Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Greatest Story in the World

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Or a transcript:

The Assassin

Its a Dark and lonely night there isa rugged looking man lying on the 17h Green on Greendale golf Course. He's waiting, for what, don't know for who don't know but he's up to something I better keep an eye on him. Oh No he's up creeping slowing into my mate Jimmys, I jump out my window I reassure myself and slowly chase him down I follow him inside

I arrive soon after. I walk into the backyard its an older house, small with a large section. plenty of garden. I here the back door creak open he's goin in. 'Oh shit' I said as I slowly followed him inside. I reach. for my cell phone and with my last 20c txt Jimmy 'wher r u m8 is ya family hme?" I sent the message soon after I received a txt 'I just walking in the door'

Oh my gosh that guys in there what should I do? I here the front door open... and then close he's in there. Theres a few moments I decide to keep watch through the living Room Window theres Nothing to be seen. I think to myself wondering where the man had gone.

Bang. Oh shit somethings going doin down what Ruthless killer he must of been shooting at 8pm in complete silence everyone could of heard it. I wait in the backyard the neighbours lights are on Theres still no sign of the man. Thump the back doors open I can hear him running straight towards me.

Hes closing in I can hear him panting, I am going to tackle him. Thump! my shoulder crashes into his ribs I pick him up I am going to Dump this guy to the ground. he feels light I cant feel his weight on my shoulders whats going on I say to my self I look up! this guys flying away what the hell I say to my self why does he have wings I keep my grip he picks me up into the air. I drop of he's gone he flys into the distance. I sprint inside to check on Jimmy he's OK the shot missed him. We decide never to speak of it again.

-

This is a story I found at school early this year. No name or anything, but based on what evidence I can find, it was written by a Year 10, a 14 year old.

Is this the ultimate product of our education system? I dare you to find everything wrong with it. I tried doing that months ago. There's too many to list here.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The One Purpose of Government

I've decided on a simple purpose for Government. It is the regulation of externalities, nothing more.

Quite simple, but it applies to almost anything. The thrill or whatever of murdering someone may be worth the guilt and murdering costs in a completely free world for some, but the costs that are not covered by them include the family grief and denial of life. Therefore, punishment for criminal behaviour does not have to be covered under a "no coercion", separate rule, but covered under one rule. That being to have as many costs and benefits as possible covered by the one responsible.

What other things fall under this rule? Intellectual property can be defined under this, a positive externality. If I invent something that will save a net $100 for everybody in my community, without some form of intellectual property rights, I will not receive anyway close to the full benefits of my invention. If I had a choice between creating something that will save $100 for 100 people or $1000 for me, I have a strong incentive to choose the latter. In the case of intellectual property law, the argument is often made that is not necessary, since one could still profit without it. That is not the point.

Ideally, properly costing all externalities would create the most efficient society possible. However, in many cases the amount of work required to calculate such an externality could create more distortions than remove, which may make it unnecessary. So the exact point to draw the line could be a matter of debate between political parties.

A further externality to regulate is an international one, or at least between differnent electorates. The cause of all pork barrel politics and trade barriers are a result of Governments not paying the full costs of their actions. Without a proper power designed to regulate this, the world will suffer as a result. A politician has no reason to work in the interests of a citizen who cannot vote for them, therefore they are free to perform actions that will help their constituents at the expense of another. While this action will be theoretically help the politician get re-elected, the detrimental effects are not realized by them.

It's basically game theory. Many actions are taken thesedays that are not of mutual benefit to society, but will nonetheless assist one party.

Polluting Good:
Net payoff to owner: +5
Costs to society: -2

Clean Good:
Net payoff to owner: +4
Costs to society: +0

In game theory, it makes sense to produce the polluting good, as it is more beneficial to the owner, although it is worse for all. By appropriately taxing, Governments can ensure game theory will result in as fewer mutually detrimental outcomes as possible.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Could ACT be a major party?

This may seem completely impossible. And it's highly it can happen by the next election, or even the one after. But it's a long term goal, though can't happen currently.

I'm basically getting this idea from Australia. The National Party is the small party in coalition with the larger Liberal Party. The National Party is basically a rural party.

It would require significant image overhaul on behalf of ACT. Changing the name completely to the "Liberal Party" could help (it makes you seem larger too), as well as changing the image (some would say selling out). It may actually be the best strategy for the centre-right in the long term. If we consider that National does best in rural areas, perhaps it may be better for them to become more explicitly rural, while ACT attracts the votes in the cities. As New Zealand becomes more urbanized, this would result in ACT being the larger of the parties.

This would probably be unacceptable to too many in both ACT and National, hence why it probably won't ever happen voluntarily. Many ACT members would not like the idea of toning their image down too much, and certainly most National members would hate being downsized to a third party.

I think it's possible for ACT to barely move at all in actual policy and become far more popular, just as long as they can shift the image.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Obligatory Absence

Well, we're not supposed to post anything on Christmas, based on all the other blogs I see. And then we just come back after a holiday. Despite the fact I'm doing none of the such at the moment, I think I'll start posting when others start posting, thank you very much :)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Bah, humbug

Indeed. BAH, HUMBUG.

Drill it in

Governments cannot create wealth.

Governments cannot create wealth.

Governments cannot create wealth.

Governments cannot create wealth.

Governments cannot create wealth.

Governments cannot create wealth.

Governments cannot create wealth.

Libertarianism: A compromise, not just an ideology

You'll notice that most Governments in the world aren't what we'd call "libertarian". Oh it's definitely so when you compare to a few decades ago, but not nearly as much as would be "preferred".

It is an inherent failure of democracy, it will not elect a Government that on average, best for all, but due to its nature, what around half the populations want the other half to do. People go into politics generally to change things. Changing things, in their mind, is moving towards their "vision", often involving controlling people to reach these ends. It rarely matters whether they are "left" or "right". And much of the electorate is like that. They often either want to control them economically (liberal left) or socially (conservative right). And as their sense of control often overrides the things they want to keep free, instead of "cancelling each other out", as it seems it should, they instead pile up.

Libertarianism can be seen as a compromise. We all want to get our sticky hands into someone else's pie. If we all just agreed to leave each other alone, we may not like it as much as our pet project, but it'd be closer to what the general population wants, if applied on average.

Ban all advertising

I've been thinking about advertising recently. It seems to me that it creates a deadweight loss to society. Resources allocated towards advertising are solely being used to change the spending patterns of the recipients. Any demand created for your product must have an opportunity cost.

Is this of any benefit at all to society? Word-of-mouth seems reasonable: your choices of products may improve, given you trust the source. And for minimal costs. Plus the whole impossibility of regulating it.

What other positive effects exist? Well, especially in the case of new technology, it may increase awareness about a new product that will ultimately save them more money than the net cost of the advertising. Or in the case of Government advertising to raise awareness, it may educate people and cause them to change their habits to the benefit of society.

But in the vast majority of cases, advertising, while perhaps creating a profit for the business, will not be of benefit to society. Here's an oversimplified example:


In a small community living on a completely isolated island somewhere far away, there are two bakers. Nobody does any advertising on this island, and the residents are reasonably well-off.
One day, a person working to provide some useful good learns about the advertising business, and decides to give it a shot. In this example, he earns around about as much money as he did producing his other useful good. One of the bakers, interested in the potential for expanding his business, approaches the advertiser. The advertisements provide a boon to the baker: he increases his profits well beyond the costs of the advertisement. At the same time, the other baker and any other workers providing a good that was foregone in favour of the advertising baker's goods are worse off. Not to be outdone, the whole community begins advertising, each as well as each other. The end result was that no-one managed to sell any more goods or services than previously, though if any did, it still would not be of any net benefit to society. The deadweight loss was of all of the resources put into advertising, which could have be used to produce goods better for society as a whole.


All of this happens on a grander scale. It is especially problematic with political advertising: not only are votes explicitly decided between A & B (and minor parties), causing any campaigning to be overtly wasteful, but the need to raise funds prompts corruption as parties seek to fill the interests of their backers, creating even more waste.

Don't forget your broken window fallacy. Profits of the advertising agency and the business are not wealth creating, remember that. Only if the net benefit of advertising (say, acquiring superior products, which is debatable in itself, advertisements are not renowned for this) is greater than the costs is it any benefit to society. The costs are more than economic too: many have complained about the adverse effects it may have on impressionable young minds. Sure, you can debate how neglible or meaningful this may be, but I highly doubt it can be argued as actually being positive. Furthermore, remembering the shoplifter's fallacy: the final price of a product will include the advertising. A product may be more cost-efficient but all those savings are drowned out on the marketing budget. Also, your appeal to purchasing the product could very well be for a completely irrational reason: not price or quality, but the emotionional impact of the advertisement.

So how do you ensure people aren't ripped off for knowing any better? Perhaps the internet could be especially helpful here. With easy ways to sort prices, we shouldn't have to buy apples for $5 each simply because we don't know any better. In the case of political campaigning, you could perhaps simply be handed a booklet containing policies (force people to you know, think about what they're voting for). Voters will still be biased towards name recognition, but that occurs anyway.

Another, less radical option, or perhaps an introductory option, could be to tax/restrict/ban unsolicited advertising. "Spam" exists outside of the internet: every time you see a billboard that wasn't in exchange for anything, you're being "robbed" in a sense. On television, it's somewhat of a contract: get free viewing in exchange for having to deal with ad breaks. You can choose not to watch it. But when forced upon you, it's a lot worse. Part of an eventual goal to properly cost externalities, it'd be quite relieving, personally.

Rant on.

Friday, December 23, 2005

McDonalds: The free market health regulations

So, I went to McDonalds tonight, and realized there was no-one there. Maybe it's because people were giving up on it, maybe because it was raining. Or maybe: the free market is doing better than we ever hoped for.

Think about it. McDonalds lowers your life expectancy. Therefore, it is not unreasonable to assume that McDonalds is facing lower sales simply because too many of its customers are dying off as a result of their diets. Or perhaps they've gotten so fat they're now in a vegetative state and are physically incapable of getting themself to the place. All this time I've been thinking that maybe we do need to do something about excessively fatty foods and then realized there was no need. McDonalds can self-regulate because it is killing off its customer base otherwise.

No more need for health regulations. Why should the Government close me down if I'm say, selling poisoned milkshakes? How am I supposed to get customer loyalty if it is impossible for them to return? Not to mention the whole "word of mouth" regulation... but I love the Darwinian simplicity of this method.

Subsidies are Corruption

Subsidies are more than an issue. They're a serious issue for their own countries because of what they entail. Oh, if only we got rid of the ignorant wing, it might be easier...

But sadly, the political system, relying upon donations, will need to offer something in return. Sounds a lot like corruption to me. Lobby the politicians, offer them a bribe, get a favour in return. I personally detest lobby groups for this reason.

Subsidies serve *no purpose* outside of political gain. The only people who gain from it are politicians and their cronies. If we look at the world on an international scale, you see that there's no gain overall at all. Some resources move from Country A to Country B, the subsidizing nation. It would have been more efficient for the world and mankind for the resources to be produced in Country A, but due to cynical political gain, this is not to be.

It really should be easy to sell them off to the population. Once they realize there really are no "local" economies, but a single large one, with artificial ones created by Governments, they should soon accept that buying from their own country will not benefit them all (indeed they should be worse off as comparative advantage is lessened). But the big reason is what the signal is. "Your business is not as important to this country's economic growth as this business here." So if you're not a business that can jostle up a big lobby growth, we're not interested in you (this in turn creates inefficiencies, through deadweight loss in the time lobbying instead of producing). Nonsubsidized people and businesses should be outraged. But no, they're lulled into this "nationalistic" dream.

Nationalism is Cronyism

Winston First is the last party I'd ever vote for. Well behind the Greens.

It's the nationalistic fallacy.

Supposably, we should support people just because "they're New Zealanders". Because they happened to be born within some borders. Because they're "our mates". And don't we complain when politicians do this? In third world dictatorships where businesses are run by friends of the Government?

How is this any different when you prefer New Zealand workers to overseas workers? When we try to "save New Zealand jobs". OMG IT'S THE END ALL: DISCRIMINATION. We're trying to intervene to save jobs of our "mates", fellow citizens, from going to someone else. And we complain about cronyism. Hypocrites?

Of course this is all the nature of the political system. Politicians don't care about anything outside their broad constituency (the country). You'll notice complaints in the USA when "jobs go to Mexico". Yet it's obviously nothing to do with geography or even the mythical "helping local economies" - there are very little complaints when Californian jobs go to New York, but there'd be far more if they went to Mexico, despite Mexico actually being far more "local". It's entirely fabricated - entirely for the purpose of political interests. Despite the fact jobs are a zero-sum game, it isn't within an arbritralily designated region called a nation. It's the worst part of politics. Despicable.

Helen Clark's shocking death

And finally, Helen Clark was laid to rest.

Metaphorically speaking.

Sometime in the future.

So, when is she going?

Cullen's had a guts full of it this year. I don't think he'll be Finance Minister by 2007. Can Clark keep her caucus subdued? She has already bribed them with many ministerial posts, but will that be enough to ward off a hungry Goff/Maharey?

Probably when the Rt Hon Winston Peters has a little upset. As long as Brash/Hide can back them into a corner...

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Christmas kills babies

How exactly is Christmas supposed to help economic growth? There's a fallacy for you. Supposably if I go into a shop, purchase goods at random and throw them off a cliff, I've created economic growth. It's almost like the Full Employment Fallacy: paying people to do jobs that don't get anything done is supposed to be helpful. It's what bureaucrats are for anyway: deadweight loss.

Whenever you buy a present for someone else, it's usually a lot worse than what they could have bought with the money instead. It's completely irrational. Giving should be about redistribution of wealth, not destruction of wealth. Most of the presents I recieve at Christmas do just that: destroy resources, since I sure as hell won't use them. This is because it's an even greater sin to give your Christmas presents away, so you have to let them sit around rotting.

Since Christmas is confusing in itself, why not give confusing gifts? Giving them something they want, a waste since they could just buy it anyway. Give them something they don't want is even more of a waste. But giving them something odd, something that makes them go "WTF?" (The $2 Shop is good for this: plenty of badly translated, and in some cases, very baffling goods) can be insanely worth it. In order for Christmas to be worthwhile, the reactions expected from the giving have to have greater value than the waste.


MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Full blooded people are racist

A full-blooded Maori has racist ancestors. If they're married to another Maori, they're racist themselves.

As does any other full-blooded person, in a multicultural society.

We really need to call the HRC about this. Brutual discrimination in partners. It appears that people are selecting their partners with a predominant bias in race, not merit. Perhaps this makes some racism legitimate? Go find some third generation plus person and insult them for being racist/having racist parents, because it's true.

There has got to be some reason for differences in race. And I think I have found it. Racial discrepancies exist because people are racist. The most obvious reason being, distinct races cannot exist if interracial breeding is the norm.

But consider another reason why races may be worse off. Consider that most people tend to marry within their own "class". Every society has its own caste system, even if some are more distinct than others. Wealthier people tend to marry other wealthier people. The "poor" tend to marry other poor.

So we have a perpetual cycle. If, at one point, a certain race (or any identifiable group, really) is considerably worse off than other races/groups, that group will continue worse-off. Assume we have two races, Race A and Race B. Race A makes up 90% of the population and is considerably more well off than Race B. Race B's statistics are considerably worse off than than Race A's.

Now, when the partners are chosen. If people tend to marry by class and race, the Race Bs will happen to find that their class is considerably more likely to contain other Race B members, as they were initially less well off. Counting in the "race bias" as well, there will be considerably small amounts of interracial breeding. Now, we find with the next generation, there are a considerable amount of pure-blood Race B children. Due to sheer probability, their parents are poorer, more violent, more likely to be criminals, and so forth. This in turn, makes it considerably more likely for those children to "inherit" the worse statistics. So we find by the next time the generation chooses their partners, Race B's statistics are still far worse than Race A's. Their partners will tend to be their own race, their own class. Their own race is much more likely to be in the lower classes, so the cycle continues.

In general, poor statistics for minorities are unlikely to have much to do with current-day oppression, or genetic inferiority. In fact we'd probably find that comparing a poor, violent European family and a poor, violent Maori family, several generations down the line, the European descendants would not be much better off than the Maori. Simply due to nature of breeding.

$30,000 is far too rich for Labour's standards

Paying over 100% tax is just fine

This really should be given far more attention. This is what the Opposition needs to dig into, not petty "media sensation" style politics. It is far more important to the country than something Benson Pope did 20+ years ago.

It's the whole problem with any sort of "means-test" to save costs. It creates massive effective marginal tax rates. Be very careful of any pension reform that suggests means testing, then. Whenever you phase out benefits, you're creating disincentives. Look at Working for Families: at a certain point, you lose 20c for every additional dollar you earn. That's 59cents in the dollar as you earn over $60,000. Good thing you don't qualify for many of those other benefits and supplements then: you'd have to shell out over a dollar for every additional dollar you earn.

So how do we reform the system?

We need to remove as many perverse incentives as possible, while still retaining some element of a welfare state (to keep us electable).


1) Negative Income Tax. It has a number of flaws, but I vastly prefer it to the current benefit/taxation system. Say, 25cents in the dollar flat tax, every adult gets paid $5000 a year (increasing with inflation). There could perhaps be an additional payment made for children, say $3000. The amount must be kept low enough to avoid even more perverse incentives arising - e.g. having children is profitable, no need to work. Tax free threshold is $20,000. There's no unnecessary charges on people living thrifty, ie paying people less for living together. With average income of around $25,000 a year, income tax probably would generate very little surplus revenue, once all the transfer payments have been sorted out. But that will be collected in other ways.
2) Tax Parity. Trusts at 25c. Corporate tax rate at 25c. This minimizes all sorts of tax sheltering devices.
3) Increase GST. A consumption fuelled boom is not a good boom. Lowering income tax and increasing GST will encourage savings and investment, which are true backbones of economic growth (well, more the investment side of it). Consumption adds to GDP but don't be fooled: GDP is flawed. Technically if I go and buy a Plasma TV and chuck it into a landfill I've added to GDP. Which is why Christmas is so nutty.


Problems:

1) Youth workers. What about minors, earning a few thousand a year? In order to keep parity to avoid tax avoidance schemes, they should be taxed at 25c too. However, this will make youth workers pay the highest net tax rates of anyone. Perhaps this could be a good thing - disincentivize work to incentivize schoolwork.
2) Capital Gains Tax. Ideally, there should be one to ensure parity. However, they can cause even bigger distortions themselves. They encourage hording of items to avoid paying the tax on it. If your house goes up from $200,000 to $300,000, you'd pay $25,000 in Capital Gains Tax. However, you may simply go on to purchase another house than has also increased in value from $200,000 - $300,000. You pay $25,000 just for moving house. Even traders face this: despite it being their source of income, they can still be encouraged to needlessly hoard. And if you have some system to avoid this - you create even more loopholes. This shows flaws in income tax more than anything else. Ideally simply scrapping it and having other forms, such as higher GST, perhaps an "Asset Tax", could help minimize disincentives. But for now, in this system, there's a conundrum.

Stupidity Tax

Has anyone else noticed how stupid people tend to cost the most to the taxpayer? The people who recklessly abuse their bodies... the people who drink far too much and ratch up public health bills... numerous other instances. Hardly fair. Balance things out again by having stupid people pay an additional 10c in the dollar in tax, or otherwise proportional to their stupidity. The definition of "stupid" will be decided by a test, taken every 5 years by everyone in the population.


Or otherwise, education is the answer. It doesn't matter if you've got the best tax system in the world if everybody is thick. If some people are poor because they spend all their money on booze and alcohol, it doesn't matter what your fiscal policy is. If most people don't have a basic understanding of economics, how are they going to make economically sound decisions, employing such basic methods such as opportunity cost? Or if everyone make fallacious decisions because they don't know better.

If we're going to have a knowledge economy, we're going to have to teach people to think.

That's something to introduce into schools. Some course, "Behaviour Studies" or something. We teach them the basics of staying alive, but not the crucial next step. Such a course would contain crucial bits of economics and psychology, without going further than is necessary for the lowest common denominator. There's plenty of crap we can jettison to make room for it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

How to regulate your way to prosperity

Although in my previous post I suggested that blowing up the world was the solution to everything, in the meantime, I've got some brilliant ideas on how to cure poverty.

To begin with, we'll get a Bill passed in Parliament, the "End Poverty Bill". It stipulates that no-one is allowed to live in poverty. Pretty simple, really? And it's guaranteed to pass because everyone who votes against it can labelled as "wanting poverty to continue". How inconsiderate of them!

Next, we'll immediately raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour, and increase holiday pay to 8 weeks. More money, more holidays. Ahhh, isn't the Government so kind to offer us that? We'll be a high wage, well-rested economy in no time. Hmm. A 25 hour working week seems tempting too...

Because rich people are evil exploiting scum, income over $75,000 will be taxed at 100%. This will generate a huge amount of cash to spend on social spending. You can never have enough social spending.

Wait a second. I'm being a bit harsh here. Let me start over.

Hmm.

Okay, the minimum wage should be $50 an hour and you get 20 weeks holiday. Whoa, that's more like it. It'll make a difference for thousands of Kiwis? Make that *millions* of Kiwis.

Wait, why stop there?

Okay okay okay. My final proposal. 52 weeks of pure holiday. Every week everyone will be paid enough to live in luxury. How do we fund this? Simple. The rich can pay for it all. And don't forget that these people will be contributing to the economy by spending! Why do we need to work anyway? We can make all our economic effort by just spending. Whee. This'll be great.

I have discovered the solution to EVERY problem!

People have been complaining about the numerous issues that exist in the world. I can't believe no-one has yet figured out the ultimate solution:

BLOW UP THE WORLD

Look at all the things that will NO LONGER EXIST after the world has been blown up:

- Poverty
- Drug abuse
- Rape
- Murder
- Annoying people
- Left-wingers
- Right-wingers
- Politicians
- Lawyers
- Pain
- Cancer
- AIDS
- People
- Idiots (superflous, I know)
- Insanity
- Exploitation
- Taxes
- Whatever pet thing you hate, it's almost certainly GONE.

I can't believe my non-fallacious argument has not been accepted by the wider public. Many people search for some "Holy Grail" that will instantly give us Utopia. All of them have failed miserably. Pfft. They looked beyond the painstakingly obvious - destroying the planet destroys all of life's problems, and using my superior logic, therefore leads us to Utopia. Aren't I awesome?

Bums complain about income disparities

It's incredibly unjust that bums earn a lot less than the non-bum population. So, recently in New York City, they have been protesting in the streets about the various disparities that exist between them and other citizens.

The statistics are overwhelming. The average income of a bum is far less than an average citizen. Furthermore, they have other depressing statistics in terms of standards of housing, drug use, life expectancy and crime rates. This is a clear sign of discrimination, don't you think? Governments around the world have already commited themselves to measures designed to specifically reduce this disparity. One such measure proposed for New Zealand is a "Flat Bum Tax" of 10c in the dollar, as well as preferential care in hospitals and a minimum wage of $18 an hour for them.


Anyway, that was all made up, but it's what affirmative action is all about. Dividing people up into groups and blanketly deciding what should be done about the group.

My question is, why divide people up by race as we do now?

Why not by height?
Or attractiveness?
Or any other measure you can think of that has some form of disparity?

Taller people earn more on average than shorter people. Attractive people earn more than average. Maori people earn less than average.
However, for some reason, we've decided that our "disadvantaged group" is arbitrarily decided by race. There are thousands of other groups we can subdivide as well to label people as. "People aged 32-36 of Russian ancestry living here happen to earn less than average." Hell if I know, but we could eventually find all sorts of disparities in anything we can label a group. So why don't we apply affirmative action for more things? "League of Unattractive Models." How about we give scholarships to less attractive models so they can be on an even footing with the more attractive ones?

Of course, this would be too difficult. The point of affirmative action is that it's easy. Maori are easy to identify and unite. There's a great deal of difference between quickly stereotyping based on statistics in the heat of a police chase and deciding whether to allow someone to enter university or not. Using the statistics of a group may be the only option if you have no ability to find out any information specifically regarding the individual - but in the vast majority of cases, that information will be available. You shouldn't decide whether someone enters university or not based on race if you've got the information - and in that case, you definitely should have it.

I've got theories on some of the reasons for disparities. They'll come in a later post, however.

The Scourge of Society

The people who anger me more than anything politically are not the "polar opposites", the left-wing.

As long as they are well-informed in their opinion, it is completely fine with me. If one is to believe in completely free health care with an argument such as: "I believe in free health because it redistributes wealth. I believe in redistribution of wealth, because this should reduce inequality and to me, that is very important." I don't agree with that statement, but it's not a case of "right" or "wrong" - it is values. Too many political discussions go down in a flame of "OMG I don't agree with you, therefore, You = Retarded." Core values can't be changed by debate, we should accept that.

What infuriates me the most are the "ignorant-wing". They're the people that turn elections into a discussion of values to a bribefest. They actually believe they can get a free lunch. Say what you want about for example, the minimum wage, but you can't deny that it will never have any negative effects (you may argue that the positives outweigh it, but that's a different discussion). Or what if we implemented more user-pays? The right and left may agree/disagree with them on ideological grounds, and I have no problem with that. But the ignorant-wing? They may complain about it for a totally fallacious reason: that they now have to pay for something that they thought was "free". Nevermind that a subsequent reduction in their tax burden to the value of it may have occured - no, they'll just focus on this new "injustice". I don't see them complaining about the vast majority of other goods and services that are "user-pays" - however, they have taken public goods for granted as "free".

These are the people to aim for in elections. A democratic government is only as aware as its people. If the population is ignorant, the government elected will be ignorant. Unfortunately, politicians have no reason to try to educate the public: why do so? It's easier to just chuck carrots in front of them and cruise to power. However, this occurs at an enormous efficiency cost. So many of our problems could be solvable if the population looked at them rationally. If people would accept that retirement ages must increase with life expectancy for the sake of sustainability, pension reform would be far easier. Sadly, it isn't.