From Tim Harford's Logic of Life, an input-output theory of legislation: "Here's a surefire vote-winner: Take $1.9 billion from a large number of voters, distribute $1 billion to a small number of voters and throw away the rest." When you put it that way it really sounds silly. But this particular bill, a subsidy for the sugar industry, passes year after year. This is an example of a big problem with representative government - a small focused interest beats a widespread, unfocused one every time, to the detriment of the widespread. The arguments used are rarely logical, and largely irrelevant.
I went to Carmel last weekend, and saw a woman feeding squirrels literally one foot away from a sign begging visitors not to feed the squirrels and to let them find their own food. My brother asked her why she was feeding the squirrels. Her response: "Oh - well this food is from Whole Foods, so it's okay."
Finally, from the latest Battlestar Galactica episode title, from Ken Kesey's book Sometimes a Great Notion, from the song "Goodnight, Irene:"
Sometimes I live in the country,
Sometimes I live in town,
Sometimes I have a great notion;
To jump in into the river and drown
The singer goes on to say, "Go home to your wife and your family" - focus on your relations with those that matter, and avoid vice where you can.
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