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The cynicism, it burns - Tactical Ninja

Sep. 22nd, 2014

10:14 am - The cynicism, it burns

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Today we have a severe weather warning that includes gale force southerlies. Yesterday it was warm and sunny enough to guilt me into mowing the lawn.

Ah, spring.

So I've come to the realisation that it's unrealistic to hope that anyone will consider anything outside their own self-interest when voting. I realise that a considerable number of my friends and colleagues actually did do this, but the reality tends to be that most people will vote based on how their life is going, and not put a lot of consideration into how the lives of others might be affected by their vote. You could even say that I do this, because I want to pay more tax to bring about greater social equality, but that means that those earning more than me would also have to pay more tax, which some people consider to be an oppressive infliction of my values on their entrepreneurial spirit, or their deserved wealth.

I don't see how to change the view of someone who thinks greater social equality isn't as important as their freedom to keep all their earnings, or believes that more tax won't bring about greater social equality. The evidence says it does, but people don't tend to be interested in evidence when it comes to matters of politics. How to overcome this is IMO the key to the parties on NZ's left getting their shit together and changing some minds.

Anyway, on this business of people being self-serving, I watched the first-tier tickets for Kiwiburn sell out in three days flat last week.

Yay? Yes, yay. But the first-tier tickets are $30 cheaper than the next tier, and then there's a third tier another $30 more expensive. The first tier are limited, and they exist to allow people who otherwise couldn't afford it to attend Kiwiburn. Even the most expensive tickets are only $155, and in the grand scheme of festival things, that's the cheapest 5-day festival ticket you'll get in this country.

So when the first tier sold out in 3 days, I couldn't help but think that a lot of those tickets probably went to people who could have afforded to pay a higher price, at the expense of
someone who really needed them. This is purely conjecture by the way - it's entirely possible that all of the tickets were sold to people who are on benefits, or are students, or who earn the minimum wage. But I doubt it.

Three tickets were sold from the next tier up before the first-tier tickets sold out. And I think that's probably an accurate representation of how many people in our altruistic, inclusive Kiwiburn community actually do consider things outside their own self-interest when making purchases. That's 3/200.

This doesn't give me a lot of hope for altruism as a driver for the left vote in this country.

And yeah, it made me lose a bit of respect for the burner ethos, alongside really hoping that at least some of the tickets got to those who have a genuine need to save $30. I know at least one person who got one, who falls into this category. I really hope it was more.

Comments:

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From:pombagira
Date:September 21st, 2014 10:27 pm (UTC)
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yeah.. so i am left wondering if this is because we have been taught to be non altruistic, *coughs* a nice way of saying greedy, or perhaps hording is more apt, by our currently culture.. via the media

you know buy this in the next 5 minuties and we will send you this free sent of ginshu knifes..

*ponders this*

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From:tatjna
Date:September 21st, 2014 10:32 pm (UTC)
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I think the individualistic rhetoric of neoliberalism that has been pervasive in our culture since the earlty 1980s is probably relevant, but I also think it's likely to be a natural human tendency.
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From:willmarshall
Date:September 23rd, 2014 06:40 pm (UTC)
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From memory, there's been a fair amount of research into self-interested decision making, and it tends to happen in predictable ways at a predictable rate, and is less influenced by politics and culture than might be expected.

The positive side is that decisions are influenced by a sense of transparency and oversight, so outcomes can be improved structurally, by building systems in which people tend to behave ethically.

The downside is that appealing to morality is pretty futile.

Edited at 2014-09-23 06:40 pm (UTC)
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From:willmarshall
Date:September 23rd, 2014 06:43 pm (UTC)
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More practically, I think ethical behavior at large scales is largely a function of institutions, which provide structure and guidance on long-term decision making and bigger-picture principles.

Neo-liberals have been remarkably successful at dismantling institutions. In their absence and in the isolate, people tend to fall back on self-interest.
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:September 21st, 2014 10:37 pm (UTC)
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Could also be that everyone who cares or feels the need to get a cheap ticket knows to get in quick.

I personally just delay buying KB tickets until I need to get them, and naturally end up buying more expensive tickets as a result.

But barring further evidence I tend to be optimistic like that.
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From:tatjna
Date:September 21st, 2014 10:38 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, someone else said to me "At least we know there'll be 200 organised people at KB next year." ;-)
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From:vernacularity
Date:September 22nd, 2014 07:09 am (UTC)
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tru that, though i do wonder how many people just happen to have the ticket price on them and/or a credit card and thus got in. so a cheap ticket is the reward of being frugal/prudent flush with cash, as usual the rich get the best deals. :-p

i bought two early tickets last time in case i wanted them and in case of someone else wanting them, and gave them away, and then bought another one for a guy whose dad had tried to scalp a few to pay for their own. and didn't go because dramas

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From:thesecondcircle
Date:September 22nd, 2014 07:45 pm (UTC)
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From a US perspective: What bugs me is not that people vote in their own self interest (because if the 1%-ers voted on policies to stay rich, well by definition there aren't that many of them) but that so many people vote AGAINST their own self interest.

For example, people who directly benefit from the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will gleefully vote for candidates who's primary goal is to repeal it. And people who are living on the edge of poverty will vote for someone who's message is "when we give money to the rich (in the form of tax breaks and corporate kickbacks) they will magically create tons of jobs; when we give money to the poor (in the form of tax credits and benefits programs) we are enabling a bunch of deadbeats." And the middle class will vote for people who are hell-bent on destroying the middle class -- and aren't even hiding the fact.

I wish to god more people understood what was actually in their best interest and voted for it.
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From:tatjna
Date:September 22nd, 2014 08:31 pm (UTC)
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I have been thinking a lot about this over the last couple of days, and have come to the conclusion that people will only understand what is in their best interest if it's made clear to them in simple terms.

At University I learned to cite my sources, and I learned a handy shorthand for doing it, that meant I could point anyone to the real backing for my argument, and they could go read it and see that actually I'm not talking through a hole in my head.

The problem with this approach is that most people won't bother to check the sources, don't have the time or the interest to wade through the evidence to support my argument, and are usually looking for things to pull me up on if they do.

So presenting information that doesn't require people to check sources or read essays is pretty important. Basically if it can't be read and understood in less than a minute, it's not clear enough. And it's our job, as the people who think we have a better way of doing things, to make it clear enough.
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From:meri_sielu
Date:September 23rd, 2014 10:47 pm (UTC)
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You know I really think you're right re: people voting with a view to how certain policies would singlely affect them without thinking about the wider picture.... perhaps that's why my country is so fucked :/
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From:fushia_darkness
Date:September 26th, 2014 02:53 pm (UTC)
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I refuse to accept people vote based on their own self-interest only. How can it be ok to do that? I think one must always consider the larger picture and take in all the consequences of the choice you make, especially when doing something important as voting for the leadership of the nation! I understand that people do this, I'm not blind, but I try to raise a discussion about this whenever given a chance.
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From:pundigrion
Date:September 30th, 2014 04:01 pm (UTC)
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I really don't understand the choices people make when voting sometimes. Or politicians for that matter.

On the very small scale: Politicians promise they won't raise municipal taxes, people keep voting for these promises. Meanwhile the local roadwork backlog is now in the millions... Everyone complains about the awful roods and yet, no one will agree to spend the money to fix them! Do they think magical pixie dust is suddenly going to resurface them and fix the man-eating potholes?
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