Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on April 17, 2013

in Myths and Fallacies, Politics, Reality Is Not Optional

… is from page 12 of J.R. Clark’s and Dwight Lee’s 2013 essay “The Impact of The Calculus of Consent,” which is chapter 1 of the hot-off-the-press Public Choice, Past and Present: The Legacy of James M. Buchanan and Gordon Tullock (Dwight R. Lee, editor, 2013) (original emphasis; link added):

Much of the resistance to public choice is a function of the fact that it strips away the romantic notions about the political process that makes it so appealing to many.  Consider the moral satisfaction that many realize from voting for noble-sounding government programs or for politicians who support them, despite (or because of) their high cost.  That moral satisfaction depends on voters’ belief that their votes represent their willingness to sacrifice personally to promote virtuous objectives.  But the messages people receive from public choice are that (1) their votes do not represent a meaningful sacrifice since their individual votes have no noticeable influence on whether or not the programs they vote for are enacted, (2) those with the most influence on the details and implementation of the noble-sounding programs that are enacted will use their influence to promote their own interests by undermining the achievement of the noble objectives intended, and (3) many of the programs they vote for will end up harming the very people who were intended to be helped no matter how the programs are designed and implemented.  If a person accepts these conclusions, there is not much left in the act of voting, or the political process in general, to feel particularly virtuous about.

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