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Freiman: How Is Voting Like the SAT?

Summary:
I recently had the privilege of reading an advance copy of philosopher Chris Freiman‘s Why It’s OK to Ignore Politics.  (You may know Chris from such nerdtastic venues as Unreasonable Anti-Rawls Memes).  Here’s one highlight on the cost of voting. Yes, Freiman concedes, merely going to the polls and filling in your ballot takes an hour or so.  But filling in the ballot intelligently takes many years of time.  Here’s why: Merely voting may only take an hour or so at periodically available, formally arranged times, but voting with care takes a much larger commitment of time and energy to politics. By analogy, it’s false that “answering SAT questions with care” is an easy thing to do simply because the SAT only requires a few hours at periodically available, formally

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Freiman: How Is Voting Like the SAT?I recently had the privilege of reading an advance copy of philosopher Chris Freiman‘s Why It’s OK to Ignore Politics.  (You may know Chris from such nerdtastic venues as Unreasonable Anti-Rawls Memes).  Here’s one highlight on the cost of voting.

Yes, Freiman concedes, merely going to the polls and filling in your ballot takes an hour or so.  But filling in the ballot intelligently takes many years of time.  Here’s why:

Merely voting may only take an hour or so at periodically available, formally arranged times, but voting with care takes a much larger commitment of time and energy to politics. By analogy, it’s false that “answering SAT questions with care” is an easy thing to do simply because the SAT only requires a few hours at periodically available, formally arranged times. The real investment takes place long before the test. Similarly, the real investment in voting with care takes place long before the polls open. Doing it with care is costly, which in turn soaks up more resources from other moral endeavors.

Bryan Caplan
Bryan Caplan is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center. He has published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the American Economic Review, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Law and Economics, and Intelligence, and has appeared on 20/20, FoxNews, and C-SPAN. Bryan Caplan blogs on EconLog.

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