Tullock on Voting

by Don Boudreaux on November 4, 2008

in Politics

Gordon Tullock — one of the most important economists of the past few generations — explains in this short PBS video why he does not vote.

Gordon, along with Jim Buchanan, founded public-choice economics — which, as Jim summarizes it, is the study of "politics without romance."

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Keith November 4, 2008 at 6:23 am

And of course the rent seeking government supported agency ends the segment with the same old government propaganda ("democracy" and the "common good"). More vacuous arguments from the collectivist left.

Randy November 4, 2008 at 7:31 am

Tim Fowler,

"If libertarians stop voting, that only helps the government grow even quicker."

Vote Republican? That's been tried. It doesn't work. I suggest that a better approach is to leave the Progressives with no one but themselves to blame.

Mike Farmer November 4, 2008 at 7:50 am

Until the government is limited once again by the Constitution, choosing the particular Expander in Chief is like a choice between walking on broken glass or hot coals.

Mcwop November 4, 2008 at 9:11 am

I voted for Nader. That was my protest vote, and wanted to give it to a third party. Maybe some day a third party will have enough votes to get in the mix and stir things up.

vidyohs November 4, 2008 at 9:18 am

It is not who votes that counts. It is who counts the votes.

vidyohs November 4, 2008 at 9:51 am


The Lisbon Agenda and 'Neoliberal Communitarian' Citizenship

Lengthy but interesting "down the rabbit hole" variety article on where the EU is stumbling around in trying to make itself relevant to real life.

Could such foolishness be coming here? Don't bet against it. Most of it already is here.

The EU high mucks know they need business to thrive and provide, but are terrified to unleash business and let it do so.

Gotta be "fair", doncha know?

Pingry November 4, 2008 at 10:42 am

If you vote, "it will make you feel big and strong". In reality, the larger the number of people voting, the smaller the probability of your vote having any influence.

As more people are encouraged to vote, the probability of influencing the outcome comes so close to zero that mathematicians must use scientific notation.

In fact, as more people vote, the greater is the difference between the probability of death from actually going out to vote and the probability that a given vote is going to influence the outcome, ceteris paribus.

A statistically significant number of people will die today because they want to "feel big and strong".

This is a striking example of the sort when Bastiat warned us about "what is seen" and "what is not seen"


muirgeo November 4, 2008 at 11:08 am

I voted. And I am absolutely certain my vote will be the one that puts Obama over the top here in California. Sweet! It was pretty emotional knowing that I determined the outcome of this historic election here in California. Also since the electoral votes in California will put Obama over the top in the electoral college over all I will be the one that gets all the credit for his victory. I am very proud of myself today.

But to Mr. Tullock I absolutely agree he should not vote. I support him fully.

Methinks November 4, 2008 at 11:13 am

First I'm going to vote at the polls because I feel like it and because passionate Obammunists would like me to stay home.

Then, I'm going to vote where it really counts – I'm going to lay off employees and tax shelter a large portion of my income.

I guess incentives really do matter.

muirgeo November 4, 2008 at 11:21 am

A statistically significant number of people will die today because they want to "feel big and strong".


Wow life must be pretty scary for you. I suspect you don't vaccinate yourself either.
The way I look at it a very significant number of people have died for my right to go vote and feel big and strong. And many more soldiers lives will be saved in Iraq because of those of us who voted to bring them home. The drive to the polls was well worth the risk.

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