Thursday, February 11, 2016

Democracy vs Clarity

Reply to thread: Clarifying The Demand For Green Lights


So here we are.  How many people are participating in this thread?  I think that so far... I'm the only one who likes the idea.  Wouldn't be the first time!

Given that this is a forum... we don't have to come to any sort of official decision.  But what if we were the official decision makers?  The OFFICIAL decision makers.  How do you want to picture it?

Are we all jurors?  The idea... "clarifying the demand for green lights"... is on trial?  Maybe there are around 20 jurors who are certain that the idea is guilty of being moronic... and I'm the one juror who thinks the idea might be innocent.  After debating the evidence... then we vote?

Or maybe we're representatives of the world!  This forum is how the world decides whether ideas are good or bad.  Here we are debating the evidence... then we vote?  If we vote then it's going to be 20 to 1.

Well... what if we decide via tug of war?  Uhhhh... would that be fun?  I'm guessing that I'd still lose?

How about if we spend?  How much money would I spend to support the idea?  How much would you all spend to oppose the idea?  I'd LOVE to know.

Now imagine that we're at an intersection.  We're trying to determine who should have the right of way... me.... or all of you!  And I'm like... let's use spending to determine the winner!  And all of you are like... let's use a timer... or sensors... to determine the winner!

Alvecia initially was under the impression that the drivers on both sides would be stopped at the intersection while they engaged in a bidding war.  His incorrect impression was entirely my fault.  But I think his incorrect impression can be quite useful.

So there we are at the intersection... twenty of you in your cars wanting to go North/South... and me wanting to go West.  We're trying to decide who should have the right of way... me... or all of you.  But can we possibly make the correct decision without the necessary information?  No.  So we all get out of our cars and each one of us makes a case for their side.  Through this process of discussion/debate... lots of information is shared... and then we vote?  If I shared evidence that I'm on my way to save the world... then maybe most of you will vote to give me the right of way.  If it helps... pretend that I'm Batman.

This would be a really time consuming process though.  Perhaps we would make a much better decision regarding who should have the right of way... but we were all stuck at the intersection for 40 minutes when, with a timer system, we would have only been stuck there for no more than 2 minutes.  Of course one side wouldn't have been stuck there at all.

The beauty of using spending to make the decision.... is that it's the fastest way to get to the heart of the matter.  There's no details about where you're going... or why you want to go there.  Spending simply reveals how much you're willing to pay to get there in less time.  The "how much" is the most essential information.

When you go to the grocery store... or Home Depot... you don't have to sit there and explain why you want to use all the different items that you put into your shopping cart.  You simply spend your money.  That's how it's decided that you should have the items that you put in your shopping cart.  I'm sure you have your reasons for selecting the items in your shopping cart... but you don't share these reasons and the cashier doesn't ask for your reasons.  The fact that you're willing to pay for the items is all the cashier needs to know.  That's the heart of the matter.  You're willing to pay "enough" for the items.

Does the system work?  Yeah.  Does it work perfectly?  No.  Do we take it for granted?  I sure don't.  I think it's beautiful.  Unfortunately... it's extremely difficult to try and convey the beauty of using spending to decide who should use which resources.  Hence... my sooooo many words.

Let's consider a serious topic... anti-gay laws.  For the most part I think that their existence was determined by voting.  For sure each side of the debate spent money to share their evidence... but the decision itself was determined simply by sheer numbers.  And, until relatively recently, the numbers were on the side that supported anti-gay laws.  It was tyranny of the majority.  Democracy is, by definition, tyranny of the majority.  We kinda naturally accept that tyranny of the minority would be worse.

But imagine if a clarity system had been used instead of voting.  How much money would the anti-gay side have spent?  How much money would the pro-gay side have spent?

Maybe we can guess that, during the 50s and 60s, the anti-gay side would have significantly outspent the pro-gay side.  Except, given that the pro-gay side lost, not only would all of their money have been returned to them.... but they would have received all the money that the pro-gay side spent to win.  The winnings would have been divided up among the losers according to their willingness to pay.  Does that make sense?  Let's imagine that Bob is on the pro-gay side and the amount of money he was willing to spend amounted to .12% of the total amount of money spent (put into escrow) on the pro-gay side.  When their side lost... Bob would have gotten his money back as well as .12% of the money that the anti-gay side spent.

Do you think that the anti-gay side would have liked the fact that all the money that they had spent to win the right of way, so to speak, was then given to the pro-gay side?   It would still be tyranny of the majority... but not quite so tyrannical.  They wouldn't simply take the right of way as a result of superior numbers... they would pay the other side for the right of way.

Let's pretend that we applied this system right here right now in this thread.  Each participant in this thread will give, via paypal, some money to Max Barry.  The amount you give will reflect how much you oppose, or support, the idea of clarifying the demand for green lights.  When you make the payment... be sure to note whether you oppose or support the idea.  Then Max Barry can report the totals... we can guess that your side would be the winning side... but then Barry would give me all the money that you spent to oppose the idea (minus his very reasonable escrow fees)!  Sure... your side would win... but I received nearly all the money that you spent in order to win.  I'm going to put all the money into an account that I'm not going to touch.  And then next year, when we repeat this process, I'm going to spend all that money to try and win.  Will I win?  Well... I'll be spending around as much money as the total amount that all of you spent the last time!  So it's a lot more likely that I'll win.  And even if I don't win.... then maybe I'll have twice as much money in my account that's dedicated to this idea.  So the third time around... unless something drastic changes... I would be sure to win.  Which would of course mean that I'd be essentially returning all your money to you.  But at least for one year... I would have the right of way.  And everybody would bid for green lights.  And it would be a disaster?

With the anti-gay laws... when the anti-gay side won... and all the money that they spent to win was given to the pro-gay side... would each recipient put the money into an account that they wouldn't touch until the process was repeated the next year?  That's the question.  Let's say that Bob spent $700 dollars to oppose the anti-gay laws.  He was able to pay a lot more... but this is how much he was willing to pay.  Since his side lost, which of course was a huge disappointment to Bob, he received his $700 dollars back plus... how much more?  Maybe $1000 dollars more?  Bob would certainly love to marry his partner Frank... but at the same time... their roof really does need to be repaired.... and a vacation would be really nice... and so on.  So it's kind of hard to predict how much more the pro-gay side would spend the next time around.

Here's something that I love... I am nourished by your hatred!  I love it for two main reasons.  First, it's Rafi (1000% INAPPROPRIATE!!!...  you've been warned).  Second... it's entirely applicable to the clarity concept in certain circumstances.  Bob could literally be nourished by some people's hatred.  If he wanted to, he could take some of that $1000 dollars and spend it on really nice food.   I'm not sure if "literally" is the perfect word but close enough.

If democracy is tyranny of the majority... then clarity is nourishment of the minority.  What's your objection?  Don't feed the trolls?  One person's troll is another person's Socrates.  He was the original troller.

If you're gonna screw me... then at least buy me dinner first.  Is that really too much to ask?

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