Why Do We Walk So Far For Ice Cream?

The Median Voter Theorem-- an idea based on Harold Hoteling's theory of spatial competition, which Anthony Downs linked to the U.S. two party political system-- makes perfect logical sense; both ice cream trucks (or political parties) should move toward the middle of the block to capture the median voter (while still being the closest and most appetizing option for the extreme voters as well) and thus the two parties should move closer and closer together (while still remaining discernible) but for various reasons that Tyler Cowen outlines in his new book, reasons such as lobbyists, stasis, financiers, entrenched budgets, complacent participation in democracy and elections, the lack of meaning behind most policy, entrenched budgets and discretionary spending, and a bunch of other shit, this rational model doesn't apply any longer . . . and this is really really strange and means that the polarized political world that we now live in is much weirder than you might imagine . . . so watch the video, and then come up with your own theory on why we're completely insane and willing to walk a really long way for ice cream, and if you really want to be depressed (and intrigued) by stasis and stagnation, and the possibility of an apocalyptic reset that will not only drain the swamp, weed the garden, and possibly set fire to the wicked, read Tyler Cowen's fantastic, precise and intelligent book The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream, and if you're looking for something more metaphorical, literary, and Southern Gothic, then check out the podcast S-Town . . . but be careful about digesting them in combination, as you'll be in for an ugly ride.


zman said...

I did not watch the video but it appears to assume a normal distribution of voters. What if the distribution is bimodal? Then it would make sense for two ice cream trucks to be far apart.

Dave said...

if by bimodal you mean batshit crazy, with no middle ground or bell curve of moderate political beliefs, then you may be onto something. you should write a paper (or make an animated youtube video).

zman said...

I think there is a middle ground but it isn't highly populated. Or perhaps there are two populations (rural/urban; rich/poor; educated/uneducated) and both have normal distributions. Either way I think we have at least two peaks to the political curve. Sort of a dumbbell distribution, if you want to be punny.

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