I offer an alternative story of how and why democracy fails. The central idea is that voters are worse than ignorant; they are, in a word, irrational—and they vote accordingly.
Wow. This strikes me as incredibly nihilistic. It also reminds me of a headline that ran in The Onion at one point: "American People Ruled Unfit to Govern
" However, this Cato-quip is just a theory. What if you substitute "misinformed" for "irrational"? Seems to me it would still hold together. Anti-market bias could be not understanding "the invisible hand" or it could be just not believing in it. But I'm right there with him on the anti-foreign bias. I do think Americans are fairly xenophobic, to their ultimate detriment. I attribute this to geography more than anything, though.
Americans equate prosperity with employment not production? Could this be due to the fact that there are far more wage-earners than factory-owners in America? It's certainly not due to the fact that Americans understand that labor is the true source of all value
As for pessimistic bias... this is a tricky question. Yes, people can be irrationally pessimistic. On the other hand, gains in the economy over the last few decades have not led to corresponding increases in wages or the standard of living for most people, they have led to increased stratification of wealth. If you work for someone else for a living, and if you don't own stock, you probably have a legitimate reason to be pessimistic. It seems to me the burden of proof is on the theorizer to show that pessimism is an irrational response.
You make some good points about Google search results. I think we're just using slightly different definitions of bandwidth. From this post, it seems you're talking more about attention
bandwidth than ability to push bits over the wire. And you're right - there is fierce competition for those top spots on Google's results list. A whole cottage industry now exists to coach companies how to get their site listed on that first screenful.
Honestly, I get the idea that (Jimdoria's) coming at the argument from the point of view that the movie's point is self-evidently correct, or at least so honorably intentioned as to be beyond challenge. So any viewpoint that has the temerity to challenge it must be, prima facie, evil and not deserving of our attention.
Honestly, I am baffled as to where this came from. I haven't seen the movie, so I'm in no position to comment on its content or accuracy, and I don't recall that I did so... (scanning old posts...) Nope, I haven't really commented on the movie in this discussion at all, except to say that it's propaganda. How did you draw this conclusion?
I am not put off by the screening company making money because Michael Moore is well known as a producer of propaganda. His movies usually have a particular viewpoint that they advance fairly ruthlessly. Nobody considers them neutral or unbiased sources of information. I do have that expectation of a search engine.
I consider it unethical because it amounts to "bait and switch". Google has built a business and a reputation based on accurate, unbiased search results. This is the service I expect from them, and I'm willing to look at advertising to pay for it, provided the ads are kept separate from the "editorial" results. But if they are secretly gaming their own results behind the scenes, they are abusing the trust that forms the basis of our relationship.
Microsoft, Yahoo, Disney & Sony have never to my knowledge chosen "Do no evil" as one of their guiding principles. Google did, so I expect it from them. Establishing a relationship built on trust, and then abusing that trust for personal gain falls well inside my personal definition of "evil".
Your assertion about consumer vs. corporate power is disingenuous. Consumers have power when they act en masse
, but you ignore the enormous power corporations have to prevent this from happening. Your Nike analogy is kind of a strange choice, given that Nike has been accused of exploiting both child labor and slave labor, and yet their sales have continued to be strong, even during the times when these accusations were being made and validated. Revelations of Nike's unsavory labor practices in much of the major media were met with gigantic advertising and promotion campaigns, celebrity endorsements, and a public relations effort to convince the public that the problem had been taken care of while keeping the status quo mostly intact. Faced with abundant evidence of wrongdoing and abundant, readily-available alternatives to their product, the marketplace shrugged and kept buying Nike's shoes.
I guess forced labor and child labor are not repugnant enough, hence the need for your human skin analogy.... but even then I wonder. There's also the example of a certain auto maker whose expensive, finely engineered cars continue to sell well despite the company's history manufacturing devices for mass execution. I'd be more specific, but I fear doing so would invoke Godwin's law and shut down the thread.
Free market justice can be swift and complete, if
it's dealing with something consumers care about. But this is a mighty big if, and often it is well within the ability of corporate interests to control this factor. To my mind, justice that hinges on the attention spans of a highly fickle, easily-manipulated mass of anonymous strangers is a very questionable kind of justice.
Finally, Senator X, as evil as he may be, is a public servant and at least some record of his evil deeds is available to me as a member of the public. Corporate records are private property and are not similarly available to me, meaning that if CEO Y is even more evil, I'll probably never
find out about all the evil things he's done to me and my community, or be able to hold him to account for them. Again, the fact that our public institutions are not accountable enough is no reason to hand over their functions to a system that is even less accountable.
Besides, this last bit compares the theoretical, ideal-world, best case scenario for the free market against the messy, real-world, worst case scenario for the other side. Hardly sporting, old chap. And are you really asserting that people are irrational when they vote, but perfectly rational when they buy stuff? I find that a very odd worldview.