Michael Eriksson
A Swede in Germany
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Insights to have before voting


This page began as a portion of [1]. During writing, it grew to be almost as large as the rest of the page, and I decided to spin it off.

However, the page should still be read in the context of and in conjuncture with [1]. (Partly, because the topics are very close; partly, because I have, for now, not attempted to clean up various internal references—note e.g. the first paragraph.)

The page might or might not be expanded over time, as there are other insights worthy of inclusion that I have left out—in part, because I did not want to over-burden [1] during the original writing.

A natural approach is to give some insights that someone should have before voting. This, however, is not easy to do without suggesting limits beyond those that follow from the core topic (of [1]). For instance, I could argue that someone who votes for any Leftist party/candidate automatically shows a great lack of insight into topics like economics, economic history, history of the 20th century, etc., and might, then, be unsuitable as a voter based on that alone. However, the correctness of this claim could change over time and geography, does not consider the many non-Leftist voters that have a similar level of ignorance, ignores that some might have an adequate level of insight but be sufficiently ideologically motivated to still vote Left, etc. A particular danger is that advice ultimately turns into “You should only vote if you vote like I would!”—but the topic is when to vote, not how to vote.


Elsewhere, I argue for a zero-tolerance against the Left that does include a claim that we should never, ever vote for the Left.

That page, however, is based on a wider net of assumptions, observations, and values/priorities that go well beyond the current, including observations in the family that many Leftists do take an attitude that “You should only vote if you vote like I would!”. (That specific example is not currently given, however.)

For examples of values/priorities, consider the right of the individual to self-determination and the right to free speech. Both are at risk under Leftist regimes, but are ultimately something that not everyone considers important and that is only weakly tied to the idea of being-sufficiently-well-informed-to-vote. They are, then, sufficient reason for me to urge against voting for the Left in contexts like how-to-vote and the problems with the Left, but not enough for me to urge against voting in the context of the current page.

However, some tie to values and priorities is hard to avoid. For instance, many of the Leftists that I have encountered in Sweden seem to live by the idea that it does not matter how much we have—only that everyone has the same. It is pointless to argue with economic arguments against someone who prefers that everyone has a purchasing power of X per year, no more and no less, over that the members of the majority have 2X and those in the minority 10X. For instance, some environmental extremists seem to be perfectly willing to see humanity return to the stone age (literally, with the reasoning that a much smaller and non-tech human population would have a much smaller effect on the environment, the climate, and the whatnot). For instance, some in various Communist, WEF, whatnot, groupings seem set on abolishing private property. Such extremists are usually beyond reason in the first place, however.

Changes are generally a problem when giving advice. Here, we have to consider issues like changing circumstances, appearance of new information, and changes to the scientific consensus over time. (It is certainly possible for a truly informed opinion from one year to have been proved wrong a few years later—even, with changing circumstances, for an objectively correct opinion at time X to be objectively wrong at time Y. A secondary point is that it is not enough to once have been well informed when deciding whether to vote—it is the now that counts and whether someone today is well informed.)

Then we have issues like “the devil in details”, individual exceptions to rules of thumb, etc., and the complication that many important insights are a poor fit for the context (e.g. the need for freedom of speech/opinion/research/whatnot in science).

That said, some observations that hold with reasonable generality, have done so for a long time, show no sign of changing, and that can be of considerable importance:

  1. Elected politicians are usually far from the competence/intelligence/education/experience/whatnot level that the respective job would require. In fact, they often show horrifying deficits to those who are better informed and/or sharper thinkers. Even those few who truly are competent (etc.) by human standards almost invariably fall short, for the simple reason that the job, at least at higher levels, often is superhumanly hard to do right. (Corollary: A competent politician knows to interfere only when it is truly called for.)

    Particularly common meta-issues include an inability or refusal to consider side-effects, what might happen in the longer term, the quirks of human nature, the importance of incentives, that what is good for one group might be bad for another, and similar.

    Likewise, they also often show great failures through e.g. prioritizing being re-elected over making the best decisions for their country/whatnot, through catering to lobbyists and loud-but-small groups of fanatics, and similar.

  2. Government interference tends to do more harm than good or, barring that, fall short of what could be achieved by other means (notably, free-market solutions). This even beyond what is implied by the first item, because the problems at hand are often simply too complex to solve just by planning.

    In particular, many alleged market failures, issues with “greedy capitalists”, and similar, are actually caused by government sabotage of market mechanisms.

    In particular, “Big Government” has a long track-record of functioning poorly and being wasteful.

    In particular, it is a disastrous mistake to automatically jump from “we have a problem” to “and the government must solve the problem”.


    For strong and very layman accessible books on related topics, I recommend Henry Hazlitt, including his “Economics in one Lesson” and “The Conquest of Poverty”.

    (I recommend him even to the more advanced reader: I have, myself, taken college courses in Economics and read works by e.g. Hayek—and I still find my insights improved by reading Hazlitt, through his understanding, large coverage, and pedagogical style. On the downside, for that more advanced reader, most of his writings move on the “popular science” level, with a corresponding lack of depth and detail.)

  3. The government is not an endless source of money and what money it has is usually the tax-payer’s money. Even when not, it is ultimately the people that pays the bill, e.g. in that excessive money printing lowers the value of existing money and that money borrowed must, at some point, be repaid, while incurring interest payments in the now.

    Notably, if money did grow on trees, the value of money would still be limited by supply, and if bank notes grew as plentifully as maple leaves, they would also be worth about as much as those maple leaves.

  4. The taxes and quasi-taxes that we pay can go well beyond their apparent size. The situation varies from country to country, but to look at Germany and beyond regular/official income tax:

    VAT hits at 19 % for most products and services, with some “only” at 7 %. (And some very few exceptions that are VAT free, notably stamps and insurance—but insurance comes with a separate insurance tax.) The effective purchasing power of, say, a 100-Euro bill in a particular purchase is, then, often as low as 100/1.19 or approximately 84 Euro, with the rest of the nominal value going to the government—an additional, effective, tax of 16 % on the net remuneration received for work.


    Looking at the gross payment, the percentage is, of course, smaller.

    I do not attempt a calculation, as the result would vary too much with individual earnings, deductions, and whatnot to give a fix and easy number. This especially after taking the next paragraph into consideration, where similar issues of percentages apply, as well as matters of definition of what should be considered the true gross payment.

    Most employees are in mandatory government controlled pension and insurance schemes, that nominally take away in excess of 20 % percent of the overall income, on top of regular income tax. However, roughly the same amount is also payed by the employer, which cuts into the salary through preventing or severely reducing raises. (The exact values vary over time and with factors like income bracket and family situation—including the complete absurdity that those without children, who cause less costs, must pay more and those with children, who cause more costs, pay less.)

    Then there are a thousand and one smaller taxes and fees of various kinds, including yearly property taxes and a monthly, mandatory-regardless-of-viewing, fee to finance the “public” TV and radio networks (as of 2024, likely 18-or-so Euro).

    From another angle, we have complications like inflation, which is in many ways a tax in disguise, where the government (literally or metaphorically) prints money and the citizens pay the price through a loss of value in their existing money, existing salaries, and existing whatnot.

    The citizens are also often victims in other indirect manners, e.g. in that taxes paid by businesses hit the customers through higher prices. (Then we have issues like what taxes might do to lower growth, which, however, is more relevant for some other items.)

  5. Economics is not a zero sum game, and that the one has more does not automatically imply that other has less. Thus, it is better to focus on increasing the overall wealth rather than on artificially redistributing the current wealth—the more so, as the act of redistribution can decrease what is available next time around. (But note an above remark on extreme attitudes on “equality”.)

    Likewise, it is better to focus on how much we have in absolute terms, not relative others. (TODO expand on Swedish Leftist propaganda about “klyftor”, and similar, on a separate page.)

    In particular, it is a myth that growth only “makes the rich richer”, let alone “makes the poor poorer”.


    Overlapping, but less central, it is better to focus on social mobility than on flawed ideas like GINI. With great social mobility (and/or sufficient general wealth), GINI is a pointless measure for economic decisions. (But it might still have value in fields like econometrics.)

  6. Nuclear power is a far lesser evil (if evil, at all) than fossil fuels and should have been at the core of energy development for decades. As it has not, we must now apply a better-late-than-never policy.

    Note that Hiroshima required a great many individual errors in an outdated and insecure design, that Fukishima was caused by a natural disaster that, it self, did far more damage, and that the sum of all nuclear accidents throughout history have done less damage than fossil fuels do every year.

    Also note that the rabid anti-nuclear position of many alleged environmentalists has strongly contributed to keeping use of fossil fuels up far higher than otherwise would have been needed.

  7. TV and other fiction is not real and much of what is seen today appears to be deliberate reality distortions in order to further certain worldviews (and/or to cater to those with such worldviews), when reality fails to deliver the evidence of their existence, e.g. that men are abusive to their wives on a large scale, that this or that group (e.g. preppers) consists of dangerous crackpots, that anyone with money is an evil bastard, and similar.

    Fiction can be a great source of insight, but mostly through providing new perspectives, and great care must be taken not to fall into various stereotypes of fiction. This the more so when, as is the case with much of today’s TV, there are great signs of deliberate distortions in favor of a Leftist worldview relative the world-as-it-is from/in at least some sources.

  8. Much of the alleged information that we encounter outside fiction is equally flawed:

    Politicians are not only often incompetent (cf. above), but also often lie in order to gain or preserve popular support.

    Journalists are even more incompetent than politicians and are also often strongly ideologically biased.

    Ditto many social scientists, whose claims are often in direct contradiction to what “harder” sciences say. (Note e.g. takes on IQ in gender studies vs. psychometrics and neuroscience.)

    Activists are entirely untrustworthy, as many will do anything, including lie themselves blue, in order to achieve certain goals—on top of which most appear to be deeply stupid and/or ignorant.



    A particular problem is that some appear to have a highly perfidious and grossly intellectually dishonest approach: They come to the conclusion that something is “evil”, fear that others might come to a different conclusion, if allowed to make up their own minds, and decide to exaggerate, distort, or outright lie in order to ensure that everyone else reaches the “right” conclusion. Likewise, opposing voices are, if possible, censored or defamed, rather than met with factual arguments.

    If someone calls them out, they respond with vitriol and defamation. When critical thinkers see that they “cried wolf” when no wolf was present and treat their other claims with skepticism, the critical thinkers are condemned. Etc.

    This is the more problematic as the original conclusion of “evil” might well have been true or approximately true, in which case these idiots actually hurt a legitimate and beneficial cause in their dishonest attempts to help it.

  9. Our own characteristics matter in terms of e.g. success in life and we are not doomed to follow a path set by e.g. our parents’ SES, our own race, “structures”, or the “Patriarchy”. (With the added complication that there is more to success in life than e.g. a successful career, something often forgotten in such discussions.)

    In particular, different groups do have different average characteristics, and a difference in outcome is not proof of a difference in opportunity.


    While it is often true that some types of success, e.g. promotions in the office, is poorly connected to who is most suitable (most deserving, whatnot), the problems move on a different level, and includes aspects like “it’s not what you know, but whom you know”, being superficially “polished”, agreeing with higher ups (even when they are wrong), networking instead of working, etc.

  10. The “tabula rasa” and “nurture only” ideas of the human mind and development have been long disproved and discredited by/among real scientists. Making policy based on these ideas is at best futile, at worst (and more commonly) outright harmful.

    This applies particularly to matters relating to school and education, and (often overlapping) Leftist propaganda about “underprivileged” children. This includes the fallacy that increasing the proportion of graduates/degree-holders/whatnot on various levels would be an automatic good, even when bought at a cost of lower standards—the intelligent are not intelligent because they tendentially have more years of education, they tendentially have more years of education because they are intelligent.

  11. Education and schooling are not the same and school is a poor way of getting an education.

    In as far as school is the chosen means to an education, it is important to prioritize quality over quantity, to draw on the students own lust to learn (which is easily killed by poor approaches), and to understand that learning is something that happens inside the student—not something that can just be instilled by a teacher. (As a special case, the claim “there are no bad students—only bad teachers” is horrifyingly wrong.)

  12. Feminism, contrary to Feminist protestations, is not now, nor has it ever been, an equality movement—it is a movement focused on women’s rights, privileges, etc., with no true regard for any of the situation of men, fairness, and true equality.

    Often, similar claims extend to other “rights” movements, with the difference that these usually are more open about favoring some group in a one-sided manner. However, some try to give the impression of a more generic and less one-sided movement. This while a distortion in terms of goals and whatnots is par for the course; ditto claims about who is represented and with what justification. (For instance, many homosexuals do not agree with the opinions, methods, and whatnots of various “gay rights” activists.)


    For a certain movement, organization, or similar to favor some group in a one-sided manner is not necessarily wrong. For instance, there might be legitimate room for a small group to stand-up for it self in an organised manner, so that it is not neglected by majority-centric politicians. For instance, there might be groups (notably, Jews) that are again and again exposed to hate crimes. For instance, there might be groups that are genuinely oppressed. These, however, should be open about what they are and not pretend to be something else.

    Looking at Feminism and women: Women are a majority of the voting population. Hate crimes against women are rare (likely among the rarest there is; on the contrary, women often receive protection and services from men). Women are, in today’s Western world, extremely privileged. This while Feminists (a) stubbornly claim the opposite, (b) equally stubbornly try to project the misleading image that they would be pro-equality, as opposed to being one-sidedly pro-women.

  13. Efforts should be put in only when and where it brings a net benefit worth the effort. This includes environmental issues, where it is pointless to try to get Swedes to abstain from meat “because global warming” while the Chinese burn coal at an astonishing rate. Schools are another example, where issues like diminishing returns on money and hours spent are rarely considered, and where past increases has brought very little concrete benefits. (Note the difference between e.g. having a better educated people and having a people with more degrees.)