Wednesday, May 16, 2007

An Example of Rational Ignorance

Rational ignorance is the rational decision by individuals to remain ignorant of something since the marginal cost of becoming informed is higher than the perceived benefit. I usually use the example of electing constables. Few people know what they do and even fewer care. However, it pays fairly well.

Now someone who cares, a landlord, is pushing a recall effort for a constable that isn't doing her job.

Thomas is on mission to recall the county constable from the East Phoenix No. 2 precinct. Four years ago, a judge stripped Annette Clark of her duties. But under Arizona law she still collects a $56,000 paycheck from Maricopa County. Clark's term is up Dec. 31, 2008; it's unclear whether she will seek re-election.

Constables serve papers for justice courts, including evictions, notices in lawsuits and restraining orders. The county has had to hire temporary help to do Clark's work.

Voters elected Clark, a Democrat, in November 2000. Complaints about her started shortly after, ranging from failure to serve court papers on time to rude behavior and harassment. A state ethics board recommended Clark resign in July 2002, but had no authority to remove or suspend her.

In October 2003, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge stripped Clark of her duties. Clark was not available for an interview, her attorney said, but in previous Republic interviews, she said the allegations were unfounded.

The fact that this constable was re-elected in 2004 after being stripped of her duties in 2003 is an example of voters' rational ignorance.

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