3 thoughts on “IEA Podcast: Why do democracies choose ‘bad’ policies?”

  1. Posted 09/12/2019 at 09:45 | Permalink

    The American Revolution was inspired by the principle ‘no taxation without representation’. If citizens were to be disqualified from voting on grounds of economic ignorance, should they be exempted from taxation?

  2. Posted 10/12/2019 at 16:41 | Permalink

    Who is to decide which citizens are “well-informed”? Professor Caplan suggests that voters should ideally be educated in economics to a high level, but surely it is not only economic ignorance that is a problem in politics? Is economic ignorance more relevant than ignorance about moral philosophy, law, geopolitics, psychology, history or any number of other disciplines? Surely these should be grounds to disqualify voters as well under Professor Caplan’s approach, in which case how many voters will realistically count as “well-informed”?

    Surely it makes more sense to allow as many people to vote as possible, so that between us we do possess all that expertise even if none of us do individually. Beyond that, we should just accept that these biases are inbuilt in the political mechanism and we should only use politics to make a decision where there is no better alternative.

  3. Posted 14/12/2019 at 00:19 | Permalink

    Chris,

    > Surely it makes more sense to allow as many people to vote as possible, so that between us we do possess all that expertise even if none of us do individually

    This claim is actually a core point in Caplan’s book; I suggest you read his exposition. Short version: The ‘wisdom of the crowd,’ relies on errors being randomly distributed, with a subset of the crowd being correct. So that errors are cancelled out, and the correct outcome is chosen. However, errors are not random, but are systematically biased. So instead of getting wisdom from the crowd, you get madness from the crowd.

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