November 9, 2012

"Why are people so much smarter at making personal decisions than deciding how to vote?"

Jaltcoh points to Bryan Caplan's discussion of self-correction, which keeps us from dumb decisionmaking in our personal affairs, but:
In politics, self-correction doesn't save the self-corrector a dime.  Voters who self-correct live under the exactly same policies as voters who don't self-correct.  The result is a dire shortage of self-correction - and reliably ridiculous policies no matter who wins.


EMD said...

I can't say much, as I'm a very smart voter. ; )

EMD said...

Also, people are pretty dumb about making personal decisions, too.

Bob Ellison said...

Jaltcoh writes smart stuff, too smart for the Interwebs. Needs more cowbell.

Smilin' Jack said...

"Why are people so much smarter at making personal decisions than deciding how to vote?"

Most people who are smart at making personal decisions make the smart personal decision not to bother voting.

Matthew Sablan said...

The lack of self-correction does cost; it just isn't immediate enough to matter.

Tom said...

I think this is pretty easy. People see a less direct affect on themselves when voting, so they can afford to 'seem to be really smart' and vote for candidates that others they consider to be leaders look up to. That way they can appear to be cool and smart too.

When making their own personal decisions, they can't afford ($) to be so careless. (OF course as others have said, a lot of people aren't very good at that either).

TosaGuy said...

Voting is a popularity contest, a competition and celebrity watching for most, and one where certain people get prizes if they vote the right way. For most it is not an engagement of ideas and philosophy.

Bob said...

I don't by his premise as I see lots of stupid personal decisions. Made a few too. And, as we say in your Federal government: "None of us are as stupid as all of us prove to be."

AReasonableMan said...

A clear example would be all the people who voted for George W. Bush in 2004, despite his self-evident incompetence. Obama's first win was entirely due to Bush and his second win largely due to memories of Bush.

If the pragmatist supporters of the Republican party had just cut the cord in 2004 more than likely there would now be a Republican in the white house, given how these cycles run.

edutcher said...

Who says people make smarter personal than electoral decisions?

The people who voted for Choom are the ones who drop out of school at 15 and are pregnant at 16.

AReasonableMan said...

A clear example would be all the people who voted for George W. Bush in 2004, despite his self-evident incompetence.

Yeah, Lurch was such an inspirational choice.

Not to mention old Choomie.

$6 T in new debt



Arab Spring

24% unemployed

New dip in "Recession" on the way.

Fiscal cliff


Oh, yeah, Competence, Inc.

Robert Zaleski said...

How many people get into thousands of dollars of credit card debt? Or get degrees they can't use? Or overspend on crap they don't really need?

No, I think people make just as dumb personal decisions. Hence the populous voting for 4 more years of the same, or worse.

TosaGuy said...

Clinton was more likable than Bush and Dole. GWB was more likeable than Gore and Kerry. Obama was more likeable than McCain and Romney.

Change some matchups and interesting things may have happened......people probably would have found Romney more likeable than Kerry.

Who are the likeable people in each party capable of running for president in 2016? Can Dems find a guy that is likeable to their current coalition?

wyo sis said...

All this talk about how stupid it was to vote for W. At least once in a while it's a good idea to mention who he was running against.

Remember ManBearPig? He would have been a much smarter choice right?

bagoh20 said...

Very simple: it's other people's money.

I had this burned into my appreciation, when I first served on jury duty. A illegal alien with no insurance rear ended a woman in a parking lot as she was pulling out of her parking spot. He sued her for damages to his car. In the jury we all agreed it was his fault, but a majority still wanted her insurance to pay him. "The insurance company has plenty of money. Let's give him some."

I never forgot that. He ended up getting $3,000 for an accident he caused.

rcocean said...

I think Caplan is lame. Like many economists, he's trying to advance an ideology under the guise of being an objective, scientificy "expert".

EMD said...

Also, outside of Iraq, in 2004 we had:

5.5% unemployment

The DJIA had climbed throughout the year back to 10,500.

Annual deficit of approx. $413B up 10% from the previous year.

U.S. Total Debt of approx. $7.5T

GDP growth of 4.4%

Incompetence wasn't even on the map with Bush. In fact, after 9/11 and the resulting recession, he was actually being rewarded for returning the economy to a more stable place.

You're confusing your 20/20 hindsight of 2008 and beyond with the facts on the ground in 2004.

Damon said...

False premise - people do not necessarily make smart personal decisions. Many people make bad decision after bad decision especially in their personal life.

Peter said...

Practically everyone makes smart decisions when the feedback is immediate. When it's delayed, not so much.

Which explains both personal indifference to future fiscal disaster from credit-card debt, and voters indifference to unsustainable federal spending.

Sam L. said...

They see better what will immediately affect them, than what will eventually affect them, and what effects the affects on others will have on them.

Amartel said...

People are a bit smarter about personal decisions than political decisions because they don't think political decisions will cost them anything. Political decisions are seen, by many, as an abstract symbolic expression, like the type of car you drive or the clothes you wear, as free branding. Politics is a dispute between the government and __________ (fill in the blank with the ideological enemy-of-the-state of your choice.)

Example: Dateline, My Office, California, 11/9/12. Support staff person who is starting a business on the side selling luxury goods out of her house is stunned and amazed to learn that taxes of all sorts are going up in 2013, federal, state, local, sales. Was under the impression that only "the rich" were going to pay more taxes. Is pointed out that "the rich" are her potential customers, and that this information about tax increases is not exactly secret or anything. Reality is still sinking in.

n.n said...

Dissociation of risk. The mechanisms which constrain development of dysfunctional behaviors have been sabotaged and bypassed. The feedback necessary to properly manage and mitigate risk is missing. This is the reason for progressive corruption of individuals, from the poorest to richest, and society generally.

DADvocate said...

Personal decsions have a clear and easily definable personal impact. For many folks foreseeing the outcomes of political decisions is nie near impossible, or doesn't matter. If you're chronically on the public dole, probably all you care about is getting as much as you can from the public dole. You don't make any greater connections than that.

You don't see how a parasitic existence eventually harms or kills the host, thus endangering your meager standard of living, or whatever. You just want as much as you can get as easily as you can get it. And, many politicians are happy to oblige you in exchage for your vote. They don't care about the long range consequences either, just getting into office and being a big wheel. Some politicians are to so happy when this happens, they cry.

Broomhandle said...

I've noticed this too. Rabidly, delusional liberals who are very careful with their money, would never dream of having an abortion themselves,shepherd their daughters to date/marry within the white middle-class, and just generally live the most Cleaver-esque (Ward, not Eldredge)lives imaginable. NIMBY hypocrites.

Coketown said...

Maybe politics is merely an economic model in which resources are infinite?

For fifty years, we've been deluded into thinking we can have low taxes AND robust government spending. As much spending as we want, in fact! Nobody is ever told no.

No economic model functions this way. They all presume resources of finite. Politics shows what decisions people will make when opportunity cost doesn't exist.

It'll be interesting to see what our collective decisions look like when we actually have to make a hard choice. Like Greece, maybe?

Ronald Ward said...

It looks as though over half the nation feels they made a wiser decision in voting than the lessor amount did. You’re really starting to sound more like Ann Coulter every day.