Bryan Caplan  

The High-Tech Solution to Voter Irrationality

Name Russ's Book!... We Need an Anti-Congress...

This didn't make it into the book, but one of my favorite remedies for voter irrationality has long been to simply clone John Stossel. His column today just reinforces my support for the clone-Stossel solution:

More practically, [Caplan] thinks that "Everyone who knows some economics" should grab every opportunity to teach it. That's what I try to do with my "20/20" segments, television specials and the Stossel in the Classroom program, which brings economic ideas to high-school and college classrooms.
I wonder if Stossel realizes that when I was writing this section, I had him in mind?

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COMMENTS (10 to date)
Matt writes:

We have free trade, or at least much freeer than 80 years ago.

China is booming on exports to the U.S.

What voter irrationality?

Carl Shulman writes:

Stossel clones would not be very useful, you're thinking of upload copies.

Once you're doing mass digital reproduction, why not just replicate economists until they have an electoral majority?

Matt writes:

I think the power behind John Stossel, Tom Selleck, and Keith Hernandez is their righteous 'stache. Maybe that's what you need to clone.

Richard A. writes:

"[Caplan] offers some solutions that aren't likely to be adopted any time soon, such as permitting only the economically literate to vote"

How about permitting only the economically literate to immigrate to the US? You decry voter irrationality but yet you advocate a policy that will increase that irrationality.

Unit writes:


one could argue that free trade is much more democratic because it let's people vote with their feet. So wouldn't it be better to say "How our system of government chooses bad policies"?

KSH writes:

There is one underlying flaw in your argument that having only the economically literate vote would ensure better policies. Given previous conversations on this blog about economists putting their name on a petition supporting a raise in the minimum wage, why should one expect that given even more power through exclusive voting rights, the economically literate would vote any less irrationally than the economically illiterate?

TGGP writes:

KSH, economists are far more opposed to the minimum wage than the general population. The survey of economists and americans on the economy shows that economists have very different views from the rest of Americans on average, and the minimum wage is one aspect of that. You could find a petition of economists supporting a small raise, just as I could get a counter-petition from the general public, but that doesn't make either representative of the whole.

I second the point about immigrants. We've got birthright citizenship, and their kids don't well behind the general population in education, IQ and in accordance with Caplan's work, political rationality.

Jim writes:

"one of my favorite remedies for voter irrationality has long been to simply clone John Stossel"

But John Stossel's a moron. Oh wait, he's a libertarian moron - now I see your point.

Dan Weber writes:

I used to like John Stossel, but one day I read an absolutely horrible article, tore it apart online, and then later saw what it was JS who wrote it. :(

Since then, I've realized I need to read this stuff a little closer.

pgl writes:

Your attack on Mark is a tad unfair. Sure if we decide that the government should just say the heck with public provision of health care, this would not add to the deficit. But then we could take the Ron Paul approach - slash defense spending. Government deficit problem solved! Then again - anyone who endorses Stossel's writing as being informed on economics really needs to step back and THINK. Oh wait, Mark has taken this one on quite ably.

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