Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Today I complete my expressions of gratitude for freedom. I think that we should all focus much more than we do on the freedoms we now have and worry less about the ones we are losing, as discouraging as it is to lose them.

I believe that we have more freedom than most countries because we have a heritage of the belief in God as the source of freedom. The apostle Paul tells us that where the Spirit of God is, there is freedom. Obviously, as we lose one, we lose the other. Jesus in a very famous statement said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Although almost everyone acknowledges the importance of truth as a precusor to freedom, there is widespread disagreement as to what is true. Much of the problem, I believe, is the fact that we tend to forget the first part of the scripture. "Then spake Jesus to those Jews who believed on him, 'If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." It is clear that there are at least three things necessary for us before we can be free-- belief, obedience, and truth. Too often we forget the importance of the first two. Jesus spoke to people who were, if not in bondage, at least, in subjection to a foreign power, and therefore, not really politically free. His prescription, therefore, is more intended to apply to us as individuals and families. We are, or at least have been, "a free country" because many individuals in our country followed the formula.

On this Thanksgiving I hope and pray that I can be truly grateful for the freedoms I have, but more importantly, determine to deepen my belief in God, strengthen the resolve to be obedient to the truths I already have, and expand my knowledge of truth so I may increase the measure of freedom I already enjoy. That would be my wish this season for us all.

Monday, November 17, 2008

On the falling price of oil

I intended this bit of tongue-in-cheek cynacism as a letter to the editor of the Deseret News, but I realized that it was much too long to for that purpose so I publish it here.

November 17, 2008
Dear Editor:
Have you purchased gas lately? Don’t you realize what is happening? Our oil companies are going broke! What is needed is an immediate, massive, unprecedentedly huge, government bailout to save our oil companies. To get the ball rolling I contacted all of our political leaders. Of course, I was unable to speak with them directly but their assistants assured me (under conditions of anonymity, of course) that their sentiments were exactly the same as their boss’s and I could, therefore quote them as if coming straight from the boss himself.
Senator Hatch was all in favor of the bailout. He said it reminded him of his efforts some years ago to save our textile industry when a company from some small Asian country began dumping textiles on the American market. It turns out that they had been able to make these textiles because they had made pirated replicas of an American Spinning Jenny that they had copied from the display model at the Smithsonian Institute.
I was somewhat hesitate to approach Senator Bennet because I remembered all those ads he had done in his first campaign about how concerned he was about the National Debt, but when I finally did get up the nerve he just laughed and said he hadn’t thought about the National Debt for years. He said he is all in favor of the bailout, no matter how expensive, as long as it can be pushed through before President Bush leaves office. With a Democratic administration in office he said he is going to have to start worrying about the National Debt again.
Congressman Bishop was skeptical about a bailout until I pointed out that it would mean there would be no more jet fuel. With his usual insight, he realized immediately that this bailout was therefore a key component of his ongoing effort to keep Hill Field in Utah.
Congressman Matheson said he was unalterably opposed to any bailout for any private companies, but when I pointed out that what with regulations, subsidies, wind-fall profit taxes, etc., the oil companies were essentially a branch of the Federal Government, he agreed that by all means we should go ahead with the bailout. He even thanked me for bringing a bailout to his attention that he could wholeheartedly support.
Jason Chavetz said he would support a bailout only if it included a condition that the oil companies could not hire anyone who speaks, reads, or writes Spanish. He did say that he felt that we should not be hard-nosed about conditions like this and that he would agree to an exception if the employee could prove that he learned his Spanish at a junior high named after an American President.
I also contacted the economics and business professors at the U of U. They said that they were always in favor of any measure to increase government spending but they were particularly excited about this one so long as it includes some very harsh language about the almost criminal behavior of the oil company executives. They said that this sneaky lowering of prices is just one more proof--as if any more were needed--of the irresponsibility, mismanagement, and greed of corporate officials.
But, this is so serious that not only our political and intellectual leaders, but the average citizen must get involved as well. They can begin, if they buy their gas with an oil company credit card by adding an exact amount of dollars, in increments of $10 up to $2000, to their credit card payment. The oil company will then realize that this is a charitable contribution and will use it to help them raise gasoline prices to a more reasonable level. This effort is so important that a non-profit organization called, Save the Oil Companies/Corporations & Energy Resources (SOCCER), has been formed with Gov. Jon Huntsman as Chairman. He says that as long as they can get a person from the East with a Utah reputation to back him up, he will put all the resources of the Utah State Government behind this effort, no matter how many people in Utah oppose it, because SOCCER is something he really believes in.
As you can see, this bailout is critical, it may already be too late. Unless we get an immediate, gargantuan, government bailout of our oil companies our whole free enterprise system may be in peril!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reflections on the recent election-2

The paper yesterday (11/12/08) headlined that "most confident that Obama can fix the economy". It is discouraging to me that so many Americans seem to have forgotten that ultimately the only tool a president, or anyone else in government for that matter, has to fix the economy is a sword. In past elections we have been given the choice between two candidates, one who is all for brandishing the sword with greater swagger and one who is for sheathing it, partially at least, but in this election each presidential candidate was simply out to prove to the largest number of people possible that he would be the best swordsman in their behalf. Obama was clearly the winner in that contest.

But as I contemplate what is necessary to fix the economy, I mean really fix it, I can't help be a bit skeptical about "most people's confidence". One thing Mr. Obama could do as president, for example, is change the tax laws so that individuals and even most small companies did not have to hire a tax accountant to "do their taxes". This would remove an enormous drag on our economy and free up much needed capital. He could encourage the repeal of laws providing subsidies, regulations, grants and other legal aids to people and corporations thus removing the motivation to hire lobbyists and lawyers, thus again removing another enormous drag on our economy.

With the law thus simplified the ordinary citizen would be more motivated to live by the laws that are almost universally accepted in theory, such as the traffic laws, instead of feeling that there are so many laws why try to live by any of them if they are inconvient or if we happen to be too drunk or even too sleepy to abide by them. This would provide a tremendous reduction in the number of personal injury attorneys and other losses to the economy due to disobedience to laws that even those who disobey them agree to in theory.

I wonder if Mr. Obama will be able, or even try, to reduce the number of people in our country who are determined to live directly at the expense of others through stealing or fraud or gambling. I wonder if anything he suggests will reduce the number of people who live partially or completely at the expense of others because their use (and abuse) of drugs and alcohol have made them less (or completely) unproductive. Will we have fewer people with cancer, or diabetes, or heart disease, or obesity, causing an enormous drain on our economy, when Mr. Obama becomes president? Or will he continue to spend money in an attempt to cure these problems without so much as addressing possible lifestyle connections?

Will he, like so many of the economists at our most prestigous university, refuse to acknowledge the correlation between the erosion of our currency and the erosion of our character? Or will he, like them, and most in the media, refuse to acknowledge any correlation at all between character and the economy?

Will we have fewer of our people in prisons under Mr. Obama? The same day that people were expressing confidence in Mr. Obama to fix the economy, a man in my city was arrested for sexually attacking young children. He was released today because there was no room for him in the jail, thus making it necessary for those of us in this city to spend our resources to do what the government should be doing--providing protection from such. Will we be able to dispense with the cost of private security systems, carefully gated communities, special school police and maybe even locks on our cars, our homes, and our important papers when Mr. Obama becomes president?

Will we have more people living up to their commitments? Will we have fewer adulterers, less pornography, and hence, fewer men (with many simply giving up and becoming dead-beat dads), trying to support multiple families? Will people honor the promises they made across the altar at marriage? Will our children feel more secure from the devastation of divorce?

I, like everyone else, wish the best for President-elect Obama, not only for my sake, but more especially for the sake of my children and grandchildren. But in everything I have heard him say I cannot help but believe that at the end of his term--be it 4 or 8 years--in office that we will have more tax accountants, more lawyers and more lobbyists. Our money will be worth less and we will have more people addicted to drugs and alcohol. Our people will be sicker, sadder, and and both their persons and their property--and worst of all, our children--will be less secure. My greatest fear is that more--many more of our people will be determined, through either personal or public means, to live at the expense of others. And that cannot in any permanent way, "fix the economy".

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Today I continue my expression of gratitude for freedom.

My earliest memories were of post WWII Germany where Dad was involved with the war crimes trials. I vividly remember the despair and poverty of the German people at that time. I now realize that part, if not most, of that despair stemmed from dashed expectations. In a sense, the German people had bet the store on Hitler and had lost.

I have often wondered what would have happened if Hitler had won the war. How would our lives be different? In one sense, of course, he did win the war. That is the sense outlined so clearly and unforgettably in Frederick Hayek's wonderful book, "The Road to Serfdom". Writing at the end of the war, but before it was completely won, Hayek pointed out that although it was unlikely that the Germans would be ruling Britain, the ideas that had motivated the Germans were already, in large measure, ruling Britain, i.e. the ideas of central planning and socialism. The idea that government can be, and even should be, the provider of last resort. Those ideas were so deeply imbued in the minds and hearts of Englishmen at the time Hayek wrote that they made no stir whatsoever and I doubt that we would have ever even heard of Hayek were it not for the fact that his book was given a powerful review by Henry Hazlitt and subsequently became a bestseller in America, largely because there was enough of the spirit of independence left in America that the idea of becoming a society of subserviants to central planners was still disturbing. Today, of course, we have traveled a long way down that road. And, it is important, I believe that we ask ourselves about freedom. What is it? Why is it important, or is it? Can I, to use Harry Browne's famous words, "be free in an unfree world?" If so, how?

I begin the exploration by reflecting on a couple of my experiences in Germany when I returned there in the early 1960's. At that time there was a small resurgence of Neo-Nazi sentiment. The German government in alarm, flooded the TV programming (there were only two channels--both government controlled) with anti-Nazi material. Predictably, there was a backlash of anti-anti-Nazi sentiment. I vividly remember two comments of people telling me why they had supported Hitler.

The first came from a lady I greatly admired, who was, during the Hitler regime, a devout Catholic--a person I thought would have been adamantly opposed to Hitler. On the contrary, she reported, "I supported him wholeheartedly--we all did. Before Hitler our children were getting into all kinds of bad things, things totally foreign to German tradition and culture, things like drugsand pornography. Hitler took the youth and got them into good things. After Hitler you could be proud of your children again."

The second comment was one I heard reiterated almost more often than any other except the almost universal comment that "Hitler got us all working again." It went something like this. "Of course, I supported Hitler. Before Hitler you hardly dared walk the streets of the city at night. Some parts of town you didn't dare go into even during the day. After Hitler, if you accidentally left your wallet on a park bench or at a bus stop, you could return the next day and be sure that if it wasn't where you left it, it was at the Lost and Found office of City Hall with all the money you left in it still there. The streets, any streets, anywhere, were safe day and night."

In a sense, of course, these people were saying that under Hitler they were actually freer than they had been before he came to power. There is a problem with all this, besides the obvious regimentation behind it. This was usually mentioned as an aside when people made comments like those above with an off-hand addendum like, "if only he hadn't started the war" or "if only he hadn't done what he did to the Jews". The real problem was that Hitler was doing what would more appropriately be done at the family and local government level. And that is precisely, in my opinion, where freedom fails. Freedom is defined by the actions and habits and mores of our people, our families, and our local communities. When we turn those over to the central authority, no matter how good a job it seems they are doing, freedom falters. But, until it does completely we should be grateful and cherish what remains.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


On Veterann's day I express my thanks for my freedom. We are always admonished that we should express gratitude for those who sacrificed by serving in the Armed Forces so that we could enjoy our freedoms. I am a sort of a veteran myself. I was drafted with the idea that I would be sent to Viet Nam, but by the time I had finished basic training and done some on the job training at White Sands Missile Range, the war was winding down, so I was never sent and I spent my time at White Sands learning how terribly corrupting a government job can be, and usually is. It was for me, and for almost everyone I knew. Nevertheless, I am grateful for those who really did sacrifice, even though, I suspect, for many, as for me, the sacrifice was not entirely voluntary.

It is, of course, quite a different story for many who served in WWII. My father, and I suspect many others of our soldiers, volunteered before they were drafted. Dad was rejected, and ever afterwards felt so about it. In a sense, he served because he was involved in the war crimes trials after the war. Of course, WWII was quite different from Korea or Viet Nam or Iraq today, in the sense that we got militarily involved only after we had been attacked. One hopes that the books stating that Roosevelt set up the attack at Pearl Harbor so we would get involved are untrue.

The fact remains, however, that we lost as much in the way of freedom from most of our wars as we gained, if not more so. Nevertheless, we should be grateful for what we have, and I am.

Adam Smith, after going on The Grand Tour of Europe reported that the people in every country were proud of their freedom, but that they really did not understand it very well. I suspect that that is true of us today. We look back on the conditions in most of those countries and wonder, "how could they be proud of their freedom? What freedom?" Most of them did not enjoy the freedoms of which we are most proud, i.e. freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press. They, on the other hand, if they could look at our situation, would undoubtedly be aghast at the per cent of our incomes that we give to governments at all levels and would exclaim,"You call that freedom?" They would probably view the enormous amount of governement regulation of our lives and our economy and mutter, "Those people are little better than slaves." The most intriguing question for me would be, "Would they envy our lifestyle or our comparitive wealth?" Some probably would, others would declare it not worth the cost.

At any rate, I am grateful for the freedoms we do enjoy. In future entries, I will explore what it would be like not have those freedoms.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thoughts on the election

My wife, Shauna, teaches in a small private school, Capitol Hills Academy, whose students are mostly from the lower middle class. Some of the things that occured there after the election are interesting.

She has two young (she teaches first throught third grades) black boys in her class. One came to class Wednesday morning very outspoken. "Obama's family were slaves so now he wants to make us all slaves. I don't think it's fair. Just because he is a slave is no reason to make us slaves. " He then turned to the other black student and said, "I suppose you are happy about the election?" To which the other student replied, "Of course, he will be a great president."

Both boys, of course, reflect the outlook of their parents, but it is good to know that there is at least one black student here that is a potential replacement for Thomas Sowell or Clarence Thomas.

In the older class, taught by Jodie Millard, the students were for the most part jubilant over the election of Obama. When Jodie asked why, the typical response was, "Now there will be no more rich and no more poor. We will all be equal." "And you think that is good?" Jodie asked incredulously. "Of course," was the typical response.

Jodie decided to show the students what it meant at a practical level. She gave the scheduled spelling test that day. The next day, when the papers were turned back, they were duly marked--the correct answers checked, the incorrect answers x'ed, but the students found that no matter what their tallies in terms of correct or incorrect, everyone got the same grade--a "C". One of the top students in the class, one who had been most excited about "everyone will now be equal" protested vociferously, but Jodie merely reminded him that "we now live in a country where everyone is equal". The next day the boy's father showed up at the school, saying generally he liked the school, but it was absolutely unfair that his son, who was a very diligent student should be given the average grade for the class. His son, of course, was merely expressing the sentiment he had heard at home when he praised Obama for making everyone equal, but like so many others, the parents actually complained bitterly when the policy meant having less than they felt they had earned.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Today I conclude my series on why I believe we should be grateful for the right to vote and why I believe we should exercise that right even in national elections where our vote cannot possibly affect the outcome, at least, not directly.

In national elections it was Frank Chodorov who said that we should not vote because voting gives legitimacy to the government. He cited the Soviet Union with its record (at that time) of a 98% participation in elections, even though in most cases, there was not only no opposition party but not even opposing candidates from the Communist Party. I have a different take on that situation than Mr. Chodorov. I believe that they were simply trying to show that they were a better "democracy" than the so-called democracies in the western world. In almost exactly the same way, the Soviets built model stores, housing complexes, hotels, and other buildings with the sole purpose to impress visitors that they were as good or better than the US.

I will never forget my own experience in East Berlin several years before the fall of the Wall. I went, along with several other American tourists on a guided tour of East Berlin. At the end of the tour we were taken down a street with beautiful new apartment buildings. At the end of the block there was a large hotel. As we pulled into the drive-in circle and came out of the bus, we saw the man in the large Mercedes in front of our bus toss his keys to a valet who proceeded to drive the car around the hotel into what we assumed was the parking terrace. When we got into the hotel it was a bee-hive of activity. We entered the stunningly decorated, spacious lobby with a huge, wide staircase leading, we assumed, to the hotel suites. As we entered people were coming down the staircase and approaching the desk. As it was their turn they demanded to be given reservations to various other cities in Europe. Others were announcing that they had just arrived from some place in Europe and wished to be shown to their rooms. I didn't feel too well so I stepped out of the hotel and sat down on the front step. Our guide followed me and in somewhat of an alarmed voice demanded to know what I was doing. I said I didn't feel too well and just needed to get some fresh air. She said that would be OK but instructed me not to leave the hotel premises and asked that I go to the gift shop as soon as I felt better. I had planned to do that but after a few minutes I became fascinated with the fact that no one either came in or left the hotel. No car, no person, no taxis, nothing. In the 45 minutes I sat on the stair, until we left to return to West Berlin no one or no thing entered or left that hotel. It dawned on. The whole thing was a gigantic act. The people running up to the desk were not tourists, they were actors. I suspect that the nice apartments on the rest of the street were exactly like the dreary, run-down apartment houses that we had seen in the rest of East Berlin, only with a nice facade. But the point is that just because they wanted us to think that they had luxurious hotels, appealing and comfortable residential housing and probably other things had we gone on a more extensive tour, does not mean that those things are bad. We wouldn't destroy our hotels because the Soviets wanted them. Likewise, just because the Soviets wanted us to think they had a better or real democracy by requiring a large voter turn-out, is certainly no reason for us not to vote.

In my opinion the single biggest reason to cherish our right to vote is because it is almost the only vestige of our governmental system that adhers to the political creed: "all men are created equal". Indeed, I suspect, that that is the primary reason that so many libertarians, like Mr. Boudreaux are so opposed to voting. Mr. Boudreaux acknowledges that he is a skeptic, i. e. he does not even believe that "all men are created" much less that they are created equal. For the skeptic, no matter what his pretensions, man is an accident and it takes an angel, in which, of course, skeptics do not believe, to believe anything but that he is a fortunate accident and everyone else is a less fortunate accident and most are a catastrophe. In the case of Mr. Boudreaux, we know from his article that not only does he believe himself to be better than others, but better than most others combined. He says in his article, "I implicitly agree--by voting--that the process of selecting people to exercise power over me is legitimate". In other words, he does not feel that he should be subject rules at any level of government. He is to be the sole determiner of what is right and what is wrong for himself, at least.

The right to vote tells us that in the eyes of the law I am as valuable as the next man, and he, in turn, is as valuable as me. We need, therefore, in my opinion, to cling to this last vestige of equality before the law.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Today I continue with the idea that we should be grateful for the opportunity to vote. As I did yesterday, I will be responding to Donald Boudreaux's argument in his article, "I will not vote" which is basically that it is simply a waste of time since a single vote can hardly affect the outcome of an election. I admitted to seeing some truth to this argument for large populations--say a presidential or a senatorial election--but no merit in it for small populations such as a local election. Mr. Boudreaux's response to my letter was that two researcher's, Brennan and Lomasky had shown that even for small populations such as a town with only 1000 registered voters for which a local election might result in as few as 80 voters, the chances of a single vote affecting the outcome is as small as an election involving a million voters. Today I want to use an example that will get us closer to the objections to voting raised by Frank Chodorov. Essentially, these are that by voting we lend legitimacy to a government with which we might not agree. I will deal with this argument explicitly in a later issue. Mr. Boudreaux, incidentally, touches on it in his own article, but very lightly.

At one time Mr. Boudreaux was the department chairman of the Econ Dept of George Mason University. I will use his position to postulate my example. Suppose that the president of the university has proposed that the various micro-economic classes currently being taught at the university in various colleges all be transferred to the Econ Dept., e. g. the Engineering Economics class currently under the auspices of the engineering dept. would be transferred to the Econ. Dept. This would also be done for budgeting classes taught in the Home Ec Dept., medical econ. classes in the med school, legal econ in the law school, etc. The proposal is that the transfer be as neutral as possible in terms of budget. This is made possible by the fact that currently all such classes are actually taught by graduate students and it is foreseen that this would continue to be the case. The only change would be that currently the classes are listed in the catalogue under the various departments and are supervised by Professors in those departments. Under the proposed arrangement they would all be listed under economics and would be supervised by economics professors.

At a meeting involving all the professors involved, including all the professors in the econ dept., there is a very lively discussion. The economics professors are pretty much divided on the issue. Some feel that providing oversight to the classes would involve learning a great deal more about the specific subjects, engineering, home ec, medicine, etc., than they care to learn. Others feel that this would provide an opportunity to introduce students who would not normally take a regular econ class to some important concepts in macro-economics, as well as give a bit broader view of micro economics than they are currently receiving. The professors in the other departments are pretty much all opposed to the idea.

Since the discussion generates so much feeling, Mr. Boudreaux decides that it would be best to have a secret ballet, taken at the university testing center. Only the 20 members of the economics dept. and the 20 members of the other depts directly invovled in the change would be allowed to vote. Accordingly, Mr. Boudreaux provides a list of the 40 names to the head of the testing center with instructions that only those on the list be allowed to vote and at the end of the day allowed for voting the names crossed off of those who actually voted is to be destroyed so that no one can know who did and who did not vote.

In our hypothetical example, the testing center is across the campus from the economics dept. and involves either a lengthy walk or driving and looking for parking, i.e. a bit of a time sacrifice is involved. The members of the econonomics department, under the close supervision of Mr. Boudreaux have all studied the work of Brennan and Lomasky and, are, therefore, fully aware that one vote in 40 is as unlikely to determine the outcome as 1 in a million, so, with one exception, the newest member of the faculty who has not yet taken the time to thoroughly master the concepts in B & L, no one in the department votes. The members in the other departments all vote, hence, only 21 votes are cast.

My purpose in using this example is to point out that in one sense, Mr. Boudreaux is perfectly correct. There is little point in the members of the economics department voting. The people in the other departments are pretty much against the issue and the econ dept. is divided. The outcome, therefore, is clear. There is, of course, always the possibility that several of the people in the other departments are also aware of the work of B & L and, therefore also don't vote, but that is not likely. As diligently as I have studied engineering economics, I have never heard of Brennan and Lomasky. If engineers, who, as almost everyone concedes, know almost everything worth knowing, have never studied those two men's work, it is extremely unlikely that the professors in home ec, law, medicine, etc, are familiar with it either. But my point here is that the vote, in this case, and almost all cases involving local voting, transcends the outcome. If, for example, the president of the university were to ask for the outcome and were told that only 21 of the 40 possible people voted, he would feel, rightly, in my opinion, that there was a great deal of culpable apathy at his university. If he were informed by the head of the testing center, that although, he would not name the specific people involved, only one professor from the econ dept. voted, he would wonder at their desire to be involved in the affairs, other than their most immediate duties, of the university.

And that is precisely the point. Voting in a local election does precisely what Mr. Chodorov and Mr. Boudreaux say they do not want done--it lends legitimacy to the work of local government. And that is what is most desperately needed in America today--a sense of loyalty and legitimacy of involvment with local affairs.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I took the month of October off from my blog. This month, because it is Thanksgiving, I am going to offer comments on various things for which I am grateful.

I begin with gratitude for the right to vote. Most of us, myself included, will be grateful when this election is finally over, but still, in my opinion, we should be very grateful for the right to vote.

I am grateful that The Freeman magazine published my letter in its October edition in which I responded to Donald Boudreaux's article entitled "I Won't Vote". The main thrust of Mr. Bourdeaux's argument is that voting is a waste of time since a single vote has almost zero probability of affecting the outcome of an election. I argued that while that may be true in national elections, it is not true in local elections which are frequently decided by a handful of votes. He in turn responded quoting the work of two men, Geoffrey Brennan and Loren Lomasky, that even in elections with small voting populations, single votes have little affect on the outcome. He says that even in a locality with only 1000 registered voters this would be the case. Since in a local election--one chosing city councilmen or school board members--the number of actual votes cast, assuming that the town is similar to my own, would range from 80 to 150 votes, Brennan and Lomasky are saying that a single vote is essentially worthless at very small populations. It would have been interesting had Mr. Boudreaux, rather than merely refer us to the text, which I doubt very much many of us have access to, told us at what threshold a man going to the polls could feel that his effort to go and vote would be worthwhile. Since they apparently feel that in a field of 80 voters it is not worthwhile, my own guess is that the number is quite small, probably of the order of 20 or 30 or even smaller.

Later, I will deal with my own conviction that we should be grateful for the right to vote even if our vote does not, as Mr. Boudreaux argues makes absolutely no difference, which I agree with him is certainly true in very large populations such as a state or national election, but right now I want to look at the smaller populations. In local elections, I believe, as I stated in my response, we should be not only grateful for the right to vote, but make sure that we exercise that right. I will try to illustrate with an example.

Supposing you live in a town with only two thousand registered voters--a situation approximating my own situation. In a local election two city councilmen are being chosen each from separate districts of one thousand registered voters each. The city coucil consists of 5 members, three of whom are "at large", and two of whom represent smaller districts. This also approximates my own situation. In our example, the 3 at large members of the council are not up for election this year.

The big issue in the election is, should the city hall be replaced. It is older, but still perfectly functional, but advocates for replacement point out that a new building would have many built in features accomodating newer technologies making city government, they claim, more efficient, and would also be made bigger, thus allowing for future expansion. Governments are generally eager to allow for future expansion. The problem, of course, is that this would necessitate an increase in taxes. Let us assume that you, as a voter, feel that this is not only not necessary, but even undesireable, and, therefore, you cast your vote for the candidate that opposes replacing the city hall. The day after the election you discover that (1) the issue was of strong enough interest to attract 20% of the registered voters in both districts--an unusually large turnout for a local election, and (2) in both districts, the candidate opposing the new city hall won by a large margin, approximately 120 to 80, in modern American politics, essentially, a landslide victory. Of course, you note immediately, that Mr. Boudreaux citing Brennan and Lomasky, was correct. Your vote did not decide the outcome. Without you the candidate you favored would still have won. Was it worth the ten to twenty minutes it took out of your day to cast your vote? My argument is, even though you did not directly effect the outcome, it was. The reason is that the election in a representative style government never really decides the issue. In this case, the at large councilmen could still vote for a city hall, however, the fact that the candidates voting for the new city hall were so handily defeated sends a clear message that the residents do not desire a new building. This would have a decided effect on the deliberations on the issue.

In my next blog, I will address reasons that, I believe, should give us reasons for being grateful for our right to vote on local issues--an area where I feel we should be much more involved and for which we should cherish all our rights much more than we do.