By Peter Clark

The dictum of Public Choice Theory is that politics functions as a form of exchange. This assertion is very much true of the process of voting, where participants either select policies or representatives to make policy decisions. Public policy is nothing about purchasing decisions. Any commodity or service provided by the state is a public good. The government provides services that the private sector cannot otherwise supply due to practicality or legal sanctions.

The suggestion that voting is a form of purchasing public commodities and services (e.g. roadways and defense) validates the Menu-Board Theory of Voting. This theory suggests that anytime political decisions are made through a democratic process it is analogous to ordering food from a fast-food restaurant. The clearest example of this is the Marijuana legalization referendums in the United States. Through voting to legalize the sale and consumption, voters are not just purchasing the right to ingest cannabis, but they also acquire other complementary public goods (the proverbial fries and a drink). Voters also gain regulations from the state government to reduce the spillover effects of consumers ingesting unsafe products. Also, additional tax revenue from the excise taxes will serve as funding for other services.


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Peter Clark



Published: 25 Apr, 2022

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