Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

Could Markets Have Predicted the Civil Rights Movement?

Author’s note: It’s been quite some time since my last post. In fact, it’s the last day of November and this will be my last post this month. It’s been a bit hectic getting settled in Ottawa, in addition to some other things that have been going on, but I do hope to get back into a regular habit of writing posts again.

I came across an article recently that espoused the value of the efficient-market hypothesis through the success of InTrade — when it was still functioning. In case you’re not familiar, InTrade is a betting site that would post contracts, for instance — “Mitt Romney will be the Republican Presidential nominee” — and then people could ‘buy’ that contract if they thought Romney would be the nominee or (sell) that contract if they thought he wouldn’t. There’d be all kinds of questions, not just political. There are questions about world events (the US will find Saddam Hussein) and questions about awards shows (Avatar will win Best Picture).

In the article, there was a small blurb about futarchy:

The potential of prediction markets to aggregate and reveal information is so great that some have surmised they might remake whole political systems. Robin Hanson, an economist at George Mason University, has endorsed what he calls “futarchy,” a form of government that would use prediction markets extensively as a policymaking tool. If the aggregated predictions of the market are better than the individual predictions of a few appointed experts, why not let citizens bet on, rather than submit to professional opinion on, for example, which tax policy is more likely to bring prosperity?

For the most part, there certainly seems to be something to the argument in favour of the wisdom of the crowds, but as I’ve written before, the wisdom of the crowds can’t always be trusted. When thinking about the wisdom of the crowds in the context of policymaking, I wonder about the crowd’s ability to divine the need for civil rights. That is, I wonder if, during the time leading up to the civil rights movement, the crowd would have accurately predicted it was beyond time to implement a new level of equality in the United States. Or, what about in the time of Lincoln? Would the wisdom of the crowds have decided that black people deserved freedom?

More Civilized Conversations, Less Screaming Over Each Other

A few days ago, I happened to catch a segment from All In With Chris Hayes. He had on one of the people I follow on Twitter, Tim Carney. Part of the reason that this is noteworthy is because Carney is of a different ideological perspective from Hayes. Carney writes for the Washington Examiner, which, in 2008, supported McCain for President and in 2012, supported Mitt Romney. And Chris Hayes, a host on MSNBC, probably voted for Obama in the last two elections.

Anyhow, the segment comes after Hayes previews the show and introduces the topic: the ‘missing white voter.’ This particular usage of the phrase comes from a series of articles (I’m not the only one who likes to write series!) in Real Clear Politics by Sean Trende where he makes the argument that Republicans needn’t get onboard with immigration reform in order to win future elections — they just need to appeal to those white voters who didn’t vote in the last election.

After the introduction from Hayes, Carney begins making his points. One of things I thought was worth noting was how Carney talked about Rubio. From what I’ve seen/read, many conservatives think that Rubio will have a good shot at being elected President in 2016. So, when Carney seemed to make points against Rubio, I was a bit surprised. On the whole, I really enjoyed the brief back-and-forth between Hayes and Carney — they’re both smart commentators. Most importantly though, I liked that it didn’t appear that the two of them were getting caught up in the ideological talking points. It seemed like they were really talking about the substance of what Hayes introduced in the segment. I wish that cable news was more like that segment and less like a game of one-upmanship to see who can scream the loudest to convince the viewers that, ‘they must be right because they were more angry.’

Note: If the interview (or this discussion) intrigued you, I highly recommend checking out the article from Tom Edsall on the New York Times’ Opinionator. He has a really good summary of the idea that Republicans should just focus on white voters.

Is There No Easier Way To Choose a President?

I think this cartoon — while meant to be funny — also has a good point. The USA just went through one of the longest and most expensive campaigns — isn’t there an easier way to do this?

I understand that some folks think that there might not be and I really don’t have a definitive answer to the question. I would look to some of the European countries like France where the campaign/election takes a fraction of the time as it does in the US. Or, there are the US’s neighbors to the North — Canada. An election is called and 6 weeks later, there is voting! I realize that the US has quite a larger population than Canada, but I wonder how much more productive the policymakers of the US would be if campaigning/elections were only 6 weeks long.

Think about all the time that lawmakers spend at fundraisers or campaigning. Just about all of that time could then be reallocated to creating public policy! One would think that things might move along quicker, but who knows, maybe they wouldn’t.

If you have an idea for how you think elections should run in the US, I’d love to hear. Let me/us know in the comments! On the face of it, there certainly seems to be a need to reduce the time it takes to choose a President in the US. If we start counting the time all the way back to the primaries, it takes over a year to pick a President in the US. That certainly seems like a long time, especially given that some of these same people are also tasked with running the country.

“Take Back the Country” — From Whom?

Yesterday during class, I saw a tweet from Mitt Romney:

This made me a bit upset and not in a partisan way. From what I understand, Democrats used this same ‘slogan‘ in 2004 when trying to oust President Bush and send Senator Kerry to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. [If you’ll notice, the image that I’ve embedded below appears to be a sign from Occupy Wall Street, which is much more often associated with the Democratic Party.] There’s something inherently disturbing about using a slogan like this. It creates an artificial (and unnecessary) division between the people in power and the people who want to be in power.

It’s perfectly alright to disagree with the direction that the current administration is taking the country, but to use this slogan — to me — is demeaning and somewhat immature.

Disagreements are had on a daily basis, but it’s the moments following that disagreement that a person’s character shines through. If I disagree with someone, I’m not going to start a campaign and say it’s, “us vs. them,” — no — that’s not productive. That’s not mature. Instead, it would be more appropriate for me to try to find further evidence that strengthens my argument.

This slogan that is used in political campaigns remind me of Integral Theory. If I think about spiral dynamics, this particular slogan seems like it’s targeted at the “lower” end of the spiral (beige, purple, and red). Given that there are certainly folks at this level of development in the US electorate, this could be considered a “smart” strategy of political campaigns that employ it.

That being said, I almost want to say, “you should know better,” in that using these kinds of tactics are what continues to keep a country divided and hyper-partisan!