Sunday, 3 October 2010

Hannan on Democracy

Daniel Hannan explains his commitment to democracy:

Voters, being human, can make mistakes. But it doesn’t follow that a class of experts would have made a better decision. Just think about some of the positions that “the experts” have taken down the ages. In the 1920s, they were for returning to gold at the pre-war rate. In the 1930s, they were for appeasement. In the 1940s, they were for nationalisation. In the 1950s they were for state planning. In the 1960s, they were for mixed-ability, child-centred teaching. In the 1970s, they were for price controls. In the 1980s, they were for the ERM. In the 1990s they were for the euro. In our own decade, they were for the bail-outs and stimulus packages.

A random cross-section of the population will almost always have more collective wisdom than a group of self-selected and necessarily self-interested experts.
To that I would add (and I'm sure Hannan would agree) that coercive power, even when moderated by democracy, should be as limited and as distributed as possible. Democracy, as a system of government, may be better than "all those other forms that have been tried from time to time" [1], but government should still be kept to the absolute minimum.

The freedom we enjoy in the market (as individuals, to buy or not to buy) is far preferable to the tyranny of a majority. The more (purchasing) power left in the hands of taxpayers, the better.

[1] Churchill, November 11, 1947

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