James Leroy Wilson's blog

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Irrefutable Proof that the Will of the People is Insane

If the Will of the People exists, why does it behave irrationally?

George Mason professor Don Boudreaux explains:

You walk into an ice-cream store and ask what flavors are available today.  The clerk says “We’ve got vanilla and strawberry.”  You ponder for a moment and tell the clerk “I’ll have strawberry.”  Just before the clerk starts to scoop out your strawberry ice cream, he turns to you and says, “Oh, I almost forgot.  We also have pistachio.”  In response, you ponder for another second and then tell the clerk, “Well, in that case, I’ll have vanilla.”

Obviously, such a response by you would be (for lack of a better term) irrational.  It would certainly be odd and unexpected.  If you prefer strawberry to vanilla, why in the world would your learning of the availability of pistachio change your preference between these two flavors (strawberry and vanilla) from strawberry to vanilla?

And yet this is how the "Will of the People" supposedly choose their rulers:

  • If the People preferred Bush to Clinton in 1992, why would the additional presence of Perot change the People's preference from Bush to Clinton?
  • If the People preferred Gore to Bush II in 2000, why would the additional presence of Nader change the People's preference from Gore to Bush II? (Or at least made it a virtual tie?) 
  • If the People preferred Party A to Party B, why would the presence of a stronger-than-usual Party C change the People's preference to Party B?
Read Boudreaux's post here, and Arrow's Impossibility Theorem on which it's based here

My takeaway is that the "People," as a collective, has no will or independent agency. Vote results do not determine what they want, even as what they want under the realistic circumstances.

In an environment with more than two contenders, especially when a third (and possibly fourth, fifth, or more) may attract more than fringe voters, it's impossible to know what the "majority" of people really wanted in a close election. There are just too many variables to explain electoral outcomes. Party, ideology, personality, experience, personal life, and education are just parts of it. Someone may vote Democrat all one's life then vote Libertarian in an election and think it's true to one's ideology. Someone may vote Libertarian or Green all their lives then vote Democrat or Republican in one election for strategic reasons.

The fact is, nobody knows what the Will of the People is in an election. The winner is chosen for a variety of reasons too numerous for us to know. All we know (or as the media claims), the winner in a Two Party System is often NOT who the winner would be if not for the presence of stronger-than-usual alternatives.

In other words, the Will of the People is not a Will of anyone at all. It's random chance.

Is that how you want to be "governed?"  

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