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by Peter Moskos

February 19, 2012

"Your stated interest is in being a cowboy"

Ta-Nehisi Coates has good thoughts on the New York Times piece by Binyamin Applebaum and Robert Gebeloff describing how people vote against the government programs they receive. This isn't necessarily against their own interests. As Coates says:
What I strongly suspect is the sort of shame you see in Mr. Falk's is neither crazy, nor ignorant, nor shocking, once you think about it. We all want to be cowboys. More, we sometimes want leaders who push toward that imagined self, as opposed to our statistical self.

As I have always said, this not a matter of voting "against your interest." Your stated interest is in being a cowboy. The way to engage that person is not to condescend to them and assume they just have less information than you. It's to try to get them to game out where cowboy logic leads.

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