Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Apathy Pwns California

California is having a special election today, the third of its kind in a mere six months time. And this election sure is special, all right: special ed!

The polls are still open as I write this, but so far the voter turnout has been absolutely astounding! And by astounding, I mean astoundingly low:

Voters were slowly trickling into their precincts today, casting ballots for six propositions related to the state budget crisis as well as several local issues, including races to elect a Los Angeles city attorney and the city's District 5 City Council member.

By 10 a.m., voter turnout in Los Angeles County was a mere 3.69%. In a comparable statewide election in 2005, turnout had reached 8.92% at the same time.

So it looks like about 4 in every 100 registered voters will actually show up to vote today (I, of course, am not one of them). And of those that do show up to cast their ballots, most of them are expected to vote no on everything, except for a bill that will freeze pay rates when the state runs a deficit. In other words, this "special election" is a big retarded waste of time and energy, thus earning the coveted "special ed" title.

Democracy is a monopoly of force dictated by majority opinion. Whoever gets 50% +1 vote is the "winner." But Democracy has many weaknesses, and one of its biggest is apathy. Non-voters imperil the perceived legitimacy of the state by refusing to grant consent to the whole scheme, whether through active opposition, or more commonly, disinterest.

An example of this disinterest can be found in this example from the same article linked above:

Tim Safarik, 42, sat down for his daily breakfast with his parents at Bob's Big Boy in Burbank. He had no plans to vote, even though he did during the last election.

When the voter pamphlet arrived in the mail, he said his reaction was, "That voting thing again? Ah, jeez. ... To be honest with you, I'm not even sure what we're voting for."

He said he was not unduly alarmed by dire predictions about the state budget. "I'm sure it's the worst. It's always the worst."

None of the significant bills that the state wants to be passed are likely to actually do so. Most California voters don't even know what this election is about, and even many of those who do know what it's about don't plan to vote today anyway. I don't blame them: Even if I were an enthusiastic voter, I would likely get tired of it by the third election in half a year.

So what is the lesson to be learned? The lesson is that Californians have thrown up their hands in despair and/or disinterest over the state's incredible buffoonery, outrageous corruption, and total inability to manage its finances, products, and services. In other words, apathy pwned the government of California.

In the world of private markets, this would signal the bankruptcy and subsequent closing of a company. Only in the insane and violent world of government rule can the collapse of a willing customer base still allow for the continued operation of an organization.

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