Foot Voting, Federalism, and Political Freedom PDF



Just as foot voting can be expanded all the way down to the local level, there is also a strong case for extending it “all the way up” to the international level. The potential gains from freer international foot voting in some respects dwarf those that can be achieved domestically. 3 Moreover, for people living under authoritarian regimes, foot voting through international migration is often their only means of exercising political choice.


this wud seem already to be the case somewhat with the massiv migration from shitty countries to western countries.



In modern states, the ballot box is the main mechanism for popular political choice. If the public disapproves of government policy, they can vote to “throw the bastards” out and elect a new set of bastards who will, hopefully, do better. There is no doubt that the ballot box does indeed enhance political choice. Most importantly, it effectively incentivizes political leaders to avoid large and obvious disasters. It is, significant, for example, that no modern democracy has ever had a mass famine within its territory, 8 even though such famines are all too common in dictatorships. Democratic electorates also have some success in forcing government policy to conform to majority public opinion. 9


seems true


the only famines in democracies are those that are war related, and thus arguably due to either non-normal functioning or due to another non-democratic power, that is, soviet russia, nazi germany, or japan.


of what significance is this fact? well, perhaps nothing more than democracies are good at food production. perhaps becus food is such a vital commodity that any government that failed to hav food produced wud be strongly selected against.



Low Probability of Decisiveness

In all but the very smallest elections, the individual voter has only a vanishingly small chance of making a difference to the outcome. In an American presidential election, the probability of casting a decisive vote is roughly 1 in 60 million. 11 The odds are better in elections with smaller numbers of voters, but are still extremely low. The low probability of decisiveness surely diminishes the extent to which ballot box voting is a meaningful exercise of political freedom.


This may seem a counterintuitive conclusion, since citizens of democratic states have long been taught to view voting as an important exercise of individual freedom. We implicitly assume that the individual enjoys political freedom if he or she can effectively influence the government as part of a much larger group. But in most other contexts, we would not say that a person is truly free to make a particular decision if he or she in fact has only a miniscule chance of actually determining the outcome. For example, a person who has only a 1 in 60 million chance of being able to decide what to say has only a very attenuated degree of freedom of speech. A person with only a 1 in 60 million chance of being able to decide what religion to practice surely lacks meaningful freedom of religion. A worker who has only a 1 in 60 million chance of being able to decide whether to quit her job is not a free laborer, but a serf. In each of these cases, the person would not be considered truly free merely because they could say what they want, practice their religion freely, or change jobs if they first persuade a majority of a much larger group to give them permission. The same can be said for most if not all other valuable freedoms. Similarly, a person with only a miniscule chance of affecting the nature of the government they live under has only a very attenuated degree of political freedom.


he doesnt take it far enuf. in the US situation, there is only a choice between two non-chosen options. a better analogy with the case of religion is that the person has some 1 in 6e70 chance of deciding whether to be a protestant or a catholic. both shitty options, exactly like in the US case.



B. Advantages of Foot Voting.

Foot voting has important advantages over ballot box voting on all three of the dimensions considered here. Foot voting is usually decisive, it allows for a greater degree of choice over basic structure, and it creates superior incentives to acquire and rationally evaluate information. Individual decisiveness is the most obvious advantage of foot voting over ballot box voting. A person who chooses which jurisdiction to live in usually has an extremely high probability of being able to implement her decision. In many cases, of course, the individual might be constrained by the desires of a spouse or other family members. But even in these situations, he generally has a much higher probability of influencing the final result than does a ballot box voter. One vote out of, say, ten, in a large family is far more likely to be influential than one vote out of ten million or even one vote out of ten thousand in an election.


Foot voting in a federal system also allows greater choice over basic structure. A person who can choose between multiple state and local governments can potentially choose between other limitations as well. For example, it only applies in a narrow range of circumstances. See Ilya Somin, “Revitalizing Consent,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 23 (2000): 753- 805, 795-97. 12 jurisdictions with very different systems of governance. For example, they might have divergent state constitutions, electoral systems, basic social welfare policies, and so on. Obviously, the range of choice here is far from unlimited. The choices are limited to those available in the given federal system. 34 Moreover, foot voters generally are unable to control the basic structure of the federal system itself, such as the determination of how many different jurisdictions will exist, and what their boundaries will be. Nonetheless, especially in a sizable nation with many different jurisdictions, the range of choice is likely to be substantially greater than that available through ballot box voting in a unitary state.


the recent legalization of cannabis comes to mind as a great reason to move to another state within the US.





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