The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies (New Edition)
The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters. This is economist Bryan Caplan's sobering assessment in this provocative and eye-opening book. Caplan argues that voters continually elect politicians who either share their biases or else pretend to, resulting in bad policies winning again and again by popular demand.
Boldly calling into question our most basic assumptions about American politics, Caplan contends that democracy fails precisely because it does what voters want. Through an analysis of Americans' voting behavior and opinions on a range of economic issues, he makes the convincing case that noneconomists suffer from four prevailing biases: they underestimate the wisdom of the market mechanism, distrust foreigners, undervalue the benefits of conserving labor, and pessimistically believe the economy is going from bad to worse. Caplan lays out several bold ways to make democratic government work better--for example, urging economic educators to focus on correcting popular misconceptions and recommending that democracies do less and let markets take up the slack.
The Myth of the Rational Voter takes an unflinching look at how people who vote under the influence of false beliefs ultimately end up with government that delivers lousy results. With the upcoming presidential election season drawing nearer, this thought-provoking book is sure to spark a long-overdue reappraisal of our elective system.
What people are saying - Write a review
The tyranny of the majority is a real problem, particularly when the majority is ill-informed.
This book is full of more interesting ideas than most i can think of. Some of the chapters could keep a grad student in Politcal Science busy on research topics for years.
In the end i think Caplan does not close the deal on why Democracy appears to actually work pretty well in much of the world.
Possible if he expanded some of his theories to show why Democracy has been such a failure at times it could have bolstered some of his arguments.
This is pretty much a must read of anyone interested in Political Economy or Democratic Theory.
Other editions - View all
The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies
Limited preview - 2011