Archive for February 7th, 2004
FITE (Fairness In Taxes for Everyone): newsletter #15
The conservatives are at it again, doing their old routine. Calling for cuts in more programs to close the budget gap. As we have noted in past newsletters, the problem is that Mr. Bush is hell bent on giving ever more tax breaks to the ultra rich – who then thank him by shoveling even more money into his campaign war chest. Republicans call it “starving the beast” – the “beast” being government. It’s the politicians helping the ultra rich again to embezzle our money. The problem is partly the tax cuts for the rich, and the solution is to reverse them.
And they shouldn’t forget two more embezzlement schemes, their illegal use of charitable foundations and tax shelters to avoid paying almost a trillion in taxes. So far Congress has continued to refuse the 40% increase in staff that the IRS has requested to stop a gathering epidemic of tax evasion that, says New York Times tax reporter David Johnston, steals at least $1 trillion from our pockets. If Congress took aim at just these two tax evasion schemes and rolled back the tax cuts for the ultra rich, the immediate budget problems would go away.
Our ally at the New York Times, Princeton economist Paul Krugman, wrote this week about the
… urban legend about what went wrong. According to cleverly misleading reports from the Heritage Foundation and other like-minded sources, the deficit is growing because Mr. Bush isn’t sufficiently conservative: he’s allowing runaway growth in domestic spending. This myth is intended to divert attention from the real culprit: sharply reduced tax collections, mainly from corporations and the wealthy.
Is domestic spending really exploding? Think about it: farm subsidies aside, which domestic programs have received lavish budget increases over the last three years? Education? Don’t be silly: No Child Left Behind is rapidly turning into a sick joke.
In fact, many government agencies are severely underfinanced…
A lot of Republicans are now rethinking Bushonomics. They could get blamed for the budget deficit and that could ruin both the economy for years to come and their own political careers.
Meanwhile, what-me-worry Bush sees no need to worry, assuring the people of New Hampshire last Thursday that “the government has got plenty of money.”
Was he maybe confusing the government with his own party – which DOES have “plenty of money,” thanks to the ultra rich? Since this money might guarantee his reelection, why bother worrying about a deficit that will ruin the economy for years to come.
by Peter K Harrell
In Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting there are a number of criteria that are used to determine the election outcome. In any given election one or more of these criteria may need to be applied in order to determine which candidate if any has won the election.
Other alternative voting techniques such as Instant Runoff Voting also use more than one criterion to determine the outcome of elections. Instant Runoff Voting applies more than one criterion by iteratively eliminating candidates from consideration if no preferential majority has been reached. The reason that voting techniques like Yes No Maybe So Voting and Instant Runoff Voting may require the application of a number of criteria in order to determine an election outcome is because such voting techniques collect and use more information regarding voter opinion than Plurality Voting. The criteria used in determining an election outcome should make sense, the manner of their application should be clear and unequivocal, and they should permit the determination of a reasonable and appropriate outcome given the many possible variations in the expression of voter opinion provided for by a given voting technique.
As has previously been demonstrated Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting is the only voting technique that can truly determine the existence of the Consent of the Governed. Consent cannot be determined unless dissent is permitted. Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting is the only voting technique that permits voters to express dissent by voting No. Furthermore, only Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting allows the broad freedom of expression and political association that enables voters to exercise any significant and meaningful degree of political power. But providing the voter with such freedom of expression and political association presents a challenge when determining the outcome of an election.
After the votes have been cast Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting election results are examined to determine whether or not there is a majority winner. Since Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting permits each voter to vote Yes or Yes / No about each and every candidate on the ballot, there is a possibility, however improbable this may seem, that more than one candidate will receive majority support from the electorate. Under such circumstances a second criterion is then applied to determine the winner.
If no candidate receives majority support from the electorate, the election results are examined to determine whether or not there is a plurality winner who has received a predetermined minimum level of support from the electorate. This predetermined minimum level of support might be set at 35% just over one third of the voters actually casting a ballot for the office in question.
Again more than one candidate could receive support that exceeds the minimum level for a plurality winner. In that case the same second criterion is applied to determine the plurality winner as would have been applied had more than one candidate satisfied the majority support criterion. However, in the context of plurality support an additional criterion is applied. Any candidate who fails to receive support from a number of voters greater than the number of voters expressing opposition to that candidate is not eligible for consideration as the plurality winner. This last additional criterion is not necessary when considering candidates who satisfy the majority support criterion, since any candidate who satisfies the majority support criterion will also necessarily satisfy this criterion.
Since voters are allowed to express both their consent and dissent freely there is a possibility that no candidate will satisfy the minimum level of support required for a plurality winner, or that any candidate who does satisfy that minimum plurality level will have also failed to attract more supporters than opponents within the electorate. Unlike other voting techniques that do not permit the voter to vote No Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting does not coercively restrict and shape voter expression of opinion in an attempt to guarantee a winner despite the true opinions and interests of the electorate. Rather Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting requires some minimum standards for election based of such fundamental principles of democracy as the Consent of the Governed. These minimum standards give meaning to voter expression of opinion and make voter exercise of political power compelling.
Other voting techniques, such as Plurality Voting and Instant Runoff Voting, create the appearance of majority support or of consent even if no such majority support or consent exists. Such techniques are in a sense designed to select a candidate for election despite the opinions of the electorate and these techniques will produce a winner unless there is a break down of the system such as occurred in the 2000 Presidential Election.
If voters, who are able to freely express their opinions and vote Yes or Yes / No for any and all candidates without any restrictions, are unwilling or unable as a group of citizens to support even one of the candidates on the ballot, that is an important fact, a fact that may or may not be a problem but that certainly should not be obscured and hidden by a voting technique.
Unlike the Plurality Voting technique which only allows the voter to support one candidate at a time, Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting permits every voter to vote Yes or Yes / No about each and every candidate on the ballot. Each of these two vote types constitutes support for a candidate. In the event that no winner is determined and filling the office is considered crucial there are a number of remedies. A new election can be held with additional candidates on the ballot, or the decision regarding who is selected can move to another realm, such as a governor’s office, legislature or judicial court. These sorts of remedies are commonly used throughout the democratic world and are superior to forcing an outcome through the use of voting techniques that severely limit the political power of voters, subtly shape the expression of voter opinion, and ultimately deceive the electorate regarding the true meaning of the election outcome.
Under such circumstances if there is no candidate on the ballot who can convince a significant plurality of voters that he or she merits their support, then other means for determining a winner including the possibility of holding a new election should be used to select a candidate for office if filling the office is considered crucial.
Any voting technique used to elect a single individual to a single administrative or legislative office must permit the voter to express dissent and allow for the possibility that no Consent of the Governed exists in the electorate at a given point in time. Just as with Plurality Voting or any other voting technique provision must be made for the possibility that no candidate will be elected. But in contrast to other voting techniques, such as Plurality Voting and Instant Runoff Voting, Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting will not create a false impression of the Consent of the Governed or majority rule by generating bogus election results.
If a new election is to be held there is no particular need to eliminate candidates in the original election from the ballot. Since voters are not prevented from supporting and voting for candidates on the ballot simply because they have voted for some other candidate on the ballot, there is likely to be little gained from eliminating candidates from the ballot and holding a runoff election. Of course voters can voluntarily decide to support candidates in the new election that they did not support in the original election. Including additional candidates on the ballot in any new election would also be strongly recommended. One way additional candidates might qualify for the ballot is through the write-in option on the ballot in the original election.
In determining whether or not a candidate has received majority or plurality support both Yes and Yes/No votes are considered. Any voter who votes Yes or Yes/No about a candidate has supported that candidate for election. In other words both Yes and Yes/No votes count as one voter supporting a candidate for election. The total number of voters supporting a candidate is counted up and then that number is compared to the total number of voters who have cast a ballot for the particular office in question. If the number of voters supporting the candidate exceeds 50% then that candidate has satisfied the majority support criterion. If the number of voters supporting the candidate exceeds a predetermined minimum plurality level of support then that candidate has satisfied the plurality support criterion.
In Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting there are at least two criteria for election. When determining the winner election results are examined and the prevalence of support for each candidate is determined. The first criterion for election involves comparing this prevalence of voter support to a standard. If only one candidate satisfies the majority support version of this first criterion, then that candidate is declared the winner. However, if more than one candidate satisfies the majority support version of the first criterion, then a second criterion must be applied. This second criterion aggregates the intensity of support and opposition for each candidate and then compares the candidates who have satisfied the first criterion according to this standard. The candidate with the largest aggregate value of intensity of support is the winner.
For the purposes of this Second Criterion evaluation, which aggregates the intensity of support and opposition for each candidate as represented by each of the four types of Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Votes, each vote type is assigned the following values.
Yes ____________ 2
Yes / No ________ 1
Null Vote _______ 0
No ____________ -2
If Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting ballots are stored electronically, sufficient information must be stored to distinguish between the four types of Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting vote types as cast for each of the candidates on the ballot.
If no candidate satisfies the Majority Support First Criterion, then the Plurality Support First Criterion is considered. However, here in the context of plurality support an additional auxiliary criterion, the Preponderance of Support Auxiliary Criterion, must be considered. As already described the Preponderance of Support Auxiliary Criterion requires that any candidate eligible for election under the Plurality Support First Criterion must also be supported by a number of voters that exceeds the number of voters who oppose the candidate. In other words a majority of the voters who have expressed a clear opinion by voting Yes, Yes/No or No about the candidate must support the candidate by voting Yes or Yes/No.
If only one candidate satisfies both the Plurality Support First Criterion and the Preponderance of Support Criterion, then that candidate is declared the winner. However, if more than one candidate satisfies these two criteria, then the Aggregate of Support and Opposition Second Criterion is applied to determine if a winner exists.
Unlike either Plurality Voting or Instant Runoff Voting, Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting is firmly grounded in two of the most important and fundamental principles of electoral democracy, the Rule of the Majority and the Consent of the Governed. As demonstrated by the Majority Rule Voting Paradox there may be several different types of majorities in any given electorate. The explicit absence of the Consent of the Governed is one such majority.
Determining the winner in Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting may seem complex, but this method is really no more complex than the method used in Instant Runoff Voting. What’s more voters do not necessarily need to understand exactly how a candidate is elected in order to effectively use a voting technique.
I doubt that even after the 2000 Presidential Election debacle a majority of regular voters, much less a majority of the American people, precisely understand how the President is actually elected. This would undoubtedly still be true should Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting or any other alternative voting technique replace Plurality Voting in Presidential Elections. Educating people how democracy really works will always be important.
However, all a voter needs to know in order to be able to vote successfully using the Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting technique is how to cast each of the four types of votes provided for by Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting, and what is the relative effect of each type of vote on the prospects of a candidate’s chances for election. That much is very easy to understand.
To simplify this somewhat, we’ll put it this way: a candidate wins if s/he receives a majority of Yes votes. If no one receives a majority of Yes votes, the candidate wins who receives a majority of the combined total of Yes and Maybe So votes. If no one receives a majority of the combined total, the winner is the candidate who received the fewest No votes. See? Simple.
As Peter points out, while the Yes votes would usually be the deciding factor in assigning a winner–as they are now with Plurality Voting–the No vote is a powerful check, eliminating that candidate from consideration. IOW, it’s a dissenting vote, something PV doesn’t allow for. It also determines whether or not a new election is called for, in essence giving voters something they’ve long desired: a way to choose “None of the Above.” So when the two majority parties throw weak candidates nobody really likes at us, there’s a way we can actually say, “Not on your life, jamoke. Send those two weenies back where they came from and give us somebody we’re not ashamed to vote for.”
This is a system I could live with.
I couldn’t resist this. Georgia’s Superintendent of Schools is named Kathy Cox, right? Well, Georgia’s Secretary of State is named Cathy Cox. No shit. How often does that happen?
I think I like Cathy better than Kathy. The article is about Cathy raking charities over the coals if they spent more than 15% of the money they raised in administrative costs. Head of the list? The infamous Heritage Foundation. Ya gotta love it. She says it spends more than 95% of what it raises on administration and salaries. Some charity.
Go, Cathy, go.
***Orcinus has an excellent post up about the members of the new Presidential Commission. If you thought it might be a whitewash, you were right–there wasn’t even a credible attempt to promote a pretense of independence. The co-chairs are 1) the most radical conservative, partisan Republican judge they could find, and 2) the wimpiest, dimmest, dumbest Dem they could find. Only one member of the panel–NOT one of the chairs–has any intelligence experience at all.
***No Fear of Freedom has a post on proportional representation that is one of the better primers on the subject I’ve seen. A Must-Read for Omnium readers as we get more deeply into YNMS and other alternatives to Majority Rule.
***At the american street, Kevin Hayden examines state-by-state the relationship between joblessness and political leanings..
***John McKay at archy reports on Ten Commandments Judge Roy Moore’s potential run for president. Funny, scathing–and scary. Good news for dems, though.
***Ruy Teixeira at Donkey Rising has the results of the latest Ipsos/AP poll, and it’s not looking good for Junior. Not only is his approval rating in the dumper (which we knew from all the other recent polls) but a mere 37% of those who said they voted for him in the last election would do so again.
Best quote from the post:
“I think he’s run the country into the ground economically, and he comes out with these crazy ideas like going to Mars and going to the moon,” said Richard Bidlack, a 78-year-old retiree from Boonton, N.J., who says he voted for Bush in 2000. “I’m so upset at Bush, I’ll vote for a chimpanzee before I vote for him.
***Margaret Cho responds to a conservative group who threatens to picket her Houston show unless it’s canceled. Her response isn’t exactly…tepid….
Protesters, please be warned. Fans of my work are not the nicest people in the world. If you are into me, you have been through it. And if you don’t know what that means, you just don’t know me yet. The great fanbase I have built up over many years in the “business” come to see me with a lot of anticipation, and have a lot invested in what I might have to say. And they can fucking fight…. The underrepresented, unvoiced, ignored part of our population, the great many that make up the Cho Army are something you are unaware of, and pretty much the gang not to fuck with.
There’s lots more.
***And finally, Josh Marshall posts on the pending Plame indictments. He notes that despite the furor a couple of months ago, virtually no major media outlet has picked up the story.