• John Halstead

    good timing

  • Puppet’s Puppet

    LOL someone is about to pay off his mortgage with his next royalty check

  • Sean II

    Actually this little fiasco contains a strike against your story.

    Seems pretty clear that the electorate turned on the establishment mostly because the elites who run it were advertising a handful of obviously crazy beliefs – e.g. demographic change doesn’t cause cultural change, Islam has nothing to do with terrorism, people with penises are women in the same sense as people without them, it’s possible for police to subdue violent people without violence, etc.

    Issue for issue, epistocrats are more likely than rubes to arrive at the right answer. This is how the elites end up being right about trade, capital-labor substitution, etc.

    But…epistocrats are also uniquely prone to holiness spirals, so that sometimes they end up erring massively and obviously…in a way even rubes can see…and as it turns out, in a way that only rubes can see… since the elites have trained themselves to protect their class position by not noticing or speaking.

    The problems that result from that – up to and including President Trump – are very much the fault of those elites and epistocrats.

    • Jason Brennan

      Ah, but if you read the book you’ll see my favored forms of epistocracy cut across these divides.

      • Sean II

        I’ll do that, but in the meantime it seems a tough nut to crack.

        One of the striking things about the current holiness spiral is how IT “cuts across these divides”, capturing all or nearly all of the people with enough episto to be a crat…right, left, and center.


    “If it is equated with a richer package that includes elections as one amongst a set of complementary institutional elements, then it is not.” Pettit

    Is it clear that institutions require the democratic elections to complement or serve the interests of those who desire those institutions? Apple manages to serve or complement the interests of customers who purchase their phones and pads. Yet, this is not a universal persuasion. There are those that prefer different modes of mobile telephonics than those instituted by Apple.

    “If voters were just an elite, or if some voters were more empowered than others, then the public debate that generates and enforces community standards would almost certainly falter.” Pettit

    The CEO of Apple, among others, is an elite of that corporation of interests, and have plenary power to shift the structure of the institutions that attempt to serve the wants of their base. Whither Apple? Sitting pretty, and far from the precipice.

  • j_m_h

    Imagine if a professor in a 1000-person class told her students she would average their final exam grades together and they’d each get the same grade. They wouldn’t bother to study, and the average grade would be an F.”
    That’s a rather poor opinion of students. Only interested in the grade rather than the underlying information and knowledge. As a former student I would not have acted as such in most classes I took (perhaps one or two stupid requirements — but for the life of me I couldn’t name one now). So if I was even remotely representative of students in general the analogy suggests a different conclusion.

    • Lacunaria

      I’m not sure how your comment relates, but I agree that it matters what is being taught and who is being forced to learn it. Students are independently interested in pertinent knowledge, which is to say not all the knowledge that they are forced to learn or acts performed for each class within its time constraints. The question is whether their own interests, on average, intersect with much more than 60% of the material of each class, plus maybe 10% for random mistakes, and even far more if some don’t show up for the test due to the idiotic grading policy and since they’ve already learned what they wanted to learn independent of the grade. A more interesting situation arises if the students are allowed to segregate themselves and create conditions of membership.

  • Puppet’s Puppet

    One aspect of this race has thus far virtually escaped Democrats’ notice (despite being predictable since well before the final call was made), but most certainly will not do so once the shock has worn off: Hillary Clinton has won the popular vote.

    Furthermore, one elector has already promised to be faithful to Hillary; regardless, I think at least one old Republican is likely to be faithless to Trump. Many Democratic voters and commenters will surely make a “Remain”esque effort to convince more to follow, for the existential sake of our country and planet. (Students are already marching down the highways protesting…democracy, presumably.) They will surely include Hillary’s popular victory as an argument for legitimacy in their appeal. (Ah, look, someone was thinking ahead.)

    What will no doubt be a very gracious and unequivocal concession by Hillary will probably take much of the edge off, but the damage may be done to one of Jason’s favorite institutions. I have always felt that the Electoral College would not survive a Republican-majority defeat, and may be critically endangered by another of the reverse. At the very least, the present outcome will deepen the partisanship of the issue. Knowing how Democrats act, you will cease to be one in good social standing if you breathe a word in the defense of this archaic, undemocratic institution that has already cost us two elections to utter monsters. And if the faithlessness thing starts to feel a bit too “live” at times, it could damage things among Republicans too.

    The greatest threat to the EC right now comes from the “National Popular Vote Interstate Compact,” a name you will get used to hearing more of soon but which has been very quietly winding its way around the country for the past half decade. For those not in the know, the NPVIC attempts to implement a national popular vote using not a Constitutional amendment, which would be prohibitively difficult, but the states’ own Constitutional prerogative–specifically the power, virtually forgotten by this point, to select their electors any way they damn well please. A state legislature simply passes a law to order its electors to vote for the national popular vote winner, rather than the popular vote winner of that state, with the law coming into effect as soon as states totalling 270 electoral votes make the same commitment. The very concept of states’ rights, in this monstrously clever scheme, becomes its own executioner.

    EC abolition enjoys enormous bipartisan support in polls and eloquent bipartisan support (and opposition) among authors and among state and national political figures. When it comes to the numbers game in state capitals, however, things are quite lopsided: Every state that has passed the NPVIC (they are more than halfway to 270) has been deep, deep blue (though, oddly, here in New York it was the Republicans who enthusiastically dragged the skeptical Democrats along). Again, look for a lot of erstwhile “this is not in the interests of our state or country” Democratic voices to fall by the wayside in coming months. (More importantly, look for it to become a serious part of the party agenda. If there’s anything Democrats are good at, it’s in turning “This has disadvantaged us” into a great cause of moral righteousness. Bottom line, NPVIC’s “quiet” progres is no more.) And the constitutionality of it all seems like enough of a judgment call justices’ rulings are most likely to follow their policy preferences.

    Which is all too bad as far as I’m concerned, because I think that the Electoral College–not the “literal” Electoral College with its potential for human discretion, as Jason celebrates, which would undermine the rule of law by defying what has come to be in a real sense part of our “unwritten” Constitution, and in the end accomplish little more than sealing its doom; but merely the “modern” Electoral College with its simple de facto popular vote regional distribution rules–does a lot of good. A lot of ink has been spilled on this; I’ll just touch on a few matters here.

    First, beginning with the oft-repeated premise that in cases like 2000 and 2016 “the candidate that won the popular vote lost the presidency,” as though this had a manifest and straightforward significance, or more explicitly that “the candidate who was the choice of a plurality of Americans did not win the presidency,” already concedes too much to the EC’s opponents. Even if we concede the claim that the winner of a popular vote contest should win the presidency, the actual candidates did not hold such a contest. They did not at all operate their campaign strategy around getting more popular votes than their opponent; had they done so, who is to say that Bush and Trump would not have won such a contest as well? The actual popular vote totals were extremely close, after all, and their campaigns seemed to do the more effective job at the task actually ahead of them!

    We can also lay to rest with this election the common post-2000 response to the pro-EC objection that PV/EC splits are usually popularly very close, and a national recount would be a nightmare. “State recounts can also be a nightmare…” begins the rejoinder. Among other eventual problems with this line of thinking, the present election reminds us that for a good many close-PV elections we would expect to completely avoid any EC controversy. All this is merely one facet of a broader problem: Like it or not, our system is not set up to conduct a nationwide election. It is set up to conduct fifty-one state elections. For example, we don’t have to compare the voting conditions between Kevin Kentuckyan and Terri Tennesseean; we just have to make sure voting is fair within each state. Perhaps every state should be making voting a lot easier. But surely they should be doing so in an orderly and principled matter, rather than just having incentive to dump as many votes as possible onto the national total. Anti-ECers love to talk about what “no other country” does; does any other country, even the most grotesque banana republic, actually hold elections in which local district officials are given complete responsibility to conduct their district’s elections according to whatever rules and manner they see fit (with minimal central oversight only into things like whether votes within the disctrict are being suppressed according to race, etc.) and then collect the votes they have mustered in their district and dump them into a central pool? Perhaps we can sit down and change this system in an orderly fashion, which is exactly what a Constitutional amendment would empower us to do. But as it is, we don’t have the ability, and the jerry-rigged patch of the NPVIC is completely inadequate to proper democracy.

    I’ll wind things down now, but let me first point out that democracy is such a sloppier and less fulfilling thing than markets or liberalism that few have really done much to contemplate their democratic desiderata. EC abolitionists do little to defend the idea that we, from square one a union of diverse states, should elect our President on the basis of nationwide majoritatianism. A particular majoritarian setup does not equal “democracy.” It doesn’t seem to me at all obvious that someone in Trump’s position shouldn’t win. A President should be a President of all the United States. He should have to demonstrate some semblance of a broad-based appeal. I don’t think that he should be able to visit California and New York and run up obscene margins to grease his path to the Presidency. Imposing some sort of regional distribution requirement on votes for the chief executive is hardly unique to our country; for example, all First Past the Post parliamentary systems are more similar to our electoral college than to nationwide popular vote. (Does that have its flaws? Of course. But it’s there. And if we are to change ours, we should do so with purpose and contemplation.) And while we’re at it, can we “dispel with the fiction,” to use President Rubio’s term, that lopsided states somehow get “slighted” by the presidential candidates, who “pay all their attention” to the swings? It’s not as bad as all that. Hillary “slighted” California and New York in that she never dropped by here to kiss babies, but she sure seems to have served them well with her policies for them to love her so! She has “earned” their lopsided support with deeply California-friendly policies; would they rather have a very Californiaish candidate in policy terms or one who dropped by for rallies? And as for benefits once governing begins, the lopsided states seem to do OK. They often have very powerful, long-sitting lawmakers.

    Do we have the best conceivable system for the various desiderata? Probably not. But again, we should be sitting down and creating one. I’m certainly not married to the EC being forever our system. But it shouldn’t be hastily replaced with a sloppy solution that is obviously worse. Let’s make a new, better system, not simply “get rid” of the Electoral College for the sake of doing so.

    • Puppet’s Puppet

      It begins. Complete with a reference to slavery that would get a big red X through any undergrad paper, including a ridiculous and unnecessarily self-revealing shot by NPVIC intellectual godfather Akhil Amar.