Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on June 2, 2012

in Politics

… is from page 36 of Gordon Tullock’s 2005 collection, The Economics of Politics, which is Vol. 4 of The Selected Works of Gordon Tullock; here Gordon is explaining voters’ “rational ignorance” (original emphasis):

[P]oliticians trying to select policies that will attract voters know that the voters will put much less energy into trying to make a correct choice than they would when purchasing an automobile or some other item whose shortcomings and advantages will accrue to them alone.  The voters, therefore, are likely to be badly informed and may favor a politician or policies that are directly contrary to their interest.  From the standpoint of the individual candidate, what is important is what the people want given their perception of the value of their vote on the outcome and the cost of becoming informed, not what they would want if they were better informed.

But when I vote I am aware that my vote will have almost no effect on the kind of policies I shall get.  The result occurs because the policies and politicians chosen will be determined to a much greater extent by the votes of other people.  Politicians once again know this, and hence attempt to design policies which shall attract ill-informed voters.

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