2 responses to “Put young voters behind the wheel?

  1. Considering this post, you might be interested in this article:


  2. In view of Prof. Putnam’s findings on diversity, we must accelerate the handover to the younger generation. This follows from an analysis of the dynamics of social capital formation as impacted by differential rates of diversity- I believe diversity may actually function as a proxy for perceived uncertainty, perceived powerlessness- overcoming which is the essence of Youth.
    Pending the publication of further research by Putnam et al, I speculate that social capital dynamics under diversity are a function of
    1) the perceived likelihood of negative exogenous shocks- economic or otherwise. Presumably, a sauve qui peut attitude would be the more natural reaction in less homogenous mileus with both individuals and marginal communities voting with their feet as I believe has happened recently in Emporia (?) where the local Somali community decided to leave en bloc after the closing of the big meat packing plant. More generally, gold rush towns are diverse- indeed increasing diversity drives fungibility, drives asset prices- but quickly become ghost towns for that very reason. But, this suggests the idea that Putnam’s result may reflect the perceived increased vulnerability to exogenous shocks in a globalised market since the Thatcher/Reagan years rather than the failure of multi-culturalism per se.
    In other words, diverse neighborhoods, or employers with high diversity, etc. tend – under conditions of radical uncertainty- to act like Schelling focal points for gold rush camps- i.e. places you can quickly move in to without having to put down roots- and places you can quickly move out of again by selling to the next bunch off the boat.
    Obviously, perceptions of instability by corporate citizens drive the process more directly and, perhaps, explain the end of the Fordist social engineering- i.e. life-style indoctrination of the work-force- that underpinned the ‘Happy Days’ social fabric of yesteryear.
    2) lowered probability of, or pre-emption of the fruits of, positive endogenous or exogenous shocks- i.e. ‘we’ve struck oil under Springfield Primary!”- let’s set up committees to decide how to spend the money! “Why bother? Mr. Burns will have siphoned it all away by now”. In other words the association between diversity and low social capital formation may reflect what has happened to the Kuznets curve (income distribution getting worse rather than better) as a result of those greedy Wall Street guys- Gordon Gekko etc. etc. In other words, whereas diverse ‘gold-rush’ communities would have a strong incentive to associate if they get to keep a portion of the wind-fall, the reverse is the case when it comes to standing up to the robber barons.
    3) decline of potlatch expenditure as a social solvent because of deindustrialisation leading to higher prices for property, services and non-tradable goods thus lowering the sacrificial value of the goods consumed in the potlatch. Speculative demand in the property market might also have a hand in creating negative equity ghettos whose natural leaders have fled. Corporate and Municipal potlatch too decline because of the watchful eye of share-holders and tax payers and so on.
    4) intenser preference revelation problem under conditions of diversity- “no, I won’t contribute to building a skating rink. Hello! I’m Hindu, what I look like- frigging Eskimo?”- making local provision of public goods too costly to administer. Also, changes in diversity- its composition rather than absolute level – probably changes the whole matrix of external costs and benefits in an unanticipated way thus rendering civic association for the provision of public goods, or the internalisation of externalities, into a losing battle. If high diversity is associated with rapid demographic turnover- as I believe is the case- then associativity is going to be reactive, more a pooling of frustration, a gathering up of grievances, rather than anything rewarding in its own right.
    5) institutionalised conflict (stasis) – gang turf wars, Public sector paralysis , the ‘doughnut effect’etc. Here, if diversity functions as a fracture of the information set- a perceived obstacle to rational expections- then everything turns pathological pretty quickly.

    Each of the factors mentioned above can be mitigated if youth takes a vanguard role in promoting association across barriers. However, rational youth would only do so if they perceived a restored Kuznets curve, otherwise they have to graft as hard as they can so as to cash out of the Knowledge economy before it throws them upon the scrapheap of the McJob.

    Thus, the problem remains- indeed, it returns with a new virulence.

    Thinking about it, I guess au fond diversity is uncertainty. It sets up multiple signal extraction problems at every cross-roads. Damn! I’ve just argued myself into saying diversity is bad coz ceteris paribus more uncertainty means lower economic activity- right?

    Wrong. Under a plausible risk-aversion, more uncertainty means nothing but economic activity, ceaseless economic activity, economic activity seeking more and more outlets, till finally it finds ways to fulfill Coase’s theorem- i.e. make up for missing markets by creating new forms of non-associative associativity- & thus, fex Urbis lex Orbis, new Golgothas and new Gods.

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