Voting — Britain & elsewhere

The New Scientist (28th April 2010) carried a most timely article on dysfunctions in voting. Their example ran basically as follows. Assume that 15 people vote for the Liberal Democrats, Labor, and the Conservatives and they end up with 6 in favor of the Conservatives, 5 in favor of Labor, and 4 in favor of the Liberal Democrats, then under the current voting scheme the Conservatives win. Consider however if they ranked their choices as follows:

6: Conservative – Liberal Democrat – Labor

5: Labor – Liberal Democrat – Conservative

4: Liberal Democrat – Labor – Conservative

It is then apparent that 9 people preferred Labor to the Conservatives; and 10 people preferred the Liberal Democrats to Labor. In short, the “real” voting was Liberal Democrats first, Labor second, and the Conservatives last. In other words, the Conservatives would not have got in if rank order had been taken into account. Continue reading

This is part of the “Back Story” in the Newsweek Magazine of 24 & 31 May 2010:

WHAT SHOULD YOU REALLY BE AFRAID OF?

Using the most recent U.S. data available, (here is) a list of unsettling threats and their far riskier counterparts.

Murders (2008) – 14,180
Suicides (2006) – 33,289

Children abducted by strangers (1999) – 115
Children who drown in pools (2006) – 288

Burglaries (2007 – 2.2 million
Identity thefts (2005) – 8.3 million

Shark attacks (2009) – 28
Dog bites (annual average) – 4.5 million

Americans killed by terrorist attacks around the world (2008) – 33
Americans who die from the seasonal flu (annual average) – 36,171

Deaths by allergic reaction to peanuts (annual average) – 50-100
Deaths by unintentional poisoning (2006) – 27,531

Women who die from breast cancer (2009) – 40,170
Women who die from cardiovascular disease (2006) – 432,709

Fatal airline accidents (2005) – 321
Fatal car crashes (2008) – 34,017

Americans audited by the IRS (2009) – 1.4 million
U.S. Deaths (2007) – 2.4 million

I found this quite fascinating and a good reminder of how we often worry about the unnecessary.