Are You Waiting for the Day When Politicians Vote Themselves Out of Office?

by Bob Sparrow

Is this the answer?

I have come to hate election years, where politicians turn into junior high adolescents telling us in a 30-second television commercial, how corrupt and incapable their opponents are, while bragging about the pork barrel appropriation that they got though last year.  I have found that I am not alone.  Approval ratings for our politicians are abysmal.  Congressional approval hasn’t been above 40% since 2005. For about half of the time since 2005, it has been below 20%. Yet, even with such low public opinion, congressional incumbents enjoy a reelection rate that rarely falls below 90%.  Put in simpler terms, we don’t like the job our politicians are doing, but we keep re-electing them. What is wrong with us?!

The divide in our country is visually on parade as I hear about the corrupt Republican politicians on CNN and the corrupt Democrat politicians on Fox.  I know I’m not alone in believing that our system, in its current state, is broken. California’s debt is about $32 Billion, our national debt is north of $34 Trillion, if we were to run our personal lives like our politicians run our states and country, we’d be sleeping in the streets.  But, our politicians are more interested in keeping their jobs and thus blaming all the failures of the country on those on the other side of the aisle.

Best government money can buy

We Americans like to believe that we lead the world in almost everything, but we are not even in the Top 10 of ‘Best Governments in the World’, and we seems to be moving in the wrong direction.   While our government may not rank high in the world standings, we can honestly brag that we have the best politicians that money can buy.  To wit, in 2020, 88% of House races and 71% of Senate races were won by the top spender.  The amount of money spent on Congressional campaigns almost quadrupled over the last 20 years, to $8.7 billion in 2020, and it shows no signs of slowing anytime soon.

So, what’s the solution?  Many believe that it’s term limits.  Proponents say that term limits would bring in a wave of new ideas and passionate citizens ready to serve their country for a time and then return home. Civility would be the new norm as members of Congress begin to see themselves as fellow Americans and not threats to their own careers.  I have read a number of articles both for and against term limits, both have an arguement, so I asked ChatGPT to weigh in on the subject; here’s what it gave me:

“Term limits for elected officials have been a subject of ongoing debate in political circles around the world. Advocates argue that term limits bring fresh perspectives, prevent the entrenchment of power, and encourage a more dynamic political landscape. On the other hand, opponents contend that term limits can undermine experienced leadership, disrupt continuity, and limit the ability of effective leaders to stay in office.

Indeed, there are some definite advantages and disadvantages to term limits, so perhaps there is a middle ground way to:

  • Eliminate career politicians. For me, this can be likened to professional sports; I loved watching Michael Jordan play basketball, but there was a time, with age, that his skills diminished, at which point, HE decided that he could not compete at that level anymore.  Politicians rarely, if ever, see that their skills have diminished.
  • Make it a good paying job instead of a great paying job. It’s hard to find a politician who has not become a multi-millionaire in office.
  • Find ways to have representation of the American people rather than special interest groups with lots of money

You got yourself into this, I can’t get you out!!!

I do know that it is unlikely that today’s politicians would vote themselves out of their cushy jobs.   I wish I knew how these things could be accomplished without a real ‘peoples’ revolution’, so I would hope that there are people smarter than me that can figure this out.

I’ll give ChatGPT the final word on this as it is definitely smarter than me:

“As societies grapple with these trade-offs, it is essential to consider alternative measures, such as robust checks and balances, to ensure effective governance while respecting democratic principles.”   

I’m Bob Sparrow and I approve this message


Is it Suzanne, Bob or ChatGPT?

Those old enough to remember the 1968 movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey, will remember HAL 9000, as the spaceship’s artificially intelligent computer, who, with a mind of his own, turns against the crew when they believe his calculations are wrong, regarding their journey to Jupiter. The name HAL came from Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer.  Heuristic is a technique designed for solving problems more quickly than humans typically can.  As I recall, HAL spoke in a very soft, calming, conversational manner, but ends up killing one of the astronauts who was trying to disconnect it.  It was pointed out at the time that the letters HAL are just one letter off the computer giant of the day, IBM.

Enter ChatGPT.  For those unfamiliar with ChatGPT, here’s a quick tutorial.  First, it is a ‘chatbot’ (a software application used to conduct online conversations via text or text-to-speech in lieu of providing direct contact with live humans), developed by Open AI and Introduced at the end of last year.  ChatGPT (which stands for Chat, well, you know what chatting is, the GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is taking the Artificial Intelligence world by storm with its ability to do a multitude of things.

The core function of a chatbot is to mimic a human conversationalist; for example, ChatGPT can write and debug computer programs, compose music, teleplays or fairy tales, and write poetry and song lyrics.  Conveniently, it can, for a college student, answer test questions and write essays – yes, write essays!!

Just last week, I had the opportunity to see ChatGPT in action.  A friend of mine asked ChatGPT to write a Shakespearean sonnet for his wife on Valentine’s Day – it took about a minute and, Voila!!  The sonnet sounded like the Bard himself had just penned a special 14-line poem to his wife.  I was amazed!!  I learned that it could remember things you have said to it in the past and is capable of correcting itself when wrong.

As I dug deeper into the applications of ChatGPT, I found just the type of thing someone like me might ask of ChatGPT.  Here’s the example I found:

“Write a biblical verse in the style of the King James bible explaining how to remove a peanut butter sandwich from a VCR.”

“And the Lord spoke unto him, saying, “Fear not, my child, for I shall guide thy hand and show thee the way.  Take thy butter knife, and carefully insert it between the sandwich and the VCR, and gently pry them apart.  And with patience and perseverance, the sandwich shall be removed, and they VCR shall be saved”

And the man did as the Lord commanded, and lo and behold, the sandwich was removed from the VCR, and the man was saved.

And the Lord said, “Verily I say unto thee, seek not to put thy peanut butter sandwich in thy VCR, for it is not a suitable place for such things.  Rather, keep thy sandwiches in they refrigerator or on thy plate, where they belongeth.”

So, you see how an everyday problem like this, that I’m sure you’ve encountered, can be solved with the help of ChatGPT!  If you’re wondering if students now don’t have to write essays, or anything for that matter, I’ve been told that there is a way to detect whether something is written by a human or by ChatGPT.  But I’m sure it won’t take long before they figure out how to ‘fix’ that.

But, it’s not all sunshine and lollypops.  Like most computers, it goes wacky once in a while.  ChatGPT often fails at basic math, it sometimes can’t answer a simple logic question, and it can mix fact and fiction (Sounds very human!).  It can also give incorrect, and often damaging, medical advice.  And, because it is programed by humans and humans can be biased, ChatGPT can put forth biased information.

You’ve probably guessed the answer to the question in the headline; neither ChapGPT nor Suzanne, could have written something so banal.

HAL, by any other name, is here, amazing . . . and dangerous!