Ethics Quote Of The Week:

“Voters are significantly more conservative than nonvoters on redistributive issues and have been in every election since 1972. Voters may be more liberal than nonvoters on social issues, but on redistributive issues, they are not. These redistributive issues define a fundamental relationship between citizens and the state . . . and are central to ongoing conflicts about the scope of government. It is on these issues that voters offer a biased voice of the preferences of the electorate.”

—– Political scientists, Jan E. Leighley of American University and Jonathan Nagler of New York University in their new book, “Who Votes Now? Demographics, Issues, Inequality, and Turnout in the United States.”(Quoted by Dan Balz in the Washington Post)

idiot-votersA better example of the warped and unethical thought habits of the Left it would be hard to find.

So the results of an election based on who actually has the initiative, knowledge, civic responsibility and sense to vote are now called “bias,” are they? Talk about academics wearing their own biases tattooed on their foreheads: naturally any conservative consensus is illegitimate, right boys?

Balz is one of the Post’s most inveterate knee-jerk liberals (masquerading as an objective journalist), so I suppose I shouldn’t be too shocked that he disgorged this quote without noticing how ridiculous it is. Voters are more responsible, committed, informed, patriotic, caring, educated and intelligent than non-voters, and always have been. Politicians who are determined to find ways to get more of those who are not so responsible, committed, informed, patriotic, caring, educated and intelligent to vote know that these unethical Americans (for responsible civic participation is an ethical obligation) are easy to manipulate, and their votes can be purchased with deceit, dishonesty, or material benefits.

Of course those who don’t vote are more in favor of redistributive policies. They “favor” these policies because they sound like a way to get something for nothing; they are incapable of considering and weighing the societal, cultural, and ethical consequences of redistributive policies, and they don’t vote for these policies for the same reason they don’t vote at all: they don’t really know what’s going on, don’t care enough to find out, and essentially blunder their way through life. And that’s why they may favor redistribution–to them— of the wealth that others have earned and worked for. If they were smart enough to vote, they might well conclude that “redistribution” is to “socialism” as “intelligent design” is to “creationism.” It’s repackaging of a bad idea to make it seem attractive.

These are the people that Balz, Leighley, Nagler and dishonest leaders—you can fill in those blanks–want to have voting because they can be lied to.

Balz discusses some other conclusion the authors reach, such as the fact that individuals who perceive no substantive difference between candidates are less likely to vote. Again, anyone who perceived no substantive difference between Obama and Romney, McCain and Obama, Bush and Kerry, Bush and Gore, Clinton and Dole, Clinton, Perot and Bush, Bush and Dukakis, Reagan and Mondale, and Reagan and Jimmy Carter are either single issue fanatics (Ralph Nader never thinks there is any difference between the parties; neither, presumably, does Putin) or they are…I believe the technical term is cretins.

The majority opinion expressed at the voting booth by whatever percentage of eligible Americans cares enough about their nation to cast informed votes are not bias. Calling it that is a characterization that any fair journalist would have immediately rejected as an agenda-driven tactic. Majority opinions are the legitimate and responsible directives of the responsible segment of a democracy, made up of those citizens who are worthy of self-government because they take it seriously as a shared obligation of citizenship, and not as a tool of self-enrichment. Neither you nor I should want the other segment to have a greater voice in our lives than their apathy, diligence and knowledge allows.


Source: Washington Post

23 thoughts on “Ethics Quote Of The Week:

  1. Isn’t that exactly “bias” in the statistical sense, as in the phrase “sample bias”?

    I’m perfectly willing to believe non-voters are even more ignorant than voters, but has someone collected evidence to that effect?

    Australia seems to have survived mandatory voting, bringing in the entire eligible population.

    (Isn’t this just the old Hamilton vs. Jefferson split all over again, debating government by the wise versus government by the people?)

    • 1. “Biased voice” doesn’t sound like “statistical bias” to me.
      2. Good question. Apathy follows ignorance—I’d be shocked if research not only showed greater ignorance, but much greater ignorance. Voters are wealthier, more civicly involved, read more, and better educated…I don’t think we’re jumping to conclusions here.
      3. You really think “Australia has survived” is a policy endorsement?
      4. No! Hamilton wanted to limit the qualifications for voting. I’m saying that voting is is its own qualification.

      • “wealthier, more civicly involved, read more, and better educated”

        Why is “wealthier” on the list? The other three are critical for casting well considered votes.

          • Which is, in itself, an interesting thought experiment on causality. Are smart people more likely to get rich, or are those with access to wealth also more likely to have time and resources to educate themselves? Are wealthy people less driven to crime (if you don’t need money, there’s a lot of crimes that you aren’t inclined to do) or do people who stay out of the criminal justice system more able to pursue wealth, as they are more employable? Not that any of that has to do with the original post, but I think it’s interesting.

    • Australia seems to have survived mandatory voting, bringing in the entire eligible population.

      It’s been my observation, based on experience here in Australia, that over time that has led to the erosion of grass roots input to all major parties, since they no longer need the grass roots to get the vote out. It has become much like Stalin’s “transmission belt” view of the role of trade unions and so on – part of how the pollies get to send their views out and give them effect in the world, not part of any meaningful input to the system.

      There are other subtleties, like the “donkey vote”, when people forced to vote just vote in the sequence of the voting forms, or how, in this very Jewish area, nearly all candidates for all parties are Jews with Anglo-Saxon names, so they can tap into both witting and unwitting groups of voters.

  2. Bias is one of the words that is being manipulated into meaninglessness. Common core uses it to describe an authors point of view. Liberal pundits use it to mean raaaaaacist. Many if not most people view it as a negative when applied to descriptions of someone we dislike. Like discriminate it has lost it’s meaning and now means whatever the speaker wants it to mean. There are so many words I don’t use anymore just to avoid the inevitable parsing for intent.

  3. I would make a point in favor of the non-voters: I think it is unethical to allow yourself to remain ignorant of the issues you can vote on. HOWEVER, faced with the self-realization that you don’t really understand the candidates and issues, I think it is far more ethical to refrain from voting. Too many people have no idea of what is going on but charge to the polls anyway based on a bumper sticker that rhymed real good, so I have to give the non-voters a bit of credit for at least realizing their own ignorance.

      • I still think Heinlein was right in “Starship Troopers”. The right to vote should be earned, not given freely to “low-knowledge” voters.

        • It sounds good in theory, but the problem is how do you allow that setup without crawling back into the days of “literacy” tests designed to disenfranchise? I don’t care for politicaly parties but they’re more or less inevitable, and once the door is opened to having to earn your right to vote I don’t trust any party not to try to get a thumb on the scales to make sure the “right” people get to vote.

          • The counter argument is that you will continue to get “low-information” voters swinging elections. Which, unfortunately, means elections will continue to be decided by issues like skin color, charisma and looks.

        • Heinlein is one of those guys where half the time you’re like “Wow, that makes a lot of sense” and the other half is the opposite. I’ve always liked his ideas about military structure and actual combat roles. Though sticking with the point, Sparta had a similar system where you couldn’t earn citizenship (and all its social and formal benefits) without military service. It was a system that, in no small part, contributed as much to it’s own defeat as to it’s success. As long as the majority of the society buys in you’re golden. But eventually due to the sheer difficulty of attaining citizenship, people opt out and coast on the functioning core. Since you cant have a successful society without people investing (in the civic sense) in the system you end up starving on your own ideals.

          The decline of the Spartiate citizenry was as much responsible for the fall of the Spartan hegemony as the tactical inflexibility that defeated them on the battlefield. There are some sobering parallels to modern America in the rise and fall of history’s great cultures.

          • First, please note that, while Heinlein used military service in “Starship Troopers” he did not believe military service was the best way to earn citizenship. As Luke mentioned, “literacy” tests designed to be administered to a specific segment of the population won’t work period. However, does not change the fact that there needs to be some sort of a requirement to become a citizen other than an accident of birth. Otherwise, we will continue to have elections that are little more than popularity contests.

            • I don’t think Heinlein advocated earning the right to vote anyway, even though the process looks like earning the vote. Rather that the ability to wield political authority (which ultimately is FORCE) should only be entrusted to those who demonstrate an ability to place the common good ahead of personal advantage, even at the sacrifice of life itself.

              Here’s an excerpt from Starship Troopers, chapter 12, in which the main character is in a lecture during his officer training, the professor has already been speaking:

              “…Under our system every voter and officeholder is a man who has demonstrated through voluntary and difficult service that he places the welfare of the group ahead of personal advantage.

              “And that is the one practical difference.”

              “He may fail in wisdom, he may lapse in civic virtue. But his average performance is enormously better than that of any other class of rulers in history.”

              Major Reid paused to touch the face of an old-fashioned watch, “reading” its hands. “The period is almost over and we have yet to determine the moral reason for our success in governing ourselves. Now continued success is never a matter of chance. Bear in mind that this is science, not wishful thinking; the universe is what it is , not what we want it to be. To vote is to wield authority; it is the supreme authority from which all other authority derives — such as mine to make your lives miserable once a day. Force, if you will! — the franchise is force, naked and raw, the Power of the Rods and the Ax. Whether it is exerted by ten men or by ten billion, political authority is force .”

              “But this universe consists of paired dualities. What is the converse of authority? Mr. Rico.”

              He had picked one I could answer. “Responsibility, sir.”

              “Applause. Both for practical reasons and for mathematically verifiable moral reasons, authority and responsibility must be equal — else a balancing takes place as surely as current ‘flows between points of unequal potential. To permit irresponsible authority is to sow disaster; to hold a man responsible for anything he does not control is to behave with blind idiocy. The unlimited democracies were unstable because their citizens were not responsible for the fashion in which they exerted their sovereign authority… other than through the tragic logic of history. The unique ‘poll tax’ that we must pay was unheard of. No attempt was made to determine whether a voter was socially responsible to the extent of his literally unlimited authority. If he voted the impossible, the disastrous possible happened instead — and responsibility was then forced on him willy-nilly and destroyed both him and his foundationless temple.”

              “Superficially, our system is only slightly different; we have democracy unlimited by race, color, creed, birth, wealth, sex, or conviction, and anyone may win sovereign power by a usually short and not too arduous term of service — nothing more than a light workout to our cave-man ancestors. But that slight difference is one between a system that works, since it is constructed to match the facts, and one that is inherently unstable. Since sovereign franchise is the ultimate in human authority, we insure that all who wield it accept the ultimate in social responsibility — we require each person who wishes to exert control over the state to wager his own life — and lose it, if need be — to save the life of the state. The maximum responsibility a human can accept is thus equated to the ultimate authority a human can exert. Yin and yang, perfect and equal.”

              • Precisely. To quote the major…”To vote is to wield authority; it is the supreme authority from which all other authority derives — such as mine to make your lives miserable once a day. Force, if you will! — the franchise is force, naked and raw, the Power of the Rods and the Ax. “

          • I think Spartan citizenship was not an earned thing. As far as I know one was born into it and the military service was mandatory as a citizen. They ruled over the helotry which handled food production and this needed to be ever prepared to out down slave revolts…because that is what the helots essentially were. Certainly exceptions may exist, but the general rule is that citizenship and military service were not earned by the ethnic spartiate…but part of life.

            Their downfall was twofold, one being the primary reason. The minor reason was their insular and hyper totalitarian control of all aspects of society stifled entrepreneurial and inquisitive efforts. The prime mover for their downfall was their eugenics program, kicked into hyper active in the latter generations of an independent Sparta, they were killing off so many of their babies they barely had 1000 battle ready Citizens at any one time, this relying more and more on warriors with no intrinsic loyalty to Sparta.

            • If I recall correctly, I.e. I may be misremembering but I definitely did read something on the subject, there were rare pathways to Spartiate status for occasional helots, and rather more for the often overlooked middle class, the perioeci (“dwellers around”). The big drain on Spartiate status and proximate cause of its decline – whatever the underlying causes – was that the wealth needed to maintain it eroded, so over time there were fewer and fewer who could afford it, so they dropped out of the status. Having more surviving to adulthood wouldn’t have helped that at all.

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