Share good ideas and conversation.   Login, Join Us, or Take a Tour!
comment by DWol
DWol  ·  430 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Dispatches from the shithole of Nambia

    I feel an apathetic slumber accompany even the scantest attention to the deluge of scandal, rank idiocy, and bigotry that comes daily out of our nation's capital.

Two related points:

The first is that I am starting to get the impression that the true equilibrium state of democracy is people fighting their elected officials and the officials simultaneously seeing how big of a cake slice they can get away with. Different countries lie in different places along the graft scale in this context. In such a situation, apathy is (at the least) dangerous - it allows people the opportunity to push the envelope a little more the next time.

But how do you react with anything but apathy for something which is so antithetical to what you believe in? The recent thread about Sam Altman's post got me thinking about this thing of debates and arguments - convincing other people, in whatever context, that you are right. When so much of the nonsense above is driven by what can lightly be described as a "difference of opinion". Do we entrust this kind of debate to our legislative bodies alone? What, really, is the process by which large amounts of people change their opinions?

I think if you truly believe something must be changed, or are otherwise unhappy with the state of affairs, you should try and actively foster that kind of change in opinion in others. People may hold opinions that are nasty (or even illegal) but this hopefully does not condemn them to those opinions. As I say though, I have no idea what a concrete strategy for this is because as sure as you are of your convictions, so sure are the others. Difficult.

blackbootz  ·  430 days ago  ·  link  ·  

When discussing how strictly elections constrain legislators, whose default seems to be shirking public preference, Bryan Caplan argues that the degree of shirking is inversely proportional to the importance of the issue to the public:

    Politicians’ wiggle room creates opportunities for special interest groups—private and public, lobbyists and bureaucrats—to get their way. On my account, though, interest groups are unlikely to directly “subvert” the democratic process. Politicians rarely stick their necks out for unpopular policies because an interest group begs them—or pays them—to do so. Their careers are on the line; it is not worth the risk. Instead, interest groups push along the margins of public indifference. If the public has no strong feelings about how to reduce dependence on foreign oil, ethanol producers might finagle a tax credit for themselves. No matter how hard they lobbied, though, they would fail to ban gasoline.

I'm not sure if that dovetails with your observed equilibrium of democracy, but I was reminded of it.

As for my apathy: I'm apathetic online. It's in person where I have more conviction. I don't think there's a person who knows me well that doesn't also know the extent of my contempt and low regard for this administration and the enabling Republican congressional delegation.