Book review Economics Government form Politics Science Sociology

Austrian economics: worse than expected — Review of Democracy, the God that failed (Hoppe)

After reading a book defending limitations to free trade/protectionism, it was time for something completely different.

So I looked around after any current, well-regarded (in their circles) Austrian libertarian economist. Because I know many ancap people, I just picked one of those they often mentioned: Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Looking over his Wikipedia profile, you’d probably get the general idea. We combine a Kantian synthetic a priori approach with economics and a natural law theory of morality. As our foundational principle of the moral system, we choose some kind of self-ownership property etc. principle (not the non-aggression one apparently). Then we try to derive everything in morality and economics from these principles per deduction. Sounds crazy? Sure. As mentioned in the previous post, humans really aren’t that consistent, self-interested, knowledgeable, rational etc. for these kinds of deductions to make correct predictions. What does Hoppe say when faced with incorrect predictions? Naturally, he correctly deduces that:

And in accordance with common sense, too, I would regard someone who wanted to “test” these propositions, or who reported “facts” contradicting or deviating from them, as con- fused. A priori theory trumps and corrects experience (and logic overrules observation), and not vice-versa.

So, from that perspective, things are quite simple. We establish (to our satisfaction) some principles of economics and morality, then we just deduce the rest from there. We don’t need to care about any actual sciencing involving data. These merely serve as illustrations of the deductive results (when in agreement) or ??? when not.

Hoppe gives some examples of a priori propositions:

Examples of what I mean by a priori theory are: No material thing can be at two places at once. No two objects can occupy the same place. A straight line is the shortest line between two points. No two straight lines can enclose a space. Whatever object is red all over cannot be green (blue, yellow, etc.) all over. Whatever object is colored is also extended. Whatever object has shape has also size. If A is a part of Band B is a part of C, then A is a part of C. 4 = 3 +1. 6 = 2 (33-30).

None of them concern politics, but we might already see some problems. Some material things are in two places at once, like galaxies, which are distributed objects kept together by gravity (in fact, atoms, molecules etc. are the same way). A straight line is not always the shortest between two points: it depends on the geometry in question. It just so happens that reality is not actually Euclidian per general relativity theory, so this statement is actually empirically false. The same is true for the next. Black holes, which have no extension, might send out light of certain wave lengths (Hawking radiation). I’m not sure.

Hoppe then goes on to mention some social science ones:

More importantly, examples of a priori theory also abound in the social sciences, in particular in the fields of political economy and philosophy: Human action is an actor’s purposeful pursuit of valued ends with scarce means. No one can purposefully not act. Every action is aimed at improving the actor’s subjective well-being above what it otherwise would have been. A larger quantity of a good is valued more highly than a smaller quantity of the same good. Satisfaction earlier is preferred over satisfaction later. Production must precede consumption. What is consumed now cannot be consumed again in the future. If the price of a good is lowered, either the same quantity or more will be bought than otherwise. Prices fixed below market clearing prices will lead to lasting shortages. Without private property in factors of production there can be no factor prices, and without factor prices cost-accounting is impossible. Taxes are an imposition on producers and/ or wealth owners and reduce production and/ or wealth below what it otherwise would have been. Interpersonal conflict is possible only if and insofar as things are scarce. No thing or part of a thing can be owned exclusively by more than one person at a time. Democracy (majority rule) is incompatible with private property (individual ownership and rule). No form of taxation can be uniform (equal), but every taxation involves the creation of two distinct and unequal classes of taxpayers versus tax-receiver consumers. Property and property titles are distinct entities, and an increase of the latter without a corresponding increase of the former does not raise social wealth but leads to a redistribution of existing wealth.

For an empiricist, propositions such as these must be interpreted as either stating nothing empirical at all and being mere speech conventions, or as forever testable and tentative hypotheses. To us, as to common sense, they are neither. In fact, it strikes us as utterly disingenuous to portray these propositions as having no empirical content. Clearly, they state something about “real” things and events! And it seems similarly disingenuous to regard these propositions as hypotheses. Hypothetical propositions, as commonly understood, are statements such as these: Children prefer McDonald’s over Burger King. The worldwide’ ratio of beef to pork spending is 2:1. Germans prefer Spain over Greece as a vacation destination. Longer education in public schools will lead to higher wages. The volume of shopping shortly before Christmas exceeds that of shortly after Christmas. Catholics vote predominantly “Democratic.” Japanese save a quarter of their disposable income. Ger- mans drink more beer than Frenchmen. The United States produces more computers than any other country. Most inhabitants of the U.S. are white and of European descent. Propositions such as these require the collection of historical data to be validated. And they must be continually reevaluated, because the asserted relationships are not necessary (but “contingent”) ones; that is, because there is nothing inherently impossible, inconceivable, or plain wrong in assuming the opposite of the above: e.g., that children prefer Burger King to McDonald’s, or Germans Greece to Spain, etc. This, however, is not the case with the former, theoretical propositions. To negate these propositions and assume, for in- stance, that a smaller quantity of a good might be preferred to a larger one of the same good, that what is being consumed now can possibly be consumed again in the future, or that cost-accounting could be accomplished also without factor prices, strikes one as absurd; and anyone engaged in “empirical research” and “testing” to determine which one of two contradictory propositions such as these does or does not hold appears to be either a fool or a fraud.

Where to begin? Actually many or even most of these are open to question. E.g Human action is an actor’s purposeful pursuit of valued ends with scarce means. Are we defining ‘human action’ this way, or trying to state something true about the world? Well, unless they have odd definition of ‘action’ in mind, then not all human actions are purposeful. There’s an entire category of such non-purposeful actions, like sneezing, hiccups, most coughing, and knee jerks. The remaining statements have similar problems.

Anyway, so Hoppe does not seem to get this. Instead he treats his derivations based on such principles as matter of fact, for morality and policy. Everything that doesn’t agree is then morally dubious or doesn’t understand the facts, or is deluded that empirical data can overrule logic. Actually, Hoppe doesn’t actually formally deduce anything (i.e. with symbols or rigid prose), presumably because he lacks actual knowledge of logic, so why should we trust his informal, hand-waving arguments?

The rest of the book is essentially his speculations and moral condemnations of non-anarchists. The culty nature of things is revealed in the extreme reliance on a select few authors. Searching the book for Rothbard yields 170 mentions and von Mises 144 in a book with 330 pages (I removed the use of the latter in cases where it referred to the publisher).

This book is not recommended unless you have a particular interest in this breed of pseudoscience (praxeology). Among pseudosciences, it is surprisingly rarely mentioned, especially considering how anti-left wing it is (for exceptions, see here and here).

Book review Government form Political science

Free trade: yay or not? (Review of Free Trade Doesn’t Work: What Should Replace It and Why)

Recently, I decided it was time for catching up on my to-read list. I try to read >=30 books a year, and I was behind, owing to spending a lot of time on company work. I also wanted to avoid reading too much of the same stuff. Two reasons. First, I want to avoid getting too much confirmation bias that inevitably happens from reading a lot of stuff that’s in high agreement with each other. Second, knowledge in general has strong diminishing returns. Knowing, say, 50% about physics is almost as practically useful as knowing 90%, But knowing 50% is a lot more useful than knowing 0%. Furthermore, there are diminishing returns to knowledge accumulation too because the material will inevitably cover some of the same stuff, meaning that you aren’t learning something new.

Taken together, I wanted to try reading something new to me. I decided on Big Politics, a topic I normally avoid because it’s full of feelings and the relevant data to decide the issues does not generally exist and in many cases could not even be realistically gathered if we were determined to do so.

I generally lean towards freedom on questions of policy, but I’m not a principled libertarian. What I have is a kind of libertarian default policy, which can be undermined by reasonable evidence that regulation/less freedom works better to further our collective goals. I’ve never really considered free trade, tariffs etc. (i.e. between-country trading) in detail so generally leaned towards free trade being good. On the other hand, macro economists — whose opinion people copy — tend to be not my cup of tea. Essentially basing their ideas on various mathematical models with totally unrealistic assumptions: everybody has only self-interest, consistent goals, perfect rationality, consistent time-preference, humans being substituteable (no individual differences), unrealistic beliefs in the causality of education in itself and so on.

So I looked around for a anti free trade book. There were several to pick from. I incidentally stumbled upon this article by the author of one such book: Free Trade Doesn’t Work by Ian Fletcher. It has reasonable reviews: 4.4/5 (n=69) on Amazon, 4.2/5 (n=59) on Goodreads. Good enough for me.

The book isn’t technical, but it gets the job done reasonably well. Since comparative advantage á la David Ricardo is the basic foundation for most claims about the benefits of free trade, naturally the author spends his time arguing against this argument. Because this argument is based on a lot of assumptions and some mathematical modeling, all one has to do is attack the assumptions. If they are shown to be very wrong, then the conclusion about free trade’s benefits won’t follow. This doesn’t establish that free trade is bad/protectionism is good, but it’s a start.

The criticism of free trade

Fletcher lists 7 dubious assumptions of free trade.

  1. Free trade is sustainable. One cannot keep a negative or positive trade balance forever. Keeping a negative one means importing more than one produces, which creates debt to foreigners. Not even keeping a positive one is always a good idea. If it’s based on selling off non-renewable property to foreigners such as natural resources. When they run out, there is nothing left for one’s ancestors.
  2. There are no externalities. These come in two kinds: negative and positive. The textbook negative externality are environmental pollution. If a country has lax environmental standards, one can import goods from it cheaply. However, this causes accumulated pollution in the production country. In the unlucky scenario where pollution is global in scope, it means that the world is essentially relying on the weakest environmental protection of any country. Because there are 200 countries or so in the world, probably some country or another will have misinformed, low protections. Free trade using this will cause global destruction of the environment.Positive externalities are the opposite: where some sectors of the economy produce spillover effects, like making it easy to break into another sector. For instance, production of materials used to manufacture computers makes it easier to break into the computer production sector because one can source locally. These factors are ignored in free trade. In the worst case, countries can get stuck in an agriculture sector. Agriculture doesn’t really lead easily to other sectors, but free trade will push a country towards it if wages are low and the climate warm. Ring any bells?
  3. Factors of production move easily between industries. The simplest example here are workers’ skills. While some workers are able to retrain, most are not or it is very costly. When the trade opportunities change, free trade forces a country to move its production into a new sector. However, since workers cannot adapt as fast as circumstances change, they will instead move into unemployment or underemployment.
  4. Trade does not raise income inequality. Comparative advantage, when it holds, implies that the economy as a whole will grow, not that it will grow equally. Fletcher gives a hypothetical example of importing clothing and exporting airplanes. Suppose we start with an economy that produces both. But then we find a trade partner with lower wagers that is able to produce clothes but not planes more efficiently. Great, so we start exporting planes and importing clothes. All good so far. But then, what’s the distribution of jobs required for producing planes and clothes? Maybe planes requires 3 high skill workers and 7 low skill, while clothes require 1 high skill and 9 low skill. So, by doing this, we’ve increased the demand for high skill workers and decreased that for low skill workers. Since workers can’t just change places (individual differences in basic traits + acquired skills), then this will cause lower wages or unemployment.
  5. Capital is not internationally mobile. Basically, capitalists won’t necessarily invest in creating jobs in your own country. Rather, if wages and free trade allows it, they will invest in other countries’ infrastructure. Fletches gives the example of British engineers building railroads in other countries instead of Britian. In 1914, 35% of British owned railroads were not in Britain. Furthermore, when capitalists move jobs to other countries, this will lower production costs (per free trade), which is good for consumers. But if they move too many jobs away, then it’s problematic too. Consumers and workers are the same people, and they can’t consume cheaper goods if they have no jobs, or can’t afford them if they have lower paying jobs. There is no theorem that says that these will necessarily balance out in favor of your country.
  6. Short-term efficiency causes long-term growth. Comparative advantage theory is a static model, about what would happen if things balanced out in an instant. It just so happens the world is not like that, things take time. Generally speaking, one wants growth, and change means positive change, be it skills, income or knowledge. Comparative advantage is about being the most efficient at what one currently does. If you work as a secretary, you don’t want to become the most efficient secretary. You want to build skills so you can move into a better job. Burkino Faso doesn’t want to be the most efficient Burkino Faso, it wants to become something like Denmark. Comparative advantage itself does not imply anything about how one would accomplish such goals.

    It goes back to Ricardo’s own example of wine and wool production. Britain produced wool and Portugal produced wine. Then they traded and everybody was happy. However, wine production did not spawn another useful sectors. Wine production has been essentially the same for hundreds or thousands of years. It has no node above it in the tech tree. Wool production, however, lead to mechanical treatment of wool, and then other mechanical parts and eventually a whole mechanical industry that lead to steam ships and trains. Lots of nodes in the tech tree above. If you’re a country, you want to move your production towards sectors with nodes in the tech tree above them.

    A personal example of this as applied to science. I have many co-authors. They almost inevitably want me to write the analysis because I’m so much better at it and much faster. This is the more effectively solution given the present distribution of abilities and results in us getting done with the study faster. Comparative advantage they say. However, as I keep telling them, if we keep splitting the work up like this, they will not learn to program, and this will have long-term consequences for their output. Programming ability is a force multiplier, allowing one person to do quickly what previously one person took a long time to do, many persons a long time, or was impossible before.

  7. Trade does not induce adverse productivity growth abroad. Trading with others might cause them to attain high growth rates, which changes their opportunity costs. These can become so high that they stop producing cheap products which you were previously importing. But now, you lost your own production in this sector, and it’s hard to start one up again. So you’ll have to keep importing more expensive products from the other country if they are necessary for you. If you had kept your own production on-going, then you would not have this problem because you would have kept the know-how in the country all along.

The prior

Seems pretty convincing to me, but we should be skeptical. The book itself has tons of footnotes: about 700 for the book or .about 2 per page. I did not generally check up on them, so maybe the references are not very convincing. Maybe they are like when Nisbett cites stuff.

What about the author? Is he a well known economist, so that we can be reasonably sure he knows his stuff? Seems not. His page lists no academic publications. He says he was educated at Columbia and the University of Chicago, but not in what. Might be a ‘Doctor’ Laura case. She speaks as if she’s a doctor of psychology or psychotherapy (a really low bar to pass!), but actually she has a ph.d. in physiology. On diabetes. In rats. I am of course not very hostile to outsiders (my degree is in linguistics, bachelor only!), but not taking the prior into account would be foolish.

Searching for publications of his does reveal some. Mostly in obscure outlets (associated with the post-autistic movement). (Sounds familiar?). On the other hand, regular economists do cite his book not just for criticism.

So, I’m not wholly convinced yet, but will read more. Naturally, next up I decided to read something in the totally other direction: Democracy, the God that failed. An Austrian economics book.

Education Government form Politics

Paper: Why Not Epistocracy? (David Estlund)

Why Not Epistocracy (i fixed the PDF found on google)

Previusly mentioned, but its pretty good, and right to the topic.

Also, the Wiki page about meritocracy sucks.


Ethics Government form Politics

Paper: The impact of genetic enhancement on equality (Michael H. Shapiro)

The impact of genetic enhancement on equality found via another paper: The rhetoric and reality of gap closing—when the “have-nots” gain but the “haves” gain even more (Stephen J. Ceci and Paul B. Papierno), which i was reading becus i was reading varius papers on Linda Gottfredson’s homepage.


There apparently  is a genuine  possibility  that  genetic and non-
genetic mechanisms eventually will  be able to  significantly  en-
hance  human capabilities and  traits generally.  Examining
this prospect  from the  standpoint  of equality considerations  is
one  useful way  to  inquire  into the  effects  of such enhancement
technologies. Because of  the nature and  limitations  of compet-
ing ideas  of equality, we are  inevitably led to  investigate  a very
broad  range  of issues.  This Article considers matters  of distri-
bution and withholding of scarce enhancement resources and
links different versions of  equality to different modes of distri-
bution.  It  briefly  addresses the  difficulties  of defining  “en-
hancement”  and  “trait”  and  links  the idea  of  a “merit  attribute”
to that of  a “resource  attractor.” The role of disorder-based  jus-
tifications  is related  to  equality considerations,  as is the possi-
bility  of  the  reduction or “objectification”  of persons  arising
from  the  use  of enhancement resources.  Risks of  intensified
and more entrenched  forms of  social  stratification  are outlined.
The Article also considers whether the notion of merit can  sur-
vive,  and whether the stability  of democratic  institutions  based
on  a one-person, one-vote  standard is  threatened by  attitude
shifts given  the new  technological  prospects.  It  refers to  John
Stuart Mill’s “plural  voting” proposal to  illustrate one  chal-
lenge to equal-vote  democracy.

Nevertheless, it is conceivable that, despite rigorous division of

labor, there may be political and social equality of a sort. Different

professions, trades, and occupations and the varying aptitudes un-

derlying them might be viewed as equally worthy. The “alphas”

may be held equal to the “betas,” though their augmentations (via

the germ line or the living body) and life-work differ. Perhaps

(paradoxically?) there will be an “equality of the enhanced” across

their categories of enhancement. But do not count on it.


sort of. at least one study showed that nootropics have greater effect the lower the intelligence of the population. so, in theory, it is possible that at some theoretical maximum M relative to drug D, the drug wud hav no effect. and everybody under that M wud be boosted to M, given adequate volumes of D.


i did come across another study with this IQ-drug interaction effect once, but apparently i didnt save it on my computer, and i cant seem to find it again. it is difficult to find papers about exactly this it seems.


below is a figure form the study i mentioned abov. it is about ritalin:


Effects of methylphenidate (ritalin) on paired-associate learning and porteus maze performance in emotionally disturbed children.



somthing similar seems to be the case with modafinil, another nootropic. it wud be interesting to see if ther is any drug-drug interaction between ritalin and modafinil, specifically, whether they stack or not.


here is the best study mentioned on Wikipedia: Cognitive effects of modafinil in student volunteers may depend on IQ


as for the topic of cognitiv enhancers in general, see this somewhat recent 2010 systematic overview. it appears that ritalin isnt a good cognitiv enhancer, but modafinil is promising for non-sleep deprived persons. Modafinil and methylphenidate for neuroenhancement in healthy individuals a systematic review



a. Enhancement and democratic theory: Millian plural voting

and the attenuation of democracy.

i. Kinds of democracy; is one-person, one-vote a defining char-

acteristic of democracy? Most persons now acknowledge that there

are stunning differences, both inborn and acquired, among individu-

als. Not everyone can be a physicist, novelist, grandmaster, astro-

naut, juggler, athlete, or model, at least without enhancement, and

those who can will vary sharply among themselves in abilities.


For better or worse, these differences make for serious social,

economic, and political inequalities. The question here is what ef-

fect these differences in human characteristics ought to have on

various matters of political governance. If we are not in fact equal

to each other in deliberative ability, judgment, and drive, why do we

all have equal voting power in the sense that, when casting ballots

in general elections, no one’s vote counts for more than another’s?

We are not equal in our knowledge of the issues, our abilities to as-

sess competing arguments, the nature and intensities of our prefer-

ences, our capacities to contribute to our social and economic sys-

tem, our stakes in the outcomes of particular government policies, or

even in our very interest in public affairs.



this topic was the primary reason i started reading this paper.


i also found som other papers dealing with Millian meritocracy, i suppose one cud call it. i came upon the idea individually, but was preceded by JS Mill with about 200 years.

his writing on the subject is here: John Stuart Mill – Considerations on Representative Government


another paper i found is this: Why Not Epistocracy




Government form Science

PHD thesis: Establishing offshore autonomous communities: current choices and their proposed evolution (Miguel Lamas Pardo)

Miguel-Lamas-Establishment-of-Autonomous-Ocean-Communities-English FIXD

Found via the Seasteading Institute Blog.


“Establishment of autonomous ocean communities: current options and their future
Dissertation presented as a requirement to obtain a Doctoral Degree in Naval Architecture
and Ocean Engineering.
The idea of establishing floating cities in the oceans has been addressed in the past within the
ambition of both science and art, though rarely with rigor or detail.
The objective of this dissertation is to provide an orderly framework around this idea as to
why humanity has sought out to establish such cities. To this end, we have established a more
ample definition to the term “Oceanic Colonization” which we define as “The establishment of
autonomous communities in the oceans aboard artificial platforms”. Additionally, we distinguish
four forms of ocean colonization for four distinct purposes: 1) to expand landholdings; 2) to
provide mobile settlements; 3) to allow for semi-permanent mobile settlements in order to have
access to marine resources; 4) and for the creation of micronations. It is this fourth concept that
will serve as a departing point to review the whole idea of oceanic colonization.
Thus, the objective of this dissertation is to analyze all the possible options (both present and
future) permissible within the scope of Naval Architecture and Oceanic Engineering for the
establishment of autonomous offshore oceanic communities which would allow for the creation of
oceanic micronations. At the same time, we shall try to project the evolution of the other three
forms of oceanic colonization.

Sustainable Energy Production: wind, solar, photovoltaic, geothermic, tidal, marine currents,

OTEC (Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion, which produces fresh water as a by-product). These

sources can be located on the platform itself or on “satellite” platforms around the colony.


one annoying and recurring feature is that the author does not mention nuclear power. it is especially strange given that Russia is already building floating reactors – with excess energy production, not just using it for its own propulsion. nuclear energy is surely the future. the fuel can also be extracted from seawater (uranium, thorium).





Oasis of the Seas

This vessel was commissioned by Royal Caribbean international in February 2006 and

launched in late 2008. It set a new record, accommodating over 6,000 passengers. It is also the

first ship to incorporate the concept making a cruise ship with seven themed areas called

neighborhoods45, a concept similar to that used in the planning of theme parks, providing

passengers with a wide variety of experiences based on their personal preferences and styles. in

this sense, it is practical concrete application of a themed cruises, but in this case seven different

themes opposed to the single themed cruise ships mentioned earlier.


crazy. 6000 passengers?!



Government form Politics Science

More about seasteading

So, after posting the previus post i started reading about seasteading. its really interesting. here ar som mor links

useful overview, lots of links to sources

mainstream introduction to the subject

a pragmatic approach to seasteading. very much worth reading. about 25 pages.

a commerciel approach

the book about seasteading, currently in a beta. apparently only in web format, which makes it annoying to read.

much mor like it! a phd thesis that analyses seasteading. looks very promising. 300 pages.


from the thesis:


The idea surrounding floating cities is a topic that has been part of the collective

imagination since the nineteenth century. It has been addressed by diverse fields both in science

and in the arts (engineering, architecture and literature) particularly during the twentieth century,

when it was realized that the technology had been developed to take on such a challenge.

Nonetheless, in many instances, the proposals lacked realistic foundations, and appeared

to be motivated simply to seek media attention for their proponents.

This dissertation seeks to address this by providing a framework on the topic regarding the

concept of “floating cities” by questioning why it is that humanity has sought to establish such


We avoid the media-coined term “Floating Cities” and instead use a different term with a

wider context, “Oceanic Colonization”, which we have defined as “the establishment of offshore

autonomous communities aboard artificial platforms.”

Additionally, we have distinguished four types of oceanic colonization for four different and

distinct objectives:

1) expansion of landholdings; 2) mobile settlements; 3) semipermanent mobile settlements

to access marine resources; 4) and the creation of micronations.

It is this fourth category that will guide the review of the whole issue of ocean colonization.

The dissertation’s objective is to “analyze possible (current and future) options available to

the discipline of Naval and Oceanic Engineering for the establishment of offshore autonomous

communities that would allow for the creation of oceanic micronations.

At the same time, we shall attempt to explore the future evolution of the three other

objectives of oceanic colonization.

In Part I- State o f the Art, we seek to review the most ambitious oceanic colonization

projects espoused toward the creation of oceanic micronation (such as the Principality of Sealand)

as well as those proposed by professionals outside of the Naval and Oceanic disciplines with

apparently media-seeking proposals (such as the “Green Float” espoused by Shimizu Corporation).

We shall point out that these vain attempts have failed as they have not taken into account

a series of requirements which shall be examined in Part II of this dissertation.

In Part II, Set-up and Challenges, we develop four essential requirements that need to be

fulfilled by any oceanic settlement:

1) economic and commercial, 2) technical specifications surrounding the platforms, 3) legal

and external relations, and 4) self-government and internal relations.

These requirements are common to all four forms of oceanic colonization though the steps

to achieving them are distinct and different for each one.

The research behind this dissertation is focused on the technical and legal requirements

(requirements 2 and 3) to create a micronation in the oceans.

To this effect, we researched existing platforms.

Thus, in Part III-Results, we present the review performed on the various platforms used in

the three first forms of oceanic colonization identified and that best conform to the creation of

oceanic micronation including the legal nuances related to them.

The platform types reviewed included cruise ships and residential offshore and inshore

flotels; also those termed as Very Large Floating Structures or VLFS and the offshore concrete-

based structures.

At the conclusion of this section, we shall analyze the legal and regulatory requirements of

oceanic colonization from the perspective of maritime law.

In Part IV- Results Analysis, we shall examine future trends of the four forms of oceanic

colonization postulated.

We allocate greater detail to the review of oceanic colonization to form micronations

based on the various platforms reviewed, and we provide a proposal of timelines and hypotheses

as to how we see this form of colonization evolving.

Lastly, in Part V- Conclusions, we shall conclude that the oceanic colonization and the

creation of micronations in the future is a result of the evolution of the other three forms of

oceanic colonization:

1) expansion of land holdings, where the solution via VLFS appears to be a viable alternative,

2) mobile settlements (where the primary venue shall be cruise ships that will be converted into

mobile-floating-ship-cities and 3) the establishment of permanent oceanic settlements to access

marine resources that will require permanent floating cities in order to best extract them.

Copyright and filesharing Government form

Thoughts about Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet (Assange et al)

Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet ebook pdf download free

u really shud buy it if u want to read it, just to support Wikileaks. its priced at 10$ for a DRM-free PDF.

heres another review

the summary is that its a rather short book, 170ish pages, which is based on a four way conversation between Julian Assange and three other interesting and influential computer ppl. it contains a lot of rather dystopian information about the future and present of surveillance. apparently, there is a lot more of it than i thought. certainly this gave me som more ideas that i will discuss with the pirate parties.

some quotes and comments

A 120-strong US Pentagon team called the WikiLeaks Task

Force, or WTF, was set up ahead of the release of the Iraq War Logs

and Cablegate, dedicated to “taking action” against WikiLeaks. Simi-

lar publicly declared task forces in the FBI, the CIA and the US State

Department are also still in operation.19

hilarious accidental use of internet slang? :D

The Obama administration warned federal employees that mate-

rials released by WikiLeaks remained classified—even though they

were being published by some of the world’s leading news organiza-

tions including the New York Times and the Guardian. Employees were

told that accessing the material, whether on or in the

New York Times, would amount to a security violation.21

Government agencies such as the Library of Congress, the Commerce Department

and the US military blocked access to WikiLeaks materials over their

networks. The ban was not limited to the public sector. Employees from

the US government warned academic institutions that students hop-

ing to pursue a career in public service should stay clear of material

released by WikiLeaks in their research and in their online activity.


JULIAN: Andy, for years you’ve designed cryptographic telephones.

What sort of mass surveillance is occurring in relation to telecommu-

nications? Tell me what is the state of the art as far as the government

intelligence/bulk-surveillance industry is concerned?

ANDY: Mass storage—meaning storing all telecommunication, all voice

calls, all traffic data, any way groups consume the Short Message Service

(SMS), but also internet connections, in some situations at least limited

to email. If you compare the military budget to the cost of surveillance

and the cost of cyber warriors, normal weapon systems cost a lot of

money. Cyber warriors or mass surveillance are super-cheap compared

to just one aircraft. One military aircraft costs you between…

JULIAN: Around a hundred million.

ANDY: And storage gets cheaper every year. Actually, we made some

calculations in the Chaos Computer Club: you get decent voice-quality

storage of all German telephone calls in a year for about 30 million

euros including administrative overheads, so the pure storage is about

8 million euros.42

scary. it gets more scary when u think about the fact that most systems that i use to communicate with are american owned: skype, facebook, google. perhaps i shud get srs about this encryption thing. sooner rather than later.

JACOB: We can also tie this back to John Gilmore. One of John

Gilmore’s lawsuits about his ability to travel anonymously in the

United States resulted in the court literally saying, “Look, we’re

going to consult with the law, which is secret. We will read it and

we will find out when we read this secret law whether or not you

are allowed to do the thing that you are allowed to do.” And they

found when they read the secret law that, in fact, he was allowed

to do it, because what the secret law said did not restrict him. He

never learned what the secret law was at all and later they changed

the US Transportation Security Administration and Department

of Homeland Security policies in response to him winning his law-

suit, because it turns out the secret law was not restrictive enough

in this way.115

dafuq. the reference is:

Jacob is referring to Gilmore v. Gonzales, 435 F.3d 1125 (9th Cir.

2006). John Gilmore, an original cypherpunk, took a case as far as the

US Supreme Court to disclose the contents of a secret law—a Security

Directive—restricting citizens’ rights to travel on an airplane without

identification. Besides challenging the constitutionality of such a provi-

sion, Gilmore was challenging the fact that the provision itself was secret

and could not be disclosed, even though it has binding effects on US

citizens. The court consulted the Security Directive in camera, and ruled

against Gilmore on the Directive’s constitutionality. The contents of the

law were, however, never disclosed during the course of the proceedings.

See Gilmore v Gonzales at

gilmore/facts.html (accessed October 22, 2012).

ANDY: I totally agree that we need to ensure that the internet is

understood as a universal network with free flow of information;

that we need to not only define that very well, but also to name those

companies and those service providers who provide something they

call internet which is actually something totally different. But I think

we have not answered the key question beyond this filtering thing.

I want to give you an example of what I think we need to answer.

Some years ago, about ten years ago, we protested against Siemens

providing so-called smart filter software. Siemens is one of the big-

gest telcos in Germany and a provider of intelligence software. And

they actually sold this filtering system to companies so that, for exam-

ple, employees couldn’t look at the site of the trade unions to inform

themselves of their labor rights and so on. But they also blocked the

Chaos Computer Club site which made us upset. They designated

it as “criminal content” or something, for which we brought legal

action. But at an exhibition we decided to have a huge protest meet-

ing and to surround Siemens’ booths and filter the people coming

in and out. The funny thing was that we announced it on our site

to attract as many people as possible through the internet, and the

people in the Siemens booth had no fucking clue because they also

used the filter software so they couldn’t read the warning that was

obviously out there.


JULIAN: The Pentagon set up a filtering system so that any email sent

to the Pentagon with the word WikiLeaks in it would be filtered. And

so in the case of Bradley Manning, the prosecution, in attempting to

prosecute the case, of course, was mailing people outside the mili-

tary about “WikiLeaks,” but they never saw the replies because they

had the word “WikiLeaks” in them.118 The national security state

may eat itself yet.

oh god retards

JÉRÉMIE: This debate about full disclosure makes me think of the

group known as LulzSec, who released 70 million records from

Sony—all the users’ data from Sony—and you could see all the

addresses, email addresses and passwords. I think there were even

credit card details from 70 million users. As a fundamental rights

activist I thought, “Wow, there is something wrong here if to prove

your point or to have fun you disclose people’s personal data.”

I was very uncomfortable with seeing people’s email addresses on

the record. In a way, I thought those people were having fun with

computer security, and what they were demonstrating is that a

company as notorious and powerful as Sony wasn’t able to keep its

users’ secrets secret, and having those 70 million users search in

a search engine for their email address or for their name and find

this record would make them instantly realize, “Oh wow, what did

I do when I disclosed this data to Sony? What does it mean to give

personal data to a company?”

JACOB: Then they shoot the messenger.

interesting angle on the LulzSec disclosure

Government form

Foot Voting, Federalism, and Political Freedom (Ilya Somin)

Foot Voting, Federalism, and Political Freedom PDF



Just as foot voting can be expanded all the way down to the local level, there is also a strong case for extending it “all the way up” to the international level. The potential gains from freer international foot voting in some respects dwarf those that can be achieved domestically. 3 Moreover, for people living under authoritarian regimes, foot voting through international migration is often their only means of exercising political choice.


this wud seem already to be the case somewhat with the massiv migration from shitty countries to western countries.



In modern states, the ballot box is the main mechanism for popular political choice. If the public disapproves of government policy, they can vote to “throw the bastards” out and elect a new set of bastards who will, hopefully, do better. There is no doubt that the ballot box does indeed enhance political choice. Most importantly, it effectively incentivizes political leaders to avoid large and obvious disasters. It is, significant, for example, that no modern democracy has ever had a mass famine within its territory, 8 even though such famines are all too common in dictatorships. Democratic electorates also have some success in forcing government policy to conform to majority public opinion. 9


seems true


the only famines in democracies are those that are war related, and thus arguably due to either non-normal functioning or due to another non-democratic power, that is, soviet russia, nazi germany, or japan.


of what significance is this fact? well, perhaps nothing more than democracies are good at food production. perhaps becus food is such a vital commodity that any government that failed to hav food produced wud be strongly selected against.



Low Probability of Decisiveness

In all but the very smallest elections, the individual voter has only a vanishingly small chance of making a difference to the outcome. In an American presidential election, the probability of casting a decisive vote is roughly 1 in 60 million. 11 The odds are better in elections with smaller numbers of voters, but are still extremely low. The low probability of decisiveness surely diminishes the extent to which ballot box voting is a meaningful exercise of political freedom.


This may seem a counterintuitive conclusion, since citizens of democratic states have long been taught to view voting as an important exercise of individual freedom. We implicitly assume that the individual enjoys political freedom if he or she can effectively influence the government as part of a much larger group. But in most other contexts, we would not say that a person is truly free to make a particular decision if he or she in fact has only a miniscule chance of actually determining the outcome. For example, a person who has only a 1 in 60 million chance of being able to decide what to say has only a very attenuated degree of freedom of speech. A person with only a 1 in 60 million chance of being able to decide what religion to practice surely lacks meaningful freedom of religion. A worker who has only a 1 in 60 million chance of being able to decide whether to quit her job is not a free laborer, but a serf. In each of these cases, the person would not be considered truly free merely because they could say what they want, practice their religion freely, or change jobs if they first persuade a majority of a much larger group to give them permission. The same can be said for most if not all other valuable freedoms. Similarly, a person with only a miniscule chance of affecting the nature of the government they live under has only a very attenuated degree of political freedom.


he doesnt take it far enuf. in the US situation, there is only a choice between two non-chosen options. a better analogy with the case of religion is that the person has some 1 in 6e70 chance of deciding whether to be a protestant or a catholic. both shitty options, exactly like in the US case.



B. Advantages of Foot Voting.

Foot voting has important advantages over ballot box voting on all three of the dimensions considered here. Foot voting is usually decisive, it allows for a greater degree of choice over basic structure, and it creates superior incentives to acquire and rationally evaluate information. Individual decisiveness is the most obvious advantage of foot voting over ballot box voting. A person who chooses which jurisdiction to live in usually has an extremely high probability of being able to implement her decision. In many cases, of course, the individual might be constrained by the desires of a spouse or other family members. But even in these situations, he generally has a much higher probability of influencing the final result than does a ballot box voter. One vote out of, say, ten, in a large family is far more likely to be influential than one vote out of ten million or even one vote out of ten thousand in an election.


Foot voting in a federal system also allows greater choice over basic structure. A person who can choose between multiple state and local governments can potentially choose between other limitations as well. For example, it only applies in a narrow range of circumstances. See Ilya Somin, “Revitalizing Consent,” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 23 (2000): 753- 805, 795-97. 12 jurisdictions with very different systems of governance. For example, they might have divergent state constitutions, electoral systems, basic social welfare policies, and so on. Obviously, the range of choice here is far from unlimited. The choices are limited to those available in the given federal system. 34 Moreover, foot voters generally are unable to control the basic structure of the federal system itself, such as the determination of how many different jurisdictions will exist, and what their boundaries will be. Nonetheless, especially in a sizable nation with many different jurisdictions, the range of choice is likely to be substantially greater than that available through ballot box voting in a unitary state.


the recent legalization of cannabis comes to mind as a great reason to move to another state within the US.




Education Government form Politics

Quotes and thoughts: Deliberative Democracy and Political Ignorance (Ilya Somin)

Very interesting two papers by Somin! I will definitely check out his other stuff when i have time. I just took the time off reading papers before i start reading book #2 on patents (Against Intellectual Monopoly).

Deliberative Democracy and Political Ignorance


ABSTRACT: Advocates of ‘‘deliberative democracy’’ want citizens to actively

participate in serious dialogue over political issues, not merely go to the polls every

few years. Unfortunately, these ideals don’t take into account widespread political

ignorance and irrationality. Most voters neither attain the level of knowledge

needed to make deliberative democracy work, nor do they rationally evaluate the

political information they do possess. The vast size and complexity of modern

government make it unlikely that most citizens can ever reach the levels of

knowledge and rationality required by deliberative democracy, even if they were

better informed than they are at present.


How very depressing in relation to liquid democracy/feedback!

Deliberative democracy is one of the most influential ideas in modern

political thought. Advocates want citizens to actively participate in the

democratic process by seriously deliberating over important issues, not

merely voting for or against candidates put forward by political parties.

They hope that voters will not only develop a solid factual understanding

of political issues, but will also debate the moral principles at stake in a

rational and sophisticated fashion. Deliberative democrats expect more of

voters than merely acting to ‘‘throw the bums out’’ if things seem to be

going badly.


These high aspirations are admirable and appealing. Unfortunately,

they run afoul of the reality of widespread voter ignorance and

irrationality. Moreover, even if voters were significantly better informed

and more rational than most are today, the vast size and complexity of

modern government would prevent them from acquiring enough

knowledge and sophistication to deliberate over more than a small

fraction of the full range of issues currently decided by government. Such

difficulties become even more acute in light of the fact that many

deliberative democrats want the political process to control even more of

society than is already the case. Previous scholarship has only tentatively

considered the implications of widespread voter ignorance and irration-

ality for deliberative democracy.1

This article is intended to close the gap

in the literature more fully. My analysis focuses on theories of

deliberative democracy that require deliberation by ordinary citizens. I

do not consider the distinct question of deliberation by legislators or

expert administrators.

Parts IV#VI consider three proposals to increase political knowledge

that have been advanced by deliberative democrats. These include using

education to raise the level of political knowledge, increasing knowledge

by having voters engage in structured deliberation, and transferring

authority to lower levels of government where individual voters might

have stronger incentives to acquire information. Finally, I will briefly

suggest that deliberative ideals might be more effectively advanced by

limiting the role of government in society.


Deliberative democracy is a normative ideal, not an attempt to explain

present-day reality. However, an attractive normative ideal must be

feasible. The problem of political ignorance casts serious doubt on the

feasibility of deliberative democracy. Moreover, some proposals put

forward by deliberative democrats, if implemented, may well cause more

harm than good.


The second proposal was my idea as well. It better work, otherwise liquid feedback might be very bad indeed.

Decades of public opinion research show that most voters are very far

from meeting the knowledge prerequisites of deliberative democracy. To

Somin • Political Ignorance & Deliberative Democracy 257the contrary, they are often ignorant even of very basic political information.


In 2009, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats put

forward ambitious plans to restructure the U.S. health-care system and

impose a ‘‘cap and trade’’ system to restrict carbon emissions and combat

global warming. Both plans were widely discussed in the media and

elsewhere. Yet a September 2009 survey found that only 37 percent of

Americans claimed to ‘‘understand’’ the health care plan, a figure that

likely overestimates the true level of understanding.7 A May 2009 poll

showed that only 24 percent of Americans realized that the important

‘‘cap and trade’’ proposal recently passed by the House of Representa-

tives as an effort to combat global warming addressed ‘‘environmental

issues.’’ Some 46 percent believed that it was either a ‘‘health-care

reform’’ or a ‘‘regulatory reform for Wall Street.’’8

Until the Obama health-care reform passed in March 2010, the largest

new federal domestic program enacted in the previous 40 years had been

the Bush Administration’s prescription-drug entitlement, enacted in

2003. Yet a December 2003 poll showed that almost 70 percent of

Americans did not even know that Congress had passed the law (Somin

2004c, 5#6).


Public ignorance is not limited to information about specific policies.

It also extends to knowledge of political parties, ideologies, and the basic

structure and institutions of government (Delli Carpini and Keeter 1996;

Somin 1998 and 2004c). For example, a majority of voters are ignorant

of such fundamentals of the U.S. political system as who has the power

to declare war, the respective functions of the three branches of

government, and who controls monetary policy (Delli Carpini and

Keeter 1996, 70#71). A 2006 Zogby poll found that only 42 percent of

Americans could even name the three branches of the federal

government (Somin 2010, ch. 2). Another 2006 survey revealed that

only 28 percent could name two or more of the five rights guaranteed by

the First Amendment to the Constitution (ibid.). A 2002 Columbia

University study found that 35 percent believed that Karl Marx’s dictum

‘‘From each according to his ability to each according to his need’’ is

enshrined the Constitution; 34 percent said they did not know if it was,

and only 31 percent correctly answered that it was not (Dorf 2002).

Similarly, years of survey data show that most of the public has little

understanding of the basic differences between liberalism and con-

servatism (RePass 2008; Somin 2010, ch. 2). They are often also

confused about the differences between the policy positions of the two

major parties (e.g., Somin 2004a).


Widespread political ignorance has persisted over time, despite

massive increases in education and the availability of information through

new technologies such as the internet.9 It seems unlikely to diminish

substantially in the foreseeable future.


Holy shit. Wud be very interesting to see cross-national data on some of these things. One cud use something like the separation of power as a question. Even tho the countries differ in how they do that, most of them do it in some way, and it is thus possible to ask and see whether people know how their country does it.

There is nothing inherently objectionable about people who acquire

political information for reasons other than becoming a better voter. It is

perfectly understandable if people wish to follow politics for any number

of reasons. Problems arise, however, when these motives conflict with

the goal of rational evaluation of information for the purpose of making

informed political decisions. To take one such case, people who acquire

information for the purpose of cheering on their political ‘‘team’’ or

confirming their existing views are likely to overvalue information that

confirms those views and undervalue or ignore anything that cuts against

them. Extensive evidence suggests that this is in fact the way most

committed partisans evaluate political information.14 Experiments show

that political partisans not only reject new information casting doubt on

their beliefs, but sometimes actually respond by believing in them even

more fervently (Bullock 2006; Nyhan and Reifler 2009). Thus, a recent

study found that conservatives presented with evidence showing that

U.S. forces failed to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were

actually strengthened in their pre-existing view thatWMDs were present

(Nyhan and Reifler 2009, 11#15). Similarly, liberals confronted with

evidence that 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry had

incorrectly claimed that the Bush Administration had ‘‘banned’’ stem-

cell research persisted in their pre-existing view that the charge was

accurate (ibid., 23#24). Similarly, most people discuss political issues only

with those who agree with them (Mutz 2006, 29#41). This tendency is

most pronounced among ‘‘those most knowledgeable about and

interested in politics’’ (ibid., 37), which implies that those who seek

out political knowledge the most are not motivated primarily by truth-

seeking. If they were, it would make sense to sample a wide variety of

sources, possibly placing particular emphasis on those with viewpoints

opposed to one’s own. The latter are more likely to expose the truth-

seeker to facts and analysis that he has not already considered. As John

Stuart Mill ([1869] 1975, 35#51) famously emphasized in On Liberty, we

are more likely to discover the truth if we consider opposing viewpoints,

not merely those that we already agree with.


Wow. Good thing im primarily a filosofer with truth as the goal, and not party politics. Impartial truth-seekers are perhaps the best politicians then? If so, then thats sad since they are the ones least likely to become politicians in todays system.

In addition to processing information in ways that provide internal

psychological gratification, people also often try to express opinions that

conform to social expectations and seek to avoid negative reactions from

other members of the community (Kuran 1995; Sunstein 2003). For

example, people in a socially conservative community may hesitate to

express approval of gay marriage for fear of alienating antigay friends,

family members, and neighbors. Those in politically liberal settings such

as university campuses often hesitate to criticize liberal policies such as

affirmative action (Kuran 1995, 310#25). Even in a relatively tolerant

liberal democratic society, dissenters often hesitate to openly endorse

unpopular views; they instead find it easier to pretend to agree with the

majority. Such ‘‘preference falsification’’16 can easily lead people to reject

powerful arguments against socially approved positions, or even to

refrain from voicing them in the first place.


Preference falsification can infect many kinds of political processes.

But it is an especially serious danger in a deliberative democracy, where

citizens have to engage in open dialogue on political issues and therefore

take positions (or refrain from doing so) in a setting where other

members of the community can observe them. Under ‘‘aggregative’’

democracy, by contrast, voters usually make decisions and access

information in more private settings and therefore may face less pressure

to conform.


To combat this problem, liquid feedback systems shud have anonymization in various ways. Perhaps by allowing users to go under many different names, but only allow them to vote once.



Is it possible not to love this guy? :D


Education Government form Politics

Quotes and comments: Knowledge about ignorance: New directions in the study of political information (Ilya Somin)

Knowledge About Ignorance New Directions in the Study of Political Information

Quotes from


If political ignorance is rational and most voters choose not to learn

much about politics for that reason, widespread ignorance is a phenom-

enon that democracies will probably have to live with for the foresee-

able future. The challenge for democracy is to find a way to minimize

the harm that political ignorance can cause.

Assuming that we shud keep a democratic government form, then yes, this is correct. Altho, giving people more power shud, according to this theory, also result in them taking more time to educate themselves. That’s an interesting and optimistic implication.

Here, I want to emphasize a different shortcoming of shortcuts, one

that was partly anticipated in Converse’ s #$%! paper. Both empirical ev-

idence and the theory of rational ignorance suggest that most voters

acquire political knowledge not primarily for the purpose of casting a

more informed vote, but for entertainment purposes or to satisfy other

psychological needs. If this is so, the shortcuts they use might likewise

be chosen to serve nonvoting purposes rather than to cast a “better”

ballot. Such voters could rationally choose not to evaluate the political

information they have in an objective way: a form of “rational irra-

tionality” (Caplan &””#). Again, such a choice need not involve precise,

conscious calculations about the costs and benefits of evaluating politi-

cal information objectively . As with the decision to vote and the deci-

sion not to spend much time acquiring political information, the

choice not to put much effort into analyzing political information ob-

jectively could simply be the result of an intuitive sense that there is lit-

tle or no benefit to engaging in such analysis.On the other hand, voters

can easily recognize that extensive knowledge acquisition imposes sub-

stantial potential costs in terms of time and emotional stress.Thus, a de-

cision not to analyze political information rigorously could be an ex-

ample of “satisficing” behavior (Simon #$)’), where individuals make

rational decisions but do not necessarily engage in rigorous calculation.


Such dynamics might often lead voters to use shortcuts that mislead

rather than inform. For example, the use of party-label and ideological

shortcuts led both voters and even many sophisticated political elites to

misperceive President Richard Nixon’ s policies as conservative (Hoff

#$$!). Nixon presided over an unprecedented expansion of the welfare

state, established affirmative action, created the Environmental Protec-

tion Agency , proposed a guaranteed annual income and national health

insurance, and established closer relations with communist China and

the USSR. But he was still widely perceived as a right-winger. Simi-

larly , liberals rallied around President Bill Clinton, while conservatives

rushed to condemn him, despite his endorsement of conservative poli-

cies on free trade, welfare reform, crime control, and other important

issues. Liberals defended Clinton and conservatives attacked him in

large part because of what he represented on a symbolic level as a “draft

dodger” and philanderer, rather than on the basis of his substantive

policies (Posner #$$$). In both the Nixon and Clinton cases, the desire

of liberal and conservative “fans” to rally around their leader or con-

demn a perceived ideological adversary blinded them to important as-

pects of the president’s policies—despite the fact that information

about these policies was readily available.


Yes, those odd #”¤(“)# symbols seem to be a bug in the OCR’ing of the paper. Apparently, the OCR misinterprets numerals. Odd. Perhaps deliberate?

Recent evidence confirms the possibility that even the most knowl-

edgeable ideologues might systematically pick ideological shortcuts that

mislead more than they inform. A study of experts in politics and in-

ternational relations finds that their predictions of political events are

usually no more accurate than would be produced by random chance

(Tetlock &””(). Of greater interest for present purposes is the finding

that the most inaccurate experts are those that tend to make their pre-

dictions on the basis of broad generalizations—that is, experts who rely

the most on ideological shortcuts (ibid., chs. *–().7 This result could be

interpreted as an indication that the experts in question are irrational.


However, most social-science experts are rewarded not for the accuracy

of their predictions but on the basis of the originality and apparent so-

phistication of their scholarship. Similarly, pundits and other public in-

tellectuals are rewarded for their popularity with readers and viewers,

not their prescience (Posner &””&). Few, if any, Conversean “ideo-

logues” can increase either their incomes or their professional standing

by improving the accuracy of the ideological shortcuts they use. As a

result, they , like ordinary voters, often have little incentive to use short-

cuts effectively , and considerable incentive to stick with shortcuts that

are often inaccurate.


Interesting. Also reminds me that i really shud get around to reading the book Wrong: Why experts* keep failing us–and how to know when not to trust them, of which i unfortunately do not have an electronic copy… which means that i likely wont be reading it any time soon. Time has a review of it here.

In addition to arguing for the utility of shortcuts, defenders of the view

that widespread political ignorance is not a serious problem have main-

tained that information problems can be overcome by means of the so-

called “miracle of aggregation” (Converse #$$”; Page and Shapiro #$$&;

Wittman #$$(). According to this theory , if ignorant voters’ errors are

randomly distributed, then the “incorrect” ballots cast for candidate A

will be canceled out by similar mistakes in favor of Candidate B, and

the votes of the relatively well informed will determine electoral out-



This argument has a number of flaws, including the fact that the

well-informed minority that determines electoral outcomes in this sce-

nario is likely to be highly unrepresentative of the electorate as a whole

(Delli Carpini and Keeter #$$%; Somin #$$)). On the other side of the

ledger, the danger that voters may rationally rely on inaccurate and mis-

leading shortcuts suggests a particularly powerful reason why their er-

rors are unlikely to be random. On many issues, ignorance shows sys-

tematic patterns of bias in one direction or another (see, e.g., Delli

Carpini and Keeter #$$%; Caplan &””&; and Althaus &””*). This is to be

expected if voters, including even many relatively knowledgeable “ide-

ologues, ” are relying on opinion leaders, ideologies, and other shortcuts

that have been selected for reasons other than accuracy.


Recent research suggests that even the most sophisticated and highly

rational voters may rely on shortcuts that have little relevance to politi-

cal candidates’ likely performance in office. For example, a recent study

of elections for the presidency of the American Economics Association

shows that the relative physical attractiveness of the rival candidates is a

powerful predictor of which candidate prevails in the voting (Hamer-

mesh &””(). The AEA electorate consists of academic economists who

are presumably knowledgeable about the functions of the AEA—and

presumably more committed to rational, maximizing behavior than is

the average voter in ordinary elections. If such voters nonetheless rely

on dubious information shortcuts, it is likely that voters in other elec-

tions are at least equally likely to do so.8


Interesting argument. Reminded my of wisdom of the crowds.


As for the influence of fysical attractiveness. Yeah.. I have for a long time been playing with the idea the politicians shud be anonymous for voting purposes. The idea is to get rid of such effects. I dont know how feasible that idea is. However, certainly, some improvements to the current situation can be made. For instance, outlawing election posters. They use the same effect/bias that ads also use, namely, the mere exposure effect. More rational TV-debates are also possible.

An important implication of the rational-ignorance hypothesis is that

voter knowledge is unlikely to increase very much merely as a result of

the greater availability of information. Even if information is readily

available at low cost, rationally ignorant voters have little or no incentive

to spend time learning it and weighing its implications. This inference is

borne out by empirical evidence showing little or no change in political

$knowledge levels over the last (” years, despite greatly increased educa-

tion levels and a parallel increase in the availability of information

through electronic and other media (e.g., Bennett #$)) and #$$%; Smith

#$)$; Delli Carpini and Keeter #$$%; and Althaus &””*). Thus, advocates

of ambitious theories of democratic participation cannot expect most

voters to reach the knowledge levels their theories require anytime soon.



In most modern democracies, government spending accounts for at

least a third of GDP , and the regulatory activities of the state extend to

almost all areas of life. In the United States, federal spending accounts

for &”.) percent of GDP , and state and local governments spend an ad-

ditional #*.’ percent.13 And the growth of government spending over

the last century has been matched by a parallel expansion of regulation

(Higgs #$)’).


Rationally ignorant voters are unable to keep track of more than a

tiny fraction of all this government activity. Indeed, they probably

would be unable to do so even with considerably greater knowledge

than most of them currently possess.Other things equal, the greater the

size and complexity of government, the greater the likelihood that

many of its activities will escape meaningful democratic control.14 This

result is troubling both for those scholars who regard democratic con-

trol of public policy as an intrinsic good (e.g., Pateman #$'” and Barber

#$)!), and those who value it for purely instrumental reasons such as

the need to curb abuses of power by political elites.


I agree with the last reason mentioned, that is, reason we need some kind of democracy is to avoid abuses of power i.e. nepotism and then like (read the link for many interesting examples).

In a federal system, citizens dissatisfied with government policy in their

state have the choice of either trying to use “voice” (traditional voting)

to address their grievances, or opting for “exit”: leaving for a jurisdic-

tion with more favorable policies (Hirschman #$'”).15 Those who

choose the exit option in effect “vote with their feet. ” Voice and exit

each have their respective strengths and weaknesses (ibid.). But one that

is largely ignored by most analysts is the comparative incentives they

create for knowledge acquisition.


The effectiveness of voice is significantly constrained by rational ig-

norance. As we have seen, individual voters have little incentive to ac-

quire and effectively use relevant information about public policy . By

contrast, exit has the tremendous comparative advantage of creating

strong incentives for individuals to acquire the necessary information to

make decisions about where to live.16 A knowledgeable individual or

family can move to a more hospitable jurisdiction even if the neighbors

left behind remain ignorant. Thus, individuals are likely to put much

more effort into acquiring information about the best jurisdiction in

which to live than into acquiring knowledge about the right candidate

to vote for. Moreover, effective “foot voting” may require less detailed

information than ballot-box voting, since the former does not entail

knowing which officials are responsible for which policies. It also obvi-

ates the need to be able to separate out the impact of multiple govern-

ment policies from each other, and from the effects of background so-

cioeconomic conditions.17


Empirical evidence shows that even severely oppressed populations

with very low education levels can often acquire remarkably accurate

information about differences in conditions between jurisdictions and

then make the decision to vote with their feet. For example, in the

early twentieth century , millions of poor African-Americans in the Jim

Crow-era South were able to determine that conditions were relatively

better for them in the North (and sometimes in other parts of the

South) and make the necessary moves (Henri #$'(; Cohen #$)$; Bern-

stein #$$), ‘)&–)(). This achievement stands in sharp contrast to the

failure of many of today’ s much better educated (and certainly less op-

pressed) voters to acquire basic political knowledge.

In order for foot voting to be effective, however, political power must

be at least partly decentralized. In a unitary state in which all or most

important policies are set by the central government, there is no exit

option other than the very difficult and costly one of leaving the coun-

try entirely . Thus, the informational advantages of foot voting over bal-

lot-box voting provide an important argument in favor of political de-



Obviously , foot voting is not a panacea for all the shortcomings of

government policy. For example, it cannot protect immobile people and

assets, such as property rights in land. And it is far from the only con-

sideration that needs to be taken into account in determining the opti-

mal level of political decentralization.18 Nonetheless, the informational

advantages of foot voting deserve considerably greater attention from

students of federalism and institutional development.


Very interesting argument. So, we have been moving in the wrong direction in Denmark for some time now, it seems. Very interesting to wonder what wud happen if, for instance, drug laws were a matter of regional law not national. Certainly, this makes experimentation much easier. Experimentation obviously makes it easier to know what works, and what doesnt.


One note about such a form. Some central government is necessary (i suspect, havent done research), and it has the incentitive to try to acquire more power constantly by enacting new laws, precisely as we see it in the US.


One good thing tho. If we can avoid more centralization in the future, especially some kind of world government (basically, expanding the power of FN, EU and the like). Then, becus traveling costs becom progressivly smaller over time, foot voting will becom progressivly less costly. Yay, something to look forward to! When i talk with people living in the US, i often suggest to them that they simply MOVE out of the US. That country is beyond repair (its voting system is locked in a two party system, see various films by CCPGrey), and only a revolution can fix it.

It is no secret that majority opinion in the Arab world and in many

other Muslim countries is largely hostile to the United States. Some an-

alysts attribute this result to specific U.S. policies, such as support for Is-

rael and the Iraq War (e.g., Scheuer &””!), while others cite a “clash of

civilizations” between fundamentally opposed Western and Muslim

value systems (e.g., Huntington #$$)). Either or both of these explana-

tions may be valid. But it is also important to consider the possible con-

tribution of widespread political ignorance.


As the data in Table # show, a &””& Gallup Survey of public opinion

in Arab and Muslim nations found large majorities denying that the

September ## attacks were carried out by “groups of Arabs. ” For exam-

ple, )$ percent of Kuwaitis, ‘! percent of Indonesians, and )% percent

of Pakistanis were apparently ignorant of this basic fact. A &””& survey

conducted by the Egyptian newspaper Al Ahram (&””&) found that *$

percent of Egyptian respondents blamed the September ## attacks on

“Israeli intelligence/the Mossad, ” while only #$ percent said that “Al-

Qa’eda or other Islamic militants” were responsible.21 Both the Gallup

and Al Ahram polls were conducted well before the start of the Iraq

War, so the responses are not the products of anti-Americanism gener-

ated by that conflict.