Discover more from Transportist
Transportist: Positive sum games
This is a post for paid Transportist subscribers. It will eventually be liberated from it’s paywall, but not today.
Can’t afford The Transportist ? If you’re a student, or poor, or cheap, or giving greatly to important causes and don’t have $0.14/day, drop me an email and we’ll work it out. Leave no transportist behind.
Waymo One (driverless AV taxi service) is open to the public in San Francisco [California] Approves New Driverless Autonomous Vehicle Service Under Pilot Program Designed To Transform State’s Transportation System. San Francisco is not an easy city for human to drive, so please let the peanut gallery stop complaining that this is vaporware. There are miles to go before we rest, but the relentless progress towards a fully automated future continues unabated, if slow.
New risky playground in Melbourne is a work of art. (Bringing the appearance of danger back to childhood)
EV owners angered over constant problems with public charging sites [The Daily Telegraph has migrated its stance on EVs from they will never work to their too popular.]
#NearerInTime - a fun post (I hope) that will help orient your time perception.
Transforming Politics from a Zero-Sum to a Positive Sum Game
Most sportsball is a zero-sum game. For one team to win, the other must lose. While it is competitive, and that competition drives an arms race in athletic skill, and it might improve the quality of the game, in the end it doesn't create more winners. After the arms race, the number of losers is constant, and they are just as unhappy, perhaps more so, since so much more effort was expended in the futile attempt at winning. A dilettante cares much less about losing than a professional.
In contrast with sport, scientific and technological innovation are positive sum games. One scientist/inventor can stand on the shoulders of others. While scientists might compete with each others for publication priority or patents or prizes or grants or fame, they are also complementary, building on each others knowledge.
Politics, in terms of relative positioning and who wins a particular seat, is necessarily zero-sum.
Politics, in terms of how laws often work, also functions as a zero-sum game. I have more rights so you have less. I can make noise and you have less quiet. I can paint my house with purple polka dots, and you have to see it. I pay more taxes so you pay less. In the zero-sum version of legislating, the majority party passes a set of bills without input from the minority. The opposition party, once in power reverses everything they don't like. But this form is is not especially productive if the best solution is to the right of the center of the “left wing” party and to the left of the center of the “right wing” party (assuming both parties respect decisions, the system, the elections, and so on). If we believe in the wisdom of crowds, then the center is more likely to hold a better answer than either extreme.
In a Parliamentary System like Australia, when there is a single majority party, there is negotiation between factions within that party about what to push, but then all party members support the bill (if they want to be endorsed by their party for re-election) except on specific conscience votes like abortion and euthanasia.
At this time, in Australia no party has a majority in the upper house, so the “cross-bench” of third-party members and independents force negotiation. Arguably the US Senate filibuster accomplishes the same end, requiring any party without a supermajority to negotiate with enough of the opposition to attain a compromise. That is something the weaker party system found in the US once had.
A system with inter-party negotiation attains gains from trade. The beauty of the Australian system of ranked choice voting is that voters are not required to vote only for one of the two top candidates to have an effect. By ranking votes, they can put major party A next to last, and major party B last, so if their preferred independent candidates don’t make it, their votes still flow to major party A. Thus third-party representatives and senators are far more common, votes are not “wasted”, so the resulting preferences for someone other than members of the two major parties is more easily realised, and outright majorities are less common. This helps forge a middle path.
The typical Australian political party, by selecting candidates, rather than having a primary open to many voters do so, retains tighter controls over party member votes. This feature works against inter-party compromise, as people are voting for the party more than the candidate.
A tick-tock pattern of switching governing coalitions is necessary to regulate corruption that naturally arises with duration of power. However this can have deleterious effects on long term investments that there is no consensus for. Projects, policies, and agendas are started and stopped with change of government.
There is no perfect political system, any system can be corrupted by corrupt individuals, and any system can be made to work with honourable participants. But some systems are more vulnerable to corruption than others. Designing a mechanism that good long term investments can be managed over the long term, without the deleterious effects associated with single-party rule is a challenge, but I suspect multi-party arrangements which demand coalitions are better than two-party systems in this, in that at least two parties had to buy into the initial decision, if one of them coalesces with a different party it will be loath to give up on its prior commitments.
I am playing with Mastodon (cross-posting from Twitter and vice versa). Given the direction things are going with the bird site, you may want to Follow me at Mastodon.