Sunday, July 6, 2008

Selling your vote

A young man in Minnesota has been charged with attempting to sell his vote in the November election on ebay. My question is why?

If naive young Max Sanders were to join a group - let's pick a name at random and call it the Minnesota Education Association - that regularly "sells" its members votes to a particular political party, no one would bat an eye. Some would even say that this is the beauty of interest group democracy at work. Why is it okay for groups to implicitly sell the votes of their members, in the case of teachers' unions in exchange for restrictions on competition and a bizarre system of tenure for a job that has no need of it, but not for individuals to leave out the middleman and do so directly?

Bonus thought question also left out of your high school civics course: why is it okay to trade votes for political favors but not to trade cash for political favors, when politicians can turn cash into votes via campaign expenditures?