Posts Tagged ‘politics’

On Term Limits

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

In ordinary discussion of limitation on the time that a political office may be held, two points are not made directly as often as they should be.

Opponents of term limits should not contrast the outcomes expected to obtain under term limits with those imagined to result under an idealized representative government. Ostensibly representative government is regularly not very representative; many participants in the political process — including individual voters — work actively to subvert the extent to which it is representative; and it can never be close to being perfectly representative. Illustrating the first of these points, note how often most voters feel compelled to select a least detestable candidate amongst a field of knaves and of fools, and note that major programmes opposed by a majority of voters are adopted by legislatures. Illustrating the second point, note people who vote in open primaries of the party they disfavor, hoping to effect selection of a weaker candidate for that party. To understand the third point, consider what would be required to select representatives whose preferences operationally mirrored those of the more general public.

Term limits change the incentive system for political officials and for would-be political officials. They can no longer make life-time careers in holding one office. If meaningful term-limits became the norm across all elected offices, it would no longer be practical for the typical elected official to make a life-time career of holding a series of elected offices. Those who held office would be less beholden to political machines and cartels, they would have less to sell, they would have to be proficient at more than office-seeking. More of them would be more representative than now, albeït still quite imperfectly so.

Modeling Madness

Monday, 27 April 2009

Some people try to light a candle. Some people curse the darkness. Me? Part of me wants to model the darkness.

I was led to this reälization upon reading the latest entry from zenicurean. In response to news reports about the latest swine-flu concerns, he writes

Plenty of first reactions appear to heavily involve doing things actual health care experts are not chiefly concerned about getting done, but that's how it always works, isn't it?
And I almost immediately thought about why those first reäctions are what they are. For example
  • Officials want to be seen as doing something.
  • People, including officials, often greatly over-estimate their understanding of issues that have (or seem to have) a significant bearing on general welfare.
  • Officials with axes to grind are quick to find excuses for the grinding.
  • Politicians can exploit the prejudices and desires of voters who are predisposed to support various measures (such as blocking foreign trade or travel, or subsidizing some profession).

So, could we pull this altogether, and surely other things that don't come so quickly to-mind, perhaps into a mathematical model, or perhaps into something less formal, that would have some predictive efficacy, or at least some distinctive explanatory efficacy?

Bladder Control Problem

Monday, 10 November 2008
Jersey City Councilman Steven Lipski is No. 1 threat at Washington club by Richard Shapiro of the New York Daily News
A drunken Jersey City councilman was arrested for urinating on a crowd of concertgoers from the balcony of a Washington nightclub, police and club sources said Saturday.

And, since the Councilman's party affiliation is mysteriously not given in the story, one might google

"Steve Lipski" (democrat | democratic | republican)

This time, I was amused to find that many of the first hits are exactly about the failure to report his party affiliation. I was also amused to find his declaration

Yes, I am a Democrat, but I have always put people before politics.
as urinating on the crowd suggests that he puts some peculiar things well ahead both of people and of politics.

Blind in One Eye

Sunday, 5 October 2008

It bothers me that some of my friends have become so obsessed with the inadequacy of one of the two major party Presidential candidates that they seem to have quite lost sight of just how inadequate a President the other man can be expected to be.

There is no good choice on the ballot, and I expect greater national despair by the next mid-term elections. (We'll see whether, at the time of the next Presidential election, the other party, whichever it may be, offers a better candidate then, or decides that, in the context of their rivals' failure, they can push the envelope of opportunism, of lunacy, or of both.)