Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ever consider Monsanto is right?

The organic root-chewing left lost a major battle this week after a federal judge dismissed a class-action lawsuit a group of organic farmers filed against Monsanto, the large agricultural company.

Monsanto puts a lot of resources into tweaking seeds on the genetic level, and customers of those seeds agree they will not replant the seeds next season. This allows Monsanto to control the supply of its own product and prevent any genetic drift in the crops.

But sometimes people try to cheat Monsanto by trying to replant the seeds for multiple seasons, and the company takes them to court over it. The earthy-crunchy folk consider Monsanto a secular devil, so they assume guilt anytime the agricultural company enters a courtroom. The claim that some of the seeds accidentally blow in to neighboring farms and take root, and innocent farmers are at risk of being brought to court.

This narrative is taken on blind faith, of course, and the evidence hasn't been enough to convince the courts. This week we saw the dismissal of
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v. Monsanto Company et al. Some quotes from the judge were repeated in Monsanto's press release:
U.S. District Judge Naomi Buchwald found that plaintiffs' allegations were "unsubstantiated ... given that not one single plaintiff claims to have been so threatened." The ruling also found that the plaintiffs had "overstate[d] the magnitude of [Monsanto's] patent enforcement," noting that Monsanto's average of roughly 13 lawsuits per year "is hardly significant when compared to the number of farms in the United States, approximately two million."
There are plenty of news articles that repeated the same quotes. I'm only quoting from Monsanto to prevent link decay.

Monsanto's enemies have to resort to conspiracy theories to explain the failure of these lawsuits to hold up in court. Just like when
Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser was ruled in Monsanto's favor, I can already see the anti-GMO, anti-corporate activists swirling around this case, claiming the judge was somehow compromised.

What's more likely: An international conspiracy that controls the federal court systems in multiple nations, or Monsanto is innocent of some of the wild allegations from the fringe left?


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Zeitgeist: Scientism Fiction

To date, conspiracy theorists have created three "Zeitgeist" movies, all of which are available free on the Internet. The first one was released in 2007 and combined a rip-off of The God Who Wasn't There, 9-11 "inside job" conspiracy theories and an anti-Federal Reserve pseudohistory piece into one sprawling mess.

This was followed by "Zeitgeist: Addendum" in 2008, which was a two hour criticism of the monetary system and capitalism. It also introduced Utopian loon Jacque Fresco and his push for a "resource-based economy," which is a theoretical non-capitalism top-down command and control society.

This "resource-based economy" idea was fleshed out in the sprawling two hour, 41 minute "Zetgeist: Moving Forward" that came out in January 2011. I heard calls to adopt a "resource-based economy" from supporters at Occupy Boston, but I could not find any serious response to the third video from either the skeptical community or econ writers.

Since I'm a member of both groups, that daunting task naturally befalls on me. I think the long run time is what kept most people out, and now that I've watched the entire thing, I can say I can only justify responding to part of the film. I am leaving the first hour and a half to other people, as that focuses on questionable human behavior and biology scholarship that I am not familiar with, but do not trust the narrator to accurately report.

The heart of the film is in the section "Project Earth," where the viewer is told the best way to organize human society is through Fresco's centrally-planned direct democracy. This is constantly referred to as an approach with scientific support, but this is just vague hand-waving. No actual science is mentioned.

This is what Friedrich Hayek called scientism, where someone uses the trappings of science to prop up an idea that is not supported by science. This video is a wonderful example of the wild conclusions an ignorant person can reach when they get their hands on a few stray facts, but have no core understanding to build upon.

The narrator wants to abolish private property, money and specialization. He also wants to install direct democracy, but I think that idea has been defeated enough times that I can skip it.

Economies solve two major problems for a population: What to produce and how to distribute that production. The answer Zeitgeist gives to distribution is instead of owning objects, people will pick them at warehouses, use them, then return them. This silly idea invites all kinds of problems, but not as many as the films answer to the production problem.

This utopia will employ magic boxes to decide what to produce. The filmmaker calls these devices "computers," but they bear no resemblance to the device I'm writing this review on. A simply reading of "I, Pencil" from Leonard Read demonstrates the incredible complex production chain required to create a simple wooden pencil. Zeitgeist Utopians believe they can coordinate the resources to build superconductors, spacecraft, washing machines and hospitals without the aid of the price system.

It's been 90 years since the socialist calculation problem was identified and these Utopians have stumbled into the same problem. Should scientists focus on curing a childhood disease or extending longevity? What happens when you don't have the resources to make emergency parachutes, communication devices and cancer drugs? How do you anticipate how many tomatoes need to be grown for next season. What do you do when there's an early harvest and all the trucks that would help move the crops are moving wildfire equipment. There is no way to program a machine to make these value judgments for you.

What's more, they say we've had the technology to run this system since the 1970's, the same time Chile had it's fraudulent Project Cybersyn that made the same claims and came with the same flaws.

All people in this impossible world will live in cities that produce their own food. This is justified because of the reduction in transportation fuel, an idea so dead it's inhumane to dig it up again. In addition to food, all objects will be manufactured within the city as well. This daunting task is accomplished by using 3D printers to replicate objects.

Here's an easy question that will illustrate the flaw. Did the invention of cheap home computer printers eliminate the large devices books and magazines are printed on?

Of course not. If someone needs a 101 fliers, people know it's cheaper to print one copy and then travel to a store to make 100 photocopies. This obvious flaw is so painful to watch that I understand why some viewers mistake the video for satire. For a theory that talks a lot about efficiency, it certainly suggests a lot of inefficient solutions.

The film caps off its Utopian scheme by denying that the resource-based economy is anything like communism. This is a useless denial. It doesn't matter if someone denies they are a racist before assaulting a stranger because of their race. The organization this film suggests has the same basic structure as socialism, communism and technocracy, and denying it doesn't change anything.

I realize this review is appearing on a free-market blog, but don't let that fool you into thinking market-based organization is a political position. All modern economics supports using markets and capitalism to organize what to produce and how to distribute what's produced. The only debate is the extent of intervention from the government, and no serious economist supports zero intervention.

There are tons of little phony details I could spend all day pointing out. The narrator recites a well-understood flaw in using GDP as a barometer of economic activity, then acts as if this is a new criticism that disproves economic science. A speaker falsely presents Adam Smith's invisible hand as belief in divine intervention and tries to twist his message. The video also insist Milton Friedman was insincere in all his lectures and lied to the public to keep power in the hands of the evil overlords. People can only get away with this sort of drivel because of the economic ignorance of the public.

"Zeitgeist:Moving Forward" takes a collection of true facts and outright falsehoods and weaves a Utopian world, despite complete ignorance of basic economic knowledge. This is classic Do-It-Yourself economics told by someone who lacks the basic knowledge of the failed ideas of the past.

Currently the film has been viewed nearly 15 million times. If anything, the popularity of these videos reflects the sorry state of intellectualism today. People who identify with these videos consider themselves enlightened and wise, but they don't realize they're just recycling a collection of blood-soaked failures from less than a century ago. Refusal to learn from those mistakes would cause their doomed hypothetical society to repeat them.


Friday, February 24, 2012

How PZ Myers can contribute to diversity

Science and atheism blogger PZ Myers is in the camp that wants to make promoting diversity in scientific skepticism and the secular community a high priority, higher than some people are willing to go.

I think it's good to recruit more people from any background. I'd be happy to have more women, minorities, religious people or conservatives in skepticism. Myers and his minions aren't exactly gung-ho about the last two, seeing as how he doesn't want people like me in the secular community.

Unfortunately, this quest for diversity has taken the form of propping up unaccomplished token female and minority members as speakers at conferences, and in order to make room for them, established speakers have to be cut.

So what I don't understand is why did PZ Myers, a pasty white male, agree to be a speaker at TAM 9 and now the upcoming secular Reason Rally.

If Myers wants to make sure there are less white males on stage, he can lead by example and stop accepting invitations to speak.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Libertarian tolerance and progressive acceptance

I know I'm not the first person to mark the distinction between tolerance and acceptance. The two are often jumbled together, but tolerance is the weaker of the two. Acceptance means to fully respect and approve of something, while tolerance means to allow it to occur with or without accepting it.

That important distinction also demonstrates why libertarians and progressives can vote the same way on an issue, but completely disagree on why someone should support a policy. Libertarians are willing to tolerate more, as progressives need full acceptance before they will support something.

Drug legalization is a perfect example. As a libertarian, most of my arguments are about about how it's wrong for the government to stop an adult from putting something into their own body.

My friends on the left, however, will instead argue that marijuana is not very harmful and carries a lot of benefits for society. Those are very different philosophies being expressed.

For the left, they have to be convinced that it's a good decision for people to use drugs. For libertarians, we instead leave that choice up to people and let them draw their own conclusions.

The same thing happens with gay adoption. My friends on the left are forced to prove that gays make caring, trustworthy parents, where my fellow classic liberals simply have to say it's not the governments place to regulate who can be a mom or dad.

Tolerance has taken me to the opposite side of a recent issues. Lefties are rallying behind President Obama's requirement that all health insurance plans must include birth control pills for women with no co-payments, including plans from Catholic groups that are morally opposed to birth control.

Now neither of us accept the Catholic church's stance against condoms and the pill. I don't think it's a legitimate, reasonable stance to take. However, I'm willing to tolerate it and they aren't.

My real issue with the mandate, of course, has nothing to do with religious tolerance. I'm against any and all mandatory health care requirements. This mandate is not a form of insurance, and will drive up the costs of health care and birth control, guaranteeing less people will end up with coverage.

At it's worse, tolerance is a form of apathy. But when it comes to official mandatory policy with the power of the police force behind it in a nation with a diverse set of values, needs and incomes, I find tolerance a much more realistic and reliable standard than acceptance.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Return of the Master

I'm more excited about this than the new season of Spartacus.

Bryan Caplan, Walter Williams, Amity Shlaes, Brad Delong, Mathew Yglesias and Austen Goolsbee. I don't know much about Raghuram Rajan or Shikha Dalmia, but I look forward to learning more about them in the three-part series.

The only way it could be better was if Tyler Cowen or Mike Munger was onboard, but I will be more than happy to settle for Delong.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

President George W. Obama

I have a lot of fun mocking the dishonest, loony left like Michael Moore, Naomi Klein and Cynthia McKinney. I also think it's important to give back occasionally and honor members of the left who are fair, intelligent and thought provoking, such as Matthew Yglesias.

Let me add another name to the list of honest outspoken leftists and reveal my respect for Rachel Maddow. Just look at this clip from last month where she took President Obama to task for his embrace of imprisoning people without due process:

Psychologically, it's very difficult for people to distance themselves from an idea, cause or politician once embraced. With all the broken promises of the current administration, I can see the people who vote for in 2012 divided into two camps.

The first camp is people who believe the Republicans are worse. They like a few things he's done or stands for and have some major reservations about some of his other actions, but think a republican president would make worse mistakes. I don't agree with these people, but I respect them.

The other is people who still look at him like it's 2008. They can easily be identified when they make excuses for his failures like "he inherited a mess."

He did indeed inherit a mess, but can anyone find the speech where candidate Obama said the country is too screwed up to turn it around in the next few years? I've never heard this speech, but a lot of his supports reference it a lot.

President Obama is in over his head. He did not know what he was getting in to and has had to abandon a lot of his positions and goals, and that has lead him to make the same decisions George W. Bush made. Kudos to lefties like Maddow for not turning a blind eye.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Name that documentary

I'm trying to find the name of a documentary on eco-friendly efforts in Portland, Oregon.

In this week's episode of Econtalk, guest David Owen mentions such a documentary, but does not mention it by name. Here's what he wrote in his book, as read during the podcast:
A recent documentary about Portland's Green consciousness shows a concerned resident driving her minivan 25 miles to buy two bags of fresh produce from a farmer on the other side of the city's urban growth boundary. And it shows the same farmer in a pickup truck transporting a larger but still very small selection of produce into the city to sell it in an urban farmer's market. Both trips are presented as virtuous acts, but neither makes environmental sense...

If all the worlds groceries traveled from farm to fork in minivans two bags at a time, we'd have exhausted many of the world's resources long ago. Locavorism is appealing because like many of the most popular green strategies, it feels enlightened, yet entails no actual sacrifice even if you don't grant yourself exemptions for coffee and out-of-season fruit.
I haven't had much luck finding the documentary with a Google search, as Portland has a lot of environmentally-focused actions and documentary viewings that cloud the search results. Owen mentioned this same documentary in a 2009 interview, so it must predate that interview, which eliminates the documentary Deep Green.

Do any readers have any ideas? I'd love to view this scene and use it to reference the absurdity of locavorism.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trade can't hurt both partners, can it?

Robin Hanson posed a good question this week after turning up a news article about Congress interfering with not only Americans buying from China, but selling to China as well.
Presumably this stupidity is due to some sort of psychology, but what? Why object to both buying and selling to foreigners? Can people really think both sides are hurt by a trade?

My guess: because firms are larger than customers and employees, we see the firm as dominant in both firm-customer and firm-employee relations. So buying into ownership of a firm is buying into a position of dominance. Thus people object both to locals buying stuff from foreign firms, and to foreigners buying into local firms, because they object to locals being submissive to foreigners.
For my explanation, the focus is on the "Buy Local" movement instead of international trade.

People who don't understand economics have no reason to establish a consistent model of how trade works. They believe that buying goods from someone outside the cherished community "leaks" wealth outside of the community, and they don't bother to work out the details and assume selling outside the community leaks wealth out as well, if they have a limited supply and could instead sell to someone from inside the community.

Hanson is making the same mistake that biologists make when they visit the Creation Museum in Kentucky: they expect to see a cohesive, well-developed (yet fundamentally flawed) argument, but instead find a plastic dinosaur with a saddle.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Burning Man doesn't scale

The Burning Man festival, where artsy pyromaniacs, techno-hippies and wealthy hipsters converge in a faux-counterculture desert festival each year in Nevada.

But as the event has attracted more attention, it's run into a major problem on how to choose who gets in. Emphasis added in bold:
The problem has left perhaps 75 percent of the longtime participants who traditionally provide the creative spark for displays and activities without a ticket. The event is held annually at a remote site in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada.

The crisis resulted from attempts to solve issues from last year, when, in addition to the normal problem of computer servers crashing as thousands of people rush to buy tickets online, the event sold out for the first time.

With the event increasingly becoming a bucket-list activity, organizer Black Rock City LLC set out to create a more egalitarian method for distributing tickets and thwarting scalpers.

Black Rock's solution was to distribute 40,000 of the 58,000 tickets through a lottery. Applicants had two weeks to apply for up to two tickets. Demand far outpaced supply.

The result: "A full-on fiasco," said Steve Jones, author of "The Tribes of Burning Man."

The new system made it easier for folks not willing or able to sit at a computer for hours. But many say that same convenience also made it easy pickings for scalpers...

It's unclear how many tickets are in the hands of scalpers and how many are in the hands of new participants. What is clear is that many longtime participants, or burners, are ticketless.

"Nobody knows where all these tickets went. But since they didn't go to regular burners, the thought is they must have gone to professional scalpers," said Jim Bowers, who spearheads the Placer County-based collective of burners called The Tribe.

"It's a fiasco. They don't have any idea what they are going to do," said Bowers.

"Of the 80 people in our theme camp, five got tickets. Everyone else got rejection letters," said Bowers, whose group helped build a precision laser light clock tower and decorative hour markers last year.

Unlike music festivals like Coachella, Outside Lands or South By Southwest, Burning Man depends on participants to provide the entertainment, erect the art projects, operate free bars, lead parades and host forums. Most of the major offerings are created by clusters of people called "theme camps" or "tribes..."

The organizers' published plan is to sell the final lot of 10,000 tickets through an open sale (first-come, first-served) in March, but there are rumblings that they will give the leaders of major theme camps, artist groups and performers first crack.

That would be welcomed by established groups, but would likely infuriate participants who attend regularly but aren't part of a group.

"It would be essentially saying they value one type of Black Rock citizen over another," Jones said.
What's happening here is that tickets to Burning Man are priced too cheaply. The lottery winners paid $420 and the open sale tickets go for $390, but they're already listed on eBay for $700 to $5,500.

Burning Man didn't have a problem when only a few people wanted to attend, but now that it's become such a trendy destination, organizers have to choose between several possible solutions to distribute the limited admission slots. Lotteries are never a good solution, and organizers seem too stubborn to consider raising prices to reflect the true value.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Free market isn't blind to colorblindness

This is pretty cool. Video game code monkeys got together at the UK-based Global Game Jam last week to promote accessibility for people with disabilities. You know, people like me.

It's not just the color deficient that the group focused on, they also promoted making games playable by people missing a hand or more.

Is it bad that I've had multiple daydreams about how losing an arm in a war would seriously cramp my ability to wield an Xbox 360 controller without dealing with unscrupulous vendors?

From The Guardian:
"It was all kicked off by Tara Voelker, the chair of the IGDA's accessibility group, as part of our ongoing efforts to raise developer awareness," says Ian Hamilton, a veteran designer and accessibility consultant, overseeing the implementation of the Global Game Jam's accessibility strand in the UK. "The reason for doing it via GGJ is that a competition is a good way to reward people for taking an active role, while letting everyone else there learn something about accessibility."

"Even a simple thing, like choosing blue instead of green for a team colour, as Treyarch recently did with their colour-blind friendly mode for Call of Duty: Black Ops, can make your game playable by significant swathes of the population that would otherwise have had great difficulty. The red/green colourblindness that Treyarch addressed affects 8% of males, meaning they were finally able to tell their team-mates from their enemies."
This is people coming together and doing things because they want to, ahead of regulation. Plus they made a multiplayer game that only requires a single button. In the future, there will be snakes - snakes that seek to eat their own tails:


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why I write about socialism and communism

I read a powerful post today from Alex Tabarrok today about Chinese farmers in the village of Xiaogang who started a secret pact in 1978. They saw that collectivist farming was failing them and made a pact to split the communal land up secretly, much like the solution to the tragedy of the commons. They would keep the surplus they grew, which would motivate them to grow more.

It wasn't a blind love of capitalism that motivated them. The risk of being caught was death by firing squad, which shows how dire the situation was that they would risk death to bring private property to a communist nation.
“Back then, even one straw belonged to the group,” says Yen Jingchang, who was a farmer in Xiaogang in 1978. “No one owned anything.”

At one meeting with communist party officials, a farmer asked: “What about the teeth in my head? Do I own those?” Answer: No. Your teeth belong to the collective.
This is not my first post about why socialism, communism and Marxism are wrong, nor will it be my last. It's not because I think President Barack Obama is a socialist - I don't. It's not because I think there's a commie plot to take over America - there isn't.

But man oh man, is there a lot of Marxism still squirming about.

All the scientific support for collectivism rotted away in the twentieth century. The intellectuals who believed collectivism would replace capitalism embraced the USSR and China, claiming they achieved great improvements in the standard of living for the poor. The grinning skulls of the Russians, Chinese, Cambodians, Vietnamese, Cubans and other victims have shown how wrong they were.

This revelation has hit home with most people. They know that the hammer and sickle are tools to kill people, not liberation for workers.

But unfortunately, those maggoty ideas thrive with the college crowd, both starry-eyed clueless students and strung-out idiot English professors. They cling to the philosophy of Marx and use special pleading to ignore the lessons of history.

If you hear someone say "real socialism has never been tried," the only appropriate response is to walk away. This is an intellectual cult that's not restricted to the corners of the Internet. It was openly displayed at my college's weekly "Marxist luncheon series," it hung banners and cardboard signs at the 2011 Organized Trespassing protests and it's trendy with the sneering hipster daydreamers in metropolitan areas.

I write about these ideas because they're still shuffling about and the next generation needs to be reminded before it makes the same mistakes.

What's telling is that the specific examples of societies previous generations of Marxists listed as successes have been completely abandoned by the current generation. Check out this hep cat from 1978 talking to Milton Friedman. He thought Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward in China was a success.

He's talking about the same system the farmers of Xiaogang rebelled against. Since you don't hear any Marxists today hold up China as a positive example, what does that say about what future Marxists will say about Cuba, Venezuela and "Democratic Korea?"


Monday, February 6, 2012

Will the imposter please stand up?

The week is up and I am now revealing the identities of my four mystery Keynesians.

Please do not read any further or click to expand this post if you have not had a chance to read the previous post. You will spoil your own fun.

Al Pacino was Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, who blogs at BlindSight 20/20. Sadly, the blog has been dormant because of his workload as a research assistant for violence against woman and an political science major. Dylan has also been too cool to comment here so far, although he responds to things I write or share in private corners of the Internet.
Steve Buscemi was Kevin Paul, who recently started the video game blog RetroTavern. Kevin and I were friends in college where he majored in business, eventually graduating with an MBA.

Christopher Walken was Jeremy Corbally-Hammond, who blogs at JermSix and occasionally comments here. Jeremy is the former chairman of the Maine Green Independent Party and works at a food bank.

That leaves one slot left.

Robert De Niro was me the whole time. With the exception of question two about spending more money on pet projects to boost aggregate demand, I never actually wrote an answer I found flawed or illogical I simply changed the emphasis. Some of the questions, like the ones on trading with space aliens and mercantalism, do not stray from my real beliefs. They hit upon some things that are simply universal.

I had a few people contact me directly to guess which writer I was. The only one to get it correct was Nate, who blogs at Congress Shall Make No Law. He said:
I haven't had time to read the whole thing in depth, but I think you are the 4th minion of Keynes, based on a preliminary investigation of the faulty economics.
He could have been lucky, of course. My inner Robin Hanson says a betting market is needed to separate the guessers from those with serious opinions.

I had a lot of fun with this project. Thanks again to Joshua Zelinsky of Religion, Sets, and Politics for providing the questions, my team of stunt Keynesians for taking the time to answer those questions, and Bryan Caplan for inspiring the project in the first place.

I'd love to see readers react to learning which writer was me. Please comment below to which one you thought I was, why you went with it, and how you feel now that you know who was who.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

Spirited plug to a friend's blog

My friend Michael G. has just gotten serious about blogging at Connecticut Dweller's Lament. Right now half of his posts are about pets, which but the other half are about video games and that's entirely relevant here.

With it's high rate of tech savvy individuals, video game fans have often turned to the world of blogging. We're all trying to write the next timeless video game essay, like A Gamer's Manifesto or Bow Nigger and I have confidence that Mike could be that author.

Plus he's right. I really hate when the save point is just before the unskippable cutscene. Haven't we suffered enough?


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Secular community rationalizes their politics

This afternoon when NPR reported President Barack Obama said earlier today day that his policies are an extension of his religious faith, I had a funny feeling that today would be the day the secular community gives religion's influence on public policy a pass. I was not disappointed.

From NPR, with emphasis added for the juicy parts:
Blending politics and religion, President Barack Obama said his Christian faith is a driving force behind his economic policies, from Wall Street reform to his calls for the wealthy to pay higher taxes.

Obama's remarks Thursday at the National Prayer Breakfast were his most explicit account of how his personal religious beliefs factor into his decision-making on the nation's pressing problems. The comments came amid election-year criticism from Catholic groups and some Republicans that the president is waging a war on religion following his decision to require church-affiliated institutions to cover free birth control for employees.

Speaking to more than 3,000 people at the annual breakfast, Obama said "faith and values" should play as much as role in tackling the nation's challenges as sound decision-making and smart policies.
Now these statements about letting the Bible guide his policies were only spoken that morning, but it was on the air when I turned in at 1 p.m. I figured my fellow skeptics would have been exposed to it by now.

The clock is close to midnight now and I haven't seen it referenced at all on Facebook and most of the hits on YourOpenBook.com show the only people linking it are anti-Obama conservatives who are speculating (reasonably) that the comments would have sparked outrage if spoken by George W. Bush.

I also checked out some prominent secular blogs out there, from the Friendly Atheist to Pharyngula. They have updated several times today and there's no mention of it anywhere. That may change tomorrow, but the lack of a viral spread is telling.

I see my secular and skeptical friends post news reports all the time about a Republic politician or some unknown right wing loon waving around the Bible and saying America is a Christian nation or we've fallen too much into sin. It's usually introduced by saying "This is why I could never vote Republican."

No friends, you could never vote Republican because you don't like theirs policies. This is just rationalizing, where you come up with compelling arguments to justify your beliefs.

In all these cases, the friend already would never vote for a conservative candidate. They disagree with the right's economic views and hands-off solutions to problems like poverty. Of course, they also disagree with social conservatives, but hey, so do I.

I don't think the president said anything out of the ordinary for politicians today. As the transcript shows he also included plenty of lines about tolerating other faiths.

He's just caving like everyone else and this shows that the idea that only the Republicans will exaggerate their holy devotion just to win votes needs to be taken off the cross, placed in a cave and sealed with a big rock.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Who's really throwing their vote away

I'm in the camp that believes that voting in the presidential race is irrational. The odds that your vote will change the outcome is too slight to justify the time you spend voting. However, smaller elections, like a vote for town council, give voters much better odds of making a difference.

But tell that to the voting population, they tend to avoid town council elections. Nearly 40 percent of them also avoid presidential elections too, of course.

I want to vote libertarian and unfortunately the closest thing we have to a libertarian candidate is Ron Paul, which is like wanting a sandwich and ordering a quesadilla. Paul's integrity is questionable and the only way he will ever get a chance at winning the election is if Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich are caught having an affair with each other. I know voting for Paul in the primary won't be enough to get him the Republican nomination.

And without a nomination from one of the two parties, he won't have a chance at winning. Yet, I still might vote for him.

Think about it, if one is afraid of voting for a third-party candidate because that will be "throwing their vote away," they have to believe their vote is worth something in the first place. I don't think my vote is going to change the results, so there's nothing to actually throw away.

But when you vote for a doomed option like Ron Paul, a Libertarian party candidate or the Green party, you could help make a statistical boost to their results. They'll still lose, but you can help them command more influence with the established parties.

If your vote doesn't count, you might as well cast it honestly.