Somin Book Discussed in Richmond Times-Dispatch

Professor Ilya Somin's new book, Democracy and Political Ignorance, is the subject of a article written by Richmond Times-Dispatch senior editorial writer and columnist A. Barton Hinkle.

Hinkle terms Democracy and Political Ignorance "a book on ignorance that is, perhaps paradoxically, highly informative," as he offers Somin's examples of political ignorance and suggestions for how best to remedy the problem through transfer of some decision-making to smaller political units and limitation of the scope of government.

Hinkle: Cure for ignorant voters - really small governments, Richmond Times-Dispatch, October 27, 2013. By A. Barton Hinkle.

"Somin suggests two structural remedies. One involves handing over more decision-making to smaller political units — states, or even municipalities — which would allow people to vote with their feet. People who vote with their feet tend to educate themselves first. (Think about how much research you put into buying a house or a car.) And they educate themselves because they know their 'vote' — to live on a cul-de-sac, or move to Seattle, or buy a Toyota instead of a Ford — will be the decisive one. When you vote with your feet, the 'election' is heavily rigged to produce the outcome you want.

"The other structural change? Limit the scope of government. For Somin, the reason is straightforward: A smaller government means deeper knowledge. If the public will learn, say, only 100 things about the executive branch, then it will know a lot more about each agency if there are five agencies rather than 50. There is an 'inverse relationship between the size … of government' and 'the ability of voters to have sufficient knowledge' to vote intelligently.

"For the rest of us, there may be another reason: A smaller government, even in the hands of Those Ignorant Bums on the Other Side, will do less damage than a big one can. When power is decentralized, you can flee to another state if things get too bad in your current one. When Washington is in charge of everything, the cost of voting with your feet gets much, much higher."

Read the article