Prisoner’s Dilemmas XXI: (Part B): The Fiasco on the Vineyard

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Part A

As mentioned in Part A, the lack of foresight and economic ignorance of Massachusetts voters are a notable feature of the Fiasco on the Vineyard saga. However, Governor DeSantis is far from innocent in this debacle. He essentially used tax dollars to make an existing problem worse. All in the name of political gamesmanship. Yes, DeSantis is correct that Massachusetts does not fully bare the cost of liberal immigration policies. Many immigrants avoid Massachusetts because the state is financially inhospitable due to the high cost of living. It is tempting to give a political actors a dose of their own medicine when they have virtually no skin in the game.

DeSantis marooned these people in a jurisdiction where they do not have much hope for economic mobility, only stressing the island’s meager resources. Massachusetts voters defected first, by favoring immigration policies that will not impact their communities. The governor of Florida (DeSantis) chose to punch back and flew fifty migrants to an affluent tourist town in the Bay State. Not only was this tactless and passive-aggressive, but it was also lazy. It is easier to make a political spectacle out of the immigration debate than to advocate and implement reforms. The suboptimal result is; a group of impoverished immigrants stranded on a prohibitively expensive island. It is reasonable to argue that this situation is the second layer (and most salient) layer of this Prisoner’s Dilemma Dynamic.

The model for Validating the DeSantis vs. Martha Vineyard PD

Condition 1:  T>R>P>S

  • 1> .5>0>-1

This expression is typical in political Prisoner’s Dilemma centered on a single issue. 1= represents a single victory, .5= a compromise, 0= the lack of direct political blowback for refusing to compromise, and -1 = political defeat. If two political adversaries are competing over multiple policies that are being implemented independently of each other then the Temptation to defect would surpass the value of 1. 

  • Considering the current political animosity between Democrats and Republics; this situation numerically and quantitively fits this condition. 

Condition 2:   (T+S)/2<R

· (1+-1)/2 < .5

· (0)/2 <.5

· 0<.5

Prisoner’s Dilemmas XXI: (Part A): The Fiasco on the Vineyard

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The Martha’s Vineyard Immigrant debacle encapsulates the hideous nature of contemporary politics. It is a saga that depicts partisanship, hypocrisy, and lack of concern for effective policy. Both conservatives and the quixotic-minded and progressive residents of Martha’s Vineyard are responsible for this situation.

The controversy began when Republican Governor Ron DeSantis (using tax dollarsflew 50 migrants to the left-leaning tourist island of Martha’s Vineyard. The coordinator of the island’s homeless shelter has publicly expressed that their facility does not have the resources to provide services for the new arrivals. Even stating that the influx of migrants will exacerbate the current housing crisis. Economist Tyler Cowen addresses the scarcity of affordable housing on the island in his latest OP-ED piece:

“…Real estate is very expensive. And the island is strictly zoned, making it hard to build a lot of dense, low-cost housing…

Wages there are below the Massachusetts average, and living expenses are prohibitively expensive. Those realities stem from decisions about land use made by the island’s population. (I am OK with such community-supported zoning restrictions when they apply to very limited local areas, such as Martha’s Vineyard, and there are many options to look elsewhere. The problem arises when they start infesting a larger part of the U.S., as they have.)..”

Stringent zoning ordinances and below-average wages are a recipe for a housing crisis. In 2012, the average home was valued at “..$535,000 but average Islander could afford only $310,000..”.The cost of housing is prohibitive even for U.S. citizens residing on the island, never mind impoverished immigrants looking for better opportunities.

It is difficult to refute that this situation fits within the definition of a Prisoner’s Dilemma because two defecting coalitions made the scenario worse by not compromising. If anything, this occurrence might be a multifaceted Prisoner’s Dilemma; DeSantis owning the Libs isn’t the only game contributing to Martha’s Vineyard fiasco. The progressive islanders have conflicting desires politically, they effectively have had an intra-temporal Prisoner’s Dilemma with themselves. This is where Tyler Cowen’s observation, but the community’s hypocrisy regarding income inequality, comes into play. Because the island’s residents vocally support progressive policies in the name of economic justice. But concurrently, favor zoning ordinances that restrict the supply of homes and artificially inflate the cost of housing.

The model for Validating the Intra-institutional Prisoner’s Dilemma

Applying the model used by Nordstrom to validate Prisoner’s Dilemmas:

Condition 1:

The temptation to Defect (2= Signifies implementing both favorable zoning and left-wing economic policies)> Reward for Cooperation (1= The island recognizes the opportunity cost and amends its zoning laws; only one of the preferred policies is implemented)> Punishment For Defection (0= The majority of residents do not see that both policies cancel each other out)> Sucker’s Payoff (-1= The costs of creating political division by not favoring both varieties of policies).

T(2)> R(1)> P(0)> S(-1).

Condition 2:

(T+S)/2<R

(2+-1)/2 <1 ; (1)/2<1; .5 < 1

Even though the Fiasco on The Vineyard does numerically match the two conditions for a prisoner’s dilemma, this application of the PD incentives dynamic was creative. Game Theory purists might claim that it is erroneous to apply this lens so abstractly. However, the attributes of this intra-coalitional game do look like a cooperative game superficially. But the fact that local government and the constituents are attempting to balance conflicting interests. This situation may even validate Peter Clark’s Paradox of Implicit Logrolling (2021); however, there may be other factors at play. Per the public choice literature on rational ignorance, voters still select policies and elected officials even though they face severe information asymmetries. 

The DeSantis versus Martha’s Vineyard game will be reviewed in part B.

Prisoner’s Dilemmas- I: Gun Control in Arizona- The Calculations

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Prisoner’s Dilemmas- I: Gun Control in Arizona

Below are the conditions and calculations for the Prisoner’s Dilemma in the tug-of-war between the Arizona state government and the municipality of Tucson over HB 2111 (2021).

·        Reward for Mutual Cooperation: R= .5

Both the state government and the city of Tucson compromised on the terms or enforcement of the statute. It is valued at .5 because it would not be a complete victory but a split that results in a more moderate policy.

·        Punishment for Defecting: P=0

Since the gun control debate has become zero-sum due to the current political culture, the cost of deepening the partisan divide is minuscule. If anything, sympathetic constituencies and the party leadership will drive elected officials in disagreement or on the fence to side with their party. Plus, there is little to lose in the current hyper-partisan climate. Shoot for the moon, providing you are towing the party line. The penalty for defection is valued at 0.

·        Temptation to Defect: T=1

In the arena of political gamesmanship, a win is a win. A victory in passing legislation or overruling/ circumventing policies that are not congenial to one’s political proclivities is high. Considering the current state of American politics the incentive structure for political actors is to go for a win rather than a halfway measure. The value of one 1 represents a complete political victory. To be formally ironed out; would most likely require a ruling from the high court.

·        Sucker’s Payoff: S=-1

The current tautology of a win is a win has veracity, then the inverse should also be true in political disputes. Because of the current political incentives, you cannot trust that an opposing faction will come to the bargaining table in good faith. -1 represents a political loss. 

Per Jennifer Firkins Nordstrom two conditions must be met for a game to qualify as a Prisoner’s Dilemma.

                1. Temptation to Defect> Reward for Cooperation> Punishment For Defection> Sucker’s Payoff.

  • Simplified as T>R>P>S. A Criterion met by this game: 1>.5>0>-1.

2. (Temptation to Defect +Sucker’s Payoff)/2 < Reward Cooperation.

  • Simplified as (T+S)/2 <R. (1+-1)/2=0 <.5.

Per the above tabulations, it would appear as if the HB 2111 turmoil constitutes a Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Bootleggers & Baptist- LIX: California Fast-Food Bill (Did Someone Say Automation?).

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The advocates of worker rights have always been in a precarious position; reforms often do not align with the interests of employers. This is an enduring pattern that supporters of California Assembly Bill 275 need to consider. Most initiatives for economic equality tend to be more moralistic than practical and do not account for how firms will respond to such measures. Depending on how establishments defined in the bill as Fast-Food Restaurants (only the larger companies with 100 + stores) adjust to the requirements set by AB 275.

The law aims to establish a governor-appointed council (comprised of workers, union representatives, etc.) that reviews and amends workplace standards and wages. Even boasting a requirement where any measures would need signatures from 10,000  (consent of the governed?) fast food workers employed in California to move forward. On the surface, this new bill sounds like it will provide reforms that will improve the lives of millions of workers struggling to make ends meet on a low salary. However, the lofty aspirations of AB 275 may have the exact opposite effect.

When analyzed from the framework of Bruce Yandle’s Bootleggers & Baptists (1983) theory of coalitions, it is easy to see the fast-food workers as the proverbial Bootleggers. But such an assumption is flat-out erroneous; the hourly employees at the local Jack In The Box are the ones who will pay the price for this new labor reform.

Prima Facie, it sounds like the hourly fast-food employees of California make out like bandits. The prospect of escaping penury wages and making $22/hour. Then there is the bonus of having a voice in shaping the regulation that will impact your work life. These benefits will be short-lived; because the titans of the drive-thru will eventually respond to the monetary and transaction costs of fulfilling these new legal mandates. Few (if any) companies in any sector of business can whether a significant increase in labor costs ( there is a potential for labor costs to increase by 60 %). Depending on how large the increase in worker compensation becomes, menu prices stand to increase by 22 %. (p.7). Some may speculate that firms such as Mcdonald’s would benefit from passing along labor costs to the consumers at higher prices; there is a strong likelihood that patrons may just opt for cheaper or higher quality alternatives. There is also an increase in transaction costs because of the additional layers of complexity added to the relations between the management of franchise owners and hourly employees. AB 275 may discourage smaller regional fast-casual restaurants from expanding to avoid the onerous conditions of this new law.

Ultimately, our Bootleggers, the established fast-food eateries will gain from decreased labor costs. How? These firms will decide to automate operations and benefit from long terms savings in not having to pay salaries and benefits or cope with the loss in productivity from theft or employee absence. Only increasing the minimum wage is enough to drive many firms to reduce costs. Creating a price floor is a price control that causes disruption throughout the market. Because businesses will attempt to avoid the artificial increase in labor costs. For the workers that are lucky enough to keep their jobs, certain nonmonetary forms of compensation disappear (p.10-11); no more free coffee in the breakroom.

Bootleggers & Baptists-LVIII: The War on Whipped Cream Dispensers

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Efforts to shield the public from the negative externalities and pharmacological effects of drugs have been unavailing. One example of this has been the dismal failure of the decades-long War on Drugs spearheaded by President Nixon. Most of these fruitless measures go up in smoke since they attempt to suppress human nature; we like to feel pleasure ( hence why neurotransmitter receptors exist) and the desire for money. As long as both characteristics remain true, the drug war will never prevail.

The languishing policies pushing for a “drug-free” America are not limited to the federal level of government.  60 % of all states prohibit recreational Marijuana sales. Despite that, Cannabis is believed to impose fewer social costs than hard drugs. Considering the powers conferred to the states under the Tenth Amendment, there is still plenty of room for lower levels governments to enact ineffectual drug laws [1].

One recent example of this was Legislation (S.2819-A) a bill sponsored by New York Senator; Joseph Addabbo, Jr. S.2819-A, requiring an individual purchasing a “whipped cream charger” to be 21 years old. The restricted device depicted in the laws as being “.. steel cylinder or 5 cartridges filled with nitrous oxide (N2O) that is used as a whipping 6 agent in a whipped cream dispenser…”. However, there are several issues with this legislation. First (minor issue), the bill lacked clarity. Several stores and NY-based news outlets stoked public confusion by declaring that these age requirements applied to cans of aerosolized whipped cream ( e.g. Reddi Wip). From the perspective of the Bootleggers and Baptists (1983) model of coalitions, makers of non-aerosolized whipped cream (Cool Whip)may have temporarily made out like bandits. However, once this misinterpretation of the law is cleared up, these temporary and meager gains will fizzle out. The Kraft Foods corporation is far from being the biggest beneficiary of this new law, especially considering how whatever the organization gained was negligible.

The true Bootlegger in this scenario would be Addabbo himself. This law will have a minuscule impact on public health and safety, but by being the lead advocate, the senator fosters a positive public image. The fact that S.2819-A will be virtually ineffectual is the most notable shortcoming of this law. Inhalant abuse only comprises a small percentage of all drug use in the United States. It was exceedingly difficult to find specific data on inhalant abuse in the state of New York, but we can always extrapolate from national data. This would only be untenable if New York (specifically Queens) had an outrageous epidemic of young people huffing nitrous oxide.

Here are some numbers:

  • 0.9% of Americans 12+ years old have reported abusing inhalants in the past year.
  • Only 4.8 % of eighth graders, 2.0 % of tenth graders, and 1.8% of twelfth graders reported using inhalants in the past year.
  • In 2015,  97.3 % of teenagers (ages 12-17) did not use volatile vapors/industrial chemicals or other solvents to get intoxicated.
  • 1.8 % of individuals who reported having a major depressive episode in 2022; admitted to using inhalants (12 + years old).

Unless an overwhelming number of young Americans abusing inhalants happen to be residing in Addabbo’s district, it is difficult to see why there is such an exigent need to remedy the issue of youth inhalant use. If anything, he merely reached for the low-hanging fruit; regulating a legal product is far easier than mustering the resources to combat a thriving black market. He avoids jumping through the hoops of justifying the expenditures for drug-related taskforce and all the associated red tape. Simply, slap a fine on the vendors who do not comply. For Addabbo to grapple with the opioid crisis that most likely impacts his district would require more tax dollars and coordination with multiple levels of government and agencies (after all the heroin and fentanyl supply chain is international). The kind senator gets to sidestep all this mess and still look like a hero.

Footnotes:

  1. This statement is not a critique of Federalism but a pointed observation of flawed policies implemented by individual state governments.

A Fresh Take on Gun Control

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The gun control debate recycles more haggard and stale arguments than other issues in public policy. The talking points of both sides of the Second Amendment have become warn-out platitudes that lack facts, context, or intellectual depth. All these two-dimensional pithy statements fit handsomely on a bumper sticker. Intellectually honest or curious individuals would insist that further elucidation is required. 

However, there may be a novel anti-gun control argument that few commentators have explored. See below from philosopher Michael Huemer:

“…As in Example 1, except that Victim has a gun, which he would use to defend himself against Killer. Before he can do so, Accomplice grabs the gun and runs away, with the result that Killer is able to stab Victim to death.

Q: How wrong was Accomplice’s action in this case?

A: This case is morally comparable to Example 1. Again, Accomplice violates Victim’s right of self-defense in a way that predictably leads to Victim’s death. This is comparable to murder.

The government does not know specifically which people will thus be victimized, but we know a large number will be, and our not knowing their specific identities is morally irrelevant. So strong gun control laws are similar to the Accomplice’s action in Example 2.”

We frequently hear the right to self-defense as one of the key arguments supporting the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Few gun rights activists squarely address (from a moral context) the government’s culpability in victimizing law-abiding citizens in instances of strict gun regulations. Too often, they rely on the concise statement “guns save lives”. There is some truth to this statement, but what did the government do when they restricted gun access to the victimized individual? In effect, these laws were analogous to restraining someone while they were being robbed, assaulted, or raped, making the state complicit in the crime. Stringent controls on personal possession of weapons have a greater degree of ethical depth than the conspiratorial narratives of “gun grabs” spun by populous conservatives. A government using legislative fiat to deprive its citizenry of access to weapons is morally equal to a rapist, thief, or murderer.

The Billionaire and The Average Voter: Moral Equals

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It is easy to forget that not everyone shares similar needs and desires as you. This is a fact that is validated by contemporary public policy debates. All too often, voters and participants in the political process conflate (either inadvertently or strategically) their self-interest with the common good. Public interest or social welfare is an abstract metric open to interpretation; the terms operate as a form of persuasion than a concrete standard (p.77). For some, it is difficult to think that someone would not want free college or a single-payer healthcare system; this stems from an individual being too fixated on their values and policy preferences.

If it is likely that every political actor (including the average voter) acts in their self-interest, then why is it perceived to be immoral when a wealthy voter does versus an impoverished or middle-class voter does so? If the Republican and Democratic parties are moral equivalents, it is not outrageous to surmise that the poor person voting for “free” healthcare and the billionaire that votes for tax cuts are ethical equals. Neither individual is genuinely concerned by the potential externalities their favored policies impose on the rest of society. They only want initiatives that work in their self-interest. The concerns for the feasibility of these programs and processes are not even the equation for these people!

Admittedly, this is a heterodox position; most people would derisively dismiss it. The underlying assumption is that wealthy people do not need more money or institutional advantages. Most refutations would cite the imperative of actual need, especially if people lack necessities. There is some veracity to this argument, but the United States is not on par with the plight of a third-world country. Only 10.5 percent of households in 2020 suffered from “food insecurity”; in 2021, the United States outranked Germany in food security. Overall, impoverished people in the United States are better off than their counterparts abroad. While the wealthy may have market power and the connections to exert their political influence, the stakes for the average person in the US are often embellished. 

The belief that wealth inequality is the only determining factor in assessing the morality of voters acting in their self-interest is a fallacy. This suggests that the ethical responsibility for advocating and selecting bad policies (at the referendum level) is only subject to the size of a voter’s bank account. While a single vote is inconsequential in an election, a myriad of like-minded citizens voting in unison is a formidable coalition. Should these individuals be excused for electing representatives and choosing government programs that bankrupt this country or get us tangled in another foreign war? It would be reasonable to suggest no. Ultimately, neither the billionaire nor the average citizen truly cares about what is best for the country, only what benefits their interest. In the consumer market, this is not an issue, as acting in your interest does not require a redistribution of resources. In contrast, the same cannot be said about the political marketplace. 

Blockchain Voting Systems

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America’s faith in domestic elections is now buckling. Elections are now among the many enduring institutions; that the American people are losing trust in. Whether it was the investigation into meddling in the 2016 Election or the claims of voter fraud costing Donald Trump reelection, Americans have lost faith in elections. Voting, much like other segments of political life, perception carries more weight with the public than reality. An axiom keenly observed by Machiavelli centuries ago; appearance is everything.

63 % of adults polled indicated that they favor abolishing the electoral college. An NPR poll claims that 64 % of participants believed that democracy was in a state of crisis. One survey suggests that many Americans favor reforms to increase ballot access. US voters have concerns regarding the fairness and legitimacy of domestic elections. Both sides of the aisle are worried, but their distress is generally limited to situations of ideological interest. For example, 70 % of Republicans believed that the 2020 election, that ousted Trump out of office; was manipulated. A notable 72% of democrats suspected Russian interference in the 2016 Election was likely.

Could the faith be restored in American elections if we scrapped the current voting methods for one that made the process more transparent and accessible? A potential solution could be implementing a blockchain-based voting system. This would entail that each vote is permanently recorded on a publicly accessible ledger. Each voter “transaction” would then be confirmed by blockchain validators, in effect decentralizing the vote authentication procedure. Providing greater transparency, fewer barriers to the ballot box, and anonymous consensus on the majority vote. It would be possible for there to be a two-tiered blockchain system, one environment for voters and the other for the electoral college. This way, we do not have to restructure the legal framework of voting in our Democratic Republic. But also, this avoids the controversy of “faithless electoral” (the issue was adjudicated in Chiafalo v. Washington), as the electoral representative’s fidelity to the popular vote would be visible and immutable[1].

Some municipalities throughout the United States, such as Chandler, Arizona, have run pilot programs to identify problems before mapping this system to a local election. Taking precautions such as a trial run is a wise approach. It is imperative to conduct such experiments before implementation because such a cutting-edge voting system is largely untested. However, it is also advantageous to consider the hypothetical benefits and cost of blockchain voting; to be valid if even it is worthy of drafting a formal proposal to local policymakers [2].

Benefits of Blockchain Voting

  • Prevents tampering with votes; “…blockchains generate cryptographically secure voting records. Votes are recorded accurately, permanently, securely, and transparently. So, no one can modify or manipulate votes..” (p.3).
  • Blockchain voting would increase voter participation by eliminating some barriers and coordination costs associated with in-person voting and mail-in ballots (p.4).
  • This system could make the vote counting process more efficient (p.4); “… with an automatic tally that can be publicly disclosed after the fact, election officials will be able to simply add the digital votes to the votes cast otherwise…” (p.430).
  • Greater transparency because “… recording votes onto a blockchain allows for an easily accessible method for a voter to audit their respective vote..” (p.430).

Drawbacks of Blockchain Voting

  • There is potential for the blockchain validators to succumb to external interests (bribery, threats of violence, etc.) and collude to alter the election results. 
  • As with blockchain environments for cryptocurrency transactions, this system would only provide pseudo-anonymity. Ultimately, the validator would be the “key holder” and possess the ability to decrypt the voter’s identity. Utilizing a voting protocol that would have a two-step (having the voter “re-vote”) process may add a layer to ensure privacy, making the process more complex
  • Blockchains are still susceptible to the cybersecurity threat of attacks from hackers. “…If a user loses their private key, they can no longer vote, and if an attacker obtains a user’s private key they can now undetectably vote as that user… happened to cryptocurrency exchanges, which have lost hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency to attackers or through bad key management..” (p.14).
  • Decentralized ledgers are managed by multiple validators which can make “.. coordination difficult..” (p.15).

Conclusion:

It is impossible to develop a voting system with zero margins for error. Regardless of the format, the potential for mistakes and devious machinations will always lurk in the background. Most individuals in the political establishment and the academy are not receptive to blockchain voting. Below is a conclusion from a widely cited MIT paper on the topic:

“…A summary of this article’s takeaways follows. 1. Blockchain technology does not solve the fundamental security problems suffered by all electronic voting systems §3. Moreover, blockchains may introduce new problems that non-blockchain-based voting systems would not suffer from. 2. Electronic, online, and blockchain-based voting systems are more vulnerable to serious failures than available paper-ballot-based alternatives (§2). Moreover, given the state of the art in computer security, they will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. 3. Adding new technologies to systems may create new potential for attacks. Caution is appropriate in security-critical applications, especially where political pressures may favor an expedited approach. (§3.4). The article has also provided a collection of critical questions intended as a reference point for evaluating any new voting system proposal from a security perspective (§4) and provided references for further reading on this topic (§5). Blockchain-based voting methods fail to live up to their apparent promise. While they may appear to offer better security for voting, they do not help to solve the major security problems with online voting, and might well make security worse…”.

(p.19)

Although the conclusion in the above white paper may be reasonable objections, this does not mean that developers could not attempt to correct these shortcomings. For the ivory tower intellectuals, it is easy to dismiss this concept on technical grounds alone, but virtually no one is supplying any solutions. Even though numerically, a person’s vote has no chance of influencing the outcomes of an election, voting still operates as a form of political expression. Since there is a great deal of disillusionment with the current political system, it is critical to find a way to provide greater transparency in elections. Political strife and division have already taken their toll on American society for the past decade; no need to continue down this dark and fruitless path.

Footnotes:

  1. This observation is not commentary nor a critique on the institution of the Electoral College. The only aim of this statement is to address the popularly held misgivings about electoral voting systems.
  1. The detailed lists of the positive attributes and negative qualities of blockchain voting are not exhaustive.

Terrorism as a Factor of Production in a Coup

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The subtle differences between various forms of political violence makes it easy to confuse and conflate these categories. The Politics of Violence: Revolution in the Modern World (1968), cites Brian Crozier  as asserting that “… terrorism is a weapon of the weak..” (p.33). There may be veracity to this statement since creating an atmosphere of fear and unrest requires fewer resources than an actual coup d’état. A complete government takeover is likely to fail (p.82); due to onerous coordination costs. However, is it reasonable to separate terror from a coup? Temporally, terrorism campaigns could be an antecedent to a full-on takeover by an aspiring political faction.

It is feasible to see terrorism as a higher order good in the political entrepreneurship (p.143) of a coup d’état. Terror alone will not provide a subversive faction with global domination. However, “… countries may be more vulnerable to coups if they have weak political institutions and lack informal institutions that could support resistance against a regime that itself came to power by staging a coup..” (p.5). Terrorist tactics could weaken faith in the existing regime and even persuade the citizenry to support the more capable insurgent faction.

Much of this is subject to institutional scale; utilizing terrorism to cajole a constituency in a tiny banana republic to abandon the current regime is far easier than forming a global caliphate. The topic of scale becomes pronounced when we consider the costs of communication, organization, and reaching consensus on the direction of the political movement. In terms of networking, the costs of striking consensus increase with the size of the take over/ terror plot; as participating actors not only have to consent to the terms of the political action but also contend with “..local power struggles..” (p.621). Reasonably, if terrorism is fraught with organizational costs, a government takeover is much more costly. Although terrorism by design, aims to wear down the enemy (p. 20), it is not farfetched to assume that it could be a long-term strategy for effectively implementing an extralegal regime change Especially, when Palestinians have used terror tactics to advance their aspirations in the territorial expansion (p.32). It would not be outlandish to extrapolate this phenomenon to government takeovers.

If the dissenting organization is to use terrorism as an effective implement in staging a regime overthrow, the coalition needs to be successful. In the event of foiled terror plots, the group losses support among would-be citizens (p.9). Whether it is a legitimate political campaign, an uprising, or a marketing campaign for a consumer product, bad publicity stalls success. Much how recalls have a deleterious effect on the success of companies producing consumer products, failure on the part of terrorists has a similar effect. Reducing the perception of legitimacy and political clout, making it more difficult for citizens to accept the governance of the new regime.

The Third Condition For Log-Rolling to Occur

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In a recent blog post, professor Bryan Caplan suggests that bipartisan log-rolling (vote trading) is frequently untenable on wedge issues. Since there is a high degree of polarization in the climate of American politics, winning on contentious political topics that have clear ideological divisions (e.g. abortion and gun control is a zero-sum exchange. Not towing the party line of these policies is tantamount to political suicide for elected officials. Dr. Caplan does provide two conditions under which log-rolling is likely to occur:

“….First, when the two sides, protestations notwithstanding, share similar principles and don’t disagree very much. Like the budget. Or any ultra-boring issue, like fisheries or snow removal. This is what most democratic log-rolling comes down to.

Second, to avert large, sudden deteriorations. The polity will forgive you for passing up endless opportunities to make the country richer or safer. But if life quickly gets much worse, even the most silver-tongued demagogues struggle to keep holding the reins of state…”

Professor Caplan is a very astute and innovative Public Choice scholar, but he ignores a potential third condition under which vote trading may transpire; intrapersonal vote exchange. This example of vote trading is a form of implicit log-rolling (p.101), where policies are entrenched in a specific political party’s platform. By voting for a candidate affiliated with a coalition, the voter must accept all of the planks in the campaign platform, as we cannot cherry-pick the policies an individual candidate or party advocates.

 Because of this, we must engage in some degree of policy preference ranking. Potentially, engendering an intrapersonal collective action problem, if a voter favors gun rights ( a conservative position) and open-borders immigration ( a liberal policy), odds are they effectively choose one over the other when voting for the president or another variety of political representatives ( a tradeoff). The policy or sets of policies the voter prefers more; will be the deciding factor. If Jim is a proponent of lax gun laws and lenient immigration laws; but votes for a conservative candidate, we can only surmise he values gun rights more than free immigration. In this scenario, Jim engaged in log-rolling with himself.

The most common form of intrapersonal vote trading is when people contour all of their policy preferences to the platform of a political party. The likelihood that every diehard Republic sincerely agrees with the party on every issue is exceedingly small, but most partisan political participants don’t even allow themselves to question their political beliefs. These individuals exchange any disagreements with their party of choice for the designated status as a loyal member of the political faction. An excellent example of this is former Reaganites supporting the presidency and 2020 candidacy of Donald Trump. Regan was the American king of Neoliberal trade policy; Trump echoes the paleoconservative concerns for globalization. We could provide a convoluted explanation for this discrepancy, but such gymnastics would be superfluous. It is much more probable that these individuals tailored their policy preferences to fit an evolving Republican party than they had a sincere paradigm shift. 

Bootleggers & Baptists: LVII: The Downfall of Georgetown Cupcakes (Damn Health Inspector)

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Many believe that food saf­­­ety measures are necessary for promoting public health. We do not consider these desiderata as conferring a benefit to competing eateries. The renowned Washington D.C. bakery Georgetown Cupcake was shut down due to several health code violations. For a licensing issue, mouse dropping, and mold on consumable items. It is easy to become disgusted by these findings; there are several questions we need to answer. Outside of the cost of internalizing the externalities of a food-borne illness outbreak; (estimated at a scale of “…$4,000 for a single outbreak in which 5 people..” and 1.9 million for a single outbreak in which 250 per person). Even if no patrons become ill after consuming baked goods from Georgetown Cupcake, they still stand to lose business from the bad publicity alone.

While most people wallow in the grotesque of such hygienic incompetency of this bakery, it is easy to lose sight of the covert beneficiaries of their misfortune. One man’s loss is another’s gain. Per Superpages, there are at least thirty bakeries of the high esteem in the Georgetown section of Washington D.C. At a minimum, there at least thirty Bootleggers stand to gain from the bakery’s momentary lapse in cleanliness. It would be rational to apply Bruce Yandle’s framework of Bootleggers and Baptist (1983) coalitions to this situation. While the Washington D.C. metro health inspectors emerge as the white knights shielding the public from deleterious dining options, their published findings effectively divert business to other food vendors. Who wants to eat at a restaurant where there are rat feces everywhere? Many of the giddy Bootleggers may not be as squeaky clean as they seem. Since budgets for health inspections have decreased most restaurants are only inspected annually. There is a correlation between the number of health evaluations and instances of outbreaks of food poisoning originating in restaurants. Georgetown Cupcakes may have gotten the short end of the stick this time; next time, one of their callous competitors may pay the price.

The Pragmatic Solution to Gender Pronouns

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The convergence of gender and politics has been an enduring fixture in public discourse, pre-dating (the women’s suffrage movement). the modern feminist movement. The politics of gender are more opaque than merely debating the gender wage gap. Since the mainstream acceptance of transgender people, the bifurcated distinction between males and females has become murky. This makes social issues related to gender much more complex. In this gust of normative creative destruction, it is possible that feminism in itself is an anachronism that clings onto an outmoded perception of gender.

One issue that has made gender politics more bewildering has been the focus on using the proper gender pronouns. Many American corporations recognize non-binary gender pronouns and encourage their employees to indicate their preferred pronouns in their email signatures. Not everyone has the time (the list is long), interest, or congenial worldview of non-binary people to learn or use the correct pronoun. However, are our social interactions (such as work) doomed to become a prisoner’s dilemma between transgender people and Conservatives? Will the grammar aficionados forever wince at referring to a single person with plural pronouns (they/them)? There is a positive-sum compromise between non-binary individuals and those predisposed to accept the binary model of gender identity; that is, use proper nouns only.

No need to remember a litany of confusing pronouns, use their first name. For example, Jim. Even if Jim looks like a sultry female model in a bikini, still refer to this individual by “Jim”. It doesn’t matter if their name was Tiffany last week, just proceed by calling them “Jim”. This individual cannot take issue with you addressing them by their preferred first name. It enables Canadian residents to circumvent the hideous assault on free speech that is Bill C-16; by not forcing people to use gender pronouns they disagree with for political or social reasons, but concurrently adhering to Canadian law. This suggestion should be considered a pragmatic compromise, not a commentary on non-binary gender identification.