Re: election

From: Doug Jones (
Date: Sun Nov 12 2000 - 22:10:44 MST

Max More wrote:
> At 07:05 PM 11/12/00, Damien wrote:
> >The implication is that people en masse are likely to abandon all decency
> >and history and respect for each other, a rather strange opinion in a list
> >where the market (a device for summing the expressed values of all players)
> >is held in highest regard. True, most markets are highly asymmetrical in
> >the purchasing power of different individuals, so if it's thought to lead
> >to a superior outcome than ochlocratic summations presumably the richer you
> >are the more moral, decent, thoughtful, prudent, insightful, just, kindly
> >and so on you are as well.
> I think this misses an important point about the differences between
> markets and democracies. In a democracy, pure or not, the majority gets
> what it wants and the rest are out of luck. In a market, we all vote
> continually for all kinds of goods and services. Unlike a democracy, we do
> not all have to buy a Toyota Corolla if that is the most popular choice.
> People get a lot meaner when a voting system is win-lose.

Perzackly. Current practice polarizes the voters in such a way that the
two-party system stays on top, and the closeness of this election will
lead to cries of "Nader split the liberal vote and caused this mess!"
(By that logic, Slick Wille's ascendancy was H. Wingnut Perot's fault.)
> I do think there are ways of improving a democracy to allow more winners
> (in terms of preferences). This was the kind of discussion I was hoping for
> here, rather than a blow by blow account of events. However, clearly the
> will of the people on this List has spoken, so I withdraw my request to
> hold back from chatting about the subject. Besides, some of the posts
> *have* added to what you'll find elsewhere.

Discover magazine has a *very* timely article on superior means of

The current system is the plurality vote- each ballot may select only
one candidate, and the one with the most votes wins. We can see how
poorly this has served.

Another method is approval voting, where you may select as many
candidates as you wish- say, Bush, Browne, and Hagelin. The winner is
still the one that received the most votes, but the voters have more
choices- and can hedge their bets. If you feel a particular candidate
is dangerous, you might vote for everyone *but* him, but also third
parties can be voted for without "throwing away" your vote. Think what
this would do for the LP (and also, alas, for the Greens).

More mathematically accurate is the Borda count, where the voter ranks
all the candidates in preferred order 1,2,3... n. The first ranking
gives n points, second rank is n-1, etc.

The Borda count is better at resolving ties, but requires a bit more
effort (and numeracy!) on the voter's part than the approval vote.
Either would be a vast improvement over the status quo, but are unlikely
to come about because they would open up the field to third parties, a
horror that the republicrats and democans will always unite to oppose.

Doug Jones, Rocket Plumber
XCOR Aerospace

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