Human psychology and microeconomics can get pretty close to convergence. It happens when you take up the concept of Maslov’s Triangle.
Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is a motivational theory in psychology comprising a five-tier model of human needs, often depicted as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.
Needs lower down in the hierarchy must be satisfied before individuals can attend to needs higher up. From the bottom of the hierarchy upwards, the needs are: physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization.
You survive, you find pleasure, and then, if you ever get around to it, the quest begins for meaning. But how then do you know that you’ve leveled up. Sure, the bosses get tougher, but it shouldn’t just be Epic of Gilgamesh stuff. The world shouldn’t just stay grim and dreary, like a rainy November morning, until your climactic battle with Tiamat. There should be mileposts along the way like a great Roman Road of antiquity. Here, when structured properly, Microeconomics enters the scene with a concept of utility. It’s a scorecard tabulating how many pins you’ve knocked over en route to bowling that 300. The more the strikes and the fewer the gutterballs, the higher the utility score as you knock in the crampons and boldly scale Maslov’s Futhermucker of a Pyramid.
If whatever “it” is works correctly, the discussion ends. You’re good enough to make the climb or you get tired and stop at your predisposed level of the hierarchy. So what then happens if your preordained level isn’t that far above the grit and grime of street level reality? Let’s assume you wanted to be one of The Coffee Achievers and some sly bastard slipped you decaf instead. At that point frustration sets in hard. Justice stops feeling just if it implies you getting what you really deserve in life.
Then, once fairness and justice turn to despair and vengefulness in your heart, Democracy has an awesome cheat hack for all that is wrong. If you are tired of being an outcast, just change the boundaries until you make it into the smart set. Even if you aren’t very smart, democracy allows you to redefine smart until it includes you. In some people’s cases that isn’t very smart, but then again, Amerika did re-elect both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The Amerikan Nation hasn’t been exactly qualifying in high numbers for Mensa Conventions the last 20 years.
Defenders of Democracy and its grinding, bureaucratic process will say this is just happenstance. Marcus Aurelius is out there just waiting to pop in someone’s primary. The Wisdom of Crowds will yea, verily see us safely through. But I don’t think we’re witnessing happenstance. We see instead the predictable result of the system brought to perfidious life by the process that is our Democracy. We all want to be included, we all want to be accepted, and we all want the big pay-off we get promised for being good and dutiful citizens.
We can want those things all day, but whether we get them is remorselessly adjudicated based upon whether we qualify as acceptable. So let’s say an average Joe gazes into an evil magic mirror that not only shows him the truth but remorselessly mocks him while it makes the unpleasant unavoidably evident. “Joe.” It gleefully explains. “You are the stupidest, most genetically defective (Piece of PWT, Knee-Grow, Ghengis Crap, or Beaner Turd-Skin) I’ve ever had the evil pleasure of revealing a hateful innermost self to. You would make awesome compost, Bro.”
So what is Joe’s logical next step? Make himself acceptable by voting someone in charge who’s even more dorked-up. When your elected leadership is busily knocking up it’s campaign staff and then driving it off the bridge to get rid of the consequent little bastard-to-be, then maybe Joe isn’t such a bad guy in comparison. Who cares if Joe likes to blow an occasional spliff and rub a few out to some kiddie porn? Just take a look at that guy in charge. Are you really of the opinion that Joe is exceptionally awful in comparison to Good, Old Mayor Buttplug? If only Vlad The Impaler would back off of that Capital Punishment stance… Elect somebody truly worthless enough, and you and I can both look like brilliant particle physicists in comparison.
I’m of the suspicion that this has been happening in Amerikan Elections at least since Huey Long figured out how to sell the virtues of dumbing our foremost leadership down. “Every man a king, but noone wears a crown” could go down as the most evil words ever said in Modernity. If they all put their pants on the same way, who’s going to get bent out of shape over an occasional racing stripe in the underwear?
If you really suck as a human being, and everyone hates you like they should, Democracy gives you an avenue for revenge. Just elect that kid that used to kill small animals and stick pencils in his nose. Then you can watch the fun commence when people are victimized by the predictably the terrible decisions he makes when in charge. If you really hate the life you live, Democracy gives you the chance to !BUTTPLUG AMERIKA! And that is why I believe the quality of our societies political leadership has been so awful for the last five or so decades. Here’s where I would like to see contemporary Amerikan Democracy one day…