Sometimes the National Lottery in the UK comes in for criticism because of the way it redistributes 28% of players' entrance fees to a number of charitable causes. Most notably, some media sources who could reasonably be called economically conservative object to some of the projects that the National Lottery (or, more specifically, the funding bodies that the National Lottery supports) has handed out considerable grants to causes of which they did not approve. This article from the Daily Telegraph, making particular example of the award of £340,000 to the National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, is reasonably representative.
It seems reasonable to me to draw parallels to people who object to other forms of government spending, particularly at the local level, suggesting that they do not like some of the destinations of public spending that their tax payments went to. I have seen some attempts, possibly in jest, to suggest which government services people were happy to pay for and which they weren't happy to pay for.
As more of a fan of big government than most, I support relatively high public spending and I support big institutional good-cause support rather than many instances of individual small-scale expenditure simply because I think that I do not have, and never can have, a truly informed viewpoint as to where public money should be spent. I particularly welcome the fact that the National Lottery chooses to fund unpopular projects, simply because I do not consider popularity an accurate reflection of a project's worth. This devil's advocacy column points out people who have been given funding for some apparently unusual cultural projects; while I would have been unlikely to choose them as causes to fund, I am happy to defer to experts who are able to see the value of projects where I cannot.
I recognise there are many areas in life where I am not, and never will be, an expert. I would rather leave many decisions to experts, with appropriate oversight, than take them myself; I regard the value of having better decisions taken on my behalf as well worth the cost of any loss of freedom I suffer.
While all of the following hold:
1) I don't want to take this to an extreme,
2) I don't think the current situation is perfect,
3) I do recognise that checks and balances are essential,
4) I recognise that experts can be inappropriately selected, often for partisan reasons, and
5) I recognise that experts can either fail to disagree for good reasons or make sensible-seeming decisions which turn out to be wrong,
I still firmly agree with the principle that experts can know better than me and make better decisions than me in many areas of life, so I am happy to trust public spending and charity fund redistribution to the experts. Accordingly, I regard the viewpoint that "I can spend my money better than the experts" as usually (but not always) being unqualified and therefore arrogant; the unrelated viewpoint of "I may or may not be able to spend my money better than the experts but it's my money so I should get to do so" is so far from my own that I find it hard to have an opinion on it.
In a similar vein, I tend to believe there are many areas of law and public policy where expert opinion can make for far better outcomes than mass individual decision. While I recognise the inherent flaws of both the public sector and the private sector and recognise that the views of experts are often not put into practice for political reasons, I consider the inherent drawbacks of the public sector a smaller price to pay and so would broadly welcome increases in the extent, in many (though not all) fields, to which expert opinion dictates my life at the cost of decreasing the extent to which my inexpert decision dictates it.
Unrelatedly: happy birthday to tobymalfoy and mr_babbage. Pertaining to the latter, I learnt today that ukgameshows.com has its own Wikipedia entry, referencing my very old UK game show web pages. Blimey O'Reilly O'Rourke!