George Mason University’s LearnLiberty, an online resource for ‘the ideas of a free society,’ released an interesting video last week illustrating the economic incentives that inevitably promote poor civic engagement. The economics behind the argument, paraphrased by Professor Diana Smith, helps explain why so many voters are under-informed and easily misinformed when electing candidates.
Is it because Americans are unintelligent? Not at all. The economic incentives driving an average citizens’ decisions direct them towards activities that more directly benefit them. It just doesn’t make economic sense for an average citizen to spend the necessary time, energy, and money to become what most would consider well-informed. Tweet
However, there are some economic incentives for greater involvement. If a proposed regulation will negatively impact your business or company, it makes a lot of sense to invest money and time in both educating yourself and others as to why such a regulation will be a bad thing. Tweet
Thus, we can see how a clearer picture emerges as to why an average citizen seems to have such little influence on the political process, not only are they disengaged, but they have little financial stake in being engaged.