Thursday, October 26, 2006

Oh, how I hate that vending machine…

There is this vending machine in the place I live. It is filled with all sorts of interesting items. Some of them don’t look so good to me; organic tofu, extra wheaty fiber cakes, and a wide assortment of nuts and fruitcakes. But other items look quite tasty, and I often long to purchase one of them.

But every time I make a selection, instead of getting the item I want, I get one of two items sitting near the top of the machine. They both look putrid to me. They have no wrappers; they are bland, stale, and displeasing to the eye. I can’t tell the difference between either one of them, but they both drop to the selection tray in the same way a cow pie falls from the heifer.

I don’t know how anybody can stomach either one of these two choices, but they are quite popular. Almost without exception, everybody who inserts coins into the machine ends up with one or the other of these items. Some people actually select these two items, but many try in vain to choose another option.

I’ve been visiting this vending machine for 16 years, and never once have received the selection of my choice.

Why do I keep using this machine? Why don’t I demand its repair?

The problem is that the folks who benefit from selling these two products are the ones who maintain the vending machine. Why would they want to fix a machine that forces me to select one of their products? It’s a great situation for them. And they don’t much care that I get the shaft every time I attempt to make a purchase.

I’m speaking metaphorically, of course, about our wonderful voting system here in America. For 16 years I’ve been voting for third parties. I think many of them have some excellent points; points that aren’t being heard. I think the two parties are old, stale, and need to be routed. But my vote doesn’t matter. It never matters. A third party could get 49 percent of the votes, but if 51 percent vote for one of the evil two, then all of those folks are denied a voice.

It’s time to put the ‘representative’ back into representative democracy.

How to do that?

I don’t know.


RobisonWells said...

They're not "denied a voice", they just don't win.

I agree, though. While i generally don't vote for third party candidates, I hate the fact that I have to prioritize which one issue is the most important and then vote for whatever candidate agrees: if I were to decide that supporting the Iraq War was my Number One concern, then I'd also have to swallow the rest of the Republican kool-aid, whether or not I like it. I wish we could vote on issues instead of candidates.

I kinda like the parliamentary system: instead of voting for candidates, you vote for parties. Then, if 10% of the votes went to Party X, then 10% of the seats in parliament would go to Party X.

Matthew Buckley said...

But by not winning, they don't get a voice. And I meant to put that in my post, about the parliamentary voting system, which still isn't perfect, but does a much better job of giving people a voice in elections.

RobisonWells said...

It depends on how you're defining voice, I guess. In an election, you voice your support for a candidate, and your voice is heard when they tally the votes. (I assume you're talking about having no voice once the politician is elected.)

A representative government used to be a necessity, because the population was neither informed enough to make individual legislative decisions, nor were the logistics in place to have the populace vote on every issue. Now, however, when we have the most educated country on earth, PLUS a tremendous communication system, I wonder if specific issues would be better transferred back to individual voters: maybe there's an "election day" once a week, and you can simply get online to vote. I think it sounds awesome.

Matthew Buckley said...

Exactly. That sounds to me a lot like Digg... :)

Silver Streak said...

Ask yourself if simply making a few trips to the locations of your vending machines to resupply and pick up the profits each week is something you can do. A small store such as a family owned business or novelty shop usually has at least one vending machine offering candy to its customers or some other item that corresponds with the theme of the store.
More vending machine information