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May 9, 2007 9:02 PM   Subscribe

"The Twelve Tribes" A useful and interesting statistical breakdown from Belief.net of the socio-cultural divides in the US. via digby
posted by Heywood Mogroot (70 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
By those very vague and broad-stroked descriptions, I appear to be either a Secular or a "Spiritual but not Religious" type. Only I'm not a member of any tribe. I refused to be affiliated with any tribe that would have riffraff like me as a member. The conservative right gets their way because they like banding together and having bake sales and communion and barbeques.

I'm annoyed when people disagree with me, but I'm even more annoyed when they agree with me. This is what is affectionately labelled "political dinosaur" cuz I'm the method of my own extinction.

All kidding aside, this is just another way to stereotype people, which I find patently offensive. So should the jews and latinos, even though we nonjews and nonlatinos know they both suck. Who's with me!??
posted by ZachsMind at 9:25 PM on May 9, 2007


Wow. 83% of the voting public is batshitinsane according to these numbers. We're fucked.
posted by sourwookie at 9:27 PM on May 9, 2007


I can't get the site to load. So, a koan:

"If you see the tribe, kill the tribe."
posted by Eideteker at 9:30 PM on May 9, 2007


Oh man, according to this I'm supposed to care more about the economy. Stop making gains among me, Republicans!
posted by Mister Cheese at 9:30 PM on May 9, 2007


They've neglected to account for the increasingly important Furry/Plushie voting block.
posted by Jimbob at 9:35 PM on May 9, 2007 [2 favorites]


No Chinese vote?! (either by American citizens or high-up merchantile/political member)

ZachsMind - yeah, I agree with you, bro', but when you break down demographics small enough to be able to define you in such a way that you may not reject - the numbers aren't big enough to do any "meaningful" statistics.

I think the whole race ethnicity/religiousity thing is a blind to cover socio-economic background and as a strongarm tactic to keep the increasingly hispanic/decendents-of-African-slaves from developing their own franchises.

I did my undergrad at a small private liberal arts college in the Midwest; the attitudes of the "African American" faculty and students was much far far more optimistic than my fellow students when I spent a semester at a State Uni.

old joke -

When you're a republican in your 20's, you've got no heart. If you're a democrat in your 40's, you've got no brain (or have a healthy Swiss-account full of money).

I kinda wish that the joke is still true, but anyone with a brain should be able to see that personal gain may not offset general losses in their environment that then impact their personal gain.
posted by porpoise at 9:49 PM on May 9, 2007


The 13th Tribe discovered Earth.
posted by shmegegge at 9:50 PM on May 9, 2007 [3 favorites]



A staggering number of people still believe in papal infalibility, despite historic changes in church (read: papal) doctrine due to cultural or scientific change and appologies by the pope due to past fuck-ups (read: Auschwitz). Such cognitive dissonance is insurmountable by a rational body in the pubilc.

I predict a sequel to the Bush presidency.

Also, some gecko eggs I found on a Nuclear submarine base hatched yesterday. I'm a daddy!
posted by Pecinpah at 9:50 PM on May 9, 2007


Seculars
Percent of voting-age population: 10.7%
(Non-religious, atheists, and agnostics.)


lol, motherfucker. Try 89%.

Oh, shit, am I dreaming?
posted by four panels at 10:06 PM on May 9, 2007


I prefer the term "sexulars."
posted by davejay at 10:19 PM on May 9, 2007


Peckinpah, papal infallibility only applies when he is speaking ex cathedra, which he hasn't done in decades.
posted by nasreddin at 10:38 PM on May 9, 2007


Well I've decided to stop voting, so I'm not any of these tribes any longer. I'm not gonna play cowboys and indians no more. Shirts vs skins. It's bogus. Think I'm gonna go play bible fight for awhile. Might make me feel better.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:38 PM on May 9, 2007


Oh, shit, am I dreaming?

Yes, motherfucker.


Yes.


Never wake up.
posted by four panels at 10:52 PM on May 9, 2007


Where are they getting these numbers? According to the last presidential election, 49% of voters are right and 51% of voters are microretarded douchtrucks.
posted by stavrogin at 10:57 PM on May 9, 2007


oh, I forgot an e. What's a douch?
posted by stavrogin at 10:58 PM on May 9, 2007


anyone with a brain should be able to see that personal gain may not offset general losses in their environment that then impact their personal gain

If you're talking true environmental issues, or issues where there is a fixed number of something, then sure. This is the "tragedy of the commons."

But if you're talking generally about economics ... then no. You're assuming that the economy is like a pizza, where if Person A takes two slices, Person B goes hungry. It doesn't always work that way. In a fair, well-run economy, you can take all the slices you like, and the pizza itself keeps getting bigger and bigger and nobody goes hungry.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:09 PM on May 9, 2007


With an overwhelming 1.9% of the voting population, I just don't understand why Jews don't have a bigger political voice in this country.
posted by dhartung at 11:52 PM on May 9, 2007


83% of the voting public is batshitinsane according to these numbers.

they can't all be thoughtful, incisively analytical supermen like you
posted by pyramid termite at 12:31 AM on May 10, 2007


With an overwhelming 1.9% of the voting population, I just don't understand why Jews don't have a bigger political voice in this country.

It'd be more interesting to see what percentage of the electorate they would make up (as many of the other categories). I would guess that the per-Jew electoral vote is far less than an equivalent per-Conservative Christian ... if only due to the lack of good bagels in the Dakotas.
posted by geoff. at 12:58 AM on May 10, 2007


Is it cynical to feel encouraged by the idea that close to 11% of the voting population is secular?
posted by brundlefly at 1:55 AM on May 10, 2007


Well I've decided to stop voting, so I'm not any of these tribes any longer. I'm not gonna play cowboys and indians no more. Shirts vs skins. It's bogus.

Yeah right. I mean, like, Bush vs. Gore. The country would be in the same place now, wouldn't it?
posted by dreamsign at 3:00 AM on May 10, 2007


> A staggering number of people still believe in papal infalibility,

So will you, when someone understands to you that "infallibility" means the Pope is the final authority as regards what the church's teaching is on a particular point of faith or practice. He is infallible right now today even though the next Pope may rule differently, because he has the authority to determine what the church's orthodox teaching is, right now today and for as long as he is Pope.

You do grasp, don't you, that when the Supreme Court rules on the interpretation of a point of law, the justices are infallible--in exactly the same sense--because they have the authority to determine what the correct interpretation is, right now today, even though some future repacked court may rule differently on the same question? For both the Pope and the Court, infallibility rests on the fact that there is nowhere else to appeal.
posted by jfuller at 4:47 AM on May 10, 2007 [4 favorites]


"Well I've decided to stop voting"

Wrong answer. I'm an anarchist, and I vote (t-shirts coming soon). Vote your conscience, remove yourself from the system and evaluate the individual candidate. There is no US vs. THEM. It's United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

Or hell, vote for a third party candidate. If all the people who don't vote voted for someone outside the two-party system, it would send a very clear message to the cartel currently running American politics (from both sides). At the very least, write in a candidate of your own choice. But do so from a place of informed political decision, rather than out of apathy (or withdrawal in disgust). Far short of armed revolution; what this country needs is an army of informed voters.
posted by Eideteker at 4:53 AM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


There are only a few 'infallible' teachings in the Catholic church -- for example, the Immaculate Conception.

I don't think things like 'no women priests' and 'no birth control' are. I'm not even sure that the church's position on abortion is, as that has changed over the centuries as well.
posted by empath at 5:13 AM on May 10, 2007


When you're a republican in your 20's, you've got no heart. If you're a democrat in your 40's, you've got no brain

Clichés aside, this generally isn't true. The voting patterns you develop in your 20s are pretty much likely to stick with you for life. You only become conservative in your 40s insofar as the liberal beliefs you may have had in your 20s are now mainstream.
posted by deanc at 5:23 AM on May 10, 2007


I love things that put people into categories. It makes it so much easier to point at them and blame them for things you don't like.

Damn Albanians.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:00 AM on May 10, 2007


"The Twelve Tribes" A useful and interesting statistical breakdown from Belief.net of the socio-cultural divides in the US.

Useful? As pollomacho said, the only way this is useful is in categorizing groups to hate.

Interesting? Only to people who need their stereotypes reinforced daily due to competition from encounters with Real PeopleTM.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I stopped reading at "Latinos."
posted by anomie at 6:11 AM on May 10, 2007


What a bunch of bologna sausage.
posted by milarepa at 6:22 AM on May 10, 2007


To give you a better idea of Papal infallibility here is a list of the decrees made ex cathedra (From Wikipedia).

* "Tome to Flavian", Pope Leo I, 449, on the two natures in Christ, received by the Council of Chalcedon;
* Letter of Pope Agatho, 680, on the two wills of Christ, received by the Third Council of Constantinople;
* Benedictus Deus, Pope Benedict XII, 1336, on the beatific vision of the just prior to final judgment;
* Cum occasione, Pope Innocent X, 1653, condemning five propositions of Jansen as heretical;
* Auctorem fidei, Pope Pius VI, 1794, condemning seven Jansenist propositions of the Synod of Pistoia as heretical;
* Ineffabilis Deus, Pope Pius IX, 1854, defining the immaculate conception; and
* Munificentissimus Deus, Pope Pius XII, 1950, defining the assumption of Mary.

Putting aside the question of how many modern decrees might have been made (I assure there are not many). This is a pretty short list isn't it? Catholics do not take papal infallibility lightly, and the Pope does not invoke it casually.
posted by oddman at 6:46 AM on May 10, 2007


I'd put a lot more stock in this if they'd managed to get the name of my denomination right. We never call ourselves "The American Episcopal Church."
posted by Biblio at 6:47 AM on May 10, 2007


There was no need for this level of breakdown and analysis. Let me sort all twelve of Belief.net's categories into two much simpler groups.

White Bread Protestants, Convertible Catholics, Religious Left, Spiritual But Not Religious, Seculars, Muslims & Other Faiths: Hope and/or potential. We can work with these people.

Religious Right, Heartland Culture Warriors, Moderate Evangelicals, Latinos, Jews, Black Protestants: Dragging us all back to the Dark Ages. Put 'em on a rocket ship and shoot 'em into space. If you're feeling charitable, aim it at a habitable planet.

NB: If you find any part of this analysis to be offensive, bigoted, racist or facile, blame Belief.net, not me.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:10 AM on May 10, 2007


Just when I think cable news has set the bar. Sheesh. Beliefnet, welcome to the championship for Pretending to Be Insightful and Relevant, While Actually Making the World A Worse Place To Live. You're a contender. Good luck. Watch out for CNN, it's very competitive.
posted by Tehanu at 7:29 AM on May 10, 2007


I think the "simpler grouping" breaks down into close- vs. open-minded. It's like any relationship; those who are not open-minded and understanding will simply not get along as well as those who are. We have to get along and work together. Right now we act as if we are in a country in the midst of a divorce, with fighting and asking folks to take side.
posted by Eideteker at 7:30 AM on May 10, 2007


So, wait, 9% of the Religious Right and 10% of Heartland Culture Warriors are "Liberal"? What does that even mean?
posted by staggernation at 7:38 AM on May 10, 2007


staggernation, it means that reality and how people's beliefs affect their politics is a lot more complex subject than many people here realize
posted by pyramid termite at 7:44 AM on May 10, 2007


Or it means that those categories were pulled from the asses of the authors of this article. I guess I'm just wondering how one gets into the "Religious Right" category in the first place--it doesn't seem to be self-identification, at least judging from the fact that most of the category names don't appear in the original study.

Oh, OK, here it is.
Religious right = Traditionalist Evangelicals

Heartland Culture Warriors = Traditionalist Mainline Protestant plus Traditionalist Catholics plus Latter Day Saints (Mormons)

Moderate Evangelicals = Centrist Evangelical

White Bread Protestants = Centrist Mainline Protestants

Convertible Catholics = Centrist White Catholics

The Religious Left = Modernist Evangelical Protestants plus Modernist Mainline Protestant plus Modernist Catholics

Black Protestants = Black Protestants

Spiritual But Not Religious = Unaffiliated Believers

Latinos = Latino Catholics plus Latino Protestants

Jews = Jews

Muslim & Other Faiths =Other Faiths

Secular = Secular plus Atheist plus Agnostic
Mmm... robust!
posted by staggernation at 7:50 AM on May 10, 2007


Useful? As pollomacho said, the only way this is useful

I found it useful towards understanding how the evangelical vote split 78% for Bush in 2004, and how over half of the US says it rejects human evolution out of hand.

is in categorizing groups to hate.

hate the sin, not the sinner.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 9:28 AM on May 10, 2007


I now have the best tautology ever: Jews=Jews. I can't wait to drop that into casual conversation.
posted by klangklangston at 9:49 AM on May 10, 2007


You know who else thought Jews=Jews?

Sorry, that was too easy.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:51 AM on May 10, 2007


Jews = ++Jews
posted by staggernation at 10:10 AM on May 10, 2007


God did tell them to be fruitful and increment, didn't he?
posted by nebulawindphone at 10:27 AM on May 10, 2007


I said: "...I've decided to stop voting"

Eideteker said: "Wrong answer. I'm an anarchist, and I vote (t-shirts coming soon). Vote your conscience, remove yourself from the system and evaluate the individual candidate. There is no US vs. THEM. It's United We Stand, Divided We Fall."

*shiver*

That's like looking in a mirror that reflects me ten or twenty years ago. You go on ahead and believe all that you idealistic young whippersnapper. JUST GET OFF MY LAWN!

Here's your political breakdown: young idealistic people who think they know everything and old jaded people who know nobody knows nuthin'. Anything beyond that is splitting hairs. Heck, even that's splitting hairs. AND WHERE IS MY FLYING CAR???
posted by ZachsMind at 10:52 AM on May 10, 2007


Look, it's a demographer! BURN HIM~!
posted by jtron at 11:33 AM on May 10, 2007


With an overwhelming 1.9% of the voting population, I just don't understand why Jews don't have a bigger political voice in this country.

Who needs a voice when you have secret control? We control every branch of the government from our underground bunkers. Want proof? Got a dollar bill in your pocket? Look at the lower right hand corner. Does it say John W Snow - Secretary of the Treasury? OK, now look again, but hold it a bit farther away. Does it say "JEWS now"? You're damn right it does. See, we're in your treasury controlling your money.
posted by SBMike at 12:25 PM on May 10, 2007



Wrong answer. I'm an anarchist, and I vote (t-shirts coming soon). Vote your conscience, remove yourself from the system and evaluate the individual candidate. There is no US vs. THEM. It's United We Stand, Divided We Fall.


Wrong answer. I'm an anarchist, and you're an idiot.

Way to prove Murray Bookchin's point about "lifestyle anarchism."
posted by nasreddin at 1:07 PM on May 10, 2007


Way to quote someone I've never heard of without actually imparting any wisdom ("what a cunning way to condescend", as the song goes). I'm always open to education, but meet me halfway. Where's the flaw? Or can't one be both an anarchist and an optimistic idealist?
posted by Eideteker at 2:01 PM on May 10, 2007


No. If you're an anarchist, you have to spend every waking moment yelling "Black Bloc!" and smashing Starbucks. Otherwise, you're just a poseur lifestyle anarchist.

BLACK BLOC!
posted by klangklangston at 2:13 PM on May 10, 2007


When you're a republican in your 20's, you've got no heart. If you're a democrat in your 40's, you've got no brain (or have a healthy Swiss-account full of money).

Fracking americans. It isn't always about you.

Not to be a socialist at twenty is proof of want of heart; to be one at thirty is proof of want of head.
Georges Clemenceau (1841 - 1929)

If the US actually had a left wing (or even a centrist one) then they could talk. But to make it about the republican/democrat divide? Worst misuse of a quotation, ever.
posted by Sparx at 2:13 PM on May 10, 2007


In a fair, well-run economy, you can take all the slices you like, and the pizza itself keeps getting bigger and bigger and nobody goes hungry.

And I've got this machine which, if you put in 20W of power, it gives you back 40W! sheesh.... I guaruantee you no economy in human history has ever worked that way, nor will one ever.

I belong to a Tribe Called Quest.
posted by teece at 3:08 PM on May 10, 2007


Eideteker: the thing you want to advocate for the most if you hate both parties is electoral reform. In the American-style of winner-takes-all elections and legislatures, two-party rule is guaranteed -- it's the equilibrium of the system. 3rd party candidates are a waste of time, even if they line up with your beliefs 100% (expect at the very, very local level, or in periods of extreme calamity where one party might be destroyed; see below).

I'm not defending the two-party system, mind you. I'd much rather have a different system. But this two-party system we have did not evolve by accident, nor by unethical cartel behavior. A two-party state is going to inevitably happen in the American system of elections (the things the two political parties do now that are cartel-like behavior don't protect the two-party system: they protect the two parties in question from being switched out. Absolute best case scenario for the Greens or Libertarians is that they kill one of the two major parties and take their place. After a brief period of dis-equilibrium, we're back to two-party rule. And that's the 1 in a billion shot for third parties. The difficulties Rs and Ds put in place are to stop that, not stop a viable, long-term third party).

Of course, you can't get any change to the electoral system if you are outside of it: so you're going to have to pick a political party if you're serious about getting rid of political parties, paradoxically.

How do you get more parties? Change elections to ranking-based, rather than one choice only. Change elections to require run-offs. Change the nature of the legislative bodies and what not to get rid of the huge incentives to making only two parties).
posted by teece at 3:20 PM on May 10, 2007


Teece, I am a hearty supporter of things like Instant Runoff Voting (despite the drawbacks). I appreciate your comment; well thought out and helpful.
posted by Eideteker at 3:55 PM on May 10, 2007


lolcatian: we be in yer trehzrrrz 'trollin yer monies.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:44 PM on May 10, 2007


Eideteker: If you support participation in the electoral process, you're not an anarchist, or at least you have a very strange definition of the term. I wrote this on another site in response to this sort of argument:
Your point is one that many people've made, but I don't agree.

First, look at the state of the political system in the United States, or any major industrialized country. How much influence do you, as an individual voter, have on government action and policy decisions? Assume you live in a state where one vote matters, which is not true for any state in the real world. Once you've cast your vote, your influence on the political process has ended. Yes, you can lobby your congress-person, or write angry letters to the White House. Unfortunately, politicians' track record for paying attention to people that do this is pretty dismal. Usually for the politician the choice is between a handful of voters and a powerful corporate interest with lots of money. It's pretty easy to see what the choice is going to be. If you're an anarchist or a leftist, you are in the extreme minority, which gives the politician even less reason to listen to you.

"But," you say, "at least I can choose who gets into office." That's not quite true either. You are not the only person casting a vote, and the majority of voters are moderate conservatives. The range of people for whom you can vote (based on primary elections) will therefore be limited to a narrow band around the middle of the political spectrum. None of them will be anarchists (what anarchist would become a politician?). If you vote for Nader or Kucinich or Cobb or Badnarik, you probably know ahead of time that your candidate will never win and your vote is thus purely symbolic; you'll also get yelled at by Democrats who think it is your duty not to be a "spoiler." And all that is considering that Nader is, by European standards, a centrist, not especially radical at all.

So your participation in the political system is based on a symbolic act that affirms that you support the government. But if you're an anarchist, you don't support the government, so why give it that symbolic support? If no one voted, government as it exists in the US wouldn't exist; each additional vote is therefore adding legitimacy to a corrupt state system, hurting your own cause.

You confuse anarchism with liberalism or socialism. They're very different. Liberals and socialists want to use the state to make people's lives better, while anarchists think that that's an impossible goal. So if a socialist or a liberal gets into office, she will increase the power of the state, ostensibly in order to give it the ability to make people's lives better. As an anarchist, I think any increase in the power of the state is harmful. Why would I support a candidate that believes the opposite?

If we as "progressives" continue to define ourselves only as "not the Republicans," what we are doing is squelching and suppressing the individual voices and movements within the anti-authoritarian community. We can't work together effectively until we realize that we have serious disagreements with one another over politics, theory, method, and even facts themselves. I dislike the Democratic Party as much as the Republican Party (for different reasons), and trying to bludgeon me into ideological conformity with the club of "if you don't support us the Republicans will win" is not a very good way of building a functional anti-authoritarian coalition.
posted by nasreddin at 6:45 PM on May 10, 2007


A useful and interesting statistical breakdown from Belief.net of the socio-cultural divides in the US

No, not socio-cultural divides. For that, they would need to be looking at factors like wealth, profession, education, language & ethnic background, in addition to religion.
Instead, what they claim to be doing is analysing the voting patterns of religious 'blocs', but how they can be blocs when most are quite divided in their political preferences is beyond me. It's not like India, in which voting is overwhelmingly along caste lines.

Speaking of India, the lumping together of "Muslims & Other Faiths" (Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, and other smaller groups) reminded me of this:

Ned: Homer, God didn't set your house on fire.

Rev. Lovejoy: No, but He was working in the hearts of your friends and neighbors when they came to your aid. Be they Christian, Jew, or... miscellaneous.

Apu: Hindu! There are 700 million of us.

Rev. Lovejoy: Aw, that's super.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:48 PM on May 10, 2007


No, klangklang, I don't believe in smashing things or yelling things or calling people poseurs. All I want is some consistency. I'm a pretty boring anarchist, but that doesn't mean I think voting is okay, and I quite frankly don't see how the two are compatible in the slightest.
posted by nasreddin at 6:53 PM on May 10, 2007


Interesting discussion of the electoral process. Shame that the US doesn't have a preferential system like we have in Australia, because our system does allow votes for minor parties to have some influence on the big two.

Briefly, the way it works is that each voter marks one or more parties in order of preference. If their first preference is not going to get across the line, then the vote goes to their second preference (if they have one) and so on, until it finally lands in the bucket of whichever party is in the race to win the seat.

Currently, the Australian Greens are polling reasonably well, with around 7-10% of the primary vote. It doesn't sound like much, but the major parties cannot afford to ignore it. The way things work is that each party hands out "how-to-vote" recommendations at polling booths, suggesting that its supporters vote in a certain order of preference.

Even if the Greens candidate has little chance of winning the seat, the major parties need to make Green-friendly deals & policies if they want the Greens to recommend them ahead of their rival. In this way, at least something positive comes out of the process.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:07 PM on May 10, 2007


nasreddin, that sounds horribly defeatist. My third-party vote is only symbolic A) as long as I am the only one doing it (as compared with 30% of eligible voters who don't vote suddenly marking any 3PC on a ballot) and B) until there is some sort of vote reform which makes a third-party vote less of a throwaway choice. If I say that I shouldn't bother, as do 30 million other people, then that is 30 million individuals who have been silenced. I do not have any sway over that mass of people. I can only act for myself and encourage others to do the same.

I still believe that it is possible to move towards a gradual relaxation and eventual cessation of laws through legal channels. Maybe it makes me some kind of fake anarchist, but I imagine an anarchic state as one where laws exist; but as the (unwritten) code by which each individual governs himself. So through legislation, the laws disappear and are gradually internalized.
posted by Eideteker at 7:47 PM on May 10, 2007


Eideteker: Are you suggesting that the 30% of apathetic nonvoters are actually just third party voters waiting to pupate? I see absolutely zero evidence to confirm this view, and this post makes it pretty clear that the majority of people are already aligned politically in a clear-cut way. Third parties haven't won a significant percentage of anything since freakin' George Wallace. The whole Theodore Roosevelt thing just ain't gonna happen.

Vote reform? How do you expect this to happen? None of the gigantic party machines are interested in the slightest--they aren't even interested in letting third party candidates into their debates. The only way to implement vote reform is by constitutional amendment, and there is no way you'll get either a convention or two-thirds of the state legislatures to pass anything resembling IRV or any other system. It's been tried, and it never got as far as that.

I have no idea how you envision a government where the laws somehow disappear into individuals. The reason people think we need laws in the first place is that there needs to be a man with a gun forcing you to pay your taxes or not to shoplift or whatever. This is pretty obvious, don't you think? I mean, my vision of society is based on small-scale consensual community structures, but I don't for a minute think that we can make Man a moral being. I am from the Soviet Union; we tried that here, and there were lots of corpses.

Can you give me even a single example of the volume of laws and/or bureaucracy decreasing over time (except in Somalia)? I'll grant you that sodomy laws were declared unconstitutional, whatever. But the state's number one goal is to secure its own existence. There is hundreds of times more government, more police, more taxation, more laws, more bureaucracy today than there was in the 1800s.

Name a politician that you support that would advocate policy actions tending toward reduction in legislation (in practice, not in rhetoric). There are none.

One man's defeatist is another man's realist.
posted by nasreddin at 8:12 PM on May 10, 2007


Thumbs up to electoral reform.

Would be interesting to see how beliefnet's blocs voted in the last few elections. . . (too tired fer googlin. help me out MeFi).

Also, if I had 5 bucks to burn, my new user name would surely be "wantofhead".
posted by flotson at 8:36 PM on May 10, 2007


nasreddin, that's an interesting line of discussion, but as long as the term "realist" has come up, wouldn't it be fair to say that seeing true anarchy in our lifetime is just not something that's going to happen? ... isn't it possible that we as humans just aren't ready yet for anarchy?

i kind of feel that saying that voting is a means of supporting the government is like saying setting your alarm clock at 6 is a means of supporting the sun coming up in the morning ... the sun's going to come up anyway and well, the government's going to be there anyway, too

you might as well indicate a preference, even if it doesn't really mean anything ... perhaps it's hypocritical, but perhaps it's really just a hope for some evolution to happen in political affairs ...

Can you give me even a single example of the volume of laws and/or bureaucracy decreasing over time (except in Somalia)?

but a society isn't just a measure of how many rules exist in a society, but what those rules are ... yes, i'm certain that the polis of athens had one thousandth the rules the usa does ... but on the other hand, most of the population were slaves ... (and if you want to be cynical and say that we're slaves, too, fine, but at least we often get to choose our masters, which is more than most slaves got to do)
posted by pyramid termite at 8:59 PM on May 10, 2007


I guaruantee you no economy in human history has ever worked that way, nor will one ever.

You need to study more, because you're living in one right now.
posted by frogan at 9:26 PM on May 10, 2007


You need to study more, because you're living in one right now.

Not a chance in hell, frogan. I am well aware that economists like to delude themselves into thinking such models reflect reality, but they are quite wrong. Such an economy would be, literally, a perpetuum mobile. It's bullshit.

An economy is not a zero-sum thing, but neither is it a magical source of infinite energy. An economy can not provide an ever-expanding pie, providing as many pieces of pie to as many people as want pie. To suggest so evinces an astounding level of ignorance about the universe. Which is not surprising -- we are talking about economists. Even to the extent that a model predicted such behavior, and the model was correct, there will always be a carrying factor (or whatever you want to call it: that's the term from population growth models, IIRC) that reigns in the perpetual growth. Unless the model is complete shit.

In certain circumstances, we can get a "rising tide raises all boats" effect. It's limited, and by no means certain, however. It has been much more common for that not to happen in economic history. Which leads me to:

Just look at the qualifiers in the original statement: in a "fair, well-run economy."

"Fair and well-run" is economist speak for "If I distort reality such that it fits my model, I get result X..." Ie, never mind that my model is wrong -- reality needs to change, dammit!

The economy posited there can not exist. I guarantee it. Economists seem to be very fond of using deductive reasoning (the logical proof of their mathematical models), where they need to be using inductive reasoning (the testing of said models against reality, which is the only reason the models exist in the first place).

It's easy to prove that bullshit economic model X, pedaled by many a PhD economist, will behave this way under these conditions. Deductive reasoning (my gig is applied math, I love this kind of thing). That's fine. The trouble is not in the deductive reasoning, it's in the assumptions that underlie them. The assumptions that underlie neoclassical econ are utter bullshit. They do not fit reality, and can't fit reality.
posted by teece at 11:22 PM on May 10, 2007 [1 favorite]


Man, I should really leave the states; it's bonkers. Oh, wait.

I already did.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:35 AM on May 11, 2007


In certain circumstances, we can get a "rising tide raises all boats" effect. It's limited, and by no means certain, however. ... The economy posited there can not exist. I guarantee it.

Funny, but you notice that 90 percent of the people in the world live better today than did Medieval royalty. I wouldn't call that "limited," and it's pretty darn near certain. And it has everything to do with modern economics.

So, pull those blinkers off, throw down the copy of Das Kapital and have a cuppa joe at Starbucks. It's better quality than most people have ever had of anything, ever, in history. It's everywhere. It's consistent. And it's cheap. It's a miracle, given the colossal sweep of history where most people lived nasty, brutish, short lives and died of tooth decay and malnutrition.

But I'm sure you're unhappy that someone, somewhere, made a few bucks to bring that coffee to you. Sorry!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:43 AM on May 11, 2007


Oh, and frogan's link was to Adam Smith. You'd hardly call him a PhD economist "pedaling" something.

And you'd actually spell it "peddling," but that's my gig
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:47 AM on May 11, 2007


"Funny, but you notice that 90 percent of the people in the world live better today than did Medieval royalty. "

Amend that to 90% of people you know, whitey.
posted by klangklangston at 10:04 AM on May 11, 2007


Klangklangston,

It's true that a shameful number of people still suffer in crushing poverty. But read, for example, this article about a family in Malawi living on $1/day per capita. Their life expectancy is approximately the same as that of Medieval royalty. Now make a list of all of the items named in that article that are a part of their lives that would have been unavailable to even the richest people alive during Medieval times. Fertilizer, chemical treatments, skin lotion. Many of the things her children are learning in school were unknown to the richest of the rich a few hundred years ago. The most rudimentary medical care they can afford hadn't been invented yet.

Do we owe it to the poorest of the poor to help make their lives better? Sure we do. But are they better off now than they, or people socioeconomically several classes above them would have been centuries ago? Absolutely.
posted by decathecting at 12:18 PM on May 11, 2007


Cool Papa Bell: you haven't the slightest fucking idea what I'm talking about, so we best just go our separate ways.

You also seem to misunderstand the way 4 or 5 billion of the human beings currently alive live today. Most people on this world, right now have yet to make their first telephone call.

You and I, the lucky ones in America, Europe, parts of Asia, and some urban centers outside of there are not really a representative sample, and we are in the minority.

Human standards of living changed very little for millennia -- over the last century or two, things got way better for some people, slightly better for others. This last century is a blip on the radar of history, and I absolutely guarantee you it will not continue to get better like this forever. Anyone that argues otherwise is a fool. You are literally saying our economy is a magic machine of infinite energy. It ain't.

(And I've never read Marx).
posted by teece at 3:01 PM on May 11, 2007


Most people on this world, right now have yet to make their first telephone call.

really?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:50 PM on May 11, 2007


This last century is a blip on the radar of history, and I absolutely guarantee you it will not continue to get better like this forever.

I'm so very sorry that you're just not seeing the forest for the trees. It will always get better. It will happen in fits and starts, so undergrads everywhere will always have something to complain about. But it will always get better.

For some reason he could never comprehend, people were inclined to believe the very worst about anything and everything; they were immune to contrary evidence just as if they'd been medically vaccinated against the force of fact.

Furthermore, there seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days "experts" spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker.

posted by frogan at 3:16 PM on May 14, 2007


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