By Bryan Caplan
I’d like to think that I’m the but-for cause of this paragraph, but either way, the world should listen:
[I]t is a mistake to assume that equality of democratic voice improves
the prospects of the poor and working classes unless the poor and
working classes support policies that actually promote their interests.
This is a pretty simple point many people have a hard time getting
their heads around. But it’s pretty clear that populist socialist
revolutions around the world have not been very kind to poor and
working-class people, because populist socialism doesn’t tend to work
very well. The now-vast public ignorance literature (subscribe to
Critical Review!) would seem to suggest that the best case scenario for
the poor and working classes is to have a relatively weak voice in a
coalition with relatively strong-voiced highly-educated elites
sincerely conerned with poverty alleviation and economic mobility. This
presents another magic button for egalitarians. Suppose there is a
button that simultaneously equalizes the democratic voice of the poor
and working classes and reduces their expected lifetime income by 50%.
Would you push it?
No? Good. How about a button that disenfranchises the poor and working classes and doubles their expected lifetime income?