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News Link • General Opinion

What's So Great About Voting?

• By James Ostrowski

I can't take it anymore.  I have heard so much mindless propaganda urging us to vote that I was forced to push back.  This is like shooting fish in a barrel.

First, if voting is so great, why we do have to be constantly harangued, bullied, hectored and bribed into engaging in this marvelous activity?  Why do only half or less of the population vote in any given election?  Let's ask the question a different way.  What percentage of kids fail to show up when Mom says, "breakfast is ready"?  They show up because they expect to receive a major benefit from showing up, especially when weighed against the minimal costs of running downstairs and grabbing a chair.

We have our answer.  Most people either don't vote or do so out of habit or inertia and with little enthusiasm because they realize that the marginal benefit of doing so is so close to zero that only a mathematician could tell the difference.  The media love to tout the occasional close race decided by a few votes, however, these are rare and it is rarer still when a different result would have resulted in any real impact on the voter's life.  From the standpoint of pure logic, voting is not rational for the individual.

Let's say it takes only a half hour to vote and let's say you drive three miles round trip to do so.  Surely, the average American's time is worth at least $20 per hour.  The cost of driving your car for three miles is about $1.50 and that does not even factor in the risk of getting into an accident on the way or being victimized by a crime.  Thus the economic cost of voting is, on average, at least $11.50.  Looked at another way, there are many valuable things you could do in a half an hour if you did not vote: take a nap, walk around the block, read an article by Murray Rothbard or listen to a Tom Woods podcast.  It makes little sense to pay these costs for an activity whose marginal benefit is effectively zero.  This is precisely why they are constantly begging us to vote.

Second, the propaganda is aimed at those who are the most ignorant and least concerned citizens.  How are their votes going to add to the quality of the result?  While awaiting that answer, I will move on.

Let's analyze the statement: "you should vote."  There are a number of elements in that exhortation: the speaker, the voter, the act of voting, the candidate and their platform.

The Speaker.  So someone you don't know tells you to vote.  Say what?  First, I want to know what their agenda is.  No one ever asks.  It is safe to assume though that the speaker has an agenda they believe will be advanced if the targeted audience votes.  Alas, the poor prospective voter is not informed about the hidden agenda.  In any event, the speaker does not know you or what your political predilections are.  If those urging you to vote really cared about you, they would try to find out why you don't vote and respond accordingly.  Some people don't vote because they view it as a waste of time.  Some people don't vote because what they want is not on the menu!  There may be other reasons as well.  Some people don't vote because they don't want to be seen as endorsing a system of centralized coercion they view as evil.

Asking a philosophical non-voter to vote is like inviting a vegan out to a steakhouse.  The vote police do not appear to really care about non-voters and their welfare and why they don't vote.  Rather, they are pursuing their own agenda and hiding it from the non-voters.  That is why they urge people to vote even though many of these people oppose the agenda of any candidate likely to win.  Hence, they are being manipulated to provide a faux consent to policies and candidates they explicitly oppose.  The non-voter is being conned by the vote police.

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