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Let Your Voice Be Heard by Opposing the Politicization of Society

Summary:
In my latest column for AIER I riff on the reality that, contrary to popular assertions, each individual’s voice – and influence – in markets and other non-politicized spheres is much more decisive than it is in politicized spheres, even democratic ones. A slice: The market gives to the plumber, the pipefitter, and the political-science professor each a real and meaningful say in how his or her life proceeds. The young man who chooses to pursue a career as a physician need not persuade 51 percent of his fellow citizens to endorse his choice; that choice is his and his alone. Likewise for the woman who chooses to delay having children in order to work full-time as an attorney: the decision is hers, and it’s a decisive one. Unlike in politics, each person’s individual decisions outside

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In my latest column for AIER I riff on the reality that, contrary to popular assertions, each individual’s voice – and influence – in markets and other non-politicized spheres is much more decisive than it is in politicized spheres, even democratic ones. A slice:

The market gives to the plumber, the pipefitter, and the political-science professor each a real and meaningful say in how his or her life proceeds. The young man who chooses to pursue a career as a physician need not persuade 51 percent of his fellow citizens to endorse his choice; that choice is his and his alone. Likewise for the woman who chooses to delay having children in order to work full-time as an attorney: the decision is hers, and it’s a decisive one.

Unlike in politics, each person’s individual decisions outside of politics are typically decisive. Each of us, individually, chooses what to eat, what to wear, where to live, whether or not to attend college, whether or not to have a pet hamster, with whom we have sex and how often, how many tattoos and piercings adorn our bodies. This list is practically endless.

In short, popular mythology insists that matters are exactly the reverse of what they are in reality. We are told that we have meaningful voice when we don’t, and that we don’t when we do.

The danger is this: as the state comes to superintend ever more aspects of life, the say of each individual in how his or her life plays out diminishes. Yet the naïve, stubborn popular belief that the most powerful “say” that each person has in democratic society is through the vote will mask this loss of personal say. People will be herded down the road to serfdom, all the while with each person mistakenly supposing that, because he or she votes, he or she chooses to make this ominous journey.

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Don Boudreaux
He is a professor of economics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Previously, he was president of the Foundation for Economic Education.

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