25 May, 2006


About 64 million people voted in last night's "American Idol" final thingy-dingy.* Probably a certain percentage of these were people who voted more than once, but we should assume that this sort of thing is limited; people only have access to so many phones, after all. This is well below turnout in the last Presidential election, 122 million, especially when you consider that the voting-eligible population is much larger, and it's much easier to vote by phone than it is to show up to a polling station. It's also just slightly behind turnout in midterm elections, which in 2002 was 80 million. So we need not worry; while it's clear that Americans will turn out en masse to participate in utterly meaningless elections, slightly more Americans will turn out to participate in slightly less meaningless elections.

* I did not vote - I was watching the season finale of Lost, which is much more important.

At least a few votes must have been cast by cats who accidentally trod on the telephone keypad. If you do not believe this is possible, ask me sometime about the incident in which my cat deleted the contents of my hard drive.


i also have a surefire way to improve voter turnout. on every national election ballot, place a behavior requirement. SHALL...

...EVERY YOUNG ADULT be REQUIRED to attend parenting skills training?
...EVERY YOUNG ADULT be REQUIRED to participate in cooking and cleaning at community facilities (schools, senior homes, etc)?
...MINIMUM WAGE be pegged to CEO compensation?
...EVERY CITIZEN be REQUIRED to perform military service?
...EVERY CITIZEN be REQUIRED to vote? (heh heh)
...MOBILE PHONES be REQUIRED to automatically silence their rings in certain environments?


i had thought to do them as very silly things like people might bitch about while drunk or getting their hair cut (bathroom underwear, poor phone etiquette, inconsiderate birthday observance) but realized that probably what would work better would be to put things that actually stuck it to someone without a major crimp in anybody's life. abortion would seriously hit people but the kinds of stuff that old  people complain about about self-reliance and such would be better because it would make both the crabby people and the idealistic people itchy. 

Posted by hibiscus

I actually watched American Idol  this year.
(Yeah, yeah, I know... but I didn't vote!) The actual number of people who voted is probably much lower than that 64 million, since viewers can vote multiple times. 

Posted by DearDarlingDidi

here's a neat thing - a few days ago i learned the principal-agent problem  and moral hazard, economic concepts relating to contractual arrangements between owners and operators. maybe there's already a game model where the president and the vice president are paid differently, so as to dissuade them from trying to steal the whole government for themselves. i doubt it.

but from that i did think, what is the real difference between the "unitary executive" and outlandish CEO pay? "l'├ętat, c'est moi" fits both, and both seem like symptoms of panic during a wildfire country drought instead of Excellence In Administration.

me thinking in this frame of mind, government flops on self-auditing because it has a monopoly on votes. you can vote for different candidates but you can't effectively choose a different government - unless you are willing to learn a new language. 

Posted by hibiscus

wait no. the principal-agent thing talked about this. the issue is about asymmetric information. as you move away from the local level, democratic process becomes increasingly asymmetric ... and it multiplies, because as you go higher, you also get into an asymmetric relationship with reporters, who are, in this drama, the agents hired by the public to gather information about the effectiveness of the agents hired to work for the public good. at the local level you literally step in the cracks caused by bad administration and you can go beat them up over it if you want to.

bloggers then are agents watching agents watching agents. complicated.

perhaps the test of a likely agency problem is whether your agent-watcher is more likely to go to dinner with your agent than with you. 

Posted by hibiscus

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