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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16162/why-vote/

Why Vote?

March 22, 2011 by

Thousands of people have died while driving during polling times for presidential elections, but no single vote has ever determined one of those elections. FULL ARTICLE by Mark Brandly


Allen Weingarten March 22, 2011 at 7:37 am

The author’s point is that one oughtn’t vote because it will have a negligible effect on an election in which there are many voters. Perhaps he should generalize, so that we needn’t participate on a blog, or even live, for what difference does it make to any worldly outcome? ☺

nate-m March 22, 2011 at 9:10 am

Unlike voting, participating in a blog will have a much larger impact on yourself and your associates. Also has a bigger chance of actually accomplishing something.

Living has a large effect on yourself and your loved ones and your associates.

Voting, generally, does not accomplish any of these things. It’s a hollow jesture, especially if your viewpoints do not align with the ones that are already in power (The Republicrats and Demopublicans). Might as well be screaming at the television whenever Obama comes on for all the good it’s likely to accomplish.

That being said local elections probably deserve much more attention then national ones.

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 10:29 am

Ask everybody else on this board. I constantly post drivel on the mises blog about God, the soul, government etc.
Do you sincerely think I am making a difference and accomplishing something ?

Heck, I can’t even talk some sense into you and make you change your mind. How am I going to change the world ?

I agree with Allen Weingarten and if you read Ecclesiastes, you will see that life is pointless, futile, vane and we should all just stop breeding and end it. Nobody loves me and I don’t have associates, I’m a worthless nobody, so I’m living for nothing.

But why post yet another drivel post, it won’t change a thing. If you agree that my interventions are worthless, maybe I made a difference after all, and that my interventions were not so worthless after all because it made you realize that they were worthless.

Tyrone Dell March 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm

It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others. If thats the case, keep on posting that drivel, bro!

matt470 March 23, 2011 at 10:28 am

Big ups for that response! ROFLMAO

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 10:37 am

Why breathe ?

After all, if I take one deep breath, it changed nothing in the world, the sky is still blue, the government is still wasting our money, gasoline is still expensive, I’m still unemployed.

From now on, I think I will hold my breath, not that it will make any difference either.

A good example of damn if you do, damn if you don’t, damn if you will, damn if you will not.

I guess I’m just damned, forget about the do and the don’t.

I just find that risking my life to go voting is just not worth it. I’d much rather stay at home, watch tv and eat junk food while everybody is freezing their ass to cast their worthless vote.

It’s not like voting will end taxes and all that. Not that I pay taxes either since I’m unemployed. In fact, I should not even be allowed to vote since I’m not even paying taxes. Why should I get a say on the administration of funds I did not even contribute to ?

nate-m March 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm

breathing makes a difference for me. Posting anonymously in a blog is entertainment and passes the time in a simple way.

These are positive benefits.

Were as with voting… not so much. It really doesn’t matter in most cases.

That’s the difference really. I think your quite possibly missing the point here.

Steve March 22, 2011 at 1:20 pm

They’re probably few and far between, but some may enjoy the voting experience for aesthetic reasons.

nate-m March 22, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I’ve seen all types.

I used to work in the voting machine industry. It was VERY educating.

Shay March 22, 2011 at 7:22 pm

A blog post containing a well-reasoned argument can change the minds of hundreds of readers, who then share this reasoning in their own postings, etc. As for voting, the main question is whether spending that time and gasoline on going to the polling booth has more value than doing something else instead.

greg March 22, 2011 at 9:40 am

One vote may not make a difference, but a group does. And you can’t have a group without individuals.

J. Murray March 22, 2011 at 10:11 am

And you just fell into the very same fallacy he already defended in the article.

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 10:47 am

It’s not a fallacy if one individual decides for the whole group on which side they will vote. If each individual in the group mutually consented in a libertarian way to obey a leader of the group which tells the rest of the group how to vote, then that individual might indeed have enough power to make a difference.

Think I’m kidding ? It’s happening all the time with single issue special interest groups that follow their chaplain, pastor, priest, boss, super star (can you say Oprah) etc.

Oprah made Barack Obama into the president just by publicly showing her support for him. It’s as if she said to her group “vote for Obama” and they did.

Also, blacks voted for Obama, that’s favorable racism, but racism nonetheless. Obama’s skin color made him into the president of the USA and last time I checked, Oprah is Black.

I strongly believe that the black community voted for Obama just because he’s black.

In this case, color and fame made a huge difference in the outcome of this election.

Heck, even me, a white conservative, was excited that we would live a moment of history and see the first black president, even though I don’t share Barack Obama’s political views. I was excited that something like that happened.

You can say whatever you want, but Barack Obama’s election into presidency was a moment of history. He’s the first black president and I admit I found that exciting, all the news and media hype about it. It really worked.

Obama played on color, fame and the republican’s mishandling of the economy and it worked like a charm.

Oprah’s black vote made all the difference about this election.

In the next election, the skin color gimmick will not be a novelty anymore, so we might have the first female president and after that, I hope people will come to their senses and vote based on political agenda and not skin color, sex or hype anymore.

Oprah is a woman, so she might make a difference again.

Greg March 22, 2011 at 11:04 am


Whether you are voting for someone or buying a product, it is individuals that make those choices. Whether or not the person is elected or your product remains on the shelf depends on a group of individuals.

Doesn’t your free market approach teach you that the economy is made up of individuals making choices based on their wants and their resources. You may argue that every dollar counts while every vote counts only if you are in the majority. But that is not the case, products must have enough sales to justify their existence. My personal example is that I love Captain Crunch, but as much as I buy, the product is gone.

If you want a change in the political climate, you need to convince a group and the individuals in that group must vote.

J. Murray March 22, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Yes, it does. However, an election is not a free market ideal. In a free market, if I choose a niche product that is unpopular, it doesn’t vanish the next day. In an election, it doesn’t matter if you like a particular candidate and vote for that individual, he or she is rendered null and everyone is now forced to live under the selected leadership, like it or not.

The existence of competing products doesn’t mean one product is supplanted by another simply because 50% +1 want that other product. They both can and usually do exist simultaneously with both parties happy. An election only leaves the people who don’t like the candidate bitter and unhappy as they no longer get to live their lives the way they want to, but by how the winning side gets to dictate.

Peter March 22, 2011 at 10:01 pm

It’s unlikely to be 50%+1; more like 20%, or even less, depending on (1) eligibility to vote, (2) turnout, and (3) agreements with small parties (in places where single-party majorities are not that common)

J. Murray March 23, 2011 at 5:03 am

Well, 50% +1 of those who cast votes. That’s another problem. By not buying either of two products, I cast a real vote in a market. But voting or not voting in an election, it doesn’t matter as my vote counts the same either way. But not voting saves me the time in line and the gasoline to the polling station.

Gil March 25, 2011 at 6:07 am

Yes it can – if a product has too few customers the either the business goes bust or at least the product is discontinued. By the same token if one person decides they’re going to give up drinking Coca Cola for a while then it’s not going to bankrupt Coca Cola. If one person decides to switch from drinking Coca Cola to Pepsi then Cola Cola then it’s not the end of Coca Cola either. Last time looked most of the colas of the shelves of supermarket are stocked with primarily of Pepsi and Coca Cola so it seem the capacity for multiple choices to coalesce into a virtual duopoly naturally exist.

J. Murray March 25, 2011 at 6:22 am

I can also pick RC, Sunkist, Jaritos, and a variety of other products not owned by those companies. That’s not an option in a political voting scheme. Sure, if a sufficient number abandon a product, it may go out of business, but that is no guarantee. If we treat consumer products like an election, it’s a 100% guarantee that all products but the one that wins the election immediately go out of business.

Gil March 26, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Why? The Republicans haven’t disbanded becuase the Democrats got voted in. Minor parties continue to exist.

Thomas March 22, 2011 at 10:39 pm

He defended the fallacy but he did so unfairly by wording it in a way that supports his argument.

The amount of oil production in the world has a significant effect on gasoline prices, therefore a single small oil company’s level of production has a significant effect on gasoline prices.”

This is clearly incorrect but he unfairly uses the word significant. The fair way to say it would have been:

therefore a single small oil company’s level of production has a small effect on gasoline prices.”

Your body contains so many millions of tiny microscopic cells that losing a single one has almost no effect on your ability to live. Would you also claim that cells don’t matter?

J. Murray March 22, 2011 at 10:19 am

Just to create a visual behind this. Take an election where there are 31 voters, 30 voters and you. For your vote to make a difference, you have to be the very last person to cast a vote. Any time someone else has an opportunity to vote after you, your vote ceases to matter. Additionally, when you cast that final vote, the tally must be tied.

So, if there are only 31 people casting a vote, the chance that your own vote will matter in a simple two-way election is 1 in 33.28 billion. If we complicate things and add a third candidate, the chance that your vote will matter is 1 in 6.8 quadrillion.

Your best chances of making a vote matter is if there are three voters, you being one of them. In that case, to be the third voter in a tie you have a 1 in 12, or 8% chance, of actually having a vote that matters.

Additionally, any time there is an even number of voters, your vote will never matter as you can never ensure a candidate a victory or defeat.

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 10:54 am

So, are you saying that voting is like gambling ?
No wonder I never win !

We all know that lotteries are in favor of the house, not the player.
The casino always win, not the gambler.
So if voting is like gambling, no wonder the government always win and voters always lose.

Maybe we should just all stop voting, that way the government would go bankrupt, just like if we would all stop gambling, the casino would go bankrupt.

nate-m March 22, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Gambling houses are much more honest then elections. At least with Gambling you actually get a chance to win even if the odds are stacked against you.

Ohhh Henry March 22, 2011 at 11:39 am

For your vote to make a difference, you have to be the very last person to cast a vote. Any time someone else has an opportunity to vote after you, your vote ceases to matter. Additionally, when you cast that final vote, the tally must be tied.

The chances of “one vote making a difference” are infinitesimally small not just because of the mathematical odds against it, but also because the entire electoral process is highly manipulated by political and government insiders at the behest of special interest groups.

Electoral districts are jerrymandered, that is their boundaries are adjusted to ensure that some particular group with predictable voting habits will dominate. When the outcome cannot be fixed by jerrymandering, big money flows from special interest groups to political bagmen and backroom party hacks so that they select candidates who are essentially clones of each other, disagreeing only in a superficial, rhetorical way. Rothbard wrote a paper in which he showed that since Lincoln every single presidential election had a successful candidate who was a creature of either the Rockefellers, JPM, or both. In Canada there is a very large Quebec-based conglomerate which has had most of the successful candidates for Prime Minister in their pocket going back over 40 years.

In extreme cases, a popular loose cannon who cannot be defeated with a rigged nomination process is done away with (see RFK). Or the candidate is ridiculed by an all-out media campaign during the election as being “nuts” or “incompetent”. You know when such a campaign is being waged because the front pages of periodicals and web sites select pictures of the candidate which, out of the many hundreds of shots taken at a political rally or photo op, happen to make him look evil or stupid.

Another trick is to look at last minute polls (or take an illegal peek at “sealed” early voting ballots) and then pull hundreds of workers from assured districts and flood the uncertain districts in order to “get out the vote” which basically means to arrange for many buses and cars to bring in bums, union gangs, inhabitants of mental homes and seniors’ residences, pliable ethnic groups, etc. (plus out-and-out fraudulent use of dead people’s names and other tricks) in order to tip the election toward the desired result.

In the cases where the pre-election dirty work fails, then the ballots themselves are miscounted or “lost” or the voting machines are rigged.

And finally if despite all the manipulation a very close election result happens, there is a corrupt judiciary which will ensure that any controversy over recounts is settled according to the wishes of Big Money.

And I’m not even mentioning the rigging of elections which takes place prior to the campaign through the use of porkbarrel spending.

The more you understand about how elections really work, the more you realize it’s a sham and a scam. Voting is not merely a waste of time and gasoline, but a negative act because it lends credibility and prestige to the crooked, manipulated results.

Shay March 22, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Given all the problems with having to elect people to decide what to do with pool of money appropriated from citizens, it seems that we would do everything we could to make this pool as small as possible, so that there wasn’t so much riding on the outcome. It would be like getting together with all your friends, forcing each other to give up all their discretionary income into a shared pool, then voting on what to do with it. Imagine all the conflicts this would cause among friends. Yet this is just what we do.

matt470 March 23, 2011 at 10:38 am

@ J. Murray

For your vote to make a difference, you have to be the very last person to cast a vote. Any time someone else has an opportunity to vote after you, your vote ceases to matter.

Sorry J. but this is wrong.

Convince me why timing is important? As the article more correctly points out you just need to look at whether or not the outcome would’ve been different if you voted or not. Your suggested scenario is only really legitimate if votes were tallied and reported after every single vote – it is certainly NOT the case in blind voting where we mostly don’t know the outcome until polling is at least mostly finished.

J. Murray March 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Timing does matter. The moment your vote is cast, the election is now up to the behavior of individuals who vote later down the line. The closer you get to the end of the line in an election, the better chance you have at having a vote that legitimately counts. The guy in the very front of the line can never swing an election one way or another.

Even if we remove the timing element, here are your chances of making your vote count in an election with you and 30 other voters:

1 in 10.737 billion in a 2 way election
1 in 205 trillion in a 3 way election

Those odds represent the chances that each individual will cast the correct vote to reach a 31-30 winning vote in that election.

The decisions of each individual voter in such a manner to allow a vote to actually count is what drives up the odds to such astronomical numbers. You being the final vote in the line to even get the opportunity to tip the election is 1 in 31, which is clearly a far cry from the 1 in 10.737 billion it takes to even line the election up in the correct balance.

When you get even a population of a small town that has a voting population of around 10,000, the odds of your vote counting in that election are so astronomical that life has a better chance of spontaneously developing itself on Mars on that same election day. For reference, I can’t calculate the odds because the a 64 bit computer isn’t capable of generating a number that large. There exists no name for the number of a sufficient size to describe just how impossible it is for your vote to ever matter in any election of worth. The number is so large that if you add up all the protons, neutrons, and electrons in the universe, it’ll still be smaller. You have a better chance at winning the state lottery every week for a year, without having to share with someone else picking the same number, than you do at having your vote in a school board election matter one whit. You get my drift, I hope.

Wildberry March 23, 2011 at 5:53 pm

@J. Murray March 23, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Talk about overanalyzing and completly missing the point. There is only two times that matter: When the polls open, and when they close. If you vote anytime between those two points, TIME DOESN’T MATTER.

Second, how many votes get cast doesn’t matter. You count them all up and see who won.
If there only three votes in the box, or 100million, the most votes wins.

If you don’t vote, you are simply consenting to someone else’s dicision. That is analagous to letting someone else do your shopping for you. You have to eat what they buy. Sameo sameo.

matt470 March 23, 2011 at 11:00 pm

@ Wildberry

Second, how many votes get cast doesn’t matter

You can’t surely believe this? Your own example should highlight the enormous difference in the probability of an individual’s vote influencing an outcome. Would you also suggest that the probability of me winning a raffle in a competition with only 2 other people or in a national competition with millions of entrants is the same?

I’m really surprised that you (as much as we more often disagree, I’ve come to expect reasonably well thought out arguments from you) could make such a glaringly obviously statistical error.

What I’ve said here above though does not refute your opinion that voting does matter – you are entitled to feel that way. In some sense (eg. when viewed collectively) it does, in a purely individual sense, and based on probabilities of influencing an outcome as in this article, it doesn’t.

Wildberry March 24, 2011 at 1:14 am

@ matt470 March 23, 2011 at 11:00 pm

Thanks for the compliment (I think).

I am getting a little tired, so my thinking may be a little fuzzy, but is voting analogous to a lottery?
In a lottery, one (or some very small group) wins and everyone else looses. So in that regard, the size of the sample matters.

However, in a vote, where say the majority wins, majority does not depend on the total number of votes cast; add them up for each column and pick the winner, right?

That is what I mean. It doesn’t matter what the population of the total voting sample could have been or how many actually voted. You would still get a majority count.

I appreciate your attention, though…really.

matt470 March 24, 2011 at 8:10 am

@ Wildberry

However, in a vote, where say the majority wins, majority does not depend on the total number of votes cast; add them up for each column and pick the winner, right?

This is a bit confused – the question I think you are examining is what is the probability that you’ll end up voting the same way as the majority or not, which if one has no idea which way the votes will fall this probability a priori is 50% (assuming a 2 horse race). BUT, if you were questioning whether it was worth you turning up to vote or not (as this article examines) then answering this question tells you nothing about whether by you turning up or not you’ve made a difference to the outcome.

Here we are investigating what is one individual’s potential influence on an election outcome. With the benefit of looking back after the votes have been tallied we can easily examine what any individual voter’s influence has been provided they’re honest about exactly how they voted. To do this we simply ask ourselves if that specific individual had done x instead of y what would the outcome be? Given the assumption I’ve stated earlier (which is not always entirely correct mind you… see Ohh Henry’s objection above) that the voter has not been influenced by any other person’s or group of people’s vote between the time polling is open then this will be completely valid. I believe this is what the author of the article has gone to serious lengths to do with his post US Presidential elections statistics – I haven’t individually checked his calculations but they seem reasonable (as opposed to the wildly inflated figures that J. Murray is using).

If you sat on a board of 3 people (A, B and WB for this example) and had a vote over something, the range of possibilities for how the votes of A and B could turn out would look like this:
1) A+B for,
2) A for, B against,
3) B for, A against,
4) A+B against.
These are the only possible outcomes, agree?

First thing we should perhaps notice is that the middle two options (2 & 3) are exactly the same in reference to the influence your vote can have on the result. This is one of the reasons J. Murray’s math is out (the other reason I’ve explained in my previous comments here and again below)

What becomes obvious next is that if either 1 or 4 occurs then your vote does not have any ability to influence the result. If 2 or 3 occurs then your vote will determine the result. If we can assume that options 1 through to 4 are equally probable, which would appear this way to you if you had never met these people prior to making this vote, then there is a 50% probability that your vote will decide the outcome… clearly this is a pretty strong position of influence you have. Before J. Murray pipes up, I’ll say it again, provided this is a blind vote then the order of A, B and WB casting their votes is completely irrelevant – either way they’re all counted and the outcome will be the same (I’m amazed that this is not entirely self-evident!). It goes without saying that the order the votes are counted in is as equally irrelevant.

If we now examine the case where we invite another two people on to the board (persons C and D) it would look something like this:
1) A+B+C+D for,
2) A+B+C for, D against,
3) A+B+D for, C against,
4) A+C+D for, B against,
5) B+C+D for, A against,
6) A+B for, C+D against,
7) A+C for, B+D against,
8) A+D for, B+C against,
9) B+C for, A+D against,
10) B+D for, A+C against,
11) C+D for, A+B against,
12) A for, B+C+D against,
13) B for, A+C+D against,
14) C for, A+B+D against,
15) D for, A+B+C against,
16) A+B+C+D against.

Of course a lot of this is redundant when considering voting, I’ve only gone to this length to try and make sure it’s very clear. The different outcomes that matter from above can be grouped as follows [1] (all for), [2-5] (3 for, 1 against), [6-11] (2 for, 2 against), [12-15] (1 for, 3 against) and [16] (all against). Agree with this?

Now in all of the above scenarios with the exception of [6-11], ie. a tied vote, your vote will not end up influencing the outcome. Therefore assuming they’re all equally likely from your point of view again then prior to voting the probability you’ll have a deciding vote is now only 6 out of 16 or 38%. Clearly the possibility that your single vote will be important to the outcome has decreased as the number of voters have increased. The number of people on the board has increased by 67% (from 3 to 5) and as a result you’ve suffered a 24% (50% down to 38%) decline in your potential ability to influence a vote. Add a few tens of millions of people to the “board” and the chances of a tied vote (ie. so that your vote becomes decisive) starts getting incredibly slim.

This is the essence of the article and I’m reasonably confident that these probabilities above are indisputable fact (ahhh, nice to be working in the natural sciences again… pleasant break from politics/philosophy ;-)). However, before I get shot down – this does not irrefutably mean that voting is in all cases worthless – there are many reasons (some of which have been listed here and some in the article itself) why people may value their vote and argue that it is important. I personally agree with the author though that where I have an infinitesimal chance of influencing an outcome then why bother turning up just to be counted. I can’t help but agree that by blogging you would have a greater chance of influencing an election outcome (albeit that probability is incredibly small also).

matt470 March 24, 2011 at 8:18 am

Stupid emoticon where dot point 8 should be – didn’t know how to fix that sorry.

I think I’ll just assume that’s LvMI’s way of letting me know how cool I really am!

Wildberry March 24, 2011 at 12:21 pm

@ matt470 March 24, 2011 at 8:10 am

See Kyle at:


matt470 March 24, 2011 at 8:42 pm

@ Wildberry

I’ve addressed Kyle’s comment. It doesn’t change or refute a single thing I said above.

Remember Wildberry, this is empirical science now… probabilities are what they are. If you want dispute what I’ve clearly stated above (IMHO) then you’ll have to do it with mathematics.

Peter Surda March 25, 2011 at 5:07 am

You would still get a majority count.

Not always. If you have more then two parties, based on the results of the polls made after the elections, it happens quite often that parties that form the coalition do not represent the mix favoured by the voters of those parties. Election thresholds can also contribute to distortions.

You know Wildberry, there are countries other than USA.

matt470 March 23, 2011 at 11:20 pm

@ J. Murray

No I’m going to have to remain adamant on this one – timing does not matter. You are confusing “combination” with “permutation”. Voting is about combination where the order of voting is unimportant. This would only be different if we were to assume that as each vote is placed it has an influence on how the next person in line at the booth votes.

Ohh Henry’s case above perhaps suggests that viewing pre-polling can change behaviour in who will then vote or how they’ll vote so if he is correct then in some part you could argue for using some mathematical permutation although it would be nearly impossible to quantify to what extent this additional influence is having. It doesn’t radically change the point made in the article (just changes the probability analysis a bit in an unspecified way). BTW, I’m not disputing what Ohh Henry says at all – I simply wouldn’t know.

If you still dispute this J. Murray please outline mathematically how you’ve reached those astronomical probabilities – in the mean time I’m far more satisfied with the probabilities used in the article.

J. Murray March 25, 2011 at 6:46 am

I see where I made my mistake. I ran the numbers as if each event was between two unique elements as opposed to two elements that were repeated for each instance.

J. Murray March 25, 2011 at 7:21 am

I ran them the right way here. Getting a 50-50 split with 10 voters to allow #11 the opportunity to matter is an 11.9% chance. My 30 person election example is really a 3% chance to make a difference. With 10,000, you have a 0.7% chance of that happening. The odds in a 120 million voter election like for President, the odds your vote matters are 1 in 239,999,996
or 0.000000000000056%

matt470 March 25, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Nice work J. Murray – they sound much better.

I think you and I both agree that they’re still tiny odds so the article’s author is spot on in saying that an individual has for all practical purposes almost no chance of making a difference.

matt470 March 25, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Not sure where my last reply went so I’ll try again??

Nice work. Those figures look much better.

As we can both agree, the principle is still the same that an individual voter has an almost not existent probability of influencing a typical presidential election result so unless they’re incredibly passionate about being counted they may as well stay home.

tfr March 22, 2011 at 10:55 am

“Soon we will know if we have learned to accept that the stars do not go out when we die.”

Prime March 22, 2011 at 11:30 am

Excellent article.
So is this one:
Yee-Haw! My Vote Cancels Out Y’alls!

Drigan March 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Libertarians are the only group I know that voluntarily discount their own group’s capacity to change things. Pathetic.

Tyrone Dell March 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm

You think Obama is a change from Bush?


Drigan March 22, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Umm . . . where did I say that? Reading comprehension: it’s becoming a lost art.

There certainly are philosophical differences, but economically they’re both bad.

filc March 22, 2011 at 7:46 pm

The article doesn’t explain why libertarian’s don’t vote. It’s not an issue of public choice theory(Which is an issue). It’s an issue of ethics. Voting, and participating in that cesspool, is the attempted act of coercing your neighbor into behavior they wouldn’t voluntarily do on their own.

Voting is inherently linked to violence. Thats why libertarians shy away from it. It’s extremely anti-market. A pacifist doesn’t purge the world of violence by murdering everyone he thinks is a killer, lest he become one himself.

nate-m March 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I recommend people vote libertarian. Might as well. I don’t believe in the ‘your vote just helps justify their evil system’.

But you have to understand the system is rigged. It’s not a fair election. The two major parties go to great lengths to ensure their continued political dominance.

darjen March 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm

No, we’re the only group who realizes that voting doesn’t change a dang thing. There is a lot of stuff you can do that will change things way more than voting ever will.

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm


For libertarians to bring change as a group, they would have to vote for a libertarian party. The libertarian party would take power and change things.

Given that the government is a coercion, tax and spend, monopoly on force machine…

How are you going to bring freedom through coercion ?

It would be like pointing a gun in somebody’s face only to tell him: Keep your money, I don’t want it.
Or again, it would be like pointing a gun at somebody’s face only to tell him: Do what you want to do, I don’t care, you are free. Those examples are completely stupid.

You can’t force people into freedom. It’s a contradiction.

That’s why libertarians discount their own group’s capacity to change things through government and would rather act through education, free market capitalism, private property rights and again education.

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm


Consider the libertarian’s lack of voting as a massive group vote against the legitimacy of the whole electoral and government system. A government cannot claim legitimacy if there is very little voter turnout. Some countries have enacted laws to force citizens into voting because the lack of voting was becoming embarrassing and so they tried to legislate the embarrassment out existence. Of course, in such countries, their is a high rate of blank voting ballots or canceled voting ballots.

When libertarians don’t vote, they are in fact voting their time, money and efforts into more productive activities and they are in fact voting against the system by enacting a “vote” of non-participation. Just like not buying a product could be seen as a vote against a product. Not voting can be seen as a vote against the entire system. It loses credibility and legitimacy when people refuse to vote.

Of course, there are not enough non-voting libertarians to make the product go away.

Gil March 22, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Gee, if Libertarians didn’t think government had legitimacy anyway then it can’t claim legitimacy towards Libertarians. If next to no one turned for election day then that doesn’t make a difference – which party gets the most votes still gets in power.

Wildberry March 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm


Outstanding! It is indeed a strange silliness. One man’s withdrawal of consent is another man’s lack of objection. It’s not like the elections don’t produce an outcome because a few pouting libertarians didn’t bother to show up!

Love it!

Gil March 22, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I gues that’s one reason many Libertarians prefer a Monarchy – at least you wouldn’t pretend to a choice in such a society.

Vanmind April 9, 2011 at 7:28 pm

To “change things” is to interfere in the lives of others, and that’s what’s pathetic.

EconAndre March 22, 2011 at 12:37 pm

A while back, before the 2008 election, The Freeman had an article on why your vote doesn’t matter. The Franken-Colmann Minnesota senatorial election was won by 312 votes. I wonder how many eligible Minnesota voters were pursuaded by your type of arguments not to vote. How many of these non-voters have ‘non-voter’ regrets? Would they have made a difference if they had voted? There’s no excuse not to vote; the marginal cost of voting is practically nil with the ease of voting by mail.

Zorg March 26, 2011 at 9:51 pm

“The Franken-Colmann Minnesota senatorial election was won by 312 votes.”

So that means that the tens of thousands (or however many) who voted for both didn’t matter. The one that mattered was the 50%+1. And it also means that the tens or hundreds of thousands, or millions, who did not vote for *either* man were not allowed to prevent one of these two men from claiming that they “represent” them when they obviously don’t!

And when you say “won by 312 votes, ” you realize of course that 311 of those margin-of-victory votes are superfluous, right? If you were one of those 311, your vote wouldn’t count either.

You ask if non-voters would have made a difference. No, because every voter for Colmann is nullified by a corresponding voter for Franken. This is true no matter how many voters vote. As soon as I vote for A, my vote is nullified immediately as my neighbor votes for B. This is about whether a single vote “counts.” They just don’t. This doesn’t mean that one guy wins and the other loses based on 50+1; it just means that your “say” is meaningless and null. You can’t even vote “none of the above.” They’re not interested in your “say,” only whether mass marketing and mass manipulation can produce a win from a mass popularity contest.

The system only exists to provide legitimacy to rulers. That’s why it was implemented by force in the beginning and is carried out by force at every minute. If the purpose was to find out what people want, then the non-voters would win every time because the simple fact is that they are the majority – at least here in the US. Can you choose not to be ruled by one of the candidates and their benefactors and financial supporters? No, you cannot. So you’re just fodder for them when you show up to vote. You are living propaganda for the state. “We have a mandate!” cries the winner. If you vote for the winner, you and he take it as validation that you can force your collective will on the losers. If you vote for the loser, not only did your individual vote not count but the whole group you aligned with failed, and so now you are expected to “honor” the results and allow the winner to “govern” according to “the will of the people.” The will of the people then amounts to only HALF of the actual VOTERS (in a two person race, that is) now because the losing voters’ “will” is disregarded completely. On top of that, even the winning candidate can disregard his own “winning” voters because he holds office now, not them! He is not obligated to vote in any way at all now. Everyone knows this, but they still spout childlike fantasies about being “represented” in a “democracy.”

So two opposing guys lie to you (this is indisputable) about what they will do. A popularity contest is held. Only the winner – one guy, not his “voters” – gets to participate in a smaller group of voters (House or Senate). He is free to vote or abstain from voting, support his stated goals or not. Both the “winning” voters as well as the losers and the non-voters have NOTHING to say about how he votes in office.

The lack of choice and impact and meaning for the individual voter or non-voter is just utterly staggering once you lay it all out. What it is is a complete annihilation of the individual and their will, not to mention their rights.

Now, if you consider a mass movement of de-legitimization of the political system through non-voting or secession or nullification, etc., then you will see how far superior those methods are to participating and strengthening the political system by voting. They are very fast at getting results once they get going, whereas you can keep voting til the cows come home and the system will still stand because you are playing its game and not asserting your right to be free.

Enjoy Every Sandwich March 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Even if your vote does decide a given election, it doesn’t mean that you have any meaningful control over the outcome. Whatever the candidate promised is not at all binding upon said candidate. They just declare that they have a “mandate from the voters” and then do what they damn well please. And we can do…what?…about it, exactly?

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 3:47 pm

“And we can do…what?…about it, exactly?”
Vote again in four years, LOL !

Mark March 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Interesting. It’s refreshing to see a logical article that picks apart the flimsy reasons given for voting. That said, I still disagree with the central premise that there is no good reason for an individual to vote. The author seems to imply that the ONLY reason to bother voting is to affect the outcome of an election. If that were the only reason, then I would agree. But the real power of your voting is not the vote itself, but the example it sets for others – your family, friends, neighbors, everyone you know. It says that you care about civic issues, and that such issues are important. And whether people admit it or not, they are always looking to those around them for cues on how to act, and what to value. And such caring, translated into action outside the voting booth, DOES have the power to have a real effect on things. Just ask any (I hate to use this phrase, but here goes:) community leader. And a person like that is naturally going to show up at the voting booth. So it’s not your vote that’s important, but your public involvement that (1) can induce real change, AND (2) drives you to vote, as a byproduct.

Aiden Gregg March 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm

So, would you say people with more friends, or who are more respected, have more reason to vote that people with fewer friends, or who are less respected?

Mark March 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Yes, I guess I would!

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Then I guess a worthless nobody like me with no friends and who is hated by his family and respected by nobody has absolutely no reason to vote, LOL !!! :-D

Zorg March 26, 2011 at 10:07 pm

But if every or nearly every person that gets elected is directly or indirectly participating in violating your rights as well as those of your friends, family, and countrymen, then voting for them is supporting the status quo of your own slavery and degradation. There’s a reason that gov’ts are always changing, suffering revolutions and secessions and re-alignments, you know.

Why not start a mass movement of non-voting as a protest? Doesn’t that tell people that you REALLY care about the issues?

Why not start the League of Non-Voters and protest at polling stations and hand out literature? That might show people that you care, eh? That’s certainly one kind of “public involvement, ” right?

Adam Berkowicz March 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm

I would argue that sitting outside polling booths with a sign that says, “Which master will you vote for?” serves a much more provocative and educational purpose than voting itself.

Mark, if voting is useless, and you set an example of voting for others in your community, aren’t you simply setting an example of uselessness? Wouldn’t a more radical example be to commit to an outspoken view of why voting doesn’t effect what happens in this country, and instead list options that may be more beneficial?

Mark March 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Hmm … I like that sign! Maybe I’ll do that next time. :) Of course, “master” is an exaggeration since it implies that they can do anything to me that they like, and are not bound by the rule of law. Of course, our leaders DO seem to frequently flout the rule of law, but they can’t do it by themsleves; it takes the cooperation of the enforcers as well, which is a more serious problem.
But anyway, if I set an example by voting, and cause others to vote as well, then I AM in fact causing many to vote, which DOES have a chance at influencing an election outcome – at least a local one. (If one’s only goal is to influence a NATIONAL election, then I say he has set his sights too high!) I just think the author was assuming that we all act independently and no person’s voting decision affects anyone else, which is not true.
But yes, if you commit to an outspoken view on an issue, then you have a far greater chance of affecting a large number of people. (But I figure such a would person be inclined to vote, as well!)

Allen Weingarten March 22, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Why not draw the ultimate conclusion that nothing matters? If the universe contracts, so that the big bang leads to the big disappearance, how did it matter that the universe ever existed (or to whom)? On the other hand, if the world becomes perfect, what happens next, except just keeping things static for endless time. Finally, if some physicists are correct, in that there are zillions of other universes, our vote is one in many zillions, so why vote? ☺

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm

If you read the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible, he basically sums it up like this: “Nothing Matters But Remember Your God Before You Die” !!!

“Finally, if some physicists are correct, in that there are zillions of other universes, our vote is one in many zillions, so why vote?”

I bet those universes are not all democracies, some of them might be dictatorships, tyrannies, monarchies so they don’t even have the right to vote to decide who their tyrant will be, not that their vote would matter anyways.

This discussion is getting ridiculous and it doesn’t even matter either, LOL :-D

Everything I right is a complete load of useless crap, LOL :-D

Ouch, my brains hurt, it may not matter that it hurts, but it hurts nonetheless and right now, it matters for me to get some aspirin, LOL :-D

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 3:58 pm

“Why not draw the ultimate conclusion that nothing matters?”

Now, the uncomfortable and revolting but factual conclusion is that “I don’t matter”, maybe this whole thing about not going voting is an act of revolt stemming from the conclusion that “I don’t matter as a voter”.

But isn’t it ironic that by not voting, I am making myself matter even less, not that I mattered before. LOL :-D

Harshith A. March 22, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Granted that most political candidates are corrupt and immoral. However, as already has been noted individuals votes do add up, and make a size-able portion. So, why should we not vote for the candidate who is the least corrupt among the lot?

The only negative aspect I see from this is the resulting view that voting and democracy as desirable.

Peter March 22, 2011 at 10:30 pm

Because you don’t vote for “we”, you vote for “you”. “We”, taken in the aggregate, should vote for the least-worst candidate among the options, but you can’t control the outcome, you can only cast one solitary vote, which has no effect at all. “Individuals add up” is irrelevant.

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm

“Granted that most political candidates are corrupt and immoral.”

Maybe that’s because this is what voters want and demand and given that nothing escapes the laws of economics and that only products and services in demand survive, this must mean that the average voter is corrupt and immoral and hopes on voting himself some massive handout or trampling on the rights of others.

Candidates are like the tip of an iceberg, it’s easy to call them immoral and corrupt, but they could not stand out if they were not supported by the rest of the iceberg which is itself supported by the sea.

In the end, we are all supporting those immoral and corrupt candidates. Even if it doesn’t matter and that I don’t matter and that my vote or no vote doesn’t matter.

Harshith A. March 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm

“In the end, we are all supporting those immoral and corrupt candidates.”

I would say most people are supporting them out of ignorance, not out of any malevolent intent. So, would it not make more sense to vote for whoever is most compatible with your ideas and beliefs?

Not that I am a supporter of democracy, but the democractic system cannot be wiped out overnight.

ADDENDUM: Yes, there is also a pressing need to educate the masses about the true nature of the government.

Wildberry March 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm

@Harshith A. March 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm

but the democractic system cannot be wiped out overnight.


Yes, there is also a pressing need to educate the masses about the true nature of the government.

And what is it that you propose we teach the masses? I may regret asking…

Harshith A. March 22, 2011 at 8:47 pm

And what is it that you propose we teach the masses? I may regret asking…

About how democracy is an ineffective form of self-governance, how the government system really works – the usual dope. I’m for invidualistic anarchism, but if someone wants to have a democracy and get enough people to agree with them on the tomfoolery – no worries, as long as they don’t shove it down my throat.

Why would you regret asking this?

Chris March 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm

This argument falls apart under it’s own logic. Assume it’s logic, and therefor conclusion is correct. Then logically, *nobody* should vote. If nobody votes, then one vote is by definition, the deciding vote. ie The single vote matters. If one vote determines the election, then the second person should vote to perhaps cancel it, etc etc etc.
In other words the vote is a measure to prevent too small a number of votes from influencing an election. The argument against the electoral college is a different, and totally valid one.

Aiden Gregg March 22, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Does is follow that, if nobody should vote, nobody in fact votes?

Your rebuttal depend on this move.

Daniel March 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

I think you’re overlooking the fact that the possibility of influencing an election confers different benefits for different people, so in an equilibrium state where everyone is making a rational cost-benefit decision on whether or not to vote, the total number of voters would be considerably greater than zero, but certainly much less than it is today.

The benefit of casting a vote can be roughly estimated by the voter’s degree of preference for his chosen candidate multiplied by the probability that his/her vote will actually make a difference. The author’s point is that this second term is currently so small that your expected benefit is still virtually zero, no matter how much you (manage to convince yourself that you) care about a given candidate. But if only, say, 27 people voted, it would be rational for some number of non-voters to start voting.

Personally, my decision not to vote has more to do with the first term: as one who believes that only a purely libertarian government is in any way acceptable, I don’t remotely give a rat’s ass which candidate ends up winning. I believe it’s much more important to change people’s fundamental understanding of politics, at a grass-roots level, so that some day the errors that have become embedded in the American system of government can be corrected.

Aiden Gregg March 22, 2011 at 4:49 pm

At one level, the author’s argumentation is hard to fault. Still, I am not sure I totally buy it.

For the sake of argument, let us suppose that there exists some democratic election directed at achieving some perfectly worthy collective goal. Let us do this so as not confuse (a) the question of whether it is wrong to vote because one’s vote generally doesn’t count, with (b) the question of whether it is wrong to vote because democracy is generally immoral.

In particular, suppose that a large classroom of students, perhaps numbering in the hundreds, amicably agree that the majority vote should decide where they go on a school trip, the choice being between two attractive but not equivalent alternatives.

Here, an individual student could reason that, because it is unlikely that their individual vote would count, they should exempt themselves from the voting process. Indeed, all students should reason similarly if they are “rational” according to Brandly. Accordingly, none should vote.

But this strikes me as self-defeating and perverse.

Why couldn’t they all student decide to vote so as to determine what most students want? If all students agree that it is legitimate to maximize satisfaction with the choice of trip destination by going where most students want to, then it would perverse of any student not to vote, even though their individual votes are unlikely to matter. They would be disrupting a useful collective process of opinion sampling and decision-making.

SO, does Brandly’s reasoning really apply to situations where voter collectively agree that a decision should be taken by a democratic vote?

Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 5:37 pm

In the case of a democratic vote, WHO makes the decision ?

The magic hand ?

No one individual is responsible for the decision. We could just draw the decision on a coin, tails or heads or in the case of multiple parties, on a 6 face dice etc.

Aiden Gregg April 1, 2011 at 10:34 am

This does not rebut my objection. Indeed, I am struggling to see the relevance.

I agree no one person make a decision when it is made collectively via a democratic vote. I do not dispute that. Why point it out?

You then seem to inferring that, because no one person makes the decision, the decision could just as well be made randomly. But this is false.

Suppose 60% of the group want to visit place X, and 40% want to visit place Y.

If the decision is made democratically, more people will be more satisfied, and fewer people will be less satisfied.

However, if the decision is made randomly, then it is equally likely that (a) more people will be more satisfied, and fewer people will be less satisfied, and (b) more people will be less satisfied, and fewer people will be more satisfied.

So, all else equal, it’s better to make the decision democratically than randomly. It satisfies more people more.

You may object: all else is not equal. The dissenting 40% are being taken for a ride (literally!). That violates their rights, etc.

However, if so, you may be forgetting a key premise of the example.

It is this: all the students amicably agree that the democratic vote should be held. That is, all of them, so to speak, unanimously “vote” for the democratic vote, before they actually cast their vote.

Why might they do so? Well, I think it’s easy to understand: the students are reasonably unselfish. They all figure, “You know, the worst that is going to happen is that I, and everyone else, will visit a nice place that was my personal second choice, not my personal first choice. But it makes sense that we should arrange for more people to definitely get their personal first choice than should get their personal second choice, as opposed to deciding the matter in some other arbitrary way that does not take these preferences into account. So, I support democratic decision-making process, and will gladly abide by it.”

The key point here is that all students support the vote itself. If they didn’t, it would be a different matter. If, say, half really wanted to visit place X but not place Y, and half really wanted to visit place Y but not place X, one would imagine that they would not all support the vote. Fair enough.

But, in my example, they DO support the vote. Given that this is the case, I submit that the democratic decision-making is not irrational. In particular, even though a single vote is unlikely to count, the democratic decision-making is still not irrational. This is a prima facie counter-example to Brandly’s claim that the democratic decision-making is irrational because a single vote is unlikely to count.

All clear?

Now, how should Brandly respond to my argument?

J. Murray March 23, 2011 at 5:18 am

Even pre-supposing a 100% agreement, a vote is not necessary as all those individuals will take that action, vote or no.

The purpose of a vote is to force those who disagree to go along anyway.

Aiden Gregg April 1, 2011 at 10:45 am

Not in this case.

The purpose of the vote here is to discover what the preferences are, and to follow the course of action consistent with it. It is NOT to force the unwilling to go along (as is often the case elsewhere).

To repeat: no one is being forced in this case. All freely consent to abide by the result of the democratic vote in advance. This is a given in the example.

I introduce this given deliberately, in order to separate objections to democratic voting on the grounds that a single vote is liable to be insignificant, from objections to democratic voting on the grounds that it is immoral.

I am disputing objections of the first sort, not objections of the second sort.


Freedom Fighter March 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm

@Aiden Gregg,

Couldn’t each student decide individually where he or she will go on an individual trip during school vacation ? No need to vote in that case.

Aiden Gregg April 1, 2011 at 10:36 am

It is a given in my scenario that they the class can only visit place X or place Y. If you like, suppose that there aren’t the funds to organize two, three, or four separate trips. So, it’s a choice between going to one place, or nowhere.

Frank March 22, 2011 at 7:36 pm

Democracy sucks. It’s how 51% of the population can force 49% of the population to live their life in the way the small majority sees fit.

Just let me be.

J. Murray March 23, 2011 at 5:21 am

It’s more like 20% of the population forcing 80% of the population into a way of life.

Drigan March 23, 2011 at 8:32 am

More like 20% forcing 19% of the population into a way of life and the other 60% mutely going along for the ride. By not voting, you’re not choosing some higher ground, you’re choosing to be part of the 60%.

Drigan March 23, 2011 at 8:47 am

(and apparently there’s a 1% rounding error in all this.) ;)

J. Murray March 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm

60% aren’t mute in it. Election laws bar roughly 28-30% of a country’s population from even voting at all. Even if there is a 100% turnout of those who can legally vote, it only takes 35% to impose their will on the other 65%. There can never be a true majority in a democratic system.

Wildberry March 23, 2011 at 5:13 pm

@J. Murray March 23, 2011 at 2:59 pm

You are suggesting taht we should allow minors to vote? Prisoners and non-citizen residents should all help us elect our school boards and President?

Also your arithmatic is a little strange. If 50% -1 of the elibible population turned out on one side of an issue, it would take the other 50%+1 to make the opposite decision. That would be 100% participation. 50% participation makes it a 25-25% battle. We have every right to chose which senario we favor. We could just allow one guy in Wyoming to decide everything for us. That could work.
On the other hand, if only 1 person voted, against, it would only take 2 to defeat him, which wouldn’t be that hard to organize. Organizing 100 million peopled is a little harder, so let’s just skip it entirely, right?

With a small enough turn-out, currently non-voting, elible libertarians could make the decision either way. That is the best reason I’ve heard for discouraging everyone else to vote.

Here is the key distinction for me. We CAN throw the bums out by taking 5 minutes to vote them out without having to man a machine gun against jets and tanks. That’s an advantage over some situations, yes?

Ohhh Henry March 22, 2011 at 9:00 pm

A while back, before the 2008 election, The Freeman had an article on why your vote doesn’t matter. The Franken-Colmann Minnesota senatorial election was won by 312 votes. I wonder how many eligible Minnesota voters were pursuaded by your type of arguments not to vote. How many of these non-voters have ‘non-voter’ regrets? Would they have made a difference if they had voted? There’s no excuse not to vote; the marginal cost of voting is practically nil with the ease of voting by mail.

Is there any substantial difference between the actual way that the government of the US is being run now that Franken is in DC, and the way that it would run if the other guy got in? In the first place I doubt that Franken is actually paying anything more than slight lip service to whatever (supposedly) innovative ideas he put forth in the election campaign. I doubt that his opponent would have done anything except vote the straight “big government” line either.

In the second place, even if there would have been a really great difference in how they voted in congress, remember that THEIR votes are utterly meaningless unless there happens to be a tie, and this practically never happens. Congressional votes, what with all the arm twisting, bribery, deception, etc. employed by DC political hacks, are if anything even more crooked and rigged than what happens in the elections in which the public participates.

The odds of those hypothetical 312 “somebodies” making a difference in the way that DC operates because they showed up at a polling booth is so ridiculously small as to be for all intents and purposes zero. And as I said previously, by showing up to vote they are doing harm to themselves and their families and neighbors because they are lending a color of legitimacy to a violent, incorrigible criminal enterprise.

Bill March 23, 2011 at 10:49 am

Maybe every non-vote could be counted as a vote for nobody. And if the majority vote for nobody, all candidates on the ballot could have to be replaced with new ones. This would be a way of requiring a vote without actually forcing people to act.

Freedom Fighter March 23, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I love this idea, every candidates would get the butt out, LOL !

Or make a section: none of the above, LOL !

Alex March 24, 2011 at 3:09 pm

There was a country on this Globe where they had “None of the above” candidate on the ballots for quite a while. Then that candidate started to get closer and closer to winning elections. Guess what happened next? The election laws were changed and that candidate disappeared from the ballots!

Allen Weingarten March 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

Previously I joked about the issue of whether a single vote counts, suggesting that by extension our live do not matter, and neither does the universe. However, I do have serious beliefs, as follows:
The impact on one’s personal life is generally more the desideratum than his influence on the world. Consequently, one votes for the way he interacts with others, and with how he views himself, so the fact that his vote is unimportant for the world, matters less than the value it may add to his life. Moreover, when it comes to existential meaning, it is less a matter of the tangible & material, and more a matter of the intangible & transcendent. So I submit that one’s life is of immense value as is existence itself.

In sum, although there is generally little worldly value in a single vote, engaging in the voting process can be purposeful & meaningful, as is participating on a blog, and living one’s life.

Freedom Fighter March 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm

I absolutely HATE my life. My body is in constant pain, I am absolutely unimportant for the rest of the world, I can’t find a decent job, I hate to do dirty and tough jobs and I refuse. My life is nothing but pain, misery and I hate it and I want to get rid of it.<

But, we are not flesh life forms. I believe we are oneiric life forms. Therefore, if my life is misery, it's because the universe owns my soul, not me. The universe, “God” or whatever you want to call it/him/she is the enemy of my soul, the enemy of my life, our common enemy. It is the purpose of my life to takeover my soul, to claim back my soul from the universe.

In other words, I live because I absolutely HATE life and I want to make sure it never happens again and for this, I will have to acquire my own soul by ripping it off the universe’s claws and have the pleasure to kick his filthy slimy divine little butt at the same occasion. He must pay for his crimes against life.

Allen Weingarten March 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Freedom Fighter, I appreciate the oneiric (or mystical) approach wherein you have found purpose in your existence. However, you may find unexpected experiences wherein some rewards accrue from life. I recall a story about a man who attempted suicide, but only became blinded. He then attempted to become able to commit suicide, for which he needed to be able to get to a rooftop. Yet in the weeks he spent learning how to do so, the man regained his will to live. So while he was objectively worse off than before, he now felt that life was worth living.

Isn’t it strange that one day a man can feel helpless & hopeless, yet in a brief period can be pleased to have lived for something that is rewarding? If nothing else, your writings are worthwhile to me.

Best wishes,

Freedom Fighter March 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

@Allen Weingarten,

Thanks for telling me that my writings are worthwhile. I am absolutely terrified at the idea of mopping floors, brooming floors, data entry on a keyboard and I am absolutely petrified at the idea of going into the military and face basic training. After watching some videos on youtube about basic training, there’s no way on earth I can do that.

I told my family I was going into the military, to become a naval electronics technician, because that’s the only high paying job that I can do and because I’m out of money. But basic training is like hell. Why can’t I have a decent life ? Why must I always have it the hard way, I’m fed up with that. Now, they are putting pressure on me and expect me to join and I don’t know how to tell them I absolutely DON’T want to go through the roughness of basic training. I’m too much of a pussy for that and I’m not affraid to admit it.

My body hurts all the time just surfing the web, imagine how painful it would be for me to be in basic training.

Plus, the way you are controlled like a robot all the time, this doesn’t seem very libertarian to me.

I can’t find a decent job in the civilian life and working at mcdonald’s seem like basic training all the time for the rest of your life. They way you have to take the customer’s orders, go fill up some fries, bag up their orders, take another customer’s order.

People who work at McDonald’s deserve my outmost respect, there’s no way I could work under so much stress all the time.

In fact, I hate work with a passion and would rather surrender my last breath, life is bullshit because work is HELL !

The thing I like to do is technical drawing, and I can’t find work in this branch. I guess it’s time for me to call it quits.

Joe March 23, 2011 at 2:40 pm

@Freedom Fighter
You need to have a beer and tone down the ego just a little. Other than that you are good to go.

Freedom Fighter March 23, 2011 at 3:50 pm


I prefer milk, chocolate milk, or better yet a large oreo mcflurry LOL ! :-D

What ego ? I’m a worthless nobody, unfit for survival who is about to get his ass kicked for good, LOL :-D

Maybe you meant: stop the trollish outlandish rants. I can do that. From now on, I will focus on the subjects.

I vote for a nice big mac combo with supersized fries, ketchup and a large oreo mcflurry.

Joe March 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm

@Freedom Fighter,
I love your posts. Don’t change. It is a breath of fresh air.

danq March 23, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Say what you want about whether your vote “counts”, but there’s always pride/guilt issues:

“Good thing I didn’t vote for him!”
“I really should’ve voted for the other guy…”

David March 23, 2011 at 5:04 pm

If every libertarian and every conservative thought about this matter logically, we’d be a 3rd world country in no time.

Kyle March 23, 2011 at 11:32 pm

Allow me to quickly dispense of your hypothesis, Dr. Ferris. The fallacy is that if each person bought into your hypothesis, then no one would vote. Again, one’s vote wouldn’t matter, correct? But let’s take it as given that nearly everyone buys your hypothesis, except for one person, who gratefully didn’t learn of it. This person’s vote then decides the election. Get the point? People’s attitudes have consequences on behavior and non-behavior. Let’s expand this point by examining how you are looking at probability.

You are looking at probability like one would calculate a coin flip, or the spin of a roulette wheel. This is not how an election works. An election is a tally, an accumulation of decisions. Therefore, a person who assumes his vote does not matter increases the odds his preference is not chosen in the election by abstaining from voting. It is not about whether his vote has a 100% chance of deciding the election, or rather a zero % chance it will be non-productive. One votes because it improves one’s prospects of having his preferences chosen by lot.

matt470 March 24, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Unfortunately Kyle this doesn’t dispense of Dr Ferris’s hypothesis.

Review my comment above and dispute the probabilities I’ve listed if you disagree with what I’ve said http://blog.mises.org/16162/why-vote/#comment-767722)

All you have said here is that by not voting you reduce your chance of influencing the election outcome to 0%, and I certainly don’t dispute this. My point is that your probability has probably reduced from something infinitesimally small down to to zero – so no great loss necessarily.
This is mathematically correct from any one individual’s point of view – you’re now spinning it out by saying if every person responded this way then the case would change. This is not valid because as the numbers of people voting dropped off then the amount of influence each vote may have would increase which would spur more people to vote again.

This type of argument appears to me to be a case of the sorites paradox.

As I stated in my linked comment above though… people shouldn’t necessarily read from Dr Ferris’s article that therefore voting cannot have any value to anyone. There are reasons for people to value their vote and I do not try and take this away from them. This doesn’t change the mathematical probabilities of any one individual influencing the outcome of an election though.

matt470 March 24, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Sorry the hotlink to my previous post doesn’t work – you’ll have to cut and paste it into your address bar.

Zorg March 26, 2011 at 11:20 pm

“An election is a tally, an accumulation of decisions.”

Well, it’s a tally, at least within a specific context. For example, an election by the inmates of a prison who get to choose between two pre-approved wardens is also a tally. Calling it a “decision” is more problematic however since this “decision” is not a purely voluntary one. One cannot decide, for example, not to have one’s rights abused by whoever the winner turns out to be in a political election.

“Therefore, a person who assumes his vote does not matter increases the odds his preference is not chosen in the election by abstaining from voting.”

I think you and others are missing the ethical context here. We’re talking about political elections, not a group of friends riding in a car on a Saturday night voting on where to have dinner. In a political election, no real “preference” is ever expressed because no one has a choice regarding the political system. Political systems are imposed by force. They are based on violence. And while they transition to propaganda and voting as their public face, that doesn’t change their true underlying nature.

You can say you’re expressing a preference when you say you want to eat at Pizza Hut while two of your friends vote for Outback. You may lose but your rights were never violated. Likewise, a preference is expressed when you freely decide to become a member in some group (business or church or whatever) that relies on voting for some group decisions. But this is not the case in political elections. This is most clearly evident when a new state is established through the disintegration or destruction of a previous state by means of violence. The fact that elections are set up completely belies the fact that the people have either been conquered or absorbed or discombobulated in some sort of way demonstrably against their individual wills.

And again, non-voters in the US clearly demonstrate that they prefer none of the candidates, yet this preference is never calculated into the results, reason being that they would nullify the whole system. The system would be (and actually is now) de-legitimized.

When “preference” is mentioned in the context of political elections, it only refers to pre-approved (by the state) candidates. Voters have forever acknowledged that they vote for, not who they prefer to rule over them, but the best of whoever happens to be left as over against whom they feel is a worse choice. This is described as “voting for the lesser of two evils” or “defensive voting” or some other similar phrase.

Perhaps it would be easier to understand the non-voters’ argument if you imagine living in France when the Germans invaded and took over. Do you vote in the ensuing elections? Well, if you have half a brain, you’re going to realize that the system will only provide pre-approved (by the conquerors) candidates. Now, you might choose to dive right into the “lesser of two evils” rationale, but I’ll bet you’d be more open to the “this regime is illegitimate, so let’s get rid of them” argument in that case. Right?

Can you see that over time, the conquered would be pacified and learn to accept the status quo and feel like it was “theirs” through years of propaganda and voting in the new rigged system? But what if a loyal minority remained? Can anyone seriously argue against the claim that the conquerors were illegitimate rulers despite the fact that they eventually started holding elections? Of course not.

If we REALLY wanted to know what people PREFER, we would allow people to SECEDE from the system that rules them by force and allow them to form voluntary associations where there is no question whatsoever of a person’s will and rights being respected. But whenever anyone denies that the system is an ipso-facto rights-violating system, they are unfortunately engaging in self-deception. Then they spread that deception to others using the state’s own propaganda!

So arguments about what elections are and what they accomplish are, to me, devoid of meaning because they are so wildly out of context. I mean, you’re actually voting for the people who are systematically robbing you and degrading your rights day by day. Not only that, but the federal gov’t has actually murdered millions over the years and continues killing people day by day. Do they deserve to be legitimized by some formal public ritual? I think not.

“One votes because it improves one’s prospects of having his preferences chosen by lot.”

That only applies to voluntary situations, and ones where the violation of one’s fundamental human rights are not at issue in the vote. Political elections put into contest one’s fundamental rights. That’s all you nee to know in order to condemn that system as illegitimate. No legitimate system of elections would EVER put one’s life and property rights on the line and subject them to a cheap rigged deceptive popularity contest.

Can we be allowed to disassociate from this monstrosity without severe punishment? No? Then what the heck are we being sold with this talk about “preference”? I prefer not to be violated and abused. How about you? : )

Freedom Fighter March 24, 2011 at 5:44 am

Why shop at the grocery store ?

After all, buying groceries will absolutely not change the outcome of the elections. Plus, given the fact that I have to drive to the grocery store every week, I stand 52 times more chances to get killed driving to the grocery store than I stand going voting.

But wait a minute, what if they made electronic voting over the internet ? That way you could comfortably stay home while voting for the party of your choice and you could order your groceries on the internet at the same time.

Surely, with electronic voting, with internet voting, with iphone or ipad voting, those arguments about the worth of voting would be nullified because there would no longer be any cost or dangers involved with going voting.

Fabian_CH May 17, 2011 at 8:51 am

Wow, the sophism. The argument about Michigan basically goes “If one amount of voters always voted one way, but the rest of the voters didn’t, that first group would not be large enough to win the election.” Or, in still other words: Michigan doesn’t have a majority of the US population, therefore Michigan will not decide the election. To say this as an argument against voting is intellctual dishonesty; it’s intellectual gerrymandering.

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