Don't Get Out the Vote

Politicians: Don’t just stand there. Undo something!

A seminar student once became upset with me for suggesting that instead of running get-out-the-vote campaigns, the government should keep the dates of elections and the locations of polling places secret so that only people with enough initiative and interest to ferret out the information could vote.

It was not a serious suggestion, but the college-aged young woman didn’t catch that, and she thought my idea was horrible. My point, of course, was that making it easy and even socially obligatory to vote does a disservice to the general welfare.

As I’ve previously explained, a mass democratic system encourages voter irresponsibility. Because the consequence of any single vote is negligible, individuals have an incentive to vote on some basis other than an understanding of current issues — which would require, among other things, the costly acquisition of a grasp of basic economics. Voters, then, are free to vote their biases. This voter mentality is known as rational ignorance. If there are no benefits, but only costs, associated with acquiring information, why acquire it? (This could not be more different than decision-making in the marketplace, where people expect to bear the costs and reap the rewards of their decisions. This does not mean that such market decision-making is flawless; but it does imply that people tend to learn from their errors.)

Fans of democracy might respond that rational ignorance is no big problem, because the votes of the masses will cancel out, leaving it to the minority of informed voters to cast the margin of victory. Hence, good policies will ultimately prevail.

Except they won’t. Bryan Caplan, in The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, shows that the informed minority would have such clout only if rational ignorance led to random error. But when it comes to economic policy, voter error is not random but systematic — that is, predominantly in one direction, namely, the antimarket direction. For example, ignorant voters are not as likely to favor a free-trade candidate as a protectionist candidate. Rather, they are much more likely to back the protectionist. Why? Because, Caplan explains, a majority of the public harbors antimarket, antiforeign, and make-work biases. (The market’s beneficial undesigned order is counterintuitive.) Again, given the negligible consequences of any one vote, no voter has an incentive to undertake the costly, unpleasant task of scrutinizing his irrational biases in search of error. It’s cheaper and more comforting to vote one’s biases, and there’s no practical downside. Caplan calls this rational irrationality.

Under these circumstances, the informed minority won’t be able to provide the margin of victory for the (relatively) promarket candidate (should there even be one). The result will be a systemic tilt toward intervention, mitigated only if officeholders betray their supporters and abstain from enacting the most egregious interventions. Caplan notes that if it wasn’t for economists, who overwhelmingly oppose protectionism, victorious politicians would be far worse than they are in giving the people exactly what they want.

This brings to mind H.L. Mencken’s maxim that “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” The problem is that the rest of us get it too.

The philosopher Michael Huemer writes that systemic political irrationality is an excellent reason to keep important matters out of the political system. A related reason is that even politicians who know better will be motivated by their passion for power to ignore their best judgment and cater to the voters’ irrationality.

Another related problem, Huemer writes (PDF), is that “social theory is harder than you think.” While lots of theories are available to explain any phenomenon, only one is right:

So given just the information that T is a theory, the probability that T is correct is approximately zero. However, naive thinkers have often failed to realize this, because the theories that a typical human being can think of to explain a given phenomenon (and that will seem plausible to that person) are typically very few in number. It is not that we consider the truth and reject it; in the overwhelming majority of cases, when we first start thinking about how to explain some phenomenon, the truth is not even among the options considered.

A further obstacle is confirmation bias: “when we think about a hypothesis, our natural tendency is to look for evidence supporting the hypothesis, not to look for ways of falsifying it.… When we add the fact that in most theoretical questions, people are motivated more by the desire to find some belief to cling to than by a desire for the truth, the chances of winding up with erroneous beliefs are all that much higher.”

The natural sciences have managed to some extent to overcome similar problems, but the same cannot be said for the social “sciences.” Huemer writes,

Some of the questions to which we need answers just seem in principle non-empirical. For instance, by what experiment can we test whether justice demands that society redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor? Other questions are difficult to investigate because of the unavailability of controlled experiments. If we want to test whether fiscal stimulus cures recessions, we cannot prepare two identical societies, with identical recessions, and then apply fiscal stimulus in one society but not the other. Nor can we take a large collection of societies with recessions and randomly assign half to receive fiscal stimulus and half to receive no fiscal stimulus. Social scientists do not have the power to experiment with societies as natural scientists can experiment with inanimate objects in their laboratories. Finally, social phenomena are vastly more complex than the phenomena studied by physicists and chemists. Societies contain thousands or millions of individual human beings interacting with each other in myriad complex ways. And each of these human beings is himself an extremely complex entity, much more complex than the typical inanimate object.

Wrong predictions thus can be explained in such a way as to leave the theory intact. This is how Paul Krugman gets away with explaining the failure of stimulus spending: the theory is fine, but not enough money was spent!

All things considered, Huemer writes, we should opt for political “passivity.” This means, as they say in medicine, “do no harm.”

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    There are many factors that go into what leaders get elected. Some will point to a public education system that pushes economic and civic ignorance. (I am one of them.) Barack Obama's campaign and subsequent term in office brings into sharp relief for anyone who didn't already know the fact that politicians lie to get elected.

    But with a two party system, even if you want to vote intelligently and do your homework, chances are you're going to pull the lever for a colossal douchebag that shares a minority of your opinions on matters of public policy.

  • Ted S.||

    Don't blame me; I voted for Kodos.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Don’t blame me, either… I voted for my cat, Chairman Meow Tse Tung (W/apologies to P.J. O’rourke’s girlfriend’s cat). Chairman Meow deserves my vote (and YOURS TOO!!!) ‘cause He purrs very sweetly when I pet Him JUST right, and He does NOT scratch and bite me TOO terribly hard, more than once or twice a day, if I pet him wrong, or I don’t feed him JUST the right kitty treats (in the right qty, I might add). He ALSO understands even better than I do, that ALL of the world’s troubles are to be laid at the feet of cats/people who are DIFFERENT than you or me… Jews, gays, witches, non-Scienfoologists, druggies, people who smoke pot. People who smoke a different brand of cigs than I do… And MICE!!! GAWD-danged MICE!!! SLAY and EAT them all, I say!!! PURRRR, I sez, just thinking and cat-napping on THAT topic…

  • Pavlov's Cat||

    I used to hear "I'm not into politics" from my relatives. Now they're pissed off about what happened while they didn't want to pay attention. Still, they have no idea what to do about it.

  • Ted S.||

    I'm into ideology, not politics. That is, I'd like to see libertarian ideas turned into public policy, but know that the whole TEAM RED vs TEAM BLUE thing is a waste of time.

  • PapayaSF||

    Except, as I have often said around here, the reason we are in our current semi-socialist, headed-for-bankruptcy mess is not because the Socialist Party won elections, but because socialists took over the Democratic Party. Fabian socialism won. Thus, I think the best hope for libertarian ideology in the political realm is a similar hijacking of the Republican Party.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Were they more pissed off when the Bushpigs were destroying things? at least with them there was tangible evidence of destruction - Iraq, the financial system, 9/11, Katrina, the deficit and so on. A recent CNN (Jan 14) poll shows that Americans still blame Bush for the economic problems. TARP (2008) was the moment the US knew that the idiots in Washington had no clue.

  • sarcasmic||

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

  • Francisco d Anconia||

    Fuck you cunt.

  • Nazdrakke||

    In other stunning developments one note song remains one note.

  • SForza||

    At least punk rock has three notes.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    LOL, He's the Neil Young of the board. Not that I don't enjoy Neil's guitar playing.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "A recent CNN (Jan 14) poll shows that Americans still blame Bush for the economic problems."

    Further evidence of just the voter ignorance Richman's talking about. Six years into a different administration and there's no real recovery. Not in line with much of economic theory.

  • SMcBride||

    It takes 7 years of a Democrat presidency to repair the damage from just 1 year of Boosh. It's like dog years.

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    I'm going to regret asking anything of sockpuppet, but can you tell me what it was exactly that Bush did to cause Lehman Brothers to fail ?

  • PapayaSF||

    Cripes, Katrina? "Disaster hits Democrat-controlled city in a Democrat-controlled state, all problems due to GOP." The National Guard did fine. Many problems were vastly exaggerated. Talk about a "fake scandal."

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    I thought Bush blew up the levees cause he's a racist right after Cheney had Halliburton build a giant fan to create the Hurricane.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    You got fooled again.

  • JPyrate||

    For fucks sake BP !!! If REASON Magazine hired you to troll this board out of some fear that it would turn into an ideological echo chamber, they should fire you. You could at least pretend you know what you are doing.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    And don't give me "But Obama voted for TARP!" - I know that. But he wasn't running things when the fan splattered the shit everywhere.

  • Ted S.||

    He was voting "present".

  • VG Zaytsev||

    TARP and Obamacare are both examples of the political class not giving a fuck what the voting public wants.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    And don't give me "But Obama voted for TARP!"

    Yeah, dipshit, how dare anyone cite evidence that undermines your argument. You're an idiot. It's the policies that matter, not the person implementing them. Are you really dimwitted enough to think that the problem with TARP was that the guy who instituted it had an R rather than a D following his name?

  • Rasilio||

    And yet he continued every single policy that Bush employed

  • SForza||

    he wasn't running things when the fan splattered the shit everywhere.

    True, Congressional Dems were.

  • Sevo||

    Palin's Buttplug|2.16.14 @ 8:55AM|#
    "And don't give me "But Obama voted for TARP!" -

    What a pathetic slimy turd.

  • Mike M.||

    I used to hear "I'm not into politics" from my relatives. Now they're pissed off about what happened while they didn't want to pay attention.

    Everything in the universe naturally tends towards disorder. Neglect eventually leads to erosion, then disintegration, then collapse.

    It's true of your car, your house, and also your country. Everyone knows that if you never change the oil in your engine, the thing is going to fall apart well before its time. Civil society also needs a certain amount of care and maintenance if its going to last.

  • ||

    In Indonesia, Kerry blasts climate change deniers

    "We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts," Kerry told the audience gathered at a U.S. Embassy-run American Center in a Jakarta shopping mall. "Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits."

    Dude doesn't even realize how this compares with the Inquisition denouncing heretics or Central Committees laying down the Party line.

  • Ted S.||

    "We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific facts,"

    So he called the anti-GMO folks evil, I presume?

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    All three hundred of the anti-GMO idiots? Don't try to compare the anti-science right with an insignificant number of weird hippies.

    It is like "Libya = Iraq - exactly the same!" that idiot John and some of the other Peanuts try to do in an effort to trivialize the expense and grandeur of Dumbya's fuckup.

  • sarcasmic||

    BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    It hurts you, I know. Narratives are destroyed.

  • ||

    NEEDS MOAR CHRISTFAG.

  • Bookkeeper||

    You're right. Nothing alike.

    Bush had Congressional authority.

  • PapayaSF||

    Zing!

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Speaking of Indonesia, I don't have the oink right now but I read where tje US law firm representing that country in trade proceedings got spied on by the Australians with NSA approval. This is part of the Snowden revelations. Maybe Kerry could discuss this with his hosts.

  • Robert||

    Love that typo! (Not "tje".) Maybe it'll catch on like "froup", "pwned", "teh", as a way of referring to a link to something piggish. I'll have to remember to use it myself to help it along.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    "Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits."

    Totalitarians always know whats best for you so you best sit down and shut the fuck or they'll be forced to kill you - for your own good.

  • Robert||

    IOW, slave off, fucker.

  • prolefeed||

    "Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits."

    "Dammit, man, there's no time for cost-benefit analysis or looking for unintended but thoroughly anticipatable consequences or sober reflection on the possibility that we might be wrong, and anyone who says those might be good things is Teh Evul!"

  • prolefeed||

    It's like Kerry is trying his utmost to retroactively show that Bush barely won despite running unopposed.

  • goodoldsam||

    "Nor should we allow any room for those who think"

    He could have just stopped there.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    "Nor should we allow any room.."

    Fucking creepy.
    Don't they realize the history of statements like this?

  • Pelosi's Rabbit||

    "Nor should we allow any room for those who think that the costs associated with doing the right thing outweigh the benefits."

    I love it when the mask not only slips, but they rip it right off.

    Further, I would question how one knows what the "right thing" is without some sort of cost-benefit analysis.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    That' the NSA/ law firm story. Limit the NSA, and they will just outsource the spying to allied spooks.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    Some poor guy got shot after an argument in a Pittsburgh hot dog shop at 3 am. Now his parents are suing the hot dog place for not having security.

    From Overlawyered

    http://dlvr.it/4xW0SX

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    I thought NYC was the only place you could get a 3AM hot dog.

    +1 for Pittsburg

  • DJF||

    How about if we have people who want to shrink government show up and vote on Tuesdays and those who want to increase government show up to vote on Wednesdays?

  • Pope Jimbo||

    Don't forget Big Wednesday

  • Vampire||

    "Paul Krugman gets away with explaining the failure of stimulus spending: the theory is fine, but not enough money was spent!"

    Krugman gets away with espousing such disastrous policies because he faces no consequences. Just like all of the politicians and voters that go around spouting the same nonsense, and causing the same disaster in their wakes. They don't have to go house to house to extort people. They don't have to put up their savings accounts to start a program or charity, nor are they held accountable for their actions. They use the threat of standing armies and the police state to threaten or use violence against anyone who stands in their way.

    If individuals were free, and folks were held accountable for their actions, socialism (modern day liberal) and corporate fascism, etc. would be almost non existent . For in order to rob, or attempt to extort they would have to go door to door. Behind such a door could be a well armed household, the family guard dog, and so on. This is why folks despise and fear freedom, along with a well armed people. The extortion train would be detailed, and they would have to face consequences for their actions.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    A 17-year-old boy died after an officer-involved shooting Friday night in Bartow County.

    At 7:35 p.m. Friday, two Euharlee police officers went to 937 Euharlee Road, Lot No. 5, to serve two probation violation arrest warrants, GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Saturday night.

    Christopher Roupe, 17, opened the door with a handgun pointed at the officers, Lang said.

    “The officer fired one shot, striking Roupe,” she said. “The officer immediately called for medical assistance. Roupe was transported to the hospital in Cartersville where he was pronounced dead.”

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/t.....rto/ndQRf/

  • DH||

    Dear God, Theyre trying to arrest criminals, and shooting them. Jesus Titty Fucking.......

  • John||

    Yes, generally people are going to make emotional decisions and decisions that benefit them personally at the expense of everyone else. Worse still, the people who want special favors have more of a motivation to fight for them than the people who suffer do to fight against it. Protectionism is a great example of this. For example, the sugar growers get rich and their livelihoods depend on America's idiotic sugar tariffs. Meanwhile, the costs of that are spread so thinly most people hardly notice it. So the sugar growers are fighting to eat while the rest of us are fighting for slightly cheaper sugar. It is not hard to see who wins that fight.

    The Founders knew this and understood it. Europe in the 18th Century was ripe with economic idiocy and protectionism and special benefits for the wealthy and connected along with outright bribes for the mob. The solution was to create a limited government that didn't give people the option of voting against the market. When we let the courts throw out that compact, it was inevitable that we would end up with anti market policies.

  • sarcasmic||

    That is one of the most intelligent things I've ever seen you write. No sarcasm.

  • John||

    Thank you.

  • PapayaSF||

    Well, except much of the early federal government was funded by tariffs. The Founders were not pure economic libertarians as far as I know.

  • John||

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....e-v-hayek/

    The Volkh conspiracy destroys E.J. Dione's Hayek straw man attacks. Yeah, it is not a fair fight. It is worth reading nonetheless. The contrast in the quality of writing and thinking in the Volokh post and Dionne's column is striking. The Volokh post reads like a college professor taking down a dim witted and earnest undergrad. Just how much smarter the people writing for Volokh are than a typical major media hack like Dionne has to be apparent to even the low sloped forehead types who read WAPO for personal affirmation.

    I think Bezos might be doing something pretty smart and subtle. Rather than just fire everyone and start telling the truth, he has left the hacks in place and added a few good writers here and there. The quality of the good writers is going to over time start to really shame the various hacks like Dionne and expose them for what they are.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Dream on.

  • John||

    Maybe not the real brain dead types. But a lot of liberals are liberals because it is easy and they don't have time to think about it. To anyone above the level of Tony and Shreek, the contrast between Dionne and the people at Volokh is enormous. That, I think is going to have some effect.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Meh,
    As you said people read idiots like Dionne and Krugnuts for confirmation bias. Those people are not going to be swayed by Volokh. The people that will be most likely avoided Dionne's insipid writing before Volokh went to WaPo.

    I'm glad that the blog will get a wider exposure there but don't see any value in retaining morons like EJ for the sake of comparison.

    I also think that there's zero chance of Volokh influencing Dionne.

  • John||

    It doesn't matter with Dionne. He is an idiot. His entire livelihood depends on being a hack. If he ever stopped being a hack, why would anyone read him?

  • Robert||

    The funny thing is that in the 1980s when he was with the NY Times, he was admired by many libertarian activists because he was the only major media figure to give a fair (or even more-than-fair) shake to the Libertarian Party in coverage. That shows just one more reason it was a mistake for libertarians to have their own political party: the conflict of interest that comes up when something disfavors your ideology yet favors your party.

  • PapayaSF||

    Leftists can like libertarians because they split off votes that might otherwise have gone to the GOP. GOP types liked the Greens in 2000, also.

    Even hacks like Dionne get embarrassed when their columns get torn apart in places like the WaPo. And the Volokh writers are calm and polite and learned, and so can't easily be dismissed as partisan crazies.

  • sarcasmic||

    I also think that there's zero chance of Volokh influencing Dionne.

    No amount of logic or reason can influence someone who chooses to emote rather than think.

  • Irish||

  • kibby||

    Now that is a punchable face if I ever saw one.

  • Robert||

    Looks like it was already punched.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    The fists of fury!

  • Vampire||

    Where'd they put that hand clapping smiley? Sarcasmic is on point.

  • Lord Peter Wimsey||

    I'm seeing something I haven't seen in while at the Washington Post: intelligent comments after the article. I'm glad they had the WASHINGTON POST banner at the top. Otherwise I would never have guessed this was the Post. Granted, the comments are usually not as bad as those at the NYT (which are idiotic), but they are normally head-shaking.

    I don't think you can underestimate how angry the lefties who read WaPo will be when they read this. They are not accustomed to seeing the lame arguments of one of their own taken apart in "their paper."

  • Bookkeeper||

    The hole in this argument is that it's not reasonable, and probably a bit elitist. Whether or not I agree with Mr. Richman's politics, his "ill-informed" voter sounds a hell of a lot like "voter I don't agree with."

    If the majority of voters want to vote themselves central planning and make-work, hoping that the music won't stop in their own working years, that's not ill-informed. It might be evil, but it's not ill-informed. As Libertarians, we might have to start asking ourselves what we will do in a society that actively elects self-destruction, hoping that the destruction will happen to our later selves.

  • sarcasmic||

    Committed leftists are committed to economic fallacies.

    It's not a matter of agreement or disagreement.

    It's simply a fact that there is an inverse relationship between one's understanding of economics and the likelihood of being a leftist.

  • Bookkeeper||

    Understanding that disaster is coming someday is not the same as deciding to do something about it. I can understand that the course we're on is unsustainable and still vote for it if I think I'll be off-ship before we get to the cliffs.

    This makes me an ass, but doesn't make me irrational, per se.

  • Jackand Ace||

    You're exactly right. Its more than a bit elitist...it smacks of litmus tests to determine who is an educated voter and who isn't, and "we will create that litmus test, thank you very much."

    Plenty of one issue voters in this country...its not that they are unaware of the other issues, its just that they have decided that their one issue is the most important of all. Abortion comes to mind. And I would guess there are some corporate CEO's who are one issue voters as well.

    Anyway, we've stumbled along quite nicely for the past couple hundred years with an uninformed electorate.

  • Eric Bana||

    Oh, there are certainly uninformed voters. Just take a look at reporters who stopped people on the street and asked them if they supported X candidate for (insert Y candidate's) positions.

    Not that Obama supporters are the only ones, but a reporter asked Obama supporters if they agreed with "Romney's" actions on the NSA, drone killing, spying, etc., and they all trashed "Romney". When they heard it was Obama, most of them completely went back on what they said and defended Obama for doing precisely the things they took so much offense to. Here's the video:

  • Eric Bana||

    Damn my computer non-saviness! Here's the title of the video on youtube: "Obama Supporters Actually Hate Obama's Policies"

  • Christophe||

    Wow. Well at least some of them kind of semi-withdrew their support for Obama based on that. Looks like they're not all lost causes.

  • Nazdrakke||

    Damn my computer non-saviness!

    Reasonable is your friend.

  • Nazdrakke||

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    Clicking that little orange name link is often the highlight of my political day.

  • Robert||

    At some point it makes sense for everybody to resort to cannibalism. I don't know how many societies are at that point yet.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "If the majority of voters want to vote themselves central planning and make-work, hoping that the music won't stop in their own working years, that's not ill-informed. It might be evil, but it's not ill-informed."

    Except a large portion of the electorate votes not understanding that the music WILL EVER stop.

  • Bookkeeper||

    The cynic in me says that more of them understand than we might think. They understand and choose to gamble that the music stops while their kids or grandkids are looking for a chair.

    People are dicks.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    the whole TEAM RED vs TEAM BLUE thing is a waste of time.

    It's a way to distract the rubes as the pickpockets work the audience.

  • John||

    They both want to steal, just in different amounts and in different ways. I think the public at a deep level understands how unresponsive and broke the political system is. So they have long since stopped being this or that party for ideological reasons and instead are part of it in many cases as fashion, as a way of showing the world they are tolerant or patriotic or whatever brand the two parties are selling.

  • sarcasmic||

    Those who rob Peter to pay Paul can always count on the support of Paul.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Melissa Harris Racetroller is on. I flipped over just in time to hear some guy say, "Stand your ground was specifically intended to allow white people to murder black people."

    You gotta love these people.

  • John||

    I saw the other day where the guy in Florida who shot the kid in the argument over the loud music got off. They must be going insane over that.

  • Irish||

    I saw the other day where the guy in Florida who shot the kid in the argument over the loud music got off. They must be going insane over that.

    He didn't get off. He was found guilty on 4 out of 5 charges, three of which were various counts of attempted murder.

    The man is 50 years old and will spend the rest of his life in prison. There was a hung jury on the murder in the 1st degree count because they couldn't prove premeditation. Since it was a mistrial, they can bring the murder charge back and recharge him anyway.

    The fact that people have been acting like he somehow got off shows how mentally ill the left has become.

  • John||

    No shit. I didn't care enough to read the article. I thought the other charges were minor gun charges or something. If they convicted him of attempted murder, they convicted him.

    A hung jury on the murder count is not surprising. I could see a reasonable doubt that he didn't get out of the car with the idea of killing him.

  • Not an Economist||

    And the charge he got off on was first degree murder, which can be extremely hard to prove.

  • John||

    Yes. You have to prove premeditation. That means if there is a reason to think he might have just lost his temper, you have reasonable doubt even if he tried to kill him.

  • PapayaSF||

    Angela Corey over-charging someone again for ideological purposes. What a surprise.

  • Robert||

    It bothers me that the prosecutor said she's planning to try again on the premeditated murder charge. Yet another example of how gov't att'ies will waste tax payments on symbol and scorekeeping rather than public benefit.

  • Mike M.||

    Melissa Harris Racetroller is on. I flipped over just in time to hear some guy say, "Stand your ground was specifically intended to allow white people to murder black people."

    You gotta love these people.

    This reminds me: did the cops ever manage to figure out why that kid Darion Marcus Aguilar wasted those two people at Zoomie's in that mall in Maryland before offing himself?

    We don't know, and I guess we never will know, because the lowlife scum in the media stopped reporting on the story as soon as they found out that the kid looked like Obama junior.

    Murder is only nationally newsworthy when a white guy kills black people. When it's the other way around, the story is to be ignored and forgotten as quickly as possible.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    Speaking of her, I went and bought Welcome to the Monkey House at the new local hipster book store (discovering that hipsters aren't worthless) so I could read Harrison Bergeron)

    Apparently Vonnegut is a prophet, as there was a segment with a newscaster with a speech impediment.

  • PapayaSF||

    Wow, he predicted Diane Rehm?

  • silverfang789||

    So, would you rather have a tyranny, monarchy, oligopoly?

  • John||

    A Constitutional monarchy, provided I get a good monarch.

  • Rasilio||

    If I had to pick between them, a Constitutional Monarchy.

    Odds of getting at least a decent ruler are highest in a monarchy where the royal family has a vested interest in long term thinking and rulers are trained from birth and the downside risk is no different from a tyranny.

  • ||

    John and Rasilio

    The Australian monarchy debate a few years ago produced some convincing arguments in favor of a Constitutional Monarchy.

    Which leaves us with the question of where we might find a suitable Royal House.

    The fact is that anyone from the House of Windsor-Mountbatten is right out of the question since we kicked those bastards out nearly two hundred and fifty years ago.

    That leaves us with 1) our oldest ally, the House of Bourbon which leaves us with this guy or maybe 2) since German sympathy was so great at the time of the founding maybe this guy or alternatively someone from the Dutch or Swedish Royal families.

    Herein lies the problem. Republican sympathy is deeply embedded in the psyche of Americans. Ther is no way that Americands will accede to importing a Royal House. Neather will they accede to elevating any native born "house" to a monarchy no matter how much the Kennedys, the Roosevelts or the Bushes try.

  • Pompey||

    A tranny.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    RACIST CRACKERS ARE KEEPING ME DOWN!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    BANDS OF WHITE VIGILANTES ARMED WITH FULL-AUTO ASSAULT RIFLES ARE ROAMING THE LAND KILLING BLACK TEENAGERS BY THE MILLIONS!

  • The Late P Brooks||

    DON'T TALK ABOUT BLACK-ON-BLACK VIOLENCE, YOU RACIST!

    THAT'S NOT PART OF THE NARRATIVE, DAMMIT.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The fact that people have been acting like he somehow got off shows how mentally ill the left has become.

    It's depressing how bloodthirsty people are, on both TEAMS. If the government created a Tyburn-style venue for public executions, it would be packed to the rafters.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    They just went through the whole pathetic litany of statistical outcomes for black men and women in this county.

    Obviously, we need to keep doing all the things we have been doing for decades, only harder, because our intentions will overcome reality if we just throw enough money at them. We can disprove the obvious, given a sufficiency of grants.

    Also, public-private initiatives are bad, because kkkorporations.

  • John||

    You keep seeing these cases of large groups of black teenagers attacking people. How long before they attack someone who is carrying and the person goes full Bernard Geotze and shoots not just one but six or seven of them? I think something like that is going to happen sooner or later. The resulting shitstorm of idiocy is going to be epic.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Eric Holder has been the greatest Attorney General in history.

    I can't take any more.

    Goddam, it's awesome to live in Obama's POSTRACIAL AMERICA.

  • John||

    He has looked out for his people.

  • ||

    Totalitarians?

  • Rebekah||

    Well, at least he hasn't orchestrated the deaths by fire of two dozen American children because their parents were kooks, so there's that.

  • Nazdrakke||

    He prefers his justice system picks them off one by one. Goes down easier when they're spread out, ya know.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    ABC is on the WEATHER ARMAGEDDON case.

    In California, life as we know it has come to an end.

    Massive bitter cold proves global warming is real, AND IT'S COMING TO GET YOU!!!!!!!!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    "We've lost the first few rounds in the fight against climate"

    WTF is that even supposed to mean?

  • Nazdrakke||

    I think it means that the data has gone so hard against their claims recently despite all the bullshitting that they are going to have to work extra hard in coming days to keep the public alarmed and sending them that sweet moolah.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Traffic roundabouts will heal the planet.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Better, the 'expert' said the solution to the drought is using less electricity. (She really said this).

    So switching to LED lights will make it rain next week.

  • ||

    What they mean is that once the water is released from behind the dams in order to generate electricity, it is 'lost' for other purposes (irrigation, drinking &c).

    I think it is BS, but I don't know enough about the Cali water system to effectively critique it.

  • Robert||

    If the outlet pipes are placed sensibly, that would be true only if the reservoir ran dry!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I'm pretty sure it was a reference to preventing global warming.

    Hydro power is a small part of CA electricity production. And anyway, the water is used for irrigation and drinking water downstream from the hydro plants - so they have no effect on the water supply.

    I'll start taking those douchenozzels seriously about a drought when they start talking about adding storage capacity (instead of eliminating for the environment), desalination plants and most of all stop dumping potabl water into the sacramento estuary in some attempt to save bait fishes.

  • Robert||

    the government should keep the dates of elections and the locations of polling places secret


    That'd be really awful, resembling the sort of evil the Declaration of Independence decried.

    What'd be good along the lines Sheldon intended would be to not have printed ballots, but to require voters to fill in free-form the names of office seekers and the offices to elect them to, and similarly indicate "yes" or "no" regarding ballot questions, supplying their own unambiguous wording of them. Of course that would lead to parties supplying forms, thus strengthening the party system, so one evil fills in the vacuum left by another, but maybe something could be done about that too.

    There's the Starship Troopers sol'n of requiring one to have worked for gov't and retired from same before having a say in gov't operations, but again, one type of evil would just be supplanted by another. Maybe it'd be improved by forbidding gov't pensions.

  • sarcasmic||

    I think you've got the Starship Troopers reference off by a bit.

    It wasn't simply working for the government that earned you citizenship, it was military service. And unlike today's military where maybe three out of ten applicants will be accepted, they took everyone.

    The idea being that only people willing to put their lives on the line for everyone else deserved a say in the governing process.

  • Nazdrakke||

    Plus the duty was always dangerous, no REMFs in the space marines.

  • sarcasmic||

    "Everybody fights, nobody quits. If you don't do your job I'll kill you myself."

  • Robert||

    Actually he made clear you could resign any time you weren't in combat, and they were just itching to find excuses to kick people out.

  • Rasilio||

    But the Mobile Infantry were a very tiny portion of the military forget the federal service.

    That said it is true that the service was guaranteed to be difficult, the idea was to instill a sense of having to sacrifice to earn citizenship

  • Robert||

    No, it wasn't limited to military service, it was whatever you got assigned to if you volunteered, and they did have to offer to take everyone, although they didn't have to make the offer appealing.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'll have to reread the book, because that's not what I remember.

  • Nazdrakke||

    No, they had to take everyone who applied, regardless, and find them something dangerous to do for two years, if I recall correctly.

  • Robert||

    Nazdrakke, it didn't even have to be dangerous, it's just that it tended to be either dangerous or in some other way undesirable, presumably because the more desirable jobs were filled by contractors. Their attitude toward you once you were in the job was summed up by the reference to the drill instructor telling the recruits that they'd better be careful in those powered suits, because although the recruit could easily be replaced, those suits were expensive cutting edge technology!

    The rule was that once you volunteered, it was a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. You had to be the minimum age (don't remember if there was a maximum) and if you didn't like the assignment they offered you, either refusing it immediately or quitting during service, you couldn't come back and get a second chance later.

  • SusanM||

    Don't think there was a maximum age - especially in wartime. Remember that Rios meets up with his father - new to the service - pretty late in the story.

  • Nazdrakke||

    Actually I believe it had to be dangerous. That was the point. It's been a while since I read it, but I can remember the part where the teacher is explaining the service in explicitly those terms.

  • Rasilio||

    There was not a maximum, towards the end of the book Rico's father who was a rich businessman and looked down his nose at federal service is shown to have enlisted and been assigned to the same unit as Rico

    They were constitutionally obligated to accept everyone who enlisted, once you enlisted they found something productive for you to do and while that thing might not be dangerous it would be at the least difficult and unpleasant.

    At the very end of the list of possible jobs was research subject. Basically if you couldn't do anything else you could volunteer to be a guinea pig for 2 years and if you survived that you'd become a citizen

  • Robert||

    His description of the kind of work they came up with to accommodate really undesirable applicants was hilarious. That included applicants who were undesirable thru no fault of their own, as well as those who were just obnoxious.

    People get the idea it was a militarized society because it's a war story told by a recruit. Of course he discussed those things he was most familiar with. Heinlein was acutely aware of the problem of "Why is this person telling this story, and who is this person telling it to?" when he wrote in 1st person; it includes the problem of how the audience can be so ignorant of things if they live in the same world as the narrator. Obviously some compromises must be made; it's hard to believe The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a story told casually by someone at a bar or wherever in one sitting.

  • SusanM||

    It's been a while for me too but I think government service in any capacity was the rule. But there seems to be no clear consensus even among fans of the book.

    There was a passage in another book linked to the ST universe which explicitly stated it was military service (because it was post-revolution and the army wanted people it could trust in government) but I don't know whether that really counts.

    Still, it's a system with perverse incentives.

  • Robert||

    Imagine that someone asks you for directions to a local restaurant. If you have no idea where the restaurant is, you should not make it up. You should not tell the person some guess that seems sort of plausible to you.


    According to RAW, in Ireland they do.

  • bassjoe||

    This is an absolutely retarded idea and I don't know why Reason has posted not one but two articles on this topic in the past week.

    Advocating for an "enlightened" portion of the populace to actually do the voting sounds EXACTLY how the political system of communist states function.

    On top of that, a smaller electorate is easier to intimidate, trick, and/or bribe. The assuming this electorate will vote in the country's interest is naïve; they'll vote in their own self-interest, like all other electorates do, and very likely screw the non-voting population.

    Who cares if people vote with emotion and irrationality on Election Day? At least then you can say they had a SAY in what is happening to them, which is the point of getting out the vote. Limiting the vote to elitists is asking for civil unrest and revolution.

  • sarcasmic||

    I don't want people who vote with emotion and irrationality making decisions that affect my life.

    If that's elitist then call me elitist.

  • bassjoe||

    One person's "emotional and irrational" decision is another person's "reasoned and deliberative" decision. One side always claims the other voted for Politician A over Politician B because of some emotional/irrational connection; you see it on these pages all the time with regards to Progressives/Democrats; you see the opposite argued on Daily Kos with regards to Conservatives/Republicans. And both sides are ABSOLUTELY sure the other side is being completely irrational.

    How will anybody determine who's acting out of emotion? It's in the end a politically-motivated judgment call based on one individual's belief that another person's political leanings aren't based on rationality. That is a very dangerous game to play because you're invalidating people's political beliefs because somebody "smarter" or more "enlightened" than them says they're invalid.

  • sarcasmic||

    One person's "emotional and irrational" decision is another person's "reasoned and deliberative" decision.

    I couldn't disagree more.

  • bassjoe||

    Do you think you're capable of making that distinction? Are you capable of making "informed" decisions for the "less enlightened"? Why?

    Some people may think holding libertarian ideology and voting for libertarians is completely irrational considering libertarians are rarely elected to office and those that are, once elected, generally turn into statists after a few years (while still crowing libertarian rhetoric). As such, maybe all people on Reason's comment pages should be denied the vote since they're just irrationally throwing it away anyways.

  • sarcasmic||

    I'm capable of questioning a person's rationality behind a decision, and then judging their response.

    A reasoned and deliberative decision should be met with a reasoned and deliberative response.

    Questioning an emotional and irrational decision will likely result in emotional and irrational personal attacks, straw man arguments, or some other response that has nothing to do with answering what led to the decision.

  • John||

    The problem is who is "enlightened"? If reason thinks that definition is going to be in anyway suited to them, they are more naive than even I think they are.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    On top of that, a smaller electorate is easier to intimidate, trick, and/or bribe.

    If that were true, then a republic would be a worse form of government than a democracy. No matter what we think of historical republics, virtually no one with an ounce of political knowledge would believe democracies to be superior to republics in securing peaceful outcomes or popular wealth.

  • Robert||

    Tell us the difference between "democracy" and "republic", and then explain why you're justified using the language that way, by reference to customary distinction between the words.

    AFAICT the people who try to draw such a distinction have generally been pretentious libertarians who have in mind a difference that exists only in their heads, and who never explain exactly what mechanism keeps one from being like the other.

    Etymology-wise, "democracy" means "district-gov't", i.e. gov't by the district (the demos), while "republic" comes from "res publica", "the thing of the people". "District" is just a metaphor for the people of the district, so both republic and democracy mean gov't by the people, collectively.

    If you want to add qualifiers like "consitutional" or "representative", or "limited", you should realize that those qualifiers can be added equally well onto either "democracy" or "republic", and do not inhere particularly to either one.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    Tell us the difference between "democracy" and "republic" ... AFAICT the people who try to draw such a distinction have generally been pretentious libertarians

    You didn't say please.

    If you don't understand the distinction between democratic and representative forms of government, you shouldn't be engaging people who've spent a significant amount of time studying political philosophy. Toodles.

  • Robert||

    the distinction between democratic and representative forms of government


    There is no distinction between those 2 things! They are not separate categories, otherwise you wouldn't have representative democracies.

  • sarcasmic||

    In a democratic government everything is a referendum. The people vote on everything.

    In a representative democracy the people vote for their representatives who then vote on everything.

    Democracy is the people voting on gay marriage referendum, while a republic is their representatives voting on gay marriage bill.

  • Robert||

    You slipped in "republic" in the last para. after referring to it as "representative democracy" in the preceding. Of course either way it's still democratic, and still republican.

  • sarcasmic||

    So you see no distinction between a system where the people vote on everything, and one where people vote for representatives who vote on everything in their stead?

  • Robert||

    So you see no distinction between a system where the people vote on everything, and one where people vote for representatives who vote on everything in their stead?


    I see that distinction as exactly what it is: a distinction between methods of democracy, or between types of republic.

    What I don't see is a distinction between "republic" on one hand and "democracy" on the other.

  • sarcasmic||

    You are definitely distinction-challenged. I'm sorry. I wish there was a pill to help you, but you can't fix stupid.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    Robert either failed fifth-grade civics or is trolling to bash "pretentious libertarians" who insist on the distinction between representative and direct forms of popular rule and consider that and other distinctions essential to preventing the chaos of popular tyranny by know-nothings like him.

    That's the socialist playbook, of course, which is all about calling a constitutional republic a "democracy" often enough to confuse the electorate about the US system of governance and the nature of enumerated state powers. And to confuse people like Robert to the point that they can't understand the difference between a democracy and a republic. My dog knows the difference between a democracy and a republic, but not our forum trolls.

    For Robert's benefit (and because I also enjoy wasting my time trying to teach dogs algebra), the United States are a federal, constitutional, presidential, democratic republic of states, each of which enjoys parallel sovereignty with the federal union.

  • Robert||

    By your use of those words, are you actually saying there's a difference between a democratic republic and a republican democracy? Of course either is like "yellow jaundice" and "PIN number".

  • sarcasmic||

    Way to move the goalposts.

  • Boisfeuras||

    Pretentious libertarians like Aristotle, who defined democracy as the degenerated form of constitutional government.

  • Boisfeuras||

    Or perhaps James Madison ("[D]emocracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.").

    Or John Adams ("Democracy will envy all, contend with all, endeavor to pull down all, and when by chance it happens to get the upper hand for a short time, it will be revengeful, bloody and cruel.").

  • Robert||

    I don't know why Reason has posted not one but two articles on this topic in the past week.


    You haven't been paying att'n lately to HyR, have you?

  • Calidissident||

    I agree that the right to vote shouldn't be restricted (I explained in a thread earlier this week why it would be a bad idea and do more harm than good) on the basis of property ownership or paying taxes, but that doesn't mean we should encourage everybody who has no idea (and doesn't really care) what's going on, what the candidates stand for, etc. to vote anyways. If the people cared enough to revolt or protest, I'm pretty sure they'd care enough to vote on election day. Criticizing "Get out the vote" drives is not the same thing as promoting the restriction of voting rights.

  • SQRLSY One||

    “Advocating for an "enlightened" portion of the populace to actually do the voting sounds EXACTLY how the political system of communist states function.” …. Hey bassjoe, ya got it 1,000% wrong there, buddy, sorry… I have read my history and geography / politics. In communist nations they get out 98% of the vote or so… If you do NOT vote, then the STASI / KGB etc. will be knocking at yer door!!! It is just that there is only ONE party to vote for, THAT is the critical distinction… In “red” / semi-capitalist China to this day, I might add, this is the case. ONE party to vote for, THAT is the thing to look for. … If I was head policy wonk in charge of the Local-Galactic-Clustert Government Almighty, I would follow the lead of the Native Americans, who split duties between “Peace Chief” v/s “War Chief”… Except I would have “Socialism Chief” v/s “Constitutional Chief”… We all know that for the amount of REAL devotion to the Constitution today, we might as well wipe our asses with it… A “Constitutional Chief” who is elected by One Human, One vote… For matters pertaining ONLY to Government Almighty powers that are actually authorized by the Constitution… And a “Socialism Chief” who is elected by, $1,000 paid in income-transfer taxes, one vote. Those who pay, are those who vote… Kinda like the free market, which actually WORKS, unlike socialism, contemplate THAT, willya?!!?!

  • SQRLSY One||

    What I meant to say is, one stock-share held in company XYZ, one vote… 10,000 shares held, 10,000 votes… More “skin in the game”, more votes… Welfare Mommas, of the literal or corporate-mooches or over-paid public-employee kinds, not much “skin in the game”… Us bled-dry taxpayers?!?! Why NOT give us more votes for our taxes, WITHOUT us having to spend ADDITIONAL $$$ gabillions for bribes, oooops, I mean “campaign contributions”, before our voices are finally, supposedly, actually heard?

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    This article needs a Dunning-Kruger reference, as the problem with convincing uninformed voters not to vote is that uninformed voters don't recognize that they're uninformed, and they're constantly being flattered by political pep rallies and social inclusion/encouragement. The more uninformed voters are, the more likely they are to be ignorant of the continents of political philosophy they don't even know exist.

  • Vampire||

    Hey ho vote for me, well make the government so big we'll even help you pee and we'll even make your dumb ass believe you're free. Hey ho look at me, the bank printed more money so we can go on a spending spree, and we'll even get you a fried turkey, and some beef jerky, while you thank us that your water is clean and not murky.

  • Vampire||

    Why don't you run and get my coat, then mass email this note that explains we gotta get out and vote. We gotta hurry so put that saddle on my goat, and I'll campaign and promise everyone a chicken and a new boat. We'll stand back and watch them all emote, as I stand there elected and laughing knowing they will be pillaged in this game of political cutthroat.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Vampire-Damn-pire, that was AWESOME!!! I hereby and alwaysby vote for YOU as Poet Laureate! You R a POET, and I did not KNOW IT!!! And yer feet (on those rare days when they are not smelling TOO terribly bad) are LONGFELLOWS! Live Long and Prosper, my poetic friend!

  • Christophe||

    My favorite variant on this theme: Random subsample of voters.

    1. You sign up to vote.

    2. Only x% of eligible voters actually get to vote in a given race (ideally, this is a percentage such that you have between 100 and 10000 people voting in that race). Making the selection process provably random and fair is the hardest part of the proposal (there's some cool mathy ways of doing it).

    3. You get told 6 months in advance that you are voting in that race. The selection is kept secret (although you're free to disclose that you've been picked if you want to).

    4. You go vote on election day, but only in the one race you were picked to vote for.

    Done properly, it is still completely representative of the overall population, statistically speaking.

    But because you only vote every couple of elections, on just one particular decision, and you know your vote has a lot of weight (compared to today), this improves your incentive to get more informed before voting.

    There's a risk that a candidate may try to offer a quid-pro-quo to a particular voter, given how few there are. On the other hand, since that voter will statistically never have a chance to vote for/against them again, the candidate can trivially break that promise with no repercussions.

  • Robert||

    Interesting, possibly valuable.

    How about instead of 6 months, you do it like jury duty, having it all done in one room for a day or 3, with a m.c. making sure each side is fairly heard?

  • Christophe||

    An M.C. becomes a source of potential bias.

    "Each side" would include a roster of third party candidates, some of which are kooks.

    And I'm not a big fan of forcing someone to do X in order to vote.

    But you have the general idea when you mention jury duty: make the voter feel like their opinion carries a lot of weight, and therefore they should take the time to make a good decision.

  • SQRLSY One||

    Hi Christophe,
    I will sign onto yer nefartious scheme, so long as you do publically and pubically hang yer sorry head in shame, and ADMIT freely, that you fergitted one MOST Supreme Thang: ALL illegal humans (AKA un-AmeriKKKans, who were born 1 yard or more on the WRONG side of the border), must be EXCLUDED from yer new scheme!!! Sign on to MY favorite war-horse here, and I will GLADLY send you my $Quadrillion $$$Dolars that Ah haz earned as a high-ranking butt anonymous stupor-visor of the Fed. Border Guards… Protecting YOU from affordable yard care and construction and dish-washing and baby-sitting services, Yers Truly, -Ah Do Gives A Shit, Butt Just Not About YEW An Yer ILLEGAL Humanoids!!!

  • CommonSense457||

    We're supposed to have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Anything less than that - through selective voting qualification or disqualification - borders tyranny, imho. If you don't like who the less informed are voting for, then maybe you should produce a candidate that appeals to them better than what they're responding to now. Also, griping that a larger portion of the population isn't voting your way, and calling them ignorant or uninformed because of it, strikes me as a little myopic. You want leaders, representatives, and policies that you favor? Then your candidates should have messages and principles that appeal to a broader base.

  • sarcasmic||

    Also, griping that a larger portion of the population isn't voting your way, and calling them ignorant or uninformed because of it, strikes me as a little myopic.

    You're disingenuously conflating cause and effect.

    You're saying that their votes are the cause, and pointing out their ignorance is the effect.

    Their ignorance of economics and belief in economic fallacies put forth by deceitful politicians is the cause, and their votes are the effect.

    But I suspect that you know this and are putting forth an argument in bad faith.

  • Robert||

    Huh...what makes you suspect disingenuousness? It doesn't look like sarcasm and it doesn't look like trolling, so you think CommonSense is actually trying to hoodwink us straight up?

  • sarcasmic||

    Huh...what makes you suspect disingenuousness?

    The same bullshit detector that goes off when I read your posts.

    It doesn't look like sarcasm and it doesn't look like trolling, so you think CommonSense is actually trying to hoodwink us straight up?

    Hoodwink? No. Flog a straw man like you did in that comment? Yes.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    Also, griping that a larger portion of the population isn't voting your way, and calling them ignorant or uninformed because of it, strikes me as a little myopic.

    Yeah, that hasn't happened. Less than half the population can name the three branches of the state. Less than a third can name a single SC justice.

    The profound ignorance of the electorate is an objective reality, not some bit of minority bitching.

  • Vampire||

    This "system" wound up becoming the tyranny of the majority. Appeal to the broader base? So what if individuals continually vote for folks whom care not for liberty but are focused on stripping those rights away and expanding the reach of government. Eventually, individuals whom face no consequences for their lobbying and the politicians they elect will take over, and slowly erode the natural rights of individuals, eventually consuming those whom even supported them just to maintain power.

    Free individuals shouldn't have to wait for someone to not rob them, or "give them back their rights" which were naturally the individuals to begin with. So if a group decided to vote to pillage your home and property, and if you resisted threatened or engaged in acts of violence against you and your family it would be ok, because the individuals responsible for those acts "appealed" to a majority of other individuals. Your freedom liberty and property be damned right?

    If doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results is insanity, then the logical conclusion of government is just the same. For many years, folks hoped and wished for politicians that wouldn't rob and steal from them, and let them just be damn free. Sadly, the violent state grows larger because there are folks whom try and excuse it away, and sell their future generations out, rob, and make it like all is well.

  • Robert||

    Now that I think is trolling—grammar trolling with those "whom"s!

  • Vampire||

    Take your crying about whom back to the womb. :0P

  • Robert||

    wait for someone to not rob them


    I can't figure out whether that's always happening whenever that person's not robbing them at that instant, or never happening because you can never be sure that person won't rob them in the future.

  • Robert||

    We call voters ignorant or uninformed by necessity, because how could you possibly know more than a tiny fraction of the things elected officials do, let alone what they could do? Compare that to the relatively minuscule amount of stuff you need to, and do, know to handle your own affairs. You'd be a fool to try to learn all the possible ins & outs re for instance the possibility of war that your gov't has the power to undertake against Upper Volta or Tonga. Yet it would not be unreasonable for you to read the entire owner's manual of your car, and you might even go so far as to consult the Chilton's for it. Calling voters ignorant or uninformed is not a slur against them, just a reflection of the vast possibilities their vote in gov't might have input to compared to the narrow field of what they can do in their own lives outside gov't.

  • Pulseguy||

    You missed the point of the article.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The only virtue of democracy as a form of government is the ability to peacefully throw out political leaders. And the major vice is that a majority of people can oppress a minority of people.

  • Ayn Random Variation||

    The problem is that most people are of good will. When you combine that with the basic economic ignorance of most people, they are likely to believe focus-grouped nonsense that is presented them in a reasonable tone by well credentialed authority figures. And so we elect someone who tells us that he will bend down the "cost curve" by increasing demand.

    My solution is this crazy idea of letting the states do pretty much what they want, so all of the well intentioned ignorati can congregate together and I can move someplace where I can be free to be left alone.

  • ~Knarf Yenrab~||

    My solution is this crazy idea of letting the states do pretty much what they want

    We always knew ARV was a dangerous, neo-confederate radical.

  • Rasilio||

    Once again I go back to the system I mentioned yesterday of allowing voters to purchase extra votes with each additional vote costing 10x the last.

    Everyone still gets 1 free vote in each race and on each ballot question so universal suffrage is maintained but low information voters will not be very inclined to purchase additional votes and those who are motivated to do so bear the cost of their electoral choices

  • Christophe||

    That's good. Maybe we get the really intense TEAM partisans to help pay off the debt using this.

  • Christophe||

    Other fun strategy: Add extra legislative bodies beyond the house and senate, each divying up the voting rights in a different way, and all of them having to approve a law before it passes.

    You can get really creative, and it doesn't matter too much what you do, since the only outcome is more gridlock:

    - One chamber with proportional representation based on tax dollars paid (Elect representatives with 1 tax dollar = 1 vote).
    - One chamber elected by relatives of people in military service (great way to block war declarations).
    - One chamber exclusively elected by people 12-24 (to push back against the drinking/smoking age and other restrictions on minors).

    Combine that with automatic sunset clauses, and you have a recipe for minimal government.

  • ||

    I'm no fan of democracy - or republics, for the pedants - but if you give people the vote they should all get to vote - whether directly or for representatives.
    I would prefer economic considerations trump all others, but other people might not. So who is right?
    My top preference might be economic liberty. A woman in her 20s might be most concerned about the right to a safe abortion. These two positions might be held by two opposing candidates, one of whom will win and one of whom will lose. If my guy wins, he might drag along policies I don't agree with. Does that make my vote irrational?
    Now, if we want to talk about replacing the universal franchise with something other than ticking a box on a ballot, then I'm all ears. Arm wrestling, for instance. Or Texas Hold 'em.

  • JPyrate||

    If we are going to continue this whole "Government" thing IMO, I think it should be a public affair. The only State mandate I would even consider is giving everyone the day off to vote. Make it a fucking Holiday. If voting is so important that we need a "Get Out The Vote" message, then I say put your money where your mouth is.

  • JPyrate||

    Oh yeah... Direct Democracy. No fucking way. Even if scarcity is solved with technology.

  • ibcbet||

    he wasn't running things when the fan splattered the shit everywhere.

  • Sevo||

    ibcbet|2.16.14 @ 10:37PM|#
    "he wasn't running things when the fan splattered the shit everywhere."

    Right. He was voting for the things that splattered the shit.
    And he's be supposedly fixing things for five years; are we going to see the fifth 'summer of recovery' while he screws things up again?

  • Pulseguy||

    Interesting responses. I like the Reason board. I even like Tony, for the weird Leftish commentary. It reminds me what is out there.

    However, it seems almost no one here understood the article.

    The systems about which people vote are more complicated than one position can reflect. This includes libertarianism. I agree with that. No human is understandable. Our political systems consist of billions of individuals making trillions of decisions over the course of a year, almost none of which make perfect sense. Suggesting one can 'understand' such a system is not reasonable. Even if you study it diligently for decades.

  • Sevo||

    Uh, yeah, and?
    The understanding of the meta-trend was pretty obvious in the article; I have no need of understanding the individual.

  • Pulseguy||

    In case I wasn't clear...if you can't understand a system, your opinion on how it should be run also isn't completely valid.

    If you say libertarianism is best that might be somewhat valid. It might sort of be better in certain circumstances. But, to think you can pick a system, whatever it is, and say, 'wow that one will work' isn't going to happen. There is no thought/political/philosophical system that can do anything but approximate some sort of reasonableness.

    Utter chaos can not be understood, nor harnessed. I still might choose one system over another because I think given chaos, given human frailty the excesses of that system seem less onerous to me than another one, but to have any overarching hopes about it is a step away from fundamentalism.

  • judeoconnor@mac.com||

    When the fraud of voting became a science that the media ignored as of the last election, why vote? We have a fraud as a President that has locked his past and a Congress that is deaf to the public screams and every one of them claim, "We are a nation of laws", what a joke.

  • c5c5||

    One of the surest ways I get my friends (particularly young college aged "progressive" friends) mad at me is to mention that perhaps most people rationally should not vote.

    They always accuse me of disgusting intentions. I try to explain the reasons as mentioned in these good articles, but their minds are closed off at reasoning at that point.

  • trutherator||

    Another good reason that Jesus Christ himself said the majority is *always* wrong.

    Narrow the gate, straight the way, versus broad is the gate, and crooked the way....

    Not a joke... The truth is more satisfying than the lies...

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