Thursday, April 14, 2016

On the Transparency Front: FBI vs Apple and the prescribers of "hiding."

On the Transparency Front – A New York Times article asserts that the blurry lines between foreign intelligence gathering and domestic surveillance are starting to vanish, altogether.  “National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy.” This article - Surprise! NSA data will be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism - is lurid and over-wrought in tone, but of course we need to make clear that we’re interested and paying attention.  In the long run, that fact can lead to a balance that protects common citizens.  

But... protects them… from being surveilled? Oh stop. Please. The dumbitudinousness of that ongoing fantasy is plumb wearying. 

Not one of the silly jeremiads that have demanded government blindness has ever – and I mean ever, once – proposed any plausible way that can reliably happen, over an extended period.  Across the history of our species, show me one time when a society’s elites were denied sight consistently or for very long. 

There is a way to stay free and empowered citizens, even if we are surveilled. Yes, it can be so, despite the inevitability of elites getting to see.  It happens to be the very same trick that got us our current, anomalous levels of safety, privacy and freedom, three things I refuse to give up or “tradeoff” against each other. There is a method. But it takes more work than whining.

== The FBI vs Apple ==

Ah, the ongoing drama. The following riff, written a month ago, is already obsolete... or is it? I'll comment on the latest. But first --

“The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’ to unlock the phone,” Edward Snowden says in this recent interview. “Respectfully, that’s bullshit.” And while I am not a cracking expert (nor do I always agree with Snowden) my own instincts coincide with his on this point - that there is an awful lot of theater in all of this. The FBI is requesting that Apple create custom iOS software that disables the safety features in the iPhone of San Bernardino, California, shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has resisted such demands so far.

Apple needs a public image that they will defend their customers, come hell or high water. Also, if they make it easy for the FBI to gain access, then other governments like China will be able to demand the same - (though in fact, Apple is very cooperative with the Chinese government).

At the same time, the public has mixed feelings and Apple will lose sympathy if it seems that some major terror act was made easier by encryption.  

In The Transparent Society I speak of the 'ratchet effect." Civil libertarians who rely on notions of preventing elites from seeing will do fine... until some day when the citizenry is scared by some traumatic event.  At which point all the carefully erected "do not look" protections will topple away. This is why I do not put any faith in "do not look" rules, as any kind of long term safeguard.

Earlier, I offered this wager: "there's a good chance that the current iPhone imbroglio is all one big Potemkin act, a stage show put on to let Apple look tough as a defender of customer rights."

The latest? First, exactly as I predicted, the FBI eventually proclaimed: "Never mind! We managed to crack the iPhone without your help."

Second... A proposed bill in Congress, the “Compliancewith Court Orders Act of 2016,” authored by offices of Senators Diane Feinstein and Richard Burr, would require people to comply with any authorized court order for data—and if that data is “unintelligible,” the legislation would demand that it be rendered “intelligible.” According to Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “It’s effectively the most anti-crypto bill of all anti-crypto bills.” Indeed, recently, some of the world’s top cryptographers warned of the dangers of weakening encryption on behalf of law enforcement… that any backdoor created to give law enforcement access to encrypted communications would inevitably be used by sophisticated hackers and foreign cyberspies. 

To be clear, the bill seems to have no chance of passing, as-is. But next time something bad and panic-worthy happens? Remember the Ratchet Effect?  Again... (and again and again)... if you base your defense of freedom upon public appearances and assurances that elites cannot see, then you are spectacularly delusional.

We are better defended by the other approach, fierce application of supervision powers, allowing us to look back at the elites who are going to look at us, anyway.

== We must look back ==

Windows 10 covertly sends your disk encryption keys to Microsoft: Here's a disturbing article by Cory Doctorow, though I can’t verify: “Windows 10 has many unprecedented anti-user features: a remote kill switch that lets it disable your hardware; key-logging and browser-history logging that, by default, sends it all to Microsoft, and a deceptive "privacy mode" that continues to exfiltrate your data, even when you turn it on.”  

To which I reply… sure it’s disturbing. And you expect elites to behave any differently than this? Ever?  

Doctorow's vague-general "Danger Will Robinson!" cries are typical among the millions who are right to sniff the aroma of looming Big Brother… but utterly wrongheaded to recommend the solution of “let’s hide!”

Dig this and finally dig it well. You will not stop elites from looking, by whining and complaining. You will not stop them by encrypting and tech noodling.  You will not blind elites by passing laws that restrict what they are allowed to see. You will not stop the descendants of monkeys from looking at stuff!  Especially when they are sitting on the highest branch.

What we can do is remain free and left-alone by looking back.  By dropping the sick-stupid and cowardly obsession with hiding… 

...and instead concentrating our efforts on supervision, on sousveillance and looking back at power.  On applying accountability.  On seeing.  

That may not blind them, but it will put severe restraints on what they can do with any info about us.  What they can do to us.

This is what they fear us doing. And it is why they subsidize the current wave of handwringing moans and articles crying out “stop looking at me!”

== Hacking Transparency == 

A cogent run-down on reasons why it is so hard to cope with cyber-attacks, to determine who is responsible, or even be sure that one has happened at all.  

A nightmare scenario, brought into real life... when hackers fooled some Ukrainian civil servants into revealing information that then let the hackers take down part of the Ukrainian power grid.  A scenario right out of the pages of Ted Koppel’s new book, Lights Out: A CyberAttack, a Nation Unprepared; Surviving the Aftermath. 

The Orwellians are out there, preparing.  North Korea’s “Red Star” computer operating system – based on a Linux/Redhat distro – has rigid firewalls, prevents user tinkering, and watermarks all media: “reportedly tags every bit of media it comes into contact with, whether it is on a drive connected to the computer or on the computer itself, including files that aren't even accessed. Once tagged, the media files can then be traced back to whomever has them and, presumably, the source of them.”  


Hackers invaded a shipping company’s systems to download cargo manifests, allowing Somali pirates to board a vessel, ignore the fortified crew, and use barcode scanners to find valuable cargo to carry off.  

Back in 2012, Youtube added a new feature that allows you to automatically blur all faces in a video. Today, it's going a step further: you can now draw a rectangle around any object in a video and YouTube will then blur it and automatically follow it.  Self-controlled editing gives responsible folks a chance to do the right thing before posting.  

Stay alert. The world needs lerts.
  

109 comments:

Deuxglass said...

Continuation from the last post:

Donzelion,

The biggest and meanest monkey in a troupe has monopoly power. He can get food and sexual services because he can beat the shit out of the others and the lower status monkeys recognize this but they adapt and get back. I remember watching a video of an alpha baboon watching over his harem. One of his females was munching on some grass but the alfa could only see her head because the rest of her was behind a boulder. Behind the boulder, a low-status baboon was banging her being careful not to get into direct sight of the alpha, and the alpha never caught on. That reminds me of certain human behavior.

Which came first? Was it Law or Accounting and that is a moot point. I am in business and you are a lawyer. Maybe we are blind men feeling different parts of the elephant but it is incontestable the humans have a nature gift for mathematics and that stems from the fact that for a monkey to survive in a very social environment, he had to be able to count favors and Law came to being as a way to enforce that that the books balance. All civilization is based on the two.

Bond markets are out of whack. Let’s get real! Negative interest rates should never exist except in very certain circumstances and not for very long. In the last fifteen years, I have watched with dismay that the economic situation is getting more and more irrational and chaotic and that the political elites keep on reinforcing this trend instead of doing something about it. Normally my politics have been slightly Left but now I think that the political elites of both parties have lost it completely. I have come to the conclusion that only a radical change can save us. It may come as a surprise, but I think that Bernie Sanders is the right man to make that change.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: I wasn’t thinking of you as a fear monger from last thread. You’ve been a gentleman here, so it never crossed my mind. I was thinking of Trump with his silly definitions of the unemployment rate and predictions of a looming recession. I know a few other people who lean right (and GOP) who still think the economy sucks and has to get worse. THEY remind me of drowning rats who give up too early. Learned Helplessness. It irritates the heck out of me because they can rationalize their idiotic behavior no matter what. YOU aren’t even close to a match for them. Trump is using them. Grr. 8)

As for Keynes, I make a distinction between him and his followers. I wouldn’t think he would make such a bold claim, but his followers often do. They mentally model the economy as an engine that can be tuned. For me that is like Greeks mentally modeling the motion of planets with crystal spheres. No Greek might have believed in a literal interpretation of them as physical spheres, but a few centuries later you can find Arabs who did. Some of their geocentric models didn’t tolerate planets crashing through each other’s spheres. We can smile at these interpretations today, but they demonstrate the kind of intellectual drift that concerns me with Keynesian theories. Is Aggregate Demand a useful fiction, or is it something with real substance? From classical theory, is Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand a fiction, or is there something real to it? This stuff matters when people make policy decisions that affect our liberty.

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass in the previous thread:

Normally my politics have been slightly Left but now I think that the political elites of both parties have lost it completely. I have come to the conclusion that only a radical change can save us. It may come as a surprise, but I think that Bernie Sanders is the right man to make that change.


Bernie Sanders is certainly a symbol for such change, but what I think most people are missing in this election frenzy is that the president alone has very limited means to influence such change. We need the president to appoint Supreme Court justices on the right side of history, and above all, we need more "Bernies" in both houses of congress. Unfortunately, if Bernie is in the White House, we'll have one less Bernie in the Senate.

Alfred Differ said...

The NSA has a double-barreled mission from the start. They are supposed to figure out how to crack into systems of foreigners and how to prevent such cracking of domestic systems. They aren't out-of-bounds when they turn their attention to those of us inside the border. We should expect both groups to do so since 'our' software is sold around the world and 'their' software is sold here.

Jumper said...

Keynes is long gone but Greenspan's legacy is still rather stinking. Remember when he got the Fed's interest rate changes on the decimal system? They thought they had the power of a process logic controller then. Smaller increments will work! Bollocks.

But I'd like to see the Fed get a small tax power. A 10th of a percent tax on trades, up to a half percent (and that only for conditions we've yet to encounter.)

I was reading some of David's links on the NSA at work when suddenly my work computer began acting very strangely, locking up both browsers to molasses speed. I assume it was a coincidence...

donzelion said...

@Alfred - Call me a gentleman, do ye? After adding Cruz's dildo discourse to the debate? ;-) Thanks, was concerned I'd left the wrong impression. I try to be vigorously balanced, neither optimist nor pessimist, but realist.

@Deuxglass - and given the dildo debate in the last thread (may it spread into mass media, and may we all confront Trump and demand that he express his position clearly) - now you want to bring up monkey business? ;-)

"Which came first? Was it Law or Accounting and that is a moot point."
Law, as I understand it, stems from causal reasoning, and counting from quantifying reasoning. Add in symbolic reasoning, and we get writing. All three were surely deployed early in civilized society to define who owned what, so I don't think one comes about 'before' the other, so much as the use of one mental faculty required the use of another to develop a discipline. (Still...God gave Adam rules before he created Eve, so lawyer precedes prostitute, at least for the Cruzers in the world.)

"Negative interest rates should never exist except in very certain circumstances and not for very long."
I suspect that the 'derivatives' economy operates on principles poorly grasped by most economists, comprising a world of financial functions that are about a thousand times larger than actual trade in goods and services, intrinsically linked to trade but applying very uncertain principles. I do not think political elites are the cause of all the problems: we do not know how this much larger system we've concocted will operate.

I'm not convinced that the solution to our ignorance is to simplify something that has grown complex (the Sanders solution), or to try to regulate it and see what emerges (the Clinton solution). I can see merit to either approach. I cannot see any merit to the Cruz/Trump approach, however, which essentially involves protecting their ass...ets. (pun intended in reference to yesterday's all-too-brief dildo discussion...and no, Deuxglass, I'd never peg you as a devout partisan, or otherwise). ;-)

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding Apple and China, my understanding is they have actually been asked to do essentially what the FBI wanted by the Chinese government. They declined. If they had agreed to what the FBI requested, the Chinese could have come back at them with a fresh new shiny precedent.

At a minimum, Apple needs an image that says they won't intentionally screw their customers. I suspect THAT is what they want to protect.

Alfred Differ said...

aww man. The dildo discussion is coloring my interpretation of everyone's verbs now. What exactly does it mean to peg someone as a devout partisan? Heh. 8)

Obviously I have to take this home to my wife. She's the artist and she's on a political kick right now. I have a spiffy, new t-shirt for weekend use with a picture of a dinosaur sporting a comb-over. She might have some fun with dildo mash-ups.

Alfred Differ said...

@jumper: A Fed with tax power? You would make them a legislative body?

Jumper said...

It's radical, Alfred, so I can't recommend it as anything more than a possibly useful thought experiment. Along the lines of blue-skying I've lately wondered about our federal government's loans. We have quite a few going. From late fees to student loans. (For a time I was in tax arrears and paid the government - you - late fees.)
Also along those lines is a financial body which raised the minimum wage. If they'd raise it! But on a business-cycle control basis.

I mentioned my belief that the opposite of liberalism is authoritarianism. I don't want authoritarianism. The Fed is inscrutable to me.

David Brin said...

Unfortunately, if Bernie is in the White House, we'll have one less Bernie in the Senate.”

It is worse than that. I just don’t see him as an arm-twister, deal-maker. Actual, palpable progress is made by the FDRs and LBJs of the world, And Bill Clinton who smooth talked the goppers into one year of actual negotiation and legislation, in the middle of their madness.

Jumper I too want the Tobin Transaction Tax and 0.3% seems right. My main reason is to get the computers to trade at human speed. But the tax could fund all of the financial regulatory agencies… SEC, Fed, CFPA.

Negative interest rates NIR punish investors for leaving their cash sitting instead of putting it to work. There is a Biiiig problem, though. “If I must pay the bank to leave my money in a savings account, then why use the bank at all?”

In Japan there is a huge boom in home safes to store cash. And that is the ultimate deflationary driver, the very thing NIR was supposed to prevent.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

"They mentally model the economy as an engine that can be tuned"

And what else is it?
The economy is an engine - and we make the rules/laws that it runs by

It's just like tuning an engine - you don't think engine tuners know ahead of time what the results of each tweak will be do you?
Even at the top level (F1)there is a lot of "suck it and see" - there must be or else we would not end up each year with a dominant team

What else can we do other than tweak the rules and see what happens!
As in engine tuning a good theory is incredibly useful - but it needs to be adapted as you move on

donzelion said...

And back to Dr. Brin's original point -

"By dropping the sick-stupid and cowardly obsession with hiding...and instead concentrating our efforts on supervision, on sousveillance and looking back at power. On applying accountability. On seeing."

It seems to me that 'hiding' is not about 'preventing someone from finding you.' When playing hide-and-go-seek, there are sure ways to avoid being 'caught' - e.g., you can run into a house and lock the doors (effectively ending the game), or run out of bounds and keep on going forever. But you'll never earn many friends to play with because either strategy violates the implied rules of the game.

'Hiding' is always about rules. Whoever is 'it' in hide-and-go-seek cannot peak while you hide, nor can they start chasing after you before they're done counting. Want to play a different game than hide-and-go-seek: fine, tag is also a good game. But in this game, one either plays by the rules are gets ostracized.

So it goes with our online personas. I hide my name, because if I ever offer a legal point or answer a legal question, I don't want anyone to ever accuse me of soliciting legal advice or practicing law without a license, but I know full well anyone who really wants to can identify me fairly quickly. I am free, because those steps that someone must take to discover who I am will prevent anyone from lobbing an accusation that I broke rules of a game I play (law).

Whenever we use FB, Google, Amazon, Windows, Verizon, Apple - or most other connected products we obtain, we're similarly playing a game. Normally, the rules of any game are set in ancient rituals (no peaking!) - but these are new games, linked closely with our own identity, society, and prosperity. We cannot ostracize FB the same way we can someone who plays hide-and-go-seek unfairly.

Sousveillance makes sense to me ONLY if the game that is being played is one in which dominant players are required to abide by certain rules of sportsmanship, and would be seriously damaged by a violation to those rules. If the game changes constantly, or if the stakes in the game extend to our livelihood (e.g., hide-and-go-seek with guns, aka, hunting) - then other controls are necessary.

Jumper said...

I'll point out again that anyone who wants encryption that works can have it rather easily. But "rather easy" is far from "effortless." Most complaints are about "effortless."

Alfred Differ said...

@Jumper: Well... as thought experiments go, that one gives me the shivers. Taxing authority belongs with people we can elect, thus with legislatures. Fee collection can be with executive agencies, but fee setting must be constrained carefully lest they fund themselves independent of our ability to manage them. It's an old liberal idea, but we need to make sure we can stay in control. Our legislatures have already delegated sooooo much of what they should do that guys like me are concerned.

I get that you want to tax stock trades. That's David's HFT remedy. I would suggest something closer to a clearing house fee. Remember the old days of paper checks? How did they clear through the system in the pre-digital era? For an HFT remedy, one would have to find a negative externality we suffer and then fix it with a clearing house agency.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: The economy can be many other things besides an engine for the same reason planetary motion need not involve crystal spheres. Even Newton's view got pushed aside as people learned differential geometry. One can invent many explanatory models to work alongside a predictive model. It actually doesn't matter much which one is right since there is no way to know. We know when they are wrong, though, and drop them from consideration.

Set aside the engine analogy which I believe works poorly at best. Consider it instead as a multi-cellular life form. There ARE some controls (endocrine analogies) that would get the collection to act in a macroscopic manner, but predicting what they are from first principles might be difficult. Tripping over them would be far easier. An example might be what happens when someone tries to enforce price controls. If people are starving, limit food prices and that should help them, right? Oops. Food becomes rarer. We better shoot the cheaters! Look deeper than the macroscopic controls (once we get them right) and you'll find they aren't really controls at all. They are incentives that move SOME of the individual participants. Control is an illusion.

If you set aside the engine analogy for awhile, many other possibilities can be considered and tested for fitness. Some of them work well in certain situations and fail in others much like the engine analogy would if people were willing to admit that it COULD fail. Consider this little economic tidbit. In small family groups, the individuals often share overall goals and willingly tolerate a central planner or two. Small family groups can be said to economize their resources. Larger groups like communities might share a few goals like defense, road construction, water and sewer infrastructure, but beyond those they don't. Can they be said to economize their resources? If so, there should be an efficiency measure that fits much like a heat engine has. Work Output/Heat Input. If people can't agree on goals, though, can they agree on the 'work' being done by their community? Pfft! This suggests we should NOT use the term 'economy' for what they do because they aren't economizing.

Change the analogy and you change what we might expect of an 'economy.' See the problem? What if the engine analogy is just as wrong as the crystal spheres analogy? How many millions of people do we have to harm to find out?

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: My understanding of the rules in this game we play with our 'betters' goes like this.

"I don't mind you knowing, but mess with me and those I love and out come the tumbrels."


Of course, our tumbrels are more likely to be 2nd amendment items.

...and we CAN ostracize FB and other large companies. I'm sure Apple has considered this.

Fluid Dynamics said...

Regarding http://web.archive.org/web/20101031100957/http://reformthelp.org/reformthelp/marketing/positioning/models.php

I still can't seem to get web.archive.org to cough up part 3 of that. Could you please link to it or, if necessary, upload it somewhere and then link to it?

Deuxglass said...

Donzelion,

I had you pegged as a lawyer early on so if you peg me as a devout partisan, then the books would be balanced between us :-)

I think Trump missed a good opportunity with Ted Cruz. Lying Ted is catchy but Dildo Ted would have been catchier still as well as being accurate and irrefutable.

Whether the Dildo Question comes up in a debate relies on Hillary Clinton only. It would be in her interest to show that Ted passionately supported a ridiculous, petty issue. However, if she avoids the subject, then that might mean that she herself is vulnerable on this issue as well. I don’t see her name attached to any Congressional Dildo Bills so I must conclude that she must have a collection of dildos in her home and she doesn’t want that to come out. I will attentively be watching the debate.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

I just don't see your "living cell" model as being useful whereas the Keynesian "mechanism" type of model has been very useful in the past

You seem to be very worried about a tiny change effectively "killing" the thing,
Given that economies with such a huge variety of inbuilt rules and mechanisms still go on working I am much less worried about inadvertently killing the thing

I mean your economy is still limping on despite the supply side cancer eating at it for over 40 years

Even Thatchers massive changes only cost the UK a couple of years of growth

Deuxglass said...

LarryHart,

You are right in saying that the President has limited powers to bring about change if the Legislative Branch doesn’t back him up. You are also right in saying we need more Bernies in the House and Senate. I suspect that there are some “closet Bernies” among the lawmakers and that with the election of Sanders, they would feel free to come out of the closet and proudly proclaim who and what they are. If he were elected, it would mean that voters are sending a message loud and clear to Congress and that might cause them to reassess their positions and their prospects for reelection. Going against Bernie could be more dangerous for them than one would think. I don’t know what his tactics will be to influence Congress but he does have a lot of experience in dealing with the institution. I think he will surprise us.

Robert said...

The one good thing about Sanders is that I don't get the feeling he actively hates Hillary Clinton. So should he lose legitimately, he will likely tell his voters "we gave it a good go, and we nearly got the nomination... and ultimately, we won. Our message got out there. Democrats in Congress can no longer ignore you. They know we will not let them continue to sell out to the one percent. But if [Republican candidate] gets in, they will smother our message, strip our rights, and ensure the one percent rule as kings. We must vote for Hillary."

To be honest, while Hillary might gnash her teeth at a narrow defeat, ultimately she'd tell her voters the same.

Rob H.

Howard Brazee said...

The FBI would find surveillance to be easier if it didn't remind people that phones are hackable. Now terrorists realize that they need to use 3rd party encryption to stay ahead of the FBI.

While I believe citizens have the right to privacy, I strongly disagree that the state (which should be working for us), has a right for privacy (beyond a very short term tactical need). We need to know what the state is doing.

Robert said...

They want people to avoid the Apple phones because they are difficult to hack for reasons other than encryption (ie, you can't brute-force your way through an iPhone password).

The Feds have methods of bypassing other forms of encryption. So if suspects use an Android or Microsoft phone, they don't have to worry about being locked out of the phone's OS permanently within a short period of time.

So basically this is a PR move by the Feds to discourage use of iPhones by "persons of interest."

Rob H.

Lorraine said...

"Across the history of our species, show me one time when a society’s elites were denied sight consistently or for very long."

That's why our collective folklore contains a story about belling the cat, not one about blindfolding the cat.

raito said...

Lorraine,

If you remember how that story ends, one way to interpret it is that none of the mice have the power to bell the cat.

This talk of negative interest brings up some thoughts I had recently about trickle-down economics. Has it ever worked? Maybe. Something by that name might have been working in the 50's-60's when the tax rates were higher and the economy expanding rapidly. I could possibly see it working if those at the top had sufficient incentive to spend their money. The problem with the Reagan (and subsequent version) is that there has been no such incentive.

Jumper said...

Well, there's secrecy and common sense. If our diplomats gossip only to each other about which foreign functionaries are simply idiots, I don't see why the public needs to air that.

I'll modify my statement that encryption is easy, although it could be. But getting my bank to use my system, not so easy!

A.F. Rey said...

We finally have some data about how many Bernie and Hillary supporters won't vote for the other candidate.

http://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-dem-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/04/sanders-supporters-not-vote-clinton-221642

Apparently, 25 percent of Bernie supporters say they won't vote for Hillary, while 69 percent say they will.

Conversely, 14 percent of Hillary supporters won't vote for Bernie, while 79 percent say they will.

However, I don't see anything in this survey about how likely those surveyed are to vote at all. Although one would expect enthusiastic supporters to at least vote for their candidate.

David Brin said...


Fluid D. I am trying to whip it into a book. No current posting, sorry.

Rob H there’s no “ultimately” about it. Hillary will reach out to Bernie’s supporters with eagerness that is just short of embarrassing.

The narrative must be"Bernites, if Bernie says-so then hold your nose and vote Hill, for the sake of the Court... then go fight like hell to give Bernie help in Congress."

“our collective folklore contains a story about belling the cat, not one about blindfolding the cat.”

Wow… cool metaphor!

LarryHart said...

r Brin:

Negative interest rates NIR punish investors for leaving their cash sitting instead of putting it to work.


In normal times, all that requires is for the interest rate to be lower than expected return via investment. Only when that expected return is so low does the dynamic require interest rates to be lower than the "return" on burying the money in your back yard.


There is a Biiiig problem, though. “If I must pay the bank to leave my money in a savings account, then why use the bank at all?”


Paul Krugman used to assert that Negative Interest rates were impossible for just that reason. He has lately admitted to being mistaken on that point. There is apparetnly some positive benefit to "paying" for custodial administrative costs through negative interest. That doesn't mean rates could go infinitely negative. There's got to be a lower bound on what somoene will "pay" the bank rather than keep dollar bills in a mattress, but the lower bound isn't zero.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

You seem to be very worried about a tiny change effectively "killing" the thing,
Given that economies with such a huge variety of inbuilt rules and mechanisms still go on working I am much less worried about inadvertently killing the thing

I mean your economy is still limping on despite the supply side cancer eating at it for over 40 years


I actually came to that realization with my kid, whereas I think most parents only get there after the third child. I had gone into parenthood thinking that a child is a fragile flower who must be protected from the slightest threat. It didn't take me long to realize that "You can't break these things if you try."

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

If he [Bernie] were elected, it would mean that voters are sending a message loud and clear to Congress and that might cause them to reassess their positions and their prospects for reelection.


Since I'm thinking Hillary will be nominated, does it make you feel any better to perceive that by doing as well as he has in the primaries, Bernie has already sent that message to the Democratic Party? Hillary is sounding more like Bernie herself, and even if that is political posturing, what does it tell you that "political posturing" for a Democrat has gone from the Republican-lite movement of the 1990s to a sort of More-Bernie-Than-Bernie movement now?

As radio host Norman Goldman keeps reminding us (Democrats), about 55% of the party prefers Hillary and about 45% prefers Bernie. And the trend is in the Bernie direction. It's too soon for Bernie people to expect victory in 2016, but with a bit of patience, that ratio will change in Bernie's direction. Progressives are winning...we just haven't won yet.


Jumper said...

I'm no economist but I suspect central bank notes are considered safer than many other options. Safer than the mattress, for example. ;>]
Seriously, I suspect currency traders as well as market traders find it useful to park it in T-bills sometimes. A small fee for safety.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

The one good thing about Sanders is that I don't get the feeling he actively hates Hillary Clinton. So should he lose legitimately, he will likely tell his voters "we gave it a good go, and we nearly got the nomination... and ultimately, we won. Our message got out there. Democrats in Congress can no longer ignore you. They know we will not let them continue to sell out to the one percent. But if [Republican candidate] gets in, they will smother our message, strip our rights, and ensure the one percent rule as kings. We must vote for Hillary."

To be honest, while Hillary might gnash her teeth at a narrow defeat, ultimately she'd tell her voters the same.


Both candidates should realize that defeating the Republican nominee is paramount. I hope the Democratic Party electorate can see the same thing, and not lapse into "There's no difference between Hillary and a Republican" or "Bernie is too extreme!"

I'm pretty certain that Hillary will win the math, so I address this to Bernie supporters, of which I am one: We're on the way to winning, and in the interim, we can't allow a Republican president or congress or Supreme Court to throw more obstacles in our path. We might not be 100% happy with Hillary, but she won't do that. Cruz or Rubio or Kashich or Ryan will. And do you want to bet anything on what Trump would do?

Jumper said...

Why is it verboten for politicians to learn and change when everyone else is supposed to? Is the level of YOUR support of the Afghan invasion different from before it ever happened?

David Brin said...

I am more paranoid. The meme to spread is not: "You Bernites now transfer your spirit and activism to Hill and to Congress in order to make things better and because Bernie says so."

No, the narrative is actually: "If you spy some volcanically irate 'sanders supporter' screeching hatred of Hillary online, demand a true name... or else the address of the Koch-funded social media boiler room where the pair agent provocateur works."

LarryHart said...

raito:

This talk of negative interest brings up some thoughts I had recently about trickle-down economics. Has it ever worked? Maybe. Something by that name might have been working in the 50's-60's when the tax rates were higher and the economy expanding rapidly. I could possibly see it working if those at the top had sufficient incentive to spend their money. The problem with the Reagan (and subsequent version) is that there has been no such incentive.


You're talking about the exact opposite of trickle-down theory. What you're suggesting is that when the wealthy had to put their money to productive use in order to grow it, the economy as a whole benefited. What "trickle-down" proponents claim is that if the wealthy are just given more of the money, they will put it to productive use. And no, history doesn't bear that out.

Think of the right-wing anti-welfare arguments, and you'll see why. "If you give poor people money instead of making them work for it, then they have no incentive to work." Well, if you give rich people money instead of making them invest it productively, then they have no incentive to invest productively. In fact, the argument applies to the rich moreso than the poor, because the poor still have incentive to work for more than the pittance they get from welfare, whearas the wealthy can live comfortable off of some of their money and sit on the rest if necessary.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin to Lorraine:

“our collective folklore contains a story about belling the cat, not one about blindfolding the cat.”

Wow… cool metaphor!


Maybe continuing the metaphor...a cat can easily remove a blindfold, but can't seem to do much about the bell on the collar.

Berial said...

LarryHeart, I've actually seen people use the argument that taxing the rich at higher rates, forces them to put their money into businesses and equipment instead of just finance (Usually read as stocks), and that THAT helps everyone because it grows the entire economy. I'd like to see more study on that personally, lord knows we've 'studied' NOT taxing the rich enough at this point.

Paul451 said...

David,
"There is a Biiiig problem, though. "If I must pay the bank to leave my money in a savings account, then why use the bank at all?" "

Heh, welcome to poverty. Us poors have had negative interest rates for years, where monthly fees (only charged for account balances below a set amount) exceed the fractional interest paid on those accounts. Sometimes resulting in "savings" accounts going negative faster than the saver can put money in, and incurring overdraft penalties (which merely put it further into the red.) And god forbid you should actually do something with the account, and incur transaction fees that are inversely proportional to your technical ability.

But you can't opt to "not have a bank account" if you want to not be poor (or at least not as poor.)

[In the US it's worse. Those without access to banking are preyed on by cheque-cashing services, with double-digit-percent fees. I'm sure most of you have heard of the proposal to allow the US Post Office to return to banking, offering simple savings/cheque-clearing accounts and short-term loans in low income areas without access to banking.]

Paul451 said...

raito: "trickle-down economics. Has it ever worked? Maybe. Something by that name might have been working in the 50's-60's when the tax rates were higher and the economy expanding rapidly. I could possibly see it working if those at the top had sufficient incentive to spend their money. The problem with the Reagan (and subsequent version) is that there has been no such incentive."

LarryHart: "You're talking about the exact opposite of trickle-down theory. What you're suggesting is that when the wealthy had to put their money to productive use in order to grow it, the economy as a whole benefited."

In the '50s/'60s there was a saying "What was good for GM is good for America... and vice versa." Ie, national growth, tax revenue, household wealth/wages, and corporate profits, were all tied together. Supply-side broke that connection. You have record profits amongst corporations, an increasing concentration of wealth, but the tax revenue from corporations is falling, there's only modest GDP growth, plus static or falling household income. "One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not quite the same."

Re: Belling cats.
Actually real cats learn to stalk prey without sounding the bell. It only rings when they pounce, which is usually too late for the prey.

Robert said...

That's the thing, Larry.

I'm not a Sanders supporter.

Ultimately, I'm Libertarian. I will vote for the Libertarian candidate despite knowing that candidate won't win. And I've even pissed off liberals on Facebook over that when I pointed out his claims that Sanders was not shutting down anti-Hillary sentiments among his supporters and said "it's a shame that I, a Libertarian, could do some basic research to refute your point."

At which point the foaming of the mouth started about how third parties are a waste of votes and that there was no point of me voting at all. My own comments on how if enough Republicans said "screw this" and voted Libertarian, you'd see the Republicans die off and Libertarians take over, as has happened historically, was not appreciated.

It's a shame, really. This delusion about "third parties can't win" is ultimately about keeping control among two sides of the same coin, rather than about representative government. And it's why I'm for enforcing the Constitutional limitation on how many Representatives there should be... because if you have one rep for every 30K people, you will suddenly see Libertarians, Communists, Socialists, and more popping out of the woodwork to actually represent the people. And with that... you would soon see the two-party system of government fall apart and a more democratic system take root.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

It's a shame, really. This delusion about "third parties can't win" is ultimately about keeping control among two sides of the same coin, rather than about representative government


The presidential race in particular is skewed by the electoral college. In a race with more than two candidates, one does not win simply by having the most EVs. One has to have a majority of EVs (in the present case, 270 of them). If no candidate reaches 270, the House of Representatives chooses the winner, and until further notice, that's a win for the Republicans.

So unless the third party in question can get a full 270 Electoral Votes, all it can do is real harm by siphoning EVs from Hillary.

For a viable third party challenge to work without doing more harm than good to its own purported constituents, our system of electing a president has to change first. Either that, or you'd have to get enough states to elect Libertarians to congress so that they could pick the winner in a non-majority contest.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

That's the thing, Larry.

I'm not a Sanders supporter.


You sure had me fooled. :)

Lorraine said...

You really think the thirty thousand rule would open the door to multi-party democracy? I always assumed "first past the post" was the only thing making the Two Party System a mathematical certainty.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Lorraine

I agree losing FPP would be the biggest single helpful initiative - but there are countries with multiple parties that still have FPP like the UK

Robert said...

Larry, to be a Sanders supporter I would have to either vote for him (which I did not do and do not intend to do) or donate time and/or money to his campaign, which again, I've not done. And no, I don't count arguing on the Internet as donating time. ;) That's just me being persnickety. ;)

Rob H.

David Brin said...

LArryHart re blindfold… good addendum.

Paul451. On my list of resons Obama is a mere so-so president. He should have made access to a simple bank account and ID for all citizens a major national push.

RobH, I try to vote for one libertarian each time, esp in my local deep-red Assembly-Congress districts. (Daryl Issa… eep! California is the best-and-bluest, with dazzling exceptions.) I’ve spoken at many LP events - invited as an impudent smithian rascal… but they like that, which speaks well of them.

On my list of equally unlikely likelihoods for post-Cleveland… that the Kochs might make a major play to push the LP, backed by scads of Trump-Cruz refugees, partly in hope of drawing those folks to the polls in order to vote GOP down ticket. Which might backfire, if the LP nominee calls for a libertarian congress.

See that’s the thing. This year. Every single “I have it!” scenario winds up just not working! e.g. they can’t nominate a general because he’d agree with Clinton on 50% of everything.

I have come full circle. I now believe it will be Trump-Cruz. But… but they CAN’T… so…

Howard Brazee said...

I can see someone checking to see how close the election in his state is likely to be - before deciding whether to vote for a third party candidate (or write in a vote), or whether a vote against the worst likely option is needed.

Howard Brazee said...

Multi-party systems have a danger in that minority parties can gain power. The most famous case of this was with Nazi Germany, but it has happened elsewhere.

Australian ballots can lessen this danger.

Robert said...

Which is why I voted for Obama in 2008. I lived in New Hampshire at that point. I did not want even the remotest possibility of President Palin. And I actually liked Obama's message of hope and change. (The thing is? He achieved a bit of it. It was incremental and small steps here and there, and a lot was through administrative actions... but that doesn't lessen the changes he brought about. People love to say "he didn't change anything" but... he did. Not only did he bring about new policies and legislation... but he also changed how the Repuglicans act and let the leopards' spots be seen worldwide.)

Rob H.

David Brin said...

The biggest Obama difference was simply that we got a break from the Republican way of waging war.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Larry, to be a Sanders supporter I would have to either vote for him (which I did not do and do not intend to do) or donate time and/or money to his campaign, which again, I've not done...


Ok, but I'm finding it humorous that you argue so vociferously with me when I insist that the numbers favor a Hillary nomination, or that Sanders's self-labeled "socialist" designation is a liability in November, and you're all "No, Hillary turns off voters and Bernie is the best candidate!" And yet, you aren't voting for the guy, and I did vote for him.

Sorry, I'm not arguing. Just flashing on my old discussions on the "Cerebus" comics group where conservatives who had no intention of marrying or reproducing used to lecture me on how liberalism was so terrible for the institution of marriage, and my liberal self was almost the only one with a wife and a child.

Howard Brazee said...

But we learned that the war machine doesn't care who's in the White House. It still makes lots of money at the costs of our economy, our morality, our international power, and our security.

Jumper said...

You can vote for any number of libertarians who reside mostly in the Republican party or socialists in the other one.

Robert said...

I will only vote for a Libertarian who is in the Libertarian party. Even if Republicans in Mass. are liberal Democrats in every other state of the union, I consider the party too diseased to be worth saving.

----------

Larry, I just enjoy a good argument. :)

Rob H.

David Brin said...

LarryHart likewise I point out that Ayn Rand... who proclaimed hers to be the only "life-oriented" philosophy... despised children, and breeders, and never portrayed a single one of her alpha characters ever passing forward... life.

H Brazee, that is malarkey. You clearly know no senior military officers. WHile they want big budgets, true, they prefer efficiency and hate waste. If they fight they want to do it at minimal cost. Spending money to replace spent ammunition is at the BOTTOM of their priority list.

Sure, there's a "shinier toy" aspect. The F35 for example. I am willing to avow there are aspects meriting better supervision and scrutiny and politics. And it is arguable that the world should spend more for security, after flourishing for 70 years under the protection of an expensive American Pax. But your simplistic cry is simply untrue. At any level, whatsoever.

Howard Brazee said...

Actually I do know senior military officers - and have heard some of them make the same complaint. They aren't the ones who decide we need to have eternal wars supporting Halliburton and the Saudis. They're not the ones bribing Congress to decide which weapons they need to use. But they are the ones who want achievable goals that make our country better.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: I’d argue a lot of people like Keynesian models because they feel good. Those models make it clear to us what we should do. They remind me of astrological models, though, in the way people believe in them. They aren’t actually THAT bad, but there is a lot of room for interpretations and no real way to invalidate the model. Think about the engine model this way. What evidence would you need to see before you accepted that the model was incorrect? Does it have to prove un-useful? What form might that take?

As for killing an economy, explain that to the Chinese who starved to death under Mao’s idiotic economic principles.

Using the US as an example of how resilient these things are is a terrible idea. We ARE resilient to all sorts of crap our people dream up, but that’s because we are in the best possible position a nation can be in when it comes to generating excess wealth. We own the Greater Mississippi River Basin which provides the cheapest form of transport for our commodities and goods we send to distant markets. That same river basin happens to be VERY fertile ensuring excessive agricultural profits that get plowed back into infrastructure. Look at a US map and plot all the cities with 1+ million people in them. From where did the capital to build those cities arrive? Before we owned that river basin, we owned enough of the top end of it to enrich people enough to cut a canal connecting the Midwest to the Hudson River. On top of all that, the river basin is easily defended today. One way to look at the annexation of Texas was to create defense in depth so the Mexicans couldn’t take New Orleans. One way to look at Civil War battles regarding the Mississippi river and New Orleans involves breaking the South’s hold on an important commercial path. As long as the US continues to own the river basin, there is really no good reason why we shouldn’t remain immensely wealthy. As long as that remains true, we can’t help but be resilient. Ship a trillion dollars to Iraq and lose track of it if you want, but don’t worry. We’ll make up for it. The US national economy is a Colossus, but when it is tied into the global economy it is a force never seen before on Earth. It would take something truly horrendous to kill it.

That is not the case for other, smaller economies. Real people get hurt and it is often the case that they do the harm to themselves. Economic models matter.

When it comes to alternatives, I usually advocate an organism model, but with multiple entities. The global economy is not one cell. It is billions of partially autonomous entities who are also partially interdependent. The strongest argument against the engine model is there are guys like me (lots of us) who simply refuse to be tuned. I pay attention to my personal incentives a lot more than an engine part would.

Robert said...

In theory the F35 was a good concept. The problem is that you ended up with a Bard for a warplane - able to fill multiple roles but not able to flourish in any one specific role.

What should have been done was instead to establish the three jets would use the same set of components, but could otherwise be built to different specifications. In short, you would have a sonnet warplane - built with specific limitations and design specifications in mind, but with utter freedom within that concept.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

I will only vote for a Libertarian who is in the Libertarian party. Even if Republicans in Mass. are liberal Democrats in every other state of the union, I consider the party too diseased to be worth saving.


Unfortunately, party does matter. A center-right Republican congressman gives power to the Republican caucus and all that that entails for filibusters, committee chairmanships, and such. A blue-dog Democrat does more good just by adding to size of the caucus.


Larry, I just enjoy a good argument. :)


But that's not just saying "No it 'tisn't"!

:)

David Burns said...

I've always been a fan of Dr. Brin's transparent society idea. I just don't see how we get there from here. Sousveillance isn't about making a video of Obama giving a speech or Paul Ryan driving down the street. It's about being able to see what they're doing when they're wielding power. If we accept Brin's assumptions that preclude hiding, does sousveillance do any better? Both assume we can make the elites tolerate discomfort. How do they differ?

David Burns said...

If I want to hide, I can take many actions, though none will offer perfect security. If I favor sousveillance, what do I do to push it forward? Make a video of a traffic stop? What does this have to do with abuse of power at the highest levels, which may call for compromising my data? I should go read the book again, it's been too long.

Fluid Dynamics said...

"Fluid D. I am trying to whip it into a book. No current posting, sorry."

It would take what, five minutes of your time? The only reason I can think of then for continued refusal, and repeatedly mentioning a book, is if you are deliberately withholding parts 3 and 4 in the hopes of coercing me to pay for them.

My response to anything that even smells like an attempt at coercion is to refuse to cooperate. As a result, it's if they are *not* reposted that I will never pay for that particular book.

Just so you know.

David Brin said...

Mr. Brazee, you badly need to read this. It is the reason why conservative-by-personality officers are shifting to the DP.

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-democrats-and-republicans-wage-war.html

DBurns: There are many “hiding” measures that are apropos and practical in the short term. But we (we as a civilization) only “win” over the long run if there is a general trend toward general light.

FD: why should I care? Show me where they are posted behind a paywall. I have some articles up that way and would have said so, in this case. Can the paranoia.

Simpler answer. I am swamped and if there were FIVE of me I’d be swamped. Now give me back the two minutes your paranoia just cost me. And do me the favor of not paying for anything of mine, hm? Ever? begone.

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

@David Burns: You get there from here one small step at a time. For example, you are using your name here instead of hiding. That enables the rest of us to contribute what we know to your reputation should another ever want it. Being a human instead of a cipher is a small step, but when many of us walk that same path, we get transparency.

Walking further along that path would involve you taking anti-repudation steps. Imagine setting up a digital certificate that could stand in for you and then using it to digitally sign what you submit here. Not only would you be unable to repudiate what you write, others would find it difficult to spoof your identity if the rest of us make use of signature reading software. Doing this makes use of encryption tools, but not for hiding. If the rest of us follow suit, share our public keys, and maintain the integrity of our ID's, we take more small steps toward transparency.

Now imagine a world where a number of us are doing that and know we are doing that. What are we inclined to think about people who want to hide from us? What are we inclined to think of banks who don't make use of our ID's to establish the validity of transactions applied against our accounts? Would we think the people hiding were polite? Would we make use of services at these banks who don't protect us from identity theft?

It all starts with each of us saying "I am who I say I am and here is a way for you to assure yourself of this fact. Want more? Share in kind!"

donzelion said...

@Howard - "While I believe citizens have the right to privacy" - is it not interesting that the first context in which those rights were recognized involved sexuality (specifically, contraception in Connecticut)?

@Dr. Brin (re Howard Brazee's point on military waste) - I do know some senior officers, they were a little circumspect re waste, first taking a different definition than others might accept, and second acknowledging that sometimes, you gotta defend a useless base as 'essential' to get a Congressman's vote on something that is critical (and third, preferring to wash their hands of the whole disgusting business, rather than stand up and potentially hurt the military itself).

and back to H Brazee - "They aren't the ones who decide we need to have eternal wars supporting Halliburton and the Saudis. " The military (and Congress) have no interest whatsoever in defending the Saudis. We do sell a lot of kit to the Saudis, and the '91 Iraq War did indeed benefit the Saudis, but U.S. foreign policy in the Arab part of the Middle East was always about ensuring American power projection at the lowest possible cost (against British/German/Soviet interests).

The Saudis were infuriated by the 2003 Iraq War - and expressed their outrage by shifting car purchases to Japan, Germany, and Korea (wiping out the only profitable division of GM and Chrysler in the process, and setting the stage for their bankruptcy) - their airplanes to Airbus (and BAE for the first time), their mobile phones to Nokia (away from then-dominant Motorola), oil services contracts to Italy/China, major infrastructure to Korea/Japan/Germany/Sweden, financial accounts to London. Saudis punished Bush/Corporate America after the '03 Iraq War with indirect but very powerful tools.

This is why it's so utterly incorrect to tout the Bush/Saudi/Murdoch links and conceive of them as a "cabal" - and why I correct folks with opinions I otherwise respect here: they've misread the evidence and aren't seeing the rest of the picture.

David Brin said...

"but U.S. foreign policy in the Arab part of the Middle East was always about ensuring American power projection at the lowest possible cost..."

Um. Lowest. Possible. Cost?

Saudi shifting of purchases to harm the US economy is utterly consistent with the 2003 Iraq War which ALSO deeply harmed the US economy. These are synergies, not opposites.

donzelion said...

@Alfred/Duncan - It's not that Keynsian models "feel" good - it's that they contain a self-curing component: pay down that freakin' debt when times are good, so you can spend your way to keep people from starving/revolting/turning to Nazis or Commies when times are bad. One need not buy into the model itself as "accurately" describing the economy to find utility in its concepts.

Astrology also had its uses - aside from helping to craft calendars, it created opportunities for males who spent their nights watching the stars to convince ladies that they were ideal matches despite their lack of soldierly prowess or property holdings. No trivial feat! ;-) (Evolutionary reasoning suggests smart women might be attracted to 'astronomers' long before Galileo/Neil deGrasse Tyson made 'em sexy - creating and sustaining sub-culture of smart night owls...)

"It would take something truly horrendous to kill [the US and/or the US economy]."
Contrast the U.S. with Japan: natural resources? Mostly, fish and forests (and lots and lots of coast). Japan has had a pretty lousy last 25 years or so, as far as capital markets are concerned, but has NOT had mass starvation, nor is there any serious right-wing samurai caste screaming for blood. Economic models matter, but it's political/economic realities that matter most (to Japan, and to America as well).

Political economics resists both mechanistic reasoning (simplified Keynsians) and cellular reasoning (we are not symbiotic cells comprising an organism - too many cancerous cells). A model I'd prefer to both is broader chaos: biological systems are more chaotic than machines, so that's a closer model, but we're at least as complex at a social level as weather patterns (and equally unpredictable - yet even within that unpredictability, much useful science can be performed to suggest how best to live). Both an "engine model" and a "cellular model" can have their place as accurate (to a point) models describing aspects of a vast, complex chaotic system that nobody will ever 'model' all that accurately (any more than we can model long-term weather patterns), but that we can still use reliably (just as we can build houses to withstand local weather).

David Brin said...

http://www.newsweek.com/learn-love-unlovable-saudis-447942

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin - fair enough, by "lowest possible cost" I mean lowest cost to Republican insiders. Bush didn't really care that GM and Chrysler were hurt by his plans - Detroit isn't going to vote for his side, and Washington state (Boeing, at least in 2003) wasn't exactly a reliable Bush bastion. Screwing some New York bankers wouldn't hurt Bush either (so long as Goldman got ahead of the harm - they back too many Texas drillers to be permitted to be injured).

Which Republican leader (save Powell) cared all that much if a few thousand American troops get killed? Build 'em a monument and call 'em heroes, and then send them out to be killed some more. Great way for a civilian leader to "look strong" (esp. if Fox gives you cover, and blames Dems for looking weak). Shucks, put a bullhorn in the President's hands and some Americans will think he is Rambo/Schwarzenegger incarnate.

Of the $1 trillion spent "on the Iraq War" - a huge portion of it went actually went to Texas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Alabama, Florida - all those red states where military budgets were allocated from 2003 - 2009. A small portion went to the troops as well. That's "cheap" (in Bush/Cheney reasoning). Meanwhile, fracking companies made a killing (even better, in Bush/Cheney reasoning).

The Republicans didn't want to 'harm' the U.S. economy, so much as to extract the riches of our economy. The Saudi position was a protest against that ploy, largely because they were the ones threatened by instability in the region, and didn't take kindly to Bush dictating how the region was going to work.

David Brin said...

To be clear, I found that article misleading and it offers no evidence that "Riyadh and Jerusalem are breaking down barriers that have undercut regional peace and prosperity for almost seven decades." Moreover, if that is happening, it is probably a direct result of Obama's agile and laudable, Kissinger-to-China rapprochement with Iran. The whole conclusion of the article is wrongheaded. But the first dozen paragraphs are telling.

What not even the most paranoid piece talks about is whatthe prices could possibly WANT, long term, since the end game looks awful to them, if Pax Americana remains culturally dominant across the next 80 years. If that happened, their mysogynistic machismo is simply doomed. It can only survive and thrive if Western Civilization collapse and is replaced by ... caliphate.

David Brin said...

what the "princes" could possibly want

donzelion said...

Indeed, the telling byline - "This article first appeared on the American Enterprise Institute site." - tells me most of what I need to know about its credibility.

The claim of "official Saudi complicity" in 9/11 may be in the classified portion of the 9/11 report - I haven't read it, so can't respond (and even if I had read it, I probably would be banned from responding or clarifying). From what I know of royals, it's quite possible (e.g., royals weren't exactly using accountants as they financed various causes, and bad guys are quite skilled at hiding their intentions).

"They bomb Yemen without any effort to mitigate civilian casualties" More accurately, they don't use the same strategies to mitigate civilian casualties that Americans tend to use. Theirs is not as professional a military as ours is.

"quite frankly, sparked the Houthi uprising which Iran later co-opted by sponsoring religious seminaries spewing anti-Shi‘ite propaganda."
Whoever wrote that is an idiot who doesn't know anything about Yemen.

"as President Barack Obama heads to the Kingdom, the U.S.-Saudi relationship is in tatters?"
It's not in tatters, but AEI has always claimed Obama wrecked America's standing internationally at every opportunity, whether warranted by evidence or not. The strain extends back more than a decade. The end of international sanctions on Iran is an existential threat to the Saudi budget - if oil prices don't rise, they'll exhaust their sovereign wealth fund keeping the government afloat.

"The modern U.S.-Saudi relationship began when Franklin Delano Roosevelt met Ibn Saud on board the USS Quincy as Roosevelt returned from the Yalta Conference."
Which happened more than a decade after Standard Oil (and it's successors) commenced oil exploration in Saudi Arabia, ousting the British and Dutch interests that had jockeyed for that position. Of course, AEI doesn't care about such trifles...doesn't fit with their politics.

The "Riyadh and Jerusalem are breaking down barriers" line is hilarious (they both detest Iran, for somewhat similar reasons - but for Israel, Iran is a potentially existential threat, for Saudi, Iran relaxing sanctions poses a long-term threat to budgets).

ISIS does NOT hold territory in the Sinai peninsula (but does have active cells there).

Still, the best indicator: what have Saudis done trade-wise since Obama was elected? Last I'd seen, they were buying iPhones, GM, Chrysler Jeeps, and U.S. aerospace firms look to have won what may be the deal of the century. GE is once again building huge infrastructure projects, and Chinese firms (e.g., China Rail) are once again regarded as 'second rate.' (Of course, that may have had something to do with a particularly effective American general serving as ambassador - even if he was lousy at self-promotion.)

donzelion said...

But that's just that goofy article. I can make fun of Michael Rubin 'til doomsday - he's a hack, not a scholar. Rubin was one of the great geniuses behind the "they'll greet us with flowers" push (along with a Foaud Ajami and a couple other 'useful idiots' who testified to Congress - and misled us all dramatically - and now seeks to blame Obama for the mess that he helped make). If you've ever heard military brass complain about 'civilian meddlers at the Pentagon f*cking things up' - he's very much among that number.

"What not even the most paranoid piece talks about is whatthe prices could possibly WANT, long term, since the end game looks awful to them..."
I can tell you in detail what at least some of them are doing: putting their money and assets in Switzerland, America, the UK, and more (including many tens of billions into Silicon Valley - going back to the late 70s, when the East Coast establishment mostly rebuffed their efforts). One Saudi royal-owned company buys land in Arizona to exploit water rights - Americans forget that Pepsi gave them the money to do that...even though it's (sort of) public record. There's a lot more that's not public record.

The "misogynistic machismo" is purely about internal control - if Saudi daughters could marry whomever they wanted, as Arab women can in almost any other country, they'd immigrate en masse or marry 'undesirable' men (outside the tribal hierarchies). It worked for several decades, and one faction wants to preserve it by keeping tight constraints in place, while another prefers to create some modicum of opportunity (again, subject to constraints - they all look at Iran as the horror story of what happens when 'modernizing' gets out of hand - not to mention King Faisal, assassinated by a 'deranged' royal cousin for letting women on television).

"It can only survive and thrive if Western Civilization collapse and is replaced by ... caliphate."
Again, the Saudis regard any real 'caliphate' as the end to their rule. You will hear Saudis endorse the eventual formation of a caliphate, the same way both Protestant Evangelical dominionists and Catholic traditionalists endorse the "kingdom of heaven" - but the words don't mean quite what they appear to mean (and most Catholic and Protestant Americans would think you were wacky for suggesting they were monarchists simply because they use metaphors about a 'kingdom').

Wayne Borean said...


Agreed. Radical Transparency for Government is a necessity. Unfortunately those in power will oppose it, and those out of power can't impose it. Citizen pressure can drive it, but it will take time. In the meantime...

== The FBI vs Apple ==

I've suspected that this was political theatre as well, however a technician wrote up an explanation of how he'd hack an iPhone, and from a technical point of view I thought he was pretty accurate. If anyone wants to see it I can find the article again.


Second... A proposed bill in Congress, the “Compliancewith Court Orders Act of 2016”

It wasn't that long ago that tee shirts with the PGP source code were de rigueur in the circles I travel in. A modified PGP with 4096 bit encryption would give the NSA and FBI fits, and wouldn't be hard to implement.

Windows 10 covertly sends your disk encryption keys to Microsoft: Here's a disturbing article by Cory Doctorow, though I can’t verify: “Windows 10 has many unprecedented anti-user features: a remote kill switch that lets it disable your hardware; key-logging and browser-history logging that, by default, sends it all to Microsoft, and a deceptive "privacy mode" that continues to exfiltrate your data, even when you turn it on.”

Cory is accurate. Windows does do this. It all started with Windows XP, which sent some information to Microsoft without your knowledge or permission, and is one of the reasons I stopped using ALL Microsoft software. My computers are all Macs or run Linux (Mac OSX is based on the Open Source FreeBSD operating system and is POSIX compliant). Which is besides the issue that with every new version of Windows the spying has gotten worse. Using Windows for anything other than gaming is not safe.

== Hacking Transparency ==

The North Koreans probably didn't develop Red Star themselves. Note that I say probably. They are or were close to China, and China had developed Red Flag Linux. I expect that Red Star is Red Flag renamed so they can say that they have the best computer people. Only the best.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Flag_Linux

The Orwellians are out there, preparing. North Korea’s “Red Star” computer operating system – based on a Linux/Redhat distro – has rigid firewalls, prevents user tinkering, and watermarks all media: “reportedly tags every bit of media it comes into contact with, whether it is on a drive connected to the computer or on the computer itself, including files that aren't even accessed. Once tagged, the media files can then be traced back to whomever has them and, presumably, the source of them.”

Um, this is impossible. At least the way it is described it is impossible. It assumes that the computer has access to the formats of every media file, which is unlikely. If you've been using a computer for any length of time, you'll understand why Tom wrote this song:

http://www.tomsmithonline.com/lyrics/cant_get_the_file.htm

Which doesn't even get into write protected media...

Stay alert. The world needs lets.

Damned right.

Wayne

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: Come now. Take a good look at people who support Keynesian models. I big part of the lure is the model tells them what to do. That makes them feel better when people are suffering and asking for help. Now take a good look at an Austrian model. They speak more about what won't work. That doesn't help us prevent people from turning into Nazis when they demand strong leaders, but that doesn't invalidate their models. Astrology tells people what to do too. It tickles our pleasure centers just enough to memetically reproduce.

Keynesian models appeal to people for unreasonable reasons. We aren't an engine. We aren't symbiotic cells comprising an organism. (Human cells don't do that anyway. Most of them are impressively autonomous.) We are partially autonomous cells waking up to a changing reality where our interdependence is growing. Global scope for our division-of-labor trick is making us fabulously rich and so numerous that we can rapidly threaten our ecosystem. I suspect the best model for us is AS an ecosystem, but I'm not trying to advocate one particular model here. I'm trying to poke at the confidence some Keynesians have for their terrible model of us as an engine.

As for your advice that we pay down debts in good times and borrow in bad times, I put that right up there with buy low, sell high. It's pretty obvious. I'm also willing to concede that we should borrow when rates are low and pay back if they go up. Unfortunately, we don't actually do any of that. We have scads of voters who think they are excellent social engineers and THEY CAN MAKE THINGS BETTER using their simple models that TELL THEM WHAT TO DO. I'm not shouting when I write this. I'm pointing to the addictive hooks these memes have planted in our pleasure centers. You know you are doing the RIGHT THING when it feels good. Argue with a good Keynesian about the invalidity of their models and you threaten their next fix.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Alfred
You are WRONG - We can make things better

It is obvious to a blind man facing backwards that the current problem is lack of demand because the customers haven't got any money!!

The solution is equally simple - get some more money to the consumers!

Now the amount and the exact mechanisms can be discussed but if you can't see the problem.....

It really doesn't matter if the economy is considered as an engine or an elephant - it still need food/fuel to go

donzelion said...

@Alfred - sometimes, medicating the symptoms is better than letting things run their course. It's not that the technocrats are deluded into thinking they can cure the ills in the economy, or even fully understand it, so much as they can find "less bad" ways to prevent "worse bad" outcomes. Nazis/Commies taking over = super bad. Mass starvation = super bad. Both are avoidable harms, even without really deep knowledge about how the system works.

"Astrology tells people what to do too."
I would say that astrology tells us nothing whatsoever, BUT astrologers tell people what to do, and some folks opt to believe them. As with most points of faith, power, and even a large number of economic decisions. Sometimes, there is a logic underlying a system, even when that system grows from myths and nonsense, because human brains (even full of fantasies and science fiction) craft something meaningful that does exist, and when they do so, unexpected changes are possible. Sometimes. Money itself is one of those crazy things that grows from myths and nonsense, but which has extremely real effects once that nonsense is widely believed.

All that said, I'm not a Keynesian - I'm an institutionalist who sees value in Keynesianism, for now. And in that sense, I also share your ultimate goal of poking holes in the confidence of some about how readily we can master our economy - while retaining hope that even without mastery, we can still use what we can figure out to do some good. (And frankly, getting more money into the hands of consumers - Duncan's solution - strikes me as a pretty good goal.

"As for your advice that we pay down debts in good times and borrow in bad times, I put that right up there with buy low, sell high."
Then you too like an aspect of the Keynesian model. No sense throwing it all out, unless the replacement maintains at least the 'good' portions.

Again though, my frame of reference is no pretension of mastery, but merely that starvation is avoidable (and Malthus was a ninny). Other harms can be mitigated. I don't know that we can conquer all the major fears, but we can curb some of them, and have ingenious power to do so without causing even greater harms in the process.

Howard Brazee said...

I do remember reading this: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-democrats-and-republicans-wage-war.html, and agreeing with it. I'm not sure what I wrote that made you tell me that I need to read it now.

The reasons for endless war are multiple. But whether a politician is continuing the wars as a demagogue looking for power, or as a shill for the Military-Industrial complex, or because he knows we are Right and it's our duty to kill the infidels, or our self-identity being macho or whatever ---- The wars do not make us safer, the money is much more productively spent elsewhere, the wars decrease our world influence, our security states take away liberty, our torture makes it less likely to get individuals who can help our intelligence to be on our side... In general, the values we pride ourselves in having are hurt.

Jumper said...

My sense is that by "Keynesianism" one means whoever finds trickle down theories a big lie.

Howard Brazee said...

The reasons why Keynesian or austerity or any economic system appeal to people, like the theories behind them are secondary to what happens in the real world when those systems are tried.

Admittedly, in the real world all economic systems are compromises - but we can look and see what happens when similar states try different strategies.

Unfortunately, when our pet system loses such a real world comparison, the response tends to double down. We just didn't try it hard enough.

Jumper said...

On thinking about Saudis and the zeitgeist of any country, there are disagreements among ruling elites in all of them. There are dangerous fanatics there, and more progressive types. (Given the Overton window extant in each of those various zeitgeists.) We'll never get 100% of them to agree.
A nation is not an ego we can deal with as such.

Deuxglass said...

LarryHart,

Hillary has been sounding a bit more to the left to counter Sanders but she is not convincing. She says she will “fight for this and that” but if elected she will say, “it isn’t possible” or “it will cost too much”. It’s just a ploy. She doesn’t believe in changing anything and many Democrat voters know that.

“History doesn’t repeat but it rimes.”

Take a look at why and how the Whig Party collapsed in the mid-1850’s in the US and it shows what might just in the US.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-can-collapse-whig-party-tell-us-about-todays-politics-180958729/?utm_source=smithsonianhistandarch&no-ist

The Slavery Issue was the most important problem leading up to the Civil War. The Whig and the Democrat Party leaders in the spirit of cooperation kept coming up with compromises that just tweaked the system and never looked for a solution. They just put it off and kicked the can down the road but the pressure was building. Lincoln hit it right when he said, “Either we must be all free or all slave but we can’t be both”. To make it short, the anti-slavery part of the Whigs, the anti-slavery part of the Democrats and the Free Soil Party combined to form the Republican Party and they had the will to do what the two other parties refused to do in the name gradualism and compromise.

What do Trump supporters and Sander supporters have in in common? They both have an overwhelming concern about the 1% and trade. These two issues are in reality one issue because they are intimately tied. They see this correctly as an Existential Threat. Obama was right when he said that terrorism is not an existential thread. Terrorism although serious cannot bring down the United States. What the Trump and Sander followers see is that the 1% and the corresponding distortions in trade can bring the United States down because it destroys the very bases of our power and prosperity.

Pressure was building with the Whig Party for ten years, but when it collapsed, it was sudden. Within two years, the new Republican Party had control of the House and much of the Senate. When Lincoln was elected, the Slave States had to choose between slavery and rebellion and they rebelled. The Republicans conducted our bloodiest war to a successful conclusion. The Whigs disappeared and the Democrat Party was out of office for years for twenty-five years until they sold their souls and allied themselves with the former slave-owners. Pressure has been building at least since 2008 and probably more. The time is ripe.

Can something like this happen again? I think it is definitely possible. You can only hold your nose for so long until you say enough is enough.

Deuxglass said...

addendum

When faced with an Existential Threat all other issues become secondary. Coalitions can form of people who have differences on many issues but who agree an overwhelmingly important one.

Paul451 said...

Alfred,
"I'd argue a lot of people like Keynesian models because they feel good."

Whereas people like Austrian models because it makes them feel clever.

(But then I don't even own a television.)

Paul451 said...

Donzelion,
"and Malthus was a ninny"

David speaks of "self-preventing prophesies". Many of those involved in the Green Revolution and all of those developing birth control pills were believers in the Malthusian danger.

Passenger1: "There's a cliff ahead. If we continue in this direction, we'll drive off the cliff!"
Driver: "We can turn that way to avoid the cliff!"
Passenger2: "A ha! See, there was no danger, you ninny."

[Later]

Passenger1: "The engine temperature is rising too quickly, the engine could blow up!"
Driver: "Well, we can drive more easily until we are able to replace the radiat..."
Passenger2: "No, no, don't listen to him. He was wrong about the cliff thing, there's no need to listen to him now. Just drive on!"

donzelion said...

@Deuxglass - Hillary was fighting for health care 20+ years ago, and taking fairly extreme heat for it all along. Any Democrat who believes "she doesn’t believe in changing anything" hasn't been watching politics for very long (or else doesn't think health care is very important). Why do you think African-Americans endorsed Hillary so overwhelmingly? Media likes to suggest it's because she visited a bunch of churches, but many of them have somewhat more complete memories (and there are reasons she's been invited to so many churches, for so long).

On your historical account, bear in mind that Lincoln himself was "anti-slavery" (because slavery is evil) - but never elected on a platform to eliminate slavery ("I would save the Union, if that meant liberating all slaves, or liberating no slaves"), and from the beginning, was willing to compromise (using abolition first as a tactical punishment for Southern traitors - then trying to broaden that through the Constitution). To an abolitionist, Lincoln was a damned traitor (for many years) - but to a historian, he was the 'Great Liberator.'

Apply the same logic to Hillary. She's come down on the right side of history each time.

"What the Trump and Sander followers see is that the 1% and the corresponding distortions in trade can bring the United States down because it destroys the very bases of our power and prosperity."

On which precise issues do you believe Hillary is on a different side than Sanders? They do have differences in approach - she favors incremental tweaks, he favors revolution. Both are generally leading in the same direction, but she's been doing so from inside a Party, while he's been a prophet on the outside for years. Sometimes, one wants a prophet, but usually, one elects politicians.

(And just remember, if the Whigs hadn't delayed the end of slavery, the outcome of the Civil War would most likely have been quite different from how it ultimately resolved - without waves of immigrants shoring up the Union army, without infrastructure and factories empowering the Union army, the South might have retained slavery for longer than anyone realizes...)

donzelion said...

@Paul - "Many of those involved in the Green Revolution and all of those developing birth control pills were believers in the Malthusian danger."

You are correct, and indeed, many of those endorsing/distributing contraception (who ultimately set the stage for what 'rights of privacy' we actually have in America today) took up the Malthus banner. My view is that they had a different agenda (a positive "women ought to be empowered" agenda, rather than a negative "there's too many babies" agenda) - but used whatever rhetorical/conceptual tools they found.

But Malthus WAS wrong about the economy, fundamentally, and largely because he missed the importance of technology. His thinking developed from that era in which "land was wealth" - and since nobody is making more land, starvation cycles are inevitable. Early 20th century elites briefly flirted with Malthus (by misconstruing Darwin) - they overlooked somewhat important developments in physics (and other fields) that would change the world immensely in decades to come.

As with your passengers, sometimes one sees the cliff and leads wisely, sometimes one believes in dragons in the sea and leads foolishly - the fact that someone guided us well once does not mean they are right or wrong the next time around. Republicans guided us well in eradicating slavery - which Lincoln (rightly) perceived as a cliff - but that does not mean they're guiding us well today.

Howard Brazee said...

Their big difference is in who is to be boss, the people or Wall Street.

David Brin said...

" if Saudi daughters could marry whomever they wanted, as Arab women can in almost any other country"

Utter silliness and claptrap, sorry.

"Again, the Saudis regard any real 'caliphate' as the end to their rule."

DAZZLING claptrap! One strategic marriage and their line would be qualified. Are you telling me there aren't already lines descended from M woven into the House of ibn Saud?

David Brin said...

“As for your advice that we pay down debts in good times and borrow in bad times, I put that right up there with buy low, sell high. It's pretty obvious. I'm also willing to concede that we should borrow when rates are low and pay back if they go up. Unfortunately, we don't actually do any of that.”

Wrong, Alfred. Bill Clinton used good times to pay down debt. So has Jerry Brown in California. That is true Keynsianism.

Donzel Malthus wasn’t a ninny. He just never expected the Miracle. That human females who have confidence and health and are empowered tend to limit reproduction to 2 or 3. A trait that might save us all.

HB sorry I misinterpreted you combination of cynicism and idealism. All I can say is that war has been preached against since time immemorial and the preaching accomplished nothing. What HAS reduced the overall level of cviolence and allowed most nations to spend historically minuscule fractions of GDP on defense has been Pax Americana. Nothing more and nothing less.

The world we now have is not perfect, but it is trending toward the world we want. A burden of proof falls on those proclaiming we could have had it without a militarily strong USA.

Deuxglass… There would have been no republican party if the South had not started active raiding-warfare in 1852, sending bands of irregular cavalry rampaging across northern states with complicity of southern appointed US Marshals. This radicalized northern states and paved the way for Lincoln.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - "DAZZLING claptrap! One strategic marriage and their line would be qualified. Are you telling me there aren't already lines descended from M woven into the House of ibn Saud?"

There are thousands of individuals who trace from the maternal line, and have been for a century or more. None of that matters though. The tribal identity that M lived in, endorsed, and was defined by rejects 'marrying into' a tribe - it's a pure paternal line of transition. For Saudis to make a claim to the caliphate, they'd have to change their religion itself. Hence, the title "Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques" - which is itself an argument for authority. Were they to ever posit "Caliph" themselves, the immediate consequence would be a rupture between Wahhabis and Saudis.

" if Saudi daughters could marry whomever they wanted, as Arab women can in almost any other country"
Which part is silly? Marital bonds are the most important economic transaction most Saudis will ever make - far more important than buying a starter home is in America. The Kingdom of Saudi was forged through marital alliances (and religious alliances) - this stuff matters a great deal, and the government perceives national security importance in the patterns of marriage.

Arab women CAN marry whomever they want in every other Arab country (well, maybe not Qatar, which is also Wahhabi, but looks nothing like Saudi Arabia, but those restrictions only apply to the ruling tribe).

David Brin said...

donzel what self-hypnosis. The Turkish Sultans claimed the office of Caliph among their titles and while there were dissenters, most of Islam accepted it. Also, if you wanted to be absolutely legalistic in the terms YOU define, then marry a Saudi princess into the line and let her sons be caliphs. Moreover, you know there are a dozen solutions to your declared absolute. Including the fact that the Saudis and Whhabis are totally interbred by now and getting to control the world's madrassas is a big incentive to collaborate.

Only a lawyer would cite a prim legalism and declare "Done! There's no way around this! Even though... if I worked for the other party I could come up with dozens!"

Likewise, the part that is silliest is the sentence's OTHER clause: " as Arab women can in almost any other country"

Reeeeeeelly?

You really need to get out more.

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

Hillary has been sounding a bit more to the left to counter Sanders but she is not convincing. She says she will “fight for this and that” but if elected she will say, “it isn’t possible” or “it will cost too much”. It’s just a ploy. She doesn’t believe in changing anything and many Democrat voters know that.


I'm not sure about that.

You see Hillary as a conservative who mouths liberal platitudes in order to get Democratic votes. I see her as a liberal who runs more toward the center-right under the impression that that's what it takes to survive politically. The more it becomes apparent that the "center-right country" is pulling to the left, the more she'll let her inner leftist free.

I'm exaggerating to make the point. Obviously, Hillary is no Bernie Sanders, or even Barack Obama. However, if she fights for liberal positions out of political expediency, even if she doesn't "feel" them herself, I think she'll do a good job of that fighting. I'm among those Democrats who believes that "If you're in a street fight, Hillary is the one you want on your side," even though I voted for Bernie in the primary.

Paul451 said...

Donzelion,

My "passengers" metaphor is what I see happening in many debates. We avoid a prophesy, not because it was wrong but because - once warned - it was avoidable. But then when the next prophesised (and likely avoidable) disaster approaches, the previous prophesy's "failure" is used to justify ignoring the current one. But it is the critics who are ignoring that the prophesy was avoided, not wrong. That results in efforts to avoid the next disaster being blocked, ironically because efforts to avoid the last disaster were successful.

"and Malthus was a ninny" plays into that. Because the "failure" of Malthusianism is the go-to trope of those trying to prevent action to avoid future problems.

Malthus was a genius. He just wasn't an actual future-predicting prophet.

Howard Brazee said...

I can understand LarryHart's statement that Clinton obviously isn't a Bernie Sanders. But I disagree that she's no Barack Obama. To me she's as conservative as he is (and more conservative than Nixon was).

Jumper said...

Many candidates promise stuff that's simply not in the purview of the president; things that Congress must do. Clinton resembles someone who doesn't like to make these bogus promises.

David Brin said...

HB while Nixon did talk about national health and established the EPA... those were different times and he had a very Democratic Congress he had to trade off with. In fact, had that Congress accepted Nixon's health plan, instead of holding out for more, we'd be in vastly better shape.

But to call him liberal is just loony. As loony as calling Hillary a right winger. For 2 years Bill Clinton had a demo congress and she fought like hell for health care and other causes. For 2 years Barack Obama had a demo congress and he fought like hell for health care and other causes. Want to measure her liberalism? Try helping get he a democratic Congress. This time bigger and for more than 2 years.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

David Burns said...

@Alfred We are not thinking of the same thing. For me to make myself transparent does nothing to shed light on the activities of the NSA. For the transparent society to happen, there have to be concrete steps I or we can take to get there. If it requires serious reform of government, it requires the cooperation of the elites we aim to constrain, even more than the hiding approach does. I suppose there is an asymmetry, in that it might be easier to catch an elite cheating on a transparency requirement than to catch them cheating on a "don't look" requirement. That doesn't seem like the proper rock to build a new paradigm on.

Howard Brazee said...

A transparent government is necessary if we are to be able to make informed decisions (as bosses), but it isn't sufficient.

Deuxglass said...

Donzelion,

Clinton fought for health care twenty years ago but that was then. Now she no longer fights if it runs counter to the interest of her donors. Hillary Clinton is not an evil person (I do have doubts about Trump). I see her, because of the campaign financing, as having to make so many compromises as to having lost sight of the goal. The means has become the end and not the result. She was for health care twenty years ago and now she says it is too expensive which is totally false. Please tell me why the change? She has, as many others, been captured even though she still thinks her heart is in the right place as is willing to do what she can but not what she should do. Afro-Americans have not improved their situation under Obama under any measure and it is doubtful that Clinton will do much for them if she is elected. They traditionally vote Democrat but Sanders is a Democrat also and there is movement towards Sanders among some of them. She does not own the African-American vote by divine right. Sanders has consistently been right on the important issues for a long time. Compare his voting record to Clinton’s. If you want a side-by-side comparison then I will furnish it tomorrow if you like. How can you praise her as politician? She is lousy at it. Bill was a true politician but she is wanting.

Lincoln was not willing to compromise on slavery. He was setting forth, with his characteristic clarity, the moral choices that had to be made. He was saying the primary objective was to save the Union but to do so would require the abolition of slavery by legislation if possible and by force if necessary. He was seen by the hard abolitionists as a traitor only because they didn’t see that Lincoln needed the Border States on his side first. The abolitionists were afraid that he would backtrack and it would be a “return to business as usual”. They stopped worrying when they understood that Lincoln was going all the way by accepting to pick up the gauntlet the South had thrown down. Lincoln was an abolitionist. He destroyed slavery.

Your last paragraph is just a what-if scenario. It didn’t happen. You might as well as said, “If the Founders had outlawed slavery then we wouldn’t have had the Civil War”. Useless.

Why didn’t you discuss the main aim of my post, namely that a political upheaval could happen resulting in a new party instead of sidelining to Clinton’s merits?

David Brin said...

"Now she no longer fights if it runs counter to the interest of her donors."

Show us one... just one... even one example. She defied Bernie to offer one at the debate and he collapsed. It is just a narrative. Comfy slander.

I am moving onward. You guys can continue here....

Jumper said...

That bit about Lincoln is historically wrong. He pushed for the amendment but didn't declare universal suffrage. He lived one week after the ratification of the 13th.

David Brin said...

onward

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

Since when has expressing a personal opinion about a candidate become slander? You are using a lawyer’s trick on me. You are saying find a specific action when it is the absence of specific action that is important when judging Hillary Clinton’s record. She has taken spoken stands against financial institutions while managing never having to actually do anything about them. She has voted for several bills on Medical care but those bills were tweaks only of the system filling in a whole here and there. There is nothing in them that affects the majority of people. She was on the right side of the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005. She couldn’t be there for the vote because Bill was having heart surgery but she came out against it the day before. That was good action but since then, she has not set in motion anything substantive as far as I see.

Bill Stuckey said...

Dr. Brin,

In response to your comments about not being able to hide from the elites, I've always wondered if what John Brunner described way back in "The Shockwave Rider" has now become practical.

Is it possible to create a set of false identities - a blizzard of dis-information - to hide much of your actions and private correspondence in the noise?