In my book, ANALYZING POLICY, I have a chapter on politics and voting.
In it, there is an example of municipal pool. 5 citizens, 3 want a pool and 2 don't. Now, the 3 citizens could form a private club (Thanks, Professor James B!), and build their own club (pools are excludable, no need for them to be "public" in any sense).
But the 3 citizens can force their will on the other 2, and make the pool collective. Not public (pools are excludable, at low cost. Have to have a fence, anyway, to keep little kids and goats out) but collective. That way, the 3 citizens who want a pool can steal the "support" (meaning money, taken against their will and at gunpoint) from the other 2 citizens. As usual, democracy is 3 wolves and 2 sheep deciding what's for lunch (feeling sheepish?)
Anyway....the Onion has this excellent satire. Excerpt:
MANKATO, MN—The Mankato City Council voted 6-3 against the issuance of a $500,000 municipal bond Tuesday, marking the end of one man's tireless, 10-year-long crusade to ensure that a proposed community pool not be built.
"Victory!" said Irv Draper, founder of Taxpayers For Wise Choices, who announced the bond's defeat from the steps of City Hall. "Today, the city council stood up in favor of the long-term interests of tax-paying Mankatoans. After 10 long years of ceaseless toil, I can finally say that a swimming pool will not be built!"
Compare that with this excerpt from my chapter 6:
Suppose that five citizens of tiny Ruttenton have met for their annual town meeting. This body is empowered to make decisions for the entire town, and all citizens have agreed in advance to abide by the collective decision. Notice that this doesn’t mean that the citizens expect to agree on all policies. Instead, the citizens (Mr. One, Ms. Two, Ms. Three, Mr. Four, and of course the mayor, Mr. Fish) all have pledged in advance to accept the collective decision.
At a previous meeting, the five citizens agreed unanimously that decisions will be made by majority rule: if three of the five citizens favor one alternative, that alternative will become Ruttenton law. Each citizen can make any proposal they care to introduce, but the time for making proposals or debating motions is restricted to a total of five hours. At the end of five hours, the citizens must vote to decide on the best policy.
The meeting this year has only one agenda item: The Ruttenton Community Pool. Mayor Fish, who very much enjoys swimming, now has to travel 25 miles to the pool in Blaineville. He wants to build an enormous, Olympic size pool (expected cost: $100,000), both because it would be more convenient for him and because it would be a statement of Ruttenton civic pride (the Blainville pool is rather small). As Mayor Fish is fond of saying, “You can’t attract a new Mercedes plant without a community pool!”
Ms. Three and Mr. Four also favor building a pool, because they like to swim for recreation and occasional exercise. Three and Four only want to build a medium-size pool (expected cost: $60,000), however, thinking that an enormous pool wouldn’t be used enough to justify the expense. Furthermore, they don’t believe Mercedes is going locate a new assembly plant in the area anyway, since Ruttenton has no roads.
Mr. One and Ms. Two have no use for a pool, and vehemently oppose the proposal to build a community pool in Ruttenton. They claim that they should not have to pay for a pool if they are not going to use it, and object to Mayor Fish’s plan to finance the pool out of property taxes. One and Two argue that, if a pool is built at all, it should be run as a community “club”, with the costs of building and operation coming from membership fees and charges at the door.
(Nod to RL, who is really a libertarian)