Gotcha Jerks Part II

If you have not read Gotcha Jerks, then please do first. I recently ran across The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb which goes further. Here is my favorite quote from it.

Sharing links that mock a caricature of the Other Side isn’t signaling that we’re somehow more informed. It signals that we’d rather be smug assholes than consider alternative views. It signals that we’d much rather show our friends that we’re like them, than try to understand those who are not.

It makes a great point that part of what makes discussion politics on social media problematic is the false-consensus bias where we assume people we like should always think the same way we do because they are awesome like we are. Liking the posts of Facebook friends who state things with which we agree or defriending / unfollowing people who disagree, leads to the algorithms creating an environment for ourselves where the information coming to us drives the FCB into overdrive. If we are only seeing the stuff where we agree, then we are blind to other positions out there. Going even a leap further to knocking down Straw Men certainly alienates the Other Side. They will defriend / unfollow us which leads to the same result.

I reluctantly have culled people over their behavior during the election season. I also did not expect things to get better November 9th. In my mind, this animosity has been ever increasing since 1998, so I saw no reason for it to end. Both candidates held unfavorable numbers by majorities of likely voters, so  whoever won would cause butthurt.

Family Feud is a game show where people try to guess the common answers to a poll question. If people had no FCB, then the game would be completely pointless. People would provide fairly accurate responses leading to people only uncommonly getting answers wrong. Instead, from what I have seen of the show, it seems hard for contestants in general.

Advice from The “Other Side” Is Not Dumb to consider:

A dare for the next time you’re in discussion with someone you disagree with: Don’t try to “win.” Don’t try to “convince” anyone of your viewpoint. Don’t score points by mocking them to your peers. Instead try to “lose.” Hear them out. Ask them to convince you and mean it. No one is going to tell your environmentalist friends that you merely asked follow up questions after your brother made his pro-fracking case.

Not long ago, it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling for a very conservative coworker to call me the only liberal he knows that he can discuss things. We disagree, but we respect each other enough to discuss things. I am not hurt by our disagreements. And as much as he tries to act radical, I suspect a lot of it is poker bluff acting.

Further reading:

Quasi-Mandatory Voting

Yesterday, in Mandatory Voting I wrote:

In the end, I think finding ways to lower the costs of voting is the best approach. A low participation rate suggests there are problems. Solving those problems would be better than simply punishing people for not overcoming those costs.

Additionally I mentioned:

Certainly, I am in favor of things we can do to make it easier for people to vote like early voting, mail voting, or a national holiday.

Let’s expound on these ideas.

  1. Early voting:  Almost three quarters of states allow voters to cast an early ballot in-person. Some states open an office where people can go to vote in the days prior to the election. Some allow voters to acquire an absentee ballot without an excuse and cast it in the same trip to the office. Essentially it is an in-person absentee. I would love to see all states achieve this.
  2. Mail / absentee voting: Colorado, Washington state, and Oregon all hold elections only by mail. About 20 states require an excuse to vote absentee by mail. It would really helpful for their voters for those to follow the other 27 and allow voting absentee by mail without an excuse.
  3. National holiday / weekend: Tuesday is a bad day for voting for people who work M-F 8-5. My state law requires my employer to give me time off if my schedule does not give me an hour either before the polls open or close. I was in line just before 7am and did not get to cast my ballot until almost 8am. Some employees lack that luxury. Early voting provides some flexibility for people find a day when they can get off work to vote. I liked that my state offered a Saturday option and a county wanted to do a Sunday one. (That latter was deemed politically objectionable because churches might gives rides to polls and potentially influence voters.)
  4. Automatic voter registration: States have ID requirements to vote. My state helpfully asked when I updated my ID if I also want my voter registration updated. I really like the easiness of this. (Why I am not very sympathetic of the person in yesterday’s post who got caught with their registration at their old residence.) But, if the state automatically updated registrations so they match the IDs, then it would help voters and this person could have voted.
  5. Online registration: The flexibility to confirm and/or fix the registration outside of M-F 8-5 would help many voters.  Being able to log into a web site to view my registration status was extremely helpful for making sure I could vote. Not all states are there yet, though they should in the 21st century. My local library also helps people with navigating the site.
  6. Online voting: Given the hacking concerns of this recent election, I know this is a controversial stance.

Mandatory Voting

Given the closeness of the recent election, the inevitable complaint about how few people voted are swirling in the national conversation from the losing side. Part of the conversation is the winning party does not have a mandate. The more interesting claim is that if everyone had to vote, then Hillary could have won.

The rationale is that only about 60% of eligible voters did, if the other 40% of voters did so the outcome would have been different. Yeah, I think there is a possibility that if 80-90 million more people voted, then we could see something different. After all that pool of votes is more than either candidate received. Jason Brennan rejected the thought non-voters skew left months before the election:

There’s a widespread belief among Democrats that compulsory voting would deliver more states to Democrats. It turns out that’s not true. The people who vote and the people who don’t vote are roughly the same in terms of their partisan preferences.

Australia has compulsory voting and enforces it. They have about a 95% voting rate which is amazing compared to the 25-60% rate in the USA depending on the type of election. Interestingly enough, they justified the implementation because of only have a 59.38% turnout in their 1922 federal election. I do not know terribly much about Australia, but as a country they seem to doing pretty well. They also use preferential voting, which I think would be an interesting addition to the US voting systems. They also have a parliament, which is different than here, so it might not work the same here.

Given the importance of voting, there is teasing attractiveness to have it compulsory like registering for Selective Service, jury duty, and taxation. “No taxation without representation” does not work as well when representatives were approved by less than 25% of the registered voters.

Certainly plenty of people use the logic that the costs of voting outweigh the likelihood of their vote being the one that decides an election, something called the Paradox Of Voting. Certainly, I am in favor of things we can do to make it easier for people to vote like early voting, mail voting, or a national holiday. It also bothers me when governments implement additional security without taking care that the methods will not accidentally suppress the votes of certain populations.

My girlfriend’s boss’ spouse neglected to move the registration from over 4 hours away and did not realize until the poll workers informed the lack of it. Should a mistake like this result in a fine? It is not much different than forgetting to renew a driver’s license or car tag. I can see umbrage at fines like this causing mandatory voting problems like the resentment at the Affordable Care Act’s compulsory health insurance.

Personally, I think an informed voter is a good voter. Some people on both sides have complained about the voters on the other side being ignorant about reality. There are probably true examples about both sides. Shifting campaigns from playing cheerleader to motivate people to at least show up might mean they can spend more energy on policy and intent. Certainly, I wished more of the media coverage was on the policy and less on the cheer leading. Would voters pay more attention? Or would mandatory voting bring an influx of even lesser informed voters than the current slate?

Something I would also like to see (at least an experiment) is a “reject all” option for candidates paired with requiring a simple majority. Combined with almost all eligible voters participating, a candidate failing to achieve the simple majority would be instrumental. When I go to vote, I can choose not to vote for any candidates. It is not clear whether I made a skipped that ballot item by mistake or neglected to return back to it after voting on others. A specific rejection of the candidates would be interesting. What I heard so much of was that both major party candidates were really bad, but people wanted to prevent the other party from winning. And opposition to voting for a third party because of this. Preventing such candidates from winning by a “reject all” could be interesting.

And an “unclear; reword” to signal constitutional amendments or referendums are poorly designed. In my state people spend an extraordinary amount of time making sure that potential voters understand the language in the brief description on the ballot is misleading. A way to say “I am not going to vote for this because I do not understand it” would be nice. Amendments would have to get a simple majority with the unclear helping prompt voters they should not vote for things that are confusing.

Of course, there ought to be reasonable exceptions to mandatory voting. People whose religions forbid them to vote as an example. Probably there would be contentious objectors. I guess there should be some way to allow for picking who gets to sit out.

In the end, I think finding ways to lower the costs of voting is the best approach. A low participation rate suggests there are problems. Solving those problems would be better than simply punishing people for not overcoming those costs.

In the time of Hamilton

So, the social media sphere is abuzz over our President-elect tweeting about a member of the cast of the Hamilton play reading a statement to the VP-elect. The P-elect seemed upset about it all. The VP-elect seemed amused people are buzzing about a non-issue and people should expect the P-elect to be the kind of person they want him to be.

The whole thing got me thinking about how the Presidency and Vice Presidency worked at the time Hamilton was a politician. And perhaps a return to that is how to heal this country. The way it worked back in beginning was the Electoral College voted. The candidate with the most votes became President and the runner up became Vice President. Applied to the upcoming vote, Trump still becomes President but Clinton becomes Vice President. She would be the tie-breaker in the Senate. They would deal with each other running the country.

Of course, the conspiracy theorists about her would stroke out over worry Trump would meet the same fate as the hundreds of others who have crossed her. Okay, so maybe it would not actually heal this country.

RNC Convention Mishaps

Saw a probably clickbait title “Mishaps overshadow message at the Republican National Convention.” It got me thinking that this is probably another case of media attention hyperbole.

The media fixation story I recall was several years ago about child kidnappings. Every week it made national headlines about a child who disappeared or was taken by a parent. The amount of the occurrences had not significantly changed, but people were fooled into thinking that somehow there was an epidemic of kidnappings. Similarly, there was a summer where the media was all over every shark sighting, making it seem like there was a War On Humans by the shark community. Again, the numbers of attacks was about normal, it was just the attention that caused it to seem worse.

Right now, the fixation seems to be on the presidential election. Donald Trump especially draws the attention due to his “Don’t Care” attitude about everyone and everything. He makes a mistake which gets reported and then error corrects which also gets reported.

Which brings me back to the convention. Normally the convention gets some coverage. But, it feels like everyone is more invested in this one than normal. The Stop Trump campaign had a last ditch effort to block his nomination that was almost certainly going to fail, so I suspect some of the coverage was in hopes they might somehow make it more dramatic. But, all these news people have to justify the expense of sending them by coming up with… well… something. So mishaps that would be considered normal and maybe barely mentioned are all of a sudden “Yuuuuge!” It is okay, people. The Democratic National Convention will have its share of mishaps. I am sure the Don will make sure the media is aware of them so they get equal attention.

Collected Quotes 2016-06-30

Just some more collected quotes. See the quotes tag for more.

This one seems particularly applicable during this presidential election year.

“History is moving pretty quickly these days, and the heroes and villains keep on changing parts.”
― Ian Fleming

Miscellaneous others

Introverts are collectors of thoughts, and solitude is where the collection is curated and rearranged to make sense of the present and future.
Laurie Helgoe

Anyone who doesn’t make mistakes isn’t trying hard enough.
Wess Roberts

I am an old man and have known many troubles, but most of them never happened.
— Mark Twain

There would be no need for love if perfection were possible. Love arises from our imperfection, from our being different and always in need of the forgiveness, encouragement and that missing half of ourselves that we are searching for, as the Greek myth tells us, in order to complete ourselves.
Eugene Kennedy

It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.
Friedrich Nietzsche

One man’s constant is another man’s variable.
Alan J Perlis

Even a small star shines in the darkness.
— Danish Proverb

If you correct your mind, the rest of your life will fall into place.
— Lao Tzu

Simple things should be simple, complex things should be possible.
— Alan Kay

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice—but in practice there is.”
— Yogi Berra

When you find yourself in a hole, quit digging.
— Will Rogers


Myth of the Rational Voter 2016

In reading the 2016 update, I learned that apparently The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies was already on my wishlist / to-read list. The 2016 update was an interesting read and reveals I really do need to read this book this year. Reading The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation during the 2010 Midterm election was revealing. I wished I had read it in 2008.

This one stood out for me.

4. After bleakly assessing public opinion, The Myth of the Rational Voter argues that democracies normally deliver substantially better policies than the public wants.  The political system tends to quench the public’s anti-market and anti-foreign urges while substantially watering down the policy poison.  In 2016, one of the main dilution mechanisms has badly failed: Using social pressure to check and exclude hard-line demagogues.

One thing I have seen quite a bit of in the past few months is people asking those who disagree with them to unfriend them on Facebook. That is not just directed at one specific campaign but supporters of Clinton, Sanders, Rubio, Cruz, and Trump. Oddly enough, I don’t think I’ve seen it directed at Kaisch. (No, I’m not going to fix that by taking that stance.)


Loud and Proud

I realize I live in the great echo chamber. Most people I know live in the United States. Therefore, the political talk I hear is of the US. Because of friends in England, I hear some of the politics there. Other countries election issues come from news sources like the BBC or NPR.

The ever lengthening election cycle seems rather stupid.

  1. First impressions matter more than an opinion on every topic, an answer for every question, or every baby kissed. Naturally voters do not think this is the case. But they have pretty much decided after 15 seconds of seeing the candidate.
  2. All these speeches are good for those cities with convention centers, stadiums, and society groups. The candidates will give so many of them they will become tired and overworked versions appropriate for the best cross-section of likely voters stripped of any real meaning.
  3. The armies of spies circle like vultures and strip the candidates of any value. They seek every secret and gaffe.

Other countries must look at this circus and uproariously laugh at us. Billions wasted to change already set minds. Candidates embarrassing themselves, their parties, and our society. Impossible promises made to say anything to win. And the voters knowing that 99% of all this is bullshit.

Our best efforts at treaties and agreements stalled or languishing because what is the point of making one with the current president when he could be replaced by one of the many crazy people calling for unacceptable terms and promising not to honor it?

Enemies can point to statements made by hawkish candidates as justification for their behavior.

Personally, I think the first primary should be the first Tuesday after July 4th and the parties holding their conventions the last week of August. Then the three debates the last week of September and second week of October. Candidates should not be allowed to start campaigning until the first of June. Maybe they can register prior, but meh.

Maybe the requirement to register in every state should be fixed for this plan to work? Dunno.

(Yes, I know the title was misleading some of you to think this was a gay pride post. Sorry. Not sorry.)