The ‘Count My Vote More’ Normative Principle
July 30, 2012, 9:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Ezra Klein Jamelle Bouie** says You Can’t Beat Voter ID With Just Facts. This must be why non-facts play such a prominent role in the argument against voter ID. (Hey, he said it, not me.)

Here’s his main non-fact, i.e. how he intends ‘engage voters on the plane of ideals and principles':

Simply put, voter-ID laws place a limit on the number of voters who are able to vote. Unless you have loose laws for identification, there will be some people who won’t have the paperwork or resources to prove their identity at the ballot box (registration is no longer adequate). If you see voting as an important act of citizenship, then this is unacceptable; we should be more concerned with maximizing the franchise, not restricting it.

Every time I hear this sort of argument I marvel. I don’t know if there is a lapse in logic or basic innumeracy going on here, but this argument of ‘ideals and principles’ fails even on its own terms. Namely: to someone who genuinely believes that voting is an ‘important act of citizenship’, of solemn importance and meaning, ensuring that only those eligible to vote (for starters, citizens) do vote should be paramount. If you don’t think it’s paramount, I have to question whether you’re living up to the ideals and principles you purport to hold.

This is because – and I can’t believe this needs to be said – every ineligible vote completely cancels out the vote of someone who was solemnly and sincerely carrying out that ‘important act of citizenship’ Ezra Klein Bouie pretends to care about so much. Letting that cancellation occur is, logically and mathematically, the same thing as throwing the eligible voter’s vote in the trash. So you tell me Ezra Klein: Why is that ok? It can’t be, not if you really care about voting on principle.

Thus it’s clear that ‘maximizing the franchise’ is just the wrong metric for caring about voting as an ideal. It’s the metric for something, just not voting as an ideal. People who care about voting in the abstract, in the plane of ideals and principles, would consider a limit on the number able to vote a feature, not a bug. What is the opposite of a limit? No limit at all. What principle exactly does that maximize?

It’s not hard to figure out. It’s entirely transparent in fact, and you really have to try dang hard to pretend otherwise. The Ezra Kleins of the world seek to ‘maximize the franchise’ because they believe – probably correctly – that the fraudulent portion of the vote will disproportionately break the way they favor. Mathematically, as long as this is predictable and systematic (and I think that it is, and I think Ezra Klein Bouie thinks that it is), that is the exact same thing as giving their votes some extra weight.

So no, it’s not hard at all to understand why Ezra Klein would favor multiplying the votes of Ezra Klein and other eligible voters who agree with Ezra Klein by, say, 1.1 before every tally. But for him to pretend it is required out of some ‘normative’ deep principle or ideal is a bit rich. Unless of course that principle is just that the votes of folks who agree with Ezra Klein about stuff should count for a little bit more. Which, deep down, is probably what they think.

**Argh. I had the author wrong. The reason is that these articles show up in an RSS feed based on ‘Ezra Klein’. But that is no excuse for my mistake. My points above stand, of course, but the lazy snark would need major revisions. Thanks to Josh Hedlund for pointing out my error(s).

July 29, 2012, 5:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
  • John Mauldin on LIBORgate:

    The larger question that really needs to be asked is how in the name of all that is holy did we get to a place where we base hundreds of trillions of dollars of transactions worldwide on a number whose provenance is not clearly transparent.

    As you know, I blame math.

  • I’m confused, if they turn the toilets away from Mecca, doesn’t that mean people using them are pooping in Mecca’s direction? Or does ‘away from Mecca’ mean the opposite – that they turn them so that the poop goes away from Mecca? But in that case they’re facing Mecca when they poop. That’s no good either. To be really safe, shouldn’t these toilets really go orthogonal to Mecca, arranged in (say) rings tangent to the great circles that are of a constant distance from Mecca? Use surveyors, satellites and GPS to get the arrangement right. Follow terrain and dig stepped trenches as necessary. Then both the poop, and squatters’ gazes as they poop, just orbit Mecca as a center – it is not an attractor of either field. It seems to me that is the only respectful way to place portable toilets.

    I kid, of course, but I’m with Pastorius here:

    I bet in Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan the toilets are facing random directions.

    This (like the idea, apparently believed by politically-correct idiots, that Islam commands its adherents to pretend pigs don’t exist) is precisely the type of ‘tolerant towards Muslims’ rule that is more likely to have been made up by some politically-correct British lady, rather than any actual Muslim. The other possibility (~20% likelihood) is that British Muslims make this shit up to take the piss out of the gullible politically-correct British, and see how much they can get the British establishment to dance like puppets, laughing all the while.

  • I have officially spent more time studying Kieran Healy’s useful Olympics-sport diagram than I am likely to spend actually watching any part of these Olympics. Minor quibble: ‘baseball’ clearly belongs in the absolute upper left. Other than that, it looks pretty accurate, although I can’t speak for the placement of ‘Dressage’ as I have no idea what the hell it is.

Thinking Alike
July 29, 2012, 12:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

If you get deja vu reading The Parallel Universe of the Volcker Rule, don’t worry, it’s just because you read RWCG. Recommended.

Link Dump
July 28, 2012, 11:39 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m not actually sure I read all of these.

  • “Sustainability” and “Local Living Economy” as code words for race and rain.

    If you like your community the way it is or want to attract more of your kind of people, resistance to Wal-Martish globalization makes sense as a way to put up price barriers to discourage being flooded demographically.

    Of course, rain helps too.

    In this vein you can also do stuff like use the owners’ political views as an excuse to deny business permits to, e.g., a chicken fast-food chain. We all know who eats that stuff don’t we?

  • Bryan Caplan disapproves of conservative opposition to ‘cost-effectiveness research’. Here’s his ‘charitable story':

    Many people – even people who strongly favor heavy government subsidies for medicine – deeply distrust policy wonks. They fear that these wonks will use cost-effectiveness research to trump the medical decisions they’d like to make in consultation with their doctors (who they do trust). The simplest way to prevent the wonks from usurping patients’ sovereignty is to prevent cost-effectiveness research from happening in the first place.

    This seems to assume that the ‘cost-effectiveness research’ itself is unimpeachable – it’s just that we conservatives distrust the policy wonks who implement it. I would suggest Bryan is leaving out an important part of explanation, which is that conservatives distrust the researchers too. And not only due to a fear of bias or rent-seeking (though those are definitely factors!). There is a deeper problem, and RWCG readers know what it is: All large calculations are wrong.

  • Government Is Not an Investor
  • Break Up the Banks? Be Careful of What You Ask For

    The most effective solution to risk-taking by big banks, as I’ve argued elsewhere, is to stop trying to micromanage what risk banks are taking and start pulling back their safety net.

    Two words: Hell. Yeah.

  • The Problem With Sluts. Wait, there’s a problem? ;-)
  • Economists Idea Bag Seems Empty. I wish Falkenstein would stop mincing words and say what he really thinks.
  • Why Are Keynesians of All People Calling for Tax Increases in a Crap Economy?
  • Income distributions and misleading poll questions (#OWS)

    Disingenuous, pseudo-quantitative arguments piss me off.

    Fair enough (me too I reckon), but you know what really pisses me off? Discussions that treat income ‘distribution’ as something that ought to be determined via public-opinion surveys. The premise of such an ‘honest’ and ‘quantitative’ argument is that it is okay and moral (and not stealing) to take Peter’s property if enough Pauls wanna.

  • Foseti’s post on The three branches of USG should be required reading. For, like, the Internet.

Jonathan Chait Knows Black When He Hears It
July 28, 2012, 9:40 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Jonathan Chait thinks that the reason folks are up in arms about ‘you didn’t build that’ is that, in Jonathan Chait’s expert analysis, Obama was talking all black and stuff when he said it. That’s what it sounded like to Jonathan Chait anyway: Obama sounded totally black to Jonathan Chait. HELL OF black.

This is part of a case Jonathan Chait is trying to build that other people (i.e., not Jonathan Chait) are racists who (unlike Jonathan Chait) can’t listen to or react to President Obama without thinking of his race.

RELATED RWCG FLASHBACK (2009): Lefties saw chimp in editorial cartoon, lefties thought of President Obama, lefties called the artist racist. (Link)

July 28, 2012, 9:19 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am sure all the SWPLs trying to keep out that chicken place on account of its owner’s incorrect personal opinions will turn their attention to Whole Foods any day now.

I’m A Awesome Olympic Fan
July 27, 2012, 5:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Catching wind of some sort of Romney gaffe has made me aware that there’s gonna be Olympics in London (?) soon. As I understand things, Romney said something about the Olympics, and/or London, and as per everything else Romney does or doesn’t do or say, all the Smart People now agree that this thing he said, whatever it was (it’s too boring for me to look into), proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he should not be made the next President-guy of the United States. That much is clear.

Anyway, fascinating political ramifications aside, what I wanted to know is, what happened to Beijing? I totally thought there were gonna be Olympics in Beijing. China was all into it cuz it was going to represent their entrance onto the world stage as a grand and great power that everyone was gonna have to fall in love with and everything. Seems like it was in all the papers and such too. I’m sure I would have noticed if they had some Olympics in Beijing.


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