Demographics are the reason for political craziness

I remember, as a kid, seeing the movie Spaced Invaders and learning about the historic radio performance of the War of the Worlds. Back in the day, purportedly, it had set off a hysteria - particularly among the elderly - of people who didn’t understand that it was just a fictional tale, not real news broadcasts.

Likewise, I’ve had a variety of people tell me that it’s no use trying to point out to older folk that certain things are ridiculous like alien invasions, internet scams, etc. Old folk just go crazy and there’s nothing to be done about it.

Now, if we look at the average number of babies per woman, by year:

There were a bunch of people created around the 50s and 60s and then our fertility rates went crazy down.

In history, the usual course of events was that each generation would be slightly larger than the previous one because each generation had above-replacement numbers. Once you include the differences in medical knowledge, smoking, a lack of physical fitness in old age, etc. the percentage of people who made it through to old age was also a lot smaller.

When politics is centered around “the vote”, this can substantially change the average age of the voting public.

So when we currently see extreme political power in the hands of folks who are reading and watching tabloid entertainment, warning us about UFOs, grand conspiracies to sneak terrorists across the Mexican border, etc. is that really due to echo chambers on the internet, the decline in revenue for news sources due to the Internet, etc. or is it largely or significantly an issue in the change of demographics?

For political stability, do we need to make more babies? Should we add an age cap to voting?

Or how about letting children vote? It’s been seriously proposed in the pages of the New York Times:

No, lower population growth is what the world needs. Ideally we would slowly but surely and safely reduce down to maybe a billion people and reduce the pressure on resources and nature.

A cap on voting seems unreasonable, but I would sooner be behind that than anything that encouraged more population growth.

I don’t see how this would make sense in the same land where the whole basis of laws against pedophilia rest on the legal assumption that children are too easily manipulated and under-knowledgeable in worldly matters to be able to be considered capable of any meaningful form of consent.

Saying, “Well, sure, that’s true but I’m still pretty sure that they have a reasonable opinion on foreign policy and macroeconomics.” Doesn’t past muster.

It’s just a form of vote manipulation that, likewise, takes advantage of kids.

Technically, with virtual environments, vertical farming, vat-grown produce, good systems of nutrient extraction from waste, etc. our dependency on nature could probably be reduced by an order of magnitude without changing the total population.

Maybe a tangent, but what I wonder is… are seniors more inclined to believe conspiracy theories and misinformation and fall for scams than in the past?

I think possibly yes. The world has become increasingly confusing and there are more ways to prey upon the elderly.

That depends to some extent on how distinctly we treat “able to consent to treatment by others” and “able to exercise substantive rights” as legal categories. For instance, a mentally disabled adult is allowed to vote (in certain states) even if he or she is considered legally incapable of consenting to sex.

There’s also the possibility that children are, in the aggregate average, more mature and rational than individually. This doesn’t change things for age of consent, because that’s always about an individual child, but voting is about the aggregate.

In general, I think the average person would think that it would make more sense to remove the vote from the mentally disabled - if we could figure out some way of doing so that didn’t risk political manipulation. I don’t want to be declared “mentally disabled” because I didn’t vote for Stalin or Trump or whatever other local strongman with a hand on the process.

If we already have a way to disenfranchise people that we’re pretty sure are mostly not capable of performing their duties, I don’t think you’re going to get much backing to removing it.

And I don’t know that you gain much by dealing with people who are afraid of little green men by adding in people who are afraid of the closet monster.

In my experience, there’s never a case where the right solution to craziness is to add more craziness. Solving overeating by doing juice cleanses doesn’t help. Stopping your sinful philandering by self-flagellation doesn’t help.

Sometimes, you just need to do the hard thing and do things right.

If I squint hard enough, I can see problems with an approach that amounts to “Your right to vote should depend on whether your demographic group votes the way I like.”

I think allowing children to vote with their parents as proxies just gives the parents more than the one vote everyone else gets. Luckily at age 18 they’ll only get one vote again and their children won’t vote at all unless it can be done remotely so old people aren’t looking at them.

You can always pass the law in such a way that it only takes affect without disenfranchising anyone who isn’t already disenfranchized. I.e. if the age limit is 65 then it has no impact for people who are currently 65 or older. Effectively, you’re saying, “I’m sufficiently confident in the wisdom of this policy that I’m willing to sacrifice myself and my future, without impact to any other.” Or, even more strictly, it only takes impact when people who are currently 17 or under turn 65.

No one can be said to be disenfranchising someone out of some nefarious intent.

Ok Boomer

Obviously a fertility rate much above 2.1 isn’t sustainable over the long term. And personally I favor a managed decline in world population.

Also, I think lowering the voting age to 16 would be prudent, since it would encourage political discussion in high school. Matt Yglasias apparently wants to go down to 13, but I wouldn’t go that far.

You pose a good question though. Possibly the elderly have different preferences than the middle aged and young adults. Political scientists have studied the issue, especially with regards to turnoout. But there’s an important confounding factor involving cohorts. We need to look at not only how 65 year olds voted over time, but also the effects of different birth years on the sanity of various generations. After all in the US people born from 1950 to 1980 had vastly higher pre-natal exposure to lead than those born today. Boomers and Gen X are simply crazier than millenials and Gen Z. Seriously. They’re brain damaged - totally out of their gord. Bananas. Nuts. A few cards short of a full deck. Mad as a March hare. Loony. Maniacal. Bats in the belfry. To use a few clinical terms - I don’t mean to offend. Then again, I can’t help it as I was exposed to lead like most of my peers. It’s not my fault!

I am also fully leaded.

Both suggestions (making more babies, disenfranchising based on age) are idiotic and would produce far more harm than good. “Not to offend anybody” my ass.

And any visit to Redpill Reddit would tell them there’s a load of young Zoomers out there ready to pick up the mantle with their own tier of conspiracies and scams.

Obviously, bringing population down to a sustainable level and developing more efficient technologies will repair environmental damage faster than either alone.

More fundamentally, there’s no particular reason to expect a shift in demographics to counteract the problems of disinformation, flawed reasoning, and just plain stupidity. Those have to be addressed directly.

So…R&D in transhumanism, eugenics, what exactly are you proposing?


In addition to transhumanism of course.

It makes me sad to see that in many places in Europe the youth is turning more far right than the old ones. And that, the uneducated MAGA-nuts that Trump loves so much nonwithstanding, there are more and more educated people that lean heavily far-right. Neither youth nor education are leaning the way of progress in their progression anymore. I fear a disaster in the European Parliament elections this week end. Not necessarily in absolute voting numbers and MEPs composition by party group in the end result, but in the age groups that vote more heavily for the far right and what that heralds for the future.