There is always the issue of an overreaching government, and that's where the left/right party split comes in. Each party either creates more regulation and protection or take some away. As voters, we have to recognize this duality of our system and embrace it. It's our only way to control the people we elect.
This isn't strictly true, and I'd love to see you provide extensive data on such a exceptional claim.
There is a lot of evidence showing that harsher punitive measures often have little to no impact on crime and wrongdoing.
I would counter that without those punishments and protections, its possible that fewer people would do things like start businesses, for example. I don't really know. I'd love to see some data on this.
Seems to me that instead of rushing to one extreme or the other (no Government vs big Government), finding a good balance between the two is going to be the most productive for us all.
> I would counter that without those punishments and protections, its possible that fewer people would do things like start businesses
Again, the evidence rather strongly suggests the opposite.
As people's brains are more stressed out by the fear of failing, their decision making gets worse not better. There's tons of evidence that shows that being poor severely screws with your ability to make rational, intelligent decisions about long term planning. (https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/11/your-br... ; https://theconversation.com/study-links-poverty-and-poor-dec...)
Likewise, there's data that shows one of the things that's special about entrepreneurs is the fact that they have strong familial safety nets. Part of their risk taking is literally that the risks are less risky for them, because their families will catch them. Which suggests that, if you want to increase the number of new businesses - implement a stronger social safety net (like a basic income). (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/welfare... ; http://www.nber.org/papers/w19276.pdf?new_window=1) . The paper I linked there focused on the "smart" and "illicit" avenues and completely brushed past the "come from wealthier families" part, but I've seen other papers (that google isn't coughing up readily in the 5 minutes I have right now) that focused more on that latter part.
Conversely, you just have to look at the countries that do a good job of taking care of their citizens - Scandinavia, Canada, etc - to see pretty strong evidence for the idea that a well cared for populace is able to make better decisions.
I'd be willing to bet that harsher punitive measures (and more aggressive enforcement) would have a big impact on white collar crime rates.
I spent 6 months in prison as a conscientous objector. One thing I learned was, in the relatively humane nordic penal system, the reality of imprisonment was nowhere near as scary as I'd imagined. If I were to commit a serious crime now, I think the social stigma would be much more serious to me than incarceration, were I to be caught. I think that's probably true for most white-collar types as well. Losing time is one thing, losing standing among your peers is much worse, if you have standing to lose. Shame is a terrible thing. It wasn't an issue for me, fortunately.
Of course, most people in prison don't have the luxury of such problems. The majority of people I met inside were there as a result of psychological and substance abuse issues. One man there reassured me that I was going to be OK because unlike everyone else there, my problems were not with my self. That's got to be about the saddest thing I've ever heard.
>...I spent 6 months in prison as a conscientous objector.
Could you elaborate? Under what conditions does a conscientious objector face a lengthy prison term?
In the US the draft just allowed the US government to continue the Viet Nam war far longer than it otherwise would have gone, I am glad we don't have an active draft here.
Now that American wars are mostly being fought by volunteers from classes without political power they can drag on for decades and most Americans barely even think about them anymore.
I don't think there is much evidence for this. Over 2.7 million Americans served in Viet Nam. If the politicians could have possibly gotten millions of young people to drop what they were doing and go 5 thousand miles to fight in a civil war in a country most had never heard of before, they would certainly have done so. There is simply no possible way they could have gotten that many troops on a volunteer basis, or they would have done so.
>Once kids of upper and middle class parents started getting drafted and killed they started putting pressure on the government to end the war.
The upper class were able to get out of serving in Viet Nam with deferments, serving in the National Guard, etc. Johnson acknowledged this and that is why they never sent the National Guard to fight in Viet Nam.
The middle and lower classes were dieting in Viet Nam long after the average American had given up on the war. Johnson din't even run for re-election because people were so opposed to the war but the war still dragged on for several more years. The politicians didn't end the war sooner because they didn't want to suffer the political consequences of looking like the person who lost and they knew there was plenty of cannon fodder to replace the soldiers who came back in a body bag.
>...Now that American wars are mostly being fought by volunteers from classes without political power they can drag on for decades and most Americans barely even think about them anymore.
There are differences between the wars of today and the Viet Nam war. The Viet Nam war had literally an order of magnitude more deaths than our current wars. A war zone is never safe but there are at least a few occupations that are a more dangerous than fighting in Afghanistan. Having a volunteer force means the soldiers have to treated better and paid more than a draftee. These wars have been a waste of lives and money but things would have been much worse if there were millions of draftees serving in the middle east and Afghanistan. At a minimum, I think it is very likely there would have been a war for regime change in Iran if there were a draftee army that was forced to fight there.
Having a volunteer force in the 1960s would have meant that the Viet Nam war would have been fought with a lot more concern for the loss of life of the solders, and it likely wouldn't have been fought anything like it was fought.
Kind of amazing that this is ground for a legal challenge but the fact that female aren't drafted isn't. That's one of the part of Western societies around which I can't wrap my mind.
In Switzerland we had a small reform of our army and copying the Norwegians was considered for a while, but they ended up dropping the idea for just doing small changes. Quite disappointing.
Every country has abolished private slavery. I'd like to imagine a world where each individual state also relinquished its claim to enslave people.
The exempted religious group are the Jehova's witnesses. It's my understanding they were granted an exemption because men in the group would by and large all refuse to serve, and putting them all in prison wasn't doing much good. However, recently a conscientous objector was released by a court on the grounds that this exemption constitutes inequal treatment, and the state now has to address the issue. I suppose the options they have are to either extend the exemption to others based on some grounds to be determined, or remove the exemption of Jehova's witnesses.
The ministry of defense has proposed to solve the problem by removing the witnesses' exemption. In general, the state appears to be consistently treating this as a practical matter of maintaining the current policy of general conscription, and not as a rights issue at all.
Harsher punitive measures are often meted out to those with the weakest reason.
“Parco, Rapoport and Stein (2002) illustrated that the level of financial incentives can have a profound effect on the outcome in a three-player game: the larger the incentives are for deviation, the greater propensity for learning behavior in a repeated single-play experimental design to move toward the Nash equilibrium.”
I recall reading somewhere that people also behave more rationally in other games like the Dictator Game (and exhibit fewer cognitive biases) when the stakes are higher, but can’t remember where.
Typically, voting results are highly skewed towards 50/50, say in most elections in democratic regimes with fair elections. This was the case for Brexit or the popular vote in the US 2016 election for instance.
For an election whose expected result is close to 50/50, each voter is highly influential; intuitively, if all but one voter are decided and produce a 50/50 draw, the last undecided voter has complete power. Since a lot of fair elections are approximately 50/50, undecided voters have far better influence than 1/300,000,000 for a population of 300,000,000.
In an approximately 50/50 election with few undecided voters, it is quite cheap to swing the results by bombarding the few undecided voters with ads.
Mathematicians use this concept coined "influence" of a variable, or "influence function" to analyze properties of random boolean functions in percolation for instance.
Even if you had guaranteed ability to affect the outcome of an election, supposing you knew that by spending many hours researching the correct policy to vote for you could save each person in USA $1, it would not be worth it for you to spend the time figuring it out. Although from a social perspective it would be a worthy thing to spend time on.
When was the last time someone got a supermajority with more than a small number of voters?
Your basic point seems to be that a big Government will be so well run that individuals would rely on it to provide them with benefits, even in the case that the Government make poor decisions on policy choices. That is the whole point of a Government: to make life easier for people by taking care of things that are too expensive or complicated for people to do individually.
What actually happens, in the real world, in situations like this, is that people suffer and die. They don't become Ayn Rand's ideal man; there's just lots of needless suffering.
And because people are capable of violence, and because people don't like suffering very much, they commit violence against each other to improve their own position -- which increases the suffering.
And then other people, who don't want to suffer and don't want to commit violence, try to leave. And they come to countries like the United States, which they've heard at some point is a great and welcoming land of opportunity, only to discover that it's all a big marketing sham and the majority of the US wants to put up a sign that says, "Go away, we're closed."
Given the number of failing or failed states around the world recently, you have to have your head quite deep in the sand, or maybe far up in some body part, to still subscribe to this idea that anarcho-capitalism is a solution to anything.
There are many complex problems with many governments around the world right now. "Get rid of government" will not make any of it better.
There are many many counterexamples to this. See [Seeing Like a State - Wikiwand](https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Seeing_Like_a_State) for many good ones.
There's a lot of good evidence that people are in fact capable of taking care of themselves pretty well. But violence, especially organized violence, is tho a very real problem for basically everyone. But that's basically what a government is, fundamentally, so it's not obvious that 'more government' always rebounds to the betterment of everyone or even most people. As with everything, there are tradeoffs to be weighed!
The economic argument for government providing public services is actually that for public goods, the incentives on the individual lead to sub-optimal outcomes (that’s partly just the definition of a public good).
Just because voters vote for government that may be less good at providing that public good (let’s say police protection) is not an argument that this completely eliminates any benefit from that service being provided as a public good.
From the simple example, the Democrats may provide less optimal policing than Republicans (wasting money on nanny state directives) does not mean the service can effectively provided by the private market.
You’re positing that sort inverse incentives apply when voters are choosing the governmental provision of public services. This seems unlikely to be true in the aggregate because voters do not get to choose politicians who are going to pursue policies to benefit themselves, as an individual, when they vote. As you point out, they may vote for totally psychological benefits.
So the tension is not really over the size of government; it is over making the correct determination of how much of a good or service is comprised of being a “public good.”
Classic public good problems, like imposing the correct costs on pollution, can’t be solved by wishing them away.
What you’re complaint more seems to be with is that democracy allows elements of self, or class, interests into individuals voting choices. The solution to this would be some kind of perfect benevolent dictator, who would make the optimum determination as to which goods should be provided by the government, and dedicate the correct resources to them.
The problem with this, of course, is again the incentives on the holders of power distort their decision making to their own benefit, as had be shown over and over in the real world.
People are not fundamentally rational, and people do not know how rational they themselves are in any given context.
Consider, for example, the international politics arena, wherein there is no government over state actors, and where sufficiently important players pursue sufficiently rational actions, since the cost of not pursuing it is so high. Yet even with good evidence that current human activities are leading to future food and environmental insecurity via climate change, the rational actors have been struggling to coordinate on a plan.
When a voter is just one of millions, their share of power is necessarily low. Yet the total power obviously rises linearly. (or even super-linearly, considering the outsize influence the US has in the world). Your comment also suggests that you believe people are fundamentally open to altruistic decisions. It should therefore not matter if the power they have is over themselves, or their compatriots.
I also doubt widespread agreement with the policies you mention. Answers to such survey questions depend on the phrasing more than anything. And to use one recent datapoint: we all know a recent candidate who embodied those policies more than anyone before him. Yet they actually got fewer votes than their free trade / pro-immigration opponent.
Well, soon enough, I am sure, the AI will satisfy both views on the government: it will control everything, and it will fit in your pocket.
We may need a source on that. Are you are familiar with Thaler's work?
This was directly negated in the article.
Do you mean like buying a house they cannot afford for some ideal of home ownership? ;)
There's less war, life expectancies are generally rising (the opioid epidemic being a temporary, and local, blip), the possibility of achieving one's true potential is less dependent on class/gender/race than it has ever been.
It's not perfect, but it's far away from life as it was even 100 years ago: nasty, brutish, and short.
The subtle mechanism behind most problems in public policy today is collapsing of decision tree into just one yes or no answer (red/blue) that IMO is killing the nuanced policy development (or more accurately used by politicians to do whatever half-aed measures they can come up with). having smaller units also help with even more meta-manipulations like gerrymandering so prevalent in US. if we want to hold congress accountable for their constituents this is pretty much the only sustainable path to it. Until this happens IMHO most good policies will continue to be lost in poor/unimaginative implementation.
While local government is totally necessary, I don't think we can afford to not have big government. If wind currents made air pollution a non-issue in say, Ontario because wind currents blew it all down to Nebraska, how would we deal with that? Many of our most pressing societal problems live at the interstate or international level and need a corresponding governing body.
The article talks about institutional inertia. The advantage of a market economy is your Blockbusters get replaced by Netflix. Imagine if film renting were a public agency. It would be much harder to disrupt. Governments are, by design, immortal. A crucial design decision is choosing what, in our society, we want to be immortal and what we want to be replaceable.
Further governments are often first adapters. Many legacy government IT systems exist, but as they generally work and cost less to maintain than replace. Really the advantage of free markets is information exchange and diminishing returns not simply building large scale systems.
Consider, some cars come with built in refrigerators yet we ended up with roadside stores selling cold beverages. That's the kind of tradeoff markets are great for identifying.
The elected component of any modern government oversees a vast administrative bureaucracy. This is the part people refer to when comparing "big" and "small" governments.
> the main reason for the institutional inertia is the same scale, complexity and principal/agent problems large corporations also suffer from
Federal bureaucracies only die if (a) the legislature explicitly kills it or (b) the government collapses. Large companies, on the other hand, can go bankrupt. Shareholders are motivated to be ruthlessly efficient in a way lawmakers, somewhat by design, are not.
Ruthless efficiency for maximising long run profit is only useful in cases that particular metric happens to align closely with the goal of society. For film distribution this might be a reasonable assumption. For promoting health or learning outcomes or facilitating retirement, it almost certainly usually isn't.
In Western European and North American history, at least, it dramatically is. Look at a list of the Dow or S&P 500's founding components. Look at those lists now. Now look at a list of U.S. departments in 1850, and compare them to today.
> Q: So policy makers should use bubbles as a way to step in?
> Thaler: Yes, but very gently. It’s not like I think policy makers know what’s going to happen, but if they see what looks disturbing, they can lean against the wind a little bit. That’s as far as I would go. We both agree that markets, good or bad, are the best thing we’ve got going. Nobody has devised a way of allocating resources that’s better.
> Fama: We disagree about whether policy makers are likely to get it right, though. On balance, I think they are likely to cause more harm than good.
We all agree that economists are good at maximizing resource allocation. Sysops are good at maximizing hardware allocation but we should let them dictate national policy :)
Politics is about taking all of the science and all of the human components of administrating a country and merge them into an ideal outcome. Economics is just one part of a bigger picture.
I must say though that I have doubts about the parent's "they largely ignore externalities", I think that is too negative a claim.
Case closed. Pay your taxes, citizen. Thank you; drive through.
And then, occasionally, there are protests in the streets, people start running for office pledging to fix the abuses, we vote for them, and things slowly start to change.
Alternately, sometimes we sue them, or else a state or federal attorney general sues them; the matter ends up in the judicial system, and the behavior is reviewed by an independent judge – albeit only for violations of law, not of sense.
As avenues for redress, both of these are highly imperfect, with well-known limits and failure cases; but they’re not nothing.
If this were possible, there would be no authority
In a small government scenario, who watches those providing services?
Libertarians = Arch Linux (lean, mean, minimal)
Everybody else = Windows or Mac (i.e. huge operating system that tries to protect users from everything under the sun)
I earned my CS degree from a liberal arts college and took my share of liberal arts classes. But the name doesn't directly infer a political slant - there isn't an indoctrination that the right would like to say happens. Certainly some departments will have slants to them (women's studies, african american studies, etc.) but that doesn't mean that the scientific method gets forgotten at the door. Research still gets done and still gets reviewed. Certainly moreso than what happens on Fox News.
Look at net neutrality, it's been completely framed by the republicans as anti-business, and they have appealed to the masses that are uneducated in how the internet works and why it was successful in the first place. But what would those of us who are educated and/or do development know? We just work using the internet all day, every day.
I question this premise. How much of the public actually buys the Republican line on net neutrality?
Life is complicated. It is time consuming to become an knowledgeable, aware person capable of contributing intelligently to society. It is also absolutely necessary if we want to have a self-governed society worth living in. You can't have a worthwhile government - let alone a big government - governed by the will of the masses when the masses are largely ignorant and unable to offer informed consent due to lack of understanding.
Thaler's "libertarian paternalism" is not about controlling choices, but making better choices easier to make while allowing people to still choose something else. Big government in practice is typically about picking an option and not allowing anything else. And if that one chosen option turns out to be wrong, it will take ages to undo it as the now-vested interests who manage to benefit lobby to keep the status quo.