TCS Daily

Dumbocracy in America

By Nick Schulz - June 20, 2007 12:00 AM

Editor's note: Bryan Caplan is an economist at George Mason University and the author of an important new book - "The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies." He argues that ordinary voters harbor irrational beliefs and personal biases that interfere with making sound economic policy choices. According to Caplan, the problems with democracy are, in a sense, due to too much democracy. It is a controversial thesis.

There are many books by economists being published these days. But no book by an economist in recent memory holds the potential to so thoroughly change how you view the world than The Myth of the Rational Voter. Caplan took some time to sit for an interview with TCS editor Nick Schulz.

SCHULZ: The title of your book is "The Myth of the Rational Voter." Are people not rational when it comes to activities other than voting, too?

CAPLAN: People do a good job of managing their own lives in a complex, modern society. When they think about subjects like politics and economics, on the other hard, people tend take off their thinking caps and embrace pleasant absurdities.

SCHULZ: You say that typical voters are ignorant of economics and exhibit systematic biases: they underestimate the power of markets; they underestimate the benefits of interacting with foreigners; they underestimate the benefits of labor-saving technologies; and they underestimate how much better economic conditions have become over time. Give us some of the most striking concrete examples to illustrate.

CAPLAN: It people were merely ignorant about economics, I wouldn't be worried. After all, if you never studied a subject, we'd expect you just to be agnostic about it. The real problem is that people have strong opinions about economics even though they've never studied it - and their strong opinions tend to be the opposite of what you'd learn in an economics class.

As you indicate, I identify four main ways that people's beliefs about economics tend to go wrong. I call them anti-market bias, anti-foreign bias, make-work bias, and pessimistic bias. But you want "striking concrete examples," not exposition, so here goes:

Example of anti-market bias: The way people react to higher gas prices in the face of natural disasters. When supply goes down in a competitive market, you should expect the price to go up. It's hardly a sign of "conspiracy" or "gouging," contrary to much of the public. More importantly, this price rise has large socially beneficial effects: In the short run, it encourages people to cut back on low-value uses of fuel; in the slightly longer-run, it encourages sellers to direct their inventories to the hardest-hit areas; and given a little more time, the price rise encourages additional production until the crisis abates.

Example of anti-foreign bias: These days, the best example has to be hysteria about immigration. In essence, trading labor is like trading anything - it's mutually beneficial for buyer and seller. But public opinion has made immigrants a scapegoat for a long - and often contradictory - list of social ills. We hear simultaneous complaints that immigrants are "taking all our jobs" and "all going on welfare" - well, which is it? Their underlying theory is that economic interaction with foreigners has to have bad consequences, so people eagerly blame foreigners for anything that comes to mind.

Furthermore, even if you take some of the complaints about immigration seriously, the subjective reaction is out of proportion to the objective magnitude. George Borjas, an economist famous for emphasizing the costs of immigration, estimates that immigrants have reduced low-skilled Americans' wages by only 8%. And if that were one's real complaint, why would you want to deport millions of immigrants, instead of e.g. proposing extra taxes on immigrants to compensate low-skilled Americans?

Example of make-work bias: Make-work bias is probably one of the main rationales behind European labor market regulation. Among other things, you have a lot of laws that make it difficult to fire workers, seemingly forgetting that the key to social prosperity is not employment, but production. These laws backfire in other ways - making it hard for employers to fire workers also makes employers reluctant to hire in the first place. But the key point is that labor is a valuable resource - and passing laws that require employers to waste valuable resources makes little sense.

Example of pessimistic bias: The example that strikes me more and more as I grow older is the refusal to recognize how much life has improved over the past twenty years. I remember life in the '80's - the Internet alone has raised my standard of living in ways I could barely have imagined. But many remain convinced that life is getting worse - and want to "do something" about it.

SCHULZ: What accounts for these persistent biases? Genetics? Evolutionary psychology? Why would so many people have these biases?

CAPLAN: Good question. The straightforward answer is that biases persist because of conformity - people want to believe what other people believe. But this just pushes the question back a step - how did these views become popular in the first place? For anti-foreign bias, there is a plausible evolutionary story - namely, during most of human evolution, foreigners were dangerous. Today, they come to trade; but in the past, they often came to poach your hunting grounds, or kill you in your sleep.

I'm less sure about the origins of the other biases. My best guess is that a lot of anti-market bias arises out of envy, which is a good way for primitive tribesmen to pressure their more successful neighbors into sharing. If your readers have better stories, I'm interested.

SCHULZ: William Buckley once said "I would rather be governed by the first 2000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty." Do you disagree? Why?

CAPLAN: I'd definitely rather be governed by the members of the American Economic Association - or even a random sample of college graduates - than by the first 2000 names in the Boston phone book. The problem with the faculty of Harvard is that it's highly educated (a predictor of more reasonable views in general), but also highly self-selected for leftist ideology (a predictor of very unreasonable views about markets). So would the Harvard faculty be better or worse than what we've got? It could go either way.

SCHULZ: You say that even economists underestimate the virtues of markets. But why would those who understand them best underestimate the benefits?

CAPLAN: Actually, I say that economists underestimate the virtues of markets relative to the democratic alternative. Rational voter models have made economists too optimistic about democracy. If you think that democracy works well, then every market failure you find makes you say "Let's turn to the democratic process to fix it." If and when economists give up on rational voter models, they will be a lot more likely to say "The market's not perfect, but I'm worried that the democratic process will just make the problem worse."

SCHULZ: Given these systematic biases, how is it that economies like those in the US were able to emerge that are more dominated by market processes? How is policy progress even possible?

CAPLAN: Compared to most of the world, anti-market bias is relatively mild in the U.S. As a result, more pro-market policies have been able to survive here. But still, it's surprising that markets have as much scope as they do, that tariffs are as low as they are, and so on. What's going on?

I discuss a couple possibilities in my book. One observation: Educated people have more sensible policy views, and are unusually likely to vote. So in part, policy is better than you'd expect because the average voter knows more than the average citizen.

Another observation: If politicians did exactly what voters want, it would be a disaster. Since politicians expect that voters would blame them for a disaster, it is not in their interest to give the voters exactly what they want. So politicians have to strike a balance between adopting popular policies, and getting tolerable results. Maybe this is why almost everyone distrusts politicians - as I say in my book, "The public calls them venal for failing to deliver the impossible."

How is policy progress possible? Again, if politicians get good results, voters sometimes forgive them for getting those results "in the wrong way." Clinton's support of NAFTA was unpopular, but people were happy about the country's economic performance. When the net political benefit of ignoring public opinion is positive, policy progress is possible - and even likely.

SCHULZ: Why are economists and others so resistant to the notion that the masses have systematic biases?

CAPLAN: For economists, it is almost entirely methodological. Since the 1970's, virtually every "serious model" relies on something called the "rational expectations assumption." Relaxing that assumption freaks economists out - and raises the suspicion that you are too stupid or innumerate to understand the assumption.

For non-economists, the story is different. For starters, precisely because the biases are popular, most people do not see them as convincing evidence of error! If you try to explain what's wrong with these popular views, emotions get in the way. Try having a dispassionate discussion about immigration; it's almost impossible.

A deeper reason for resistance to my thesis is egalitarianism - the idea that everyone's views are equally likely to be valid. For many people, just saying "Your view is elitist" somehow disproves it. My response is simply that the "elitist" view is more consistent with the facts.

SCHULZ: You say that people "have preferences over beliefs." That's awkward jargon. What does it mean and why is it important?

CAPLAN: It means that people care about their beliefs. Think about religion- how many church-goers consider their faith to simply be "The hypothesis that best fits the available facts"? Very few - most believers will cling to their religious beliefs in the face of counter-evidence because admitting error hurts.

You could say, "That's just religion," but there are many non-religious subjects where people have a religious attitude. Subjects like... politics and economics.

Why are preferences over beliefs important? For one thing, this concept helps us understand why facts and logic so often fail to prevail. You could have airtight evidence that free trade is economically beneficial, but a lot of people will ignore you - or lash out at you - because you are trampling over their worldview.

SCHULZ: Why do voters cherish their irrational beliefs so much? It's so... so... so... irrational!!

CAPLAN: Actually, one of my main arguments is that holding rationally indefensible views is often, from the point of view of the individual, a good deal. What happens if a person starts to question popular fallacies? First, he endures the psychological trauma of apostasy; second; he loses friends and makes enemies. And what does the rational person get in return for changing his mind? Public policy becomes ever-so-slightly better. This is why I describe irrationality as "political pollution" - the individual gets the psychological and social benefits of his own irrationality, but we all bear the cost.

SCHULZ: Is it fair to say that one reason "Democracies Choose Bad Policies" is that politicians are TOO responsive to voter wishes?

CAPLAN: Yes, but keep in mind: If an individual politician became less responsive, he probably wouldn't remain a politician for long. And of course, there are many ways to be unresponsive. A politician could unresponsively give the people worse policies than they want.

SCHULZ: You ask and answer an interesting question. "Should my book push you toward democratic pessimism?" Yes? Explain.

CAPLAN: This is actually one of the most complicated parts of the book, but I'll try to boil it down.

Economists usually believe that voters are selfish, but rational. Scholars from other disciplines - like political science - have extensively, and largely correctly, criticized the assumption of selfish voting.

But does this really make democracy look better?

With rational voters, it certainly does; rational voters who want to maximize social welfare give you better overall results than rational voters who only care about themselves.

With irrational voters, however, I argue that unselfishness actually tends to make social outcomes worse. Think about it this way: With selfish but irrational voters, you might be saved by the gridlock. Even if everyone admits that price controls are good for society, people who own stock in oil companies will fight for the "freedom to gouge." With unselfish, irrational voters, in contrast, it is easy to get a friendly consensus behind misguided policies.

As I explained once on my blog, suppose a mad scientist wants to give you an unnatural operation. Which would you prefer? A selfish mad scientist who refuses to operate unless you pay him - or an unselfish mad scientist who ties you down on the operating table and says "You'll thank me later - and your gratitude will be payment enough"?

SCHULZ: Given your thesis, has a form of government existed in history that is superior to that of the United States? If so, what is/was it?

CAPLAN: For one thing, the U.S. used to be better in some important ways. The pre-New Deal Supreme Court overturned a lot of misguided regulation. The greater degree of federalism that used to exist in the U.S. put pressure on state governments to avoid bad economic policies. I am also sympathetic to voting systems that put more control in the hands of the well-educated - the United Kingdom, for example, effectively gave college graduates two votes until 1949.

In general, though, I think it's better to focus on improving the quality of public opinion than changing the form of government. After all, if you can convince the majority to change the form of government, why not cut to the chase and just convince them to support better policies?

SCHULZ: What will be the most difficult claim in your book for fair-minded readers to accept?

CAPLAN: I've gotten a much more sympathetic reading than I expected from other scholars. But the conclusion least likely to sink in with this audience, I think, is that free-market policies are a lot more attractive than they seem on the surface. Economists can often figure out ways to make markets work better, but the democratic process tends to adopt policies that makes markets work worse.

For a broader audience, I suspect the most difficult claim (or perhaps it's more of a tacit assumption) is that democracy is not sacred. In our society, we are used to the idea that we should do whatever the majority wants. In fact, people often treat the majority opinion as the standard of both truth and value - how often have you heard a pundit say, "The American people want X" as if that were a sufficient reason to do it? I emphasize that popular policies can be very bad - and when they are, I don't see why we should give the American people what it wants.

Is this paternalism? Not exactly - after all, people who support bad policies are not just hurting themselves. When my colleague Pete Boettke tells me "According to you, we get the policies we deserve," I always answer, "Actually, we get the policies they deserve - hardly the same thing."



Is coercion rational?
"With irrational voters, however, I argue that unselfishness actually tends to make social outcomes worse. Think about it this way: With selfish but irrational voters, you might be saved by the gridlock. Even if everyone admits that price controls are good for society, people who own stock in oil companies will fight for the "freedom to gouge." With unselfish, irrational voters, in contrast, it is easy to get a friendly consensus behind misguided policies."

Until a significant majority of individuals realize we are all better off using persuasion instead of force, irrational voting will coninue.

Recall tests where people believed they had the power to inflict pain on perfect strangers. Too many enjoyed that power.

Is it rational to vote for people who will force them to do things they don't want to do?

"hysteria about immigration. " Question for Mr. Caplan.
Is it too much to ask for the government to follow the laws they have passed?

As I have advocated many times, I support opening the borders to any who want to come an work with the caveat that after 5 years if they don't apply for citzenship they go home.

The danger of our current policy of ignoring the law ecourages more laws to be ignored.

Mr. Caplan:

Are you advocating for laws to increase visa quotas?

Do you support my position?

Or do you prefer the government continue to ignore the laws of the USA? And if so, what other laws do you believe the USA should not enforce?

No Voting Rights for Blacks
Lol! Just a "joke"!

But just think: While some few "intellectuals" will decide about wars, people with no rights -Blacks and poor Whites- will have to fight them.

all the more reason to give as little power as possible to govt.
since it is run by such irrational actors.

What passes for education ...
"One observation: Educated people have more sensible policy views, and are unusually likely to vote."

That depends on what passes for education. True education (how to think) is good. Indoctrination (what to think) is bad, at least for seeking truth, including the truth about the options that lie before us.

You can ask FIRE how much indoctrination is passed off as education.

If your readers have better stories, I'm interested.
(Almost) all of us are born into and raised in a mini communist state ruled by someone we see as a powerful and effective dictator. It's called the "family".

So all of our formative ideas about how to manage (govern) our lives starts out with a strong bias towards the top down model of governance.

Also we learn early on, that objects in reality (toys, food..) yeild to our desires through the use of physical force.

From that foundation, coming to an understanding the (apparently miraculous) nature of spontaneous order (evolution, markets, knowledge..) is a long, difficult and counterintuituve process.

Barry Milliken

Democracy has had many bad historical experiences
While Athenian democracy brought freedom and with this freedom all the magnificent achievements of the golden age of Greece in the 5th century BC, it also brought the equivalent of mob rule in a lot of situations. That and the debacle of the later Roman republic made democracy an unsuitable form of government till the late 18th century. Because democracy in small populations (Athens) and large populations (Rome) proved unworkable.

It is amazing that it has worked so well in the last 100 years but we have to remember it did not always have an exemplary track record and we are seeing how it can break down in the Arab world if democracy is given a chance.

Some laws should be ignored.
Advocating amnesty from any law should not be done lightly.

However, it depends on the law:
- Should any sellers of beer have been given amnesty after the repeal of prohibition?
- Should runaway slaves have been given amnesty after repeal of laws supporting slavery?

Illegal immigrants are similarly guilty of a victimless crime. Noone was injured by their being here. Immigration law is a part of the vast area of administration law that sets some arbitrary limit which could arguably have been set to higher or lower number.

If we decide in retrospect that the number should have been higher, then those who disobeyed it can hardly be called criminals.

Amnesty is a loaded term often used to refer to the pardoning of actual criminals with real victims. Those who use the term in the context of immigration wish to obscure the distiction between crime with victims and those without victims.

Are our current elites any smarter than the voters?
Two words: Al Gore.

In all seriousness: Whenever I hear that the citizens vote irrationally -- which I don't for a moment doubt -- I reflect on the alternative of having some kind of elite driving the decisions. The current elite are largely anti-market and anti-technology. Curiously,they are at least nominally pro-foreign, but I'd say this is the least consequential of your quad of irrationality. The elites call themselves "progressive" but are deeply pessimistic about the future, and particularly about the likelihood of technology improving the future, so the attitude is mixed at best on pessimism. Not much of an improvement over the common voter.

Your article also reminds me of a qutoe from Edmund Burke: "The effect of liberty to individuals is, that they may do what they please: we ought to see what it will please them to do, before we risk congratulations, which may soon be turned into complaints."

Immigration is a complex problem...
The danger to the US, IMHO, is the motivation to cross our borders, not the crossing itself. We've forgotten why we need people here in the first place. Just like way back when, we need people who are willing to work in exchange for money.

We established rules for how they should conduct themselves once they got here so we could live safely and harmoniously while we traded goods and services and it worked pretty well.

Then it was decided that when people couldn't/wouldn't work, we should intervene with a "safety net". Taxes and regulations and restrictions exploded to satisfy all those who would rather be on the "taken care of" side of the ledger rather than the "taking care of".

The more magnanimous we get, the more there are who "need" magnanimity. Never forget, WE built it, and they are coming.

Cut off the drug of welfare dependancy and the whole thing deflates; taxes, restrictive laws, burdensome regulations, prison populations, and all manner of socialist claptrap.

It's against the law to steal. But it's not so black and white when an idiotic homeowner puts all his expensive goods out on the front lawn to tempt the weak and poor.

compared to what? Listen to Winston.
What's the gold standard that works so much better?

Winston Churchill had it exactly right: 'It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried."

The problem was put in one sentence
"Truth does not do as much good in the world as the appearance of truth does evil."
La Rouchefoucald

Can I pick which law from which I can be exempt? Can you defend your thesis that 12,000,000 or more law-breakers cause no one any injury, whatsoever? Do they pay their way or do others who live by the law subsidize their illegal activity? What happens to a society that shrugs when known law is routinely broken? Can we expect this society to follow its other laws? I've never been in a car accident, therefore, should I be allowed to run any stop sign or stoplight that I choose? Who or what instrument grants a non-citizen of the United States the right to break our laws?
Your rational is fundamentally, irrational.

Strange definition
I find your definition or interpretation of "communism" and family structure to be wide of the mark. Since the family is the natural environment of Man, you imply that communism must also be the natural state of governance. I think you are wrong. This is why Marx and Trotsky were revolutionaries. The feudal system is far more comparable to the natural family.

True education
is a combination of indoctrination, training, and application. One can be taught to think without ever learning the alphabet. Is this person educated? Learning to read is indoctrination.

You avoided my point
No, an individual cannot decide from which law he is exempt. I never said that.
However, lawmakers can validly say that they made a mistake in outlawing beer, and pass a law giving amnesty to those in jail for selling it.

Respect for law ultimately depends on consent of the governed. History is full of examples of harsh and ignorant laws which bred comtempt for all legal authority.

Re your particular points on immigration:
I am opposed to all forms of subsidy whether to citizens or non citizens.
I am opposed to bad law whether applied to citizens or non citizens. I would oppose for example any law which said that the border patrol could shot suspected illegals on sight.

Beyond such obvious moral issues, the details of immigration reform are subject to debate upn which reasonable people can dissagree.

But the LAW has NOT been changed and therer ARE victims.
Unless you CHANGE the immigration law so that what illegal aliens did is NO longer illegal, it is amnesty or a pardon.

There are real victims.

Emergency rooms in Tucson and throughout the SW have had to shut down becuase they can't afford to treat all the illegals trying to run the border.

How about all the illiegal aliens who continue to commit crimes because local law enforcement won't lock them up or kick them out?

Beer analolgy flawed.
Immigration laws have not, and will not be changed to an open border policy, which I favor.

Again beside the point.
I use the beer analogy merely to illustrate the principle that amnesty is sometimes justified. And that amnesty from bad law can have the result of increasing respect for the law in general. No other parallel is intended.

The law was changed first.
Forgiving illegals aliens for breaking immigration law now without changing the law is insane.

The government forgave people for breaking the law and said from now on, we WILL enforce the law.


OPEN the borders THEN forgive the illegals.

Please stop using elite as code for "academic/democrat/hollywood"
That's one group but it's certainly no more elite or powerful than numerous others, such as 'big oil' "big pharmacy' 'country-club Republican,' 'religious fundamentalist organizers' and so forth. If you want to disagree with the ideas, do so, but please do so on the basis of the ideas themselves without the talk-show labeling.

This characterization: " deeply pessimistic about the future, and particularly about the likelihood of technology improving the future, so the attitude is mixed at best on pessimism," is bogus. Gore (to take your poster boy) was and is deeply optimistic about possibilities for new technology - the Internet, for example, and now power technology. Yes, he wans about possible negative consequences of not using the tech fixes, but that is not "psesimism aobut the possibility of technology improving the future," it is the opposte: insistence that it happen.

Please compare this atttitue with that of some of the other cited elites on this issue.

What is your point?
Have you considered that the prohibition of consumption of alcohol may have been the correct decision, at least morally? But that the will to resist poison (alcohol) is weaker than the desire to inebriate oneself with it or to profit from the inebriation of others. I think, that in the case of illegal immigration, your rhetoric will probably come to pass and that contemporary U.S. citizens will lazily relax immigration law because its the easier thing to do. That speaks loudly to decay of national character.

You say "I would oppose for example any law which said that the border patrol could shot suspected illegals on sight." Then you would be in agreement with current law.
This is a rather moot argument you make.

The other side of dumbocracy: get the dummies to buy junk, sure. But vote? horrors
All kinds of people have gotten rich out of taking advantage of people's weaknesses. They know this, they brag about it, they need it. Las Vegas is built on this.

OK, so if someone says, hey, maybe there shoudl be some protections to prevent some of these bad outcomes and worst abuses, we get "these people are adults. They don't need protection. They are making their own choices."

OK, so they make choices regarding politics. And suddenly now we hear horrors! oh no. It's a dumbocracy. We smart people should be the ones to decide.

Republic is different the a democracy
The US is based upon a republican form of government.

Pure democracies can exist at lower levels as the states decide.

What is destroying the our Constitutional republic is democracy and welfare.

Senators are elected by popular vote, not by state legislatures as originally intended.

Would the NY state legislature elect Hillary, a carpetbagger, as senator?

The other issue is welfare/pork.

Until some way can be devised to prevent politicians from bribing us with our own money, democracy will fail.

Caplan weakens his case with simplistic arguments
According to Mr. Caplan "trading labor is like trading anything - it's mutually beneficial for both buyer and seller". I guess I'm supposed to believe the buyer and seller are the only people who's benefit needs to be considered.

Now I certainly wouldn't dispute that the "seller", ie, the non-citizen who broke the law to come here, benefits by getting a job that pays better than any he/she can get at home.

And the buyer of illegal alien labor certainly benefits by avoiding having to do things like pay taxes, comply with labor laws and regulations, not to mention the minimum wage.

But what about the "competitor", ie, American citizens and legal immigrants? How does he/she benefit from illegal alien labor? The answer is simple; they don't benefit.

Through competition the illegal alien workers depress wages employers (ie, "buyers") offer, especially at the lower end of the labor market.

Employers who hire illegal alien workers undercut other employers (ie, their competition) who made the decision to obey the law.

And BOTH "buyers" and "sellers" impose costs on all the rest of us for the tax-paid services illegal aliens consume while they are here, like schools and emergency medical care.

It's amusing to see Mr. Caplan mis-identify illegal alien workers as "immigrants", conflating the people who broke the law to come here with those who obeyed the laws.

It's not amusing to see him present straw-man arguments about people saying immigrants "are taking ALL our jobs" and "ALL going on welfare". And no one is saying "that economic interaction with foreigners HAS TO HAVE bad consequences" either.

We're saying that MANY jobs are being lost to illegal workers, that the wages of MANY workers are being depressed through having to compete with illegal workers, that MANY illegal workers are wrongly benefiting from taxpayer funded services (including welfare), and that economic interaction with foreigners CAN HAVE and often IS HAVING bad consequences.

Got that Mr. Caplan?

So you disagree with Churchill?
He used the word 'democracy.' This is something you clearly don't believe in. Thank you for making this clear.

Transport The Illegal Migrants Back To Their Native Countries
We have too many illegal aliens in the United States. Simple minded fools often state that illegal foreign workers mostly take jobs Americans don't want. Millions of natural born U.S. citizens are qualified for only unskilled jobs. Many of them are second and third generation Hispanic Americans whose parents or grandparents were illegal migrants.

As soon as a female illegal migrant has a baby another U.S. citizen is born. I live in the southwestern United States, and have been around the hispanic illegal population for most of my life. Almost every female illegal migrant has a baby within a year or two after entering the United States. So the hispanic population in the U.S. has increased dramatically during the past 30 to 50 years.

I wasn't talking to you.

Of course not You were taliking to yourself, as usual
But you were disagreeing with Churchill

life, liberty and the pursuit of prosperity
The most essential elements of the US Constitution are the concepts of enumerated powers and the consent of the governed. Voting (elections and juries for that matter) is only a means to these ends; more a matter of checks and balances than effective decision making.

Sure, except...
Don't see the application to the queston

>Voting (elections and juries for that matter) is only a means to these ends; more a matter of checks and balances than effective decision making.

Fine. Do you have an alternative for more effective decsion making that retains legtmacy and consent of the governed?

Decision making
I didn’t mean for that to be a reply to your topic. My point was a very general opinion that voting is no more (maybe less) important to democracy than institutional limits on power.

Since you asked, no I don’t have an alternative to voting for group decision making. But some decisions should not be made by groups, especially large groups like a nation. That is why the US constitution leaves most powers to the states and the people.

you don't believe a country has a right to control who enters and stays?

whatever word Churchill used is irrelevant
do you actually believe that the US is a democracy?

If so, when do I get to vote on the Immigration Bill.

eric is a very big believer in voting for a living.
It's the only job he's ever had.

Making noise
Mark is a very big believer in making noise for an occupation in life. It's all he does.

Any word anyone serious uses is irrelevant to you, Mark
You live on a planet where words have no meaning

I would take it further
All true education required "indoctrination". How can you know what has been done in the past, what has failed, what has succeeded and how to apply those lessons to the present and future without complete "indoctrination" into history? You absolutely must have some memorization of key facts to further search out the necessary data to apply to the present situation.

"Critical thinking" is also a necessary part of education. But it is worthless without the ability to read, listen and understand, apply present tools and technology and apply it all to the present problem or task.

The AGW arguement was, to me, a perfect example of the lack of "critical thinking" and "indoctrination" on the known examples of geology and paleoclimatology.

Knowing timing and context is extremely important
The "democracies" of Churchills era included any form of representative government where the people had the right to vote on leaders and issues. The fact is, Lemuel, show me a real "Democracy" alive and well in the world today. There isn't one. All so-called "Democracies" are actually "Republics" (Representative democracies). No country has every decision put to the vote of the people.

Understanding context is part of critical thinking. By making an issue of Churchills words you mock the validity of your own point on this.

Same difference
And do you really think Churchill wasn't aware of the distinction when he made the statement? did you think he was referrng to ancient Athens?? If not, what's your point?

Business Owner
Mark is a sucessful business owner. His occupation is hard work and self determination.

You, on the other hand, have proven this articles points over and over.

Your the perfect example of "If you rob Peter to pay Paul you can always count on Paul's vote".

He apparently does not understand the distinction between a Republic and Democracy.

Any form of government that empowers the state to allow freeloading is OK with him.

I guess Winston Churchill didn't get the distinction either
What a shame a smart guy like you wasn't next to him to correct him when he said this dumb thing.

If Mark runs his business like he posts
he's going to be broke in now time. Just an opinion.

Lemmings are socialist creatures who commit mass suicide.

Declaring intellectual bankruptcy early in this topic I see
Have a great day.

The Welfare state destroyed the balance
I am for open labor except for one thing. We disguise the true cost of this labor with social services that are given to these people. This has occured by virtue of the rise of the welfare state. I think they shoulda let the CA prop 187 stand. 187 did not say "don't come", it said if you do come you have to pay for all your services, medical, schooling, etc. That is what makes it economically possible for the illegal to come in and underbid a citizen for a given job at least some of the time (unless perhaps the citizen is ont he dole too). The way it is now I think in many cases the illegal immigrant has an economic advantage over the citizen, at least on the lower end of the job market because of the services that the government says that they are entitled to.

Caplan seems to think that illegals are not using that many services. I would agree that use of straight out welfare is low but I think he forgets about all the other services that get used in the medical and schooling sectors.

Not at all
Churchill was quite aware, it is you who are not. Your reference, which I commented on, was completely off base. The United States is a Republic and not a Democracy, yet you denied this distinction and brought Churchill into the conversation.

That is a bogus reference and completely out of context considering the time and circumstances of Churchill's reference compared to yours.

You continue to insert this bogus arguement when it suits you. In every case you are wrong. The U.S. was set up as a Republic and remains a Republic to this day.

Then why did Churchll use the word "democracy?"
It's not that he was ignorant of "representative republic" or all the rest. I'm quite aware of the US constittuin. so was Churchill.

>The U.S. was set up as a Republic and remains a Republic to this day
as a democratic republic, yes. Is the idea that its constitution embodies democratic aspects really that threatening? If it is, why do you think Churchill used the word in his speech?

I apologize for the brusque tone...
and I'm quite aware of the imporatnce of constitutional limitations on majorities, but, as I said, so was Churchill, and I think his point is an important and basis one. I dn't see how it had a different meaning at the time he said it, but maybe you can explain.

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