Tuesday, June 14, 2016

A Crazy Election Year

Shall we start this political posting with something we saw coming for months? Billionaire David Koch has pledged “tens of millions of dollars” to help bankroll the campaign of Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

Of course this is exactly as predicted.  They want to boost the Libertarian Party for many reasons, foremost to get NeverTrump Republicans to the polls, And thus possibly save (some) down-ticket republicans. Losing control over red state legislatures is the real Koch nightmare, because one such loss will end gerrymandering and other cheats in that state. Perhaps forever.

They'll have to spend plenty on leaflets asking goppers to vote "Gary Johnson for president plus republican for all other offices." Flyers that will prove their hypocrisy. And of course they'll target millions of Sandersites, appealing for them to go to the LIbertarian Party, hoping to shatter the Democrats' coalition. They are already setting up Chinese-style social media boiler rooms filled with guys feigning identities in order to rave "Never Hillary!"

The ultimate goal? Complete transforming of the libertarian movement into a front for oligarchic propertarianism. (See my earlier posting: Libertarians and Conservatives must choose: Competitive Enterprise or Idolatry of Property.)  And that whirring sound will be coming from Adam Smith's grave. 

By the way. Does it concern you that Donald Trump has had extensively documented interactions with organized crime figures and a raft of “coincidental” benefits from mob-related construction companies and unions? Are you able to convince yourself that running a casino is just like operating any hotel? Or is it actually rather encouraging that he has been smart enough (very smart) to use sealed settlements to leave (so far) no indictable smoking guns? (Encouraging because if he were president – and awful – at least he’d likely be clever.) What’s clear is that the stunning hypocrisy of accusing Hillary Clinton of “corruption” is as delirious as an openly-bragging philandering, twice-divorced gambling lord attacking the morals of Bill Clinton.

Guys, seriously? Some proportion? This is why they wage war on science.  

== Bernites: swerve to the races that matter ==

How to unleash and make best use of the  political energy sparked by Bernie Sanders? It's one thing to ask his zealous supporters to hold their noses and fight for Hillary Clinton. They'll do that, thinking of the Supreme Court and 10,000 honest appointees instead of Trump-Bush clan ripoff artistes... and because Bernie will ask them to, hugging Hillary in Philadelphia,  

But the real deal?

Unleash the Sanders army on down-ticket races! After all, the thing that hampered Obama from "yes we can fix stuff!" down to "yes we can administer well and tweak a bit," has been the worst U.S. Congress in 100 years.  The laziest, most stubbornly unambitious, dogmatic, (Dennia) Hastert-rule-following, never-negotiating, wretched and utterly accomplishment-free Congress in living memory.

Even more important? At risk of repeating myself - but it bears repeating! State Assembly races.  


If Bernie fans cinched their belts and dug into *those,* then each activist could do real good for America.  Have no doubt, that is why the republicans are starting to make nice to DT (Delirium Tremens) or else pouring money into the Libertarians or even a 4th party run.  They are giving up on the White House and desperate to draw Republican voters into polling booths on any excuse, in order to clutch those legislatures, knowing if they lose them - and cheats like gerrymandering go away - they may never ever get them back.

"No other losing presidential candidate since at least the 1960s has galvanized his followers for this kind of down-ballot movement."  See this article. And there are drawbacks if they become just a lefty Tea Party. Just remember guys, even if you got Bernie in the White H ouse it would have done no good without a Congress.  So give him one.

Give Hillary such a Congress and watch... the middle class will return and the poor will rise and science will be heeded again.

Fight for change!  But do it as grownups.  We have enough childishness over on the confederate side. Those lower-rung races are where ... after Bernie hugs Hillary onstage... you can do some real good.


== Want more reasons? ==

Meanwhile.... House Republicans yesterday released a plan to slash the Federal Communications Commission's budget by $69 million and prevent the FCC from enforcing net neutrality rules, "rate regulation," and its plan to boost competition in the set-top box market. Jiminy, will someone speak up with ONE example of this congressional majority ever doing even a single thing the interests of 21st Century US citizens? Come on. Down in comments.  Name one.  Even one.

And Republicans controlling the Senate passed legislation Tuesday to block new Obama administration rules that require financial professionals to put their client’s best interest first when giving advice on retirement investments like individual retirement accounts.  Truly nothing more needs to be said than the simple and factual headline. Read it over again! No “spin” is possible. Rationalize your way out if it, if you can. 

From the Washington Post: Republicans' hopes for an Obama scandal crash and burn. While the obsessively repeated fox-narrative asserts democratic corruption, in fact, the record shows exactly the opposite. “The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free,” David Brooks, a conservative New York Times columnist, wrote this year. 

Oh, there have, no doubt, been screw-ups: failures of policy, misbehavior and cases of poor management. "But Obama’s accusers have yet to document high-level malfeasance or corruption, and in the case of Benghazi, even some investigations led by Republicans have discredited the allegation."  

In fact, the Obama administration is about to be only the second eight-year presidency in well over a century ever to end without a single high official convicted, or even indicted, for any substantial malfeasance of office. Any at all, despite relentless witch hunts by the like of my own representative, Darrell Issa (R-CA). Efforts to find a ‘smoking gun’ that have taken up the greater part of the laziest Congress in U.S. history. 

Oh, what’s the other 8-year administration that came out clean as a whistle, despite desperate opposition efforts to find something corrupt or criminal?  The tenure of Bill Clinton.

Alternative electoral rules? 

Many of the alternative electoral rules suggested by science fiction are tempting, like using the Australian Preferential Ballot system that would solve most of our problems with plurality of first-past-the-post rules.

Others are more ambitious. One is reminded of Heinlein's criterion for citizenship in Starship Troopers... service first, then voting. A far better pattern was suggested in his novel Double Star, wherein computers let us bypass the insane unfairness of electoral representation based on where you live.  District based voting ensures that 40% of Americans will never elect a representative -- and congressfolk blithely ignore that 40% in their district.  A treason made worse by gerrymandering. (Which one party has refined to an art and a reflex.)

Far better for a modern era? Imagine saying that any 750,000 citizens can unite to "buy" or to "elect" a representative, unanimously. All the other reps must find 750,000... say among single university women or all the truck drivers in the midwest.  If your constituency shrinks below 700K you better recruit more citizens or you are out of office and those 600,000 need to fish around and build alliances to get over the mark.

This way, no one is disenfranchised, ever! And yes, it means that large cults, even hate groups, might pool to get a representative or two. So? By the same token, those fanatics would thereupon have ZERO residual impact on ANY other representative. Ponder that.

118 comments:

aciddc said...

I like the "750,000 people get together and buy a representative" concept, but it's really not very different from proportional representation is it?

Rud Merriam said...

Election by interest group is problematic because the average citizen won't muster enough energy to participate. Which is probably as it should be. Those with sufficient intensity to organize will be extremists on issues who feel their way is the only way.

A point that keeps being missed is we need to elect representative leadership . That is someone responsive to the public will but will also do what is correct in opposition to that will. They then need to explain their decision.

locumranch said...



http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/24/politics/charles-koch-hillary-clinton-2016/

On April 24, 2016, Charles Koch praised ex-President Bill Clinton for better anti-labour (pro-immigration; anti-protectionism) policies than Bush & offered Hillary Clinton the possibility of Koch Brothers support in the coming elections. Of course, Hillary Clinton promptly rejected this offer as unnecessary as she had already secured the financial support of many other 'Big Money' Propertarian Oligarchs as represented by (1) Alice Walton of Walmart, (2) George Soros of Monsanto, (3) Bill Gates of Microsoft, (4) the Time Warner Media empire, (5) Wall Street including Citigroup, DLA Piper, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Morgan Stanley and (6) multiple oligarchic Foreign Governments.

(1) http://usuncut.com/politics/alice-walton-hillary-clinton/

(2) http://www.naturalnews.com/037310_barack_obama_monsanto_lobbyist.html

(3) https://next.ft.com/content/c7c236e6-052a-11e6-96e5-f85cb08b0730

(3) (4) (5) https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cid=N00000019&cycle=Career

(6) https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/foreign-governments-gave-millions-to-foundation-while-clinton-was-at-state-dept/2015/02/25/31937c1e-bc3f-11e4-8668-4e7ba8439ca6_story.html


WHEREAS the Koch Brothers would rather support Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump (7) (8):

(7) http://www.politico.com/story/2016/05/trump-megadonors-koch-222825

(8) http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2016/02/koch-brothers-have-donald-trump-problem


So, if we are to base our 2016 Presidential decision on 'The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend' and we define the Koch Brothers as our Oligarchic Enemies, then only Sanders or Trump are worthy of our political support come November, leaving Trump as the only option after Sanders gets hosed by a Super Delegate Oligarchy at a rigged Democratic National Convention.


Best

Larry C. Lyons said...

@locumranch
Hate much? I love it the way wingnuts rant about the evils of the Clintons stretching back 30 years. I have seen the reich wing make up stories and horrid lies about the Clintons, and especially Ms. Clinton. Stuff so foul that I'm amazed that it even found any traction. And typically without any evidence.

But they always seem to forget that the Whitewater commission never found any reliable evidence that Ms. Clinton did anything illegal. Nor was she involved in the Vince Foster suicide. The so called Travelgate investigation collapsed after they found no wrongdoing.

And now in spite of all the Koch inspired lies and innuendos she's been essentially cleared of any illegality with her email server. Not a peep was raised when the Republican Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, or Republican Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez or Republican VP Dickless Cheney did the same. As it turned out all of them actually had previously classified material on their servers. In contrast while not of the best of judgement, the only classified material found on that server in Ms. Clinton's home was classified well after the fact.

Moreover, what came out of her Wall St. speeches is that she took on the brokerages and banks for their discriminatory practices in hiring.
http://addictinginfo.org/2016/02/06/revealed-one-of-hillary-clintons-goldman-sachs-speeches-video/
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/4/17/1516205/-A-Hillary-Clinton-Goldman-Sachs-Wall-Street-speech-has-been-released

And we could go on and on.

For months now, America Rising (A Koch PAC) has sent out a steady stream of posts on social media attacking Mrs. Clinton, some of them specifically designed to be spotted, and shared, by liberals. The posts highlight critiques of her connections to Wall Street and the Clinton Foundation and feature images of Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, interspersed with cartoon characters and pictures of Kevin Spacey, who plays the villain in “House of Cards.” And as they are read and shared, an anti-Clinton narrative is reinforced.
(taken from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/17/us/politics/the-right-aims-at-democrats-on-social-media-to-hit-clinton.html?_r=0).

Hillary Clinton has been subject to 30 years of lies, and innuendos from both Right wing and now left wing extremists who again have nothing on her.

But because a lie travels around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes, you are convinced she's a lying criminal and traitor.

The fact is, you've been lied to for political gain by groups supported by the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove. You have been played the fool each and every time you repeat those lies.

matthew said...

The New Yorker is using your new-phase-of-Civil-War terminology. http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/06/orlando-response-election-civil-war.html?wpsrc=nymag

Mark said...

I suggest we move to virtual districts. Each district will be made up of like-minded people based on demographics (the ones political scientists say lead to political opinion) and answering a few political questions. In that way each representative will truly represent each member -- at least most the time. Elections would be based more on skills and temperament than opinion. Congress (or better yet, parliament) would accurately represent the opinions of the people.

Tom Crowl said...

As you know I am strongly in support of a micropayment capability for lobbying (which with one-click ease and large numbers is a political sledgehammer). To not recognize its potential is simply denial... though I'd welcome an argument against its wisdom... which is a different question and deserves addressing. (I also believe this will weaken both Parties... a good idea in my opinion... and encourage over time a more thoughtful, issue-oriented citizenry.)

However, I also suggest that it may be that many functions now handled via 'voting' and/or political appointment... may be better addressed by other means.

Examples:

What is the potential for various implementations of sortition? (i.e. variations on the jury system) in different areas of governance? Could all or any part of a legislative body be chosen via some such system? How about some role in advisory bodies (along side of the technical experts sometimes needed but also open to the 'revolving door problem' with businesses in the areas they are advising on.)

Or how about choosing judges (generally there's one choice or a few about whom we know next to nothing). Could a panel of randomly chosen citizens (with some minimal requirements) do a better job?

Or how about this: could more financial regulation enforcement be accomplished via a bounty system? (like the guy who saw through Madoff)?

Could the expansion of sousveillance be an opportunity to better enable this sort of oversight? Avoiding the revolving door problem? And bringing some good, old-fashioned free enterprise to this field of regulation? Or would it bring vigilantism?

Bottom Line:
Are we reaching a point where voting for our leaders becomes an increasingly faulty mechanism for finding the best leaders as the technologies for voter manipulation increase along with the social distance between segments of the society.

And how about this: George Washington not only thought that Political Parties were an unfortunate development... but also felt that Congressional Districts of 30,000 people each was TOO BIG! NOW they're about 650,000 people each. This is not effective representation.

On the other side of this.... to increase the size of Congress to make 30,000 pop. districts would increase the size of Congress to what ALSO becomes an impracticable decision making body. (group size matters in decision making)

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - I note that the article you posted re Koch/Johnson was updated to include a denial by David Koch's spokesman. I'm unaware of a change since that article was posted on May 29 (or an update from Steve Wynn or other large donors cited in that article). Often, fundraisers will assert "X is donating" in order to draw donations from Y, and Z (and once they donate, X will either distance himself from Y and Z, or climb on board). Hollywood, investment bank financing for large transactions, and politicians - the game's the same.

I note later in the article it mentions that Johnson's campaign manager indicated "the campaign had no intention of publicly confirming donor commitments ahead of the party’s convention."

Makes sense: if a "source" is on the 'fundraising' side, rather than the 'administration' side of the campaign, that source MAY take in a chunk of the money raised. On the other hand, such a "source" may be trying to scuttle the chance of such backing by airing it publicly, by prompting a firm denial that signals other billionaire donors (e.g., the "source" is a Republican trying to block the undesirable outcome, probably one about to get fired taking a parting 'shot').

I am not saying this didn't happen, or won't happen. Indeed, the most likely occurrence is that if the Kochs like Johnson, they'll deliver a 'token gift' (say, $100,000 - enough to buy pizza for a few nights), and then see what that gets them (while putting $50 million into "hating" on Clinton and Democrats - which avoids publicity).

donzelion said...

re Donald Trump - "Are you able to convince yourself that running a casino is just like operating any hotel?
Aside from the strippers and the gambling?

The most intriguing fact is that Evangelical Christians do not appear to object to either this time around. Seems to me that the 'war on science,' the 'war on the UN,' and the 'war on Christmas' are perhaps best understood as advertising campaigns: Christians have been Pavlovianized to declare war on anyone when they hear it from a 'proper channel' - only certain bells prompt salivation (or at least, salvation from Hillary, who must be evil because certain channels said so a large number of times).

As for achievements of the 114th Congress, I'd say the Iran Nuclear Deal (in the Senate) and the decision to ban torture of detainees are about the highlights. The latter shouldn't even have been necessary.

Robert said...

A far better method of improving proportional representation is to pass the Constitutional Amendment that's been out there for over 100 years that would require one Representative for every 30,000 voters. The technology now exists to allow these Reps to vote remotely and to meet remotely. And seeing Congress is part-time in any event? Let's take the existing salaries for the House of Representatives and split it among the 10,700+ Representatives that would now exist, and have them vote on weekends.

They would be required to go to their State Capital Building once every three months to confirm their electronic voting for various proposed legislation. But otherwise, they would work remotely using dedicated machines that have no web-surfing capabilities or USB drives and thus are far better protected against hacking than most computer systems as a result.

Oh, and the wonderful thing of increasing the number of Reps by nearly 25-fold? It completely screws up gerrymandering. Though given the large number of Reps, we might want to alter how we elect our House of Representative politicians, perhaps by going with a system similar to the British Parliament where the percentage of the vote for each party is split among local candidates - so rather than having over 20,000 individual candidates running for Congress every two years, political parties themselves run. We may even see Libertarians rubbing virtual shoulders with Socialists and Green Party candidates in some of the larger states!

Rob H.

donzelion said...

@Tom - "I am strongly in support of a micropayment capability for lobbying (which with one-click ease and large numbers is a political sledgehammer)."

We do have a system in which the strongly motivated can send notes (and money) to politicians, call their staff, send letters, and demand action. We have a system in place by which you can hire as many lobbyists with your dollar as any oligarch - for whatever your cause, there's no shortage of organizations out there (or you can form your own quickly and easily).

What would micropayments add in practice, that wouldn't be gamed so as to prevent effectiveness?

Consider the nuts'n'bolts work of a lobbyist. In 2015, the Senate consider a rider to compel states to accept double-trailer trucks through their highways as a condition for federal grants (something like 30+ states block double-trailer trucks on their highways).

With a micropayment system in place, trucking companies and truckers might render payments one way or the other. That would provide guidance on how people with a strong interest in the idea would respond. At least it would, the first time it was used. The second time it was used, the Senators in question might be eyeing the $10k in micropayments they could generate through raising a controversial measure and seeing it defeated. The fourth/tenth times it was used, most people would lose interest (unless their livelihoods were directly linked). And those are the 'little' nuts'n'bolts matters (the things so far off everyone's radar they never make it into print news - but which only matter if you drive on a highway from time to time, or use any goods shipped by a truck...).

Or how about choosing judges (generally there's one choice or a few about whom we know next to nothing). Could a panel of randomly chosen citizens (with some minimal requirements) do a better job?
Unquestionably, yes - they could do a much better job....at choosing the judges THEY liked. The kind of judges who go to church with them, go shooting with them, look like them...

Or how about this: could more financial regulation enforcement be accomplished via a bounty system? (like the guy who saw through Madoff)?
It's called the Private Attorneys General Act, and grew from the original tort system. Several public officials were skeptical of Madoff, they just couldn't prove their suspicions. We keep public officials around because so many in the private sector are so incredibly skilled at fleecing other individuals in the private sector.

re Congressional District sizes - growing the House from 435 Representatives to 5000 or so (to shrink from 650,000 back down to 30-50k) would create a massive increase in total costs, with no clear gains, while subjecting legislation even more to control by the House leadership. Group size does matter in decision-making, but typically, group size breaks into sub-groupings, and those in turn to small little groups: the larger the group, the more dependent it becomes on organizational structures controlled by a handful of individuals operating opaquely in order to get anything done.

donzelion said...

@Rob H - Oh, and the wonderful thing of increasing the number of Reps by nearly 25-fold? It completely screws up gerrymandering.

Actually, it is as likely to make it worse as it is to make it better. For several reasons:

(1) Voter indifference. The vast majority of Americans do not even know who their state assembly or state senator is (or even what a unicameral state legislature is, like Nebraska's). Slightly more know who their congressional representative is, but even then, it's not all that impressive. Yet without even knowing that person's identity, how could people hold such figures accountable?

(2) Fringe groups become disproportionately powerful with local elections. Ever monitor a school board election? Want to know how radical, anti-science fringe figures are consistently able to outperform in those districts? It's because nobody cares to follow (voter indifference) and because a few fringe groups are quickly able to exploit that to extract bizarre, harmful outcomes.

(3) Party infrastructure becomes even more important. As bad as gerrymandering is at the federal level, it's the state level where things are truly messed up (which also contributes to indifference - why should anyone care who leads, the party insiders orchestrated it all anyway).

Of course, if the U.S. abolishes our electoral system and shifts to a parliamentary system, that may improve several of these problems - but in practice, it also weakens other protections already in place. The net effect of true parliamentary processes has been stronger centralized control (railroads > freeways, national health > regional/provincial health systems, etc.). There's a case for that, but it's a different case than the notion that 5000 or 30,000 Congressmen will make democracy more functional.

Paul451 said...

aciddc,
"I like the "750,000 people get together and buy a representative" concept, but it's really not very different from proportional representation is it?"

It's demographic electorates instead of geographic. Ie, instead of voting for a representative in the area you happen to live, you join a group that represents your interests and vote for a representative within that group.

In which case, of course, it's just a different version of the party system, with some kind of Hare-Clark/proportional-representation distribution of seats between those parties based on total membership.

Rud Merriam,
"Election by interest group is problematic because the average citizen won't muster enough energy to participate. Which is probably as it should be. Those with sufficient intensity to organize will be extremists on issues who feel their way is the only way."

Hence, IMO, any proportional representation system needs compulsory voting even more than conventional voting systems.

"A point that keeps being missed is we need to elect representative leadership ."

Which is one of the reasons I'm so enamoured with the Venetian Doge hybrid election/sortion system. It tends to result in a "wise elder" being elected in the final round.

Robert,
Re: A House of Many, elected by the Few.

Your system would work better with state-wide voting using a proportional representation system. That eliminates district-level gerrymandering, while the sheer number of representatives eliminates state-level pseudo-gerrymandering of the Senate.

But proportional representation is often unintuitive in practice, and adds another layer of "new scary" for people to understand (or be lobbied into mis-understanding), which makes the adoption of such a system even less likely.

Given what a confusing mud-pool US local politics is, it's still surprising that there's actually very little "experimentation" at the state level.

Paul451 said...

From the last thread:

Alfred,
Re: Baryonic matter as dark matter
"I think there is still room for them if they do weird things as well,"

One of the rivals of non-baryonic dark-matter is MOND and its variants. The idea that at very low gravitation levels, gravity goes from inverse-square with distance, to inverse-linear with distance. Mathematically almost works for most galaxies. However, as data has improved, the number of edge cases that exclude MOND have increased. For example, there are galaxies with almost no dark matter. Their gravitational effects are entirely explained by visible baryonic matter. And the flip case, dark-matter galaxies with almost no baryonic matter. MOND can't explain either.

I was quite fond of MOND. It had a certain elegance. I'm still holding out hope that double-special-relativity (no seriously, it's an actual thing) will still turn out to be a thing.

Robert,
"Why would the evaporation of subatomic black holes on a wide scale NOT cause the rapid expansion of the universe? The energy resulting from the loss of those super-condensed sources of mass/gravitation would need to go somewhere. So it inflated the universe."

Gravity doesn't care whether energy is in the form of matter (black holes) or electromagnetism (evaporated black holes). It will still create the same attractive force on surrounding matter and hence space-time. The mistake is thinking of processes within the universe (explosions) and projecting those onto the expansion of space-time itself.

However, even if EM emitted from evaporating/exploding black holes somehow did cause an expansion of space-time, light moves too slow to explain the Inflationary Period.

"Dark matter and dark energy is magical thinking. It is taking effects that we see and assigning an imaginary element to it."

Dark matter/energy isn't assigning imaginary elements. It's simply a statement of the missing element. It doesn't pre-suppose the nature of the missing element. It may be something genuinely new, or it may be an odd effect of a known element under different conditions. Both ideas are explored. Sometimes its an odd effect, sometimes you discover the neutrino.

Donzelion,
"Quintessence"

Not sure if you realised that this was already the name of one of the competing Dark Energy theories. AIUI (which I don't), so far it hasn't quite fit the evidence.

Paul451 said...

From the last thread:

Locumranch, LR, Loci,
"OR (2) Estimates of Universal Mass are erroneous, exaggerated & grossly 'inflated'."

Estimates are from Multiple, Repeated and Independent measured systems, not just a single measure of universal mass. Including Measurements, Observation & Mapping of multiple galaxies, as mentioned above, showing Disctinct, Unique & Different ratios of baryonic vs non-baryonic matter for each galaxy.

Just because you don't Understand, Comprehend and Fathom science, doesn't mean that scientists don't.

i_/0 said...

Old news, for those who still give a damn:

"Election Justice USA asserts that a Capitol Weekly early-voter exit poll conducted across the state of California yielded a 23 percent discrepancy in Los Angeles vote-by-mail ballots compared to the actual results."

State department has said that more than 2% discrepancy may indicate fraud.

http://www.inquisitr.com/3202381/election-justice-on-california-primary-early-voter-exit-poll-yields-23-discrepancy-with-l-a-vote-by-mail-totals/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MoGeDGHmwJU

donzelion said...

@Paul451 - re "Quintessence"
LOL, I googled current dark matter theories, read a couple articles, saw the reference to quintessence, and objected to adoption of a three syllable word for "I don't know" over a two syllable word. Then again, ether does have a literal meaning now, so maybe they're just being poetic.

donzelion said...

@I/o - reading through the results, the early-voter exit poll was an online poll. Since 98% of Sanders supporters probably use email (a lot), while Clinton voters - who are typically older - do not, they saw a massive discrepancy as being highly likely. Beyond that, there's also the probability that Sanders supporters are more enthusiastic than Clinton supporters - which I believe has also been noted by many different polls. And finally, there's the fact that exit polling is historically somewhat inaccurate. Add all that together, you get a valid explanation.

State department has said that more than 2% discrepancy may indicate fraud.
More than a 2% discrepancy between the ACTUAL votes and the mail in votes may indicate fraud, absent another explanation. The easier alternative explanation tends to be data set related (e.g., people with full-time jobs and a settled life who own their own home and can arrange to take 15-45 minutes off to vote may well be older than people with multiple part-time jobs and less settled life - and again, Sanders is stronger among those who are younger).

Tom Crowl said...


RE: "What would micropayments add in practice, that wouldn't be gamed so as to prevent effectiveness?"

A few possibilities (in my opinion):

Single payer healthcare back on the table.
Taxes more progressive.
Infrastructure work (paid for with those more Progressive taxes)
Higher wages along with those infrastructure jobs (again producing more tax revenue)
Strong borders AND a path to citizenship for the undocumented
Meaningful gun control

(all of the above have majority support and are better for the society in my opinion... and have been denied serious consideration now for decades)

However they may be gamed... I believe it would give these positions more force. There are obviously other 'majority' opinions which may not be so desirable. But that's always a danger. And this isn't a model for direct democracy... only for more balanced mechanisms for advocacy.

But I'm all for evidence... so we'll see what happens in the next several years.

Because there's this:

IF a micropayment capability exists at all (e.g. for journalism as Dr. Brin has often pointed out as a needed tool)...

Then I don't see how you can prevent its use for advocacy! So you'd best start considering the issue.

I for one think its absolutely vital... and one day that will be realized. Though it may not be here.

Paul451 said...

Re: Fairer elections...

Perhaps the US could just bite the bullet and auction off state and federal seats annually, directly to the highest bidder?

Government Inc, offer people, buy the people, afford the people.

Donzelion,
"Quintessence" is not just another name for dark energy, it refers to a specific subset of theories that propose a "fifth force" (hence the name) as an explanation for dark energy, to distinguish them from other proposals, such as vacuum energy. They chose the name precisely because they were aware of the original etymology of the word (a fifth element, subtler and pervasive, underlying the other four.)

[My favourite dark-energy theory spins out of "Brane" higher dimension M-theory. The idea is that when branes approach and collide with each other, they release expansion energy within each brane. Essentially attraction between branes is perceived as negative-gravity within branes. The Big Bang would have been the most recent collisions between our universe's brane and another. The current accelerating expansion is the approach of another brane (or the previous one returning for another pass) indicating a collision in the next few billion years or ten.

It's as if branes in higher dimensional space are like galaxies in the universe, periodically colliding and merging, with each collision setting off a new round of star formation (or in the case of branes, big bang style expansion.)

Apparently it falls naturally out of some attempts to merge quantum mechanics and gravity/relativity.]

lockswriter said...

Thank you. More attention to downticket races — it can't be said too often. Was there meant to be a link at "See this article"?

Oh, and in an earlier post you asked for optimistic science fiction that looks at today's problems. This is sort of optimistic.

donzelion said...

@Tom - "IF a micropayment capability exists at all (e.g. for journalism as Dr. Brin has often pointed out as a needed tool)...Then I don't see how you can prevent its use for advocacy! So you'd best start considering the issue."

I may share many of your opinions about several of the causes you mentioned, but I'm unclear what benefit micropayments offer to achieve them. Seems to me, we're better off electing people we respect, holding them accountable, and then seeing what happens.

Consider the case of journalists: what separates them from Public Relations (and from newsletters published by various organizations) is the integrity of their journalism, which is made up by applying consistent methods (checking both sides, verifying sources, etc.), day-in, day-out, in non-sexy 'news' stories done right. That integrity requires consistently repeating those methods, by each journalist, and their colleagues in the same outlet benefit from that consistency. A micropayment system that compensates a few superstars for certain stories may not capture all the editors, contributors, and others who built up that integrity to make it possible for a journalist to capture attention in the first place. A system that distributes the gain from micropayments will still create an incentive to focus coverage on specific areas that drew the greatest support.

Advertising revenue already generates micropayments for display, while lineage revenue generates micropayments for publication rights, and subscription revenue generates institutional payment. Were the field performed purely for ad-based micropayments (a la Huffington Post), or by tips, we'd wind up with "Cute Cat Pics News" (and its equivalents).

"Scruffy the Orange Tabby peed on Donald Trump's picture today, as she peed on Hillary Clinton yesterday, but her catnip is going over fine. Here she is with a scruffy hat on looking cute. Just a quarter of a penny, and you can hear her meow! Now for today's astrological insights..."

It's a variation on the same problem in advocacy, but far more extreme. Building up a reputation for integrity to actually reach useful negotiations requires expertise in the subject matter - awareness of alternatives and dependencies in dense texts that no one who isn't well-compensated for will ever bother to read and think about.

Seems to me that we'll likely get, "Hot Lady X says we need to reinstate the Assault Weapon Ban - pay half a cent if you agree, and you can see another photo of her in a bikini" - when what is needed is review of the law as it is, as it was, as it could be, and the other laws in place that would be affected by any change.

i_/0 said...

donzelion said... something very reasonable and convincing. I agree, who cares.

Tom Crowl said...

@donzellion...

You make good points... re possible effects on journalism (cat pics over substantive journalism) though I'm not so sure that's how it would go it certainly might catalyze a market for emotionally gripping content over dry substance in a low brow pitch for millions of pennies and nickels from a gullible public.

But, then again... we have that now... except w/o the pennies. And there's always a chance that the public might surprise us. They could actually improve over time if there were more of a chance for meaningful... and especially frequent... participation.

And some sense that they could actually be listened to might improve their attitudes towards government. (give a kid more responsibility and there's a good chance they'll become more responsible... we have a nation of political children.)

However I'm trying to address a related but different issue from that of journalism though that's an important area.

ALL governments end up, however they began, being dominated by those with wealth. This isn't w/o benefits initially but as far as I know... has never ended well. However I don't believe the rich are any better at governance than the poor... especially over generations.

I hold the very egalitarian view that all segments of society are equally stupid and incompetent in terms of governance... and will generally focus on narrow self interest.

In my simplicity I deeply believe that a broader segment of society must be able to advocate from its position of relative political ignorance and relentless self-interest in order to secure a more stable and creative society.

And only be a better balance of incompetence may some sliver of good governance be found.

Paul451 said...

Robert,
Re: Evaporating blackholes & dark energy

Reading back through my comment, I may not have been clear enough.

"Energy" is gravitationally positive. The more energy in the universe, the more gravitational contraction on the universe.

Expansion of space-time requires negative energy.

Evaporating black holes do not "remove gravitation" from the universe. They can't cause expansion. The total amount of energy in the universe is the same, therefore the total amount of gravity contracting the universe is the same.

It's counter intuitive because if a planet was in orbit around an evaporating black hole, the mass of the primary would be dropping and hence gravity would be less. But that doesn't apply to the universe as a whole.

Don't know if that's any clearer.

Tom Crowl said...

"By the 2012 election cycle, forty percent of all campaign contributions came from the richest 0.01 percent of American households."

Robert Reich: Those who expect Sanders supporters to switch to Clinton may be in for a surprise
http://www.rawstory.com/2016/04/robert-reich-those-who-expect-sanders-supporters-to-switch-to-clinton-may-be-in-for-a-surprise/

This is for campaign contributions... for lobbying the bias toward the rich and corporate money is even greater... and more hidden.

Cari B. said...

As much as I'd like to improve all elements of the election system, it seems to me the first bit that is essential is improving the process of how our election rules are created and enforced so it can't be manipulated as easily by the people who stand to benefit. The Voting Rights Act in some ways was a patch on a system that was horribly broken- removal hasn't helped anything but it also distracted from the first issue, which is that we don't have good solid rules about what constitutes a valid and legal election- how to create districts, what qualifies as acceptably accurate vote counting techniques or mechanisms for collecting votes, when voting should be scheduled and so forth.

There may be reasonable local variations on how to address the needs of a community, but we should have some formal rules of fairness of process that exist to work from. Currently all we have are a patchwork of local implementations and legal cases to establish precedent of what seems egregious after the fact.

If a third world country was creating their first system of free elections and they proposed a system that was as disorganized and abusable as what we have, we'd cry foul. But we live with it and consider it normal.

How we get there I don't know- too many people benefit from the system we currently have and there seems to be a great political distaste for actually identifying ways in which our constitution fell short on details and actually filling them in.

David Brin said...

The groips of 750,000 who gather to buy a representative need not be single issue fanatics! In face, a majority would be pools like "I sort of tepidly like the present situation but would like a bit more push for liberal causes."

locumranch said...



Knee jerk Larry Lyon libertards are quite correct in that the morally dubious Clintons have never been convicted of illegality, insomuch as their preferred establishment corruptions are entirely LEGAL in the same way that most of Trump's morally dubious actions are also legal:

(1) Exploiting the oppressed US worker? Hillary Clinton was a sitting Walmart Board member from 1986 to 1992.
(2) Profiting enormously off a shady Online University? The Clintons did that with Laureate International University.
(3) Living high off Other People's Money? The Clinton Foundation amounts to a personal slush fund paid for by foreign interests.
(4) Allowing others to take the blame for their failures? The Clintons have turned the noble sacrifices of others into political capital.
(5) Exploiting 'insider' knowledge of the financial industry in order to turn personal profit? Perfectly legal for erstwhile members of the US Congress, Executive Branch appointees & numerous government employees.

Of course, Trump has indulged in many of the same LEGALITIES -- with the possible exception of (5) -- which could possibly explain why he appears so determined to be elected to high US Governmental Office, but that doesn't imply that he (Trump) will be any less capable in the position of US President then an established & equally corrupt H. Clinton.

And, finally, kudos to Paul451 for being so open about his inability to distinguish his Faith-based acceptance of Dark Matter & Negative Energy (cough,cough) from Empirically-Confirmed Science, and may the Flying Spaghetti Monster of his choice have mercy on his non-baryonic & potentially immortal soul.


Best
______
(1) http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/feb/17/hillary-clintons-wal-mart-ties-breed-mistrust-amon/
(2) http://nypost.com/2016/06/12/the-clinton-university-scandal/
(3) http://nypost.com/2015/04/26/charity-watchdog-clinton-foundation-a-slush-fund/
(4) http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/23/politics/terry-mcauliffe-fbi-doj-federal-investigation-campaign-contributions/
(5) http://www.cbsnews.com/news/congress-trading-stock-on-inside-information/

Alan Light said...

Revert to one congresscritter per 30,000 population, or switch to liquid representation - but if we go in such a democratic direction for Congress, we MUST balance it with greater weight for elites in the Senate, perhaps by repealing the 17th Amendment and letting state legislatures choose their representatives to the federal government.

We must not give in to the desire for mob rule - true democracies have always torn themselves apart in violence.

Liquid representation, known by several names - including here, delegative democracy:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delegative_democracy

Paul451 said...

Alan Light,
"true democracies have always torn themselves apart in violence."

That's a strong claim, I assume you can back it up with strong evidence?

Duncan Cairncross said...

"true democracies have always torn themselves apart in violence."

Obviously because if they didn't they were not "True Democracies" -
or was that Scotsmen?

Deuxglass said...

The business elite will work to split the Republican Party because they don't trust Trump but they feel very comfortable with Clinton because she plays by their rules.

"Give Hillary such a Congress and watch... the middle class will return and the poor will rise and science will be heeded again."

I think you are a little too optimistic there. To bring back the Middle Class is an uphill battle and will take a long time and the policies necessary run counter to Clinton's big donor base. One thing about Sanders that I like is that he keeps his word and he will keep it in supporting Clinton if he loses the convention but will Clinton keep her word if the party planks contain many of Sander's positions? I doubt it.

The Australian Preferential Ballot system seems good but it does not guarantee the election of competent politicians. Here in France they use a variation of the Australian Ballot but the choice always comes down to the respective heads of the two major parties. There are backroom deals with minority parties to get their support and they are usually handed a few ministries here and there. One thing I did notice is that this system entrenches the party leadership and they remain there forever and thus prevent any new blood from attaining positions of influence. Mediocrity of French leaders is the rule and not the exception.

However it does work for some countries but I think it is not the method of democracy that brings good government. That stems from just electing good people and that depends on each country's character and personality. Some counties have a habit of working together and others have a tradition of confrontation between the Right and the Left and changing the election process probably won't alter that behavior by very much. For the US, I think it would be better for states to reinforce the role of referendums for important questions as a way to make politicians more accountable to their electors.

I am not sure what you mean by 750,000 people pooling together to elect a representative whose only job would be to push for policies that affect only a very narrow group of people. Shouldn't an elected official work toward the greater good than just be concerned about a constricted interest group? It smacks of government by lobbyists and I think we already have too much of that.

Deuxglass said...

Tom Crowl,


Micropayments to lobbyists is a very interesting idea. It is fighting fire with fire. If elite money can buy the best lobbyists then crowd-sourced money could out bid them bringing back some balance to the system.

Paul SB said...

I'm late to the table again... but here's an interesting one:

"Revert to one congresscritter per 30,000 population, or switch to liquid representation - but if we go in such a democratic direction for Congress, we MUST balance it with greater weight for elites in the Senate"

The significant lexeme here is /eltes/. Through most of history the elites have been the major source of friction that grinds society down, but with this fellow's reference to so-called "mob rule" it's pretty clear where his prejudices lie. But more seriously, while the elites of a society have always done enormous damage through destructive factional competition, at the same time they can be powerful economic engines. My own personal inclination is to string all those elites up rather than giving the fools more power in the Senate (they have too much power already), but this might be going a little far.

Ultimately much of the problem seems to boil down to ethos. When the elites believe in their genetic superiority to the mob, they poison their nation with Veblen-style factional competition - what they have done since about the rise of civilzation. When the mob buys into their bullshit, too, you accelerate the process, as we have been seeing with the shrinking middle classes. Just over half a century ago, people wandered the streets looking for metal to recycle for the war effort against history, ladies were handing over their hair pins. When the 9/11 terror strike hit, the US president told everyone to go shopping. Elite propaganda in America is a little different from the elite propaganda of past societies, since it allows for a tiny few of the "hoi polloi" to rise in the ranks. This creates the very comforting illusion of meritocracy, and as more people buy into it, they support changes to the rules that make it easier for the rich to get richer (precisely what would happen if we give the Senate even more power) and the poor poorer. But this form of propaganda has some ugly consequences, because it reaches other ugly logical conclusions.

Tom Crowl said...

Thanks Deuxglass,

That's exactly it... fighting fire with fire. I've made that exact point before with those exact words. I also believe its a capability whose users will demand other reforms immediately. The political class has no interest in implementing any serious reform unless literally forced.

I'm not a "kumbayah" guy.. and this proposition is not based on some naïve belief in the great wisdom of the average voter... but rather confidence in the universality of many of their appetites.

Its been not only surprising but disappointing that there's no place where I've been able to see this considered by those interested in better government.

Sadly, after 8 years very assiduously pursuing this capability along with an interest in how the capability is designed and implemented as it relates to transaction and banking generally, I'm no longer surprised by the disinterest or even hostility I encounter.

Paul SB said...

Zepp, from the previous thread, our latest in a long line of weirdoes with guns do indeed look more complicated than the standard narratives. Both seem to have their ties to the gay community. The one from Indiana was going around knocking on doors and windows in the wee hours of the morning, which is why he was caught with his guns, though perhaps he was having a dipolar episode that had sapped his will to use them when he got into town.

The Orlando shooter sounds to me like a familiar story gone horribly wrong. I knew plenty of Christians who were clearly gay but who were taught by their communities to revile homosexuality, which made them deeply conflicted and miserable people (and they tended to make everyone else around them miserable, too. Last year I had a student just like this - so deep in the closet he was the only one who couldn't see it, and the biggest jackass on campus, hated by everyone because he did nothing but talk shit about everybody). In Mateen's case it was a different religion that conflicted with his biology, but I have long said that the only real difference between Christianity, islam and Judaism are the flags they fly. But there may be more to complicate the picture. 90% of the victims were Hispanic, and Mateen was from a Middle Eastern family who grew up in an area dominated by Cuban and Columbian ethnicities. I heard on the radio that he had been a trouble maker in his school days and was sent to an Alternative School - what in the old days was called a reform school, for the kids who make so much trouble you can't keep them in regular classes. It would not surprise me one bit if he had been bullied for his ethnicity in younger grades. I have never been anywhere near Florida, but an old friend of mine grew up in a Cuban neighborhood of Miami, and he has stories!

The one light of hope I see here is that the media is actually going into these kinds of details (some media, anyway), which makes me wonder if our new climate of cell-phone cameras everywhere might be encouraging more of a culture of honesty in the press? This would be a sign that transparency is increasing and changing behavior at an important level, and maybe if the press starts to get more in-depth and honest about the complicated nature of reality, the people will start to lose their taste for simple, shock-factor sound bites and start taking things more seriously. It will be a slow change, but a change in the right direction.

donzelion said...

@Tom Crowl,
I like Aristotle's take on class and governance: the poor are hungry, and seek to use government to feed themselves. The rich are greedy, and seek to use government to enlarge their hoarding. Neither is to be trusted. Only a middle class is a logical source to look to for civic virtue.

My point on 'cute cat pics news' was that a form of micropayments are already in place (through ads), and so far have yielded a pretty low value sort of news. Without integrity, people gravitate toward specific types of information. For governance, the same forces might make things even worse.

How to coax people to read more, to think more, when their busy lives already demand so much? In the past it seems likely that much of that news was useful for daily action - but now the action is too complex to represent in a way that people value. I have no answer, but confidence that the solution rests somewhere with the middle (and those aspiring for the middle).

donzelion said...

Re Robert Reich - indeed, the low and middle class 'lobby' by reading HuffPo or Breitbart or whatever. The rich do so by hiring experts to review the laws and understand them.

So long as people ignore the laws, they'll be easily conned by left or right. It's all there to read, but lobbying requires many thousands of hours to learn them in detail - and few people ever bother (esp. when low value summaries are sold for free online...as propaganda).

Paul SB said...

Larry C. Lyons,

While I agree with everything you (and Terry Pratchett) said to little loci, his particular form of willful ignorance is characteristic of about a third of the people of this country, and neither he nor very many of the others are likely to be convinced by words. Witch hunts go back a long way, and like all witch hunts, the standards of evidence never get any higher than innuendo. Keep fighting the good fight. There are people out there who are still young and impressionable.

A quote from our host:

In olden times, to be "sane" meant you behaved in ways both sanctioned by and normal to the society you lived in.

In the last century some people - especially creative people - rebelled against this imposition, this having to be "average." Eager to preserve their differences, some even went to the opposite extreme, embracing a romantic notion that creativity and suffering are inseparable, that the thunder and does must be outrageous, even crazy, in order to be great. Like so many other myths about the human mind, this one linger for a long time, doing great harm.

At last, however, we have begun to see that true sanity has nothing at all to do with norms or averages. This redefinition emerged only when some got around to asking the simplest of questions.
"What are the most common traits of nearly all forms of mental illness?"
The answer? Nearly all sufferers lack -
flexibility - the ability to change your opinion or course of action, if shown clear evidence you were wrong.
satiability - the ability to feel satisfaction if you actually get what you said you wanted, and to transfer your strivings to other goals.
extrapolation - an ability to realistically assess the possible consequences of your actions and to empathize, or guess how others might think or feel.

Earth, p.149

raito said...

donzelion,

Yes, I'm involved in the local school district stuff. Very few people turn out, even though it's required in WI to have a vote on the finances (unfortunately, the vote comes AFTER the budget has to be sent upwards). I'm there specifically to counter the zealots. At least here, the zealots aren't anti-science, more like escapees from urban blight who insist on carrying their baggage along with them.

And,

"This one weird trick will get your law passed!"

Also,

Yes, the laws are there to read. But they're written by lawyers so that only lawyers will understand them.

Mark,

Far better to allow people to join whichever district they choose in preference to having some overlord decide what questions to ask and what the answers mean. There would still be problems, but less chance of cheating.

Deuxglass,

I don't think there is a way to ensure competent elected officials that doesn't eliminate 1: the opportunity for anyone to participate as a candidate, and 2: can't be cheated (who decides competency?)

As for elections, my notion is that 'None of the above' should always be a candidate, and if he wins, another election is held, except that any candidate in the first election (even a write-in) is barred fro appearing on the new ballot. It's not perfect in a number of ways, but at least you would feel less compelled to vote for the lesser of two evils.

Anonymous Viking said...

Direct Democracy.

It works for the Swiss, why not for us?

The arguments the technology now would exist that allows a virtual congressional district also would allow the voters to decide directly what matters.

If course the drawback would be that we would never enter another war, unless some evil of WW2 proportions was taking place. Imagine a referendum that says: "let's start another war, if you're a net texpayer, your expected future obligations, should the yes vote prevail, would be between $1500 and $15000".

Another drawback would be that unnessesarily long legislation would have a natural disadvantage.

Despite claiming to lean libertarian, our host will be outraged by such a proposal, and will most likely belittle me.

Instant Karma said...

David,

I am a long time fan and have supported your message against cynics on such sites as Evonomics and Bleeding Heart Libertarian. But may I respectfully share that your political comments come across as shallow and mean spirited.

Perhaps the Kochs simply believe that Johnson would be a superior candidate to the other two alternatives. Perhaps they see this as a rare opportunity to introduce a better choice in a race with low favor ability candidates in both major parties.

I get it that you have some differences in the framework of libertarian philosophy. Good for you. I happen to agree with many of your points. Good for me. But the point is that in politics we vote for the candidate with the best package of policies. I could list dozens of things I find horrible in the republican and democratic tickets too.

The various teachers associations have the right according to our institutional rules to give what they want to Clinton. The Kochs have a right to contribute according to the rules to Johnson. Trump can fund whomever he would like with his funds. The same is true of process both parties have used whenever possible or practical for their advantage.

If you don't like the rules, feel free to suggest we change them. I am sure I will agree with you in many cases. But let's not be petty and imply that there is something nefarious with the Kochs using the process we have to support their opinions, whether you and I agree or not.

donzelion said...

@Raito - "Yes, I'm involved in the local school district stuff."
I am not, beyond voting. As an outsider with no kids of my own, trying to discern tea leaves to figure out who is whom and what they actually stand for comes down to figuring out what "I support education for our children!" actually means. Only someone who steps into the fray will really understand, since most zealots are at least sufficiently sophisticated to hide their zealotry outside their circle/cult. So hat tip to you, sir.

@Tom Crowl - perhaps school district voting matters are a better option for experiments on microtransactions in public debate.

At my high school (in a fairly poor San Diego suburb), I ran two years' worth of bake sales, candy bar sales, and Oktoberfest booths to raise money to buy the first computer for our library (a Mac Classic II, back in 1991). Once we bought it, we discovered a district policy banned students from buying technology for "general use" of the student body. So we created a "sign in sheet" that included a "member enrollment" term...and thus my introduction to the power of fine-print to bypass stupid restrictions.

donzelion said...

@Deuxglass - "Micropayments to lobbyists is a very interesting idea. It is fighting fire with fire. If elite money can buy the best lobbyists then crowd-sourced money could out bid them bringing back some balance to the system."

Alas, it's already in place. No seriously: micro or macropayments, you can find lobbyists for any cause you believe in already motivated and already living off Top Ramen and on sofas in every city - they're out there. (Public Interest Research Group? Container Recycling groups? and on, and on). Crowd-sourced money can already outbid the 'elite money' in theory - it just doesn't in practice.

There's a lot of explanations as to why, but it comes down to this to my mind: will you find someone with the depth of knowledge to grasp all the rules, all the players, and all the possibilities in the cause - who will accept $15,000 a year in payment? For more than a year or two? The guys doing this stuff are young, tech savvy, and launch campaign after campaign using any trick in the book to get their next month's rent. And they're outgunned.

Jumper said...

Duncan on True Scotsmen: I laughed; good one.

On elites: to me the term includes people with actual education and meritocratic and technocratic skills, not posers and the ignorant. I want such elites to have some power and I want posers and ignorant, the non-elite, to have less power. Their voices need hearing, of course. Merely owning a lot of stuff does not make anyone "elite" in my terms. This is the foundation of republican government (small r.) See Hamilton.

Paul SB said...

I just realized that my Brin quote above got autocorrected to ridiculousness.

"Eager to preserve their differences, some even went to the opposite extreme, embracing a romantic notion that creativity and suffering are inseparable, that the thinker and doer must be outrageous, even crazy, in order to be great."

Autocorrect seems to have turned "thinker and doer" into "thunder and does." (It could have been operator error, but turning thinker into thunder is probably too many missed keystrokes).

Paul SB said...

Donzelion,

On Aristotle's preference for the middle class, although I see the point, my experience of the middle is that only a fraction of them have the common good in mind. Many see themselves as social climbers, emulating the rich while others behave much more like the poor (with all sorts of combinations).

Jumper,

Om elites, I think you are using the term a sit was used in the 60's, equated with "effete intellectual snob" in the political climate of the times. More broadly "elite" simply referred to the rich and powerful. Presumably those were the "agro-managerial class" in the earliest civilizations, but they have always been mostly socio-economic parasites, not at all the experts who I would agree should be the elites.

Instant Karma,

You are arguing for a rather Spencerian view that, like a flat tax, regressively does more damage to the disadvantaged while promoting the power of those who are already in power. It is not at all improper for Dr. Brin or anyone else to call this out. Neither is it improper for you to disagree with him, but don't start throwing accusations around. Others could level the same "shallow" and "mean-spirited" at your argument, and worse.

David Brin said...

Instant Karma thanks for your comments and your chiding. But sorry, I think it is malarkey. We have tried to "change the rules" in order to ensure that Oligarchs cannot cheat (he real failure mode that destroyed markets for 6000 years) and so that our competitive arenas like science and markets and democracy can remain truly competitive.

My parents' generation did create such level playing fields and competitive capitalism and democracy and science thrived. I do not mind the Kochs supporting whom they want. But THE sole reason for existence for the GOP is now preventing level playing fields and ensuring return to oligarchic... and then feudal rule.

The failure of most modern libertarians to recall that "competition" is the core word, is tragic. They have let themselves be talked into focusing on unimited propertarianism, when Adam Smith knew and said that propertarianism can be competition's worst enemy.

Mean spirited? I am a defender of a revolution. The most important one in human history. An ongoing revolution in favor of cooperative competition that has given us everything. I intend to remain miitant in fighting against a return to feudalism

matthew said...

I've never understood David's (or anyone else's) defense of Libertarianism. I understand the overlap with traditional Liberals on social issues but I do not understand how anyone can take Libertarian ideas on economic issues seriously. Just like the right-wing focus on economics, Libertarian thought on economics has a nearly 100% failure rate. Supply-side arguments? 100% debunked. Free-market idolatry? 100% debunked. "Reducing bureaucratic regulation to unleash business competitiveness?" 100% bullshit. Anarchy is good for markets? See every failed state, ever.

David agrees with all of this, yet insists that he is friendly to Libertarian thought, brags about speaking at their convention.

So, David, just what part of Libertarian economic thought *DO* you agree with? And where is the data to back up your support?

It seems to me that any sane Libertarian is simply a... Liberal.

David Brin said...

Matthew, I believe libertarianism has been hijacked by oligarchy and a cult of propertarianism, along with obsession on hating all government, all the time. And if that becomes permanently implicit in the word I will drop it. But I believe it is nottoo late for these folks to read a little history and realize/remember that Adam Smith (who should be their icon and not crazy Aynnie) despised rich-lord oligarchs as the true enemies of competitive enterprise.

Tell me who else is closer to being able to rediscover Smith? Sure, democrats should do that. But I think the Libertarians' worries about reduction in personal freedom can be combined with rediscovery of competition and compassion and feudalism... they could still become an adult force FOR the revolution...

...instead of what they are now. Tools for the enemies of freedom.

Tom Crowl said...

@Donzillion

I don't believe you're understanding the nature of the micropayment, the vital role of a one-click capability... and the effects of scale.

The statement "it already exists" has no validity... nor can its effects on the myriad of groups that could take advantage of it been measured or even estimated. Without that capability in existence... whether for journalism or advocacy no assertion about its potency or lack of it has any validity either.

I remember the debate over Obama care. What would the effect of a facebook ad sent to 100 million people asking for a 25 cent donation (very low click through resistance)... requiring ONLY a click and no other input requirements?

And a similar ad coming every few days. Would single-payer have been on the table?

I suggest that any argument either that it already exists... or would have negligible effects is facile and w/o merit.

You may argue that its unwise, would be gamed or even misused... but to argue that it would not drastically alter the lobbying landscape is... well, with all respect... nonsense.

Characteristics of the Monied "Like" Button
http://culturalengineer.blogspot.com/2013/12/characteristics-of-monied-like-button.html

A One Click, Low Threshold Contribution Capability: Why It's Necessary for Advocacy
http://culturalengineer.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-one-click-low-theshold-contribution.html

Jumper said...

For monopoly to succeed, it is a good strategy that it not be seen to be monopoly. There are certain rules on restraint of free trade. I don't know much about them. I don't know how Libertarians come down on such; I presume they are for any kind of contract, even contracts which restrain trade. For example large food wholesalers will often refuse to sell unless a contract for unwanted items is included. In other words, no California lettuce for you unless you buy California apricots too. Or how all the major cellphone providers have destroyed the duplex phone call, and are well on their way to suppressing all voice communications because text is cheaper for them. Their methods are so close to collusion as to make no difference.

donzelion said...

Ack, Tom, not expressing disinterest or hostility. Just my questions and thoughts, which tend to be critical.

I do think that school districts would benefit from anything that sheds light on how they work, why they do what they do (and not necessarily what some want them to do). Every cool grant funded acronym to relabel what they try to achieve gets attention - for five minutes - but getting some money behind that attention would do a lot of good. At the very least, radicals with niche social groups as backers might be mitigated...

donzelion said...
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donzelion said...
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Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Karma

I personally have no objection to the Koch brothers putting forwards a point of view and lobbying for that

What I DO object to is people like the Koch brothers using their money as a bullhorn to drown out the points of view of all of the rest of us

Allowing the rich to spend money to buy the political process is NOT democracy


Hi Jumper

The idea of allowing the "elites" to have more power makes sense
UNFORTUNATELY
History clearly shows that the "elites" that take the power are the "owners" not the creators and they actually do a LOT WORSE than the non-elite in terms of ruling

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi donzelion

I was thinking - yes I agree one of your main problems is that your laws are written by lawyers and are horribly difficult to understand - not to mention incredibly LONG!

All laws should start with a "purpose statement" - what the law is intended to achieve
This should enable courts to rule about the intent of the legislators

Then the horrible truth hit me

You have that - in your constitution -
The Preamble clearly states what the constitution is intended to achieve

The Second amendment clearly states "militia"

So despite absolute clarity and simplicity in your basic law you still can't operate by it

Paul SB said...

And, Duncan, I imagine you probably realize that we can't operate by our own laws because super rich self-serving sickoes like the Koch Brothers who employ legions of lying lawyers to muddy the waters, while a plethora of puerile propagandists ensure that the media are flooded with horse manure, so most people are here are fed the kool aid in their bottle formula. There are so many things about this country that make it a real outlier compared to the rest of the civilized world (like the power of the gun lobby to ensure that every psycho has access to weapons of mass destruction). So much for the vaunted ideals of our Founding Fathers!

David Brin said...


Now DT is claiming that President Obama is a secret supporter of ISIS! Those who follow him down this rabbit hole won't just lose the election and destroy what's left of the Republican Party. They will wind up completing the complete detachment of the American right - having be taught to hate all science and every fact based profession - from any connection to even a semblance of sanity. Whipped into a hydrophobic froth, they will demand secession, shouting praise for the next wave of McVeighs. This time we should make them assume their share of debt, deprive them of nukes and then just let them go.

It's not disagreement over policy. It is a matter of having allowed yourself to rationalize going spectacular and genuinely insane.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/15/donald-trump/donald-trump-suggests-barack-obama-supported-isis-/

locumranch said...


As demonstrated by Orlando's twin tragedies, the Non-Western, Alligator & Predatory mindsets (wherein the Other represents potential prey) don't give a shit about the West's current infatuation with Otherness. Yet, instead of dealing with this unpleasant fact, the West prefers to appease, rationalise & double-down on the Official Narrative, only to declare that such Otherness-based tragedies must be due to (yes, you guessed it) an insufficient western commitment to Diversity & Otherness.

In the Western mindset, then, it follows that both murderous perpetrators -- the Muslim Gunman & the Alligator -- are blameless VICTIMS who have been unfairly brutalised by the West's 'Insufficient Commitment to Otherness': The Muslim gunman is just another victim of the West's 'Intenalised Culture of Homophobia'; the Alligator's taste for tender toddlers is also due to the West's failed attempt to understand, care for & coexist with a 250 Million year old killing machine; and, the only truly responsible parties are EVIL firearm manufacturers, Trump-style Nationalists, the constitutional 'Right to Bear Arms' and those well-meaning Good Samaritans who taught Middle Eastern Muslims & Alligators to associate Western Society with a free tasty meal.

This process represents Double Think on a grand scale. It holds the increasingly vulnerable Westerner responsible for aggravating (and/or 'failing to appease') the murderous Other; it allows the Establishment to blame its touchy-feely policy failures on an Insufficiently Committed Citizenry; it facilitates the Blue Urban Colonial exploitation of Red Rural resources & labour; and it allows a purblind Blue Urban Establishment to blame the 'lazy, ignorant, unenlightened & bigoted' VICTIMS of calculated Blue Urban prejudice & victimization.

And, even though France's fairly restrictive gun laws did absolutely NOTHING to prevent the Charlie Hebdo & the Bataclan theatre massacres, It is quite literally 'inconceivable' for an Other-Loving Establishment to lay AGENCY where it belongs, squarely on the shoulders of the culturally incompatible Non-Western Other, so much so that in a recent speech Obama tries to blame Trump for creating terrorists with a "dangerous mindset (...) loose talk and sloppiness" that fails to appease blameworthy Muslim terrorists for terrorist actions:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/14/politics/obama-pushes-back-against-criticism-over-terrorism-rhetoric/

Insomuch as it represents 'Blaming the Victim', such bass-ackwards political rhetoric suggests that the toddler & those insensitive LGBTs got 'what was coming to them' for provoking, tempting and 'failing to appease' a murderous Terrorist, Alligator or Other, leading all Left Thinking Americans to BLAME THEMSELVES for failing to 'Ban Guns & Alligator Teeth' and thereby prevent further Gun & Alligator Teeth-based atrocities.

Alligator Teeth & Guns are Moral Agents, don't ya know.


Best

donzelion said...

@Duncan & Raito - re laws written by lawyers - there's a standard question early in law school (or many philosophy classes) about "No Vehicles in the Park." Very simple rule, one that everyone understands. Right? Except people in wheelchairs, or motorized scooters. bicycles? motorized bicycles? cars, but not certain exempt cars, emergency vehicles, shuttles? And on and on. You wind up concocting a huge number of exceptions, so that the "No Vehicles in the Park" when actually written out becomes rather complicated.

It turns out that a lot of people interpret rules so that they don't apply to them - and then someone writes a rule to explain why it does or doesn't (e.g., "my kid's birthday party is an emergency that overrides the prohibition, so I get to break the rule" = New Rule: "The following are emergency vehicles that qualify for the 'emergency' exception...everyone else is not an emergency vehicle within the meaning of the exception to the rule).

And that's about as simple as rules get. A purpose statement helps some times, and some times makes it worse (e.g., if the purpose of the rule is 'safety' - and I'm a military veteran, I can claim that the rule shouldn't apply to me because I make America safer...if the purpose is 'noise' - I can claim my silent electric scooter is compliant, while that noisy wheelchair is not).

Point is that it gets complicated for a reason - which is never obvious to the person drafting something that was supposed to be simple, but in practice, turns out to be a lot more complex (esp. for rules that many people dislike - e.g., "Pay X% of your income as a tax.")

Paul451 said...

Re: School districts.
I find the entire US concept of "school districts", and similar one-issue electorates, to be insane. Ditto "unincorporated" regions.

Duncan,
"All laws should start with a "purpose statement" "

Most do. But remember that most legislation is not "a law", as in a tidy self-contained document, most is a cluster of amendments to existing Acts. Reading a typical piece of legislation is a weird jigsaw where half the pieces are instructions on what to do with pieces that aren't in the box.

"....
7(c) In Title 3159.305
(i) Amend Subsection 4(a) 'given a substitute' with 'given a replacement'
(ii) Append Subsection 4(e)(ii) with 'and the other things'
7(d) In Title 3159.307
(i) Insert Subsection 19(h) '§305(4)(b) does not exclude music for the purposes of this Act'
...."

"The Second amendment clearly states "militia" "

However, the Bill of Rights are individual rights. There is no need to grant the government the power to regulate militia, that already existed in Article 1 of the Constitution proper.

You'd be better arguing that "arms" actually referred to heraldry, as in "coat of..."

Paul SB,
I actually googled "thunder and does" assuming it was an obscure poetic phrase (like Sturm und Drang) that classicists would recognise. Am disappoint.

Now I dare David to use the phrase "thunder and does" in his next book, without explanation, as if it's a well-known idiom.

Matthew,
"Characteristics of the Monied "Like" Button"

Heh. I just mentioned this idea in the comments on the blog of one of the Mozilla guys, talking about alternatives to advertising, thinking I was being original.

Donzelion,
Advertising is not the same as user-side micropayments, because with advertising-micropayments the user is the product being harvested, bundled and sold. The relationship between the content provider and consumer is utterly different when the user is the client instead of the product. Hence a system of news driven by user-micropayments won't produce the same result as the current system of advertising micropayments. It might still be drivel, but it won't be the same drivel. (How many click-bait articles have you opened? How many would you reward once you saw the actual article?)

Paul451 said...

Anon Viking,
You were doing well until you went all thunder and does...

"Despite claiming to lean libertarian, our host will be outraged by such a proposal, and will most likely belittle me."

Pre-emptively declaring that you are going to be attacked, before you are attacked, is usually a sign of someone who knows they aren't worth debating.

But hey, it worked, here's your martyrdom.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Donzelion

A purpose statement fixes that

Your park
Purpose is noise and safety

Then the courts KNOW what you are trying to achieve and they rule on the occasion
Electric scooter - No
Veterans - No

It becomes up to the courts to decide details in line with the published purpose

locumranch said...



@DuncanC:

According to the US Constitution, Article 1, clauses 15 & 16, the term ''militia of the United States'' was defined to comprehend ''all able-bodied male citizens of the United States and all other able-bodied males who have . . . declared their intention to become citizens of the United States,'' between the ages of eighteen and forty-five.

Ergo, the Second Amendment (defined as "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed") applies to "'all able-bodied (free) male citizens of the United States" who are all defined as de facto US Militia & are therefore entitled to 'bear Arms'.

Once classified as British 'convicts', Australians were NOT initially classified as 'free', had no such right to 'bear Arms', were NOT automatically classified as 'Militia,' did NOT become de facto Australian Citizens until Australia became a Free Independent Nation in 1901 (allowing for the creation of a conscript-worthy Australian 'Militia' from 1905 to1970), and still have no such 'Right to bear Arms' without the express permission of their Nanny State.

This is especially true for the EU & Australia: "Those who do not move, do not notice their chains."

And, if "Freedom is always the freedom of the one who thinks differently", then it's deliciously ironic that David & so many other True Blue Progressives are so quick to condemn those who think differently than they do.


Best

Duncan Cairncross said...

Just a wee note
I decided a while back not to bother reading anything from locum

I'm sticking to that

LR said...


Good Call, Convict: "Just stick your finger in your ear and go ting-a-ling-a-loo".

donzelion said...

@Duncan - the 'no vehicles in the park' story is an illustration how one of the most simple rules imaginable becomes complex when applied to the real world. It's not an argument that rules are incomprehensible, so much as that they are not as 'simple' as initially appears. Purpose statements can help, somewhat, but they can also confuse (esp. if they contradict the law somewhere). In negotiated contexts, there's often a lot more in play as well (people turn to complexity when they cannot agree on a simpler solution, but agree that some solution is better than nothing at all).

@Paul451 - "Advertising is not the same as user-side micropayments, because with advertising-micropayments the user is the product being harvested, bundled and sold. The relationship between the content provider and consumer is utterly different when the user is the client instead of the product.
Stepping back to purpose statements, both advertising and a micro-payment system strive to generate user action - to convert a 'person' into a 'client' for a 'product or service.' Perhaps it is best to see the 'user' as a 'client' that someone is trying to convert into a 'product' for someone else, by manipulating their mind. If the manipulation could be avoided and micropayments to finance "truth" - perhaps that could be averted, but we're in short supply of angels to serve as journalists (though maybe AI could do it, once we learn how to program 'angels'). ;-) The situation is worse when applied to political affairs - now we need angels to present options that appeal to our better angels...and hence our wallets.

(How many click-bait articles have you opened? How many would you reward once you saw the actual article?)
Far too many (and indeed, these folks are proliferating as 'journalism' now - Buzzfeed, etc.). Thing is, they've already received their reward (from someone else) simply from my having clicked them. A micropayment occurs, whether I wish it to or not, for each ad displayed.

Paul SB said...

Paul451,

Maybe if you keep using it, in 100 years it will become an obscure poetic phrase. Make a nice, bogus wikipedia page, though perhaps the literary character who coins the phrase should be schizophrenic or suffer from some other form of chronically disordered thinking. Perhaps if you think of "Does" not as a verb but as the plural of "doe" you can work with it as a contrast. You don't expect thunder from a meek little doe, do you?

And speaking of chronically disordered thinking, LR's reply to Duncan shows what a good decision Duncan has made.

David Brin said...

Sorry guys, I just cannot stop looking at locum's train wrecks. In this case, obsessing on the word "militia" and shrugging off the "well-regulated" part. Let's see how he wriggles out of that one.

In fact, the 2nd Amendment is spectacularly weak. Without a scintilla of doubt some future generation and court will interpret "well-regulated militia" the (sensible) way they choose to interpret it. Meaning you get to have guns if you are registered and trained in the reserves.

Nothing shows the stupidity of the right better than their obstinate belief that the 2nd is a strong amendment. They should be negotiating a deal to get a better, stronger amendment protecting BASIC gun rights, in exchange for treating guns exactly like cars.

raito said...

donzelion,

I don't insist that laws be simple. I insist that they be readable by the persons they apply to. (Except that it just violates too many principles I hold dear, I'd say that being a member of the bar should disqualify one from a legislative position as a conflict of interest).

On lobbyists, have you ever looked at a list of them? I did a while ago, for a reason I won't go into here. The great majority of the registered lobbyists on the county list I looked at were businessmen who had some project or another, and were registered so that their efforts to convince officials they ought to be allowed to do their project wouldn't cause trouble.

As far as current US politics, I think it's telling when one of the online movie reviewers I read, who usually doesn't stray too far from horror and science fiction, is reviewing movies like A Face In The Crowd.

Instant Karma said...

David, thanks for the response.

"We have tried to "change the rules" in order to ensure that Oligarchs cannot cheat (he real failure mode that destroyed markets for 6000 years) and so that our competitive arenas like science and markets and democracy can remain truly competitive."

And who are the cheaters and change blockers? Are you suggesting they are just affiliated with one party? Are you suggesting Johnson's campaign is more pro cheaters/incumbents/special interests than Clinton's or Trump's? Why? (I am not arguing, just asking). Or are you just suggesting that the GOP is the party of oligarchs?

"My parents' generation did create such level playing fields and competitive capitalism and democracy and science thrived. I do not mind the Kochs supporting whom they want. But THE sole reason for existence for the GOP is now preventing level playing fields and ensuring return to oligarchic... and then feudal rule."

I thought the Kochs were funding a NON GOP guy? I get it that this might get classical liberals out who may or may not lean GOP, but talk about projecting the worst possible interpretation at people... The sole reason the GOP exists is to ensure a return to feudal oligarchy? Seriously? You are sticking with this?

I get it that there are (metaphorically) two groups of evil lizards trying to convince us how much worse the other group is. I am kind of surprised you have fallen for the rhetoric of one side against the other, though.

"I am a defender of a revolution. The most important one in human history. An ongoing revolution in favor of cooperative competition that has given us everything. I intend to remain miitant in fighting against a return to feudalism."

Count me in on the fight to preserve constructive competition. Included in this is the dynamic that the major countervailing force against the political centralizing master planning tendencies of the blue lizards is the hated red lizards. Personally I fear them both, and that is part of the reason I relish seeing a new group of lizards preaching we need to reduce the influence and control by lizards in general. And reduced influence isn't the same as no influence.

But no. The danger isn't concentrated in any of the parties.

By the way, are we going to see another great article from you soon over in Evonomics? I thought I read you as having something on the way, Yours is always a breath of fresh air at that site.

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

"The Second amendment clearly states "militia" "
...

You'd be better arguing that "arms" actually referred to heraldry, as in "coat of..."


What I find more interesting is the fact that the Second Amendment never mentions guns.

Most people who listen to the current political rhetoric probably imagine that the Second Amendment prohibits any restriction on gun ownership. But there's nothing in the wording to distinguish guns from tanks or surface-to-air missiles or even tactical nuclear weapons or bio-weapons. If you accept the NRA's interpretation relative to guns, you also (logically) have to accept every individual's unencumbered right to possess WMDs. There's nothing in the wording of the amendment that distinguishes the one from the other.

David Brin said...

Instant Karma it may seem that I am inherently partisan, because I consider today's US right to be entirely jibbering insane. But if you hang around here you'll know that I have been one of the biggest proselytes of Adam Smith and helping spur the big rediscovery of that founder of our enlightenment.

Indeed, while today's right CONSISTS of dogmatic enemies of facts and science and our enlightenment... the far-left certainly CONTAINS many loonies, too. The crisis we now face consists of the difference between those two "C-words."

For libertarians, the balance has tipped dangerously into loony territory by forgetting Smith's emphasis on creative, flat-open-fair competition, and instead veering into passionate propertarianism. That cult ignores a simple fact, that across 6000 years nearly all flat-fair arenas and markets were destroyed NOT by govt bureaucrats but by owner-lord-oligarchs. Adam Smith knew better.

Can cheaters come from any direction? Sure! I am fine with skepticism toward bureaucrats! But that is not the horizon trying to form Big Brother and return us to feudalism right now. The current oligarchic putsch must be stopped and reversed.

Jumper said...

Besides, there are many who emphasize freedom for themselves and don't emphasize freedom for the other guy. Seems the Kochs cause some to view them as doing that very thing. LINOs - libertarian in name only.

Paul SB said...

Dr.Brin,

Where you wrote: "Nothing shows the stupidity of the right better than their obstinate belief that the 2nd is a strong amendment. They should be negotiating a deal to get a better, stronger amendment protecting BASIC gun rights, in exchange for treating guns exactly like cars." I thought that while this is stupid, it is entirely predictable and comprehensible in terms of their mindset. Conservatives are, by nature, inclined to set the past on a pedestal. In their minds it is much easier to try to twist the words of the Founders to their purposes than to envision changing the document itself. It would be like editing the Bible - the words themselves are sacrosanct, so changing them would be blasphemy - even if the Constitution includes the amendment process specifically to allow change in the future.

Jon Roth said...

Thought our host would like this article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/richard-armitage-donald-trump-hillary-clinton_us_5762cd94e4b0df4d586f709c?section

donzelion said...

@Raito - "I'd say that being a member of the bar should disqualify one from a legislative position as a conflict of interest"
Sometimes I agree with you, but usually, when I see businessmen going at lobbying, I get even more concerned. There's a good reason so many of the founders (John Adams? Thomas Jefferson?) were themselves lawyers, and more than half of the framers of the Constitution. We can blame them for everything they did wrong, but we can also credit them with building so much that we love.

"the great majority of the registered lobbyists on the county list I looked at were businessmen ..."
Usually, if the county is outside a state capitol, the only local folks who profit from changing a law are real estate developers or investors. Ex: a zoning variance permitting them to put X in a residential area, against the code, may convert a $200,000 plot of land into a $2 million plot of land. No lawyer would stand to benefit from that arrangement personally, so the businessmen do it themselves. They'll typically be seeking, "No vehicles in the park - EXCEPT FOR MY VEHICLE" type tweaks.

They'll also engage in other legal tweaks as a smoke screen or as a compromise to draw support for something that otherwise wouldn't be supported (e.g., making nice with the local church by seeking creationism in the school). Quite common in rural areas, where churches often hold a great deal of sway.

But if a legislative authority (whether federal, state, or local) blocks the businesses too long, and they are confident of being able to get a major return if their tweak goes through, they'll always bring in lawyers at some point, and often do so through very opaque means (e.g., a grant of $1 million to the 'eviction defense fund' - intended to drive a bunch of borderline apartments out of business - so they can be bought cheap and refitted into hotels - even as the businessman claims to be "fighting homeless blight" - a model that's decades old...there are many newer, more nuanced variations).

donzelion said...

@Instant Karma - "I thought the Kochs were funding a NON GOP guy?"

Listening to NPR through my local channel, I often hear messages that "this program is supported by the Kochs, and by listeners like you." They're sophisticated enough to fund a number of different folks in order to get their way.

"The sole reason the GOP exists is to ensure a return to feudal oligarchy?"
I think Dr. Brin is complaining about what the GOP has become, and using the strongest forms of condemnation he can muster.

How many GOPpers realize that the vehement hatred they've been programmed to feel towards the "death tax" (known primarily as "the income tax" - as in, "If I inherit $5 million, then that money is 'income' like any other and taxed accordingly) is an effort by certain key families to secure a slightly larger chunk of a legacy to their children? What to most people is a simple question of "why should $5 million inheritance be treated differently from any other income?" becomes "the evil, horrible, no-good punitive death tax! Perpetrated by evil Democrats who are so evil they want to steal your guns and turn your children into politically correct thought zombies!"

And so it goes. The net effect of such a fixation upon "evil" is that those with power keep it for themselves, regardless of good and evil, because anything else would invite "evil doers." In time, a form of feudalism emerges.

locumranch said...


Evonomics is a great site, affording a plethora of opinion, including those that put to lie many of the Pollyannaish opinions of our fine host, as exemplified by Nassim N. Taleb's most recent post there (named 'How To Legally Own Another Person: The domestication of employees').

Those of you with memories may also recall that I have oft-accused David of being a 'Company Man' (in the sense of William H. Whyte's 'The Organization Man'), mostly for his rather progressive belief in Educational Indoctrination as the means to Social Conformity & Utopianism.

Nassim, however, approaches the same subject differently. He defines the 'Company Man' as a submissive & risk-averse "person who feels that he has something huge to lose if he loses his employability –that is, he or she have skin in the game" in order to emphasise that the Social Progress model demands institutional & individual 'accountability' indistinguishable from enslavement.

Like the slave or proverbial red-headed step-child, the Accountable Individual has 'skin in the game' (perhaps as a consequence of Transparency) in the sense that he remains forever vulnerable to potential consequence: He may lose his job (becoming unemployed, unemployable & destitute) if he fails to perform, submit, conform or displeases the social collective in any way, as evidenced by the multiple scientists have been forced to either abase themselves (Matt Taylor's 'Shirtstorm') or resign (Nobel Laureate Tim Hunt) for rather innocuous offences.

Sousveillence will prevent this enslavement (or, at least, make it reciprocal), according to David's Transparency theory, but only in the situation of mutual loyalty, merciful compassion & worker shortage.

Unfortunately, the Company Man has long since been abandoned by the Social Contract in today's hyper-competitive environment: His every job is potentially temporary; he can easily be replaced by outsourcing, an H1B visa or a more submissive immigrant; he can be fired 'Without Cause' at any time (even in France); he can count on neither respect nor benefits nor pensions; and he can no longer expect any loyalty from his employer in return for (his) selfless & impeccable service.

What David forgets is that, once made redundant, the Company Man no longer has any 'skin in the game'. He will NOT go quietly into that Goodnight (obsolescence); he may rise up & smash the System Entire, especially when he concludes that he has nothing left to lose; and, even the lowly Reeks & Wrecks will have their day.

Being 'good men', I & the others like me (the discarded Company Men) will NOT to resort to violence. Violence is unnecessary, so we will do nothing. We are good men who will do nothing -- which, by fortunate coincidence, -- is the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil.


Best

donzelion said...

re 2nd Amendment - For those interested in arguing the 2nd Amendment, the opinions offered by Scalia and Stevens/Breyer in District of Columbia v. Heller are pretty definitive (they're also useful to those who think 'rules should be simple so non-lawyers can understand them') ;-)

To get through it all, the opinions about to 140 pages or so. The arguments referred to here were covered thoroughly there (except the argument that the 2nd Amendment is weak - justices don't like to claim that any provision of the law is 'weak').

Anyone have something more to add? (I enjoyed our earlier discussion about 2nd amendment and sousveillance, which I don't think was something they considered. It's a different direction, rather than a rehash of a very-thoroughly covered debate.)

Note that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83. Kennedy is 79. Breyer is 77. In addition to Scalia, the next president may be appointing their successors as well. It would be sort of cool to see a technologist on the court...

Jon Roth said...

Also think our host will like this link: http://thoughtcatalog.com/daniel-hayes/2016/06/i-am-an-ar-15-owner-and-ive-had-enough/

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Instant Karma

I will go one beyond the "Cheaters will take us back to the 6000 years of oligarchy"

Yes - cheaters will do that

BUT you don't need "cheaters" - the "free market system" has positive feedback - The more you have the more you can get
Not just pro-rata - if you have more you get a higher RATE of return

This if left to itself WILL end up concentrating the wealth in the hands of less and less people
Instant Oligarchy!

If you "model" the system with identical players that is exactly what you get

So in order to utilize the very important advantages of the Free Market System we must constrain it from moving to an unacceptable position


donzelion said...

@Duncan - up until the 16th Amendment, the positive feedback mechanisms worked as you said, trans-generationally (that is, once one becomes an oligarch, one can only lose that status given really bad decisions or bad luck - because one can pass on ones status to one's children). After the 16th, the only way to maintain the gains from winning the 'game' in one set of decades was to reinvest the proceeds into a corporation that could live indefinitely.

Or, to quote a celebrated author - “That is not dead which can eternal lie, And with strange aeons even death may die” We're in a strange aeon indeed...

In general, corporations bring far more good than harm - they're the main force capable of withstanding oligarchic designs over time (in large part because you can compel them to comply in ways you cannot with an oligarch). In some cases, they enable would-be feudalists to bypass their own mortality. In all cases, they enable oligarchs to shift "income" into "capital gains" or "dividends" which are taxed far lower - and thus bypass the system as intended.

That's the tweak that is called for today: reverting to a tax structure where income, whether inheritance, rental, dividend, capital, or any other type of income - is all treated the same. Until it is, those who "have" aren't even cheating - they're just playing by all the rules in the game.

David Brin said...

I am drifting in a new direction. I will now entertain long odds wagers AGAINST the likelihood that Donald J. Trump will actually be the GOP nominee... or still be on election day. I have no scenario that would stop him. Hence I'd need long odds. Still, a hunch is growing.

Tom Crowl said...

Discussions about democracy, representation, voting, participation, etc... are all worthwhile but in my opinion neglect a vital aspect of governance.

Namely the nature of credit/currency creation and its relationship to state power and state control... monetary systems may, at times, function for better or worse.

Personally, I believe our monetary system is an Achilles heel which we (i.e. those interested in governance) pay entirely too little attention to.

I'm not a "gold bug"... I'm not looking for a return to that standard. However if we don't pay attention to how a fiat system can be misused for political purposes we're living in a fool's paradise.

Frankly, we may be too far down the rabbit hole of monetary incompetence to get out of it w/o considerable disruption but the sooner its paid attention to.. the sooner we can look for better mechanisms for the future.

I don't agree with everything in the article below but... nor do I believe that the FED is a den of thieves.

But I do believe it has a bias towards the financial services sector and the interests of its members (altruism dilemma/social proximity) as well as a desire to satisfy the political leadership of both Parties so as to ensure their continued "independence" (an oxymoron) and profitability of its constituent banks.

The Greenspan model was very satisfactory for both parties during the American de-industrialization and financialization process... but has long term negatives which are not likely to be avoidable. It is very NON-Adam Smith.

The Federal Reserve has brought back “taxation without representation”
https://www.sovereignman.com/trends/the-federal-reserve-has-brought-back-taxation-without-representation-19906/

If you're interested in governance... take the time to learn about the history of money and governance... and especially its relationship to empire.

Look at all sides.

P.S. This is related to why I believe connecting the micropayment to a more general, publicly owned transaction system is a good idea... . (there's nothing in its design which suggest that such a system must be limited to the micropayment, though it could be).

It's nothing but inertia which has handed the transaction system to the banking system... and that makes as much sense as handing the road building system to a few car companies.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I am drifting in a new direction. I will now entertain long odds wagers AGAINST the likelihood that Donald J. Trump will actually be the GOP nominee... or still be on election day. I have no scenario that would stop him. Hence I'd need long odds. Still, a hunch is growing.


Glenn Beck all but called for a "patriot" to rise up and rid the party of that troublesome priest (not in those exact words, but still...).

Tony Fisk said...

Loco is either showing abject ignorance, or slavish devotion to his dictionary driven logic.

Look up Governor Arthur Phillip, his period of secondment to the Portuguese Navy, and what gave rise to the term 'ticket of leave' before sneering at Australian 'freedoms'

Perfect? Certainly not, but I am not chained by fear of the gun toter and, for the record, I prefer the term 'Auntie' state.

Jumper said...

Sorry, Tom, your article is bollocks. You can lend money at high interest rates, and borrow it at low. You can also borrow it at high rates. You can try to lend it at high rates but someone is beating you. So raise taxes. Increase velocity. What's that guy crying about? He's a victim? He can put his stash in machine tools or wheat or stocks or any damn thing he wants.

Paul451 said...

Loco,
"Once classified as British 'convicts', Australians were NOT initially classified as 'free' .... "

Oh what garbage. Convicts were classified as convicts. Free settlers were free.

British convicts were transported to Australia as farm labour on farms owned by free settlers. (Excess convicts motivated the settlement of Australia, which is probably what confuses dumber Americans. After the US revolution, Britain had nowhere to send its criminals. That's what led to the NSW colonisation. If the US revolution had been put down, Britain would have continued shipping to the Americas. Australia probably would've ended up as two countries, one Dutch, one French.)

My own state had no convict settlers, being founded entirely as a free-state. Duncan's NZ was the same, I believe.

Each state also had elected government long before Federation. In theory, they could have just continued as independent nations, just like NZ. Likewise, NZ could have joined Federation and become an Australian state, just as Tasmania did.

(Also Australia has a long history of gun ownership. Even after the popular gun reforms following the Port Arthur massacre, we still have more guns than before; we just changed the types. Which is apparently all it takes to virtually eliminate mass shootings. "This One Weird Trick...")

Paul451 said...

Donzelion,
Me: "because with advertising-micropayments the user is the product being harvested, bundled and sold."

What I meant by that is that with advertising, the financial relationship with the content-provider is between the provider and the advertiser. The "job" of the content-provider is to attract demographically identifiable viewers to bundle up and sell to advertisers. (Yes, the advertisers are then trying to convert those eyeballs to sales, but that's not what drives the financial motives of the content-provider. His client is the advertiser, not the user/viewer/reader.)

When you move the financial relationship to being one between the content-provider and the user, you are going to shift the market drivers for the content creators.

That's why I think you're wrong that the current advertising micropayment model tells us anything about user-side micropayments.

Me: "(How many click-bait articles have you opened? How many would you reward once you saw the actual article?)"
You: "Far too many (and indeed, these folks are proliferating as 'journalism' now - Buzzfeed, etc.). Thing is, they've already received their reward (from someone else) simply from my having clicked them. A micropayment occurs, whether I wish it to or not, for each ad displayed."

That's what I mean. That's the difference between the advertising micropayment model and a direct user micropayment model. Advertising rewards sites for tricking the user into clicking through. User micropayments are initiated by the user based on the user's valuation of the content, not the advertiser's value of the user.

Because advertising is the primary funding model, what we have now is a corruption of the relationship between the user and the site. (The user and the journalist, the user and the media creator, etc.)

User-side micropayments return power to the users, and restore a proper relationship between creator and consumer.

Paul451 said...

Me: "You'd be better arguing that "arms" actually referred to heraldry, as in 'coat of...' "

The more I think about this, the more it appeals to me. "A clearly identified militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to establish and display their own brazonry shall not be infringed."

LarryHart,
"What I find more interesting is the fact that the Second Amendment never mentions guns."

Particularly when many states have laws against carrying personal arms other than guns, such as spears and swords, and yet the defenders of the Sacred Second are silent, including the Supremes.

"But there's nothing in the wording to distinguish guns from tanks or surface-to-air missiles or even tactical nuclear weapons or bio-weapons."

Don't go all thunder and does, though. Being an individual right, it's reasonable to interpret it as personal arms. That excludes large weapons like tanks, NCBs, etc. But it does include all fully-auto firearms, along with portable missiles like RPGs and MANPADs. General explosive ordinances, like mines and IEDs, are more ambiguous, falling somewhere between personal arms and unit arms.

David,
"Without a scintilla of doubt some future generation and court will interpret "well-regulated militia" the (sensible) way they choose to interpret it. Meaning you get to have guns if you are registered and trained in the reserves."

Even now, the Article 1 militia clause would allow Congress to pass such a law. Except the emphasis would be reversed: If you own a gun and you meet the criteria for the existing draft/militia, you must register to serve in the militia and turn up at training. Fail to do so and it's not the gun that gets you into trouble, it's the draft-dodging. Doesn't require a reinterpretation of the Second, only a tweaking of the Militia Act.

Paul451 said...

From the article Tom linked to:

"Just yesterday, the Federal Reserve announced that it would keep interest rates at 0.25%.
[...]
If you're in debt up to your eyeballs (like the US government), low interest rates are great.
It means the government can continue to borrow even more money and go even deeper into debt."


Dude doesn't understand government debt any more than he understands taxes.

The rate that the US Treasury can "borrow" money does not relate to the Fed rate. US Treasuries are based on an entirely separate market driven mechanism.

Tom Crowl said...

I don't suggest that the piece is a detailed explanation of how treasury bonds work... (as I stated I don't agree with the whole article)... but what it does do is give a quick overview of how the membership of the FED is composed... and their shared interests. That (at least to me) suggests that the premise that the FED is neutral is false... a neutrality which they assert they have.

And isn't it true that the current yield on a govt. bond is a combination of the coupon rate and whatever the current sale price of the bond would be? (which is not necessarily... and usually isn't... the same as the face value of the bond)

Moreover won't the coupon rate for new bonds be correlated closely with other yields available for investment... (yes, lower because its considered more secure... but correlated nevertheless)?

And won't current yield on existing bonds (being dependent on both the coupon rate and the current bond sale price) also be closely related to returns available elsewhere?

SO in that sense it would seem that its a rather strong indicator of the cost of govt. debt. But I'm no expert so help me clear it up.

Paul SB said...

On the subject of thunder and does (way to milk it, 451! Now we just need some rennet and we'll make it into something solid), this is just about the weirdest thing I have ever seen on the Donald Dunk front.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbM6WbUw7Bs

Jerry Emanuelson said...

I don't see any reason at all why we can't have 3 or 4 currency systems operating together at the same time and place. We have these things now called computers that can very rapidly and automatically keep everything straight.

One currency could be the central bank (fiat) currency. Another might be a bitcoin-like blockchain-based currency. Another might be a precious metal or commodity-based currency. Another might be a currency system very specifically designed for micropayments.

Multiple banknotes would not go over well with retailers, but different credit or debit cards based upon different types of currencies should not be a problem at all as long as that is what people really want.

Like anything else in the marketplace, individual wealth would migrate toward the system that appeared to hold the greatest safety and value, with different individuals making different choices. There is no reason, though, to leave anyone out just because they prefer a different currency.

A micropayment system is really vital, especially for those who are earning less than the average income. The only reason that we don't have a micropayment system is that everyone who is employed in a capacity that exerts control over whether we have a micropayment system is earning well-above the average income. Most of the high-earners have no comprehension of the importance of micropayments.

Many people have informational web sites with millions of page views per year, but they earn virtually nothing for it because they don't have the time or resources to attempt to sell advertising (which is quite difficult for an individual, even if their web site is extremely popular). In most cases, the income of such web sites is negative. The best solution right now for such an individual is to remove the web site when it becomes extremely valuable for readers (because of all of the unpaid time spent answering email).

Kyle Connor said...

Loco is either showing abject ignorance, or slavish devotion to his dictionary driven logic.

Look up Governor Arthur Phillip, his period of secondment to the Portuguese Navy, and what gave rise to the term 'ticket of leave' before sneering at Australian 'freedoms' https://www.google.com/#q=Arthur+Phillip+StudyMode

Jumper said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fatal_Shore
Recommended. It educated me, that's for sure. It destroyed a lot of folk histories when it came out, apparently. Or so said an Australian I knew.

Tom Crowl said...

Donzellion: "with advertising, the financial relationship with the content-provider is between the provider and the advertiser. The "job" of the content-provider is to attract demographically identifiable viewers to bundle up and sell to advertisers."

and then

"User-side micropayments return power to the users, and restore a proper relationship between creator and consumer."

Absolutely YES!

Now substitute some words:

With "big money contributor dominance of the lobbying process"... the financial relationship with the "legislator"... is between the legislator and the major contributors... the job of the "legislator" is to attract demographically identifiable "voters" to bundle up and "prevent them become bothersome" to contributors.

and then:

"Citizen-side micropayments" return power to the citizen, and restore a proper relationship between politician and citizen.

P.S. this does not negate a need for partial or complete funding of the electoral process but you're not going to stop lobbying... so adapt.

Tim H. said...

The idea of Donald Trump in the White House reminds me of Governor William J. LePetomane, which affairs of state would take precedence?

Instant Karma said...

Thanks David,

As a general rule of thumb I find it is best not to get into political discussions with people who view the other political party (whichever one they don't favor) as "jibbering insane", in "loony territory", "dogmatic enemies of facts and science and enlightenment", "trying to reform Big Brother" whose "sole reason for existence is now preventing a level playing field and return to feudal rule."

The chance of anything productive coming out of the discussion approaches 100%.

I started by stating that I found your political views not up to the lofty standards of your general insights. I stand by the statement. Indeed I believe it is more dramatic than I originally thought. Politics seems to somehow be capable of perverting even great minds.

Jumper said...

What's this? The fake "balance" some people think needs preserving? Twenty years ago the Republicans were merely obsessed with several incorrect theories, and their dirty tricks squads hadn't sunk to the nadirs of those used on McCain or Kerry since.

"jibbering insane", in "loony territory", "dogmatic enemies of facts and science and enlightenment" is exactly, precisely, inarguably where they are now.

LarryHart said...

Tim H:

The idea of Donald Trump in the White House reminds me of Governor William J. LePetomane, which affairs of state would take precedence?


That's actually a darned good analogy! "Think of your secretary," indeed. Or "This is 1871. You can sue her."

Perhaps just as apt a comparison would have been Rufus T Firefly?

Paul SB said...

"The chance of anything productive coming out of the discussion approaches 100%. "
- approaches 100%... Correct me if I am wrong, but either you made a mistake here, or are being ironic in a rather opaque way.

I have been following this list for a couple years, now, and while sometimes Dr. Brin's rhetoric does get hyperbolic, I can be sure it is not without merit. I grew up in a town where one side of the debate dominated the discourse, and demanded absolute, unthinking loyalty. The crass manipulation was pretty obvious to anyone who has more than 2 neurons rubbing together for warmth between their ears. I eventually escaped my creche, to find that in some places the other side seems almost as bad. They certainly demanded the same kind of unthinking conformity, and both used "facts" very selectively to argue their causes. But there were some clear differences.

One side relies on a notion of distrust of government, science and education to scare believers into action. The other side relies on a distrust of big business to scare believers into action.

Now think about that for a moment. Government ostensibly exists of, by and for the people, though it is obvious that it does not always behave appropriately. Likewise the purpose of education is to ensure that the citizens of a democracy sufficiently understand the issues of the day to vote on them intelligently, though looking at our curricula it can be hard to tell sometimes. Science is effectively apolitical, being merely a tool to discover the natural processes that make the things work. As a community, science depends on a reputation for honesty. Diverse scientists of all backgrounds are constantly checking each other's work to be sure it is both accurate and honest, and while a professional scientist can weather a few honest mistakes, dishonesty is end of story. Business, on the other hand, exists for the purpose of making money. There is no reason for any business (in the short term at least) to be honest or to consider the needs of the people.

So where it comes to determining which side to trust, I can't say I trust either. However, it is very clear that one side in particular is especially foolish. Placing complete faith in business to produce the best outcomes for a nation, regardless of your views on morality, is supremely naïve, and only serves the interests of the richest, most powerful elements of society. It was pretty obvious to me way back in the days of Saint Ronald Reagan that the right wing was going gibbering mad. Since the days of Newt Gingrich and, more recently, the Hastert Rule, I can no longer stomach their stupidity. I have no reason to trust the Dumbocrats, but far less to place any faith at all in the Repugnant Party. One makes foolish mistakes and, like all politicians, depends on simplistic propaganda to gain mindless obedience. The other works entirely for the interests of the super rich to the detriment of the nation itself, while feeding simplistic propaganda to gain mindless obedience.

Let me go back to that quote on insanity:
"What are the most common traits of nearly all forms of mental illness?"
The answer? Nearly all suferers lack –

FLEXIBILITY - the ability to change your opinion or course of action, if shown clear evidence you were wrong.

SATIABILITY - the ability to feel satisfaction if you actually get what you said you wanted, and to transfer your strivings to other goals.

EXTRAPOLATION - an ability to realistically assess the possible consequences of your actions and to empathize, or guess how others might think or feel.


Earth p.149

Both sides fair pretty poorly on all three of these. But the right wing fares far worse on all accounts, especially where it comes to satiating themselves with everyone else's money.

LarryHart said...

Instant Karma:

I started by stating that I found your political views not up to the lofty standards of your general insights. I stand by the statement. Indeed I believe it is more dramatic than I originally thought. Politics seems to somehow be capable of perverting even great minds.


On the contrary. It is the case that "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you." Likewise, just because many political arguments degenerate into kindergartenish name-calling doesn't mean that a particular party hasn't become insane. In fact, turn it around. For the sake of argument, let's say one unspecified party does happen to have gone insane. How does one accurately describe such a phenomenon without appearing to be engaging in mere kindergartenish name-calling?

In fact, today's Republican party has deliberately poisoned the well for just such an argument. It is impossible to accurately describe them without appearing childish and vindictive.

It's supposed to be bad form to compare one's political opponents to Mussolini and Hitler, but if you can look at a Donald Trump rally and not see echoes of 1930s fascism there, then you're the one with blinders on due to political bias.

LarryHart said...

PaulSB:

So where it comes to determining which side to trust, I can't say I trust either. However, it is very clear that one side in particular is especially foolish. Placing complete faith in business to produce the best outcomes for a nation, regardless of your views on morality, is supremely naïve, and only serves the interests of the richest, most powerful elements of society.


On the contrary, they are not foolish. They're fooling their voters, which might be what you meant. But the policy makers on the right don't trust business to produce the best outcomes for America. They trust business to bribe them with some of the spoils that they encourage business to take.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Here in France they use a variation of the Australian Ballot but the choice always comes down to the respective heads of the two major parties. There are backroom deals with minority parties to get their support and they are usually handed a few ministries here and there"

The problem is that when proportional representation was introduced, we got right-wingers building coalition with fascists (the self-proclaimed heirs of De Gaulle bonding with the actual heirs of Pétain over their shared hatred of anything that reminded them Jaurès, quite a picture). I would personally favor a mix between districting and proportional representation that copied a page or two from the regional and municipal elections (divide Metropolitan France into 40-50 11 deputies-strong districts, organize two turns election where a list needs at least 12,5% of the vote to reach the second turn, give 3 seats to whoever finishes first in the second turn and divide the remaining 8 seats proportionally), but the french political class is still traumatized by the 86 election and doesn't want to bring back signifiant proportional representation.

***

* "I like Aristotle's take on class and governance: the poor are hungry, and seek to use government to feed themselves. The rich are greedy, and seek to use government to enlarge their hoarding. Neither is to be trusted."

If you think an hungry man is to be distrusted instead of, you know, fed, your philosophy has a problem (yes, I loath Aristotle too)

(Also, I maintain that the core of the anti-small-r-republican far-right is composed of middle-class men and women who by envying the material comfort of the rich and fearing being outcompeted by the hungry poor, manage to cumulate both social extremes' vices)

***

* "How to coax people to read more, to think more, when their busy lives already demand so much?"

Diminish the hours-per-week necessary to get a living wage

***

* "As demonstrated by Orlando's twin tragedies, the Non-Western, Alligator & Predatory mindsets (wherein the Other represents potential prey) don't give a shit about the West's current infatuation with Otherness"

As demonstrated by Jo Cox' murder, and before that by Breivik's massacre, the Charleston Church shooting, and countless other exemples, the murderous mindset that drove Omar Mateen to slaughter 49 people is many thing, but it's most certainly Not "Non-Western"

Paul SB said...

Larry, that is precisely the intention. I thought what I said about satiability made the point, but perhaps not clearly enough.

The leadership is laughing it up to the bank. The dupes who vote for them have bought a line of horse pucker that says that if the government does nothing to govern the nation, they, personally, will rise to wealth and prominence over "those other people." There is an assumption of superiority, which is why right-wingers are so commonly driven by racism, ethnic, sexual, religious and other prejudices. To the Randian mindset it is only the unfair advantage of government that prevents them personally from becoming rich, powerful and prominent. It never occurs to them to think that is might be simply that others beat them to the punch, became rich and powerful long before they were born, and use that power to ensure that they and their offspring are never seriously challenged by anyone else. Sometimes government has something to do with this, but most often when it is corrupted by business interests.

The left-wingers, on the other hand, proceed from the assumption that we are equal, if not in nature at least in legal status, which is why they are so rarely motivated by racism, sexism, ethno-nationalist sentiments and so forth - though there are those rare extremists who try to "reverse" discrimination. They get that business is corrupt virtually by definition, but often are naïve about the extent of corruption in government, the only power that can balance the destructive forces of businesses that poison us and the world for profit.

It would be nice if there were a power base that could counter the destructive tendencies of both, but chances are it would become corrupted, too, the same way religion has always represented a force to back the powerful at the expense of the rest.

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

As demonstrated by Jo Cox' murder, and before that by Breivik's massacre, the Charleston Church shooting, and countless other exemples, the murderous mindset that drove Omar Mateen to slaughter 49 people is many thing, but it's most certainly Not "Non-Western"


A little before Christmas in 2015, there had been something like 355 mass shootings in the country that year (I distinctly remember it was more than one per day). Of those 355 mass shootings, one (San Bernardino) was perpetrated by a Muslim. He we enacted Trumps fascist policies, banned all Muslims, and defeated ISIS, that would have prevented 1 of the mass shootings, which I suppose brings it down to the acceptable level of only 354.

Paul SB said...

Laurent,

* "How to coax people to read more, to think more, when their busy lives already demand so much?"

Diminish the hours-per-week necessary to get a living wage

That is a good, somewhat no-duh answer, but in my country, where we treat competition as if it were Godliness and productivity as the ultimate selling point, this will not happen without some major changes to both the structure and the superstructure (the "memescape" as it were). There are some hopeful signs. The popularity of non-economic uses of our time that benefit our health, like yoga, cycling and other outdoor pursuits, show that there is at least some undercurrent of belief in the importance of life over mere acquisition and display of money is a good sign. But the national obsession with competitive couch-sitting sports (like TV quarterbacking and adipose development) is overwhelming. As long as people are obsessed with competitiveness, they will buy into the interests of their corporate masters, who want them to work slavishly for their masters' favor and table scraps.

Cheery stuff!

David Brin said...

Oh... more on the Trump-Putin bromance. Seriously, you folks are kidding, right? This is all just a practical joke?

If so, the folks at Washington DC's Republican Capitol Club aren't laughing. I had dinner there (tasty food) while in town for NASA meetings, last week, and you could cut the dour mood with a knife. Then I looked at the newsletter of this ancient and venerable club. It showed an elephant with upraised trunk, bellowing proudly. When elephants do that, do you know what it's called?

Yes, the newsletter is called the "Trumpeter." And when I raised an eyebrow, the woman behind the desk growled: "We've had that name for 50 years!"

No, they aren't happy.

David Brin said...

Instant Karma, I am sorry if you find my polemic over the top... but no, I am not in the least sorry. "Discourtesy" is one of the last refuges of the mad right, now... after 24 years of the volcanic sputum we've endured from the Limbaugh-Fox-ClearChannel harridans. Like most blue Americans, we will not be lectured-to about "courtesy" after enduring such hell for a generation.

Please. You actually maintain that today's American right has anything credible to say? After waging deliberate war on science and every other knowledge profession in American life -- name an exception(!) -- and throwing assertions that they never, ever prove.

This is not about capitalism, which always and I mean always and in all ways prospers better under democrats. Adam Smith would be a democrat today. It is about sanity.

Assertions never backed-up by facts are the basic oxygen on today's confederacy. But the Dems and especially HC have been subjected to more scrutiny than any human beings in history. Bush owned all three branches of govt from 2001 to 2007 and sent waves of agents rifling filing cabinets looking for a smoking gun. ANY! And they found nothing. Zip. The Clinton Admin was the only two-term presidency ever to leave office without a single high official convicted or even indicted for malfeasance of Office...

... until the Obama Administration. NOW THERE ARE TWO. And there are zero alternative, feasible explanations for the lack of a smoking gun, other than the proved fact that the allegations have all been flat-out lies.

All of them. Every last one. "Lying" and "corrupt" Hillary are ravings of madmen who cannot back up a thing and who lost all credibility trying to screech at phantoms for 24 years.

Sorry, but all you have is my "rudeness." and I have an excuse for that. Which is my sense that my civilization and planet and children and the country that I live are in dire danger and it is time to end this phase of civil war. And part of that is finally finally finally getting mad..

David Brin said...

onward

onward

locumranch said...


If it weren't for numerical fallacy, mea culpa Laurent & Larry_H would be right about the all-too Violent West, the problem being that the Empiric West counts its violent episodes while Non-Western Nations does not.. How many mass shooting have occurred in the Middle East, Africa, Indonesia & the Philippines this year? How many people have 'disappeared' in Asia & Latin America? Our fallacious twosome are entirely ignorant n this regard. Then, there's Pinker who claims that Western violence has undergone a steady decrease despite the recent 'minor' uptick in random violence.

Our fallacious twosome are perfect examples of the Convict Mentality (aka 'Stockholm Syndrome').

On reflex, they assume their Western Guilt. They are fearful of freedom, having been institutionalised since age 5 & subjected to intensive educational indoctrination. They have learned to deny their natural inclinations; they respect arbitrary authority, pay attention, sit still, obey the rules & keep their desks tidy; they worship the rules & despise cheaters; they can't go to restroom without first raising their hands & requesting permission; and, they have been taught to cover their eyes & ears when confronted by unapproved narrative.

You're in a prison. You were born in a prison. You've been in a prison so long, you no longer believe there's a world outside. That's because you're afraid. You're afraid because you can feel freedom closing in upon you. You're afraid because freedom is terrifying.


Best
_______
Our host also worships the rules. He despises rule-breakers & cheaters as do all Company Men. He fears the Trump Anomaly for the same reason because the previous political rules no longer appear to apply. Freedom is indeed terrifying.

Jumper said...

Someone who breaks a rule with a motive that has a different goal than just breaking rules is one thing. Someone else who idolizes another for no other reason than rule-breaking is a chump and a punk. Abbie Hoffman actually grew up.

Instant Karma said...

David,

I am not defending the right or their proponents. I think I made it pretty clear with the lizards metaphor that I believe both political parties are full of BS, and are greatly captured by people who value their own interests over those they rule, and who will engage in exaggeration, lies, crime, corruption and violence to achieve, maintain and extend their control and power.

If your argument is that you think one party isn't as bad as the other, then say so. That is a reasonable argument and is something other reasonable people can discuss with you.

Your opinion (I won't requote your line about the sole purpose of the GOP), is simply sophomoric. You have become part of the problem. Both parties (all political parties?) have found an emergent process in setting up the other party in primitive tribal terms as wholly stupid and evil. You are part of the partisan propaganda machine. You should be able to rise above it while still being able to point out the foolishness of one or both parties.

Best regards

i_/0 said...

From the article cited below:

In fact, one of the statistical models applied by Stanford University researcher Rodolfo Cortes Barragan to a subset of the data found that the probability of the “huge discrepancies” of which “nearly all are in favor of Hillary Clinton by a huge margin” was “statistically impossible” and that “the probability of this this happening was is 1 in 77 billion”

http://alexanderhiggins.com/stanford-berkley-study-1-77-billion-chance-hillary-won-primary-without-widespread-election-fraud/