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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. This is economist Bryan Caplan's sobering assessment in this provocative and eye-opening book. Caplan argues 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.
Boldly 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 Myth of the Rational Voter takes an unflinching 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-overdue reappraisal of our elective system.
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"Caplan offers readers a delightful mixture of economics, political science, psychology, philosophy, and history to resolve a puzzle that, at one time or another, has intrigued every student of public policy."--N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University, former chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers
"Why democracies so often make a hash out of economic policy is one of the great questions of political economy. Bryan Caplan suggests some provocative, and highly original, answers. This book may make you smile or it may make you scowl, but it will definitely not make you bored."--Alan S. Blinder, Princeton University
"The Myth of the Rational Voter discredits the fashionable view that democratic politics necessarily prevents socially harmful policies. Voters lack incentives to become well informed about political controversies, Bryan Caplan shows, and their policy choices tend to be based on deeply, persistently, and systematically mistaken models of reality. Caplan's findings lead inexorably to the conclusion that democratic governance can be improved only through reforms based on realistic assumptions about human cognition. Anyone concerned about political efficiency should read this elegant book carefully."--Timur Kuran, author of Islam and Mammon
"Bryan Caplan blends economics, political science, and psychology in an arresting and informative polemic that is witty, crisp, cogent, provocative, and timely. You may or may not agree with his assessment of our democracy, but you will be entertained, challenged, and perhaps angered, but also enlightened."--Scott Keeter, Pew Research Center
"The argument Caplan offers is basically right and is extremely important. I suspect this book will stir up a certain amount of controversy. The argument challenges conventional public choice in that it radically undermines the notion of substantively rational voting. At the same time, it is in the same skeptical tradition as public-choice orthodoxy, challenging the claims of democratic enthusiasts. It is a book that deserves to be taken very seriously."--Geoffrey Brennan, coauthor of The Economy of Esteem
"Poorly informed voters are a big problem in democracy, and Caplan makes the interesting argument that this is not necessarily a problem that can be easily fixed--it may be fundamental to the system. Caplan thinks that voting itself is the problem."--Andrew Gelman, Columbia University
Bryan Caplan is Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University. He and Arnold Kling edit the Weblog "EconLog".
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Book Description Princeton University Press, 2007. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # mon0000181803
Book Description Princeton University Press, 2007. Hardcover. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110691129428
Book Description Princeton University Press, 2007. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0691129428
Book Description Princeton University Press. Hardcover. Condition: New. 0691129428 This is a hardcover book with dust jacket. Seller Inventory # 331M5
Book Description Princeton University Press, 2007. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0691129428