Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Why vote?

It's almost midterm elections, so I here are some thoughts on voting.

Reasons to not vote
1) Any one individual's vote makes no difference, so why bother?

Even close elections, like 2000 in Florida, aren't that close from an individual votor's perspective. Maybe Bush edges out Gore by 2000 votes. Even if I was in that final 2000, my vote is still just 0.05% of the deciding total. I'd want it to be 5% or 10%, which means margins need to be 10 or 20 votes -- simply not going to happen.

2) People overestimate the impact one person has, and underestimate the environmental factors they operate within. The US faces structural fiscal shortfalls, and a world of weak states, rogue groups, and nuclear proliferation. This will be true no matter what.

3) The outcome is fundamentally arbitrary (see Arrow's Paradox)

Reasons to vote

1) Good for the soul.

Voting is one of those things where the cumulative benefits are large, even though the individual benefits are small.

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