first two are are semi-academic texts, so there is some experiments/data in there that you can skip over. The second two are meant for popular consumption about how people come to form and change opinions, and the big picture is a really approachable summary about everything from epistemology, quantum physics and consciousness. It's broken into lots of very short chapters so great to read before and after going to sleep.

u/kwanijml · 2 pointsr/Anarcho_Capitalism

Sorry, on mobile, but I believe this is the book in which he develops that theory.

You might also just search youtube videos or article under the same title.

u/jseliger · 2 pointsr/confessions

Politics are very rarely about surface-level policy debates or the trade-offs that different policies entail. Politics is usually about signaling team allegiance and fundamental personality traits, which are only tangentially, if at all, connected to policies. If you want to understand why, read Bryan Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter and Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.

When people talk to you about politics and religion, instead discuss meta-phenomena, like why they believe what they believe and how politics / religion work as signaling devices. Those topics are usually less contentious than, say, gun control, or whatever.

u/LarsP · 2 pointsr/Libertarian

Also, we are much less invested in the outcome when deciding other people's lives than when deciding our own, and therefore make far dumber choices.

This is one of the core arguments/findings in Bryan Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies.

u/SuperCharged2000 · 2 pointsr/worldpolitics


VI. Logrolling and Vote Trading

The public choice concept of ‘ logrolling ’ denotes the exchange of favors among the political factions in order to get one’s favored project through by supporting the projects of the other group. This conduct leads to the steady expansion of state activity. Through the ‘quid pro quo’ of the political process, the lawmakers support pieces of legislation of other factions in exchange for obtaining the political support for their own project. This behavior leads to the phenomenon of ‘legislative inflation’, the avalanche of useless, contradictory and detrimental law production.

VII. Common Good

The so-called ‘ common good’ is not a well-defined concept. Similar terms, such as that of the ‘public good’, which is defined by non-excludability and non-rivalry, misses the point because it is not the good that is ‘common’ or ‘public’ but its provision when this is deemed more efficient by collective than individual efforts. However, this is the case with all goods and the market itself is a system of providing private goods through cooperative efforts. The market economy is a collective provider of goods as it combines competition with cooperation. Any of the so-called ‘public goods’, which the government supplies, the private sector can also deliver, and cheaper and better as well. In contrast to the state, the cooperation in a market economy includes competition and thus not only economic efficiency but also the incentive to innovate.

VIII. Regulatory Capture

The term ‘ regulatory capture ’ denotes a government failure where the regulatory agency does not pursue the original intent of promoting the ‘public interest’ but falls victim to the special interest of those groups, which the agency was set up to regulate. The capture of the regulatory body by private interests means that the agency turns into an instrument to advance the special interests of the group that was targeted for regulation. For that purpose, the special interest group will ask for extra regulation to obtain the state apparatus as an instrument to promote its special interests.

IX. Short-Sightedness

The political time horizon is the next election. In the endeavor that the benefits of political action come quickly to their specific clienteles, the politician will favor short-term projects over the long-term even if the former bring only temporary benefits and cost more in the long run than an alternative project where the costs come earlier and the benefits later. Because the provision of public goods by the state severs the link between the bearer of the cost and the immediate beneficiary, the time preference for the demand for the goods that come apparently free of charge by the state is necessarily higher than in the market system.

X. Rational Ignorance

It is rational for the individual voter in a mass democracy to remain ignorant about the political issues because the value of the individual's vote is so small that it makes not much difference for the outcome. The rational voter will vote for those candidates who promise most benefits. Given the small weight of an individual vote in a mass democracy, the rational voter will not spend much time and effort to investigate whether these promises are realistic or in a collision with his other desires. Thus, the political campaigns do not have information and enlightenment as the objective but disinformation and confusion. What counts, in the end, is to get votes. Not the solidity of the program is important but the enthusiasm a candidate can create with his supporters and how much he can degrade, denounce, and humiliate his opponent. As a consequence, election campaigns incite hatred, polarization, and the lust for revenge.

u/dootyforyou · 2 pointsr/GoldandBlack

It's relying on the general characteristics of human self-interest and economics. The idea is that, if compulsory taxation is out of the picture, human action and economics progresses towards efficient institutions, and non-aggressive institutions are the most economically productive.

But it is true, before that can get off the ground, we would likely need a base level cultural commitment to the general wisdom of libertarianism, i.e. non-aggression and a Lockean-ish theory of the just acquisition of private property.

"Majority preference" in economics is a lot different than "majority preference" in politics. Democracy suffers from structural problems that cannot be overcome (for example, see The Myth of the Rational Voter Majority votes diffusely managing the entire corpus of the nation's property does not create efficient private property institutions.

In contrast, market institutions would be driven by more accurately perceived self-interest. Each person is more qualified to rationally determine what to do about his automobile, his house, his backyard, his job, then he is about which far-away buerocrat to empower to allegedly deal with complex society-wide problems. Through rational choice applied to each local action, efficient, non-destructive, and therefore non-aggressive ways of living would arise - again assuming some important baseline starting points in people's general preferences tending towards libertarianism.

> Flogging? Who does this help?

Maybe no one, I don't know. The businesses involved in providing security and adjudication will have a financial interest in determining what plans of "punishment" help their customers. If retributive punishment is chosen at all, I was suggesting the economics of the situation would better support immediate physical punishment than costly plans of long-term confinement. It might be the case that retributive justice would disappear entirely in favor of societal expulsion or financial compensation.

> Paying restitution? So if I buttrape you, how much "financial restitution" would I have to give you to make you cool with me again?

Again, people would not be deciding these things under the inflamed passion of having personally been the victim of a specific crime. They would have contractual terms in advance which they decided dispassionately. I think a lot of people would sign up for such things.

Also remember: it is not just the financial penalty. If they commit rape, no one will contract with them anymore. Without an insurance/defense firm to sign them as a client, no property association will allow them to buy or rent. Their employment opportunities will become more limited.

If they have done things which mean that no defense/insurance firm will work with them, they also have to fear that they will be killed. If you cannot get a defense/insurance firm to work with you, it might be the case that no one will be able to assert a claim on your behalf. If you are a serial rapist, no court or defense agency will sign a contract with you, your victims can put a bounty on your head and you will not be able to assert a defensive murder claim. This could be the situation, I don't know. You would probably have to be a very bad criminal for this to happen.

u/ThatRedEyeAlien · 2 pointsr/Anarcho_Capitalism

Lots of bad justifications of democracy.

Relevant Bryan Caplan book.

u/zoink · 2 pointsr/Anarcho_Capitalism

>Yes, the right and the left are simply destroying things it seems, but to be fair, the right has been opposed to things like Obamacare.

Have you read the Myth of the Rational Voter or listened to any of Caplan's talks on the subject?

>That one’s kind of funny, because if you take a look at voters’ views on government spending, they’re literally contradictory. Voters in general favor lower spending overall, but for virtually every category of spending they want to spend more. So this is the kind of thing where if you say it right almost anything can be good, if you say it wrong almost anything can be bad. When a politician says we need to cut spending, that is a popular appeal. The only problem is if someone says cut which kind of spending? Oh, let’s cut the waste. Can you identify the waste specifically, is there something that it actually is? You know that’s the problem. I mean, I would say that in general, Republicans try to tap into the general public desire for lower spending. They also try to very carefully tap in to the public’s resistance to cutting any particular kind of spending. So even though Republicans know very well that to really cut spending you’ve got to cut entitlements, you know, you’ve got to get Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid under control. Those are really the fast-growing areas of spending. But Republications are very carefully electorally not to name any of those because people are going to say wait, when I said cut spending, I didn’t mean cut any of the spending we like, which are basically all of them, except for foreign aid.

I haven't looked at a poll for Obamacare but I bet if you broke it into it's pieces I bet Republicans would support many of them.

u/tgjj123 · 1 pointr/Libertarian

The Law -

Economics in one lesson -

That which is seen and is not seen -

Our enemy, the state -

How capitalism save america -

New Deal or Raw Deal -

Lessons for the Young Economist -

For a New Liberty -

What Has Government Done to Our Money? -

America's Great Depression -

Defending the Undefendable -

Metldown -

The Real Lincoln -

The Road to Serfdom -

Capitalism and Freedom -

Radicals for Capitalism -

Production Versus Plunder -

Atlas Shrugged -

The Myth of the Rational Voter -

Foutainhead -

Anthem -

There are of course more books, but this should last you a few years!

u/fantomsource · 1 pointr/Anarcho_Capitalism

> decided to actually treat the customers as logical actors

LOL, such silliness!

You don't treat people as logical actors, ever.

u/Unknwon_To_All · 1 pointr/changemyview

Firstly we are getting really off topic here but ok.
your argument assumes that the government is competent enough to know what is best for society, something that I would disagree with:
as for your examples, I feel like debating healthcare would be too far off topic, there is no need to provide for dependents with UBI in place, people should give to charity through kindness, not because of a tax break and why should the government encourage house buying and starting a small business?

u/Majorjohn112 · 1 pointr/redacted

Fake news shouldn't be that hard to define. It's mostly exemplified by hyperpartisan news sources that either doesn't completely fact check it's information or presents information that is misleading due to lack of sufficient pertinent information.
I explained how propaganda works. You've proven you do not understand the difference between a conspiracy theory and an opinion.
" Clintons did have power simply because they accumulated it.
Why would they acculumate that power? The oldest reason all. She wanted it. Thats all."
Those are not the words of an epistemic rationalist, those are the ramblings of a cynic. She "wants power" is such a cartoonish unrealistic motive. The world cannot be interpreted and broken down using motifs from your typical Hollywood movie.
I've listened and read the speeches of Goeebels at the Nurenburg rallies, I've read Bryan Capland books on rationality, I've read Orwells 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World. If you want to talk about books, I suggest you try out The Believing Brain and The Myth of The Rational Voter.

Anthony Reiner was a completely separate case.

"Sounds like a man who had evidence but couldnt use it." Which just so happens to sound exactly like someone who doesn't have evidence to indict to begin with. I'd take Occram's razor on this one.

Disney owns a lot of companies. So what? Conglomeration is apart of capitalism. It only proves they are on the same side and unlikely to compete, doesn't necessarily prove they are guilty of a sinister plot simply due to association. Obviously MSM is controlled by corporations. Would you expect the worlds top grossing films to come out of some Hungarian teenagers basement? No, that is not how the free market works. The MSM is merely a pet name given to major monopolies in journalism. They are owned by corporations because that is how they get the necessary resources and funding to adapt to the growing needs of the world for information.
I like to keep it civil, but seriously? Implying that FOX news is a paragon of good journalism over any other mainstream media is laughable. This is not real journalism. I will admit to my Liberal bias, now you need to admit to yours.
Why did Trump win despite the hate? If you've ever lived in Manhattan and dealt with professional con men, then you would know. He has mastered only the art of the New York style con. Making all these impossible promises while showcasing a massive amount of confidence and bravado. He's demonized all of his opponents and critics. He's convinced you and millions like you to block out all of his criticism as meaningless propaganda. Propaganda doesn't need to come from corporations, it's all within your head m8. You put all corporate media under the same category of legitimacy as every fringe site out there. You do this to justify believing only in media that matches your beliefs, the truth doesn't matter to you because you already admitted you don't think it exist. The fact you think FOX news is exceptional helps prove my theory that you truly believe your way of thinking is superior. So you judge news by how closely it aligns with your preconceptions. You think labeling me with an overused psychology term proves anything?

u/Rishodi · 1 pointr/Bitcoin
u/tenthirtyone1031 · 1 pointr/Documentaries

Check out:

The Not So Wild West

The Invisible Hook

The Private Production of Defense

The Myth of the Rational Voter

I would also recommend Robert Nozick's "Tale of the Slave" since it can be youtube'd and is only about 2 minutes long.

If you like long, heavy reading with huge citations Hoppe is great for that. I'm a lighter reader and I prefer the younger authors, hence pirates. Bryan Caplan is a nice in between author. He's deep but can take you down that rabbit hole with him.

RE: Pirates killing and plundering. A standard deal on the high seas was surrender and you'll be spared, dropped off at the next port. Forced conscription happens now. "Shanghai'ing" is alive an well. I agree, it's wrong. Obviously it's not a tenant of anarcho capitalism but that's why the civic appeals to me. It isn't selling utopia.

u/Cheezus_Geist · 1 pointr/PoliticalDiscussion

language is a tricky thing, for example when you choose "demonize" instead of "characterize" to denote the descriptive narrative conservatives use when discussing the poor.

As I said before, people vote in alignment with what they think is best for society (Blogpost to Wapost by Bryan Caplan, Author of Myth of the Rational Voter which has the sources for the claims in the blog)

This handily defuses the argument that liberals vote the way they do because they think it yields free stuff, and just as handily defuses that conservatives would vote the way liberals do if only they stopped pretending they couldn't fall on hard times, and it even defuses the argument that liberals would vote the way conservatives did if they had any money. Any argument based on voting too cynically, or not cynically enough, basically.

u/planesforstars · 1 pointr/PoliticalDiscussion

Thank you! Please don't rock the vote! Check out the myth of the rational voter for a cleared eyed explanation of why this is a terrible idea

u/LibertyAboveALL · 1 pointr/EnoughLibertarianSpam

I could spend a lot time responding to these counter points, but, first, I want to know - are you proposing a democratic system for controlling a monopoly on the initiation of force (domestic and foreign)? How would the system you are proposing solve fundamental economic problem for dealing with scarcity in a more efficient way than free market capitalism?

> What does brain surgery have to do with anything? Like, at all? No one is suggesting that we have Twitch Performs Brainsurgery or Rocket Design by Popular Vote.

This part of your response, though, really surprises me. Most people I communicate with easily grasp this point. Voters (direct or representative democracy) would have to thoroughly understand very complex economic issues to vote 'correctly' or 'optimally'. That's the point about brain surgery. You can't hand a small group of people a monopoly on the initiation of force and then have the majority of voters be extremely ignorant on the issues. If this is still unclear, the following from Bryan Caplan is highly recommended:

Myth of the Rational Voter

u/cantletthatstand · 1 pointr/PoliticalDiscussion

I absolutely agree. Doesn't mean I'm NOT going to advocate for, and vote for, political change that I believe would be for the best. You're right, though. We're headed for an inevitable collapse, and it won't be the politicians' fault, it won't be the corporations' fault, it won't be the billionaires' fault - it'll be the people's fault.

And the cycle will begin again. You know who never takes the blame for shit hitting the fan? The group who's actually responsible for it: Regular, everyday folks. Bless their hearts.

u/SDBP · 1 pointr/changemyview

> That's perhaps the root of your misunderstanding here.

It is actually two separate issues. One is on whether there is an obligation to vote. The other is whether most people are warranted in voting. My arguments against there being an obligation to vote may stand even if my argument regarding most people being irrational about politics (and thus shouldn't vote) fails.

> You think most people have no idea at all what sort of government and laws there should be? That's a ridiculous statement.

Well, I wouldn't exactly phrase it like that ("no idea"). For example, they are aware that representative democracy is better than a dictatorship or a new monarchy. But you'd be kidding yourself if you think most people are highly informed on the facts surrounding todays political issues or if you think people are sufficiently reflective enough in their philosophy. This isn't just confusing jargon. There are good reasons to think voters are irrational about politics. People like watching American Idol. And they have jobs to do and families to raise and friends to spend time with. They don't like reading policy analysis and rigorously reflecting on their thoughts and values. It's too much work, and not enough benefit (unless they personally enjoy it.) So they don't do it.

> Barack Obama is running against a Neo-Nazi in 2012. The Neo-Nazi candidate is proposing that we kill all the Jews in America. You think most people would have no good reason to oppose the new holocaust that is being proposed by the Neo-Nazi? Would you still advocate not voting?

As I said above, people know enough to oppose neo-nazis. But don't pretend like modern political issues aren't far more complex than that.

> Would you still advocate not voting [in the Obama vs. Neo-nazi scenario]?

There are two issues here: (1) Would I advocate not voting? (2) Would I advocate that someone doesn't have an obligation to vote?

As to (1), recall my reasons for saying most people shouldn't vote. It was that they are irrational when it comes to politics, and they are thusly not often epistemically warranted in supporting the candidates they support. In this hypothetical scenario, because people are epistemically warranted in being anti-Nazi, then it would certainly be permissible for them to vote to avoid the Nazi. (But in reality, people aren't typically epistemically warranted in being for/against Obama or Romney or whoever -- they sway whichever way fear mongering, propaganda, and their ideological upbringing directs them.)

As to (2), in the Obama vs Neo-nazi election, whether someone has an obligation to vote depends on whether their vote is likely to effect the outcome. If it isn't (say they don't live in a swing state, and their district is solidly pro-Obama or pro-Neo-nazi), then they don't have an obligation -- voting in such a scenario does nothing to promote the public good. If it is likely to matter, then yes, one should go vote.

In reality, in my case, in my state and my district, my vote has no such meaning and impact. It is not likely to effect the outcome (I am far more likely to win the lottery. And it isn't often even clear to me which outcome, which candidate, would be better.

u/Waltonruler5 · 1 pointr/GoldandBlack

Oh man, I cannot recommend The Problem of Political Authority, by Michael Huemer enough. Here's a video on the first part of the book for an overview, but you really have to read the book to see how thorough he is. The first part of the book talks about the ethics of why government is not particularly morally justified. The second part really carefully reasons out how and why a stateless society could not just function, but thrive.

Voter irrationality is a big deal. Huemer also has this paper on why it's a good thing the average person is not more influential. Then Bryan Caplan has an excellent book that really delves into the political economy of voter irrationality. I've listened to it on audible, and though the reader is pretty dry, it's a very detailed explanation of just how much astray voters are. You can top off this category with Jason Brennan's Against Democracy.

u/AtonalTimpanist · 1 pointr/Catholicism

>When you claim the government collecting taxes is theft, you are claiming the government has no right to collect taxes. For example, a parent can strike a child without that child having recourse to pressing assault charges. A parent can ground a child without the child having recourse to kidnapping and false imprisonment charges. This is because parents have the right to do those things to the children under their authority. Likewise, the state has certain rights it secures over the people under its authority.<

This is a terrible analogy. The government isn't a family. They aren't our parents. It's a separate entity full of people you and I don't know. Taxation is theft, but I pay my taxes only because I don't want to spend my time in prison.

>I never said the common good is from the state. The common good exists anytime you have two people in the same room. What I, and the Church, are saying is that it is the responsibility of the state to safeguard the common good.<

My apologies - I thought you did say that. But my point remains, though. What I'm saying is that if The State only supports the protection of property rights and courts, then I'll concede to your point, although I do believe that The State isn't necessary for either of those functions. However, a limited State hardly exists. It's expansive powers corrode away at individual freedoms, are riddled with bureaucratic waste, and it supplies benefits in the form of rents to the concentrated and well-informed while socializing the costs on the dispersed and uninformed. That's the logic of public choice. Because resources are scarce, we need to take extreme care that those resources aren't wasted. I'm arguing that the government, by it's very nature, does create waste when it transfers resources from X to Y, which comes at the expense of everyone else.

I'm guessing you'll reply with "doesn't matter - although the government might be doing bad things A, B, and C, it's still promoting the common good by doing D, E, and F." So how should we fix this? I think you'll say "exercise their power" by voting or calling their legislators, but voting is an unaccountable action that pollutes democracy and, in the case of activist governments, lead to terrible policies that come at the expense of the general welfare. I think we can do better than that. You're right that if I conceded to your point (based on my comment above), then what I'd accept the fact that some tax is owed. However, because of those biases and realities, I would argue that starving the beast (withholding taxes) is the more ethical approach to direct government toward promoting only the common good.

But I have also been arguing that there is no way to know if the government is promoting the common good. There is no metric that will assure an outside observer (you) that the loss to A (me) from being forced to pay for G's (government) common good intervention on behalf of B (a stranger) is less than the loss to B of persisting in a world without that particular public good. Because there is no solid evidence, or strong reason to believe, that A's losses aren't at least as great as B's gains from G's action, the presumption of liberty should keep G and B out of A's pocket.

This is getting pretty long, but I think I've addressed all your points. But regarding FICA, all I'm trying to show is that it is possible that your dollar can be earmarked. What that means to me is that the government does have the ability to institute a tax for a very specific purpose (which does happen - especially in local governments). If I was guaranteed that my money was earmarked only to the provision of courts and property rights, then I'll concede as I mentioned above. But to a large degree (with exceptions), we don't know where our money is going and, to me, that is the problem.

u/Si-duck11 · 1 pointr/newzealand

Read Bryan Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter . His basic thesis is that in politics there is no incentive to change from biased/wrong beliefs. I never challenge my beliefs even if seeing them implemented could bring me great harm, because the probability that my vote is the decider is practically zero. A result of this is people supporting parties as they support sports teams.

u/auryn0151 · 1 pointr/changemyview

>there is nothing else meaningful to base your government policy, or your ethics off of.

My ethics are based on providing maximum freedom to the individual, irrespective of what they do with it. I'm not concerned about promoting the greater good by central planning. Why does the good of the group outweigh the good of the individual?

>I am not sure there is any realistic example in which some can suffer a lot for others benefit, and this maximises utility.

I would say this depends on the scope of the group you are talking about benefiting. The US harms many overseas to benefit the domestic population, for example.

>Ultimately I have some faith in governments... to fail less than the market does. i simply think they fail less (or have the potential to fail less) than the free market.

When the government fails, it does so after having threatened the people with violence, taken their money, and then wither wasted it, lost it, and hurt the many to benefit the politically connected. Market failures certainly do happen, but they are the result of the choices people make, which to me is far less unethical than a government failure. Do you think governments have the potential to fail worse than the market, with worse outcomes from those worse failures?

>I am a Keynesian, so I think deficit spending is terrific.

Even Keynes only suggested deficit spending during recessions, not every single year during good times as well.

>The only way to deal with this is a very informed electorate, which is hardly an exciting solution.

It's an irrational solution. Have you ever read anything like They Myth of the Rational Voter? The amount of time it takes to become educated on all the relevant topics compared to the meaninglessness of your vote statistically among many millions makes it a very poor investment of your time.

>These are deeply heterodox views, and you would have a hard time finding a respectable modern academic to back you up on them.

The government isn't exactly known for its historical honesty, and supports people who support its views. However, there are some recognized works, including this Pulitzer Prize winning book. Ben Bernanke has a concurring view of Milton Friedman's work to show the great depression worsened by Federal monetary policy


The trouble with this word is that in today's discourse anyone who supports a heterodox view of anything is instantly branded as "not-respectable."

I'm going to skip your stuff on austerity, as I am not familiar with the particulars of those countries and don't have anything informed to say about them. My apologies.

>I am all in favour of a smaller military

Yes, but if you're concerned about the environment, then the military is currently and ongoing government failure, dare I say a disaster. Can you point to something the market is failing at that has an equally large impact?

>that energy would have been consuming by the free market equivalent of the services provided by government anyway.

This assumes the government programs are as efficient as market ones. Would you make that assumption?

>Again, while the government is not perfect, it is the better than the alternative.

False dichotomy. What is the alternative? There can be many alternatives.

>Almost all of the top universities in the world are publicly run, Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford etc.

Harvard is private. The Ivy league schools are private. Also, what does "top" mean? Top at what? Promoting an orthodox view? Producing the best minds to go into politics and lord over people?

>higher than many poor people could afford in the free market, this is the ultimate problem of education in the market.

In much of the developing world private education is stepping in where the government fails.

>What sort of social mobility can you expect when the lower classes are educated so badly relative to their more rich counterparts?

The US government is a worst offender of this I can think of, because it funds schools on property taxes. Government education is a massive failure, yet it produces people at the ready to denounce private education.

u/stev_meli · 1 pointr/Economics

>But if you pirate the seven seas, or plunder northern France, you can definitely make a profit on non-voluntary transactions.

Sure I can agree with that, but for the purposes of our discussion, I was distinguishing between the two types of exchange.

>And government programs do fail when their policies are failures, or at least unpopular.

Such as? There are far more examples of the opposite.

>And if you think that corporations make maximal use of their resources

It doesn't matter what I think or if corporations make maximal use of resources. The question is whether consumers value their output more than the inputs resulting in more revenue then expenses, i.e. profit.

>In general, governments are still subject to feedback mechanisms, but the feedback mechanism is usually the ballot box, 1 vote per person, and not the profit box, 1 vote per customer dollar.

First, not everyone votes, everyone engages in economic exchange. Second, the incentives in the public and private are completely different. I suggest Bryan Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies for serious insight into this.

>Capital One was convicted of failing to send a certain percentage of credit card statements each month in order to increase the amount of late fees they could collect. This is the opposite of satisfaction.

Private companies are not perfect all the time because they are run by humans who are not perfect. The system does not require perfect humans to be efficient. It requires a feedback mechanism to ensure that not satisfying consumer demand is punished. Banks are a special case because they don't rely as much on consumers for their bottom line as traditional industry - their balance sheets can be enhanced by borrowing from the central bank.

u/Rick___ · 1 pointr/changemyview

Crimea? Isn't that a river?

Yes, people are ignorant about economics and politics. And that's fine as long as there aren't systematic biases that pull policy away from the ideal (ideal based on some aggregation of everyone's preferences). But that condition doesn't seem to be the case.

Okay, so there is systemic and damaging ignorance and we can't simply wave a wand and make people spend less time having fun and all go out and learn economics, sociology, political science, etc. But your friends can surely discuss ignorance. What are its sources? (hint: time is scarce) What are it's implications? (hint: reducing the scope of government would reduce the problem)

u/greygray · -1 pointsr/worldnews

The only reason why I vote is because I don't trust everyone else to make a good decision.

I consider myself to be very informed and well educated, but if I were in a different country where I feel my vote might not be represented or necessary I wouldn't vote. Good chapter on how only a small percentage of people actually end up deciding the vote.