Rolling the Dice

Fellow Americans, and any others who care to immerse themselves in my petty ramblings: I read an e-mail article backed by a 25-page paper that got me thinking. My first reaction is, this person is seeing what they choose to see.  It is a somewhat free country, so I think Elliott has that right.  But his analysis makes an unintentional mockery of the complexity of the data, IMHO.  He distills MASSIVE amounts of numbers into glittering generalities (I know he doesn’t see it that way, but the paper lacks enough detail for me to truly map his diatribe to numbers that are solidly representative of his various theorems).
Am I saying this because I am a Republican and he is a Democrat? Probably, although I cannot say the Republicans are the problem solvers… politically, I cannot say EITHER of the 2 dominant parties are the problem solvers.  All I see is a country that has lived in an artificially ever-increasing financial fantasy land, fueled by debt, off-shore outsourcing, and exporting of US capability and ingenuity.  We…you and I, as American citizens who could, at any time, have motioned to fix the system, have enjoyed (apparently) the spoils of this artificial scenario.  Now we get to endure the consequences that come with it.
I think my party preference has been founded on ignorance for, well, decades now! I think there needs to be more mass behind a larger number of parties, but I think it all tracks back to fear and ignorance.  People want their vote to count, so they are too scared to be anything other than a Republican or a Democrat.  But truth is, if we spent a chunk of time each week studying our government, volunteering to maintain it, and learning the true platforms on which candidates stand…we’d be free to vote based on a much better quantitative foundation (or at least a better qualitative one).  As a quick example – I don’t know a person alive who WANTS to go to jury duty, yet it is actually an honor that is bestowed upon us.  Our government allows its PEOPLE to participate in the judicial process, for folks to be tried by peers.  I don’t do enough to invest in my country, or shape its government.  I am guilty of that, even if I do go to jury duty!
So, I know this article is in favor of the Democratic party, but for me to read this and become a Democrat would take no effort.  It would be a repetition of what made me move from being an Independent to being a Republican (I ran the same type of research this paper did, so I could trash Republicans for their defense spending in 1987…and what I found was a Democratically lead Tsunami of spending for social programs dating back to the 40s, that DWARFED the money spent on defense).  Was my data any more or less accurate then compared to this data now? Will either of us really know the truth behind the statistics?  I mean, if I have learned one thing about stats…I worked with statistician at a previous employer, and you can FIND a formula that will DO what you want with the data… if you don’t like the answer, change the formula!  So, numbers can lie as well as politicians.OTHER FACTORS
The other thing I wonder about this data is the P/PC principle.  See the Seven Habits materials for a definition, but basically paraphrased: say, in the corporate world, a manager steps into a roll in a factory and makes everyone work 50 hours a week 6 days a week, refuses to do maintenance on any of the equipment.  His numbers roll in, and man he looks great…what AMAZING MARGINS.  He gets promoted, and the next manager inherits run-down equipment on its last leg, and employees that are ready to kill each other, they are so angry with the working conditions. As the new manager works to fix the machines, and improve internal morale, the stock takes a hit because margins are so bad.  Meanwhile in the boardroom, they talk about how the new manager obviously is not as talented as the one they promoted.

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So, is it possible that no matter which party was in control, they each were hung out to dry for a predecessor’s abuse of the system?

And if the equation still isn’t fun enough, add this:  The US is a big boat, and to see a “plan” through can take 10-20 years… ever steer a big boat?  I got to steer a tour boat when I was 12, and you literally would make corrections to the steering for where you wanted to be 1-2 minutes in the future.  Now, imagine the Queen Mary II. Now. . . imagine the United States Government and how screwed up it must be with all these steering corrections every 2-4 years.  So between the P/PC principle, the “boat steering effect”, corporate greed leeching its own future revenue via credit (the leaders of today have basically stolen from the leaders of tomorrow, so it is more P/PC at work), outsourcing and moving production offshore… what should we EXPECT to happen?

At 12, I did a crummy job steering the tour boat.  At 25, I had done a crummy job steering my financials.  And I’ve done a crummy job steering my country for as long as I can remember… 350 million wrongs definitely do not make a right (but, three lefts do, kinda sorta, for what it is worth).

And if those factors are not enough, take this example (known as the butterfly effect): If Clinton wasn’t so busy staining Monica’s dress, maybe he would have taken that call from Sudan stating “We have Osama Bin Jerk-Off, do you want him?”  But he didn’t.  Where is that reflected in the stats? Because of that, the twin towers got knocked over, and Bush got all war happy, and we are out thousands of lives and a katrillion dollars.  All of that would not have happened if Clinton would’ve answered his phone instead of saying,” Take a message.  Hey Monica, do that thing with the cigar again. Maybe we can rename this the Ovary office. . .[roll porn guitar solo]

Now, I am sure no matter which administration, no matter which party, there are hundreds of thousands of butterfly effects – small things that created Tsunami-sized problems later.  But that one just stands out as my poster-child (and another article).

What I am trying to drive towards is, whether qualitative or quantitative, we need to steer clear of the “metadata based vote.”  In fact, we need to steer clear of “party politics” – because no one party has the fix.  It doesn’t matter if I am a Democrat, Republican or another party…  what matters is that metadata is not ground-truth information.  We cannot judge a book by its cover any more than a statistic by its result.  TV ads tug at heart strings, politicians deliver very emotional speeches and even as superficial as those are, the media rivets the public on a WINK!  The most superficial thing of all, and it is getting more attention than Britney Speers. Sure, her life is very real to HER, and I wish her the best of luck, but as far as NEWS goes, up until the “wink,” I was pretty sure we had found the mecca of idle infatuation via America’s media-darling crack-head. Guess there’s a new crack-head in town. w00t.

So then we start to dig a bit deeper and read articles from Tom Friedman, and stat crunches from Reno and papers by some dude named Elliot.  We talk amongst ourselves but we are still MANY MANY MANY layers from the truth.  Do we turn back and lean on mama-media? Do we read a few articles that contain summaries and draw a decision from there? No… because we are still using the Christmas strategy…and really, no matter who gets to wear the Santa Claus hat on inauguration day, it isn’t going to fix our country.

So, what now? Nothing I have seen, no website I have hit, no TV shows I have watched, no debate questions I have heard answered (and I have not heard many because I am guilty of not participating like I should, but what I have heard has been standard issue fluff on both sides) are educating me on the ground truth of who these people are and what they are going to do.

Can you tell me who YOU are voting for? I can, I am voting for the old fart and that MILF standing next to him.

Can you tell me WHY you are voting for them? I can, because I’ve absorbed metadata and other subjective information that leads me to believe there is a 1:1,000,000 chance that they will do less harm than good, and with Obama, the metadata and subjective BS leads me to believe there is only a 1:1,000,010 chance that they will do less harm than good, and I am too scared to throw away my vote on someone in the non-dominant camp (although I am rethinking it).

Can you give me something MORE about why you are voting for your candidate than what I have just given you?  Can you site a real an actionable platform that your candidate is going to honor that will put this country closer to recovery, or make a positive difference in the face of the current insanity?  I can’t.  I simply don’t have good enough data.

There’s only one way to do that, and that’s to get more involved, on a more consistent personal basis, for the rest of my life as an American Citizen… and if you want my belief (why not, you’ve been listening to me rant so far!) , that’s been the problem the last 50 years…  we listen to some TV ads, some of us try to do research and get summaries and other metadata, and in the end we give up and roll the dice.  I got not-so-new news for all of us, sooner or later the Casino always gets its money.  The difference now is, the Casino ain’t owned by us anymore, we sold it a long time ago (and a GOOD chunk of those folks have the hairy bean bags to show up and asked to be BAILED EFFING OUT! HA! [sob] HAHA [weep]). So…what are WE going to do about it?


And, that’s what they bank on…

6 thoughts on “Rolling the Dice”

  1. Here’s the deal. Although I tend to agree more with the Libertarian ideology(not to be confused with Liberal!) with support for genuine, family-oriented, God fearing ideals, I am going to hold my nose and vote for McCain over Bob Barr. There is a strong reasoning behind this. First off, it is based mainly in statistical analysis of Obama and McCain’s voting records. I feel that the “leader of the free world” should be able to be decisive. The 100,000 foot view is this: Senator Obama has voted undecided on the vast majority of bills that have come before him. The rest of Senator Obama’s votes for the most part represent the extreme opposite of my values (i.e. Gun Rights / Gun Ownership Specifically S-397 comes to mind

    I’m not trashing Senator Obama, without calling for accountability from Senator McCain, too. Senator McCain and I tend to disagree a lot too. HR-1424 was a definite “do not want”

    I have a tendency to write my Congressmen and -women over how I feel about their recent votes, and Senator McCain seems to be the one Senator that sticks out in my mind about giving answers to my questions and reasoning behind “why” he did something. Whether or not I agree, at least he is willing to provide justification.

    There are more facets to it than that. For example, Russia has shown aggression towards the US and opened missile silos down in Venezuela (meaning that chances are there will soon be a Hugo Chavez with nukes!). This is going to result in my opinion in another Cuban Missile Crisis. Who do you want commanding the armed forces? JFK, a Democrat pulled it off last time, but the 1962 Democratic party is *not* the 2008 Democratic party. Those days, are gone my friend. I know that I’m starting to get into Party Politics a litte. I’m going to leave it right there with a simple, this is why I am voting for Senator John McCain over Senator Barack Obama.

  2. Here was a reply I got:
    I read your reply. It’s true the author does make sweeping statements that are, even based on his own ‘t-statistics’ (this i believe is related to “Students t-distribution,” a good example may be seen under “Example” at …I’m actually not sure how the author calculates his t-statistics) at times oversimplifications (for example, the difference in table 4 of the unemployment rate is 0.8% btwn democrats and republicans, which gets a t-statistic of 7.7 (>>95% significant difference he claims), but the difference in ‘growth of multifactor productivity’ is also 0.8% and only gets a t-statistic of -1.59…he needs to do a better job in making his math transparent).

    I think his main thesis still stands, no matter how he statistically presents the data: Democratic administrations don’t always lead historically to bigger government (in fact in his conclusion paragraph he points to the ‘peaks’ in size of government of 1975, 1983 and 1992, or Ford-R, Reagan-R, and Bush-R), and republican administrations don’t indicate economic good times (even with the lead in to the Great Depression factored out).

    As far as experience is concerned for Palin vs. the world below: for me it’s not the quantity of time someone’s been serving, its the decisions i believe they’ll make when they get the chance that counts. I’m sure Sarah Palin has the ‘balls’ to make the big decisions, as an executive must, when she feels the situation calls for it. What worries me is what situations she’ll consider call for making a drastic decision. I’m worried what mindset she’ll have going in. If anything, one could say I feel she’s too qualified as an executive because I’m afraid of what she may execute. Gun slinging guts alone don’t make for a good president; our last bout with that has landed us in Iraq and lost us much credibility globally. Bush’s ability to act when his tough decisions were laid before him lent credibility to Palin that her experience thus far is sufficient proof that she’ll make the hard decisions. I just don’t think her choice will be the right one, should she ever become president.

  3. Here’s another great reply:
    Here’s my take . . . with the new bailout package that will actually probably top $800B (given that we’re now loaning an additional $36B to AIG) that’s a brand new debt our generation is now saddled with. For either of these guys to say they don’t want to raise taxes is great, however, reality is, how are we going to pay for this? My guess would be that all of us are going to pay higher taxes somewhere – whether its raising the social security tax (currently the first $97K of your earnings are taxed for social security and anything above that is not) – I assume taking that to $110K or somewhere in that range will happen. Additionally, how are we going to pay for it – well, we pay $10B / month for the war in Iraq. If Obama can get us out of that in the next 18 months or so, some of that money can be diverted to help cover the cost of the bailout, but again, the payout at $10b/month into $700B is what, 70 months (6 years) – so that’s a long term deal. Either way, something is going to have to give to help pay down this debt. Now, if you’re Obama a good way to recoup that money is to invest in infrastructure projects similar to what FDR, Truman and Eisenhower did in the day – we built major highways across the nation, had huge public works projects – Tennessee Valley Authority which built dams and turned them into energy producers – where I’m going with this, is that if Obama can get in and create a new pool of jobs with government backed energy projects to develop new / alternative energy sources, that in the short term increases debt, but long term greatly reduces it. Reduces it by a) putting people into jobs, which in turn helps families pay their bills, in turn it increases tax revenue b/c those new jobs and people’s wages are taxed generating more money for the fed; b) it reduces our dependence on foreign oil – when oil demand is lowered, prices drop – weakens the Middle East, drives prices down for the American consumer, puts more money in your pocket; c) it gets us away from oil all together and actually moves towards creating a real energy plan for the US, something we haven’t had in the last 40 years.

    Big picture – what is McCain telling you? Is he offering you hope? Is he offering you any concrete plan to get healthy? Or is he just pandering fear, skepticism and worries? What ad have you seen that focuses on the positive attribute he brings to the table? All I hear is, “My friends I have the experience to lead us – Obama doesn’t.” Well John, maybe you’re part of the problem – he’s been in DC for almost 30 years. You don’t think he’s become jaded? Isn’t it a good thing that we have a guy who hasn’t been in DC that long, who isn’t in everyone’s pocket and doesn’t care if he pisses off the special interests? Plus, Obama plays on the politics of hope, inspiration, believing we can do better – have you hear that from McCain? McCain is a Bush crony – he has supported Bush relentlessly on policy issues – are you better off today than you were 8 years ago? I’m not. My 401K is down 40% since the start of the year. I lost a chunk in the last 3 days alone. Why? Because McCain has always been in favor of deregulation – let the free market take place and whatever happens, happens. Well, bad call. If we had some tighter controls on Wall Street maybe some of this, if not all, could have been avoided. But McCain believes in deregulation – now he thinks we need more – which is it?

    As for Palin – look at the interviews she did with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric – are you kidding me? Do we really want this woman as President if the 72 year old keels over and dies? Yea, she’s hot, but come on. The hockey mom from Wasilla, population 7000? The governor of Alaska – in case you haven’t followed it, there is some major political corruption in Alaska – they do things much differently than they do elsewhere. Sure, she came off okay in the debate with Biden, but if you really go back and look at it, all she could talk about were 4 major topics. She dodged a shit load of questions because she doesn’t know. Christ, she just got a passport last year – but she can see Russia from Alaska and Canada is her neighbor so that makes her qualified on foreign policy? I mean, these international leaders don’t take her seriously – the president of Pakistan was hitting on her in New York 2 weeks ago – not good. In turn, our standing in the world is horrible. People don’t take us seriously, we are not the beloved America anymore, defending those who can’t defend themselves, taking the moral high ground, spreading democratic ideals – no, we’re the aggressor, invading countries because we think they have WMD – when we know they don’t. Imposing our will on a region that has battled itself and had infighting for 2000 years. What kind of message do we send the world when we elect a man of color, with the name of Barack Hussein Obama? We send the message that yes, we are open for business to discuss with you, we are not a nation of white republicans, but rather a nation of many nationalities, made up of immigrants from all over the world and yes, we have an open mind to discussing issues with you. It doesn’t mean we’re going to roll over and be anybody’s bitch, it means that we have thought this out and are really concerned with our perception globally and are addressing it. McCain is about as personable as a porcupine. He is a grumpy, angry old man. Shit, he spent 5 years in a cage in Vietnam getting tortured – I’d be grumpy and angry too. I respect and honor his service and appreciate what he did, but I don’t want his hand on the button because I think he’d be more apt to push it than anyone else. When Obama says he will hunt down and kill bin Laden – that makes me feel good – when was the last time you heard a Democrat say he/she will kill someone? He’s not going to take shit, but will at least improve our standing in the world immediately.

    I don’t know, I think this comes down to this – do you want to stay the course, believe the fear hype and get scared into voting McCain, or do you want to go down the road of hope with Obama. No doubt it’s going to be a tough road to hoe, but when you listen to either one of these guys, who gives you more inspiration? For me, it’s simple, Obama does. I would rather have a guy more in tune with me, my generation, than my grandfather running the show, a guy who doesn’t know how many houses he owns (8), or cars (13) and is really out of touch with me.

  4. And more good stuff:
    So interesting — I wonder how many times the media has said the word “obama”? Over and over and over and over. And one hardly ever hears the word “mccain.” It’s subtle and insidious brainwashing. People have their TV’s on and they hear the “o” word constantly, altho’ the context in which it is used may be tuned out. In their giant capacity to entertain and instruct and inform us, the media has opted to “program” us.

    No one uses the word “propaganda” any more, but it is alive and well and running daily on American television!

    I feel that Obama was chosen, from Chicago (the land of dirty politics for DECADES), and educated, primed and inserted into our political milieu. His not-so-publicized history is blurry. His alliances with questionable causes and very controversial revolutionary people are REAL. And they are current — altho’ he says otherwise.

    We are being distracted by fluff stories and pics of Palin. But nothing compares to the media’s total concentration on Obama. He’ll change things alright — and the American people, the truly AMERICAN people
    — our native cultures, the blacks brought here against their will, and all the others who came here from everywhere, jumped thru the hoops to become citizens, and do not want the government to run their lives — these people will be shocked at what happens when he comes into office.
    I feel that there is a hidden agenda in Obama and whoever has funded and backed him. I’m a senior citizen — so it’s only old wisdom and intuition that drives my thoughts. I’ve got a bad feeling about this man. I hope I’m wrong, because the media already treats him like he IS the president.

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