I was thinking at the time that maybe I should write a longer post on the voting article than I did. That was probably a good intuition. Gene writes:
"Come on, Daniel, marginalism! First of all, buying in the market we, of course, get the thing we want. But what's more, our dollar does have *some* effect on the price, even if miniscule. But no single vote has any influence on an election unless it is tied or within one. If my candidate is losing 154,000 to 78,000, my adding the 78,001st vote does not even infintitesmally effect the outcome, because the outcome is binary. The argument you critique is sound: unless you cast the deciding vote, your vote does not matter at all."
I understand the math of voting in a country with over 300 million people, guys. I did not challenge that. Gene is also right that we "get the thing we want" when we make a purchase. Indeed, that's the whole beauty of the market. You have an interest in revealing your preference and bringing your knowledge of the subjective value of the good to the table. Since everyone has an interest in doing so, we don't have to worry about the prices correctly aggregating information. Not so with an election. By voting for Obama I don't automatically get anything (which is OK because the marginal cost of voting isn't very high). That's exactly why I despise arguments telling people their vote doesn't count. It's precisely because it's a public good that we need to think about more collectively that the article bothers me.
I'd also take issue with Gene's point about this being a binary outcome. Candidates (more or less... obviously there are electoral college complications) pursue the median voter. They pursue that voter with their platforms and judge how they should perform in office based on the margin that found their platform convincing. When you vote you influence who that median voter is and you influence platforms. This is something libertarians ought to be able to appreciate.
I'm not even some kind of voting Nazi (hmmm... kind of a weird phrase). I've voted in 50% of the grand total of two presidential elections so far that I've been eligible to vote for. I'm not going to yell at you if you don't vote. But this idea that it is trivial bothers me.
I don't object to the math of her answer; I object to the choice of question.
Friday Night Music: When I’m 64
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