Monday, August 23, 2004

Get Involved

Tonight I went to Seattle to record a 30-minute public access show. Subject: Initiative 884. The show is hosted by the Downtown Republican Club, which meets weekly for dinner and discussion.

It's a small, informal affair. The "studio" is a table with two chairs. The "equipment" is a video camera on a tripod, operated by a dedicated club member. There are about a half-dozen regular attendees.

And tonight group members were outnumbered by dedicated supporters of I-884, who showed up with signs and stickers to make their presence known. A few stood on the street corner outside with a large sign expressing "support for schools." Others were inside, politely filling chairs.

Wake up call!
Folks who believe in limited, accountable government and true education reform should not be outnumbered at their own event by members of the opposing side of the issue.

Governing yourself requires action. Get involved.


At 11:27 PM, Blogger GullibleCity said...

It's the calculus of consent (see the book by the same name, by economist James Buchanan *).

A bill before the legislature that would raise the price of milk by 5 cents per half-gallon -- with the extra cost going to dairy farmers as profit -- would seem like a sure-fire loser, as there are far more drinkers of milk than producers of it (and the producers have trouble grasping the pencils in their hooves to vote anyway... just kidding). So in a democracy, consumers should logically overwhelm the special interests of the dairy industry, right?

Ah, but when was the last time you took several minutes out of your busy schedule to write to your state reps to urge them to vote against a bill that, at a half-gallon per week, would cost you $2.60 per year? For $2.60 per year, almost no one cares. But for the dairy farmers, who are far less numerous, it might be more like $2600 per year. For that amount, they'll hire lobbyists, form PAC's, and contribute to political campaigns. Which, for a lousy $2.60, the typical consumer hasn't bothered with. And thus, something that most voters would oppose passes through the legislature with little opposition.

Similarly, the Education Industrial Complex is an industry that seeks to maximize its profit, by whatever means available. A tax hike, for instance, would be just peachy, for their purposes. Call it supply and demand, or game theory, or whatever you like... they're only too happy to mobilize. The trick is to show the typical voter that there is no positive correlation between throwing money at a problem and making it better.

* Quick Fact: Did you know that up to 25% of the guests at a party can be from the economics department without spoiling the conversation?

At 9:09 AM, Blogger Marsha Louise said...

Re: GullibleCity.

Hear, hear.

Concentrated benefits, diffused costs.

What the non-dairy farmers need to remember is that they're not just losing $2.60 a year. They're losing a piece of their freedom. And freedom is priceless.


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