Archive for category Politics

The good German citizen is deaf

The German government stands-up to revolutionize perception and human psychology – by law.

The law that aims to alter the way Germans perceive is called “Gesetz zur Privilegierung von Kinderlärm” a bill to privilege noise made by children. It is quite striking that the law speaks about “noise”. Thus, while it is not to be contested that children do make noise, the law prohibits people from doing something against it, it simply orders them either to stand it or to not hearing it. So if – by any bad luck – you happen to live close to a Kindergarden, you can’t do anything against the noise coming from the Kindergarden. Just imagine, you cannot hear it, or better still if you cannot convince yourself that actually there is no noise, move to another place. By law, the German government declares that though children’s noise is still noise, it is not to be considered harmful any more. Society, the same government declares, owes tolerance to children, and because of that, German citizens have to stand the noise.

This law provides the German government with a powerful tool. For everything that does not fit into what the German government defines as being the correct way of life there is a simple way to handle it: prohibition, prohibition to perceive that is. However, children’s noise is an externality and the problem with externalities is that others do perceive them (that’s why they are called externalities). A government denying its citizens the right to defend themselves against externalities caused by others is either close to becoming a totalitarian government or already crossed the demarcation-line.

Besides, there is not a single word as to why society owes tolerance to children, and why elderly people, working people and all those who do not want to be disturbed by children’s noise do not have the same claim for tolerance. Why don’t parents and wardens in a Kindergarden owe it to society to raise children in the awareness that others do not want to hear their noise and that there are more sensible things to do than just running around and shout like mad?

Because the “Gesetz zur Privilegierung von Kinderlärm” legitimizes noise made by children at the expense of all those who don’t produce externalities for others, it reveals itself exactly as the piece of dictatorship it is meant to be.

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Second-choice-past-the-post

On 5 May 2011 Britons will decide whether they want a new electoral system or not.

Today, whoever gets a majority of votes gets past the post and into Parliament. This may result in someone being elected with as less as say 30% of the vote in a constituency. Fairly undemocratic – at least this is, what Libdem’s and all the others who support the Alternative Vote (AV) think. AV comes with the promise to be more democratic than first-past-the-post. In order to do so, voters are supposed to have not just one but many preferences. So, you do not vote for one candidate, but rank candidates according to your preferences.

Think of it as if going to a pub looking for a pint of lager, but being prepared to content yourself with milk, if lager is out. So you rank your preferences like that: lager, milk, water, coffee and so do other pub goers. Based on customer demand the landlord will decide what to offer, the beverage that gains 50% or more of pub-goers preferences will be served. But to determine the “winner”, the landlord will use a rather elaborate counting-program, that looks like that:

Count first preferences. If any beverage has 50% or more of the vote, end process. If not, go on.

Add second preferences to first preferences. If any beverage has 50% or more of the vote, end process. If not, go on.

Add third preferences to first and second preferences … and so on.

In the end, the landlord offered milk to his customers, but your first preferences was a lager. Will you feel more democratically treated while sipping at your milk? I wonder.

Anyway, in either case, a candidate that received 30% of first preferences and got past the post after second preferences were added will still command only 30% of first preferences which means, he is not the first choice of 70% of his constituents. So what’s different? Nothing much. Different is just that he can claim to be the candidate who is first, second, and sometimes third choice to more constituents than rivals are. Nevertheless, 70% of constituents will end-up with their second or third choice in Parliament.

Is this more democratic than first-past-the-post?

Think about it, while sipping your milk in your local pub.

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