* Buying votes?
13 Nov 1993
For those of you who missed the discussion Friday, 8 days ago,
I proposed that people be allowed to openly buy and sell votes.
In light of that, I found the imbroglio over the Rollins
admission about the Whitman campaign for New Jersey governor quite
amusing. Ed Rollins confessed to paying black ministers to not
extort their congregation to vote (i.e. merely refraing from
dicussing the election). He payed them by donating to
their favorite charity. He later recanted the story.
Regardless of tbe how the facts turn out, I want to ask why is
what he did obviously wrong? Let's say I'm a construction worker
in Waxahachie that would otherwise vote Democratic but it looked
more likely that Bush would continue funding for the SSC. I might
have voted for Bush instead. He would have bought my vote. If I
have some economic sense and prefer Bush but would rather sit on my
butt for another six months and collect unemployment, I would have
voted for Clinton based on his promise to extend unemployment benefits.
He would have bought my vote. There is nothing at all unusual
about buying votes. There is nothing more or less wrong with it
than there is wrong with Democracy itself (which is substantial but
that's a different issue).
Now what happened specifically with the black ministers? They
decided that $500K for the orphanage (or whatever) was worth more
than having Florio as governor (and they were right ;-). Their
vote was bought. Actually, it is not even that bad, merely their
advertisement was bought (away).
Allowing votes to be bought and sold openly merely cuts out the
middle man. The way it is now, it's perfectly moral and legal to
buy someone's vote by altering a law to their benefit but to simply
give them the benefit for their vote. To the extent that the latter
would happen in a free vote market, it would cut the frictional costs
of buying votes and it would expose the players more clearly. This
does not take anything away from anybody. The poor (who seem to be
excuse for just about every sort of socialist foolishness) would still
have their vote and could still cast it, or sell it for whatever they
While I'm serious, I have an ulterior motive. It would
clearly expose Democratic interventionist government for what it is,
a ring of thieves wasting their energy pilfering each other's