Sunday, August 23, 2009


I don’t oppose government spending because it’s immoral, I oppose it because it generally does not work. The majority of public spending does not pay for true public goods like roads, public safety, national defense, etc. The majority of public spending is in the form of hand outs to special interests.

There is an article in Explore Howard today about how the food bank (a private charity) is experiencing 10% decreased food donations, but requests for food are up 25%. This seems like a reasonable problem that government may be able to address, but instead government is looking for cuts in the budget. In fairness, government does have some programs (welfare, etc.) to help the poor, but these programs pale in comparison to other forms of government spending.

Take a look at the plans for the new $30 million library in Ellicott City. It has a water feature, a stone wall built to look like a bridge, a room shaped like an iPod and a healthy dose of liberal nonsense like an organic garden and special parking for hybrid cars. And I am not picking on liberals, of course. Conservatives have their own brand of nonsense that we are all paying for. Is this library really needed? Is it really filling a need that cannot be met by a freed market? Is the $100+ million dollars budgeted to be spent on libraries in Howard County over the next couple of years really the best use of those resources?

There are market failures (externalities, monopolies, etc.) associated with freed markets, but these are the exception and not the rule. Democracy, in contrast, is one giant market failure in itself. Due to rational ignorance of voters, our tax dollars and regulatory system are not used to help the truly destitute or prevent the few problems associated with capitalism. Democracy simply selects for officials who give our tax dollars to concentrated interests. Yay.


Anonymous said...

It's difficult to get people (voters) who don't even read food labels to listen to facts about who they've voted for. That's why the press doesn't bother.

If people are willing ingest roach food with no nutritive value, there's not much chance to generate interest in substantive informed voting.

Look at the explore howard site whose publication is by far the most read in Howard, and check out the most read items for a week. People respond and read about restaurants and children's sports. Patuxent decision makers know this.

We're screwed.

Freemarket said...

People have a much stronger incentive to know what they are eating rather than who they are voting for. What you eat has a direct impact on your quality of life. Your single vote, for all intents and purposes, does not matter at all.

Anonymous said...

Manuy elections have been decided by a handful of votes. Ulman launched his career winning by 36 votes. CA folks are elected, sometimes, by a dozen vote margin in elections that have about 100 voters. Every vote matters.

The 1 big mac you eat today--not so much.

Freemarket said...

Obviously Democracy works much better among small groups of people with relatively common interests. This is partly why local government is far better than Fed and State governments. However, it is still a hassle to inform yourself as a voter relative to the impact your single vote will have on the election result. Elections with 36 vote margins are the exception, not the rule. It is completely rational to be an uninformed voter.

Anonymous said...

Any idea how much Choose Civility cost? Just wondering --

Freemarket said...

I dunno, but it's privately funded.