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[PATV] Wednesday, December 25, 2013 - Extra Credits Season 7, Ep. 15: Incentive Systems and Politics

DogDog Registered User, Administrator, Vanilla Staff admin
edited December 2013 in The Penny Arcade Hub

image[PATV] Wednesday, December 25, 2013 - Extra Credits Season 7, Ep. 15: Incentive Systems and Politics (Part 3)

This week, we conclude our series on design problems in the US political system.
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    RabidKittenRabidKitten Registered User regular
    For what its worth, knowing that these 2 politicians are controversial and have many detractors as well as fans. Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul both did the filibuster the old way. Each one did a LONG standing yap, and they got a lot of heat for it. I don't think the public cared, but the Senate at large thought it was childish and annoying. Right or Wrong it was pretty hilarious.

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    Spiffy McBangSpiffy McBang Registered User regular
    The Cruz and Paul filibusters were considered foolish because they didn't even follow the reasoning behind starting filibusters in the first place. Paul stood up and talked to get the administration to state they would not kill American citizens overseas who were not an imminent threat, but the AG had already said as much. Cruz just went on and on about how terrible Obamacare is. Neither of them were attempting to thwart upcoming legislation; they just talked.

    By comparison, Bernie Sanders received a much more positive reaction to his filibuster because he was actually delaying passage of a bill. His action was an attempt to make an actual impact on legislation. The other two were basically just trying to get good press for being willing to talk endlessly. There was absolutely nothing of substance they could have achieved, even in the best case scenario.

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    Titanium DragonTitanium Dragon Registered User regular
    I will note that making super moves difficult to execute is actually not a good idea; the correct thing to do is to make them balanced by some other factor. Simply making them difficult to execute doesn't actually make them anything other than the best thing in the game; they're just a pain in the butt to pull off. It doesn't actually make things balanced, though.

    Such is the case with the senate - the filibuster is a mistake to begin with. It isn't in the constitution and its existence is the result of an error a long time ago. It doesn't do any good at all. Getting rid of it would be wise.

    Gerrymandering is a harder issue to deal with, mostly because you have to draw the district lines SOMEHOW, and any method you use can potentially give someone an advantage. Using equations or having neutral parties (judges) draw the lines is generally best.

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    PolaritiePolaritie Sleepy Registered User regular
    I think rather than a super move, the better analogy is an infinite combo - you need to continue landing perfect inputs. Except now the input is "hit X once" and the rest is automatic.

    It was fine when it was difficult and exhausting. And it meant there was an option other than a supermajority cloture vote - you could wait them out - they can't talk forever, and YOU don't need to forgo sleep, bathroom, food, etc. The civil rights act of 1957 was passed despite being filibustered (for the record, no less - Strom Thurmond managed 24 hours solo). It's important that opponents of a bill can speak. It's not important that a handful of senators can block a bill indefinitely despite majority support.

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    AntihydrogenAntihydrogen Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    @Titanium_Dragon
    No neutral party can be trusted for long. Equations is probably the best way, but it seems to me that politicians aren't the biggest fans of mathematics and the sciences...

    Antihydrogen on
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    philip1201philip1201 Registered User regular
    The proposal of "have every district except one be a square, all with the same population" is mathematically undoable in many cases. Rectangles would be better, but that probably isn't enough either in many cases.

    Titanium Dragon & Antihydrogen: the problem with any fixed ruleset - whether it be geography or mathematics, is that the result is known in advance. As long as those who are elected have the power to (pass the laws which) determine districts, they can still choose the ruleset which benefits them most among those that are allowed. That's why they're allowed to set districts freely in the first place: they had the power to change the laws to make it so.

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    AntihydrogenAntihydrogen Registered User regular
    @philip1201
    Random number generation used with mathematical equations can produce districts which are unpredictable in nature and yet still produce coherent districts.

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    rcorrectrcorrect Registered User regular
    With crap like this no wonder Penny Arcade is ditching PATV.

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    wirvingwirving Registered User new member
    edited December 2013
    For an example of this in action, look at California. Prop 11 and Prop 20 took the power to write districts away from the legislature and gave it to a "citizen's commission" instead. The radical politicians on both the left and the right who kept us from having a functional budget for YEARS were wiped out. It's not perfect, and there's still whining on both sides, but it's a lot more reasonable than it was before.

    Now we have a budget that's balanced more or less, laws actually can be passed and CA runs like the fifth largest economy instead of a banana republic.

    http://www.cavotes.org/sites/default/files/jobs/RedistrictingCommission Report6122013.pdf

    wirving on
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    AuriniAurini Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    I decided to do a series of response posts, exploring the concepts in these videos. Part 1 currently up, the series should be finished by the end of 2013, or early 2014.

    An excerpt: http://www.staresattheworld.com/2013/12/incentive-systems-politics-part-1/
    Part 2: http://www.staresattheworld.com/2013/12/incentive-systems-politics-part-2/

    So let me make a proposal which shouldn’t be too contentious. A system which is concerned with the “betterment of the people” should focus on:

    Their material well-being: an ideal system will not have mass starvation or systemic poverty.
    Their emotional well-being: humans are not cogs; if a substantial portion of the populace is on anti-depressants, something is wrong.
    Their spiritual well-being: moral development, and the maturation of wisdom – a Bonobo Idiocracy is ugliness incarnate.

    I think I’ve made my point about the present state of affairs, but to make sure it’s per fectum:

    A permanent welfare/victim class is a problem.
    The mercenary transigence of modern relationships (both platonic and sexual) is a fatuity.
    A degenerate culture, where the blind sermon the blind, is a travesty.

    These problems have been developing for some time, but only recently has the rot begun to show on the surface.

    ***

    Merry Christmas & Happy New Years, guys!

    Aurini on
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    eliphas8eliphas8 Registered User new member
    The issue of ending gerrymandering in the perfect squares is problematic for many reasons. Firstly it's going to cause problems for minority groups in the country who would now find themselves split inside these squares where their presence locally is small but when collected together nationally they make up a signifigant portion of the US population. Secondly, it's still open to gerrymandering just a different kind, for example, one reason Utah leans so heavily republican is because they have gerrymandered things in way supported by your system, splitting the most liberal part of the state (salt lake city) between several large districts that where largely rural and conservative. Thus diluting the democratic population of that city to the point where it had effectively no representation in congress in actuality, it was merely part of the region it was split into. Independent districting is far better.

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    SilverKnightGGSilverKnightGG Registered User new member
    Well, here's where I possibly drop a bomb.
    Why geography? Sure, its necessary if we MUST have something to fall back on in the event of losing our communications infrastructure. Its also where we LIVE that is often the subject of governance. However, at the national level our representation is fairly uniform(in terms of how we are individually dealt with BY governance at that level). Could something other than geography represent a balanced collection of individuals then? It wouldn't hurt at all to discuss this, even if you think the premise is a bit flawed. The results of said conclusion could be very valuable in any case.

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    AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    wirving wrote: »
    For an example of this in action, look at California. Prop 11 and Prop 20 took the power to write districts away from the legislature and gave it to a "citizen's commission" instead. The radical politicians on both the left and the right who kept us from having a functional budget for YEARS were wiped out. It's not perfect, and there's still whining on both sides, but it's a lot more reasonable than it was before.

    Now we have a budget that's balanced more or less, laws actually can be passed and CA runs like the fifth largest economy instead of a banana republic.

    http://www.cavotes.org/sites/default/files/jobs/RedistrictingCommission Report6122013.pdf

    Actually, what happened in CA was closer to the "filibuster" side rather than the "gerrymandering" one. Thanks to the idiocy that is Prop 13, CA budgets have to pass with a supermajority. For a long time, the CA GOP was able to hold just enough seats in the CA Legislature to be able to stop budgets from passing. But in 2012, they slipped under that threshold. The result is that for the first time in decades, a budget could be passed without a rump division being able to stop it.

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    AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    Well, here's where I possibly drop a bomb.
    Why geography? Sure, its necessary if we MUST have something to fall back on in the event of losing our communications infrastructure. Its also where we LIVE that is often the subject of governance. However, at the national level our representation is fairly uniform(in terms of how we are individually dealt with BY governance at that level). Could something other than geography represent a balanced collection of individuals then? It wouldn't hurt at all to discuss this, even if you think the premise is a bit flawed. The results of said conclusion could be very valuable in any case.

    Because there are a lot of issues that are both geographic and national in nature - water is a pretty big one in the West.

    Of course, I've been rather disappointed by how poor this set of videos has been - the first gerrymander they showed in the video and how they misrepresented it (it's actually a well known one that was created for the purpose of linking two majority-Latino communities in Chicago for the purpose of minority representation) is just the tip of the iceberg. The complete misunderstanding of how filibusters work (seriously, can we stop bringing up Mr. Smith Goes To Washington - it's unrealistic and just serves to obfuscate the actual, ignoble history of the filibuster) was really disappointing.

    AngelHedgie on
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    AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    Understanding The Filibuster (Or, How Jimmy Stewart Lied To You)

    So, as we've seen, there's a lot of confusion over the filibuster in the Senate. A large part of that is that we use the same term to refer to two separate concepts:
    • The blocking of a cloture vote, or
    • The controlling of the Senate floor to prevent any motions (like a cloture vote) from being called.

    So, let's start from the beginning.

    Birth Of A Filibuster

    Initially, the Senate did have limitations on the debate of proposed bills to start. Unfortunately, during a review of Senate rules early on, candidate for Worst American Ever (and the man responsible for the career of Michael Bay) Aaron Burr stripped out the debate limit, on the grounds that gentlemen knew when to be quiet. The result was that debate on a bill could continue indefinitely, paralyzing the Senate. On the cusp of our entry into WWI, it was realized that such paralysis could be damaging - so a half measure was enacted in the form of the vote for cloture, where if a supermajority of the Senate votes in favor, a limit on further debate of the bill is placed, and then the floor vote can be held.

    Thus, we have a system where in order for a bill to pass the Senate, it takes two votes - one to shut up, and one to actually pass the bill. Furthermore, the first vote requires a supermajority of a defined group of the Senate body(a point we'll come back to later), and if it fails, then the debate continues. Make sure that cloture fails, and the bill will never get a vote.

    Ladies and gentlemen, your legislative branch at work.

    But, What About The Guy Reading The DC Phone Book?

    Of course, there are cases where cloture, for one reason or another, is guaranteed. Does that mean that the vote is inevitable?

    Hardly.

    Remember, a call for a cloture vote is a parliamentary motion. And in the rules of the Senate, you have to have the floor (that is, you have to be controlling the right to speak before the chamber) to propose a motion. If someone has the floor, you either have to wait for them to give you the floor, or shut up so you can take it. If they choose to do neither, then there is little you can do. And while the rules say they have to talk, it makes no mention of what they have to talk about.

    In short, if a Senator wants to disrupt the flow of business, all they need is to take the floor and break out the Yellow Pages. As long as they control the floor, the business of the Senate is stopped.

    Change Of Rules, Change Of Tactics

    So, why the switch from the latter to the former? Ironically, it's due to a change that was supposed to make the filibuster less common. Initially, the cloture requirement required 75% of Senators present, as long as quorum was reached. While a high bar, it also meant that if a group of Senators large enough to meet quorum and aligned took the floor, they could invoke cloture. To prevent that, opponents would take control of the floor. The result was both sides trying to game the other.

    In response, new rules were enacted in the late 60s. The cloture threshold was lowered to 60%, but the body was changed to the seated Senate - meaning the once variable cloture required vote became a flat 40 votes. And thus, it was no longer necessary to worry about being outmaneuvered - if you have 41 votes, you can prevent cloture, period.

    That is why the minority party doesn't need to take the floor to impede bills anymore - they just need to make cloture fail.

    AngelHedgie on
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    Kered13Kered13 Registered User regular
    The filibuster procedure is arcane, but the principal of requiring a supermajority is sound. It prevents a simple majority from running the country without opposition, and provides stability by making it harder to completely reverse the direction of government.

    They should simply change the rules to make it explicit that a bill can only pass with a 60% majority

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    AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    Kered13 wrote: »
    The filibuster procedure is arcane, but the principal of requiring a supermajority is sound. It prevents a simple majority from running the country without opposition, and provides stability by making it harder to completely reverse the direction of government.

    They should simply change the rules to make it explicit that a bill can only pass with a 60% majority

    Sorry, but no. Supermajorities mean minority rule, period.

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    Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    the filibuster has never really been used to protect something reasonably describable as a 'minority' interest, unless the minority in question is the extremely wealthy (or southern white supremacists, who tended to be a subset of the extremely wealthy anyway.)

    hold your head high soldier, it ain't over yet
    that's why we call it the struggle, you're supposed to sweat
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    LazyBuggLazyBugg Registered User new member
    I had a jump-scare recently when I noticed this site moved 'Extra Credits' to another area...
    The location was under 'PAXTV' from the Penny-Arcade homepage menu but I had just discovered that the whole series became moved onto Youtube. I had no idea that happened. I'm used to scrolling to my saved a bookmark 'Extra Credits' link, but this time it lead me to this underdeveloped-looking page: http://penny-arcade.com/patv/show/extra-credits

    Anyway, after lurking on these forums I'm proud to learn the staff and creators did not discontinue the Extra Credits series as I first thought. ~Thank you. I'm glad these videos are still up and running. I enjoy these videos! The animators and artist deserve a warm shout-out too. Thanks.

    Anyway back on topic. This a interesting talk on U.S. political system in this episode. The animation during 4:07 made me laugh. I liked the idea of having perfect square districts. Unfortunately not all the states are square shaped in size so it's nice to know that they thought about giving the responsibly to independent government body instead.

    Filibuster: From what exposure I've seen on television lately... it seems this act is treated more like a joke then a super-move. Last year Ted Cruz declared a filibuster. While he waited he read aloud Dr. Seuss 'Green Eggs and Ham’.

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