Democracy


    Super Bowl 50 was played on February 7, 2016 at Levi Stadium between the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. Here are a few stats from that game:

 

    Carolina generated 315 yards of offense compared to just 194 for Denver.

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    Carolina possessed the ball for 32:47 minutes versus 27:13 for Denver.

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    Carolina gained more first downs, ran more plays, had more drives and made more yards per play.

    But, at the end of the game, the score was Denver 24 : Carolina 10.

 

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    Carolina fans were upset, disappointed, maybe even chagrined, but none of them argued that Denver wasn’t really the winner or questioned Denver’s legitimacy as the Super Bowl Champion.

 

    Why? Because everyone knew the rules of the game going in. Yards of offense, time of possession and everything else do not matter. What matters is who scores the most points by the end of the game.

 

    This same logic applies to the current election. Both parties, and all the American people, knew the rules going into this election. It doesn’t matter who has the most popular votes, what matters is who wins the most electoral college votes, because we are a constitutional republic, not a democracy and for some very good reasons (and here).

 

    If you didn’t vote for Trump, it is OK to be disheartened and worried. I did not vote for him either, and I am very concerned about where four years of Trump may take us. Fight the implementation of his policies, work to change the electoral college if you think we should be closer to a democracy, BUT . . . when you say things like “no, he was not elected by the people, he lost the popular vote so you can’t truthfully say ‘we the people elected him,'” you are just showing everyone that you do not understand the rules of the game. We the people did elect Donald Trump exactly as “we the people” has been understood since 1787.

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tower-of-babelIn a recent post, Adam Garfinkle talks about why our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan will necessarily fail.

Well, strictly speaking, he is talking about statism and anarchism, and advertising campaigns, and the Tower of Babel.  But he still gives a pretty good explanation of why we are tilting at windmills in the Middle East.

What also follows from this is a second verity of political life, namely that the political institutions of any society emerge from that society far more than the other way around. The United States is a democracy because its founding society was egalitarian-minded, not the other way around. All of the American Founders and all of their tutors, from Locke to Montesquieu to even the great bad-boy of the time, Rousseau, understood this. The idea that a governmental form could remold or create a society after its desired image earned the derisive label “talismanic” at the hands of William Taylor Coleridge.

I have noted this concern before, in my much less erudite way.

The NYTimes has discovered a new constitutional principle: “selective incorpodumbassicity.” This means that the stupidity of some voters is incorporated, using a fabricated interpretation of the 14th Amendment, to rewrite the 2nd Amendment so that legitimate gun ownership, by responsible law-abiding citizens, is treated exactly the same way as if you robbed a bank.

In Dr. Munger’s response to this NY Times editorial.

Again, Christianity asserts that every individual human being is going to live for ever, and this must be either true or false.  . . .  And immortality makes this other difference, which, by the by, has a connection with the difference between totalitarianism and democracy.  If individuals live only seventy years, then a state, or a nation, or a civilisation, which may last for a thousand years, is more important than an individual.  But if Christianity is true, then the individual is not only more important but incomparably more important, for he is everlasting and the life of the state or civilisation, compared with his, is only a moment.

— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity 74-75

America is a land of wonders, in which everything is in constant motion and every change seems an improvement. The idea of novelty is there indissolubly connected with the idea of amelioration. No natural boundary seems to be set to the efforts of man; and in his eyes what is not yet done is only what he has not yet attempted to do.

This perpetual change which goes on in the United States, these frequent vicissitudes of fortune, these unforeseen fluctuations in private and public wealth, serve to keep the minds of the people in a perpetual feverish agitation, which admirably invigorates their exertions and keeps them, so to speak, above the ordinary level of humanity. The whole life of an American is passed like a game of chance, a revolutionary crisis, or a battle. As the same causes are continually in operation throughout the country, they ultimately impart an irresistible impulse to the national character.

Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Book I, Chapter XVIII

It beggars belief.

It’s crazy for a group of mere mortals to try to design 15 percent of the U.S. economy. It’s even crazier to do it by August.

Yet that is what some members of Congress presume to do. They intend, as the New York Times puts it, “to reinvent the nation’s health care system”.

(HT Jeremy)

I think Congress should pass a law abolishing complexity, because then politicians, economists and climate scientists will never have to worry that they really have no idea what the Hell they are talking about.

From Aschwin de Wolf at Depressed Metabolism*:

Even when (macro) economists employ sound methodology and research design, the complexity of the phenomena they study seriously frustrates attempts to use their models to predict the future.  This issue  is not confined to economics. Climate science seems to suffer from this problem as well, which has not prevented scientists and non-scientists from making very strong claims for one position or another

So why are such scientists employable, even excessively rewarded? One reason may be because we would rather perceive ourselves as “doing something” than admitting that we don’t know. Increased government intervention in the lives of  people has increased the demand for social scientists and economists to confer credibility to what otherwise would be considered as arbitrary coercion. Another reason may be because most people are not aware that the emperor wears no clothes. People such as Alan Greenspan or Ben Bernanke are rarely challenged on general methodological grounds.

  • (A blog with a weird combination of philosophy and cryonics evangelism.)

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