Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How dumb are people?

So despite the title, this is more of a scientific question than a rant per-se. See, the debate this morning was about how dumb the American people really are, and how long could a politician do exactly the opposite of what he said he was doing (or promised to be doing) before the people notice and get upset about it (if ever)? On one side, there's the fundamental belief that people have some intelligence, and eventually even the densest people will figure out that something is wrong. On the other side, blind allegiance really could blind people forever.

Case in point: Obama's administration. During his campaign, he constantly promised change, a departure from politics as usual, working for bi-partisan compromise, cutting wasteful government spending... all the standard political promises made by everyone. Now that he's been elected, he's appointing Washington insiders and liberal extremists, drafting enormous wasteful spending plans, gearing up for partisan fights... again, all politics as usual. But, and here's the interesting question: will his supporters ever notice that he's doing the exact opposite of what was promised?

It's like my tax idea in the previous post. I maintain that people really are that dumb: if we're spending 2 trillion more than we take in next year already, people won't get too upset if we add another 2 trillion and suspend all taxes. In fact, they will probably be ecstatic about the tax cuts, and completely ignore the deficit problem, as they are likely to do about the first 2 trillion we're already planning to over-spend on payoffs and handouts.

It gets back to the education problem: the voting populace, on average, needs to be much more intelligent and educated to get competent leaders into office who can enact real solutions to America's problems (instead of 2 trillion dollar payout programs to fiscally doom the country). Since I don't harbor illusions about being able to raise the education level in general, the only way I can think of to accomplish this is to change the voting criteria in some way, to lesson the impact of the uneducated moronic masses on the political process. I think this is probably the best possible thing we could do for the next political system.

On a semi-related note, I had another radical idea for voting. At this point I'm not sure it would be good, but it's an interesting thought. What if your vote was weighted by the total amount you personally paid in taxes over the previous term for the office you're voting on? Food for thought...


  1. Thanks. :) I was thinking that if it ever became a national movement, people could adopt the slogan "no representation without taxation"... it would have a certain delicious irony.

  2. How about an honest test to see if you know the most basic facts about the office you're voting for and the main issues.

    I know literacy tests were abused in the past to deny people the right to vote. I just wonder if there would be anything wrong with it if test were conducted honestly.

  3. I don't like the "basic knowledge" test idea; it fails my "ripe for abuse" test. Basically, I would prefer to limit the amount of laws and regulations which require any sort of subjective interpretation or management, because they encourage the government to manipulate them. My criteria is to assume the government is the most hostile entity possible (which usually doesn't require much of a stretch), and then see if I still want the law, and this one certainly fails.

    On the other hand, the tax-weighting system would be very objective and hard to manipulate. I guess you could intentionally pay more taxes to have more say in the government, but I don't think I'm too opposed to that.