A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 14, 2009
“Vote with their feet”

Entry in progress—B.P.

Wikipedia: Foot voting
In demographics, foot voting describes the tendency of people to “vote with their feet”, that is to migrate when they perceive situations to be more beneficial elsewhere. It is also used as an analogy to describe shifting political or commercial allegiances.

It is similar in nature to Dollar voting.

Just as dollar voting requires a degree of economic freedom to be effective, foot voting is effective only if people have the freedom to migrate.

The concept is frequently associated with Charles Tiebout. The term was also popularized by Ronald Reagan.

The Free Dictionary
vote with one’s feet
Fig. to express one’s dissatisfaction with something by leaving, especially by walking away.
I think that the play is a total flop. Most of the audience voted with its feet during the second act. I am prepared to vote with my feet if the meeting appears to be a waste of time.

VoteWithYourFeet.com
The “Vote With Your Feet” Philosophy
We believe (and you are welcome to believe what you want) that it is generally a waste of your time to try to change a country with millions of people when you can get far better personal results by moving to some other country. Also, your impact on the country you are currently in is probably bigger if you just leave than if you stay there and work hard to have an impact. When you leave you no longer pay taxes supporting the government you did not like. If many people do this, it really gets a governments attention. This is sort of what Ayn Rand suggests in her book Atlas Shrugged.

In the past there were slaves who worked 3 days a week for their owner, 3 days a week for themselves, and had 1 day for church and rest. Nowadays many people end up paying half their earnings to one or more governments. It is amazing that today so many people put up with something so close to slavery.

Freedom means that you are free to leave. A free country is one where the people who live there can freely leave. However, most people don’t take advantage of their freedom.

When something like 1% of the population of East Germany left, the country was in serious trouble. When relatively small numbers of people who are educated, smart, entrepreneurs, or rich, leave a country they can have a big impact. This is often called a “brain drain”. In most cases governments will probably notice the trend and try to react. If they actually do things to make the country better to stay in, then these people leaving have had a big impact.

Google Books
Communism in the United States
By Earl Browder
New York, NY: International Pub.
1935
Pg. 224:
They will do nothing—until we convince them that the masses of the people are “fed up” with their old two-party system, and are preparing to “vote with their feet” by walking out of the old parties in million masses. 

Google Books
From Lenin to Stalin
By Victor Serge
Translated by Ralph Manheim
Edition: 2
Published by Pioneer Publishers
1937
Pg. 47:
“They are voting with their feet,” said Lenin mockingly to those who wanted him to continue the war, a revolutionary war this time. “They are simply leaving...”

19 October 1946, Bradford (PA) Era, pg. 6, col. 1:
Voting With Feet
“They voted with their feet.” Thus Lenin explained the decision of Russian armies in 1918, to fight no more. They marked their ballots not with pen or pencil, but with feet that took them out of the lines and brought them home.

14 July 1947, Zanesville (OH) Signal, “I’d Rather Be Right” by Samuel Grafton, pg. 4, col. 3:
The homeless will vote with their feet as to which country they favor, in a plebiscite that cannot be faked.

Google Books
Introduction to early Roman law: comparative sociological studies, the patriarchal joint family
By Carl Wium Westrup
Published by Levin & Munksgaard
1950
Item notes: v. 4
Pg. 82:
They had to “vote with their feet” (pedibus ire in sententiam), as it was called, i.e. they were obliged to go and stand in a row to the right and to the left

14 February 1953, Abilene (TX) Reporter-News, pg. 2B, col. 2:
Mr. McLaughlin goes on to tell how: “In September, 1946, No. 2 China Red. CHou En-lai, sneeringly told me that Gen. Marshall and the American government were doing everything possible to prevent the collapse of Chiang, but scornfully predicted that Chiang’s soldiers ‘would vote with their feet.’ As they did when they deserted by the millions.”

21 August 1953, Wisconsin Rapids (WI) Daily Tribune, “Grateful Germans Defying Iron Curtain to Get Food Parcels” by Leon Dennen, pg. 4, cols. 3-4:
“These people have lost all fear,” Willi Kressman, courageous 46-year-old Mayor of West Berlin’s Kreuzberg Bezirk, said to me. “Deprived of democracy, they are voting with their feet.”
(Photo caption—ed.)
LINED UP FOR THEIR FOOD PACKAGES in West Berlin, these are some of the millions of East Germans who defied Red Intimidation to cross the border and “vote with their feet.”

4 November 1954, New York (NY) Times, “Hungary’s Food Supply” by Bela Fabian, pg. 30:
Lenin once declared that in dictatorships the masses vote with their feet.

Time magazine
Cold Finalities
Monday, Nov. 21, 1955
(...)
In the only kind of voting that remains to the East Germans—what one British diplomat calls voting with their feet—they have chosen to flee the country at a rate which for the past three months has averaged a startling 1,000 refugees a day. And of those who are now leaving East Germany, more than half are any nation’s most valuable treasure, young men and women under 25.

Charles Tiebout
“A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures,” The Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 64, No. 5. (Oct., 1956), pp. 416-424. [JSTOR]
Reprinted in: Cheshire,-Paul-C.; Evans,-Alan-W., eds. Urban and regional economics. International Library of Critical Writings in Economics, no. 14, Aldershot, U.K. and Brookfield, Vt.: Elgar, 1991, pages 164-72. also reprinted in other books [see e.g. JEL catalog]

26 September 1957, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “Voting With the Feet,” part 1, pg. 16:
Each day, hundreds of just such people vote with their feet against communism by seeking asylum, leaving behind all their possessions and prospects

Time magazine
Most Useful Satellite
Monday, Dec. 08, 1958
(...)
But Khrushchev’s economic plan for the East Germans means a new kind of dependence on their old Russian foes, and its fulfillment is a political question—on which East Germans, whatever their phony 99.9% elections say, still vote with their feet by fleeing West at the rate of 2,000 a week.

Google News Archive
2 December 1981, The Dispatch (Eatonville, WA), “Gone to Texas” by Henry Gay, pg. 4, col. 1:
Americans living in economically depressed areas, Reagan said in an interview, can “vote with their feet” by moving to more prosperous regions of the country. He cited the Sun Belt as the area of opportunity and referred to Houston as a boom city that didn’t have unemployment.

Time magazine
The White House Sensitivity Gap
By Laurence I. Barrett
Monday, Feb. 01, 1982
(...)
When Reagan blithely suggested that people who cannot make it where they now live can “vote with their feet” by migrating to greener pastures, he sounded like a social Darwinist. 

Google Books
Voting with their feet: migrant Zimbabwean nurses and doctors in the era of structural adjustment
By Rudo Barbara Gaidzanwa
Published by Nordic Africa Institute
1999

Lincoln Institute of Land Policy
Land Lines: July 2006, Volume 18, Number 3
New Book: The Tiebout Model at Fifty (Land Lines Article)
Essays in Public Economics in Honor of Wallace Oates
Editor(s): Fischel, William A.
Publication Date: July 2006
Article
The Tiebout Model at Fifty commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of Charles Tiebout’s enormously influential 1956 article, “A Pure Theory of Local Expenditures,” and honors the contributions of Wallace Oates as expositor and popularizer of the Tiebout model. While Tiebout’s hypothesis is the touchstone for the economic analysis of local government, Oates gave the theory empirical content and brought the idea into the realm of public economics.

This insightful volume is edited by William A. Fischel, who also organized the conference in June 2005 at which the papers and commentaries were first presented. The conference was cosponsored by the Lincoln Institute and the Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and Social Studies at Dartmouth College.

In his Preface, Fischel states that Tiebout’s paper is the single most influential article in the field of public economics, at least if one measures influence by citations in scholarly journals. Tiebout proposed an alternative to the political process for determining the demand for local public goods. Households would reveal their preferences by choosing their residence among local governments. People would “vote with their feet” (not Tiebout’s term) instead of the ballot box, choosing the desired level of services among the many local governments that make up most American metropolitan areas. Tiebout’s is that rare paper whose influence has broadened with the passage of time.

The book reprints Tiebout’s classic paper, and several distinguished chapter authors and commentators evaluate the model’s ongoing influence on the disciplines of economics, law, and political science. Others present original scholarly research in the Tiebout-Oates tradition. They illuminate public policy issues such as exclusionary zoning, tax competition, school choice, constitutional federalism, fiscal equalization, and real estate capitalization. 

EconPapers
Do People Vote with Their Feet? An Empirical Test of Tiebout
Spencer Banzhaf () and Randall Phillip Walsh ()
American Economic Review, 2008, vol. 98, issue 3, pages 843-63
Abstract: Charles Tiebout’s suggestion that people “vote with their feet” for communities with optimal bundles of taxes and public goods has played a central role in local public finance for over 50 years. Using a locational equilibrium model, we derive formal tests of his premise. The model predicts increased population density in neighborhoods experiencing exogenous improvements in public goods and, for large improvements, increased relative mean incomes. We test these hypotheses in the context of changing air quality. Our results provide strong empirical support for the notion that households “vote with their feet” for environmental quality. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, May 14, 2009 • Permalink