[FoRK] Misunderestimating "The" Tea Party

Russell Turpin russell.turpin at gmail.com
Sat Mar 20 14:58:27 PDT 2010

On Sat, Mar 20, 2010 at 4:06 PM, Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> wrote:
> Assume a group of people, a nation, called "Big."  Assume a
> divisive issue "A".  50.01% of the people in Big are pro-A, and
> 49.99% of the people in Big are pro-B. ..  If Big splits into "Little
> One" and "Little Two" and the former citizens of Big are allowed
> to choose which successor nation to belong to, and assuming
> that nations somehow have a social choice function that is
> intended to maximize the satisfaction of its constituents with
> respect to some set of issues, then clearly the factored state(s)
> result in greater social satisfaction with respect to A (~100%) than
> the monolithic state, which instead guarantees that about half
> the people are dissatisfied about A.

The algorithmic argument above assumes some combination of a) that
there will be no dispute over how to draw the border between Little
One and Little Two, b) that future citizens of Little One and Little
Two are equally free to move back and forth, since people might change
their view on issue A, based on experience, or the children of those
who were adult at the time may see things differently, and c) that the
cost of having a border between Little One and Little Two is less than
benefits from resolving A differently in the successor nations, and
similarly for other political issues so resolved and future borders.

I'll point out, as a matter of history, that wars have been fought
over a), and that the European Union was the result of people deciding
that c) was NOT the case for the matters that are now resolved at the
supra-national level.

Again, I'm not arguing that big is always better, but that it's not
necessarily the case that smaller is always better. I'm arguing that
it depends on the specific historical circumstance. Issues of
political aggregation and disaggregation are particularly tricky,
because many people attach a high cost to moving, and place a lot of
importance on the softer, cultural issues that these changes bring.
And the latter issues also tend to be mis-measured.

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