A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!
Yesterday (November 6), someone told me that my county supervisor, Jim “Luigi” Schmidt, voted against restoring some budget cuts for human services because Tosans, unlike people in other districts, only care about no new taxes.
I contacted Luigi, who clarified the misperception and his position. People in his district, he said, will accept some tax increases for good reasons—just not as many as the majority of supervisors were willing to vote for. Thee percent is one thing. More than that is another. His moderate position reflects this understanding of the will of his constituents.
He also told me that most of the people he hears from are the no-tax-increasers, not people like me whose bottom line is investing in people, services, and infrastructure to strengthen communities for the long-run.
I’m not sure the supervisors who voted to restore more cuts were voting at the behest of their constituents. A number of them will be punished for doing “the right thing” for the county, as well as for voting for pay increases for themselves.
Those who knew the risk and took it anyway may be heroes, and they may be out of jobs.
In The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies, author Bryan Caplan says that it’s not special interests that keep us from developing good economic policies. It’s the voters’ misconceptions, irrational beliefs, and biases that lead us to elect (and re-elect) politicians who create the bad policies we demand.
This raises so many questions.
- What kind of society do we want?
- Do most Tosans prefer no tax increases over anything else?
- How rational and well-informed are our preferences? Do they get us what we really want? How do we know? How do we decide what’s most important when we have a menu of important things?
- When people see the same thing so differently, who is right?
- What kind of voters are we?