Comments on David Marsay's Comments - Number 1

New Democracy donald at
Sat Sep 26 03:50:43 PDT 1998

  ----------Forwarded Letter ----------
Date: Fri, 25 Sep 1998 09:35:37 -0500
To: donald at (New Democracy)
From: Charles Fiterman
Subject: Re: More comments on Lord Jenkin's proposals

At 06:14 AM 9/25/98 -0400, you [David Marsay] wrote:
>2) A candidate with > 50% of 1st place votes wins. So the method is
>'majoritarian' in this sense.
>     Like FPP and vote-ranking methods. Approval is not like this. (If a
>'left' candidate has 51% support 2% of the supporters might rank a 'centre'
>candidate 2nd, leading to a 'wrong' win for the centre candidate.)

There are three terrible assumptions here which is amazing for so short a

1. The centrist shouldn't win in this case.

But the centrist is the only one who could have enough support to run
things. Admitted the left and right don't have him as their first choice
but they both found him acceptable. In the end the job of government is to
run things and that requires compromise.

2. Politics is one dimensional and you can assign everyone a real number
that absolutely defines their politics so we can eliminate names from the
ballot. Instead of George Smith we put down 0.277841 which is George
Smith's position on the right left scale and a voter picks the candidate
with the closest number to his own.

Politics is multi dimensional with a large number of dimensions and the
dimensions keep changing. There are freedom issues and six kinds of
environmental issues. There is bio diversity and air cleanliness and park
space. Big highways promote bio diversity by creating barriers to animal
travel and barriers are the birth place of species. To an epidemiologist
bio diversity is a swear word. Do minorities define themselves, are there
group rights.

And in this multi dimensional world there are voters each of whom has their
own notion of which dimensions are important and how important they are.
And you ask who do you approve of. Who would you trust to run things.

3. Everyone deserves to be equally powerful.

Imagine that instead of people we were choosing a single language for the
World Parliament. If everyone gets one vote Chinese wins and
representatives go to Parliament and only the Chinese get to talk. In an
approval election English wins. It may be everyone's second or third choice
but when the representatives get there they can talk. The most flexible,
the people who speak the most languages deserve to have the most votes and
be the most powerful.

This isn't that different from politics. Suppose we have five candidates
one of which is a fundamentalist Moslem. And there are a few voters who say
they can only be lead by a fundamentalist Moslem. But the majority look at
issues and can be lead by two or three of the candidates but not the
fundamentalist Moslem. The people who are flexible get two or three votes
each in an approval election while the inflexible get only one vote. This
makes the flexible two or three times as powerful. I say they deserve it.
If the inflexible get control everyone else will be miserable and maybe

Charles Fiterman

Clinton thinks he can pay for sex with your money but you shouldn't be able
to pay for sex with your money. Republicans think they can pay for sex with
your money, trash Clinton for paying for sex with your money, keep you from
paying for sex with your money, claim they are really Libertarians and
crocodiles are vegetarian philanthropists.

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