09 Nov 2016

Is It Smart to Vote Immorally?

Politics, Shameless Self-Promotion 9 Comments

I say no.

Some of you were expecting me to gloat, weren’t you? Well I’m not going to. (I was somewhat snarky on Twitter, but only because of people who were so confident beforehand.) Indeed, for those of you horrified by President-Elect Trump, I can say that I was telling people not to vote for him (or anybody) before the election.

All joking aside, here are some remarks that you’ve never heard me give before.

9 Responses to “Is It Smart to Vote Immorally?”

  1. Andrew_FL says:

    I’ll console myself that Federal Reserve Chairman Scott Sumner will never happen.

    • E. Harding says:

      Who’s laughing now? Schlafly, certainly. So am I. Are you?

      • Andrew_FL says:

        I seriously have so much contempt for each and every one of you.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          E. Harding has been trying for months just to get people to like him. This will come as a crushing blow.

  2. Tel says:

    “Voting is wasteful and stupid when you think about it.”

    No. Voting is a proxy for civil war, and in most cases it allows civil war to be avoided by offering an acceptable substitute. Thus in comparison with worse options voting is pretty cheap and smart.

    The trouble is people conveniently forget that civil war is also one of the possibilities. The NAP is a nice idea, it isn’t a law of nature or anything like that…

  3. Tel says:

    Personally I’ve never liked that “dictator” criteria.

    It only happens if you have both an election so close that it all hinges on one single person’s vote, and also a person who KNOWS that their vote is the deciding vote.

    I would point out that although an election can in theory come down to one single vote, it very rarely does in practice (as far as I know it never has) and we deliberately use secret ballots so that no one can ever know how important their vote is until afterwards. It doesn’t make sense to call anyone a “dictator” under these circumstances. Arrow presumes some powerful knowledge that cannot exist, which is kind of no better than the belief in a powerful central planner who “just knows” the right way to organize an economy.

    Did I mention I’m not a fan of Arrow?

    • Andrew_FL says:

      If you mean elections generally, and not just US Presidential elections, there are some examples, generally in minor elections in small electoral units:

      The odds of one vote deciding an election in the US are actually probably higher, since there are essentially fifty one sub-Presidential elections held every four years, any any one of which the margin could theoretically be narrow enough that a one vote margin is within the range of possible outcomes.

      • Tel says:

        Yeah, I get that… not impossible just unlikely.

        Point is that invalidating the entire voting system because in an unlikely event one person gets to decide the election, seems kind of silly. Especially when you consider that even in that unlikely situation there is no way of knowing who this individual is, nor even whether it will happen.

        When I think of the danger of a “dictator” and why we don’t want to have someone like that, I imagine a somewhat different scenario… like a guy running around with a military parade uniform and plenty of medals and a funny hat. Someone who knows he is a dictator and goes around ordering people into prison… not a guy who might very occasionally cast the deciding vote.

        That’s why I think people who use Arrow to say that elections are no good are kidding themselves. There may well be other more practical problems with elections (like fraud and the morality of a majority taking property from a minority) but the problem is not that we have all these “dictators” running around the place.

  4. Tel says:

    Hey, related to that stuff where the totalitarian regime needs to erase graffiti… has anyone looked into quorum sensing bacteria?

    The concept is that if there’s only a small number of some type of bacteria in your body they operate in a stealth mode where they try to avoid attracting triggering the immune system. However, as the number of bacteria gets larger they drop out of stealth mode and get aggressive and that’s when you suddenly feel sick. This gives the disease a better chance of overcoming immune protection… build up forces then jump out all at once.

    So in order to coordinate their attack, each individual bacterium sends out a little bit of signalling chemical while also sensing the nearby concentration of that particular chemical. When it detects that a lot more of this chemical is floating around than what it is individually producing, then this indicates there must be others.


    Kind of related to politics and network effects.

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