Conservation of Information: Our Manipulable Overlords

Fun fact: you have approximately as much control over the outcome of an election as do the Founding Fathers.

The next election, that is. Not the first. In any given election, your – that is, the voting populace’s, as a whole – control over the outcome is approximately equal to that of a few dozen two-hundred year old men in a smoky courtroom.

(Well, okay. The populace has about five times as much control. Still not as much as you’d thought, no?)

The original argument can be found here, for those interested in the math. The fundamental argument is this: by conservation of information, something must select one President from 300,000,000 individuals. Given that the voters choose between two candidates at the end (1 bit), plus perhaps another four for each primary (two more bits each, total 5 bits), something else has to determine the other 23-odd bits.

One bit gets set by restrictions on the Presidency by the Founding Fathers; a bunch more get set by individuals being unwilling to be President. The remaining dozen or so bits – decreasing the number of candidates by a factor of about 10,000, four or five times as many as the voters – must therefore be exerted by various power blocs: the media, the existing parties, lobbyists and so on.

Clearly this is quite an optimal solution to the problem of government. I think we can all agree that the heuristics of sensationalism, private interests, and a foolish consistency to prior stances are all that are necessary to guide one of the most powerful nations on the planet through the extinction-laden future, no?

It’s a shame that said interests have a few checks, though. After all – the media infamously publish what the masses want to hear; party leaders, of course, pander to the same masses; and the special interests – why, their money comes from what the masses purchase. Indeed, with all this indirect control, perhaps we could be considered primary deciders of the Presidency after all, if we were somehow convinced to use it.

And clearly that’s unacceptable, right?


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