Archive for the ‘democracy’ Category

By 2040 or so, because most young Americans (and immigrants) are migrating to the few large metropolitan areas in states where jobs are plentiful, 70 percent of Americans will live in 15 states. Meaning 30 percent of the population will choose 70% of the senators. And the 30% minority choosing 70% of the Senate will be older, whiter, more rural, more male than the 70% majority who are only getting to vote for 30% of the Senators.

I do not see how the United States is going to survive this. Not as a democracy, anyhow. We have a name for a nation where 30% of the population rules the other 70% of the population. That name is *not* democracy or even republic. That name is “tyranny”.

Americans have thus far shown a remarkable tolerance for living in a police state, as long as that police state is primarily targeting brown people. (For details of this police state, read Radley Balko’s columns in Reason and the Washington Post). But once 30% of the population is using police state powers to impose their rule upon 70% of the population, they may find that the tolerance of Americans is limited. I don’t see a good outcome from that end state. At least, not an outcome that is nonviolent.

– Badtux the Demographics Penguin

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So the criticism is that the Democratic Party hasn’t done proper outreach to: racists, xenophobes, Christian Dominionists who want to impose Biblical law upon non-Christians, bigots who want to stone gays and trans-people to death, and other such deplorables of that sort. At which point I say: Wha?! Frankly, if the Democratic Party had embraced bigots, I would have voted Green Party because I can’t support a party that embraces bigots.

Not to mention that it would have been futile in the first place. Even if the Democrats had reached out to bigots, the Republican Party appears to have a lock on the bigot vote at present, having elected a President who actually was *convicted*, in a court of law, of being a bigot (he was fined major dollars multiple times for refusing to rent his apartments to black couples).

No, what the Democratic Party needs to do outreach to is, well, Democrats. If the same number of Democrats had voted in this election as had voted in 2012, we wouldn’t be talking about President Donald Trump, because the race would not have even been close. Not that it actually was close — Hillary Clinton won by 2.5 million votes, after all, the largest margin of victory-that-is-not-victory ever in American history, giving the lie to the notion that the United States is a democracy because in a democracy the person with the greatest number of votes wins. But the fact that 5 million Democrats stayed home means that what would have been a 7.5 million vote blowout instead turned into a 2.5 million vote win that was a defeat.

So: Democrats need to reach out to Democrats. Leave the racists, xenophobes, Christian Dominionists, bigots, neo-Nazis, and other such deplorables to the Republicans. The notion that Democrats need to reach out to deplorable people is contradicted by the electoral victories of Barack Obama. None of the deplorables voted for Obama, yet he won. Why? He reached out to Democrats. That’s why.

And the Democratic Party, going forward, needs to do the same.

– Badtux the “Fuck the deplorables” Penguin

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There are about 350 wolves in Wyoming. There are around 355,000 sheep in Wyoming. If Wyoming was a democracy where wolves and sheep voted for what’s for dinner, wolves in Wyoming would be eating a lot of grass.

This is true of all predator / prey relationships — prey species are far more numerous than predators are. Otherwise the predators would exterminate the prey and starve to death.

It’s true of humans too. The vast majority of humans just want to raise their families in peace, they don’t want to do predatory stuff. They don’t want to deprive someone else of their worldly goods, they don’t want to hurt someone, they don’t like violence, they don’t inflict violence and they don’t want violence. Think about it — the city of San Jose has 9.1 police officers per 10,000 population. That means that most people in San Jose are nowhere near the eyesight of police officers. Yet the number of major crimes in San Jose is around 330 per 10,000 people. In other words, figuring that each crime was being done by a distinct person (which it isn’t, a lot is repeat crimes by the same group of people), that’s 3.3% *max* of San Jose’s population that is predators, and the rest just want to get along and live their lives in peace.

So democracy, in a human society, is the 96.7% of the population that is sheep deciding what’s for dinner, and the 3.3% of the population that is wolves getting upset that they’re eating a lot of salad. Then the wolves get the idea, “hey, why don’t we start spreading stupid stories painting democracy as bad! Like that two wolves and one sheep deciding what’s for dinner story!”. And so they do. And so they do.

Point: when Libertarians trot out that two wolves and one sheep story, they’re full of shit and deliberately trying to mislead people into believing something that’s not true. In any democracy, the number of sheep voting is far, far larger than the number of wolves voting. So you don’t have to worry about the wolves voting in mutton for dinner. In a true democracy, that is. Of course, we don’t live in such a thing, and never have. But that’s another story.

– Badtux the Numbers Penguin

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An interesting outlook on urban planning in the SF Bay area:

“The people who bought their homes a long time ago lucked into a windfall and they resentfully lash out at anyone trying to cut in on that windfall. But notice how un-American these claims are. The current residents want to protect their gains by telling other people how they can use their property. When a new restaurant starts to take patrons from an old restaurant we generally don’t think that the old restaurant–the long-term resident–has the right to prevent the new restaurant from opening. The same is true, by and large, for new technologies and ways of doing business. Yet when it comes to residential land we give the old residents a veto on the new.

We have collectivized property in the United States (unlike in say laissez-faire Tokyo). Property is not fully collectivized, of course, but a person’s land is not their own–it’s subject to the dictates of the collective. Collectivization has been tried in many other times and places and the results are by now predictable. Collectivization in Palo Alto has produced inefficiency, high costs and a politicization of choice that makes for ill-will and endless conflict.”

I can vouch for the ill-will and endless conflict. Here in the City of Santa Clara, it’s coming to a head. The 45.1% of Santa Clara residents who are homeowners are adamant that the 54.9% of Santa Clara residents who are renters not be given the opportunity to own a home here, because building more housing would lower their property values. These people are a minority, but they are an affluent minority, and thus far have managed to enforce their edicts irregardless of the desires of the majority, who simply want more housing so they don’t have to double up with multiple families in overpriced rental housing. But oh, to hear the screeching of those who bought their homes in 1973 and now suddenly there is a major retail/residential development going 4 stories tall on the corner down the street from them! It’s as if they think they have a right to dictate to the majority that no, you cannot have a home.

In that respect, I believe that Alex Tabarrok is completely incorrect. We have not collectivized property in Santa Clara. Rather, we’ve Animal Farmed property in Santa Clara. In Santa Clara, all residents are created equal, but some are created more equal than others…

– Badtux the “Who appointed these people dictators of our city?” Penguin

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Libertarians say that democracy is evil because the majority would impose laws to oppress the minority. They call it “tyranny of the majority”. Yet recent history seems to be contrary to that assertion. Black people are around 13% of the US population. Despite that, there are now lots of laws on the books saying they have equal rights with white people. Gay people are around 3% of the US population. Despite that, there are now lots of laws on the books saying they have equal rights with straight people (though not as many laws as protect black people, still, the days of laws that ban being homosexual are long past us). It seems that the majority of people are, well, nice people. They might think homosexuals are squicky, and black people might make them nervous, but they don’t want to be mean to blacks or gays by treating them worse than other people.

In fact, it’s only a very determined *minority* of people that is against equal rights for all Americans. A group I call the “bitter clingers”, who bitterly cling to their bigotry because they have a deranged need to feel superior to everybody else and being a bigot lets them feel superior to everybody else. It appears that democracy, rule by the majority, is the *solution* for bigotry — oppression of the minority — not the cause as Libertarians would state. Let us not forget that the whole Southern segregation thing was imposed upon the South by a well-armed *minority* of Southerners, a well-armed white minority that were former Civil War soldiers with military training and thus ended up winning a guerilla war against the police forces put in place by the (black) majority governments of the South after the Civil War.

In short, the notion of the “tyranny of the majority” is bullshit. But I guess we already knew that. Heck, even when it was first said in 1788 by John Adams it was bullshit. John Adams was a wealthy mercantile magnate who was worried that if the majority were allowed to rule in America, they’d vote to tax wealthy oligarchs like him rather than imposing the tariffs that he wanted in order to protect his interests. I.e., the phrase “tyranny of the majority” was all about an attempt by a minority to impose its will upon the majority even then, a dishonest debating parlour trick, not a reality that has ever happened.

– Badtux the Observant Penguin

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So, democracy is tyranny.

That is the refrain I often hear from the Libertarian types, whose disgust for democracy is well known. They claim that in a democracy, the majority will always oppress the minority. Always.

Yet reality on the ground seems to contradict that claim. The latest gay marriage polls and legalization thereof are an interesting test case of the “tyranny of the majority” silliness. Consider: Gay people are 2% to 4% of the population (there are higher numbers mentioned, but they aren’t credible — sexual attraction is a spectrum so those higher numbers are including people whose main attraction is to people of the opposite sex, but who have some attraction to the same sex). In short, gay people are a distinct minority of the world’s population. A distinct minority whose principal sexual practices are, let us say, squicky to the majority.

Yet equal rights for gay people is controversial in America only with a small subset of right wing neanderthals. And the right to gay marriage is supported by the majority of Americans, as well as by the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Equal rights. For a minority. In a democracy. According to the Libertarian zealots, it couldn’t happen. Yet it did. Multiple times. Sometimes by vote, sometimes by court ruling, but always with the support of the majority of the people.

The Libertarians insist that humans are evil and want to oppress their fellow man, and thus rule by the majority will always result in oppression of the minority. But really, what the majority wants is to live their lives in peace. Oppression is expensive and causes social disorder, while living your life in peace by giving minorities equal rights isn’t. Why in the world do the Libertarians insist that oppression is inevitable in a democracy, despite the evidence right there before their own two eyes?

– Badtux the Baffled Penguin

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So in Oregon, they voted to take away driver privilege cards from illegal aliens.

So what did they really vote for? Well. They voted for a doubling of the number of unlicensed drivers on the road. In Utah after they created a driving credential for people here illegally in 2005, the number of unlicensed drivers plummeted by almost 50%, from roughly 5.6% of the driving population to around 2.6% of the driving population, according to an AAA Safety Foundation study of unlicensed drivers using NHTSA accident data (see the chart on page 11). They voted to increase the number of uninsured drivers on the road. According to the Utah Legislative Auditor’s office in a report requested by the legislature a couple of years after they passed the law, a sample of 2,000 each of traditionally licensed and “driving privilege” drivers found that 82% of the traditional drivers had insurance and 76% of the “driving privilege” drivers had insurance. If they’d had any way of matching socioeconomic data (they were using the state driver’s license and insurance databases, which have no socioeconomic data in them), I suspect that they’d find that the “driving privilege” drivers were insured at roughly the same rate as poor white American citizens, or even more so. Still. They’re about to double the number of uninsured drivers on the road. Which means they voted to pay more for their car insurance.

And finally, they’re voting for more fraud. The Utah auditors found that the number of fraudulent licenses, those procured with false papers and stolen names and social security numbers, plummeted dramatically once they could legally obtain driving credentials without committing fraud.

And for what purpose? The immigration system is fucked up. You know that, I know that, everybody and Joe Bob knows that. But that’s a Federal issue. It’s right there in the Constitution — Article 1, Section 8, which says it’s Congress’s job to deal with naturalization / immigration. Indeed, the US Supreme Court invalidated most of Arizona’s anti-immigrant law for exactly that reason. But look. People who are here illegally are going to drive whether they have a license or not. We know that. We have the data from Utah to prove that. The illegal immigrants aren’t going to leave because their driver cards got taken away, they’re just going to drive illegally. So this law is going to cost Oregon citizens a lot of money, but isn’t going to do shit about illegal immigration, because any part of the law that could do anything real about illegal immigration will be overturned by the Supreme Court.

But these are facts. And facts don’t count if there’s spite to be had. Oregon’s citizens wanted to make a statement. They wanted to hurt illegal immigrants. All they managed to do was give themselves a swift kick in the balls, but they don’t care, because they kicked a few illegals too. It’s all about emotion. It’s all about spite. And that’s why Americans are going to get what they voted for, good and hard, right between the legs, and like it.

– Badtux the Fact-based Penguin

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