The mob and the crowd
Brendan O'Neill
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Mobs Versus Markets

I was planning to applaud your story until I read this…

The more they behave like this, the more attractive democracy appears; the more we, the public, recognise the immeasurable value of a democratic system that allows us to wrest big decision-making from these jaundiced, closed-off elites.

The problem with voting is that there’s no immediate and tangible cost…

Expressions of malice and/or envy no less than expressions of altruism are cheaper in the voting booth than in the market. A German voter who in 1933 cast a ballot for Hitler was able to indulge his antisemitic sentiments at much less cost than she would have borne by organizing a pogrom. — Loren Lomasky, Democracy and Decision

Voting is free and so is applauding…

The Soviet Union outspends us on defense by 50 percent, an amount equal to 15 percent of their gross national product. During the campaign I was asked any number of times: If I were faced with a choice of balancing the budget or restoring our national defenses, what would I do? Every time I said, “Restore our defenses.” And every time I was applauded. — Ronald Reagan

There’s no cost to clicking on the applause button here on Medium. Just like there’s no cost to clicking the like button on Facebook and no cost to clicking the retweet button on Twitter.

Imagine if clicking the retweet button cost a penny. Everyone on Twitter would have to decide whether the retweet was worth a penny. Coincidentally, the economist Arnold Kling recently mentioned micropayments in this blog entry

One key point on which I agree with Stross is that I am surprised and disappointed that of all of the possible ways to pay for content on the Internet, the advertising model dominates. I understand why micropayments did not take off–Clay Shirky diagnosed the “mental transactions costs” involved.

It’s exceedingly unfortunate that some people perceive these mental costs as a bug rather than a feature. A “mental cost” is a fancy term for having to think. It’s really not a bug or a bane when people use their big brains… it’s a very beneficial blessing.

The market is by no means perfect. But the reason that it works far better than the alternatives is because the optimal amount of brainpower goes into decisions. How much lip balm should be supplied? This question isn’t answered in the voting booth. It’s answered in the shopping aisle. Consumers pick up the lip balm, look at the price, and use their brains to decide whether it’s worth it. Why should it be any different when it comes to the war on drugs, poverty or terror?

Democracy is the idea that people should get what they want for free as long as their mob is large enough. I really don’t have the words to effectively express just how immensely idiotic this idea is. So what are my options? Here’s the best one…

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. — R. Buckminster Fuller

Creation is always destructive…

But have you ever asked yourselves sufficiently how much the erection of every ideal on earth has cost? How much reality has had to be misunderstood and slandered, how many lies have had to be sanctified, how many consciences disturbed, how much “God” sacrificed every time? If a temple is to be erected a temple must be destroyed: that is the law — let anyone who can show me a case in which it is not fulfilled! — Friedrich Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality

A few of my friends and I recently erected a very small and simple “temple”…

Ideas/links/pages are ranked by spending instead of voting. If spending is truly better than voting… then could potentially destroy some really big temples.

What do you think? Is the cause worth the cost?