Wiki Contributions


Charity Vouchers [public policy idea]

Ah, got it, thanks. My follow-up post describes one important reason to think this isn't "weird", namely, decentralized spending is truly decided/influenced by everyone, whereas government spending is effectively just decided by the winning party, who may not have any interest in representing the entire public.

I think there is some reason to expect that the public's values *as expressed by allocating a fixed sum of vouchers* could diverge importantly from the values they express when voting. (How many ppl would've funded the war in Iraq over their kids' schools, had the tradeoff been made so explicit?) And public choice theory gives us reasons to expect government "values" to differ from voters'.

I agree the "competence" objection is the big one. Of course, voters aren't directly *implementing* projects here, so the question is whether they can identify other agencies/organizations that are more competent (on average) than government. A lot would depend upon what sort of media infrastructure developed alongside the policy. (One can imagine celebrity or church endorsements etc. having a lot of influence on ppl's choices. Obviously it would be preferable for expert endorsements/advice to get more public attention, if possible...)

Charity Vouchers [public policy idea]

Yes, that sounds plausible.* If one didn't like this possible consequence, restrictions on eligible charities (e.g. to require non-locality) could change that.

*Though it's curious that most interest in politics is at a national rather than local level, by contrast.

Charity Vouchers [public policy idea]

Btw, I do very much appreciate feedback on this idea, so if the folks downvoting this post could take a moment to explain why, that would be most helpful. Thanks!

Charity Vouchers [public policy idea]

Hi Rohin, thanks for your comment. Can you clarify where you thought I was assuming that claim? I didn't intend to make any claims about what government is *supposed* to do. Rather, I claimed that (1) philanthropic spending can do more good than typical government spending, which gives us reason to want to incentivize philanthropic spending, but that (2) many people worry about the anti-democratic / inegalitarian effects of such incentives, which we can avoid by having the incentives take the form of philanthropic *vouchers* (that empower everyone equally) rather than tax deductions (which mostly empower the wealthy).