The most common charge leveled against multilingualism is that it is "inefficient." Why waste millions of dollars translating ballots, legislation, censuses, and other government documents into multiple languages when we can just publish it all in one? Is this not more efficient? .. "efficiency" is a purely subjective notion.
What does it mean for something to be efficient? Efficient for whom? For the millions of people who do not speak English well, having a ballot translated into Spanish — which takes perhaps half an hour of a translator's time — is a far more efficient option than spending hundreds or thousands of dollars and hours on learning English.
.. So when the organization English First supports legislation to "lower healthcare costs by using English only and removing the translator mandate," they are interested only in costs to healthcare providers, and ignore costs to Spanish-speaking individuals — a classic broken-window fallacy. These advocates have failed to take heed of Bastiat and Hazlitt's important admonitions.
.. This is the insoluble problem of every government-funded service. What this problem reveals, however, is that the argument from "efficiency" is not really about efficiency at all but rather about preferences, namely, the preference as to how other people's money should be used.