Bonus Quotation of the Day…

by Don Boudreaux on July 18, 2022

in Myths and Fallacies, Virginia Political Economy

… is from page 220 of Randy Simmons’s 2011 Revised Edition of his and the late William Mitchell’s 1994 volume, Beyond Politics, which is a superb primer on public-choice scholarship and research:

Government officials may well rest their authority on the premise that since they are elected or otherwise chosen by constitutional rule no one is being coerced or taken advantage of. But that is a weak formality. The more important point is that citizens can be exploited by their governments because of two highly important factors. First, decisions can and are made with less than unanimity, meaning that majorities (including those constituted by transient log-roll deals) are enabled to exploit minorities. There are, then, winners and losers. Second, opportunistic behavior is difficult to counter because the costs of organizing collective action against political opportunists is costly, as is exiting a jurisdiction.

DBx: Yes.

Contrary to the grade-school view of democracy, “the people” is not a sentient being with a will or set of preferences. Therefore, even the best-designed method of voting will not discover “the will of the people,” for that which does not exist cannot be discovered. That which does not exist can, however, be falsely portrayed as existing and then used as an excuse for tyranny.

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