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Profile, Quizzical

"Institution Green" *

I've recently read William Poundstone's book Gaming the Vote, on voting systems. It's an interesting book, and I'll probably have more to say about it. Pounstone makes mention of economic analyses which point out that the personal value to voters of any given vote is minuscule. The more authoritarian sort of economist tends to regard this as One More Reason why democracy is a Really Bad Idea and, presumably, would best be replaced by plutocracy. It occurred to me today that, while the value of any particular choice is small, the value of making a choice is very high indeed. It's the same thing that marketers and advertisers pay a high price for in their research, information about the customers. We are the customers, and you could probably even set a price on it. So the next time someone tells you vote doesn't matter, tell them it's actually worth money.

* The title of a Suzanne Vega song about alienation and voting; the references are specifically to the old voting machines with levers and curtains used in NYC.