Bryan Caplan on Voters and Democracy

by Don Boudreaux on August 15, 2009

in Politics

Here’s an audio recording of an entertaining and informative talk on voters and democracy given by my brilliant young colleague (and EconLog’s) Bryan Caplan.  Bryan delivered this talk last summer at F.E.E. seminar.  (HT Sheldon Richman)

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Marcus August 15, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Bryan’s first method of finding whether voter errors are or are not systemic, his so called method of objective quantitative comparison, doesn’t actually answer the question.

It doesn’t really matter that most people don’t know what percent of the federal government’s budget goes to foreign aid because that’s not the qeustion. The question is, of the people who don’t know, do their votes cancel out? Or, is the weighting of their votes substantially different than the weighting of informed votes.

He doesn’t answer either of these questions.

Anonymous August 16, 2009 at 5:53 am

I haven’t heard this lecture of his yet, but he does address that in his book. In fact, that’s pretty much the sole foundation of his attack on rational ignorance. The errors don’t average out, they are systematic, as observing political outcomes would suggest. He actually managed to find a series of polls where public opinion is matched against that of economists. He also has surprising stuff like how there is actually stronger support for social security from young people than seniors, and how the level of support for the draft from young men is consistent with the rest of the population, and polls that show people support food subsidies in mass. He’s basically demolishing the rational ignorance story of concentrated vs dispersed interest groups on empirical grounds.

Marcus August 16, 2009 at 1:06 pm

You should listen to it. It’s very good and he’s hilarious. I laughed out loud several times.

Anonymous August 16, 2009 at 5:42 am

Here’s another lecture of his, on video:

Anonymous August 16, 2009 at 11:37 pm

Is that caffeine, meth, or just adrenaline? I rarely hear people who can talk faster than I can listen. Had to listen to it twice. Good stuff.

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