Friday, August 22, 2008

Word of the day: Hobson's choice

Ironically, I just mentioned my dislike of the two-party system, and here comes the word of the day over my email. A good one.

Hobson's choice \HOB-suhnz-CHOIS\, noun:

A choice without an alternative; the thing offered or nothing.

Fagan's defense revolves around his insistence that he faced a Hobson's choice and had to act.
-- Laura Parker, "Discovery of daughters never followed by reunion", USA Today, May 11, 1999

They're faced with a Hobson's choice: Make the plunge . . . or face a terrifying alternative -- gradual extinction.
-- Heather Green, "The Great Yuletide Shakeout", Business Week, November 1, 1999

The origin of the term Hobson's choice is said to be in the name of one Thomas Hobson (ca. 1544-1631), at Cambridge, England, who kept a livery stable and required every customer to take either the horse nearest the stable door or none at all.

[via's Word of the Day]

Enjoy the constant reminders,



Msherm said...

I'm going to be nitpicky on your reference to the 2 party system and say that's more a false choice rather than your word (which I like as a word of the day don't get me wrong)

False choice = a decision on an issue where there are two options presented as if they are the only ones without consideration of others.

Similar but the horse reference makes it seem like a something or nothing kind of thing.

Don't mind me, just rambling sitting at the airport a bit bored.

Bpaul said...

You're right.

But at 5:00 AM when I wrote that post, it made sense at the time.


Chuck Butcher said...

I'm always curious when people say they don't like the 2 party system how many they prefer. Having attempted to engage with the N/A's and I's it seems that 400 would not be enough. A jest? A little, but try it sometime and see how muddled a group they are.

People are inclined to say that the system is rigged against the establishment of more parties as though that was all of it. I agree that there is some dissuasion, but I see the failures primarily as the extreme splintering of view point of those groups.

Bpaul said...

Even one or two more -- say a Labor party? A green party? An overtly religious party or two.

And really, my biggest concern is the money behind both the parties. If there were 5 parties, or 10 parties but the people in power were still owned by the same money -- then we'd have the same situation we have now.

One hope more parties holds out is breaking up the stranglehold of big money and corporate control over our government. It's not the only thing that would need to change, but it is one thing.

CtheG said...

on another note - how do you feel about Obama's pick for VP?

Bpaul said...

Boring, vanilla, probably too safe. Not very interesting -- Gore-ish in that regard.

I would have thought Wesley Clark would have been better.

msherm said...

Biden is 1000% times better than Clark for me. I actually like the choice. Sure he's a long term senator but I'd hardly say he's run of the mill. Not to mention his incredible trials in his personal life he's always been someone willing to go beyond simplistic ideas that appeal to marketed politics and challenge ideas. As well he has the least income of any senator in washington and he could very easily make that change but has decided against it. Granted he's still not poor but it does say something about his character that in 35 years in washington he hasn't cashed in in a significant way.

He makes his senate salary (165k) plus about 25k other income from what looks like a teaching gig. This year he is writing a book so made some extra money on that 100k. But all in all he's dramatically less than his fellow senators.

Plus he's an asshole, and I love the assholes as you might know.

I'd encourage you to look into him a little more rather than trust the blogosphere on this one (you may have and still came to that conclusion) but if you haven't give him a second look. More to him than just a life in washington.

Clark is a douche imo and is and has always been a Clinton puppet. i used to like the guy ok but I think he's a DLC tool.

Chuck Butcher said...

Your choices are worth a handful each. The deal is that the interests run into too many directions, the Republicans make hay with the Religious Right - maybe. How would you like your Religious Party without the brakes of competing Repub intersts?

Money. The answer is easy and Constitutional, make small contributions, enough to swamp big money. WE are the responsible parties, not the legislation of speech, just damn do it. I know that is counter to many lefties (I am one) but it is real and doesn't whack our interests. Always remember the rule of inintended consequences. McCain/Feingold gave us 527s and Swiftboating while clipping established organizations. It wasn't the aim of McCain/Feingold, it is the natural outcome of mucking about. I don't advocate laisse faire, but a very light touch is generally better.

The problem is getting voters to believe it makes a difference.