Weekly Thoughts: Don’t Trust Petitions

Ah, petitions.  What could be more in keeping with the democratic spirit of the many guiding the hand of government than gathering up a few hundred signatures in support of your cause and sending it to your representative?  You simply write up your petition, set up a small booth in a mall or other public area, and wait for the signatures to roll in.  The intelligent, well-informed people who make up the public will see you, consider your arguments carefully, and the ones who agree with your position will add their names to your list, making your argument to your representative all the more persuasive.  Simple, right?

No, actually; as it turns out, there’s much more to petitions than it appears.  First, those ‘intelligent, well-informed people’ signing your petition might have no idea what you’re talking about.  Steadfast Finances provides a video of people signing a petition in support of 100% yearly inflation.  (In case this blog entry is literally the first thing you’ve read about inflation, here’s a short primer: inflation, particularly high (above 5% or so) inflation is bad.  The economy suffers, your employer will suffer, and YOU will suffer.)

Steadfast Finances maintains that this video shows that America needs more financial education (a point I won’t argue; we do), but I think it goes beyond that.  People will sign most petitions without understanding them, sometimes without reading them.   The Man Show (that paragon of wisdom) did a skit several years back where Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel sat in a mall and encouraged people to sign a petition ending women’s suffrage (that is, their right to vote).  Sad to say, not only did they manage to numerous signatures, but they also inspired a number of imitators.  I think you could get people to sign a petition banning puppies if you word it just right.

Ah, but that’s not all you need to worry about with petitions; not only might some (even most) of the respondents not understand what they are supporting, but that they might have been paid for their signatures, letters, or other forms of support.  Heck, now that virtual games on Facebook and the like have become so popular, petition signers might even be paid in fake money for their support.

I say this not to slander all petitions, but to point out that, well, people have agendas, some open, some hidden, and this can affect how they do their signature gathering.  Yes, they may have fully explained their motives and agendas to the passersby, convincing them with clever logic to support their cause.  On the other hand, the signatures (and again, other signs of support, like letters) may have been obtained through fraud, manipulation, or trickery.  In either case, take these results with a grain of salt.

*Wipes my forehead*  Whoo, that was practically turning into a post in and of itself.  With all that out of the way, let’s see who else had a good point to make this past week:

Good Posts For the Week

Excess is a Liability – Too much of something, even something we generally consider good, is a bad thing.  That’s the basis of Baker’s point, and he does a darn good job of expressing it, without using an excess of words.  It has an almost poetic feel to it, and makes a good argument for moderation, as well.

Someone Has to Give Birth! – No, this title of one of Financial Samurai’s posts isn’t about the actual act of giving birth (thank goodness), but about discrimination in the workplace against women due to their biological contribution to giving birth.  It’s an interesting subject, and inspired a lot of good comments.  Plus, for once I was in complete agreement with FS!

How I Helped A Friend Make Their Resume CompetitiveMy Life ROI provides a number of good suggestions to get your resume in shape, showing how he helped one of his friends.  I’ll need to take some of his advice and upgrade my own resume soon, as I continue to look for a new (and better, and closer to my Sondra) job.

A Popular Cause of Credit Card Debt & How to Avoid It – I can’t say I’ve ever had the problem of putting a night out on the town with my friends on my credit card, thinking of it as ‘free money’.  Still, it’s a problem you might face if you go out in groups a lot, and Studenomics has the solution.  Follow his advice, and you’ll never end up inadvertently treating all your friends.

Guest Post

My Life ROI featured an article from me, relaying some of the financial lessons I got from board games.  Besides the most obvious: never play Monopoly if there’s something you need to get done that night, because that game never ends.

3 Responses to Weekly Thoughts: Don’t Trust Petitions

    • Yeah, no, if the continued existence of humanity depended on me being able to tolerate that sort of pain, you may as well just kiss mankind goodbye (and I’d imagine that I’m far from the only guy to fell that way).

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