Decisions

> The optimization for sound bites is gonna be the optimization for fundamentalism. – [Daniel Schmachtenberger](https://neurohacker.com/how-social-media-and-ai-hijack-your-brain)

[Gratitude increases patience and self-control](https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/opinion/sunday/the-only-way-to-keep-your-resolutions.html) – as the author asserts, a good way to keep those New Year’s resolutions!

Veto power and ranked choice voting

George Tsebelis on the connection between electoral structure and government structure:

> The basic idea is that the more veto players you have, the more difficult it is to change the status quo. And the more ideological distance the veto players have from each other, the more difficult it is to change the status quo…

> In the United States, if this kind of sharp division and polarization that we are seeing now is one we’d want to try to resolve institutionally, then the major solution would be a change in the electoral system, and a transformation to Single Transferable Vote, which means that every voter would rank the different candidates…

>What STV does is, even if you are an extremist of one side or the other, your second vote will go to the more moderate candidate on one side. You’ll have a house or senate where moderates prevail.

The Fair Representation Act and ranked choice voting

There may be [no perfect voting system](http://bob.ryskamp.org/brain/?p=5532), but [the Fair Representation Act](http://www.fairvote.org/) is trying to improve the biggest problems:

* Voters are currently incentivized to vote for “the best person they think can actually win”, rather than their actual favorite candidate
* Only a single person represents a group of often diverse interests
* Gerrymandering has created bizarre voting districts that bear little or no resemblance to actual communities

By requiring broader districts, and electing multiple people from that district (rather than one each from smaller ones), the authors hope to represent a wider range of views in Congress. By offering ranked choice (or “instant runoff”) voting, they hope to eliminate the strategic and suboptimal voting patterns that favor only the major parties.

Identity politics is breaking elections but might be able to fix government

[An interesting discussion about our inability to choose the right candidates](https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/1/15515820/donald-trump-democracy-brexit-2016-election-europe) to make our lives better:

> How do choices get framed? How do opinions get formed? A lot of it is people simply taking cues from political figures, from public figures, that they’ve identified themselves with one way or the other, whether they’re party leaders or the leaders of social groups or interest groups that they feel some attachment to…This idea that people have fixed or informed views about central issues doesn’t square with most of the data we have.

From the authors’ book “Democracy for Realists“, some data supporting the argument that “it’s the economy, stupid”:

> “It is possible to account for recent presidential election outcomes with a fair degree of precision solely on the basis of how long the incumbent party had been in power and how much real income growth voters experienced in the six months leading up to Election Day.”

The authors attribute 2016’s strange elections to the inability of political “elites” to connect with voters, hence the rise of “outsiders”:

> The biggest limitation at the moment is that we don’t know how to incorporate the role of political elites in a constructive way into the governing process or to somehow make it possible to ensure that they’re working on behalf of the interests of ordinary people.

But they propose that instead of breaking down “identity politics”, we need to acknowledge its importance and make it work better:

> These group attachments are not some bad thing we do instead of being rational, well-informed creatures. They constitute who we are…We construct an interpretation of our lives, and we’re loyal to that and we find other people with similar views. That’s what human beings are like, and recognizing that seems to us a big step forward from the way we tend to think about politics now…

To do that, we need to better connect people’s identities and actions to the policymaking (e.g. what happens in Congress every day) rather than the elections (e.g. who you elect to Congress once every few years):

> A lot of the actual ways in which people of ordinary education or ordinary means or just not much power, the ways in which they are disadvantaged are often occurring at the level of policymaking rather than at the level of elections themselves. The financial sector, for instance, is having a lot of policy success in Washington, in ways that ordinary people, if they really understood what was happening, would not approve. But they don’t follow it closely enough, they don’t understand, and the policy process is tilted toward moneyed interests that ordinary people have no chance.

So embrace your identities, but don’t stop with the voting booth–find ways to connect daily to the actual decisions that impact your life.

Trusting the artist

Ahmet Ertegun – arguably for a long time the greatest record executive of them all – told me that unless you’re 100% sure the artist is wrong, go with their vision. – Jason Flom

True for designers as well, in my experience.

Questions to ask before making a group decision

An evolving list:

* What exactly is the decision we need to make?
* Who is responsible for making the final decision?
* When must we decide?
* Is this even important enough to act on now?
* Do we have good enough options?
* Do we have the right information about those options (e.g. their effects)?

Why voting doesn’t make anyone happy

[The Exploratorium explains voting paradoxes](https://youtu.be/tJag3vuG834), and why, no matter what happens tomorrow, no one will really be happy:

Or is it because society is too complex for us to even understand our choices?

> “We’ve become fundamentally confused about what the decisions are, and what their consequences are. And we can’t make a connection between them,” he added. “And that’s true about everybody, as well as about the decision-makers, the policymaker. They don’t know what the effects will be of the decisions that they’re making.”

Kenneth Arrow even won the Nobel Prize for proving that when there are 3 or more choices, no system is guaranteed to choose an optimal winner.

Smaller decisions with smaller groups are more likely to work, but still fraught with peril. But go vote tomorrow, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Absentee futures

> We congratulate ourselves on the accomplishment of democracy…But regardless of who votes, what is the real meaning of any such choices if the alternatives among which we are selecting are underimagined, or clichéd – or simply absent? – Stuart Candy

My most influential role these days is less “tastemaker” and “decider” than simply “option generator”.

Design and decisions

Design is just decision-making with visual aids.