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November 08, 2006


Mark EJ

So, let me get this straight: the government proposes a law (subject to referendum) that bloated blood-sucker, Sir Philip Green, be subject to tax on his whopping Arcadia dividend, despite being non-UK domiciled.

I then "pleb" (is that the verb for voting in a referendum?) £1 because I know that in this way I will maximise the amount I get from Sir Phil who will be willing to pleb up to £599,999 million (on the basis that he is paying to avert the costs of the change in law).

Now, is that strategic plebbing? Or is it a reflection of the fact that, I too, am a money-grubbing spiv.

Another question, would your referenda take account for the diminishing marginal utility of income. I suppose it should, to be fair. But, crumbs, that would be tough.

Last question. More rhetorical than anything. How much would I pay to see Blair in prison? About £250 I reckon.


Nice to see an advocation of Clarke Taxes, keep an eye on Zhaofeng Xue's work on this topic.


Peter Briffa

given that you are happy to link to PDF files that need a good few hours to plough through, could you spare us a link to the aforementioned Mr. Caplan's essay?


Abject apologies, Peter and all - very careless.
The link is in the text, and here:

james higham

Many experts can be wrong, or at least contentious ...

Very much so, especially if their judgement is clouded by ideology or clinging to an -ism they must defend at all costs or interpret the weight of evidence in terms of.

But if people have to pay to express a preference, won't they become more receptive to expert advice...

Again this is very true. My own field is consultancy and people must pay to get my opinion [unlike in blogging]. And I'm not cheap but I do deliver results and jealously guard that. My reputation is based on results day by day - I only have to make three misjudgements or mal-assessments in a week and I'm gone. The element of pay for preference is an excellent one and keeps everyone on their toes.


Generally I agree with you about experts and have said so on my own blog http://gracchii.blogspot.com/2006/11/virtues-of-democracy.html I also think there are issues about the difficulty of actually coming to any proper answers in many areas- take abortion.

I'm not sure about the idea of voting payments. The obvious critique comes to mind which is that a 50 pound loss for me because I back the wrong option might be one I'm prepared to take because of my comparative wealth whereas my neighbour though he cares as much might bet smaller because he has a smaller income and so 50 pounds is a bigger proportion of it.

Paul Evans

It took me a few days to get around to the Caplan essay, but I've finally read it.

A few points:
1. He underestimates the 'wriggle room' issue. I would argue that the public don't want to be governed by people like themselves. They would vote for hanging but not for hangers.
2. If his findings are correct, then surely we should be taking any steps we can to encourage people not to vote on policies at all, but to vote for people. People who would, paraphrasing Burke, represent the interests of the nation as a whole.

That is largely - I beleive - what happens already. Occassionally, people do allow single-issues to cloud their electoral choices, but this is rare. And these issues 'cancel out' in the way that Caplan says that misconceptions cancel out.

Eric Crampton

Umm...I've got a working paper on this, still needs fleshing out, but it's at http://www.econ.canterbury.ac.nz/personal_pages/eric_crampton/RevealingExpressiveness.pdf . Upshot: DRP makes things a lot worse with rational irrational voters because expected Clarke taxes are low.

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