Analogy for Government
By Arnold Kling
I’ve got an idea that would revolutionize the way we do our weekly shopping.
Every few years, we all vote for our favourite supermarket company. The one that gets more votes across the country than any other then gets to deliver our shopping every week to all of us, regardless of whom we voted for. It delivers goods of its own choosing, at prices that it sets. It will make us buy Pedigree Chum even if we don’t have a dog…
Now, this is probably the stupidest idea you’ve ever heard. But it’s exactly how we buy our political services.
Take a look at his blog, Stumbling and Mumbling, and consider adding it to your list of regular reading.
Great minds think alike. Here’s Will Wilkinson.
Imagine you live in a town where you are required to pay several thousand dollars of taxes each year into a public fund that is used to buy food for the entire community. There is a publicly elected “Menu Board” that determines each year’s offerings. You wanted rye this year? Sorry! The Board voted for Wonder Bread. Again! You could, in principle, opt out of the public food system and buy rye, pumpernickel, or seven grain oat-nut crunch at a fancy private store. But you’ve already paid thousands in taxes, and can’t afford to pay twice for everything you eat. The Menu Board picks it. You eat it.
Wilkinson is talking about public schools.
For Discussion. Draw a mental Venn diagram with public goods and government-provided goods. Are there a lot of goods that do not fall within the intersection of your Venn diagram?