Economist Bryan Caplan offers a sobering assessment in his provocative book by the captioned name, arguing that voters continually elect politicians who either share their biases or else pretend to, resulting in bad policies winning again and again by popular demand. Calling into question our most basic assumptions about American politics, Caplan contends that democracy fails precisely because it does what voters want. Through an analysis of Americans’ voting behavior and opinions on a range of economic issues, he makes the convincing case that noneconomists suffer from four prevailing biases: they underestimate the wisdom of the market mechanism, distrust foreigners, undervalue the benefits of conserving labor, and pessimistically believe the economy is going from bad to worse. Caplan lays out several bold ways to make democratic government work better–for example, urging economic educators to focus on correcting popular misconceptions and recommending that democracies do less and let markets take up the slack.The greatest obstacle to sound economic policy is not entrenched special interests or rampant lobbying, but the popular misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and personal biases held by ordinary voters.
The Myth of the Rational Voter takes a hard look at how people who vote under the influence of false beliefs ultimately end up with government that delivers lousy results. With the upcoming presidential election season drawing nearer, this thought-provoking book is sure to spark a long-overdo reappraisal of our elective system.
Martin Milita serves as a senior director of Duane Morris Government Strategies headquartered in Trenton, New Jersey and Washington DC. The company has represented a variety of Fortune 500 corporations and clients involved in the energy, insurance, financial, and other sectors. Martin Milita began in the legal profession as an aide to Edward “Pete” Biester, who represented Pennsylvania in the U.S. Congress. Martin Milita holds a law degree from the Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law, in Philadelphia. He is a member of the Administrative and Business Law Sections of the New Jersey State Bar Association and the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association. A graduate of King’s College, Martin Milita earned his undergraduate degree in Government.