Thursday, September 2, 2010

Garbage In, Ballot Out

Next election, I'm not voting. Period. Now, I'm sure that some well polished liar will manage to convince me to get off my behind and get to a voting booth. Or more likely, my wife will guilt me into doing my "citizen's duty." But I can tell you, if I had an opportunity to not vote right now, I would take it.

Now, there are many reasons not to vote. Your vote doesn't count. No, really! It really doesn't count! Do the math. When was the last time an election of any importance was decided by 1 person? Even by 100 people? You probably don't know enough to make an informed decision. How many of you know anything about the major economic, political and military issues? How many of you even know what the current state of affairs is? Enough that you could make a good informed decision? If you think you do go and look at the size of the United States Code. This is the status quo. The possibilities are a trillion times larger. Still think you know enough to make an informed decision? I didn't think so.

Those are not my reasons. My reason is that voting simply doesn't matter. That's right, it plain doesn't matter. I voted for Sarkozy in France and campaigned for Obama in the US. Why? Because I listened to what they said they would do and I thought it was marginally better than the plan the other side was offering. The problem? What they said has nothing to do with what they did. Nothing at all. It's not even close to being an accurate predictor of what they did. It's not that I wish I had voted for Segolene Royal or campaigned for McCain. Their statements were probably not any more accurate predictors of what they would have done. But really, until after it was too late to make a decision (after the election) there was no way to know what the winner would do. And there is just plain no way to ever know what the loser would have done.

There is a saying in computer science which describes this situation: Garbage In, Garbage Out. What it means is that if you feed a computer bad data, it will spit out more bad data. Sure, sometimes by pure chance, the output will be correct, but you can't rely on it. This is what the voting process is. We receive data, and then we output a vote. The data we are fed is garbage. Therefore, so is our vote. I for one will opt out of garbage next time.