The hypocrisy of democracy

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.” Abraham Lincoln.

What’s the point. They’re impeaching Donald Trump. In the house, they require a simple majority to impeach, and the Democrats are in the majority, so the house will rule in favor of impeachment. The hearing will be in the Senate. It requires a two thirds majority for Trump to be found guilty. The Republicans are the majority in the senate. The senate won’t impeach Trump.

Democracy has become reality TV, Trump’s speciality.

What is the point of the spending weeks of enquiry with witnesses and lawyers and politicians? They all hear the same thing, and then give completely opposite interpretations. They’ll repeating it all again in the Senate, and then rule along partisan lines. This is not justice.

The presidential election in Afghanistan is worse.

For almost twenty years we have been selling democracy to the people of Afghanistan. We created a mess. The dispute in Afghanistan’s 2014 Presidential was settled diplomatically.

The vote did not count.

To start with, Afghanistan has never had a reliable voters register. In 2014 there were 20,845,988 voters on the register and with a voting age population (VAP) of 16,208,255, almost 30% of the voters register was a fiction.

Now, the new biometrics voters register contains 9,665,777 voters, less than 60% of the 2014’s VAP.

Only 1,929,333 voters turned out to vote in 2019, reduced to 1,843,107 by the fatally flawed biometric system. That’s 11.4% of the 2014 VAP.

How can 6% of the voting age population decide the country’s President?

And the farce continues. There are 300,000 votes that the candidates are contesting should be excluded. Of these, 137,630 are votes that the biometrics had initially declared as being duplicated votes. After further investigation Dermalog, the biometrics supplier, declared that the facial recognition technology had incorrectly identified the 137,630 as duplicates. There are another 102,012 votes that are shown as being cast out of the voting times. The IEC has declared that the votes will not be excluded as the error was incorrect times on the biometric voting machine. You have a machine that can perform facial recognition, but can’t check the time! Or perhaps it checks the time as well as it performs facial recognition.

The other 70,000 are votes where the equipment has declared the photographs are invalid. So we have equipment that does not check the quality of the photograph (or the time) that excludes votes using using fingerprints and facial recognition, so jeopardizing the legitimacy of the election.

The political compromise in 2014 produced a government, but not a government with legitimacy or that worked. Afghanistan is heading for another compromise. And another government that lacks legitimacy.

Democracy is no longer about the people having a say, it’s pretending that they do.

The Electoral College is a good idea

The are many people who question the need for the Electoral College. After all, the popular vote lost.

Hamilton originally proposed the idea in 1788. He offered it as a safeguard against the election of populists and demagogues, who having hoodwinked the voters, might prove unsuitable to be President of the United States of America.

His idea was that electors be citizens

“most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations.”

Hamilton argued that the

“electrical college affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.”

It was a time when civil intellectual debate about politics was common, and opposite views were encouraged, so that differing opinions could be fully understood. That time is gone. The debate is no longer intellectual nor civil.

Worse, many states legally bind the electors to the voters’, and the choice of electors is constrained more by who they should not be, rather than their eligibility to make an informed decision about the suitability of the voters’ choice for President of the United States of America.

The idea is a good one. It is sabotaged by the people implementing it who didn’t see how important it might be.

Trump is about to conduct the lesson.

More at:
About the Electors
The Mode of Electing the President
State Laws Regarding Presidential Electors

Michelle Obama says what we feel about Donald Trump

It has been clear for some time that Donald Trump is not fit to represent the American people in any capacity.

Without any need to explore the depths of political rhetoric that has blemished this campaign, and the reputation of all Americans, Michelle Obama’s stirring speech shows how decent people feel about Donald Trump.

The majority of Americans are disgusted by the pride that Trump has displayed, boasting about sexual assault and then denying that he actually committed these crimes.

Not so fast, say his victims.

The wealth of nations

The way that nations present their accounts is badly flawed. The balance sheet figures, which are critical to the understanding of the health of an country, are not are readily available.

In a recent report, the UN has taken an interesting approach in valuing the assets of 20 countries. In addition to the assets normally appearing on the balance sheet, each country’s human capital and natural resources are included. This makes for interesting reading. It gives one a better idea of whether politicians are investing the country’s natural wealth into its people.

The data reflects the position in 2008. At the head of the table in aggregate wealth is the U.S. at about 10 times its GDP at the time. Japan, with its limited natural resources, has invested heavily in it’s people, and so heads the list in per capita wealth.

Let’s hope our leaders take note.

More at:
Inclusive Wealth Report 2012
National balance-sheets
The real wealth of nations
Current-Cost Net Stock of Fixed Assets and Consumer Durable Goods

Heading towards the fiscal cliff

The “fiscal cliff” is a term that’s creeping into the lexicon of economic journalists. It refers to that bizarre political product borne of the negotiations to the increase America’s debt ceiling in 2011. It is designed to inflict the worst case scenario that either of the parties could conceive, imagining that this would deter the partisan bickering that has brought decision making to a standstill since the beginning of 2011.

At the heart of the problem is the huge government deficit and an inability to agree on a course of action to fix it. So the parties agreed to create a sword of Damocles, hanging over the economy, deferred until after the election on November 6, triggered to fall on December 31. They have seven weeks in which to come up with a solution.

That period is a bad time to make any decisions, let alone ones of such consequence.

Should the sword fall, estimates of the damage to the economy range between of 4% to 6% of GDP.

It is right now that these issues should be addressed. It’s also a good measure of candidacy for the presidency.

Politicians are expert procrastinators. The proficiency on display in Europe is impressive. Hopefully the voters in America won’t be as easily beguiled as those in Europe.

More at:
America’s economy Fiscal cliffs, multipliers, and the myth of central bank independence
The high price of tax breaks Not so easy Closing loopholes is politically painful
Harvard’s gloomy graduates
The cloud of uncertainty Dithering in the dark Quantifying the effect of political uncertainty on the global economy
America’s budget woes Shift this cliff
Fiscal policy Cliff-diving
CBO: Coming Fiscal Cliff Will Devastate The Economy
Fiscal policy Spending by any other name
America’s economy The two Americas
America’s economy A response from Edward Luce
Barack Obama and the economy The choice
Fiscal policy What the Fed fears
Legal language The hardest sentence in the tax code
Collateral damage