My New “The Week” Article on “The Case for Empowering Americans to Vote with Their Feet”

The WeekMy article, “The Case for Empowering Americans To Vote with Their Feet” was just published. This article is partly based upon the revised version of my book. You are free to move: Voting by foot, migration and political freedom. Here’s an example:

American democratic institutions face crisis. The status quo’s worst weakness is that the voter has little control over many aspects of everyday life. The need to increase opportunity and provide choice for the poorest and most disadvantaged is closely related. These problems can both be significantly alleviated if people have more opportunities to vote with their feet. It should not be difficult to get rid of local or state laws if you do not like them.

We tend to think that voting at the polls is our primary method of exercising political decision-making power. Ballot box voting can be a great tool. However, there are two serious limitations to it: The very low likelihood that any individual vote will matter and the incentive for poor informed decisions. Foot voting is superior on both dimensions….

Unfortunately, the process of voting by foot in America over the past several decades has been more complicated and expensive, particularly for those who are poor or disadvantaged and have the greatest chance to win. Fortunately, much can be done to alleviate these obstacles….

Exclusionary zoning is one of the biggest problems. This makes it hard or impossible for new housing to be built in response to rising demand. If people cannot afford to live in areas with economic and social opportunities, they’ll remain locked out from them — often trapped in failing communities where it is difficult to escape poverty. This is an area where there is a strong, even if often unrecognized common interest between the increasingly Republican white working class, and their mostly Democratic Black and Hispanic counterparts….

There are many things that can be done to increase foot voting in the private sector. This includes removing regulations that prevent the creation of private communities, and increasing school choices, particularly for the most disadvantaged. Studies show private schools included in school choice programs generally provide better educational services than public equivalents, even when controlling for the socioeconomic background of students and other similar variables. In addition, competition from private schools under voucher programs leads to improvement by public schools in the same areas….

Federal spending has led to an increase in regulation and foot voting. It’s impossible to vote with your feet against the federal government without leaving the country.

It is possible to mitigate this issue by giving more power to the state and local governments, as well as to the private sector. This can help to reduce the danger of polarization which has so badly poisoned our political system. With less issues being decided by the federal governments, citizens no longer have to fear the possibility that the opposition party will control the White House or Congress.