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Samizdata quote of the day

Reason goes to sleep during election campaigns. Sometimes it is said elections are like the fiesta of democracy, which is true, but electoral campaigns are like bachelor parties which culminate in huge hangovers and sometimes culminate in disasters.

Marek Belka

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Thailover

    “Real” magic(k) is to bend the perception of reality in others to suit yourself. This is one meaning of enchantment, and it’s also the purpose of rhetoric and sophestry. Expert rhetoricians know how to flavor their speech with key words and phrases designed to elicit desired responses. “Wealth inequality” sounds like a real problem, doesn’t it? How about “income inequality”? Sounds horrific, doesn’t it. The sad part is where “the socially concerned” are angered when one explains why these are non-issues and actually a good thing.

  • Shirley Knott


  • Mike Polaski

    Poland is now in the First World and yet many Poles completely fail to understand what underpins their new found affluence. You’ve no idea how many arguments I get into on this subject.

  • Paul Marks

    I have never worked out what to say when asked “what are you going to do for me” on the doorstep when canvassing.

    My instinct is to reply “nothing” – but I suspect that would not make someone more likely to vote for me.

    So I say I will keep taxes down and so on – but that is not what this sort of voter wants.

    What they want is specific stuff for them personally – some spending for them and their friends.

    That is what is meant by “what are you going to do for me” – and it is why I want to strangle the people who say it.

    Perhaps that is why I am an EX councillor.

  • Rich Rostrom

    I would say it depends on the country and the electoral system.

    At the present time, the U.S. has developed a grotesquely bloated and dysfunctional election process that now stretches well over a year.

    Other countries manage their elections in a few weeks.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    This is the second problem with democratic systems. The first problem is the instinct to enforce ‘equality’ by laws, start off equal, and force people to stay equal. Claiming mandates comes next. If you promise something, and get elected, then you can extend government into this new area, especially if it is a ‘problem’ you were the first to identify.
    The third problem seems to be that these two other problems work in conjunction to boost the public service, so that bureaucratic bloating is a democratic tendency- more taxes to extend equality and solutions (extra police to wage a new War on the problem?) Do you think that the officers conducting the war on Drugs want the war to be won and over? Not on their livelihoods!

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    If you go over to the Libertarian International blog, you can read an article by Christopher Booker, about some judges at a conference trying to make climate change denial a crime, or a misdemeanour. Another ‘problem’ for a politician to fix! Should deniers be fined (hanging is too good for them!)? Or forced to do community service? I think the next war will be The War on Denial! I hope my role, as a denier, is played by George Cloony, eating Vegemite even as I’m chain-ganged into servitude!

  • JohnK

    I think in that film George Clooney will be the brave G Man taking on the evil denier cabal, who will of course all be British. He’ll get the girl too.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oh, the poor thing. (The Girl, I mean.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul, if you knock on my door and tell me you aren’t going to do anything for me or anyone else except keep taxes down, you will have my vote for life. In fact, why not step into my living room and have a snifter or three (if you can find a place to sit).

  • Mr Ed

    I have never worked out what to say when asked “what are you going to do for me” on the doorstep when canvassing.

    You might say: “You probably work three weeks of the year just to pay for your Council Tax bill, and for that you get a fortnightly bin collection, some pot holes and lamp posts. I want you to have more of your own money and fewer pot holes, by making the Council more efficient and less of a drain on your finances. I know you work 22 weeks of the year to pay for the NHS and other people’s welfare bills, that’s not anything I can do something about as your Councillor, but with your vote, I will try to get you back more of your own money and sack the incompetent buffoons who have wasted it.”

  • Rob Fisher

    Thailover: “these are non-issues and actually a good thing”

    I get “non-issue”. I think inequality by most meaningful measures is lower than it has ever been in history. Can you expand on “good thing”?

  • JohnK

    Mr Ed:

    I think the problem is that many of the people being canvassed don’t work at all. They are takers, not makers, and they will vote for the party which takes most from productive people and gives it to them. Why else does the Labour Party exist?

  • Julie near Chicago


    Richard Epstein has at least three UT’s on this issue. The best short one is about 9 min. long, a PBS interview entitled “Does U.S. Economic Inequality Have a Good Side?.” UT.com, then


    He also delivered a very good talk entitled “Wealth and Inequality: Leveling [sic] Up or Leveling Down?” at Creighton University, ~58 minutes. UT.com, then


  • John Mann

    Perhaps that is why I am an EX councillor. (Paul Marks)

    It’s also part of the reason why I decided, many years ago, not to bother trying to go into elective politics.