Higher Costs Appeal to Voters: Implications of Expressive Voting

J.R. CLARK AND DWIGHT R. LEE
PUBLIC CHOICE (2016). ADVANCED ONLINE PUBLICATION. DOI
10.1007/s11127-016-0329-4

Abstract: The logic of expressive voting implies that some will find voting for a government policy more appealing the more costly it is. This result is consistent with public opinion polls and the trajectory of government spending. And it adds to the ability of rational voter ignorance and apathy to explain the latitude politicians have to ignore the cost they impose on taxpayers without losing votes. The appeal of higher costs to voters makes it easier for organized-interest groups to exploit the good intentions of voters by capturing private advantage and sabotaging the hopes upon which those good intentions are based. The appeal higher costs have for some voters also suggests another way bootleggers can benefit from the moral cover Baptists provide for their rent-seeking activities. We also point out that expressive voting implies that there is no reason for believing that the special-interest activity that sabotages the moral intentions of voters are in general any less moral than morally motivated voters.