Voting for Comments

I urge everyone to use the voting system in the comments section to:

  1. Vote up comments containing facts with sources.
  2. Vote down ad hominem attacks directed at anyone.
We all share the same goal of minimizing the amount of suffering in the world.  Name-calling is completely unproductive.  Ad hominem attacks cause to the emotional limbic system to steal the cognitive reins from our rational prefrontal cortices.  This process makes primates out of philosophers.

Voting for Politicians

Note that I am not encouraging anyone to vote in an actual election. Many people vote for the for the lesser of two evils with the belief that their vote will be more likely to affect the outcome of the election.

Should I vote?

Self-interested Answer: no, you might die.
There’s less than a 0.00001% chance that your vote will be the tiebreaker that decides the outcome of a national elections.You are more likely to be injured in a car accident driving to the polls (0.002% chance).  Hence, if you are trying to make a practical improvement in your life and those of your loved ones, it is much more rational to just stay home on election day.
civic-minded answer: yes, if you’re more informed on the issues and candidates than the average voter.
However, if you have a relatively informed opinion on the ability of the candidates to reduce suffering in the world, you should exercise your irrational desire to vote. At least then you can say that you’re part of the solution and not a part of the problem.  But if you do this, you should vote based on your civic duty to express your opinion about who would be the best person for the job.  It’s quite likely that this person will either be running on a third-party ticket or (most likely) will not even be on the ballot.



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14 thoughts on “Vote!”

  1. Your argument commits a classic fallacy, called the fallacy of division. What it is is saying that what must be true of one must be true of all or some of its parts. The problem is that voting is a collective effort, not an individual one. One person’s vote in and of itself may not affect the election, but 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + ad infinitum definitely has a much larger if not dispositive effect.

    1. OK. But you only have control over your own vote. The people reading this are individuals not collective society. These individuals do not have control over collective society. They only have control of their own actions.

  2. I disagree. Collective society is necessarily comprised of individuals and there is necessarily a net effect of their actions with respect to voting. While we as individuals may not be able to affect the vote to the extent we hope, there is still is some effect. A vote that is virtually ineffective still is something, as opposed to pure nothing.

    But I wholeheartedly agree that who we vote for really doesn’t matter, so long as Congress is dependent on campaign donations. Have you read Republic, Lost by Lawrence Lessig? It’s the subject of the entire book. Your comments about campaign finance made me think of it.

    1. I have not read that book. But I will put it on the long list of books that deserve my attention in the hopes that it will eventually be put on the short list of books that actually receive my attention.

      Can you quote the specific sentence in which I make an objectively false statement? I’m not seeing where our specific disagreement is.

      1. Sure, it’s the statement(s), “The people reading this are individuals not collective society. These individuals do not have control over collective society. They only have control of their own actions.”

        My point was that individuals are necessarily part of collective society because collective society is necessarily comprised of individuals. Individuals of no effect on collective society may exist in theory, but in reality they are always a part of that society and the acts of those individuals necessarily have some effect on collective society. Even though the effect one individual’s vote has is marginal, it still is an effect. Virtually no effect is not the same as no effect at all. There’s still something there. Accordingly, if I am an individual who comprises a necessary part of a collective society whose vote has a marginal effect on society, then it follows that while I cannot control the actions of collective society outright I can at least have some effect on it.

          1. 1. Because without my vote, the tie-breaking vote would not have become the tie-breaking vote. There cannot be a tie-breaking vote without all the votes that preceded it.
            2. I want to change the outcome of the election because I believe that our state/country would be better led by the candidate I vote for.

          2. 1. So are you telling me that you changed the outcome of the election on Tuesday? Is this country is now materially better off because you voted?
            2. Why do you want the country to be better led?

          3. 1. So you’re saying that we would have a different president in January if you didn’t vote on Tuesday?
            2. Is the the reason you want the country to be better led because you want to improve the lives of the people you care about?

  3. Yes, any one individuals political efforts such as voting, contributing money/time/effort toward a politician and/or political party with a goal toward representing one’s values, for most people will not directly and/or indirectly likely to change the out come in the short and/or long run. By that reasoning, it is probable that any one person putting their time/money/efforts is similarly will not likely change any major change. Similarly, The individuals during the America’s Revolt against were also behaving irrationally for their own lives and even for their children’s lives; nevertheless, let us thank providence that their emotions and related values drove them forward to achieve to the birth of America and it’s long history of many irrational actors ultimately moving America toward a relatively more perfect union and relatively more positive influence on the world, over time. So, I encourage irrationally encourage and praise your efforts to move our political/social efforts to make the world a better place. Remember, ultimately, over time, drops of water ultimately wear down mountains. Also, consider no one butterfly knows that its fluttering wings, to full fill its drive to survive, will result in the butterfly effect. Thank good for the emotional and irrational drive toward freedom, justice, and a more perfect union of butterflys such as our founding fathers and patriots who placed at risk and many who lost their lives and fortunes.

    Blessings of Providence’s Irrationally Virtuous Butterflies

  4. Wishes to Providence’s Current Day Irrationally Virtuous Butterflies, who’s innate drives toward a more perfect community of man has manifested in this wonderfully irrational website fluttering, are as follows

    Providing measures of relevance to place these numbers in perspective such as following examples:

    Dollar amounts per American Citizen (per tax payer, per family of four; % of median and Mean incomes; % total 1% income ECT. ECT.) for examples: food stamps cost per Citizen by my rough calculation is $18+|- billion dollars per year divided 333 +|- citizens equals $54 dollars per year, per citizen; life time median & mean –> life time benefits per individual, months used, months on food stamps. (Dollar amount per 20 percentiles lowest to highest). ECT ECT ECT with related references.
    These type of relevant measures put reality in of these cost in perspective and by providing references individuals and individual reporters can place our counties choices in perspective.
    Intra budget percentages, such as comparing food stamps cost as a percentage of the cost of the cost of Iraq War, Farm Subsidies (especially large farmers, large corporate farms, congressional and senate members & their families farms; military spending the military itself does not want; ) ECT ECT ECT
    Contribution to budget deficits over time such as following: Iraq War due to compounding interest over the next 10 & 20 & 30 …… years; drug war inflation cumulative contribution with compounding interest over the commingle decades.
    Consider also, quantifying the opportunity cost of drug war related – both direct, indirect such as following: lost productivity toward other goods and services related to the incarcerated, the guards, drug war related morbidity and mortality (& related lost income for both m & m, cost of treatment), cost to countries around the world)
    For example, via an albeit rough estimate, if we had never waged a war on drugs, It is likely, we would not currently would not have a government deficit. That is, if you consider all the related cost, only some of which are noted noted above, that is if you could apply all these cost — especially opportunity cost, it’s direct cost, cost of money, and the incalculable cost of lost talent/creativity/genius and also, severe/wide spread pain and suffering.

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