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This came up in conversation recently and it bothered me how hard it was to explain to some people. I decided to find a good illustration to hopefully make this more clear.

Consider a county containing a city, composed of "Magenta" voters, surrounded by rural area, composed of "Green" voters. The county has 64 total voters (or 640000, if you prefer), 24 of them "Magenta" and 38 of them "Green". The county gets to elect 4 candidates (representatives, judges, school board members, whatever). You would, ideally, expect to see 1-2 Magenta candidates and 2-3 Green candidates get elected (24:38 is between 1:3 and 2:2).

Now, consider what happens when the people drawing the district lines on the map belong to one party or the other...



You can end up with the "fair" results of 1:3 or 2:2 in various ways, but much less fairly you can also produce results of 0:4 (no representatives for the Magenta party) or even 3:1 (a massive representative majority for the minority Magenta party).

If you want to further explore this phenomenon, I suggest you check out The Redistricting Game, which explores gerrymandering in the format of a flash "puzzle" game.

Your thoughts on this illustration, or the socially-ignored issue of gerrymandering, are welcome.

PS: If you think the examples above are unrealistic, check out this (thankfully illegally non-compact, in most states) real "shove all the Hispanics into one district" map from Illinois' District 4 in 2004...
sparr: (Default)
One of the more popular arguments in favor of capitalism is that it rewards effort and skill. After giving that point some thought I found myself wandering down a line of thought that I would enjoy some feedback and dialogue on.

Read more... )
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You are protected against unwarranted search and seizure of your property. Unless, that is, you are at the border, an ostensibly sensible exception if you ignore such antics as seizing citizens' laptops *permanently*. However, various border security agencies, and a number of courts who support them, have claimed to be exercising that exception as far as 100 miles inside our borders. This involves traffic stops, road blocks, searches, and interrogations.

Let me paint a picture for you, of the "necessary" area in which you are not protected by this bit of our founding fathers' intentions...


Check out this information from the ACLU on this issue.

Too big.

Nov. 24th, 2008 05:33 pm
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A company too big to fail is too big.

Thank you to my friend David for this sentiment, which I mirror. If a giant company cannot be allowed to die because of the harm it would cause, it should not have been allowed to grow that large in the first place.

Socialism

Oct. 15th, 2008 08:53 pm
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The current "economic crisis" has driven me to reevaluate some of my beliefs, and I thought I would share one of them...

I believe that the idea of "everyone must work" is rapidly becoming obsolete.  We have long since passed a point at which the majority of people [in developed countries] are employed basically making each other happier [supposedly], not actually producing anything.  If half of those people became unemployed, our levels of production, for internal use and export, would not be hurt at all.  There would still be just as much food as there is now, just as many cars being built, etc.  But we [the American population in general] are stuck in a rut of thinking that if there isn't enough work for you then you deserve to starve.  That cannot last forever, and economic slumps like the current one are only going to get worse as demand for the non-production portion of society waxes and wanes even more in the future.

I happen to think that people should not have to work to earn the necessities (food, shelter, clothing, education).  This requires a very unpopular level of taxation of those who do work; unpopular but not impossible (see Sweden, New Zealand, etc).  The alternative is a very unpleasant confrontation between the working class and the unemployed when unemployment reaches 50% or higher, and I think that is inevitable.

Your thoughts are appreciated.

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