May 27, 2007

"Do voters have any idea what they are doing?"

Possibly not:
In his provocative new book, “The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies,” [Bryan] Caplan argues that “voters are worse than ignorant; they are, in a word, irrational — and vote accordingly.” Caplan’s complaint is not that special-interest groups might subvert the will of the people, or that government might ignore the will of the people. He objects to the will of the people itself.

In defending democracy, theorists of public choice sometimes invoke what they call “the miracle of aggregation.” It might seem obvious that few voters fully understand the intricacies of, say, single-payer universal health care. (I certainly don’t.) But imagine, Caplan writes, that just 1 percent of voters are fully informed and the other 99 percent are so ignorant that they vote at random. In a campaign between two candidates, one of whom has an excellent health care plan and the other a horrible plan, the candidates evenly split the ignorant voters’ ballots. Since all the well-informed voters opt for the candidate with the good health care plan, she wins. Thus, even in a democracy composed almost exclusively of the ignorant, we achieve first-rate health care.

The hitch, as Caplan points out, is that this miracle of aggregation works only if the errors are random. When that’s the case, the thousands of ill-informed votes in favor of the bad health plan are canceled out by thousands of equally ignorant votes in favor of the good plan. But Caplan argues that in the real world, voters make systematic mistakes about economic policy — and probably other policy issues too.
Guess which way Americans are "systematically biased"?
...Scott L. Althaus, a University of Illinois political scientist, finds that if the public were better informed, it would overcome its ingrained biases and make different political decisions. According to his studies, such a public would be more progressive on social issues like abortion and gay rights, more ideologically conservative in preferring markets to government intervention and less isolationist but more dovish in foreign policy.
Love the name, Scott, but why am I not feeling confident that your own "ingrained biases" are not affecting your studies? I'm picking up a bit of the old: if only people thought clearly, they'd agree with me. I'm never surprised when a professor discovers that democracy is defective because Americans aren't more left-wing. But unlike Althaus, Caplan thinks voters are incompetent because they aren't libertarian enough.
To encourage greater economic literacy, [Caplan] suggests tests of voter competence, or “giving extra votes to individuals or groups with greater economic literacy."
Until 1949, he points out, Britain gave extra votes to some business owners and graduates of elite universities. (Since worse-educated citizens are less likely to vote, Caplan dislikes efforts to increase voter turnout.) Most provocatively, perhaps, in an online essay Caplan has suggested a curious twist on the tradition of judicial review: If the Supreme Court can strike down laws as unconstitutional, why shouldn’t the Council of Economic Advisers be able to strike down laws as “uneconomical”?
But who designs the economic literacy test, and who appoints the Council of Economic Advisors? I assume Caplan doesn't think it would be Althaus and his ilk.

120 comments:

Steven Taylor said...

I have only read a review of the book, but it seems to me that not only is the author doing the ol' "why don't they think like me?" routine, but he is also narrowing his interpretation of politics to the dimension that is most important to him, i.e., economics.

Discussions like this one tend to forget that people vote on a panoply of dimensions--not just economics.

Bob said...

Twain wrote about this very subject, although I can't remember in which work. He, too, advocated additional votes for the successful, the intelligent, etc. He was only half serious about it, but the subject comes up again and again in our history.

I've often though about doing a treatise on various American voter types, going from the totally ignorant at the bottom of the scale (dice-roll voters, voters who consider themselves informed if they recognize a candidate's name) to mid-level voters (straight tickets, single issue voters) to fully informed voters (ticket splitters, candidate analysts). Maybe I need to sit down and do it.

*laughs*

EnigmatiCore said...

Bob, your proposed treatise would likely suffer the same effects of bias as these. After all, you are starting from the presumption that ticket splitters and cadidate analysts are more informed than straight ticket voters and/or single issue voters. That may or may not be true.

I mean, when both parties suck equally, then ticket splitting might be a sign of informed voting (it still might not be, though; one might decide the best way to get one to un-suck would be to vote against it, forcing it to change).

If both parties suck but one sucks more, then ticket splitting sounds pretty dumb to me.

As for the cases where neither party sucks, I can only imagine. I haven't seen such a case yet.

Bob said...

EnigmatiCore: I'll freely admit that my own biases might enter into my treatise, but my main point is to point out the differences between informed and uninformed voting, not calculated votes by fully informed voters.

For example, my straight ticket example is that of an ignoramus who was told by a parent to always vote Republican, and obligingly does so, or a union child who always votes Democrat because of the influence of his parents, who were good union members and played Pete Seeger songs as the child grew up.

Then you'd have the bigot who won't vote for an African-American, or the woman who votes for the candidate she finds most attractive. Both totally uninformed, and so basically wasted votes. Compare this to the voter who reads campaign literature, knows a candidate's voting record and stand on issues, etc.

Gahrie said...

Of course voters don't know what they are doing. They are largely ignorant and selfish. That's why democracies are so dangerous. Our Founders knew this, and created a republic instead. Unfortunately, we have spent the last 180 years (since Andrew Jackson, and not so coincidentally the founding of the Democratic Party) gradually turning our republic into a democracy.

The franchise was limited in the founding of our republic to successful men. The bar was set low enough that anyone (well, white man at the time) with ambiion could earn the franchise.

Sadly, given our history, any restriction on the right to vote is impractical. Indeed, there have been movements to extend the franchise to minors.

If only there were a few Philosopher Kings around.....

John Stodder said...

This sounds like another "What's the Matter With Kansas?" Which had the sotto voce subtitle "Why Doesn't Everybody Vote for Liberals?"

These political scientists assume that the only rational vote is for a candidate who pledges to take money away from someone who doesn't need it, and give it to...me!

downtownlad said...

It's actually a pretty good concept. We just need to write capitalism into the Constitution.

Let's start with - "When collecting a tax, every citizen shall pay the tax equally."

It really is quite disgusting and entirely unfair that someone like Bill Gates should pay more in taxes than a working class person, when he actually receives less benefits from the government.

mrsizer said...

Will the idiots never go away?

1: There is no ideally "right" policy. How very 18th century to think so.

2. There is no ideally "right" group to implement that policy, which doesn't exist. How very 19th century to think so.

3. There is no means, even force, to convince everyone that your group is the right group, which doesn't exist, to implement the right policy, which doesn't exist. How very 20th century to think so.

Now that we're in the 21st century, can we please just let people muddle along as best they can?

BTW: Some of us split tickets because we think gridlock is the best state for government. I prefer a Republican congress with a Democrat President, but a Republican has a snowball's chance in hell at my congressional seat so I usually vote the other way.

Cedarford said...

Gahrie - The franchise was limited in the founding of our republic to successful men. The bar was set low enough that anyone (well, white man at the time) with ambiion could earn the franchise.

Sadly, given our history, any restriction on the right to vote is impractical. Indeed, there have been movements to extend the franchise to minors.


I don't agree that it is impractical to consider limits on the franchise. A great problem is that we now have a sizable minority, an actual majority in many cities that either do not pay taxes or are such net beneficiaries from taxpayer programs that it is in their interest to always vote to tax the Americans that actually pay taxes more.

The dilemma of the ability of the parasites of society to gather up the fruits of the producers of society, simply by the universal vote franchise.

Except for the very, very wealthy who don't really feel a doubling of their state income and property taxes and a tripling of fees to help fund the redistribution of the producer's wealth to the parasites via laws and officials the parasites create with their vote.

As much as high crime, the taxes on the middle class imposed by those large masses who do no work or unskilled work that seek to gain from such income and wealth transfer impositions hastens the exodus of middle class from various localities.
The first thing you hear from people that flee Blue state cities is "I get to keep more of what I earn".

Deliberate use of the vote to take the property and income of others is every bit the threat to democracy that ignorance is.

The poll tax was outlawed, but I can think of few things that would do more to encourage the parasitic to become producers than take away their right to vote.

LutherM said...

Is there some correlation between the restriction of voting and the quality of leaders? More limited voter rolls resulted in a Washington, Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln. We have not seen their like recently.

In ancient Athens, voting was limited to adult male citizens. Pericles' Funeral Oration is one of the earliest examples of praise for the theory and practice of Democracy. Certainly not all of these voters were educated, and probably some were illiterate. They elected great leaders, enabled a society that engendered the development of theatre, architecture, sculpture, and philosophy. The voters also managed to condemn Socrates to death.
The United States of America adopted Democratic principles of government. In the words of James Joyce, "once upon a time, and a very good time it was....", voting was a privilege and literacy tests were common - the theory being, if someone can not read and write, they are less than able to distinguish falsehoods from the truth. However, administration of these tests in the South were used as a tool to disenfranchise Negroes rather than to screen out illiterates. As a result, literacy tests are now regarded as unconstitutional, and voting is regarded as a right. Today the United States, we have a written Constitution and universal suffrage.
Athens had Pericles.
We have "W".
vox populii, vox dei

Donald Douglas said...

Voter decision-making has a long research history in political science. I haven't read the Caplan book, nor any reviews of it. Surely he's trying to add a new twist to a well-established literature. But much is known about voting behavior, and the argument that voters are ignoramuses is simplistic (though certainly some may be like that). Voters base their voting decisions on the number of factors: Party identification's a big one. Party ID works as a heuristic, giving voters a cue (or shortcut) on how to vote on the issues. When issues are particularly complicated (hard issues), they are not easily broken down into campaign slogans, and voters can generally use party ID to guide them in their choices. (Note that using party ID as a voting shortcut is great example of rational voting, as people have a self-interest in simplifying the voting process). Besides, party ID, voters also evaluate candidate characteristics: What kind of experience does a candidate have? Are they smart? Do they have integrity, and so forth? This is where the media campaigns come in, because research shows that voter decisions can be manipulated by candidate framing and image distortion. Some argue that one reason Bush beat Kerry in 2004 is that the Bush strategy of labeling Kerry as a "flip-flopper" stuck in voters minds, and the argument was credible based Kerry's legislative record. Note that paying attention to candidates' personalities (characteristics) is not irrational, and in fact some research argues that the more educated one is, the more likely one will stress candidates' personal attributes. Another important factor is policy voting (especially retrospective issue voting [what has the party or incumbent done for me?] and prospective voting [what will the party or candidate do for me?]). Then, there are all the demographic issues that political scientists love to sort through: levels of education, socioeconomic status, religious infuences, race and ethnicity, gender, geographic region, and so on. In sum, it's a complicated business, but I don't think voters are necessarily dumb. They may not read the papers and be as well informed on the issues as they might, but a whole bunch of variables determine voting behavior.

Burkean Reflections

Freder Frederson said...

It really is quite disgusting and entirely unfair that someone like Bill Gates should pay more in taxes than a working class person, when he actually receives less benefits from the government.

On what do you base this statement? I am sure he pays a lot of taxes in terms of absolute dollars, but as a percentage of his total income? Like every other working stiff in the country, he doesn't pay Social Security or medicare taxes past his first $90,000 in salary, so for the average working person that is a much bigger burden. I'm sure property and sales taxes (even with his lavish lifestyle and big houses) take a much smaller chunk of his income than a family making $47,000 a year (the median income in this country).

And when you add up all the Microsoft software that governments (federal, state, local, not to mention foreign) buy, Bill Gates probably receives more money in direct payments from governments than he pays in taxes. Furthermore, the intangible benefits he receives from the government are incalculable. Consider the value of the intellectual property protections he receives. Without it, his products would be worthless as he would have no recourse for software piracy.

Freder Frederson said...

The first thing you hear from people that flee Blue state cities is "I get to keep more of what I earn".

Your whole theory is very nice Cedarford. Too bad it is not true. The true parasites in this country are the hard workin', independent, govment handout hat'n, true 'mericans in the red states. The Blue States are the ones that pump money into the wasteful programs in the red states that give away our minerals for pennies on the dollars, provide roads, water, electricity to all you city hating rednecks who complain about the handouts those lazy welfare queens are getting.

How about this deal. The day you pay your fair share for your roads, electricity, and water (going all the way back to the day that commie FDR proposed supplying it to your backwards racist ass) is the day you can complain about blue state parasites. Until then, stfu.

downtownlad said...

Freder - When you buy a gallon of milk, you don't make the price as a percentage of your total income.

It's theft that taxes are different.

Considering how much Bill Gates adds to this economy, the argument can be made that he shouldn't pay taxes at all.

Freder Frederson said...

Yet another libertarian working at a public university. What is it with these guys? Isn't it the height of hypocrisy for them to earn their living from tax dollars? Shouldn't they be out proving the superiority of the free market instead of collecting a government paycheck and telling everybody how awful the government it is and how much better the free market is?

Dave said...

I see Freder is at his debating best, again. Also, he misses dtl's sarcasm (or is it irony?), so I'm not surprised.

And Freder, the fact that blue states pay more in taxes and red states receive more tax dollars is, oddly enough, the result largely of the 30 years of Dem control of the US Congress froom 1960-1990. Let's put the blame where it belongs. (Of course, when they did it, they expected that robbing Peter to pay Paul would ensure that Paul would continue to vote for them. Not a bad guess, really, but it didn't work out that way, did it?)

And Cedarford, the main problem those who pay low taxes is that they typically don't SEE the taxes that they pay. That is, the easily visible taxes (income and property, basically) are very visible (you get sent a bill/receipt every year) while the amounts (sometimes disproportionate to income, Freder), are mostly invisible to them.

I mean, how many of the bottom 40% of income earners have any real idea of how much of that income goes to pay sales taxes, gasoline taxes, alcohol taxes, tobacco taxes, and restaurant/entertainment taxes, all of which are quite possibly disproportionate fractions of the spending by the bottom 40%.

If those like dtl and Freder were more honestly worried about 'the poor' and less ideologically committed to having people's behavior controlled by those dtl and Freder prefer, they'd get on the bandwagon of libertarianism.

I'm guessing, however, that like most things, their overt concern for the 'disadvantaged' or whatever neolism is currently in use is once again merely a cover for their real intentions.

Dave said...

Oops. Editing mistake. Should read,

"while the amounts of taxes paid by those with low incomes and no mortgage (sometimes disproportionate to income, Freder), are mostly invisible to them.

Fen said...

Didn't the direct democracy of Athens fall because of sophists and demagogues?

Freder Frederson said...

It's theft that taxes are different.

That is the silliest argument I have ever heard in my life.

Bill Gates benefits from government more than almost anyone else on the face of the earth. His business would not exist without the government. He would literally have nothing to sell if not intellectual property laws.

Steven said...

If there were any class of non-irrational humans who would refrain from the abuse of power, yes, putting them in charge would work much better than democracy.

Similarly, if we could wave a magic wand and make all voters sensible and rational, that would be a good thing, too.

Freder Frederson said...

And Freder, the fact that blue states pay more in taxes and red states receive more tax dollars is, oddly enough, the result largely of the 30 years of Dem control of the US Congress froom 1960-1990.

Actually, it isn't. It is because red states are more likely to be rural and rural people like to pretend they are not dependent on government handouts, when in fact they are. Because of their rural nature, more agricultural subsidies go to red states, more highway dollars are spent per capita (along with subsidies for electrical, telephone, water and other basic services). And because rural states are also poorer, more is spent per capita on welfare and other social programs. Also, because military bases are concentrated in red states, a disproportionate amount of defense spending is funneled to the red states.

Freder Frederson said...

If those like dtl and Freder were more honestly worried about 'the poor' and less ideologically committed to having people's behavior controlled by those dtl and Freder prefer, they'd get on the bandwagon of libertarianism.

And how would that help working people? I have yet to hear from a libertarian (of either the small or large 'L' variety) who has shown the least concern for the plight of the poor or working people. In fact they seem to be universally hostile to them. I have never heard a libertarian utter anything but complete and utter disdain, if not outright hostility, for unions. They are against any kind of labor laws and seek a return to a completely unregulated workplace. They are against public education, which undoubtedly has been the most positive force for social change and advancement in this country in the twentieth century.

Christy said...

And of course Blue States don't receive any benefit of those rural roads from which all bounty flows. You get all your food from airlifts, Freder?

Just how old is the term "bread and circuses" anyway?

Fen said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt the Blue Staters exercising their provincialist bigotry, but I meant it as a question not a statement:

"Didn't the direct democracy of Athens fall because of sophists and demagogues?"

Thanks.

Freder Frederson said...

And of course Blue States don't receive any benefit of those rural roads from which all bounty flows. You get all your food from airlifts, Freder?

I'm not the one arguing that "parasites" (and Jews and blacks and Islamoids) shouldn't be allowed to vote. That was Cedarford. Of course he would be happier just rounding them up and exterminating them.

Freder Frederson said...

Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt the Blue Staters exercising their provincialist bigotry

It was Cedarford, as usual, that started out with the bigotry. I was merely pointing out that as usual he distorted facts so he could display his typical racism.

Simon said...

downtownlad said...
"It's actually a pretty good concept. We just need to write capitalism into the Constitution. Let's start with - 'When collecting a tax, every citizen shall pay the tax equally.'"

The problem appears instantly: define "equally." Pay an equal dollar amount? Pay an equal percentage of their income? Pay an equal percentage of gross tax receipts? An equal amount of total government spending?

As a general rule of thumb, the Constitution should be kept as purely structural and above the fray as possible. Ideally, with a few exceptions, it isn't there to solve society's disputes, it's there to provide a framework through which society can settle its own disputes. And I think people should think long and hard before amending it, because most proposals turn out to be frivolous.

knoxwhirled said...

But unlike Althaus, Caplan thinks voters are incompetent because they aren't libertarian enough.

And, in large part, he's right.

Freder Frederson said...

And, in large part, he's right.

On the other hand, why should someone (i.e., a libertarian) who by definition distrusts government and thinks it is inherently inefficient and counterproductive be allowed to be allowed to make any decisions regarding it. Wouldn't a vote cast by a libertarian be irrational because a libertarian always assumes that government will work contrary to economic interests. Therefore, decisions about government libertarians make are irrational (since they hold the irrational belief that government is always less efficient than the private sector). Followed to it's logical conclusion, under Caplan's argument, libertarians should be one of the groups denied the right to vote since they will make irrational decisions when it comes to government policy.

Sloanasaurus said...

His business [Bill Gates] would not exist without the government. He would literally have nothing to sell if not intellectual property laws.

Wait... I thought that the government was supposed to protect and preserve the freedoms that we inherently have. The government doesn't give us our freedoms.

Sometimes we forget that the government is supposed to serve us, including Bill Gates. The role of the government is not to punish Bill Gates on behalf of less well off people.

Simon said...

Luckyoldson said...
"Next time you vote, keep this in mind..."

The next time George W. Bush or Alberto Gonzales are on the ballot, that might well be a good thing to keeo in mind when deciding whether to vote for them. Last time I checked, though, Gonzales has never been on a ballot and Bush won't be again. So what's your point? Surely you don't hope to smear the entire Republican party with the behavior of the bad guys in your story, when the good guys in your story are also Repulicans?

Next time you comment, keep in mind the limits of what a given piece of evidence can prove...

Fen said...

And stay away from anonymous sources, ae well as "news" org that peddle lies like Newsweeks Koran Flushing propraganda.

Whats next, another memo from CBS?

Luckyoldson said...

simon,
the last time i checked, bush and gonzo are both members of the republican administration who is running this corrput sideshow.

if YOU like what you've seen from them...then vote for the people they'll be supporting. (unless of course, you think they'll support the democrats or independents)

personally, i've had enough of this and will look elsewhere.

Luckyoldson said...

fen, your head is so far up bush's ass it's suprising you can actually type.

as for the "sources," anybody with a fucking ounce of sense knows what's going on, we've heard "under oath" testimoney from sampson, goodling and comey...unlike rove who is still hiding out.

and as for newsweek, i'll put my trust in Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas over gonzo and bush any day of the week.

so shove it...if there's room.

Freeman Hunt said...

Luckyoldson, for example, can vote.

knoxwhirled said...

Followed to it's logical conclusion, under Caplan's argument, libertarians should be one of the groups denied the right to vote since they will make irrational decisions when it comes to government policy.

Nah, that's just like saying people who don't pay taxes have no "logical" say in government policy, i.e., the spending of government money.

Fen said...

and as for newsweek, i'll put my trust in Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas over gonzo and bush any day of the week.

Gonzo and Bush are not reporters. You've become so unhinged that your reason centers has shut down.

CNN admitted to censoring news of Saddam's rape rooms and torture chambers. They kept that info from you because it didn't fit their agenda, and still you trust them.

CBS knowingly used forged docs to attack a sitting president and sway an election. They denied their courruption and stonewalled for days, even after the memos had already been proven fake by the net. And still you trust them.

Newsweek presented fiction as fact, making up a story about US troops flushing Korans down the toilet to antagonize prisoners. And still you trust them.

I've got a bridge for you to buy. Several bridges actually, as you've shown you'll fall for the same conn several times in a row.

Fen said...

Freder: It was Cedarford, as usual, that started out with the bigotry.

Riiiight. Your bigotry is justified because you think Cedarford is a bigot. Love those principles.

Still wondering though: Is it true that the direct democracy of Athens fell because of sophists and demagogues?

Ann Althouse said...

Stop reprinting the whole text of articles here! I will delete.

Fen said...

Not if he's authentic. Your side has been burned alot lately, trotting out "vets" who turned out to be imposters. So skepticism is not unreasonable. He's probably a vet, but I'd like to see confirmation first.

But how come you're trotting that out while gnoring all the quotes from vets who still believe in the mission? Do you have some agenda?

Luckyoldson said...

fen,
you really need to organize your already inane comments so one can decipher what it is you're trying to say. i have absolutely no idea what being a reporter, opposed to a politician or a corrupt AG has to do with which of the two i would "trust."

trust is based on experience and i stand by what i said:

i trust what the "reporters" wrote more than i trust what bush and gonzo have said.

and i'll lay odds at least 75% of america does, too.

Luckyoldson said...

ann,
if you're referring to anything i've posted, i've done no such thing.

the article regarding the AG is four pages long.

Fen said...

For information brokers using anonymous sources, you need to compare reporters to reporters. For example, your comment would make sense if you said: i'll put my trust in Michael Isikoff and Evan Thomas over Brit Hume any day of the week.

Otherwise, apllying your own standard, why can't Bush use anonymous sources? "CIA got a tip from unnamed source that Iran is about to launch nukes..."

Fen said...

the article regarding the AG is four pages long.

Well, you need to be more concise. Learn to quote a few sentences that make your point and then provide a link.

Also, its very rude of you to keep posting OT articles here. The is the second thread you posted your newsweek article too. Ann has been too tolerant. If you want to talk about the AG, get your own blog or email Ann with a polite "heads up" pointing to the link.

Luckyoldson said...

fen,
shove it.

Luckyoldson said...

is this concise enough?

Almost 30 DOJ Officials Threatened To Resign Over Hospital Visit To Ashcroft

Luckyoldson said...

fen-fen,
the thread relates to whether "voters" having any "idea of what they are doing."

with that in mind, i think opening the door to how the current republican administration has handled their responsibilities, including the DOJ and the AG who's in charge...and how people might VOTE in the next presidential election...is a fit.

if YOU personally don't care how the republicans have done their job...that's up to YOU.

Freder Frederson said...

Your side has been burned alot lately, trotting out "vets" who turned out to be imposters.

Better than trotting out ones who turn out to be porn stars and prostitutes.

Freder Frederson said...

Gonzo and Bush are not reporters.

So that makes it okay for them to lie?

Luckyoldson said...

is fen really ann?

Luckyoldson said...

or is ann really fen?

Fen said...

Lucky, here's the rest of the quote your reporter censored by ommission:

Soldier: "I found myself wondering why we're here... then I remembered, we're here to kill Al Queda and protect the Iraqi's until their government can deal with the threat on their own. And my faith was restored

Oh, I got the rest of the quote from Anonymous Source. Remember, you trust him...

Its a common thread anyone who's dealt with reporters has experienced first-hand.

During the Florida recount, I had a NYTs reporter interview me and he attribed my quotes to three seperate people in his article, to give the illusion of consensus.

In Somolia, we routinely dealt with reporters who already had their narrative written - they were just looking to cherry-pick our comments out of context to use as filler.

So I'm really surprised someone as old as you is so naive and trusting of the media. I don't understand why you keep going back to information brokers like CNN, CBS and Newsweek. Would you accept financial advice from a broker who cheated you twice already?

And you might want to lose the profanity. It only reflects poorly on your own argument - its an admission that you're losing the debate.

Fen said...

is fen really ann?

Well, my IP addy is in Maryland, hers is in Wisconsin. Pull out a map.

Freder Frederson said...

Is it true that the direct democracy of Athens fell because of sophists and demagogues?

I don't know. What does this have to do with the subject of this thread?

Wait... I thought that the government was supposed to protect and preserve the freedoms that we inherently have. The government doesn't give us our freedoms.

I don't know what you are trying to say here. But the point is without Intellectual Property laws, Microsoft's product would be worthless since you can't defend a piece of software (or at least it is almost impossible to do so) without a system of laws that recognizes such rights exist. Of course, intangible property is but the most obvious example. Actually almost any property you can't carry on your person is almost impossible to defend without government assistance. Something libertarians conveniently forget.

Fen said...

"Is it true that the direct democracy of Athens fell because of sophists and demagogues?"

I don't know. What does this have to do with the subject of this thread?

The article is about Caplan and others losing faith in voters. Alot of Lefties claim to favor direct democracy, so I'm just wondering if civilization has already been down this road.

Luckyoldson said...

fen says:

you make up a your own "quote" (that you say was censored by ommission??) of what you want to hear...to denigrate what was actually said by american soldiers??? what kind of asshole are you?

there's nothing "anonymous" about anything in the article, all quotes are attributed to our own soldiers.

for those who are interested in the truth, and not what this fool spews forth, here's the link:

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/27/news/delta.php?page=2

Fen said...

Lucky: you make up a your own "quote" (that you say was censored by ommission??) of what you want to hear...to denigrate what was actually said by american soldiers??? what kind of asshole are you?

I'm a "reporter". LOL.

My anonymous source ploy was re your newsweek article. I wanted you to see how unreliable such sources can be. Alot of your respected "journalists" just make stuff up and attrib it to Mr. Anonymous Source. So you should be more skeptical when you encounter that. It has as much value as a poll with a 6% margin of error.

The censorship by ommission was re the soldier you quoted. Its not unlikely your reporter cut off rest so that it would fit his narrative. Thats my direct experience with reporters.

Its also telling that they rarely interview soldiers who support the war. There was a documentary awhile back where a reporter travelled the country to interview wives who's husbands were deployed overseas. Most of them had positive comments about their husband's mission and thought their family's sacrifice was for a noble cause. But a few did not, and had criticisms of Bush and the war. Guess which wives didn't make the editor's cut, Lucky?

Luckyoldson said...

fen,
you can yuk it up all you want, but by denigrating what was said by our own soldiers you further reveal what you really are; an asshole who is more concerned with pushing your own agenda and how the bush administration fares than our own american military.

as far as i'm concerned, you can shove your right wing bullshit and distortions right up your ass.

Fen said...

Lucky: but by denigrating what was said by our own soldiers

Where exactly did I do that?

you further reveal what you really are

I'm a former US Marine. Fully aware that every unit has its 10 percenters. Whats telling is that you only support the troops when you can use them to prop up your anti-war agenda.

an asshole who is more concerned with pushing your own agenda

Buy a mirror. Geez.

Fen said...

"Gonzo and Bush are not reporters."

So that makes it okay for them to lie?

Of course not. But what "lie" are you talking about? Or are you just bearing false witness again?

Fen said...

LutherM: In ancient Athens, voting was limited to adult male citizens. Pericles' Funeral Oration is one of the earliest examples of...

Missed this. Luther, please come back? Curious - do you think the Athenian democracy fell because of sophists and demagogues?

Simon said...

Luckyoldson said...
"simon, the last time i checked, bush and gonzo are both members of the republican administration who is running this corrput sideshow."

Correct. But (1) they're not going to be on the ballot in 2008, and (2) so were Ashcroft and Comey, the heroes of your piece. Your comment that you've "had enough of this and will look elsewhere" is totally empty - by definition you have ot look elsewhere, because this administration will not be on the ballot, and none of the candidates for the GOP nomination are part of the administration. The closest you've got is Duncan Hunter, and he isn't a serious candidate.


Luckyoldson said...
"is this concise enough? Almost 30 DOJ Officials Threatened To Resign Over Hospital Visit To Ashcroft."

A whole bunch of liberals threatened to leave the country if Bush was elected. They stayed, made the same promise about reelection in 2004, and they're still here. Go figure.

Luckyoldson said...

fen said:
"The censorship by ommission was re the soldier that you quoted. Its not unlikely your reporter cut off rest so that it would fit his narrative. Thats my direct experience with reporters."

oh, okay...operating under your delusional premise, we have to assume that the "reporter cut off rest so that it would fit his narrative???"
(duh)

and of course, as long as what you say is related to YOUR vast experience being interviewed...why would we possibly believe a professional writer is telling the truth when quoting our own military? (duh...again)

and by the way, moron...it wasn't ME quoting the soldier in the first place...it was the reporter who wrote the article. i merely posted an excerpt..FROM the article. (duh II)

and i suppose you don't think gonzo wasn't "lying" when he said he had nothing to do with he firings, nor even any descussions regarding any of the firings? (duh III)

as for bush it would be difficult to even begin to list the lies he's told america...but history will do a job on him.

Luckyoldson said...

simon,
your posting is so infantile i won't even bother responding.

send it to sean or rush for editing purposes.

Luckyoldson said...

Fen said..."Gonzo and Bush are not reporters."

Freder: "So that makes it okay for them to lie?"

Fen: "Of course not. But what "lie" are you talking about? Or are you just bearing false witness again?"

Fen, You can't possibly be this dense...then again.

Fen said...

Lucky: as for bush it would be difficult to even begin to list the lies he's told america

In other words, you can't list the "lies".

And your response to Simon? Projection and irony. Some days I wonder if you mean to be parody of the Left.

Fen said...

Fen, You can't possibly be this dense...then again.

Again, when pushed into a corner, all you have to offer is insults. What lies by Bush, Lucky? List them.

downtownlad said...

I see Freder is at his debating best, again. Also, he misses dtl's sarcasm (or is it irony?), so I'm not surprised.

Who said I was being sarcastic? I am a big believer in equality, and I don't think the rich should pay any more in taxes than the poor. The 16th amendment should be repealed.

And please don't accuse me of caring more about the poor than the rich. I believe in individual responsibility. If everyone took care of themselves, it would encourage hard work and productivity, and the world would be a much better place.

Right now - our tax structure encourages people to be lazy.

Luckyoldson said...

Fen,
Find a new playmate...

You're a one-trick-pony, too fucking dumb...and I don't like the way you try to twist what our own soldiers are saying becasue it doesn't fit your party line.

Again...this is why the Republicans lost the last elections: ineptitude and corruption.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

Lucky: You're a one-trick-pony, too fucking dumb

All I'm asking is that you back up your assertion with proof. You claim Bush has told numerous lies, yet you refuse [for the 3rd time] to list any of them. Why do you keep running away and hiding behind ad hom?

Find a new playmate...

I don't play with my food. I'm writing a paper on BDS. You're one of the stars.

Luckyoldson said...

if anyone is interested, here's the site for fen's BDS work.

interesting, especially considering the site provides direct links to bush's lies.

rather ironic.

http://ballroom.com/index.htm

EnigmatiCore said...

It is almost as if the most ardent lefties are bound and determined to make people on the fence vote Republican.

If I were a conspiratorial sort, I would think they must be Republicans.

But then, if I were a conspiratorial sort, I would probably sound a lot like them.

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

Lucky, your links to the Downing Street Memo don't prove Bush lied. All they prove is that the anti-war crowd has to distort evidence to support their cause. Here:

But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.

British definitions of "fix". The sentence means the intel/facts were arranged around the policy. But your side had to scroll down to the 7th form to find a definition that distorts the context:

- fix (REPAIR)
- fix (FASTEN)
- fix (ARRANGE)
- fix (PREPARE FOOD)
- fix (KEEP)
- fix (AWKWARD SITUATION)
- fix (CHEAT)
- fix (PUNISH)
- fix (DRUG)
- fix (POSITION)
- fix (PRESERVE COLOURS)
- fix (SIGHT)
- fix (STOP REPRODUCTION)
- quick fix
- fix sth up (ARRANGE)
- fix sth up (REPAIR)
- fix sb up (PROVIDE)
- fix sb up (PERSON)
- If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Its silly. Diagram the following sentences:

But the intelligence and facts were being arranged around the policy.

But the intelligence and facts were being cheated around the policy.

Which one makes sense? At worst, all you have is a Brit's opinion that Bush cherry-picked intel/facts to support his policy. That does not prove Bush lied, and its dishonest of you to pretend otherwise. You'll have to do better than that. Surely, since the evidence is so obvious and so numerous, you should be able to provide one example thats beyond dispute.

Luckyoldson said...

EnigmatiCore,
WOW...and they say Republicans aren't creative!!

How long did it take you to put that together?

Cedarford said...

Fen - The article is about Caplan and others losing faith in voters. Alot of Lefties claim to favor direct democracy, so I'm just wondering if civilization has already been down this road.

Pretty much true that direct democracies have failed miserably.

Your remarks about the 10 percenters are true as well. The Left is always trotting out some stooge Vet from the 10% faction and claiming they represent all service members. Just as they "support the troops" as they eagerly wait for the daily death toll in a minor war, hope it's a good, juicy day of carnage - so they can again pontificate on how "unbearable it is".

It is obvious in the past that any society seized by parasites, be they local, provincial, or nation-empire wide, usually precipitates a collapse of that society.

We see the "fruits" of direct democracy now - Chavezism, the ending of the latest wave of 2-3 year lifetime democracies in Africa that failed utterly, the failure of democracy in Russia, Ukraine, Palestine, Iraq, Pakistan.

In America, we see the outcome of cities run by the parastic classes failing in just about every measure of social services quality and progress. The worst were Washington DC, which Congress determines sporadically is unfit to run themselves, let alone be the State with 2 Senators the demand and New Orleans. (Which collapsed into a poorly maintained city eventually made a cesspit by a hurricane and local voter's neglect. And the nation watched as the parasites were helpless to help themselves, reverted to savagery, and now on returning, despite all the US taxpayer aid, have once again pushed NOLA to crime levels not seen in America or even globally outside certain 3rd World megopolises.)

It is not out of bounds to wonder if democracy in America has failed, or will fail soon. As things stand, America is declining in many critical societal measures, a massive failure of our goverment, economy, or social system to work may lead people to conclude a 2nd Revolution is needed to fix the US Constitution, reorder our systems and laws, and remove the parasites right to vote.

Freder Frederson said...

or social system to work may lead people to conclude a 2nd Revolution is needed to fix the US Constitution, reorder our systems and laws, and remove the parasites right to vote.

Don't you mean just repeal the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments and the emancipation proclamation?

And you don't know what the hell you are talking about with New Orleans.

Fen said...

And you don't know what the hell you are talking about with New Orleans.

Sure he does. New Orleans prided itself re its corruption. Party town. The Big Easy. Blanco was derelict, ignoring after action reports from Hurricane Andrew that predicted exactly what happened when Katrina hit. She even ignored her own evac plan, and rebuffed Bush's plea to let the feds in to help. Nagin was a spectacle, cussing about the lack of transportation for evacs, as photos surfaced of hundreds of school buses abandoned in flooded lots. The population of New Orleans devolved into a 3rd world country within bours, police abandoning their posts or shoplifting flatscreen tvs, city leaders blaming everyone but themselves. And now the same ol graft and corruption is siphoning off the reconstruction funds. And we're rebuilding that warren of thieves in a flood plain. Just brilliant.

Fen said...

Lucky: How long did it take you to put that together?

..still waiting on your proof that Bush lied. Or have you given up already? Or just hiding? Odd. I thought the evidence was so obvious and too numerous to list...

Christy said...

Once upon a time, I had a choice for U.S. Congressman between a guy who stood out on a street corner preaching the gospel and a man with 5 illegitimate children. "None of the above" wasn't a choice, but knowing who would win, I chose to make his mandate one less. I made an informed choice, my best choice, but not a good choice. Still, I knew what I was doing.

Luckyoldson said...

Christy,
Like really deep.

Fen said...

No, Christy makes a valid point. Caplan and Althaus would take away her free will, prevent her from casting a protest vote motivated by spite.

Gahrie said...

I wold like to thank Luckyoldson for validating every point of my original post on this thread.

Luckyoldson said...

Gahrie said..."I wold like to thank Luckyoldson for validating every point of my original post on this thread."

Well, thank you little dude or dudette! I love it when I hear people are following my postings so closely.

And I especially like it when you say "voters don't know what they are doing" and that they're "largely ignorant and selfish" and that "any restriction on the right to vote is impractical" and of course one of your best...that "there have been movements to extend the franchise to minors!!"

It makes my head spin just thinking about it; women, blacks...and now even those unworthy minors with the right to vote!! (The same minors fighting in Iraq?)

Good God...what is this world coming to??

Please, oh wise one...help us understand.

Gahrie said...

1) I have said nothing about removing the right to vote from women or blacks.

2) Your insistence on libeling me with that canard is exactly my point in regards to discussing retricting the fraqnchise in any way.

3) There are no minors in the American army. Plus, one of the methods that I would propose to earn the right to vote is by serving in the military.

4) There are organizations that seriously argue that the franchise should be extended to those as young as 14.

5)As to my characterization of voters as ignorant and selfish, I am willing to bet that if you gave a civics test to every voter, less than half of them would pass. And the public's persistence in voting for representatives that continue pork barrel spending and an ever increasing number and amount of entitlements is simply undeniable.

Cyrus Pinkerton said...

Christy wrote:

None of the above" wasn't a choice


None of the above is always a choice-- simply refrain from voting for any of the listed candidates.

Paco Wové said...

I must say, Mr. Luckyetc. is providing a perfect example of the ancient Internet proverb, "One can never win an argument with a stupid man."

Freder Frederson said...

And now the same ol graft and corruption is siphoning off the reconstruction funds

Do you have the least shred of evidence that this is occurring? So far, the only graft and corruption that has been evident has been in Federal, not state or local, contracts.

still waiting on your proof that Bush lied. Or have you given up already?

How about that anyone found to be involved with the Plame leak would be gone?

He constantly says "we don't torture", yet refuses to offer his definition of torture. Regardless, even the military admits that some detainees in their custody have been tortured to death. Also, just because you don't torture someone during interrogation doesn't mean you didn't break the law.

He lied about the wiretapping program, saying a warrant was always obtained when he knew that was untrue.

He lied about the mobile biological weapons trailers after our government's own experts determined they were nothing of the sort.

He either lied or was grossly and incompetently ignorant (I'll let you decide which is worse) when he said "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees".

Freder Frederson said...

She even ignored her own evac plan, and rebuffed Bush's plea to let the feds in to help.

This is a bald-faced lie. The evacuation for Katrina was probably the most successful ever carried out in the state of Louisiana. In the low lying areas south of New Orleans, compliance with the evacuation order, which started on Friday, was almost 100%. True, Nagin should have ordered a mandatory evacuation on Saturday, instead of Sunday. But anyone who watched the announcement of the voluntary evacuation order on Saturday morning (with Blanco by his side) would have noticed the seriousness of their statement and the almost palpable fear they displayed. And contrary to what Bush would say after the fact, all the tv and radio stations were warning about the levees breaching. Jefferson Parish (the suburban parish just to the west of New Orleans) never issued a mandatory order. By the time of the storm, more than ninety percent of the population had left the city.

As for the governor rebuffing federal help, what utter bullshit. The feds were completely disorganized. Bush declared a disaster area Saturday morning before the storm (a very unusual mood) and went back to clearing brush. That is when FEMA should have swung into action and started preparing, but apparently they did nothing.

EnigmatiCore said...

"How long did it take you to put that together?"

I suspected from other posts you made on this thread that you were a moron. This one confirms it.

Hint-- I am not registered as a Republican, and the "creative" thing was "put together" by some other poster. I know reading is difficult, but it is fundamental. You might want to take some classes.

Bruce Hayden said...

Yet another libertarian working at a public university. What is it with these guys? Isn't it the height of hypocrisy for them to earn their living from tax dollars? Shouldn't they be out proving the superiority of the free market instead of collecting a government paycheck and telling everybody how awful the government it is and how much better the free market is?

Oh, this would seem to imply that Freder believes that the liberals who are in favor of increased government spending and redistribution should get all the government money being spend on higher education, instead of almost all of it.

AJ Lynch said...

Christy:

I believe Christy is saying she would like her vote counted and assigned to "none of the above". If she simply refrained from voting, her disdain for the choices on the ballot is not recorded.

I agree with her - we should have a "none of the above". It would increase voter turnout immensely and accelerate the turnover rate for incumbents.

I don't understand why anyone would oppose letting Americans choose "none of the above". Don't forget- for every seat lost by a Tom Daschle, you'd probably see a Tom Delay lose also.

I would also end voter's ability to vote the "party lever". No more just pulling a lever to vote the staright party ticket. Force voters to cast a ballot for each candidate if the voter wants to.

This will help to disembowel the two major parties and that would be a good thing.

EnigmatiCore said...

"I agree with her - we should have a "none of the above". It would increase voter turnout immensely and accelerate the turnover rate for incumbents."

I find it hard to believe it would increase voter turnout immensely.

And the idea that it would accelerate the turnover rate for incumbents is plain bizarre. The only way to increase the turnover rate for incumbents that has anything to do with the ballot box is for people to vote for the opponent. Voting 'none of the above' does not do the trick.

Mike said...

Since worse-educated citizens are less likely to vote, Caplan dislikes efforts to increase voter turnout.

Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes! Apparently, a large percentage of the voting pool are disinterested, and thus ill-informed. There's no way that we can actively test for fitness to vote; the potential for abuse of any such system is too high. However, we have a passive system in place now. Self-selection by the apathetic themselves. If someone is too lazy or disinterested to take the few simple steps required to vote, especially in this day and age when anyone can vote absentee for any reason, we don't want them voting.

Luckyoldson said...

Gahrie,
On closer examination...

YOU say:
1) I have said nothing about removing the right to vote from women or blacks.

*No, but you seem a bit upset about it being expanded to those who aren't "successful" white men in the first place...as in: Sadly, given our history, any restriction on the right to vote is impractical." Exactly what part of this is it you're SAD about?

2) Your insistence on libeling me with that canard is exactly my point in regards to discussing retricting the fraqnchise in any way.

*Hey, you're the one who thinks everybody but those YOU deem worthy are "ignorant and selfish."
And what do you mean by that? What constitutes being "ignorant and selfish" to YOU? Voting Democrat perhaps?

3) There are no minors in the American army. Plus, one of the methods that I would propose to earn the right to vote is by serving in the military.

*If you think not...you must not be familiar with: *federal law 10 U.S.C., 510, the minimum age for enlistment in the United States Military is 17 - with parental consent. (How could you be so "ignorant" of this federal law?)

4) There are organizations that seriously argue that the franchise should be extended to those as young as 14.

*Why not? Bush sounds like a 14 year old and he's the KING.)

5)As to my characterization of voters as ignorant and selfish, I am willing to bet that if you gave a civics test to every voter, less than half of them would pass. And the public's persistence in voting for representatives that continue pork barrel spending and an ever increasing number and amount of entitlements is simply undeniable.

*You could also test Americans on geography, science - new Creation Museum? - math, etc. and they might not fare well either...but...our right to vote isn't just for really, really smart white men like yourself. It's for ALL eligible Americans...period. (As for pork barrel spending, the Republicans have been in power for 12 years and look at how "restrained" they are...and we ALL know you're a Republican...right?)

P.S. PACO: Empújelo encima de su asno.

Jacques Albert said...

Interesting tennis match above on voting and democracy and plural voting. A mon avis, English literacy tests should be mandatory to qualify for voting in this country.

Luckyoldson said...

EnigmatiCore said...(or didn't say...who knows?)
It is almost as if the most ardent lefties are bound and determined to make people on the fence vote Republican.

If I were a conspiratorial sort, I would think they must be Republicans.

But then, if I were a conspiratorial sort, I would probably sound a lot like them.

*And if YOU didn't "compose" this, there's a really, really easy way for people to know. Maybe you could consider using "quotation" marks or "referencing" who did? (Duh)

And whether you're actually a "registered" Republican or not... which means squat, since it's the VOTE that matters...based on the posting...it sure looks like you are. (Even if you don't have the guts to admit it.)

Luckyoldson said...

Jacques Albert said..."Interesting tennis match above on voting and democracy and plural voting. A mon avis, English literacy tests should be mandatory to qualify for voting in this country."

I appreciate your "opinion" on this Jacgues, but are you aware of the fact that most of the far right wing would also like to gig the French?

Gahrie said...

1) No, but you seem a bit upset about it being expanded to those who aren't "successful" white men in the first place...as in: Sadly, given our history, any restriction on the right to vote is impractical." Exactly what part of this is it you're SAD about?

No..I'm upset about the franchise being expanded universally. I do think the franchise should be restricted....but I have made no cooments that would suggest t it should be restricted by race or gender. I am extremely "sad" that our republic is gradually being turned into a democracy. I guess I would begin by denying the francise to anyone receiving a government subsidy. (note I would include owners and boards of businesses that did also)

2)Hey, you're the one who thinks everybody but those YOU deem worthy are "ignorant and selfish."
And what do you mean by that? What constitutes being "ignorant and selfish" to YOU? Voting Democrat perhaps?


I have never said I should be the judge of who gets the right to vote. I have said that there should be a public discussion, but sadly people like you prevent this discussion from happening, as you are busy attempting to do here. By the way, there are as many ignorant and selfish Republicans as there are Democrats.

3)If you think not...you must not be familiar with: *federal law 10 U.S.C., 510, the minimum age for enlistment in the United States Military is 17 - with parental consent. (How could you be so "ignorant" of this federal law?)

You got me. There are a miniscule number of minors in the military. But guess what...they can't drink or smoke either. Anyway, I would repeal the 26th Amendment. However, I was saving that for the actual discussion on the issue, not the discussion about the discussion.

4)Why not? Bush sounds like a 14 year old and he's the KING.)


Nice obligatory example of BDS. I'm beginning to think you might be off of your meds.

5)but...our right to vote isn't just for really, really smart white men like yourself. It's for ALL eligible Americans...period.

Correct. However the discussion that I and others wish to have, and that you insist on diverting and shouting down, is about who should be eligible.

Luckyoldson said...

Should these people be allowed to VOTE:

The Creation Museum, a $27-million tourist attraction for those who don’t care for modern science, will open its doors this morning near Cincinnati.

Luckyoldson said...

Gahrie said...

No..I'm upset about the franchise being expanded universally. I do think the franchise should be restricted...

*Really? And the first people you would "restrict" would be those getting a "government subsidy??"
Would that include single mothers, the unemployed, retired vets, those on Social Security, etc.

I have never said I should be the judge of who gets the right to vote. I have said that there should be a public discussion, but sadly people like you prevent this discussion from happening, as you are busy attempting to do here. By the way, there are as many ignorant and selfish Republicans as there are Democrats.

*Please tell me where I have, in any way, shape or form..."prevent this discussion from happening?"
As far as I'm concerned, when you're old enough and eligible (pursuant to pertaining laws)...YOU CAN VOTE.

You got me. There are a miniscule number of minors in the military. But guess what...they can't drink or smoke either. Anyway, I would repeal the 26th Amendment. However, I was saving that for the actual discussion on the issue, not the discussion about the discussion.

*Actually some of them CAN drink:
Under a new rule change made by the Marine Corps, service members as young as 18 are allowed to drink alcohol on Camp Pendleton and other Marine bases on special occasions.

Nice obligatory example of BDS. I'm beginning to think you might be off of your meds.

*Have you ever heard him try to answer a question? Even the birds are shitting on the man.

Correct. However the discussion that I and others wish to have, and that you insist on diverting and shouting down, is about who should be eligible.

*And again, ask you a straight forward question: Exactly WHO do YOU think deserves that right? (And please, the "government subsidy" routine is ludicrous...and you know it.)

EnigmatiCore said...

Luckyoldson,

You might want to take your own advice, then, and quote the things to which you are referring if you want anyone to have any idea of what you are speaking.

Then again, considering how moronic the points you make are, perhaps it is better for you if they don't.

As for how I vote, I think it is safe for everyone to assume that my vote is significantly less predictable than yours, just as my opinions are significantly less predictable than yours.

Less pedantic, as well.

Luckyoldson said...

enigma,
"Then again, considering how moronic the points you make are, perhaps it is better for you if they don't."

At lease I own up to what I say.

Posting other's comments without attribution is gutless.

And please...no more of the "I'm not really a Republican"...it's bullshit and you know it.

EnigmatiCore said...

"Posting other's comments without attribution is gutless."

Hey everyone! See the above? I did not attribute it to the moron who made it. How gutless of me!

Luckyoldson said...

Enema,
Like I said before, you're gutless.

reader_iam said...

With regard to the desire to express disdain for the slate of candidates on offer for a particular office:

A universal write-in option would do the same thing and have the added benefit of enabling (strongly encouraging, for the serious) voters to record the sort of candidate whom he or should would like to see.

Write-ins permit individual rejection of all parties' choices while, in order to exercise that choice, requiring the offering of an alternative.

And the downside of that would be ... ???

reader_iam said...

Yeah, I realize that, in addition to the laws of individual states, there would be associated technical issues with electronic voting machines. But the latter are being/need to be looked at anyway, and technology tends naturally toward evolution, unless some sort of opposing force(s) has/have a vested interest in blocking that.

Jacques Albert said...

Not sure why my opinion should be manacled in scare quotes by "Luckyoldson". Now when he writes, "At lease" [sic] for "At least"--yes, THAT should be in "scare quotes".

On your other point, "LOS": don't think there's a "far right" that's politically significant in the States. Second: don't think that the new elected French president, Sarkozy, is a public foe of the US, so that may help mend relations. Third: there IS a real right in France (Le Pen, Megret and Philippe de Villiers, par example)--about 20% of the French voters, but they have no representation in the French parliament. My hope is that this will change. Fourth: the left doesn't give a whit about "democracy"--when they lose elections, they just take to the streets and try to blackmail the gov't by paralysing the country.

Vive la Bastille, et votez monarchiste, Francais!

Lonetown said...

Our universities are choked with "progressive" hacks.

The media cannot even research its own writing when preparing a report.

The bias in both is overwhelming.

Perhaps anyone who is biased should be banned from voting...

by force..

with their lives...

If the leftwing could elect a "Chavez", they would.

If they could shut down talk radio, they would.

If they could shut down Fox news, they would (actually they did in NYC for quite a while).

The idea that any of these jerks understand economics is folly.

Seneca the Younger said...

Let's start with - "When collecting a tax, every citizen shall pay the tax equally."

Actually, that one was in the Constitution. See the Sixteenth Amendment.

Dewave said...

The evacuation for Katrina was probably the most successful ever carried out in the state of Louisiana.

Oh I know. And the FEMA response to Katrina was probably one of the most successful ever carried out in the entire nation.

Top marks all round! Great job everyone!

Christy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christy said...

For the record, some version of "none of the above" is used in The Ukraine and Spain. Russia did away with it in 2006 and Putin immediately started assasinating his enemies. Coincidence? (Joke!)

Paul Bogle said...

OK, two things:

First, Althaus is no raving liberal, nor is his work (which I've read) "affected by his own biases" (he uses third-party polling data for nearly all of it).

The abstract of his 1998 American Political Science Review article, for example, says:

"Contrary to much of the literature on collective opinion, I find that the low levels and uneven social distribution of political knowledge in the mass public often cause opinion surveys to misrepresent the mix of voices in a society. To assess the bias introduced by information effects, I compare "fully informed" collective preferences simulated from actual survey data to collective preferences revealed in the original data. Analysis of policy questions from the 1988 and 1992 American National Election Studies shows that group differences in knowledge, along with the public's modest average level of political knowledge, can cause significant distortions in measures of collective opinion. The mass public may appear more progressive on some issues and more conservative on others than would be the case if all citizens were equally well informed. To the extent that opinion polls influence democratic politics, this suggests that information effects can impair the responsiveness of governments to their citizens."

The directions of these findings is consistent with many, many studies in political science and communications research (as he notes in the article).

Althaus is a social scientist. Implying that his findings are shaped by his political preferences is basically calling him a liar, and a fabricator of evidence. That's the sort of thing that gets even tenured folks fired (e.g., Jan Schon, Michael Bellesiles, etc.). So, if you're going to do acccuse him of that, you'd better have some evidence.

Second:

According to (Althaus') studies, such a public would be more progressive on social issues like abortion and gay rights, more ideologically conservative in preferring markets to government intervention and less isolationist but more dovish in foreign policy....

...But unlike Althaus, Caplan thinks voters are incompetent because they aren't libertarian enough.

Except for the isolationism part, it seems to me that that's exactly what Althaus is saying.

Fen said...

Paul: Implying that his findings are shaped by his political preferences is basically calling him a liar, and a fabricator of evidence. That's the sort of thing that gets even tenured folks fired (e.g., Jan Schon, Michael Bellesiles, etc.). So, if you're going to do acccuse him of that, you'd better have some evidence

Hold on sec - are you saying that I should be fired for forming an opinion that Althaus's work is biased by his politics?

Lemme guess, you see yourself as one of those who will judge which voters are "enlightened" enough to cast a ballot.

Sidebet: you supported Clinton, Gore and Kerry in the last set of presidential elections.

Fen said...

Also, who are Althaus's approved information brokers?

CNN was recently forced to admit they kept info of Saddam's torture chambers and rape rooms from the public. Are voters who get their info from CNN disqualified? How can they make a rational decision without all the available facts?

What about CBS? Are they approved? They deliberately used forged docs to affect the outcome of presidential election. Are voters who get their info from CBS also disqualified?

What about the 35% of Democrats who believe Bush knew about 9-11 and let it happen? What about the the 26% who aren't sure?

And, assuming you favor direct democracy, what are you views on the economic advantages/disadvantages re HB 1011? How will you vote? What about HB 1054 and HB 1099?

Paul Bogle said...

fen said:

Hold on sec - are you saying that I should be fired for forming an opinion that Althaus's work is biased by his politics?

No. The comment was directed mainly to Ann (the first one to suggest that Althaus' work was shaped by his politics). My point was that such an accusation has some very serious potential ramifications (for Althaus), and so shouldn't be made lightly.

Lemme guess, you see yourself as one of those who will judge which voters are "enlightened" enough to cast a ballot.

Nope. I'm one of those nuts who believes in universal over-18 suffrage for U.S. citizens. (Even those who comment on blogs).

Also, who are Althaus's approved information brokers?

I'm not sure how to respond to this. Althaus' studies are based on data from the American National Election Studies (ANES), which are just about the best thing going for social-scientific election-year surveys. The ANES is used in hundreds, if not thousands, of academic studies of citizen-level political behavior in the U.S.

That's not to say that voters need to get their information from the ANES to be "informed," or even that he (or I) cares whether voters are "informed" (or "rational") or not. His point was only that informational differences in the population can lead to surveys that don't accurately reflect aggregate preferences.

Conservaspic said...

Very good article - going to be fun getting the synopsis to this one down in Spanish ;)

Kevin Jefferies said...

Does anyone else out there find it ironic that a handful of the comments above seem to confirm Althaus' thesis or is it just me?

More than a few seem anxious to fit the little they know about what he has to say with a preconceived idea of what academics/libertarians/red-blue staters are about than to look at it objectively. Or perhaps I should say "rationally."

I haven't read the book so don't want to be a hypocrite, but having suffered through a political science doctoral program that pushed voter behavior studies I'm familiar with the depth of this line of inquiry (going back at least to The American Voter in 1960) and the controversy associated with whether voters are rational and how one best makes that determination. It is a serious debate that deserves better than the superficial name calling it's receiving from too many on this page.

Althaus touches a crucial point, and one that I think I know something about since I've opted for a teaching career in a local community college down here in Ron Paul territory. My job is to ensure that my students learn how to think rationally about politics, but the bulk of them come to me with absolutely no understanding of the basic terms we use to discuss politics. They cannot define "democracy" or "civil liberties" or tell me what distinguishes a liberal from a conservative. How can one think rationally when one can't use words in a rational manner? These are students who had to take one or two semesters of government in high school. I have no idea what they do in those classes.

If you want to know why voters are irrational, there's a place to start your inquiry. Me? I've thrown away the idea that I should teach critical thinking skills. I fill in gaps that should have been filled already and hope for the best.

I understand Ann's concern that Althaus is evaluating decision making in a manner that seems tinged with ideology. He raises a (probably "the") crucial point in a self-governing democracy though. Are we up to the task? I'd add the following questions: Can we reason? Can we communicate? Do we use a common language? When I use a word do you undertand it to mean what I do? If not, reason and rationality fly out the window. I'd like to see studies of rationality focus on these simple questions. Do we know what the words we use actually mean? It would likely be free of ideology.

I'm interested in feedback from those of you who teach. I may be too hard on my students, but maybe not. Ultimately the solution rests with us.