Thursday, November 1, 2012

Learn Liberty - Should You Be Forced to Vote?

   So for some time I have subscribed to this Libertarian YouTube channel called Learn Liberty. I guess I like to torture myself once in a while... No, really, it's more that I want to "know my enemy" as there are a lot of atheists who hold Libertarian views. I've intended to comment on these every now and then, but I guess I've gotten lazy. Or there were more pertinent things on my mine. And maybe I'll go through the older videos to chip in my two cents...or maybe not. Anyway, for a quick "About" on the videos, they typically have some college professor from some various college talk about some specific topic for the entire video.

   Anyway, the latest video is about forcing people to vote. I guess I may be taking an interest in this one because I heard some coworkers talking about this very topic a few weeks ago. So, here's the video, with Prof. Jason Brennan from the University of Arizona, with my comments following below:

   I'm actually on board through 1:41. I agree that it's probably not a good idea to make people who are uninformed vote. Actually, I think there are too many uninformed people who vote as is and thought that this was a good argument for not letting people of the Tea Party vote. I'm half-way serious about that — I'd rather they not vote, but I'm not going to stop them from doing so.

   Where he begins to lose me is at the 2:06 mark where he talks about how political science studies have shown that people "tend to vote for what they believe to be the national interest." Now, I can actually believe that. It really does not surprise me because there is a lot of nationalism (picture Stephen Colbert shouting, "USA! USA! USA!") in this country. The problem I have is that he then proceeds to write this off as a non-issue, saying, "[People] don't want to exploit their neighbors." That, in itself is reasonable, but who is one's "neighbor." More importantly, who is not my neighbor? The presenter is concerned that allowing uninformed voters will contribute to "homophobic, sexist, and raciest legislation." But what does he think will happen if an informed homophobe, sexist, and/or raciest votes??? Does he really think that a homophobe, for example, will vote against their homophobia out of the "national interest?" I don't. Why? Because such a person does not consider gay people to be hirs "neighbor." The white raciest isn't going to consider a black, Asian, latin@, etc. to be hirs "neighbor." And so on.

   Take Mitt Romney's comments on the 47%. He doesn't need to worry about them; they are not his neighbors. (Yes, I know that this is not entirely true. There are bound to be people in that 47% that he is concerned about. The larger point is that he made it quite clear that he is not concerned with 100% of America. Whatever the exact percentage of people he doesn't care about isn't really important. The fact that it is more than 0% is important.)

UPDATE: Or if these people are considered "neighbors," they aren't necessarily treated like the people they really are. I am reminded of this from a post by Crommunist in which a bishop said the following of gay people: "Their minds are perverted, they’re frankly very sick people psychologically, mentally and emotionally." I have a coworker who has expressed a similar point of view. This view is not an accurate one. With Romney, maybe he does consider everyone his neighbor, but his understanding of his neighbor is skewed from reality. The question, then, is which is worse? Not considering someone a neighbor or considering someone a neighbor, but believing that neighbor has issues they don't actually have? END UPDATE

   The hair-pulling part is that Prof. Brennan states the key problem, but is apparently oblivious to this. So, allow me to repeat what he said, highlighting that key part: "[People] tend to vote for what they believe to be the national interest." What people believe to be the national interest may not actually be the national interest! In which case, this whole part about thinking people need to invest more time to learn about policies isn't necessarily going to help as much as he seems to think. (I don't think it would hurt, but this alone is not a solution.)

   Speaking of which, I found that to be the most ironic part of the video. Here's the full quote: "What we should worry about instead is that people do not invest the time to learn which policies really serve the common good." I agree. And I have invested such time. That's why I don't hold Libertarian economic views.

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