Harlem voters make an educated choice

Now, I think McCain is a sleazebag - which is not to say that Obama is a good choice - but this is great. Transcript:
Stern: ... and, most people said - Barack Obama. So what he said is, do you support Obama's views, but he attributed all of McCain's views to Obama. And it didn't sway anyone.
Quivers: But it didn't cause people to even flinch -
Stern: No. This is crazy. Listen to this.

Interviewer: Some people speculate that blacks are voting for Obama strictly because he's black and not because of his policies. So we took McCain's policies and pretended they were Obama's. This is what they had to say.

Interviewer: For the election, Obama or McCain?
Person A: I like Obama.
Interviewer: Now, what don't you like about McCain?
Person A: McCain seems to not really know what he's doing right now.
Interviewer: Are you more for Obama's policy because he's pro-life, or because he thinks our troops should stay in Iraq and finish this war?
Person A: I think because our troops should stay in Iraq and finish this war, I'm really for him with that.
Interviewer: Okay. Now, how about as far as him being pro-life. Do you support Obama in that case?
Person A: Yeah. I do. I support him in that case.
Interviewer: And if he wins, would you have any problem with Sarah Palin being vice president?
Person A: No, I wouldn't. Not at all.
Interviewer: You think he made the right choice in that?
Person A: I do.
Interviewer: Thank you very much for that and have a great day.

Stern: So the guy agreed with everything McCain is for, except he said he was for Obama. Here's another example.

Interviewer: Are you for Obama or McCain?
Person B: Obama.
Interviewer: Okay. Why not McCain?
Person B: Well, I just don't agree with some of his, you know, policies.
Interviewer: Now, Obama says that he's anti-stem cell research. How do you feel about that?
Person B: I believe that's - I wouldn't do that either, I'm anti - stem cell, yeah.
Interviewer: Anti-stem cell research. Now if Obama wins, do you mind Sarah Palin being vice president?
Person B: No. No, I don't.

Stern: Aight, there you go, and our third example, in which we found this woman.

Interviewer: This election, Obama or McCain?
Person C: Obama.
Interviewer: Now, why not McCain, what don't you like about him?
Person C: Umm... he sort of doesn't sound like he has enough... like he does - he's uneducated - because when he had, um, they had, um, both of the presidents speaking - he didn't sound like he knew what he was talking about too much, whereas Obama had facts and information when he was speaking.
Interviewer: Good point. Let me ask you this. Do you support Obama more because he's pro-life or because he says our troops should stay in Iraq and finish the war?
Person C: Um... I guess both.
Interviewer: Now if Obama wins, do you have any problem with Sarah Palin being his vice president?
Person C: Um, no - not at all.
Interviewer: You think she'll do the job?
Person C: I think she'll do the job.
Interviewer: Are you glad that he elected her to be the VP if he wins?
Person C: Yup.
Interviewer: Thank you very much.
Thanks to Eric Falkenstein on Overcoming Bias.


Anonymous said…
Funny. In europe we have this video where a guy goes around and ask american citizens geography questions. That makes us laugh hard.
Most are white and can't answer correctly the most basic stuff. That's because americans are stupid or something. But I disgress. What's your point here ?
denis bider said…
Anonymous: I'm fairly sure that when you watch this video that you have "in Europe", it is actually from YouTube's servers in the US. ;)

The point is what you make of it. Obviously snippets such as this are entertainment and thus cannot be trusted very much. It could be that they recorded 100 people and discarded the 97 who did not provide ridiculous responses.

However, if these responses are representative, then this tells you something about democracy. Originally, the U.S. was supposed to be a republic where only wealthy men could vote; and even then, in the Presidental election, they could only vote for electors, who themselves would choose a President according to their conscience.

This is not the system that the U.S. has today. Everyone can vote before they can legally get a drink, and their votes are considered binding on the electors. Sheep pick their leader, which is the charismatic wolf.

That is not the way things should be.
Daniel said…
I agree with you that the current election system is deeply flawed, but the above mentioned alternative is as bad as this at best.
denis bider said…
Daniel: In what respect?

Because of the requirement that only those people can vote who have demonstrated a modicum of usefulness?

(Free Waterfall Jr: "You can't own property, man!" - Professor Farnsworth: "Yes I can, but that's because I'm not a peniless hippie!")

Or do you find it implausible that voters could actually pick electors who would vote their best intentions?
boris_kolar said…
According to this, electors are not bound to vote for candidate that won. If they vote differently, they are only subjected to small fines or in some states no repercussions at all. Contrary to popular belief, USA is not a democracy ;)
Daniel said…
Well because they would serve in their best self-interest, which in my opinion is not a free economy or the form capitalism(as free as it is today at least) takes today.
Nowadays the well of need to earn their wealth and are exposed to losses through economic crises or their ill-thought-out business decisions. They would be much better off in some modernised derivative of feudalism(where they were literaly doing squat and spending like crazy, without any worries of going bankrupt).
denis bider said…
Daniel: You ignore that we do not live in a free capitalist economy, and that this is quite probably because voting is not limited to those with some wealth.

In my opinion, people who have never employed anyone - not even themselves - lack the experience to vote about any economically important issue. It is predominantly the votes of these people who give us the populist politics of today.

Yes, if we limited voting rights in some way to people who either are self-employed or who employ or manage others, then most likely these people would vote in ways that enhance opportunity. Most people who employ someone employ only a few, and wish to have the opportunity for their business to grow, so they would vote in this direction.

People who have never seen the employer's side of doing business, however, are in general highly ignorant about how business works, while their votes vastly outnumber people who do have such experience.

This gets us into the populist politics and the socialism that we have today.
denis bider said…
We basically have a situation where shepherds and sheep vote together, and the shepherd's vote counts as much as a sheep's. The result is clueless politics.
Anonymous said…
Although this would be considered a flawed study in voter demographics, there is some truth in it. Unfortunately, I would guess that if you pop tested black Americans against white Americans, white Americans would probably score higher. I think traditionaly, blacks' have viewed the Democratic party as being more sympathetic to the issues that concern them, and Obama being black only increases the likely hood they will support him. Yahoo voter percentages show Black voters favoring Obama by over 90%.

Here's a counter study. 23% of Texan's think Obama is Muslim. I personally encountered this statistic the day after I heard it
- and it came from the mouth of a white 45 year old 100k co-worker/peer. The sad thing was he really thought that.

This goes back to the age old debate - is the general public qualified to vote?
denis bider said…
... and the answer to that is a resounding "No" :-)
Anonymous said…
Sadly, I think you are right.

I do concede that individuals with experience in operating a small, medium or large businesses do have much better grasp of federal taxes and the economy than those who have not. Not because everyone else is stupid, they just have not had hands on experience with it. Economics is a really boring read for the layman.

I consider myself very pliable when it comes to my opinions on economic issues, because I just don't know enough.

During the 80's, company retirements and pensions were common and this is often attributed to trickle down economics. So, I pose the question. If the votes of businesses and corporations are given heavier weight, do you think they will trickle their gains down to the worker bees? Or do you think they will strive to keep worker benefits and wages as low as possible and maximize profits?

Like it or not, I believe that even if you could get every individual in the States to educate themselves and strive for success--not everyone is going to grow up and be a CEO or business owner. The vast majority of us will be working for others. So, I do think their welfare is important.

I have not completely formulated my opinion on this.
denis bider said…
The current state of things is such that the economically uneducated voters are using their votes to take resources away from higher income people who would predominantly invest them, and give them to lower income people who will predominantly consume them. This somewhat improves the present for some people, but thereby sacrificing production capacity in the future, which sacrifice is exponentially compounded. If the growth in productive capacities is reduced from 6% to 3%, this means that the productive capacity will be only 42% better in 12 years, instead of being more than 100% better. And increased productive capacity translates directly into lower prices and a greater standard of living, especially for the poor.

So basically the not-well-off are stealing from everyone's future, but especially their own, in order to embellish their present. This hurts the poor people most in the long run because the marginal value of a dollar is much higher for them.

I suggest that if voting was limited to somewhat economically educated people, these economic transfers would not be happening to such a ludicrous extent. More resources would go into increasing productive capacity rather than being diverted for "social" purposes. In a matter of a decade or so, the benefit of increased production would outweigh the short-term impact.

Note that pensions were first introduced in Germany in the 19th century, when there was no such thing as universal suffrage. Economically competent politics don't mean no redistribution, but they do mean less of it and more investment into production, which helps everyone, but especially the poor, in the long run.
Anonymous said…
That's a pretty solid argument.

I think the problem is that Politicians', at least the ones that want to get elected, have to appeal to the selfish "hear and now" issues of voters, at least when it comes to money. Essentially they end up buying votes with either tax cuts or social programs. The politicians who really do speak their mind about what they think should be done will never get a nomination within the two dominate parties.
denis bider said…
Politicians have to appeal to what voters will understand. When most of the voters understand nothing, you get the system we live in.

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