Monday, February 01, 2016

Elections, war, peace and tech gadget addiction

Very few people in Iowa will soon caucus in that state's primaries. Political junkies feast, nevertheless. 

Voter participation in the U.S. is low. Public choice economists say they know why: most people have figured out that the odds that their vote can make a difference are very low. Theorists call their disinterest "rational ignorance". Outsized influence then accrues to interest groups. Those who cannot pass up team sports also remain involved -- for the thrills.

Buchanan's "Politics without romance" represents profound insights. Bryan Caplan goes further and suggests irrational ignorance.  Many of those who do vote (and/or participate somehow) embrace policies that will actually hurt them.  In a recent post on his blog, Caplan opines that most Americans' politics can be described in terms of their ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) -- and that can be a good thing; they espouse awful policies but their ADHD causes them to not embrace these with any tenacity.  We are saved from the full consequences of the worst policy choices by a general lack of determination and follow-through.

Awful political choices have been with us through recorded history. Witness the many pointless and horrific wars. Steven Pinker sees these declining; our worst instincts are (very slowly) receding. That or mass ADHD, as we sink into in ever more tech gadget addiction.