The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.
~ Chinese Proverb
"That will be thirteen ninety-nine plus a dollar and one cent for tax," said the clerk at Orchard Supply Hardware. I handed him my Visa card. After leaving the store with my wife on a beautiful Saturday morning in Monterey, the world looked suddenly rosier. I felt a profound sense of freedom. The reason was that I had paid $1.01 in tax, rather than the $1.04 I would have paid had the tax rate been 7.75% instead of 7.25%. The word for what I felt was eudaimonia, a word I remember from my college study of Aristotle for a feeling of well-being. I felt a love for my fellow Monterey County residents, or at least 38% of them. I felt that in the politicians' rush to take away our freedom, my allies and I had slowed it down and surprised the hell out of a ruthless, well-funded juggernaut. In the process, I discovered how even a fairly badly organized small group that is willing to make a moral case, take the offensive, and not back down when attacked can beat a much bigger group that thought it had the moral high ground and didn't. Why, you might ask, would I get this excited about paying an outrageous tax instead of an even more outrageous tax? Had I, a man who believes that taxes should be close to zero, gone off my rocker? Maybe, but that's not how I see it. Let me explain.
I thought of this while reading co-blogger Bryan Caplan's post "Why I Don't Vote: The Honest Truth," this morning. It made me realize how different Bryan and I are. One of the sentences that made our differences really clear to me was this one: "But I refuse to traumatize myself for a one-in-a-million chance of moderately improving the quality of American governance." Unlike Bryan, I don't find voting traumatizing, or anything close to traumatizing.
And, as you'll see from the above article of mine, I went way beyond voting to actually trying to persuade voters.
By the way, I have previously posted my skepticism about voting in the past. My skepticism has been mainly about bad arguments for voting. Here's a post where I implicitly argued for voting. Commenter GregS has expressed my current view of voting.