Friday, May 8, 2015

What I call political science

Did a post where I suggested that wealthy people might prefer to loan the government money through bonds than simply lose that money through taxes, because then they can get it back, which can lead them to push for more government debt, which I see as a hypothesis in political science.

And to me science is about a predictive framework, so it's interesting to talk about political science as the art of prediction in politics, which to me is a functional basis.

That is, I suggest to you that "science" is meaningless without predictive value, so political science is the art of prediction in politics, with the certainty that science brings.

If things I suggest in this post make sense to you, then you can be in this context a scientist, and I like that maybe politics offers a way for more people to experience the joy of science in a way relevant to themselves, and also meaningful to their society.

And first of all, a hypothesis does not mean necessarily true in science. Which gives me leeway to explore the hypothesis that wealthy people deliberately push national debts on the world to avoid taxes, without saying that must be the case.

Its value in a potential scientific theory is predictive, if it has value: What can we predict with such a hypothesis?

Well, we might expect government debt to be intractable, and rise regardless of economic reality. We also might expect to see behaviors that would increase the debt, like wars. And we might expect to see wealthy people flooding into politics to protect this system from being dismantled.

Notice, no mention of political parties or ideology. No need to worry about Republican or Democrat, or liberal or conservative.

That ability of science to simplify, or reduce a problem to simpler parts is something called reductionism. And for some people that might be something they hate about science which seems to suck the life out of things, reducing them to cold, hard, and maybe even, inhuman consideration.

One interesting thing I think that follows from this line of inquiry is the possibility that there is a maximum for tax outlay from wealthy members of a society with a balanced government budget. Then their monetary support of government would be completely by taxes alone, with no money that can be returned to them directly, as is possible with bonds.

That is a statement about a mathematical curve. Of course running a surplus might mean higher taxes for the wealthy in the short term, but not sustained indefinitely.

Government bonds are like money with a string attached, allowing payment for government services, and later yanking back the money which paid for them, even if the citizen benefited as well. While taxes do not have that return possibility.

The next thing that science allows is testing.

That is, in a true political science as I see it, which is a functional reality, you can test a hypothesis, in order to see if it's true. And there are multiple ways to test the hypothesis that wealthy people, for instance, actually get into politics primarily to keep their taxes low, by running up government debts, which in essence is like tying a string to their money, to yank it back, versus simply losing it, as they might see it, in taxes.

So what about people who claim to be political scientists, or political pundits or commentators, why would they maybe not call out such a system?

Well presumably wealthy people would be smart enough quite simply to pay them off in various ways.

And we could check that hypothesis as well, looking for monetary transfers of various types in order to preserve the hypothetical system.

And yet, this entire political science hypothesis, could all collapse if reality revealed, none of the above, or too low a level to consider the hypothesis to be correct.

So then, isn't science fun?

I love it.

The point of science isn't to win an argument. It's not to convince people of one thing or the other. The point of science is to get predictive certainty.

Like flipping a light switch.

James Harris
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