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To me, Sanders remains the only authentic (as in consistent) candidate, so write in it is.  A perfectly legit decision.

 

The fact that he will likely not secure the nomination when he had near zero name recognition and was 60 points down a year ago isn't a surprise.  The fact that he made such a competitive run against a presumptive nominee is a sign of things to come.

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I like Australia's compulsory voting. You have to attend the polling station (on pain of a fine, I believe), and all the ballot papers have to have a "none of the above" box. I don't know what the consequences of there being a majority "none of the above" vote are, if any...

 

Australia uses preferential voting, so their races are a little different. Here's an explanation about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting

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Australia uses preferential voting, so their races are a little different. Here's an explanation about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting

[shrug] The actual method of counting votes isn't as important for me as the fact it's compulsory to turn up to the polling station (or make some other legitimate arrangement), and that you can officially vote for "none of these Schmucks represents me", rather than just spoiling your ballot paper, as in this country (UK), or writing in a candidate, when most of the people who would write in that candidate are just not going to come vote. Might be interesting to allow/encourage wrtite-ins as well as "none-of-the-above". 

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Nah, I've been of the opinion that ain't nobody gonna turn this ship around, no matter who they are.  We're past the point of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, its almost vertical.

 

Yeah, I...kinda feel the same way sometimes. I'm constantly reminded of something I read a long time ago about how democracies have a lifespan of about two centuries, historically, before they devolve into anarchy and/or a dictatorship. Or first one and then the other. And then there's the quote I can't quite remember about how democracies last until the public learns that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury....

 

By either measure, the USA as we know it is living on borrowed time (and trillions of borrowed dollars that we'll never be able to pay back).

 

On the other hand, there's the argument that life for the average human being has never been longer, happier or safer in human history, thanks to free markets (which can be but aren't necessarily the same as capitalism) and the explosion of wealth (and thus of improved technology and infrastructure) we enjoy. So maybe it's race between those two impulses.

 

Sometimes I feel optimistic and wish I could live for centuries to see what the future holds. Other days, I suspect that centuries from now, they'll look back on a golden age of freedom and wealth before the world slid back down into the endless squabbling for scraps that occupied most of human history.

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[shrug] The actual method of counting votes isn't as important for me as the fact it's compulsory to turn up to the polling station (or make some other legitimate arrangement), and that you can officially vote for "none of these Schmucks represents me", rather than just spoiling your ballot paper, as in this country (UK), or writing in a candidate, when most of the people who would write in that candidate are just not going to come vote. Might be interesting to allow/encourage wrtite-ins as well as "none-of-the-above". 

 

Nevada has "None of These" as an option for most races on the ballot, but doesn't allow write-in candidates. Other states will vary considerably.

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Yeah, I...kinda feel the same way sometimes. I'm constantly reminded of something I read a long time ago about how democracies have a lifespan of about two centuries, historically, before they devolve into anarchy and/or a dictatorship. Or first one and then the other. And then there's the quote I can't quite remember about how democracies last until the public learns that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury....

 

By either measure, the USA as we know it is living on borrowed time (and trillions of borrowed dollars that we'll never be able to pay back).

By either measure, the UK is 150 years past the first, and 100 years past the second. And it's still not an anarchy, nor, (quite, no matter how centralised Westminster would like it to become) a dictatorship. I think those two measures are pretty far short of "maximum durations", and if they're meant to be some sort of average, the number of very-short-lived democracies over the years and the globe probably means the US has to keep cruising on as a representative democracy for a while to keep the average where those quotees supposed it to be.

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And then there's the quote I can't quite remember about how democracies last until the public learns that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury....

 

 

Whereas in the bright old days before democracy, the treasury was shared out amongst the rich. The way things are supposed to be!

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By either measure, the UK is 150 years past the first, and 100 years past the second. And it's still not an anarchy, nor, (quite, no matter how centralised Westminster would like it to become) a dictatorship. I think those two measures are pretty far short of "maximum durations", and if they're meant to be some sort of average, the number of very-short-lived democracies over the years and the globe probably means the US has to keep cruising on as a representative democracy for a while to keep the average where those quotees supposed it to be.

 

To be fair, I think people don't think of the UK as a democracy for that long.   Specifically, I think there is some confusion for people, on when the nation became more democracy than monarchy.

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To be fair, I think people don't think of the UK as a democracy for that long.   Specifically, I think there is some confusion for people, on when the nation became more democracy than monarchy.

Somewhere around the death of Charlie I or the accession of Charlie II. The Monarch has largely been a figurehead since then. Still 350 years. The Mother of Parliaments is so called for a reason.

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Yeah, I...kinda feel the same way sometimes. I'm constantly reminded of something I read a long time ago about how democracies have a lifespan of about two centuries, historically, before they devolve into anarchy and/or a dictatorship. Or first one and then the other. And then there's the quote I can't quite remember about how democracies last until the public learns that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury....

 

By either measure, the USA as we know it is living on borrowed time (and trillions of borrowed dollars that we'll never be able to pay back).

 

 

 

 

I'm sorry to return to this, because it looks like I'm taking issue with Sinanju, whereas in fact you will notice that I have clipped his hopeful codicil. What I want to say is that I've read these guys, too. Or to put it another way, We know these Papenheimers.

 

I'm returning to it, above all, because there's also a substantive issue. It has been very convincingly argued that this age of secular stagnation we live in (also known as: the reason you haven't had a real raise in thirty years) is due to a shortage of public debt. As incomprehensible as it may seem to people raised on a steady diet of deficit scolding, the amount of public debt around the world has been shrinking for years. The only reason America is an exception is that you've cut your tax rates so far. (Leaving the argument about whether that was a good idea or not aside.) So this pose of world-weary, cynical wisdom grounded in historical knowledge is dangerous to the public weal, even before you tancy that you see seven flavours of awfulness in it from the pens of Jerry Pournelle, Heinlein and H. Beam Piper. 

 

Because it's a terrible argument. It's wrong everywhere! It's actually not even just wrong. It's like anti-truth! It's like someone taking you aside and telling you, "Hey, kid, you're young and I'm wise and old, and I know science. Trust me, the Moon is made of green cheese." Almost literally so.

 

i) Two hundred years? There are precious few regimes that last two centuries. Dynasties fall; civil wars happen; invasions succeed. Mostlly, it is monarchies and tyrannies that fall this way. But! But! But! But! I'm sputtering here because singling out democracies is such a terrible move to make in this argument.

ii) Because, well, for one thing, there aren't that many historical democracies. The Death Tribble notes that Britain's democracy has lasted more than two hundred years, but that's not really true. Britain was an oligarchy with representative institutions until some point during the long road of parliamentary reforms made in the course of the Nineteenth Century. I don't know where in the progress of freedom you want to place the magic moment of breakthrough to the sunny uplands of true democracy, but it wasn't in 1816! 

iii) Given this, the whole pose of objective-data-driven-social-science is just completely wrong. What historical democracies are we singling out? There aren't that many of them, and the examples we single out: Rome, Athens, Venice --they all lasted a lot longer than two centuries. For the most part, they didn't even fall to internal tensions! In fact, if we're looking for examples, we need alleged Greek democracies of the sixth century BC, about which we know absolutely noting, and what we know is almost certainly wrong; the Roman republic (two centuries, not so much); and, I don't know, I guess Florence? Machiavelli was all upset about that, so I guess it counts. But if you're going to make some kind of point about democracies being particularly unstable, I've got a longer list right here of Chinese dynasties (alone) that fell. Though most of them made it three centuries, so good for them, I guess? Actually, I bet you could make a longer list of states-of-the-island-of-Java-that-fell-in-less-than-two-centuries than you can make of democracies that. . . 

 

iv) This is just another numbered point, but I'm separating it off because of the whole rich and deeper cray-cray factor. Not only have there not been many democracies in the world in history, there are a lot more now. Right now, and for the last two centuries, the pattern has been for dictatorships and anarchies to fall and be replaced by democracies. And the number of democracies which have fallen in that time is . . . . Hungary, maybe? Thailand's had some rough patches, too. But, overall, the clear, the very clear trend, has been the opposite of this historical insight presented above. Oh, maybe we're due at the magic two centuries mark, but until then, where's the freaking evidence?

 

So that's democracies failing. Now, the bit about the crowd realising that they can vote themselves money out of the treasury. Public debt is a feature of the modern age, ever since the Habsburgs of Spain (accuracy note: note a democracy!) started borrowing to fund their wars in the Sixteenth Century. The Habsburgs of Spain also pioneered national debt repudiation, which is clearly not a good thing, but in no way the end of the world, as we can see on account of the world not ending. 

 

The Habsburgs having set a precedent, everyone started borrowing large amounts of money to fund their wars. And stuff: Like, for example, corruption. Right down to today, the entire list of countries which have repudiated their public debts since the French Revolution consist of: the Weimar Republic (by stealth); and, assorted dictatorships and anarchies. Not a single democracy has repudiated its debt since 1815, to the best of my knowledge.

 

Why? Because, in the mid-seventeenth century, two regimes which fought the Spanish a lot realised that they had to put their national-debt-raising on a solid footing and establish proper taxation to pay for it. And you know what countries those were? Two republics! (Dutch, English.) Then, in the Eighteenth Century, in a particularly bad episode of public debt repudiation, the French monarchy's handling of it led to a revolution which established a republic , which, in turn, put French finances on the right path.

 

One of the more interesting things about this was that they did so by getting rid of the rich and connected rentier class which took a large share of the public debt as private payment. It turns out that monarchies last until aristocrats realise that they can privilege themselves a fortune out of the public treasury. . . 

 

Meanwhile, in the second decade of the 21st century, we see public debt shrinking everywhere. It is projected that the American debt will stop shrinking and start growing at some point in the future, but this is because the projections assume that Americans will  never raise taxes, ever again. For example, you will not raise your social security taxes by, for example, eliminating the tax preference for private retirement plans that have so dramatically failed their investors. I --never mind. Of course, that tax break has served at least one purpose: it has put a lot of money in the hands of the American financial industry, and, since some of it comes back in the form of lobbying money, into the hands of its politicians. 

 

Something about public largesse?

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I just received a DNC fund-raising call.

 

A part of their lengthy spiel was that they are raising money to target vulnerable seats held by white male republicans.

 

Me: So, hang on, the seats you are targeting are held by white, male republicans?

 

DNC: That's correct.

 

Me: I'm white and male.

 

DNC: ...

 

Me: Why didn't you just say "republicans?" It might surprise you, but I have no problems with white people or male people...

 

They hung up.

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By either measure, the UK is 150 years past the first, and 100 years past the second. And it's still not an anarchy, nor, (quite, no matter how centralised Westminster would like it to become) a dictatorship. I think those two measures are pretty far short of "maximum durations", and if they're meant to be some sort of average, the number of very-short-lived democracies over the years and the globe probably means the US has to keep cruising on as a representative democracy for a while to keep the average where those quotees supposed it to be.

 

To be fair, I think people don't think of the UK as a democracy for that long.   Specifically, I think there is some confusion for people, on when the nation became more democracy than monarchy.

 

Somewhere around the death of Charlie I or the accession of Charlie II. The Monarch has largely been a figurehead since then. Still 350 years. The Mother of Parliaments is so called for a reason.

This is how it is.

 

Parliament and Charles 1st clashed resulting in the (official) Civil War. Charles is defeated by Parliament and Cromwell becomes a dictator following failures by Parliament in the aftermath of Charles execution. This causes problems which result in Parliament calling back Charles II after Cromwell's death. Parliament and Charles II co-exist but on the ascension of James II we get problems. William and Mary come to rule and after their death Anne becomes Queen. It is Anne's reign that results in Parliament being unchallenged  and that is now 300 years old.

 

IF there were going to be problems it would have occurred in the 1830s when revolutions swept Europe but not Great Britain.

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I'm sorry to return to this, because it looks like I'm taking issue with Sinanju, whereas in fact you will notice that I have clipped his hopeful codicil. What I want to say is that I've read these guys, too. Or to put it another way, We know these Papenheimers.

 

I'm returning to it, above all, because there's also a substantive issue. It has been very convincingly argued that this age of secular stagnation we live in (also known as: the reason you haven't had a real raise in thirty years) is due to a shortage of public debt. As incomprehensible as it may seem to people raised on a steady diet of deficit scolding, the amount of public debt around the world has been shrinking for years. The only reason America is an exception is that you've cut your tax rates so far. (Leaving the argument about whether that was a good idea or not aside.) So this pose of world-weary, cynical wisdom grounded in historical knowledge is dangerous to the public weal, even before you tancy that you see seven flavours of awfulness in it from the pens of Jerry Pournelle, Heinlein and H. Beam Piper. 

 

Because it's a terrible argument. It's wrong everywhere! It's actually not even just wrong. It's like anti-truth! It's like someone taking you aside and telling you, "Hey, kid, you're young and I'm wise and old, and I know science. Trust me, the Moon is made of green cheese." Almost literally so.

 

i) Two hundred years? There are precious few regimes that last two centuries. Dynasties fall; civil wars happen; invasions succeed. Mostlly, it is monarchies and tyrannies that fall this way. But! But! But! But! I'm sputtering here because singling out democracies is such a terrible move to make in this argument.

ii) Because, well, for one thing, there aren't that many historical democracies. The Death Tribble notes that Britain's democracy has lasted more than two hundred years, but that's not really true. Britain was an oligarchy with representative institutions until some point during the long road of parliamentary reforms made in the course of the Nineteenth Century. I don't know where in the progress of freedom you want to place the magic moment of breakthrough to the sunny uplands of true democracy, but it wasn't in 1816! 

iii) Given this, the whole pose of objective-data-driven-social-science is just completely wrong. What historical democracies are we singling out? There aren't that many of them, and the examples we single out: Rome, Athens, Venice --they all lasted a lot longer than two centuries. For the most part, they didn't even fall to internal tensions! In fact, if we're looking for examples, we need alleged Greek democracies of the sixth century BC, about which we know absolutely noting, and what we know is almost certainly wrong; the Roman republic (two centuries, not so much); and, I don't know, I guess Florence? Machiavelli was all upset about that, so I guess it counts. But if you're going to make some kind of point about democracies being particularly unstable, I've got a longer list right here of Chinese dynasties (alone) that fell. Though most of them made it three centuries, so good for them, I guess? Actually, I bet you could make a longer list of states-of-the-island-of-Java-that-fell-in-less-than-two-centuries than you can make of democracies that. . . 

 

iv) This is just another numbered point, but I'm separating it off because of the whole rich and deeper cray-cray factor. Not only have there not been many democracies in the world in history, there are a lot more now. Right now, and for the last two centuries, the pattern has been for dictatorships and anarchies to fall and be replaced by democracies. And the number of democracies which have fallen in that time is . . . . Hungary, maybe? Thailand's had some rough patches, too. But, overall, the clear, the very clear trend, has been the opposite of this historical insight presented above. Oh, maybe we're due at the magic two centuries mark, but until then, where's the freaking evidence?

 

So that's democracies failing. Now, the bit about the crowd realising that they can vote themselves money out of the treasury. Public debt is a feature of the modern age, ever since the Habsburgs of Spain (accuracy note: note a democracy!) started borrowing to fund their wars in the Sixteenth Century. The Habsburgs of Spain also pioneered national debt repudiation, which is clearly not a good thing, but in no way the end of the world, as we can see on account of the world not ending. 

 

The Habsburgs having set a precedent, everyone started borrowing large amounts of money to fund their wars. And stuff: Like, for example, corruption. Right down to today, the entire list of countries which have repudiated their public debts since the French Revolution consist of: the Weimar Republic (by stealth); and, assorted dictatorships and anarchies. Not a single democracy has repudiated its debt since 1815, to the best of my knowledge.

 

Why? Because, in the mid-seventeenth century, two regimes which fought the Spanish a lot realised that they had to put their national-debt-raising on a solid footing and establish proper taxation to pay for it. And you know what countries those were? Two republics! (Dutch, English.) Then, in the Eighteenth Century, in a particularly bad episode of public debt repudiation, the French monarchy's handling of it led to a revolution which established a republic , which, in turn, put French finances on the right path.

 

One of the more interesting things about this was that they did so by getting rid of the rich and connected rentier class which took a large share of the public debt as private payment. It turns out that monarchies last until aristocrats realise that they can privilege themselves a fortune out of the public treasury. . . 

 

Meanwhile, in the second decade of the 21st century, we see public debt shrinking everywhere. It is projected that the American debt will stop shrinking and start growing at some point in the future, but this is because the projections assume that Americans will  never raise taxes, ever again. For example, you will not raise your social security taxes by, for example, eliminating the tax preference for private retirement plans that have so dramatically failed their investors. I --never mind. Of course, that tax break has served at least one purpose: it has put a lot of money in the hands of the American financial industry, and, since some of it comes back in the form of lobbying money, into the hands of its politicians. 

 

Something about public largesse?

Argentina?

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I just received a DNC fund-raising call.

 

A part of their lengthy spiel was that they are raising money to target vulnerable seats held by white male republicans.

 

Me: So, hang on, the seats you are targeting are held by white, male republicans?

 

DNC: That's correct.

 

Me: I'm white and male.

 

DNC: ...

 

Me: Why didn't you just say "republicans?" It might surprise you, but I have no problems with white people or male people...

 

They hung up.

But there is no such thing as bias against white males...

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