Chapter 1: Lies We Believe

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Too bad that you had to get caught, that’s not like you to lose face. So sad that you’re not as smart, as you thought you were in the first place.

Baby, I could use some of your persuasion, to wipe away the taste of your machinations. It’s over, kaput except for the tail spin. Save the dialogue for the old men in the pool room.

Try it once, well I’m not so sure, try it twice and you’re by my door. The money, no more than insulation. The getaway, I watched with fascination. The hideway, woooo, such imagination. Ah …the 45! Goodbye! I used it with no hesitation

Doug & The Slugs[1], Too Bad

Corruption affects us all, yet it is a term that can be applied to many different things and in many different ways. In this chapter, before we launch into the intricacies of vote sizing, we’re going to try to whittle down our definitions so that we have a better understanding of what we mean when we say something’s been “corrupted.” Hopefully, as we connect the dots that form corruption, we’ll see just how effectively designed vote sizing is to combat it.

Now that we’ve gotten to know all the dangers of making these daring generalizations, let’s go right ahead and do exactly that. But why? Why wallow in the muck of class and politics; how much money we do / don’t have, how much money someone else does / doesn’t have? Because it’s in this overlapping area that vote sizing makes a difference. Vote sizing is neither exclusively about money nor about votes, but entirely about their intersection; and in order to understand their dynamics we’ll need to separate them, compare them and see their potential to facilitate / hinder each other. It’s deep water we’ll be venturing into, so before we try to figure out vote sizing, we need to come to terms with the way our society functions. So first we’re going to try to discern some key concepts in how things 1) are meant to be and 2) really are … and look into the meanings of words like wealth, power, capitalism, democracy and corruption.

At times it’s going to be messy—please bear with us—for in life there aren’t always distinct boundaries dividing these familiar yet somewhat different concepts. Also, the language itself will often become fuzzy on us. For example, if someone assumes power illegitimately, we can call him corrupt or a tyrant or a dictator. If someone who is voted into office then uses her power in an unjust way, we call her an autocrat or a despot or a tyrant or unjust or corrupt. If someone in the private sector takes advantage of or manipulates the markets or the laws or the government or the courts for his own advantage, we call him a criminal or a cheater or corrupt. If someone takes what isn’t honestly hers, we call her a cheater or a criminal or corrupt or a crony or unjust. Well, by now you’ve probably got the idea: Words themselves can hide clarity, swimming around each other without ever landing on a specific meaning. Innovation and new ways of thinking have often forced scientists, like Pythagoras, Archimedes, and to invent new languages in order to fully express their ideas. It’s probably not the best idea to repeat this tactic for political science, but we may have to stretch the rules a little. Perhaps now is a good time for linguists to chime in about how language works to support class structures; but that would have to be in another book, for we have work to do and so we need to move on.

With these constraints in mind, we’re going to try to break everything down into manageable and separate ideas so that we can see the pieces of the puzzle in all their glory. In a very real way, we’ll be acting like chemists in a lab trying to separate various components from a whole structure. Chemists use compounds called solvents to unglue material, and the task put to us is very similar. If we don’t use enough solvent, things will remain too stuck together for us to properly figure out what’s happening; but if we use too much solvent, then we risk breaking down the components beyond recognition. So please bear with us as we do this, and instead of being overly critical, let’s try to simply focus on the underlying concepts that we are trying to reveal.


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