It is easy to argue with others and say that they must be
stupid or insane or whatever to vote a certain way. But, when you lose, you
have to confront the fact that you were out-voted, and therefore, in a
minority. Introspection to see whether you
made a mistake, or if they were
mistaken, or if there are other forces at work, must be done or you will keep
losing. We all have our assumptions and principles, and these form our basic
world-view, and it may be time to check out or investigate theirs, as well as
my own. Assumptions and principles are different, and should be evaluated for
clarity and reasonableness.
All of Euclidian Geometry follows from a very small handful
of postulates, common notions, and definitions. People are more complex, but
that doesn’t mean that our assumptions HAVE to be far more complicated or
vastly more numerous.
Some people have a very simplistic “if it feels good do it”
sort of worldview, because that sums up their principles, and their sole
assumption / value is “feeling good right now is what matters most.” If you don’t
agree with that basic assertion, then you see them as shallow, hedonistic, short-sighted,
etc. But you can’t get them to change their view, or see YOUR view, until you get them to formally recognize
and question those underlying ideas, and acknowledge yours. Similarly,
you can’t understand why they do what
they do until you recognize and understand what their fundamental principles and values are. Same facts, utterly divergent
Simplistic example: Men generally value freedom more than
security, and women vice-versa. Men generally earn more than women. A
politician offering much freedom and low taxes, at the cost of limited
safety-net and therefore personal uncertainty, will attract more men than
women. Another politician offering an image of dependability and security (such
as free healthcare) at a cost of high taxes and regulation, will attract a lot more
women than men. Men see the cost in taxes and on their freedom, women see
benefits of not having to worry about it. Same fact, different values, different
votes. Looked at short-term, before the cost of the free health-care bankrupts the
nation, the female vote is perfectly
rational, and if she votes against it she’ll be accused of voting against her
own self-interests. OTOH, a man voting against it will be accused of being
selfish or uncaring. Looked at long-term, as the burden of it destroys many
other things and increases uncertainty, it’s
very self-destructive to vote for
the health-care pol. But one just calling the other stupid or callous doesn’t
help find common ground or resolve the dispute and decide the best course for
both short AND long term concerns.
My basic assumptions about the people of the world are:
A) People tend to change their behavior when their perceived incentives change (see “O” below).
B) People will work much harder for themselves (to make more money or improve
their situation) than for anyone else, i.e., they will work in their own best
interests (as they see them).
C) Most people are basically good, and want to do good, BUT
D) people tend to be lazy, and can be envious, spiteful, cowardly, have other
E) some folks just are not wired right (psychopaths, narcissists, psychotics, sociopaths,
OCD, idiots, etc)
F) People are people – any assumptions you make about the “common man” or
business leaders, you must ALSO make about people with a badge, or in elected
office, or any other government employee. (Corollary: If you don’t trust folks
to take care of themselves or run business, you can’t expect them give them a
monopoly on government force and expect them to act like angels.)
G) Risk can never be eliminated, and trying to do so creates other, much more
subtle and dangerous, risks (Corollary: you CAN’T save everyone. NON-corollary:
it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to save anyone).
My assumptions about economics are:
H) The world is not a zero-sum game.
I) TANSTAAFL- ALL choices are trade-offs, and better choices can be made if
consequences are clear, direct, and known to the chooser at the time of the
choice being made. (Related: Costs should align with benefits, preferably in an
obvious-to-the-beneficiary way at the
time of benefit)
J) People tend to change their behavior
when the incentives change (yup, same as above – it’s important)
K) Things not earned are not valued properly or understood well. (Corollary:
giving people stuff, either “free stuff” or power, corrupts the spirit and
distorts values and other incentives).
L) Because people have different values, aiming for equality of outcomes is unwise.
M) There will always be relative winners and losers in ANY system, and changing
the rules simply changes who wins or loses most. (Related: the more rules there
are, the more people will attempt to game the system to personal advantage, and
the worse the side-effects)
N) When incentives of self-interest are
aligned with desirable outcomes, there is little resistance to “good” action (corollary:
when they conflict, coercion will be required).
O) Failure is not a bug, it’s a necessary
feature, a feed-back mechanism. It’s not only an option, it MUST be a VISIBLE and
PAINFUL option, if people are to evaluate risk and reward to choose wisely.
P) What works best is usually what aligns self-interest with desired outcomes.
Q) Marginal costs can tell you a LOT about how well thought-out a plan is.
R) That which cannot be sustained, won’t be.
My principles and values are: more freedom is better than
less; private property is private, and that includes your body, your time, and
the product of your labor; I really don’t care that much about what you say about
the intended result of your actions –
I care much more about the actual
real-world results, effects, and side-effects; dependency is bad; coercion is
bad; coercion and charity are incompatible; clarity and accuracy are more important
than hurt feelings; things of value are best earned or given freely; a person
should do all that they promise to do; a person should not harm another, or
their property, without just cause (such as self defense); all people should be
treated equally under the law, BUT not all people are of equal worth; honesty
is good, even if it is uncomfortable.
Questions, challenges, any missing / contradictory /
redundant items? If I can get it concise – simple, clear, short, and complete
enough – whenever I get in an argument that I think can be broken down to
fundamentals, I can ask which ones they disagree with. If they DON’T disagree
with any of them, and don’t have any others, I could build up, like a Euclidian
proof, why my position makes more sense than theirs (or at least, why their
position doesn’t make sense to me), and if they DO disagree or have other
additional items, I can get a much better handle on why/how/if I can approach
the disagreement to find common ground.