By David Henderson
But the standard rendition of the B&B [Bootleggers and Baptists] story leaves out something that bootleggers and Baptists need to achieve their goals: emotion. One of the common emotions is anger, and the group whose anger is most important is voters.
This is from Dwight R. Lee, “Bootleggers, Baptists, Anger, and Voters,” one of two Econlib Feature Articles for May.
In the article, Lee highlights anger as motivation (for voters) and as a tool (for bootleggers and Baptists.)
The B&B metaphor provides a useful way of thinking about how regulations are enacted in response to the political interaction of groups that have different interests and motivations and face different incentives. Smith and Yandle (2014) are to be congratulated for expanding on the insights from Yandle (1983) by creatively applying the B&B logic to a number of recent examples. This article expands those insights further by highlighting the role of voters and adding in anger as an important political motive. All political decision makers are influenced by emotions, but voters are particularly sensitive to emotions, both benevolent and hateful. And as government has increasingly become an arena for negative-sum competition over the distribution of existing wealth, political outrage can be expected to become an even more common influence on government decisions.