Rationally Misinformed Voter
Thomas J. DiLorenzo
by Thomas DiLorenzo: Be
Patriotic: Become a Secessionist
In the sub-discipline
of economics known as public choice, an important concept is the
theory of "rational ignorance." First articulated by political
scientist Anthony Downs in the 1950s, and expanded upon by economist
Gordon Tullock and others, the theory of rational ignorance holds
that it is perfectly rational for individuals to largely ignore
politics, or even not to vote. There are only twenty-four hours
in a day, and we all spend most of our time doing our jobs, pursuing
an education, raising families, paying bills, and planning our private
lives. We rationally spend very little time becoming informed about
politics and government policy.
From an economic
perspective, it is irrational for most people to vote in presidential
elections since, in a country as big as the United States, the probability
that your vote will "make a difference" is about 1/100,000,000,
with the denominator being the number of voters. The main reason
people vote, therefore, is similar to the reason why they cheer
for their favorite sports team. Or, they have been so bombarded
with government propaganda for their entire lives that they believe
it is their "patriotic duty" to legitimize the state and
all that it does by "voicing their consent" at the voting
of the rational ignorance effect is that, since the general public
is largely ignorant of the machinations of the state, political
outcomes are controlled by special-interest groups, the largest
of which is the state itself and all of its functionaries. This
is true as far as it goes, but it is much worse. The average citizen
in a democracy is not only rationally ignorant, but rationally misinformed,
thanks to the relentless statist propaganda that is drummed into
the heads of nearly everyone beginning in pre-school. The entire
educational system in America has become one gigantic, state-funded
statist brainwashing operation.
have been thoroughly indoctrinated in statism for at least twelve
years, that indoctrination is then reinforced by the lapdog media,
Hollywood, and the popular culture in general. It is much easier
to plunder and exert totalitarian control over a society in which
at least half of the adult population is comprised of brain-numbed
morons who will believe in almost any lie or superstition as long
as it has a governmental imprimatur.
Hence we have
millions of people who believe that disarming all the law-abiding
citizens so that only dangerous criminals can possess firearms will
make us safer. They believe that their children are safer in public
schools if there is no one there – not a single person – who could
protect them from a crazed murderer by carrying a firearm and knowing
how to use it.
Americans believe that jobs and prosperity are created when the
government takes more money out of their bank accounts and gives
the money to government bureaucrats to spend on themselves and their
political supporters. They are sermonized about this several times
a week by Paul Krugman in the New York Times.
believe that they are safer in the world the more involved their
government’s military is in launching terroristic bombing attacks
by air on more and more countries, under whatever pretense announced
by D.C. They believe that if the U.S. government murders hundreds
of thousands of children in such bombings then, well, it is just
a price that WE should be willing to pay for peace in the world.
They also believe that such murderous acts will not motivate anyone
in those countries to even think about retaliating against Americans.
Americans believe that "fairness" occurs whenever the
government discriminates against hard-working, frugal, far-sighted,
self-educated, law-abiding, and economically-successful families
and gives that money away to welfare bums and parasites. There are
millions of Americans who pay no income taxes at all who believe
that the "top two percent" of income earners who pay almost
90 percent of all federal income taxes are "not paying their
Americans believe that they are helping to avert a global environmental
catastrophe that could end life on earth by lugging bottles and
cans and paper bags out to the street every week for the "recycling
truck," which may well just throw it all in the dump with all
the other garbage.
Americans believe that treating people according to the content
of their character and not the color of their skin means that racial
hiring and college admission quotas should be enforced by the state.
When a company
like Wal-Mart begins selling groceries 30-40 percent cheaper than
unionized grocery stores, it almost goes without saying that they
are to be condemned as social outlaws who abuse both their employees
and their customers. That’s what the labor unions instruct us to
believe that Abraham Lincoln "saved" the voluntary union
of states that was created by the founding fathers, based on the
principle that government’s just powers are derived from the consent
of the governed by micromanaging the waging of total war on Americans
who no longer consented to being governed by Washington, D.C., killing
hundreds of thousands of them.
also think of Lincoln as a racial saint even though he advocated
the deportation of all black people all of his adult life, to his
dying day. He also opposed inter-racial marriage or allowing black
people to vote or serve on juries or even to reside in his home
state of Illinois. They think of him as a "great statesman"
even though he manipulated his country into the bloodiest war in
American history where as many as 850,000 Americans died according
to the latest research. This is the kind of thing "great statesmen"
do, we are all told in the government schools.
It has been
widely reported that the main reason why Barack Obama was reelected
was that millions of Americans believed that this particular multi-millionaire
"cares more about people like me" than the other multi-millionaire
who was his rival.
This list of
American idiocy could go on forever, and is a testament to the overwhelming
success of the American state in not just "dumbing down"
the population, as many have claimed, but in creating a society
comprised of millions of dunces and robots who can always be counted
on to "legitimize" anything and everything the state does
at election time. As the nineteenth-century pundit Josh Billings,
who was a contemporary of Mark Twain’s, once said: "The trouble
with people is not that they don’t know but that they know so much
that ain’t so."
J. DiLorenzo [send him mail]
is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the
author of The
Real Lincoln; Lincoln
Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe,
Capitalism Saved America, and Hamilton’s
Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution
– And What It Means for America Today. His latest book is
Crime: The Unvarnished Truth About Government.
© 2013 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
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