Corner of Berkshire & Fairfax Message Board

General Category => Politics => Topic started by: LC on December 11, 2018, 11:34:38 PM

Title: Age limit to run for office
Post by: LC on December 11, 2018, 11:34:38 PM
So here in the US we have some age minimums when running for public office. But I was reading about the Google CEO congressional hearing and thought, maybe there should be age maximums?

The short version is that the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, testified in front of the House Judiciary Committee today, answering questions on a number of topics -- but mostly related to perceived bias in terms of how Google returned results. The reason why it's getting picked up by so many people is because it was all faintly ridiculous; the questions asked were largely based on partisanship and conspiracy theories with little actual content, and people are now picking that apart.

The most prominent line of questioning circled around the idea that Google might somehow be deliberately spreading anti-conservative information freely while deliberately obfuscating negative press for the Democrats. (They aren't.) Lamar Smith referenced a claim from conservative-leaning PJ Media that 96% of searches for Trump pointed to left-wing sources. (Then again, this is the same Lamar Smith who doesn't consider the journal Science to be objective, so read into that what you will.) When he was told that there were plenty of checks via which Google made sure that no individual could subvert the search results, Smith responded -- without a shred of evidence -- 'I disagree... I think humans can manipulate the process.'

And on and on it went. From Steve King asking why his 7 year old granddaughter was getting negative news as an alert on her iPhone to Louis Gohmert asking why Google wouldn't let his staffers edit his own Wikipedia page to Steve Chabot claiming that Google must be biased because he could only find negative reviews of the Republican 'Repeal and Replace' of Obamacare to Pichai having to explain why searches for 'idiot' brought up so many pictures of Donald Trump, the real takeaway from all of this is that the very people who are supposed to be in charge of making laws about this technology don't understand even the most basic elements of it. (The average age of the House Judiciary Committee at the moment is a little north of 58 years; at times like these, as with the Zuckerberg Facebook hearings, it really starts to show.)

(In the interests of fairness, Republicans weren't the only ones asking stupid questions; Steve Cohen said it was obviously anti-Democratic bias when his interviews for MSNBC were linked lower than Breitbart articles, but he got the same response that the others did -- namely that Google doesn't have a little man personally sorting through search queries.)

Finally, the very purpose of the hearing was called into question by several Democrats, including Jerry Nadler (the ranking minority member) who basically said it was entirely without merit and the result of right-wing conspiracy theories that don't have any evidence behind them. As Ted Lieu put it:

If you want positive search results, do positive things. If you don't want negative search results, don't do negative things. And to my colleagues, if you're getting bad results, don't blame Google or Twitter, consider blaming yourself.

(This line has been quoted as a major mic-drop moment in a long and quite dry judiciary hearing, but the reason it's being shared so often probably has to do at least in part to the fact that the Monopoly Guy from the Equifax hearing appeared there again, which has made it a very popular screengrab.)

As for why it's been picked up so much, there are a couple of reasons. Firstly, it's objectively pretty funny to watch the CEO of a company try to explain how Google works to a bunch of people -- on both sides of the aisle -- who pretty obviously have no idea how to program a VCR, let alone what a search algorithm is. Secondly (and, annoyingly, it seems less prominently), there's the issue that Pichai was there to answer legitimate questions about Google's business practices: the way they harvest data, their security principles, the pro-Chinese government version of the site they refuse to rule out launching, et cetera. These are big questions that deserve answers, but instead we got four hours of poorly thought-out questions informed by, as Nadler put it, 'right-wing conspiracy theories'.

Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: DTEJD1997 on December 12, 2018, 12:43:09 AM
I don't think questioning Google is not at all unreasonable.

Look at what has been going on "behind the scenes" over there.  The fact that they were working with the Obama campaign, that they fired the dude who questioned their "tolerance and inclusion" policy, and on & on.

No matter all that though, there is most definitely a problem with politicians & age.  Look at poor RBG, look at Nancy Pelosi.  A few weeks ago, Nancy Pelosi went on a tirade against George Bush.  His lack of judgement, inability to work with opposition & such.  This went on for like 10 minutes.  Some member of the press finally questioned why she was going on about FORMER president Bush, as Trump is the current President.  This has not been ms. Pelosi's only gaffe, there are many, many others.

Look at all of Hillary's health problems.

These examples are certainly not the only ones.

I would argue the most damaging thing of all is the "secret pharmacy" that is supplying Congress with Alzheimer's medicine:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/science/2017/10/11/congressional-pharmacy-has-reportedly-delivered-alzheimer-drugs-members-congress/4K2HsLB7YqLXIFDFzyHQxM/story.html

So yeah, there is most definitely a problem with politician's age.
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: Spekulatius on December 12, 2018, 04:21:12 AM
Not to forget Trump who is 72. I am not sure an age limit is a good idea and what it should be like. The fact is that people do get older in good health nowadays. But then again, we donít want  to have our government look like a retirement home either.
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: Jurgis on December 12, 2018, 08:39:49 AM
There are old people who understand technology well. John Malone. Possibly Barry Diller.

I think the issue may not be (just the) age, but rather congresspeople and senators just not knowing technology in general.

OTOH, it is possible to cut them some slack and argue that they cannot know every single industry in depth. E.g. do they also have to know all details of pharmacology or fracking or logistics? It would be great if we had Musk Neuralink that would provide/synthesize all knowledge on every topic for every (congress)person when needed. But that's not available yet.
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: LC on December 12, 2018, 08:48:49 AM
The big issue is this:

Secondly (and, annoyingly, it seems less prominently), there's the issue that Pichai was there to answer legitimate questions about Google's business practices: the way they harvest data, their security principles, the pro-Chinese government version of the site they refuse to rule out launching, et cetera. These are big questions that deserve answers, but instead we got four hours of poorly thought-out questions informed by, as Nadler put it, 'right-wing conspiracy theories'.


Lack of thought is the problem.

I don't think it's a lack of industry-specific knowledge, nor is that a valid excuse. I don't know jack about the healthcare industry but I can certainly understand the problems and concerns of balancing healthcare and profits.
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: Gregmal on December 12, 2018, 08:49:12 AM
There are old people who understand technology well. John Malone. Possibly Barry Diller.

I think the issue may not be (just the) age, but rather congresspeople and senators just not knowing technology in general.

OTOH, it is possible to cut them some slack and argue that they cannot know every single industry in depth. E.g. do they also have to know all details of pharmacology or fracking or logistics? It would be great if we had Musk Neuralink that would provide/synthesize all knowledge on every topic for every (congress)person when needed. But that's not available yet.

I don't see why we shouldn't expect our politicians to be qualified, and within that context, have relevant knowledge and experience dealing with those things. For one, it would certainly cut down on the glut of dynasty/career politicians who go to preppy schools their entire lives, being groomed for office, rather than having to go out and earn a real living first. When you think of the fact that Dubya couldn't even hold an entry level job in the oil patch, that should have been all we needed to see he wasn't going to be a great president...
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: Cardboard on December 12, 2018, 09:06:13 AM
Yeah but, if they do real work like Mr. Trump, they will be accused of business dealings and the like.

So much preferable to have people having never accomplished anything of significance, young, well spoken and with new ideas such as Ocasio-Cortez and Booker.

Cardboard
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: Cigarbutt on December 12, 2018, 10:06:22 AM
A few years ago, my dad (age 92) suffered a major stroke and lost consciousness. We were summoned to the hospital in order to discuss the options. The young MD (who undoubtedly had significant mental capacity) shared the key inputs and mentioned, among others, the presence of brain atrophy noted on the scan. I then silently thought that my father, to whom I was still turning to for (important) advice, even if he had lost some speed in his ability to count backwards, could have tought this physician a thing or two about empathy and humanity.

This thread strikes a cord as I have been involved in the evaluation of these processes. This may be an issue of capacity versus competence.
As one grows older, cognitive decline can be supplemented or even compensated by some aspects of thinking that seem to improve with age. A component of this phenomenon may be related to the ability to recognize the limits of knowledge per se.

At some point though, the ability to recognize the growing limits related to these ďhigherĒ levels of thinking may be when one is likely to get into trouble.

The evolution of both curves (basic cognitive ability and higher levels of thinking) is highly variable among individuals and may not be closely correlated. Iíve met or heard of people who maintained high levels in both curves way into advanced old age.

I would say the best way to deal with this (politicians or else) is to have an automatic peer-reviewed process in place (I guess thatís one of the reasons we have regular elections) that does not focus on chronological age but whose graduated evaluation steps may be triggered when reaching certain chronological age thresholds are met.

As far as the ability for independent thinking (for a politician, a judge or whatever {or an investor}), there seem to be two components to the appraisal process:
-cognitive ability to evaluate the soundness of evidence and reasoning process from experts
-ability to judge people

This seems to be what differentiates us from animals and it seems that the distinction may be variable.
Also, when judging people for old age or else, probably best to leave prejudices at the door.
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: LC on December 12, 2018, 10:12:39 AM
Quote
As one grows older, cognitive decline can be supplemented or even compensated by some aspects of thinking that seem to improve with age. A component of this phenomenon may be related to the ability to recognize the limits of knowledge per se.

And this is when your role should transition towards being an adviser.

Quote
I would say the best way to deal with this (politicians or else) is to have an automatic peer-reviewed process in place (I guess thatís one of the reasons we have regular elections) that does not focus on chronological age but whose graduated evaluation steps may be triggered when reaching certain chronological age thresholds are met.
And yet we are content to have age minimums. Let's treat both sides equally.

Additionally, there is definitely an aspect of "inertia" in the voting process.
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: Cigarbutt on December 12, 2018, 10:21:08 AM
^Good points.
Have to combine a normative process with a personalized end point.
If you apply a process that is too rigid, you may force somebody like Mr. Buffett into retirement way too early.
I saw not long ago an exponential-type graph showing that most of Mr. Buffett's wealth was accumulated in the later years.
If possible, you want to keep that compounding window open as long as reasonable. :)
https://www.valuewalk.com/2016/01/warren-buffetts-net-worth-over-the-years/
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: LC on December 12, 2018, 10:48:28 AM
This is true, and I gave it some thought when I posted this topic. I don't like the comparison to Buffett and here's why:

-We are not talking about compounding a bank account here. I believe it was Tweedy or Fidelity who reported that it's best performing accounts were the ones whose owners had (1) forgot the account existed, or (2) died. Sitting back and doing nothing is a decent strategy for compounding money, but less so for solving an opiod crisis, for example.

-Buffett is, well, rare. If we had 100 people of his character in the Senate, this topic would not come up.

-Compounding knowledge is one thing, and it relates to the adviser point. But there is a real reason that Buffett hires young people. Greg Abel started at Berkshire at 30, and Jain in his 30s. Ted is 56 but Todd is still in his 40s.

And those guys are in the investment field, which is perhaps the "stodgiest" job of all.
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: Cigarbutt on December 12, 2018, 11:04:10 AM
^Fair enough.
What age limit would you put for politicians?
If you say 72, I will suspect bias here. :)
Would you also put an age limit for members of BOD or the Supreme Court?
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: MarkS on December 12, 2018, 12:10:38 PM
If you feel someone is too old to hold office, don't vote for them.  I would like the ability to decide the question for myself on a case by case basis.
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: LC on December 12, 2018, 12:36:44 PM
Iíd put the limit at 60!

If you feel someone is too old to hold office, don't vote for them.  I would like the ability to decide the question for myself on a case by case basis.
Yet 19 year-olds canít even run for office.
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: rkbabang on December 12, 2018, 12:56:57 PM
I wouldn't want to limit the max age, because I'd like to eliminate pay, pensions, and benefits for legislators which would mean mainly wealthy or retired people would run.   It would be more useful to limit terms in office to some small number, (1 term for Senate, 3 terms for house).
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: Gregmal on December 12, 2018, 01:25:00 PM
Let's face it, the friendly 50 something year old that pumps gas(or works at the convenience store for those of you not in NJ) is likely a nicer and more honest person than 95% of politicians. Yet there is no way he ever gets in. Sans the occasional headline case, like Cortex Ocasio, politics is largely a well insulated good ole boys club for the wealthy and well connected. Most are not accomplished, just groomed. Age is irrelevant. Scrap all the massive benefits and limit terms.
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: rkbabang on December 12, 2018, 01:48:06 PM
Age is irrelevant. Scrap all the massive benefits and limit terms.

Amen!
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: Spekulatius on December 12, 2018, 03:33:42 PM
Age is irrelevant. Scrap all the massive benefits and limit terms.

Amen!

My concern is partly with representation. I believe the politicians should represent the populace (roughly) and it feels like younger generations as well as woman and possibly other groups are not well represented. Itís easier to represent a group that you belong too, rather than a populace that you canít relate too or no little about. Nothing wrong with career politicians, IMO. I think you need a mix of experience and young blood
Title: Re: Age limit to run for office
Post by: rukawa on December 13, 2018, 01:22:28 PM
There are old people who understand technology well. John Malone. Possibly Barry Diller.

I think the issue may not be (just the) age, but rather congresspeople and senators just not knowing technology in general.

OTOH, it is possible to cut them some slack and argue that they cannot know every single industry in depth. E.g. do they also have to know all details of pharmacology or fracking or logistics? It would be great if we had Musk Neuralink that would provide/synthesize all knowledge on every topic for every (congress)person when needed. But that's not available yet.

Then how can they write intelligent regulations that govern these industries?