Not all of this being necessarily Canadian...
[ An Analysis of NaderTrading ] (alas, gone from the InterWeb)
A most interesting phenomenon to fall out of the 2000 US presidential election is the growth of some Internet sites seeking to bring together "liberals" that would both like:
For Ralph Nader to get 5% of the vote, with the attendant funding effects on future elections, and
For Al Gore to be the next president.
(I have no particular personal interest in either scenario; I just find the situation highly interesting ...)
NaderTrading suggests that liberal voters in states that are strongly Democratic seek voters in states that have close races, and seek to "swap votes." A vote for Nader in a "swing state" is bad for Gore, and so "swapping" a vote for Gore there for a vote for Nader in a state where it is unlikely to influence the outcome can contribute to the "optimal outcome" characterized above.
Aaronson observes that this "injects game theory and strategic thinking into what used to be a wasteland of banal slogans".
As a foreigner from Canada, I have neither a vote, nor the background in the US political scene to have cause to consider any of the candidates or their parties as my favored choice.
Nonetheless, the use of game theoretic analysis and the rational use of decision theory makes this strategy most fascinating .
After growing up in Ottawa, Canada's national capital, I also absorbed a certain degree of political knowledge.
The net result is that I have interest, inclination, and a pretty good understanding of "political economics" and about economic thinking in general.
My political tendancies are somewhat towards "libertarian" approaches, which is not uncommon for people who are heavily into computing.
Thus, I am unconvinced of the efficacity of the present heavy government involvement in social matters.
While I do not own any guns, and would be unlikely to use guns for "self defense," I am not incompetent as a shooter, and am not terribly impressed by the arguments put forward for gun control.
I am also unconvinced of the high efficacity of present laws and regulations surrounding the drug trade.
The "War on Drugs" seems to me to be rather self-serving in the way that it allows law enforcement agencies to solicit funding and attention.
Drug traders are treated as criminals because the law has declared them criminals, which pushes them into taking additional criminal actions, thus cementing their criminalization. In effect, the criminalization of drugs may be a cause that results in the violence associated with the drug trade. This is not unlike the criminalization of sex trades, and appears to parallel the US experience with the Prohibition of alcohol.
It would be rather overoptimistic to assume that the problems would go away if drugs were decriminalized. (Ditto for gambling and sex trades.) I would nevertheless suggest that these problem areas reflect an unfortunate codependancy between governments and criminal activities.
Drugs are expensive because they are illegal.
Criminal activity is encouraged by the resultant high prices.
Violence is encouraged by the competition for sales at those high prices, combined with the fact that since the transactions are not legal, participants cannot entrust their safety to government authorities.
One interesting observation Russell Nelson has made:
If you put a murderer in jail, you have removed a killer from society. If you put a drug dealer in jail, you have created a job opening.
In effect, it is difficult perhaps to the point of futility to try to constrain drug sale activities when the fact that demand for drugs still remains will result in some other supplier coming in to fill the "need."
Note that this does not indicate that I look on the use of drugs with any favor; I certainly do not. Nor do I approve of prostitution, drunkenness, or gambling; all are pretty pernicious as far as I'm concerned, both to individuals and to the society involved.
Here are some links to "interesting and perhaps relevant stuff."
John McCarthy of Stanford University holds some interesting opinions on the issues of Ideology and Sustainability.
Feel free to disagree with his conclusions, but check out his sources before blindly suggesting them to be nonsense.
Ideology and Sustainability - John McCarthy (Opined in the "optimistic" direction)