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Quotation of the Day…

… is from page 122 of the 2016 Third Edition of James D. Gwartney’s, Richard L. Stroup’s, Dwight R. Lee’s, Tawni H. Ferrarini’s, and Joseph P. Calhoun’s excellent Common Sense Economics:

Clearly, policies favored by a majority do not always make a society better off. Here’s a thought experiment: Consider a simple economy with five voters. Suppose three of the voters favor a project that gives each a net benefit of $2, but imposes a net cost of $5 on each of the other two voters. In aggregate, the project generates net costs of $10 against net benefits of only $6. It is counterproductive and will make the five-person society worse off. Nonetheless, if decided by majority vote, it would pas three to two. Increasing the number of voters from five to 5 million or 200 million will not alter the general outcome. As this simple example illustrates, majority voting can clearly lead to adoption of counterproductive projects.

DBx: This simple point – so obvious to America’s founders and to anyone who thinks at all seriously about collective decision-making – must nevertheless be made repeatedly given the large number of people, many of them intellectuals, who treat any sympathy for limiting raw majoritarian rule as evidence of evil intent. (A notable exception, of course, is abortion. On that issue, elite opinion regards as evidence of evil intent any sympathy for majoritarian rule.)

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