Democracy despite voter ignorance: A Weberian reply to Somin and Friedman

Critical Review 13 (1-2):191-227 (1999)
Abstract Ilya Somin finds in the public's ignorance of policy issues a reason to reduce the size and scope of government. But one cannot restrict the range of issues that may be raised in a democracy without it ceasing to be a democracy. Jeffrey Friedman argues that, since feedback on the quality of private goods is superior to feedback on the quality of public policies, ?privatizing? public decisions might improve their quality. However, the quality of feedback depends upon the nature of the good, not who provides it; and the absence of reliable feedback on a good may actually justify government involvement, to correct information asymmetries. More fundamentally, voter ignorance of policy issues is a problem only if we assume that the point of democracy is to secure voter control of policy. Max Weber, however, advocated democracy as the best available mechanism for securing strong and responsible leadership.
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DOI 10.1080/08913819908443529
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