Friday, December 26, 2014

Basic Values that define the cultural divide through history and the present

I have been quite remiss in maintaining this blog ever since I started posting on Facebook, usually posting on my Facebook Notes what should have also been posted here. I will now try and change that by reposting the most important things here as well. As I have rarely put in anything in my notes or here on this blog that is time sensitive most posts in both places still hold up to value even though many years have passed. I have written them much more as I have grown in understanding, than as a reaction to whatever the discussion at the moment.

There are a few like "A few Modest Suggestions", that were my hopes for the Obama Administration (almost all unrealized) or my notes on the actual WMD trailers that reflected my astonishment that, though I had not looked closely enough at that time, many others should have and realized just how fake the concept was even without more than a distant photograph. But those unrealized suggestions are still a valid need and folk still have not realized just how stupid a dark canvas bio-weapons lab in the Iraqi desert is, without any further description of it, so even those time focused posts are still worth reading.

What has changed and evolved is my own understanding of what I have been writing about. Much like the path that scientific understanding has taken, there is very little that I now think wrong or bogus but almost everything that I now have a deeper and more complex understanding than I did 5 -10 years ago when I first started writing many of these Ideas. The biggest change I think was a previous understanding that it might be actual brain damage that produced people with little or no ability to empathize, and thus a more right wing attitude. There is plenty of evidence that early childhood abuse will push folk in that direction, and there is growing evidence of actual brain differences with people of dramatically different political/social outlook (this should be almost axiomatic as we think with our brains), but there are many paths to that difference beyond what should be obvious, and many folk who's childhood trauma should have made them into monsters but did not can also be found, but in every case I was able to look closely at, there was a significant "rescuer" person who was able to provide that safe harbor that enhanced their Empathy rather than destroying it.

Most significantly I have worked very long to find a universal set of values that I have come to think of as structural in the sense that they are the canvas that provides that base that the mind is built on, where existing pathways are chosen and filled in with details rather than the unstructured "Blank Slate" as imagined by many and was the leading thinking as I was going through College. The primary opposition to the idea is that it would imply racial and individual natural "Differences" that would presume a superiority of one individual or group, but actual looking at the factors shows that such "differences" are far more subtle than imagined, and the range of what is done in any "canvas" far exceeds the range of differences in the "canvas" itself, and thus the objection is a faulty one. If it were as imagined then the reality would still need to be faced up to, but with the fears unjustified, understanding the "structure" of these things can bring greater empowerment to every person and not less.

Indeed I made up four posters of four universal values that represent I think the universal Cultural Divide that can be demonstrated as having been there for thousands of years and I think close to two built in threads of that "Canvas" that are in conflict in every person's mind, and at each choice or preference are processed through each of those threads and a choice made, that is reinforced with repetition, and thus (along with many other choices, like tribal connections etc) define each person's political outlook that is rarely changed in any way that is undramatic, but is possible if the person cares to think deeply about the issues, while keeping in mind that such values are a compass to measure the direction of a particular policy or agenda, and not the destination to be achieved much less the path to do so, but only the direction of that particular path.

Basic to the concept of such structure, is how people operate in groups. There are a few things in life from meditation to child bearing that are possible to accomplish as a lone individual, and even that is usually subject to actions of others, and it is this harmonious or not so harmonious activity that theses posters address. For almost all sch group actions there are many different jobs that need to be done by each person, and too many at one job or nobody to do another with disrupt and make dysfunctional the whole enterprise.

A key job is just a job like all the others with the single difference that the assignment of tasks and assignment of rewards will usually fall finally to a single person. When there are "Too Many Cooks" and there is drama of each one  trying to force different decisions, or a divided group that make sets of decisions incompatible with each other, then dysfunction reigns, and indeed to some extant the situation is rarely clean and such dysfunction is commonplace. And so it is that the first of the four values is leadership, what it is and is not, and (I would hope) a clear vision of how those policies fit with what is functional and what is not; even beyond what amounts to a statement of Morality that reflects a real difference between groups (often within the same group such as a church, town, or business)

(it should be noticed that I deliberately flipped the sides so that the Left side is mostly found on the Political Right, and the Political Left usually but not always falling on the Right side of the posters. This is because the distinction is not definitive of the Values Divide so that many claiming "Conservative" Values do fall on the Right side of these posters, just as there are some, such as the supposedly "Leftist" North Korean Government as example that fall on the extreme Left side of these posters.)

Built in also is the needs and desires of the individual. This leads us to the Value of Empowerment that is also a part of the Basic Values and the other face of the Basic Values #1 as ones ability to choose a path is often most personally felt at any moment, but is often twisted and misunderstood, as the person who gets the job of leadership often would very much like to benefit himself, his family, and friends to the detriment of everyone else involved in the enterprise about whom he would care little (which leads to Value #3), and thus it is also intricately tied to Basic Value #1.

So it is that the ability to have a say in holding leadership accountable is a big part of the Value of Empowerment, but it is only the most basic step. Beyond that the ability to accomplish any desired goal will meet barriers under the very best of situations, and it will never be possible for everyone to be unlimited in any way, but that is not a reason to give up or ignore all such limitations, or worse make them available to some while holding back others. In all of this there is room for discussion and debate about the fairness and the expense vs return to the society of any such empowerment, but again the discussion often gets down to the Basic Values of Empowerment and how they are seen differently. Again both the Morality of the right side of the posters and the functionality to the society favors one side, even as so many argue for the other.

It is important that the understanding about what the discussion is, be clear as the mechanisms that increase Empowerment on the right side of the poster, may be and needs to be deeply studied as there will be a real answer that can be determined what is a better outcome, while if the discussion falls into the abyss of being about the two different sides there can be no conclusion, as the desired result is fundamentally different.

In this I have also tried to isolate the divide that goes to the very concept of Freedom, and what each side means by it (and why they are so fundamentally incompatible)

While these first two values are of action, that Leadership is Agency and that Empowerment is the removal of barriers, there is more needed to understand when you are choosing one side or the other, and surprisingly some find it easy to twist them in their own minds much less the minds of others. Key to this and most difficult to logically define is the Value of Empathy, largely because either it is welded into the brain or it is not, so those who have real empathy instantly get what you are talking about and those who do not are confused and flabbergasted when they encounter it.

Here too is a primary reason that the left hand side of these posters is so dysfunctional, because they cannot account for it in their calculations, and thus the results are always quite different than they expect. More than the value of such prediction, the correct assessment of the measurement of those first two values also calls for such ability to put oneself into the mind and life of another person to truly understand what they need, and desire, and failing that such assessment of how to lead or empower them, falls flat.

Last but far from least is the other Value of Observation that is a part of the critical divide that make a society functional in increasing the quality of life of all or not is a basic commitment to actual Reality no matter how pleasant or difficult the facts that are revealed. The key to our society doing as well as it has done has been the slow discovery of a mechanism to decide what is an actual fact and what is not, that is often referred to as the Scientific method, but is quite different in this context. That is that we have devised a Secular Method for determining those facts that We as a Society can operate with and that anyone can contribute to, no matter what their beliefs; all they have to do is follow a specific set of rules that everyone has to operate by, to make their idea a Society "Fact".

A Secular Method it must be noted is not the denial of any person's feeling or belief, but like Chess a set of rules that everyone plays by no matter their belief, and nobody gets special privileges no matter what their reasoning for doing so (Just because your religion has Bishops, does not give your chess bishops special powers nor is the atheist denied having chess bishops because of their beliefs) So it is that your belief in the person hood of all animals, or  a collection of cells does not entitle your demand that they be treated with the same empowerment granted to adult humans, though you are entitled to make your case according to the rules.

 Thus the final Poster -

IMHO  these four posters can on the Right define a Socialized Society and on the Left an Unsocialized Society with little that need to be added or taken away. There are as noted some who claim to be "Socialist" who find their values on the Left side of these posters, and I have created these posters in part to refute that claim. There are also many who make statements about how some value on the Left side of these posters means that you will end up on the Right side of the poster (and some vice versa) and that too I would refute by their nature.

For all those others who find themselves here and would like to use these in context (unchanged
 or Photoshopped) I would give freedom to do so with attribution and I hope it can help clarify the real dynamics of the "Cultural Divide" and bring understanding to all honorable folk. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Socialized Dog is not a Government Owned Dog

There are no great Libertarian Thinkers but there are major Clever Libertarian Propagandists that twist reality so folks with a lot of money will pay them well.

It is not about People Vs State as their propaganda would have you believe. It is about Society. One person alone can accomplish very little. Even if you cut your own tree and make your own lumber, chances are you did not make the saw or the steel for the saw. So it takes the actions of many people, each doing their bit, to accomplish anything.

The great problem is that for each to do their bit requires someone to organize that. Not the hardest job or the most important, but it carries power, and that is the rub. The person who organizes is the AGENT of all who cooperate but is often the embezzler of the goodies and pushing the costs to others rather than sharing that either.

In a Socialized Society (as in socialized dog) all who wield power have to be held accountable for their decisions and actions, and all who cooperate must be Empowered to have a part in achieving the greatest contribution and fair share of the result, that actually causes the maximum return on effort, enriching everyone in the society.

Built into our brain is the ability of Empathy that can recognize Fairness, and those with that part damaged are called Sociopaths. It is the goal of Libertarian Propaganda to make everyone Sociopaths, look to their profit only, and ignore those who are damaged by their destruction.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Freedom Is Freedom From Abuse, Not Freedom To Abuse

Economic freedom is freedom from abuse and not freedom to abuse others who should be free of your abuse. The primary vehicle that a society has to restrain such abuse is the government. There is almost nothing that can be accomplished by one person alone. To accomplish a goal everyone working on it needs to do their part, and always it comes to one person to make the final decision or there is a contest of opinions that one person wins, or the goal is not achieved.

This job of making those decisions is just a job, it contains power, but is rarely the most difficult, and certainly not the most effort. But in holding that power, the person with the job is the Agent, by some level of assent, of everyone else that is affected by that goal, and how it is accomplished. As the Agent with the power, there is special responsibility to act in the interests of all, and giving one's self all the goodies and dumping all the costs on to others is tantamount to embezzlement, and criminal at least in intent.

Forming a society is one of those group goals, more complicated and spread across generations, but the structure underneath remains. Like many such groups you can only opt out by suicide, or at best distant travel, and you give assent by not doing those things.

One of the decisions in any group goal is indeed the distribution of goodies usually called wealth and perks, and it is a dysfunction of most groups that Agents see themselves as so deserving of that power that they have the right to embezzle all the goodies. They have even spent an enormous amount of those ill-gotten goodies to try and convince their clients that they actually deserve the situation as they have made it.

However any sane person who looks at the situation can see that all that embezzlement has reduced not only the lives of the client/victims but made the entire society more dysfunctional and less capable of functioning overall. Looking back we can see that even Kings lived pretty wretched lives because the freedom they suppressed prevented the accomplishments that would have benefited them as well.

It is hard to see what might be, but you can bet that this society has already fallen short of that, and is falling further as I write this.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Cost of Honor, or why honest businesses are the first to go in an unregulated market.

A dishonest businessman can always offer more than an honest one, because the dishonest businessman knows that they are not actually supplying what they offer. Blatant "too good to be true" offers may raise suspicions, but what about those not blatant? You might be able to boycott one bad company, but what if they are all not what they say? Can a company that delivers an honest product jump into, or stay in, a market filled with crooks? They are already established, and since they are making shortcuts that are not honest but save them money (else why do them) your expenses will always be bigger, and therefore your profits less. And even then who would know?

Without some sort of honest cop on the beat to collar the criminals and haul them out of the market, those who are honest will be driven out of that market. But the situation gets worse. Since the corruption is more profitable than honesty any funds spent to subvert or bribe that cop often can bring returns greater by far than the cost of the bribe. However money spent to fight that subversion or prevent the bribe returns no extra profit, nor does any effort to clean up the damage done. There is benefit to the entire society for an honest regulator (as that is what the cop is in the market) and why only the entire society can afford the effort.

Those who are so unsocialized as to have no concern for others may indeed chafe at being forced to behave at minimal levels of honesty, and all the more at being expected to help pay the bills to do so, and this is why they have created a great industry aimed at subverting oversight, and freeing them to loot at will, returning greater profits that can allow greater subversion. This is the main reason that the Right Wing Media is so robust and a real Left Wing Media barely exists.

Honesty enjoys greater support and willingness to sacrifice, but only when the real issues and facts are understood, and the tipping point is coming soon when no amount of sacrifice will stop another Totalitarian regime of Pirates from looting civilization into a feudal nightmare if not the extinction of the human species.

Friday, May 21, 2010

With all the hype how can we tell what is the reality behind a label?

It is quite true that folk use nice words like Christian, and then propose agendas that do not fit that label, or try to make good ideas like socialized or empathy out to be evil.

All that can be sorted out quite well by asking what they think of the four Socialized values.:...

Empathy: can they imagine what others lives are like, are they willing to treat those others as they would wish to be treated if in their shoes.

Empowerment: Are they willing to help others to be all they can be and make the best for themselves, knowing that it is not a zero sum situation, and the advancement of others advances yourself as well.

Responsibility/accountability: that any position that allows one to make decisions that affect others (particularly politicians, but corp as well) are agents for those affected and a violation of that trust for personal gain is embezzlement, and should be treated as such, and if the Cop on the job does not do so, that is dereliction of duty and should be treated as such. Though like any group activity, perfection is impossible so you deal with it as you can, and with that empathy stuff as above.

Reality: This should be universal, but unfortunately is not. There are ways to decide what is real for the most part, and what is phony or illogical and that needs to drive the decisions about what enhances or detracts from the other values and as a package.

From such understanding the way through all the flack can be much easier.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Just What are the Real Liberal or Socialized Values?

There has been of late a tremendous effort on the Right to redefine what it means to be Liberal or Socialized and ascribe to anyone claiming it a series of ideals and activities that do not reflect any sort of reality in this Universe, often giving a list of offenses that are more fitting of the last administration, and in fact actual policies of that administration, rather than the policies of the present one.

It is true that Obama has not tossed the entire Gang Of Pirates in jail and taken steps to assure that Bush/Cheney would stand as a warning to future dictators instead of precedence for them, and Clinton was conned by GOP criminals to signing the destruction of Glass-Stiegal and a few such things as NAFTA etc that have had a terrible effect and are not in the Liberal Tradition.

I guess in such an opposite universe Militant Quakers that have been advocating the invasion of Iraq and all the other violence and mayhem would not be an oxymoron, but they would be a null set in this universe. I suppose that in that universe the Neocons would be the peaceniks, willing to die themselves rather than be responsible for the deaths of others. Here, not so much.

But whatever the Universe the actual liberals would be the ones with four key values. Empathy, Empowerment of the powerless, and Accountability for the powerful to keep them from embezzling all the goodies and dumping the cost on to others. And a loyalty to reality to distinguish what the facts actually are as best they can be determined.

Basing their thinking on actual reality at least in making judgements of this world, some find their motives in various spiritual traditions, but almost all agree on scientific method where it can be definitive.

Basing their concerns in empathy for others, understanding them by being able to see through their eyes, and acting to the benefit of all in ways that could declared fair by any honest person. This is more leap than many on the right can make as they have had their empathy ground out of them and so are utterly confused by the concept.

With Empathy comes desire to give Empowerment to every person to achieve the very best for their own life, because a person empowered to contribute the maximum amount to society at the same time contributes to each member of that society in excess to what it cost in the first place.

For example if it is made a horrid and expensive ordeal to become a doctor there are fewer doctors, they are more expensive, and less doctoring is done. But if the barrier is only one of ability and society removes all the other barriers, there are many more doctors, and more doctoring is done, and at much less overall cost to society.

One lacking empathy might object to the expense of these freeloader doctors, but they would be very happy with the result, even if they could not make the connection. So it is with many things. Some like 3M have discovered how beneficial such empowerment can be, but as long as there is no accounting for the decisions of those in high places, most industries will be driven to the most unsocialized behavior by others in their industry who are still worse.

And this brings up the fourth value that lies at the heart of liberal thought. In every organization their must be leadership. Those without quality leadership might limp along if they are indestructible (at least in the short term) or explode eventually but not until they do such as Enron. The same is true of other jobs, but leadership confers the power of decision, given to it by all the members of the enterprise as their agent to assign tasks and benefits to those people with the expectation that they will do the job well and honorably.

Like Kings of old the job is not always done well or honorably, and as ever the problem is to hold them accountable for how their decisions affect all around them. The entire sweep of liberal history is to hold all who exercise power so accountable, no matter under what guise that power is exercised.

There have been many who claimed they stood on the side of accountability and did not, and many more who considered the idea of accountability an evil concept. While the former might be seen as false liberals who were conservative in their hearts, the latter would be unabashed Conservatives as the idea is currently framed.

The idea is not to elect perfect men to leadership but to create structures that those dishonest or self serving would be held accountable, and thus fear doing wrong if it ever enters their head to do so, not just in Government but in every enterprise where several or many are needed to accomplish a goal. To do that the accountant of last resort has to be a large enough government to do the job, and that government held accountable by its people as well.

Any policy or activity that deviates from those values, deviates from what is Liberal or Socialized, though honest folk can disagree about whether specific policies or laws work for or against those values, and there are even many wildly different societies that can still be expressions of those values. And of course it is a path and a process rather than a place where it would be declared arrived, but certainly differing levels along the way.

The founding of the country was indeed a giant leap along that path for the time, but they could and did improve on what was started, and not all changes were positive, but the liberal position has always been the greater expression of those values, just as the conservative position has been to retard them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What price patriotism?

From a friend a question

What do you think of Nationalism in general?
good or bad?
helpful or harmful?
valuable or worthless?

And my answer

That is a multi sided question because there are two big questions hidden in the one. On one side is the recognition that you are living in many layers of a collective, from your neighborhood or church, to your city, your state and of course your country. In each of those cases you are a member more or less as an accident of where you live, but if you work with the other members to improve the situation in the collective, your life is improved because you get benefits from that collective, even when you might not see a one to one relationship in your benefits and effort.

There is of course the largest collective that is all humanity, and while 200 years ago what happened on the other side of the globe might have few consequences to you, that is certainly no longer the case, from your factory that got shipped to China, to the collapse of the Antarctic ice shelves. So while you indeed do want to improve each of your other collectives, and need to work on that as you can, you need to work on the global one as well. If Chinese workers got a decent wage you would have more jobs at better wages, If the Antarctic Ice melts I get waterfront property.

There is of course another very much darker side that lays underneath any recognition of one's collective that can go from simply annoying to the worst sort of mass murder and genocide. At the lightest it is properly called triumphalism, that your collective is the most desirable to be a member of because of aspects you like and achievements you are proud of, plus you are in it and others are not. Internally this can gin up the troops to make more sacrifices for the collective, and under wise leadership can still bring cohesion and a better outcome for the extra effort, but from that point forward the slope begins to get slippery.

Things begin to get dicey when a collective adopts strong triumphalism that is directed outwards, especially when your collective is one of two or more in a larger collective, your collective can generate annoyance to downright hostility. A leader of your collective, particularly if unimaginative, or merely has an agenda to benefit himself at the expense of the collective, can use the hostility generated to create more triumphalism and get more support and sacrifice, even beyond what might normally be willingly given. This can cause a cycle of hostility that can easily get out of hand.

At some point there gets to be the idea that the Collective would be much better off if other collectives were not a part of the larger collective, and by eliminating them eliminate the source of hostility. This might take the form of wanting to divide the land in half, one collective or the other to run away or be pushed away, or if there is no away then mass murder can start. By the time this Eliminationism is in full flower, getting cooler heads to shut it down can be difficult or impossible, and the greatest evils humans know can be commonplace.

The trick then is to be mindful of the triumphalism, and hold leaders carefully accountable if they gin it up beyond that lightest levels, but particularly if they are unworthy of that leadership they will strongly resist efforts to do so. There in lies the Bane of Humanity.

A good Reference: "Eliminationism in America": Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX and X, and Appendix.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Propaganda, Framing, and the Libertarian Graph

In a further effort to make people think they support an ideology that they would never support if spoken plainly the Libertarian Party has put their Libertarian Graph that has been central to their self promotion onto Facebook.

As it has been around as long as the Internet I have largely ignored it but as it is newly in my Face I looked again at it, and with more educated eyes, see it as worse than I had originally realized. I do not suggest that they should not spew whatever they wish, but do suggest that what they do is a teachable example that folk can avoid anyone's propaganda framing games.

I listed all the questions I got (I don't know if they change them) but will try to take on each to see how they twist how they expect you to see them.

1. The state should restrict abortion in all or most cases.

One would think this easy, and it mostly is, but is not addressing the real issue of if you think a fetus is the same as a young child in human terms. If you consider a fetus as a foundation that a human can eventually move into then abortion is no different than any other medical procedure.

On the other hand if you think that a fetus, or a cow is as "human" as any 10 year old child then killing without good reason is murder. If you would make exemption for anyone's belief no matter how extreme for embryos, then you had better be prepared to defend cows as well.

2. Unions were indispensible (sp) in establishing the middle class.

Unions are one way to hold corporations, and their managements accountable for the treatment of their workers. It was a hard fight and there was no other force available to do so. Other stake holders, consumers, neighbors, even competitors don't have that power either so unions are at best a partial solution. This does not make unions in any way a bad thing, only insufficient.

And there have been middle classes arrive without unions, often by causing huge die offs as with the black death, or the Native American genocide, and even the most recent case a lot of folk died and were economically destroyed to provide the American "Boom". Western Europe did boom and a great middle class form, and unions definitely were a big part, but without the rest of the socialized solution they would not have been enough. In Japan there were no unions but accountability was arrived at by other means.

3. In nearly every instance, the free market allocates resources most efficiently.

Here again many things are implied and denied at the same time.

Any truly un-policed market would quickly become a criminal warlord zone, in order to operate at all there have to be rules, and in order to have them there needs to be enforcement, as well as decisions about what the rules need to be and what gets enforced. This implies power, but does not imply that the sources of that power are accountable to those without the power to decide or enforce those rules.

The existence of that power implies Government, either De Facto or De Jure or a mix of both, and it is that Power/Government that allocates resources, not the "Market". If you get the lion's share of the resources you might think them efficient, if not, then not so much.

Therefore it is power and not markets that allocate resources, and they can do a good or bad job of it, irrelevant to what market "Freedom" is defined as.

4. Public radio and television funded by the state provide a valuable service the citizens.

In the case of BBC or Canadian CBC the result certainly is valuable, Iranian Public Television not so much. American PBS is more middle ground. Like so much else it is accountability rather than funding that is at issue, with different laws and leadership PBS could be better, but it has suffered from GOP interference. All this irrelevant to the question.

5. Some people should not be allowed to reproduce.

An open bigotry question of little value besides that bigotry

6. Access to healthcare is a right.

Technically different from free speech or right of assembly, it is not a civil rights issue in that sense, but a sensibility issue, just like having access to fire or police protection is not a civil rights issue, but also a universal need that is not amenable to a market based distribution.

7. The rich should pay a higher tax rate than the middle class.

Again framed as if Government was taking something, instead of charging for the greater costs and benefits received. Also ignoring the social benefit that ratcheting up the cost of looting the economy makes it better to grow a business rather than take the money and run.

8. School science classes should teach intelligent design.

School science should teach critical thinking first, and actual science as the result of that critical thinking. Under those conditions Creationism makes a great negative example. Those pushing Creationism I would assume would prefer Science taught as belief alone rather than that.

9. Marriage must be heralded for the important role it plays in society.

Marriage is a religious institution that has no part in a secular society, but is defined by the religion. Living arrangements need to be the exclusive domain of those involved, and short of abuse, should be supported however the arrangers decide, without asking or even involving private sexual expression or the lack of it.

10. Sometimes war is necessary, even if it means you strike first.

Extremely situational, and two different points at that. Iraq obviously was not either of those situations, but it is possible (barely) to imagine some. Not part of the frame, that there are millions of ways to avoid even those, if you do not act stupidly.

11. Patriotism is an overrated quality.

More it is totally different ideas depending on what side you are talking about, and even who is in office for many.

12. Radio stations should be required to present balanced news coverage.

Again twisting the frame. The station is a tenant of the public spectrum with a mandate to use it responsibly. One does not need to micromanage that to determine when that mandate is absurdly violated.

13. Government should do something about the increasing violence in video games.

Again framing the issue all wrong. If someone is injured as a result of irresponsible activities of any person or corporation, that person or corporation needs to be held accountable. If a person preaches hate that leads to violence by their followers (think blind sheik, or Chas Manson) then they should be held accountable, anyone in decision position in a video game that leads to a similar result, should be held to similar responsibility, as well as the corporation to the top as well. That would end a lot of corporations and put the management in jail for a very long time over a lot more than video games.

14. If our leader meets with our enemies, it makes us appear weak.

Like above, very situational, agreeing to talk is not weak. Capitulating before negotiation is weak, it does not matter if we are talking Iran or Blue Dogs.

15. We must use our military from time to time to protect our supply of oil, to avoid a national crisis.

Protecting what you legitimately own is not bad, conquering and stealing what is not yours is bad.

16. Strong gun ownership rights protect the people against tyranny.

Unless of course the folk with guns plan the tyranny. Ask the folk in Somalia. Tyranny is not beaten with guns but with guts and brains. Look at Iran for the future or India, or South Africa for the past.

17. It makes no sense to say 'I'm spiritual but not religious.'

Only to those with no sense, or understanding of the meaning of those words. However many who say it make little sense. What makes no sense is how it relates to the quiz.

18. It is not government's responsibility to regulate pollution.

Any more than to regulate theft, or any other wholesale poisoning for profit. Like policing people and policing Corporations was somehow different, or pollution was like weeds that just occur without a polluter.

19. Gay marriage should be forbidden.

By Who? If your Church forbids it, fine don't do it or allow it there. Other Churches don't forbid it. Marriage is a religious institution and belongs there, and not in Government. See #9 for the rest

20. It should be against the law to use hateful language toward another racial group.

It is the hate and not the language that should be at issue. Eliminationist thinking is problematic and needs to be discouraged, just as those who advocate a totalitarian Government. Doing so however is one of the biggest problems Democracy faces.

21. Government should ensure that all citizens meet a certain minimum standard of living.

Again with the framing, this also is like Firefighting or health care, money is well spent if a few dollars prevent disaster, or protect those who need it from exploitation. Like the difference between empathy and sympathy, one either understands or not.

Insuring a minimum treatment of people is at least as compelling as a minimum treatment of animals.

22. It is wrong to enforce moral behavior through the law because this infringes upon an individual's freedom.

Like poisoning thousands is not immoral but sexual variation is? Or does preventing theft make for too much government interference and inhibit "freedom", or is theft by holdup different than by other means of power?

23. Immigration restrictions are economically protectionist. Non-citizens should be allowed to sell their labor domestically at a rate the market will pay.

More wild spin, let them form unions and make the market between equal powers, and what the market will pay will be very different, remove other protectionist barriers like patents, copyrights and other barriers to entry, and the markets would change some more.

24. An official language should be set, and immigrants should have to learn it.

Yes perhaps Cherokee, or Spanish as that was the largest area taken, or Chinese as that is where our money is. In practice those who have the gold make the rules, If everyone you sell to speaks Russian, even if just in that neighborhood, you will have few customers if you insist on English, even if they speak that as well.

25. Whatever maximizes economic growth is good for the people

As they are cheap and easy to produce, Credit Default Swaps can cause tremendous economic growth (for a while), and selling you heritage is also highly profitable but hardly sustainable, and of course cleaning up the differed costs is also a consideration, and if the CEO absconds with all the economic increase he would be the only "people" it would be good for.

If on the other hand the economic growth is people making actual stuff at wages they can buy the stuff with, they will not only have the economic growth, but will also have the stuff.

26. Racial issues will never be resolved. It is human nature to prefer one's own race

Yup, that is why the Irish, Jews, and Japanese are still segregated in walled ghettos or why there is still ghettos in Japan of people who's ancestors were livestock handlers, and non Japanese cannot see a difference.

27. People with a criminal history should not be able to vote.

The entire Criminal Justice system is more criminal than justice, and many of the worst criminals are never charged, but limiting the discussion to the false frame, regaining the right to live as a human, to have free speech is to be able to express an opinion in the voting booth as well.

Marijuana should be legal.

Driving stoned can be a bad thing, but many medicinal and technical uses are certainly lost and hurting society by the hysteria. Any law should not be about a cultural divide ignored by one side, be it hunting rifles or Marijuana.

29. The state should fine television stations for broadcasting offensive language.

Offensive to who? I am entirely offended by Fox but not at all by common expletives.


31. The lower the taxes, the better off we all are.

Yes the Soviets did not have taxes and look how well that turned out. Likewise the Chinese support the military and other sectors by making them the managers of large parts of the economy thus keeping taxes low.

Somalis also pay very low taxes, or none at all.

Obviously the question is very much deeper than that frame allows. It is more about what you want the government to do and who pays and there is a lot more to that than I can write here.


36. Toppling enemy regimes to spread democracy will make the world a safer place.

Yup like such enemies as Haiti or Honduras that had Democracies till we toppled them, or Friends like Tajikistan that boil their dissenters slowly in oil. Iraq and Afghanistan certainly have made the world safer by our efforts, just as our bullying has helped the situation in Iran and North Korea.

42. The military budget should be scaled back.

That would be the budget for weapons for Soviet era fighting? Money paid for awful and expensive contractors that the military could do themselves and did for 200 years? Or are we talking Body Armor and other tools that actual Soldiers need? Multi million dollar makeovers for Pentagon offices, or better beads for Veterans Hospitals?

An honest accounting system might save 90%, but the Pentagon will take the first dollar to scale back on body armor and blame it on the accountants.

43. Economic competition results in inumerable (sp) innovations that improve all of our lives.

That might happen if the competition was to improve people's lives, but as the point is to make a profit, the innovations are mostly ways to get more for doing less, and that has become the most innovative science on the planet. To the point that huge sectors of the economy get a very large percentage of the economy for doing almost nothing, and certainly less than would be spent without their hegemony.

44. It is not our place to condemn other cultures as backwards or barbaric.

It is not so smart to moralize about others even as you are considered backwards and barbaric yourself in so many ways.
49. When corporate interests become too powerful, the state should take action to ensure the public interest is served.

When corporate interests become too powerful the society has been in grave danger for some time. Too big to fail is waaaay past too big to exist. Anytime a Government does not act in the public interest there needs to be severe accountability, unfortunately we are also way past the ability to do this.


52. A nation's retirement safety net cannot be trusted to the fluctuations of the stock market

Nobody's future should be trusted to riverboat gamblers unless those gamblers would be willing to suffer an equal amount for failure as all their customers combined.

This is way late and over long but hopefully will enlighten some about how framing can lie or bring out the truth depending on how one thinks about the issue to discover what the real issue behind the issue is.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Deregulation has been an utter disaster.

The biggest and best of everything used to be in the USA and now no longer
is. Europeans, for example, have had much better and more complex
cellphone service at a single lower price than the US and have done so for
many years.

The reason is that without a force to improve, and a rolling up and
buying out all competition Giant Businesses have taken maximum personal
profit and made minimum investment or innovation. Without that force of
competition the Government alone is left to provide that accountability.

It can only do that by forcing openings limiting monopoly power, or by
forcing a single neutral use of airwaves, that are owned by the Society
Commons in the first place.

By demanding single usable pricing for all wireless connection as per the
European model, only then can Americans have even near World Standard
Service rather than third world standard service.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Medical Redlining - Another way Medical Insurance Companies can defraud everyone

As Congress gets to non debating a National Health care initiative that will not be change anyone can believe in, a new scam is percolating in the back of the Internet that will certainly become front and center if the current Baucus plan becomes "The Plan".

Unfortunately, as the last eight years have made really obvious, any corner not defined and held accountable by somebody will be cut by any company willing to do so and thus hold advantage over any company not willing to cut those corners. As well, the lower costs achieved by cutting those corners will not go to lower prices but to higher profits, not even for the shareholders but for the CEO.

In a case where the Insurance Company cannot cherry pick outright, they will cherry pick anyway that they can and this new scam is particularly pernicious. As their Ideology dictates, it will be profit and not need that sets policy and poor people with great need are less profitable. If price alone will not send them away, the new scam is to not offer services where they live.

By buying up and closing Hospitals that offer less profitable care you can force those not able to travel easily to travel farther to fancier hospitals, or stay away from any health care at all. Of course if the Insurance company refuses to make arrangements with doctors in redlined areas, then the Doctors will find that the preponderance of their business will be those "dumped" paitients on what will probably be the Government plan, and once again Taxpayers will be subsidizing Insurance Company profits, amid howls of protest that the Government plan is costing too much, and needs cutting.

Institutions that actually do something, like doctors or even hospitals, might indeed find ways to change practices in a way that has a chance of actually make more money and improve service (and even that not witout oversight) But an Insurance company can only be the middle man, it cannot add value to the equation, but only take its half out of the middle. It will have no purpose to be except that which it can gerrymander itself into false necessity.

Some examples

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A question of Agency & Accountability

When Obama was elected I had high hopes. I knew that if he advocated the progressive agenda outright that there would be a barrage of calls that he was implementing the kind of leftist agenda that indeed most folks who voted for him hoped he would and that there would need to be sustained activity to back that agenda.

When he put together his team in December I was dismayed that of all the names that would spring to mind from Krugman to Dean as having been at the forefront of the fight to get where we were, were either not brought in or tossed under the bus. We were told that this was a stealth move by Obama, that Bush needed to actually leave office, and we could trust that Obama would be setting the rules and pushing all those folk who were against the Left agenda to move further left than their prior actions would indicate.

Then we were told there was a secret framing agenda, that measures that looked like the normal Bush policies actually were different in the details that fully reversed what Bush was up to. But there was no prosecutions of crimes that are now prima facia, or even investigations of them. We are still in Iraq and it looks like for a long time, and Afghanistan is getting worse with mostly the same tactics that dis not work before.

To hear the screeching and lamentations from the Right one would think that all the correct things were being done, but when their blather is sifted out the only thing they actually oppose is the name of the party with supposedly the levers of power. There have been a few things happen at the margins, but no great strides and nothing that could not be quickly swept aside has happened on almost every front.

Even the abandonment of Habeas Corpus that ruled all English and American law for a thousand years that should have been restored instantly with prosecution of those who denied it (before even getting into the Torture "Debate") is not the focus. Only that it was illegal and should be abandoned by passing a law legally abandoning this bedrock of Western Values.

This is a final class battle that is technically not even the very rich against the rest of us, but a whole range of gatekeepers who are supposedly the agents of a whole range of folk, mostly feeding the very rich even when they are supposed to be overseeing them, but even more feeding and supporting themselves to the expense of everyone, rich and poor alike.

As agents they do not actually accomplish any goal but assign pathways and tasks to those who actually accomplish the goals, and then assign benifits among those achievers. It is a position with great, but supposedly borrowed power, responsible often to many interests that at one time was able to hold them accountable, but breaking free they have perverted the system beyond stupid.

Banks, Insurance companies, other financial "innovators" come easily to mind, but every Large Corporation has become equally divorced from the "owners" that are buried in layers of Pension Fund, or "Mutual" Fund that itself is only marginally aware of it's agency position.

And other large bureaucracies that act as a class of themselves are a step further removed from that agency position that their very existance as an industry perverts hao a Society operates are one more step into the Morass. Universities, Military, and their further parasites of Manufacturers, and now Mercenaries, and similar satrapies of insurance companies, hospital complexes, and pharmaceutical firms or the sphere of Agrabusiness, chemical companies and "food" delivery, or the mass that is essentially WalMart.

In every situation this gatekeeper agent class gets special rules, while the folk who do the work get less and less, and even the Investors are shortchanged, but worse the bureaucracy works to make itself ever more necessary and monopolistic so wars are started just so Mercs can fight them, or education is defined by the ever growing need of the proper degree, and not the learning that used to define it, or medicine is defined by pills like people were so much bags of soup, or "food" defined by packaging and corner cutting rather than taste or value.

Unless these Parasite Satrapies are broken or removed from power completely there will not be a society anyone now alive would wish to live in. Health Care is at the moment front and center in the fights (having lost the fight with the banks).and our best hope of eliminating any of the Parasites. If they are left in place in any form that fight will also be lost, and that is about the easiest fight that we face.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Darwin is best example of bad framing of good science

People keep having such a linear concept of evolution even among people who should know better. It is of great problem that it was Darwin who published instead of Wallace. Species do not ever evolve from a single individual but from entire populations that become separated and have traits that emerge differently.

Species become different mostly because of physical isolation that continues, and then may cease as mountains corrode or individuals make it back across the barrier. Among Humans after 600 years or so virtually everyone is a decedent of those who lived 600 years before as possible ancestors. Some will appear more times than others but few will "Die out" completely, it is only traits that increase of not. The number of children had will have little actual effect as negative traits are what survives or not, and that takes many generations.

It is only traits that "evolve" in a population, and even then a small change that exists in one group might be enhanced by the chance encounter with another trait present in another group. Eventually both traits might dominate the population but the ancestry would include those with the trait as well as those without it, with each trait "evolving" quite separately from the rest.

For example a particularly useful horn formation might first appear on an individual with a redder coat, but unless those genes were very close on the DNA the horn formation might stay and the redder coat not, they would not be connected. With a very large interbreeding population traits change very slowly, and only pandemic will change them quickly. Even then the trait that is lucky enough to hang out near the site of the anti-pandemic gene will be carried forward quite aside from its own favorableness otherwise.

Wallace's paper framed the facts in that much more correct manner, while Darwin opened the door to some of the most divisive and wrong headed politics to have plagued mankind for the last hundred years. Social Darwinism, Eugenics, and many of their derivatives like Nazis, Libertarianism, and some of the more odd variants of Soviet Communism as well as some of the reactions against Darwin from Creationism to the old Tabula Rasa ideas that have befuddled and muddied the behaviorial sciences for generations.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Internet Flood at the Gates of the Citadel

The one thing I see as a far outsider, well two things actually, is first that because they were monopolies newspapers were never the real watchdog of Democracy as much as another "Pig at the Trough" with their own power base, that balanced the other powers occasionally if they got out of hand, but were mostly complicit in that power, and mostly under pressure at the least from big advertisers, if not actually in pocket.

The second and perhaps more important thing I see is that all of Shirky's insights are also true in the much wider context. The printing press brought the Reformation but it also brought trade and innovation, and with that eventually "cheap" printing presses.

Once any person could print something that reached a critical mass audience, there was no King whose head was safe.

Those Publishers and Traders now consolidated power and became the new Kings, not just like the old, but just as fat and happy. And then along came Radio, and again there was cheap communication, and again the new "kings" were almost dethroned, but saved themselves at the last minute with "licenses" that made Radio, and later Television expensive and monopolistic.

Now along comes the Internet, and again anyone can own the new "Press" and again there is no restriction of content capable of reaching a critical mass.

The first reaction of power is GWB and a massive propaganda campaign, particularly juiced with Fear. This has been a part of the program that worked before as Communists were the boogymen and at first that worked, (the Internet was not yet at critical mass) but facts broke the propaganda model and GWB went down in flames.

Now we have a new battleground, some have never gotten it and their increasingly shrill pronouncements have left them looking as barking mad as they claim for everyone else.

But there are others who would use subversion where brutality did not work, if not to stop the now strongly running tide, then at least to turn it and protect the most potent parts of power, that they can retain their kingship as they did in the 1940's.

That battle is not over but it will not be an easy victory for either side.

This is a response to Rosen's Flying Seminar In The Future of News as I noted in a previous post the university structure sis also one of those "Pigs at the Trough"that the Internet is already destroying. It is only their gatekeeper status on the certification that one is educated that holds back the flood.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lets have the Socialism vs Feralism debate

I am really looking forward to the first real Ideological discussion in several generations. When it comes down to who you want running Society.

Should it be the Feral "lord of the flies" approach, where freedom is the freedom to act without thought or conscience, consider only yourself, and not be accountable to anyone? Or will we have the Socialized approach, where the fact that you did not care that the new toy you made contained poisons that killed dozens and injured tens of thousands was reason enough for you to be made very sorry and have a very bad life after that?

Shall we again turn America over to the Gang Of Pirates who do not believe that Government has any role except to throw the military at any group of folk we don't like? And since Government is naturally corrupt, to prove it by being as corrupt as humanly possible, shoveling money into no-bid crony contracts that accomplish as little as possible at maximum costs? (After Katrina the Gop paid out more to add blue tarps on houses than a new roof would cost, and then hired illegal aliens to do the work below min wage. A typical Gop contract.)

Or shall we have that sort of Socialized society the GOP is complaining about, where an honest and humane entrepreneur can create and run a business making real stuff without having it ruined by a sharpie who increase profits for himself by stealing from his employees, customers, and everyone else and undercut the honest business, so that eventually only Giant Feral Businesses like AIG, Wal-Mart, & Enron are left (well Enron is dead, but only because they stole more than existed, but the other giants from Disney to Home Depot are no less feral, just more solvent).

Until America re-establishes its social contract, that each person must consider others in their decisions, and work togeather on every enterprise for the common good. And recognize that everyone is advanced when every person can contribute their maximum ability without artificial barriers. And that it is the Government's job to reduce those barriers and hold accountable those ferals (foreign or local) who would steal by pen or gun from those who actually did the work, even as the entire populace would hold that Government accountable to do that job. There will be major partisanship.

If the Socialists win, there is a wide range for reasonable people to disagree. What is reasonable accountability, and what is intrusive. What are possible sorts of enterprises? Some might be governments like a city, or a natural monopoly like a power company. But perhaps accountability could still be managed if the power company only owned the distribution. Perhaps Schooling should only certify the knowledge and not how it was obtained (as long as anyone could still obtain it) But no more "leader gets the gold and everyone else gets the shaft" businesses.

The alternative is the usual case in history, with an elite that has no incentive to improve the world and a populace that has no means. In that case even the Elite suffer from the lack of productivity, but also lack the concern or imagination to see how things might be improved.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Faith can be problematic, but not "stupid" or really ignorant

I have worked with many religious fundamentalists, and unlike some on the Left see a very sharp difference between Faith and Ignorance, much less what they put down as stupid. The best example that comes to mind is a person I worked with in an architecture office who could quote you the specifics of any law or rule from any of the various codes we had to design to, even faster and beyond most in the office.

This made him a very valuable, and not at all stupid person, however to explain structural 3d issues or complicated implications that involved mental athletics was very difficult and tedious. I realized over time that to undertake such an exercise in a fundamentalist world was to walk on very thin ice, and brought up in that culture you quickly learn not to go there.

Our boss was similar in being fundamentalist, but had learned to compartmentalize to an amazing degree. Positively brilliant he saw those issues before I did and had several ideas what to do about it ready before I got there. He was so brilliant it was easy to forget the fundamentalist part, and occasionally bump into the wrong compartment and be very shocked at the reaction.

Over the years I have met many partway along those extremes, but always there is a core that cannot be challenged, and to do so feels like watching you stab kittens, they are very put out and offended.

For some that area may be sharply limited, in others it bleeds out to every area of life, but in each case to cross that threshold is to engage in kitten stabbing.

I used to joke that real faith was impossible and belief divided into four types. The first was like growing up in the 1100's the earth looked flat enough, nobody thought otherwise, and the subject virtually never came up. Under that situation it is not faith but common understanding that the Earth was flat. No reaching needed.

In level 2 belief, you might hear that some kook has suggested that the earth is a sphere and no matter how far you go you will not reach an edge. But the preponderance of the evidence you are aware of still weighs for a flat earth.

In level 3 belief, it is an active conversation, that many or even most folk believe in a round earth. The round earthers have some good points about horizons and where the sun goes at night, but your leadership and loyalty is with people who stick to the flat side of the argument. That is stubbornness and loyalty but still not faith.

Now if you go up in a space shuttle, or even just live in the modern world with all the evidence around you that you live on a round planet and still believe that the world is flat, that is true Faith. Many fundamentalists, while not believing that the earth is flat, would still agree that such belief in the face of contrary evidence was the ideal of faith.

( cross posted from a discussion here)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Is Insurance Structurally Feral?

It is happening again.

Nobody talked about it the last time, and they are not talking much this time either. All across the country companies are closing their doors. Not because they cannot get customers, though that is a much talked about part of the issue, and not because the banking system is frozen, though that also is a big part of the cause. But there are many companies who could both be customers and have customers, and are not dependent on bank loans to stay in business. These companies are going out of business for lack of any or affordable insurance. Many individuals are also finding themselves in similar straits making themselves poorer customers even if they have a job still.

As long as there is plenty money to be made speculating with other people's money (and even AAA rated obviously carries the risk that it is not) Insurance companies are expansive, writing as much as possible, making unsustainable profits in the use of money, even if the actual insurance gamble is break even at best. Then as always the bubble bursts.

Now suddenly the geniuses who made great incomes when the bubble was growing do not want to see any losses, and there is not so much to be made speculating no matter how much cash is available anyway, so suddenly loss of customers is not a bad thing, especially if you get a lot more profit from the customers you don't lose.

So now that the economy is on its knees the long knives come out to make it worse. Normal business insurance that rarely sees losses may just increase tenfold in cost because the Insurance company needs the extra profit, and more money from fewer people lowers their own exposure. And places like Florida or the Gulf Coast who are very high cash when cash is flowing become suddenly unacceptable risk when raw cash is not as useful, and those who would actually pay claims abandon those areas to ripoff and run operations who will just go bankrupt if there is any major claims.

Each Insurance type will operate slightly differently because the arithmetic is different, but while they will claim secret vetting, and some will do more of what they promise for the money they charge, without some embedded scam there can be no profit. And without a guarantee over time that serious losses will be made up, an actual free market would dump the burdened Insurance company for the one without past promises to keep. In short the Insurance company has to do the job of a government, but is managed as a Pirate Fiefdom, collecting the taxes but avoiding paying the bills, and with little to hold them accountable.

I already wrote about Health Insurance a while back and the Gapminder that showed differences between countries now also shows some information about different states as well. This particular view shows an assortment of states with the accidental deaths per number of vehicles to be fairly constant no matter the size of the state. Those above the diagonal are doing better than those below who have more deaths per vehicle and those moving toward the upper left are improving over time, the red pay higher insurance rates and the blue to green lower rates.
As one can see Texas and Florida have nearly the same numbers but Florida pays much higher rates, similarly with Illinois and New York. The link above goes to similar settings where it is even more dramatic. The live Gapminder there allows you to adjust what you are looking at .

What the Gapminder shows is that risk of deaths is quite unrelated to the price of insurance beyond that there is an increase in price nearly everywhere, even when the number of cars or number of accidents ( and thus the risk) is dropping. (Off the topic a bit is the sudden change in almost all states at Y2K and what might have caused that)

There is much hype in the air about how the Society is in such danger of being Socialized, as if an Unsocialized Society like an Unsocialized Child is a preferable outcome. Much pointing is done at the Soviets as the prime example of a Socialized Society because they claimed that they were one, but they also claimed to be as democratic as socialized as indeed they were neither in equal amounts.

The true Socialized Society is the opposite of feral, such as is found in some failed states, as the Government drowns in a libertarian nightmare of competing militias, and rogue warriors, that destroys all that society can produce. In short the Insurance company does for the most able to pay that which is least needed, and tossing the rest under the bus, and taking a giant piece of the society's productivity with it.

That safety net is what government is supposed to do, whether defending against outside enemies or inside disasters. A more deeply thoughtful system needs to be devised.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Deep Thinking is really needed now

So often the stupidity of one system reaches a point that it collapses and while everyone jumps that way there is very little thought given to what the new thing aught to be. Some things like the Computer or the Internet could hardly have been imagined, but others like cars or public transportation had patterns set hundreds of years ago. (there are many others like Education, Government,Business/trade.. a very long list but I want to look at private/public transportation at the moment). We have built a civilization on sand, and the foundations need rebuilding if it will survive.

The Automobile culture, built of cheap oil, narrow goals of next quarter profits, with designs sold as sexual adequacy rather than transportation cannot survive in its present form, but the alternatives are resisted because they are much less pleasant and turned to only in necessity. While there is a real need to rethink the Automobile culture, to say nothing of years overdue to even rethink what an automobile should be, we have a golden opportunity to rethink from scratch what public transportation aught to be. Right now it is based on an 18th century model that people avoid if they can, and is relegated to poor folk who have no other choices.

To make the leap into something that would all but replace private transportation it would need to be all the good things cars are and all the good things trains are. It must come when you want and go where you want. It must be both able to take hundreds of folks but not run empty when those hundreds do not show up. It must get you quickly to where you want to be but if it stops at all the other places it cannot be quick. You need to go the shortest route but also any route, and of course the advantages of trains of low fuel consumption, no need for parking, and no need to drive.

What I wouldl propose I call Ultralight Rail. Rather than huge trains there would be small very light weight cars that would run on a single rail and get its electric power from the rail. Because the cars would be smaller and lighter the rest of the infrastructure can be smaller lighter and therefore cheaper than would be necessary for train systems and since it would be mostly overhead it would not interfere with existing infrastructure.

Computers are the answer that was not available very few years ago when all the other systems were built. By making the cars small and computer controlled the need to pack everyone into huge trains goes away. With an artery and capillary system vehicles could travel close together at high speed but each car could have different start/stop points either around a corner or to a different city, traveling up to 200mph in stretches of main arteries.

By making the car able to hold small vehicles like power chairs, bicycles, Segways, etc it would make door to door transportation fast and reliable. By each car being separately targeted, it would go the most direct route as fast as possible without stopping along the way. By only coming when called it would hardly ever run empty, but be able to handle large crowds with multiple cars, and of course as it would not sit by waiting it would get constant use and therefore replace many more cars that spend most of their time parked.

There is much more that such deep thinking could produce, what is needed most is a path that such things could be accomplished, not only for this bust so much more, that will be the real measure of this administration.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Structure of Education is Crazy

Education generally and higher education in particular is deeply suffering from structural binding that is making it much less effective and far more labor intensive for both student and teacher than it needs to be and what is worse has no real path to understand the quality of the result, or even the satisfaction of the need either for the student or Society itself.

A. Graduation/certification is hazing not a measure of knowledge.
Because certification provides entry into a class system that does not neasure actual ability, immense extraneous expenses in time and money are added far beyond the actual information or skills imparted, and to justify this and compete in self perpetuation most of a schools actions and decisions have little or nothing to do with education. This is especially true the more the emphasis is anything other than educating the students.

B Education is lifelong and not always at the same speed
The facts of life, written more in the real structure than rules or common belief, is that education starts with young children until 18-24 tears old and then is cut off to the average person. Differences in ability, or much more often life events that cause one to lose ground can only very rarely be made up at all. And even if the knowledge/skill is acquired by alternative means the certification is not, and the ability to contribute is blocked

C. Technology has Changed.
Senior professors who lectures a class of hundreds with the same speech year after year in order to justify his salary is short changing both themselves and their students. Technology could produce a much more interesting "Lecture" to convey information that is one way, and a secondary system to provide feedback like a FAQ system for common questions and one or two layers of human support for the places where the question is odd or interesting enough to warrant it. BitTorrent and technical support for computer programs etc have necessarily had to deal with these issues and while some bad ideas exist there, there is much that can be applied to all education.

D Government Support and Management is Critical
Of all sources of power to make decisions, and means to spread costs that are not directly transactional only the Government can act in the public good and in support of the Commons, and as an honest broker in the certification of facts.

a. Certify Knowledge Like the old banks that printed their own money, education certification is also money negotiated with dubious and certainly variable value, but unlike the old bank notes each certification carries with it an inseparable human life, causing each of them to be treated in equally unfair variety.

By creating a standard series of tests, perhaps thousands of questions long, that could be taken any number of times, it would create a standard measure of knowledge that could even be graphed blue where knowledge was strong to red where it was weak, that would apply a much stronger certification, without demanding where the knowledge came from.

b.Create an Alternative Path- By providing a Government supplied efficient Internet structure where through great BBC like explanations from the best, the general information is imparted, and then Bittorrent like a tree of seed providers and peers could efficiently impart and spread that information in ways pioneered even by Meetup, and the Obama campaign, the teaching of the most knowledgeable could reach millions instead of hundreds, and not just once but over years.

This would not eliminate books, but would impart more knowledge faster and more deeply than was technologically possible even 20 years ago,

c. Place all critical knowledge and skills back into the Public Commons. This can only be done by financing the production of the product, but by compartmentalizing and privatizing knowledge, not only are those who could contribute prevented from doing so, those with the knowledge can manipulate false outcomes, but two people, each with half of a majior breakthrough might never know, or if they can each discover it than what do they posses that is special.

Friday, November 07, 2008

A few modest suggestions

The whole world awaits, holding its collective breath, not in horror like 9-11, but in Hope, wonderment, amazement, and the expectation that America will amaze everyone and do the best things possible after eight years of doing the worst imaginable and much that was worse yet. The entire world is United as never since 9-11 and the time is now to unite it more by doing the right thing and not disappoint and wreck all that has been gained. Here are ten things that can put us on that track.

#1 Justice

A. Do no harm,
or perhaps better put, stop doing harm. There must be a layers committee to seek out all activities that the Bush Administration is doing that violate ethics, the Constitution, the law, human decency, and the Geneva Conventions and call a halt to all of it by proclamation in the body of the Swearing in Speech, backed up by whatever documents are needed. Since most will need to be sorted out, a plan to do that in each case will be needed before day one.

Before that moment they are Bush war crimes at the least. After that moment they instantly become Obama war crimes. Beyond that all shredding of the Constitution and the Magna Carta must be reversed.

B.Pursue Justice As Obama has put it there is a lot out there that looks like crimes and are crimes, but proving that a specific person is the criminal responsible is a much tougher thing. However to allow all that has happened in the past eight years to pass uninvestigated much less prosecuted is to ensure that it will happen again and soon and very much worse, just as Bill Clinton not pursuing the facts of Iran Contra and the S&L bomb gave us Enron, Bush2, and the current economic meltdown.

Fortunately there are people who have been looking at most of the details for several years now. It would not be a problem to sort them out and organize a program that will find wrong doers and have a Special Prosecutor sort out where there is prosecutable crimes, and to sort out where and how all those crimes, and even stupidity that looks like crimes can be locked away that they can never threaten us again. We have drifted very close to a level of proto fascism that I will be satisfied has been shoved back into its box when Obama and the new Congress actually take office. That box really needs to be nailed shut!

#2 Honor

A.The War on Totalitarian Theocracy - There is no war on "terror" terrorism is a technique. The only one open to anyone fighting overlords (like the Founding Fathers)and/or seeking to become them (like the CIA in Iran). It is used because it is effective, and because the military is the worst way to fight it. Every time it kills one the devastation creates many more. That is not "whack a mole" that is "whack a Hydra"!

It is not a war on Muslims. Many would like it to be so. It was so convienent to equate liberal ideas and Russian aggression and thereby create space for an American Totalitarian Theocracy to create and grow its base by being "anticommunist". It overplayed its hand by demanding Sarah Palin as "President in waiting", but it is only wounded and frightened, and we can expect that the danger of terrorist attack from that quarter, that has been covered up but still active, will increase a very great deal.

This is not about fundamentalist religion but eliminationism, Bin Laden or Muthee, they do not want negotiation but conquest. But they cannot be defeated by military but only on the field of ideas. It is only there that they are poorly armed. Attacked they swim in a sea of supporters, defending their policies they are a fish out of water as few would support if they knew the facts.

Unfortunately Israel is also led by Neocons and Theocrats. One cannot support the freedom, safety, and democracy of Israelis and at the same time support those who would use a perpetual war on Muslims, to give and keep themselves in power, and there will be no peace as long as Gaza is a concentration camp.

Israel is not a country of only Jews, but a dozen religions side by side. No matter how many are killed the demographics will make it majority Muslim even within the '67 borders in a very few years. The choice is only Apartheid or Secularity where there can be NO favored religion, the only other choice is the German path of extermination, and final solution, and I don't think even the most theocratic Jew could live with that.

3. Real Socialism- Not Soviet "government owns everything" "Socialism" but Socialized Person / child/ dog Socialism (the Soviets also claimed they were democracies. Why didn't everyone think one was as phony as the other?) Apparently even Barny is unsocialized.

My understanding of Socialism is an agreement to all work for a world where every person can contribute at their highest ability. That a person who has the talent to invent the solution to world energy needs not find themselves on the night shift of a 7-11 because their path was blocked on social or financial grounds. And not just the stars like that but at every level the whole society benefits if each person is as productive as they can be.

1. The National Bureau of Standards - One very great place that the Government can be crucial and reinvigorate the auto industry, as well as create industries as yet undreamed of is to rebuild the National Bureau of Standards to take back Government primarity of standards that corporations work to create their own standards to control and thus limit free trade, often crushing competition.

By taking control of everything from Computer Operating systems to bolt patterns on car parts, so that there was one published standard or a limited group of standards, managed as the GNU software is managed or the way that any hard drive fits in any computer, than any garage mechanic could produce the next generation of Green Car and become the American Honda.

2. The Electronic Commons

a. The Internet Al Gore was right that the government must create and defend a major Internet backbone that no other entity foreign or domestic can rule that Internet. Do that and demand Net Neutrality but allow other backbones as we have both USPS and FedEx will keep all sides honest and competitive.

A national investment in targeted satellite WiFi would also be a major leap that no NGO could do or should control that backed up with a program to make Internet available to every person no matter who or where, and especially backed up with a national education program about which more later, would bring America from 35th in literacy to number one as anyone could have college graduate level knowledge just by spending the time to learn it.

b. The Electromagnetic Spectrum - The electromagnetic spectrum is a limited resource, and more importantly it is one home to the font of information that our society bases it's Democracy. If that is captured Democracy fails, as indeed it would have even now but for the rise of the Internet to provide a surprise alternative.

The ownership of even two television stations, or other media is a restraint of trade as long as there is a responsible person wishing to use one of them. A rotating 5 year license that is open to genuine competition based not on bidding with money but based on what they would do for society, and how well they have behaved in the past, and that to receive one and only one license would bring press freedom back to America and America back to number one where we have fallen far to the back of the pack.

3.Corporate Criminality-Having abandoned Royalty and Baronies in 1776 they have come creeping back and threaten to overwhelm even the concept of National Government, replacing it with an international Gang Of Pirates formerly operating under the umbrella of the United States Government, but about to abandon even that for a world of Third World countries divided up into satraps not of land but of spheres of influence in some vital resource, with the ability to blackmail any country including America.

Not a conspiracy in the Illuminati sense, but the natural result of an ideology that does not believe that government should "interfere" in the doings of Corporations and that all barriers to their free exercise of power should be removed. Eventually they become "Too big to fail" and "Too big to oppose" but no one dares to say "too big to exist".

The first Step must be a special Prosecutorial team to prosecute and jail all persons in charge of corporate conspiracies to sell or cover up fraud and murder from the Vioxx case to the mass environmental disasters. Any decent civil litigation lawyer can point to a hundred grievous cases where massive death and destruction was protected because the corporation was at fault and the people involved felt immune.

The Idea of Corporations was that Investors were immune, not the entire corporation and all the operators. If the founding fathers saw what corporations have become they would be in a tizzy. If any person in a position of authority is not held accountable they will become as unsocialized as any pirate, as our current financial mess can attest.

4. Corporate Governance - There is no such thing as "Free Enterprise" where there are no rules but only Government enforced rules that till now have only been written by those wishing to protect only themselves. As a result it is not a surprise that CEO's who are supposedly only hirelings of the investors are walking off with what is often more income than the entire Corporation managed to net.

It is quite possible to change the rules to disallow default proxy voting, and what I am sure are other arcane rules that keep power in the hands of the CEO and out of the hands of any other stakeholders.

It is also possible to create a path for the emergence of the new Argentine style of Corporation that is owned and operated by all the people who work there in an American style Democracy that all levels of management are elected by those below. When there is a Government bailout of the investors instead of a deal with them to make a deal with the people who do the work and let them pay back the loan.

5. The Science Commons

a Chemicals - There was a time when most research was funded and run by the Government. Folks like the EPA went out and measured what was happening themselves, and HEW did basic research on chemicals to find beneficial and harmful chemicals like penicillin that drug companies competed to produce at the best quality and price.

The Antisocialists howled that the drug companies could do the work and report their results, and save taxpayers all that money. Now we can see how well all that worked out. The research is geared to what is most profitable and barely at all for common good. Testing asks only if a drug works at all, and not how it stacks up to other ways, and as the Vioxx case revealed even surpressed mass murder for the sake of profit.

There needs to be a return to Government research labs to build unbiased data in all fields. It can be easily paid for by charging a tax on all use of Government patents for private profit like the penicillin. Or taxing income from private patents funded by government research. Just collecting what is already owed would go a very long way to paying those bills.

b Biology- like the drugs genetic engineering all exists on the shoulders of research of hundreds of years, and like the Chemical and Drug Industries the Socialized dreams painted of abundant food and health have become unsocialized nightmares as power and profit rule ahead of social good.

Today one only has to patent a gene, even if it is detrimental overall, and have it spread to the entire ecosystem to be able to sue everyone in posession of the gene for patent infringement and control an entire food source. Such is the case with Soybeans, Corn, and many major crops. Instead it must be the patent holder that is responsible for the gene spread, and be the one liable if the gene causes a drop in productivity (as they usually do) of the folk who do not use the patented product. and that if the gene spreads beyond the control of the patent holder the patent cannot be enforced.

6. The Knowledge Commons - Our entire education system is a sixteenth century concept trying to do a twenty first century job, with all the sixteenth century prejudices built in. Our civilization can no longer afford an educated elite running an illiterate masses. We need every brain with the chops to manage the maximum contribution possible lest we all go the way of every previous civilization.

So what is needed is an Internet based National education program that anyone can obtain the knowledge and have a means of certifying that knowledge at the speed they are able without the overburden of regular college and grad school much less earlier grades where home schooling can supplement and advance regular public school rather than replacing earlier grades where socialization is an important part of early schooling.

To open or create the current college system for all people would be cost prohibitive, but a well planned and managed system that organized what the Internet already makes available, and added all the libraries and other forms of commons would leapfrog the entire civilization. Limiting the current copyright and fair use laws back to sanity would also be a necessary step.

7. A Creative Commons Award- built like the SBIR program a process by which inventions and other creative work could be called for and rewarded and put into the creative commons in full or partial amount.

As example an invention might be called for and a $50,000 reward offered and then a standard 1% fee given for every one made in five years, but available in a non exclusive basis to anyone who wished to go there

This would short circuit the labyrinthine patent process and spur creativity. It would also provide an inexpensive program to make it easier to manufacture without expensive litigation over rights.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Musical Chairs, Musical Houses, Musical Dollars

When I was a kid, our kindergarten class played a hateful little game with the Orwellian name of "Musical Chairs". Who knew that the Gang Of Pirates were building recruits even then.

The chairs of course were not musical but ordinary, but the teacher would count to assure herself there were one less than the number of students, and tell the students they had to dance around the circle of chairs until the music stopped, and then everyone would have to take a seat.

It was an innocent enough group of kids, in another place or time there might have been a stabbing or an eye gouged out, but basically the teacher did not care how each child got the seat, only noticing who did not. Anyone who cooperatively shared a seat was told that they were both losers, and sent to sit in the corner and be ignored. Rather like that guy with a sign on the street corner today.

Oh how enlightening this was for the school yard bully , or pre-school Machiavelli, you could do any dirty trick, run any scam, just as long as the authorities (teacher) did not see it, and the only authority around did not look or wish to know or would not have had the game in the first place. After you had out conned, or out threatened all your other classmates, the authority would declare you the great winner, and someone who's leadership skills might make them president one day.

Well the Authorities have stopped the Music again, and all you folk who saw the hand on the needle have taken their dollars to where you can't get at them and many who only had their houses or retirement savings in sunshine promises, and funny money mortgages are out of luck, and those now Post-school Machiavellians are sitting in your house and on your money pointing and laughing and blaming you for the poor decision of letting them play in the first place.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Good Tax

Once upon a time in the land of Yor were a very peaceful and wealthy people who were mostly not very quarrelsome but for one controversy. The king had placed a tax on the sale of Cows. Anyone who sold a cow had to give the king 90% of the proceeds of the sale. As a result while there was a lot of demand for meat, as hardly anyone sold their cow, and many who were tired of caring and feeding their cow very much resented the tax on selling it.

Now anyone who had a cow could sell the milk, and many who did not actually own a cow usually got paid a percentage that milk, or occasionally they would get a calf. The tax on a calf was high but calves were cheap and abundant so the king's percentage was not a lot in total money, and when cows got old and stopped producing milk, there was nothing for it but to sell it to the butcher and pay the kings price, though the percentage was reduced for very old cattle.

In the end all the cattle ended up with the butcher, just not until they were very old, so meat had a price that allowed the butcher a living, but he felt that if he got all the proceeds, he could live like a king. Now the king had an evil twin that had been banished, and headed up a Gang Of Pirates beyond the Pale, but he made a deal with the butchers, that if they overthrew the old king the twin would eliminate the hated Cow Tax.

So the butchers, with the help of those folk who were tired of caring for their cattle, or resented the percentage of the milk taken by those who did, got together and overthrew the old king. The new king, being evil after all, turned to his Gang Of Pirates to buy the cattle as they had the gold, and the butchers could get their cattle at well under the market price and on credit to the pirates, that was paid off as the meat sold.

At first things looked very good, meat became very abundant and cheap, the butchers were making killings at a tremendous clip, and becoming almost as wealthy as the Pirates, though with the falling price of meat and the Pirates percentages not as well as expected. Those who sold the cattle felt suddenly wealthy and loaned the pirates their money on the promise it would make more than they made from the milk. Only those who had made their living actually caring for the cattle felt left out as the numbers of cattle to care for became far fewer, while their own numbers and needs did not.

As the number of cattle became less there were fewer calvs as well and their price went up dramatically. The Pirates offered an easily solution by loaning the money to buy the calves, and noted that the price would be very much higher if there was still a Cow Tax, but the loans would be very short so the cattle would have to be sold for meat at a very young age when the note came due, and of course the pirates had it written that they got the cow as payment.

Over a bit ot time the excess meat was consumed, and the price went to an all time high, as there were far less cattle about. Milk that was once plentiful and cheap also became much more expensive. Those who cared for the cattle had to do so for far less of a percentage of the milk as there were far more caretakers than cattle now. Between the fewer cattle and the percentages paid to the Pirates who were now the primary cattle owners, the butchers were also not much better if at all than before.

Those formerly caring for cattle began to steal and rob out of desperation, so the evil king blamed them for all the troubles, even as he hired some of their numbers as guards, that were mostly used to come down very harshly on anyone who commented on how much better things were under the old king, holding fake show trials calling these folk the leaders of the criminals.

Eventually the people rose up and threw out the evil king, but the now very wealthy Pirates had moved on to ply their trade to Hither and to Yon, the palace already looted, and the people were left hating the Cow Tax as the cause of their misery, and the land of Yor never again became a place anyone wanted to be like.



One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility,
kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:

"Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."

from an old tale.

The Golden Rule
“That which is hateful to you do not do to another ... the rest (of the Torah) is all commentary, now go study.”

- Rabbi Hillel



The self made man just isn't admitting how or where he came by all those parts

---FreeDem---- Aug 2005


If a man tells you that the Government cannot accomplish anything of value, then voting for him would be like hiring an Amish Auto Mechanic.
If they don't believe in the concept, they are more than likely to do a very poor job of it.

---Bob Danforth Sept. 2009


Republicans never meant to cut government waste, fraud and graft, from the get-go their plan was to organize, monopolize and privatize waste, fraud and graft.

They see the civil service as meddling “middleman,” who interfered with the free flow of cash from taxpayers into corporate coffers. Their intent was to eliminate the “middleman” as an obstruction to corruption.

---Unknown rabblerowser Feb 2007


No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.

Edward R. Murrow

In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, brave, hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, however, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot

Mark Twain


You see, we often get noncreative leaders, people most interested in preserving their own positions. They flock around centers of power. Such centers attract people who can be corrupted. That is a more descriptive observation than to say simply that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

If you are corruptible and your imagination is confined to worries about loss of power, you exist in a self-destructive system. Eventually, as all life does, you must encounter something you did not anticipate, and if you have not strengthened your creative resources, you will have no new ways for adapting to change. Adapt or die, that's the first rule of survival.

The limited vision of noncreative people is not difficult to understand. Creativity frightens the unimaginative. They don't know what's happening. Things new and unexpected arise from creativity. This threatens "things as they are." And (terrible thought) it undermines illusions of omnipotence.


Herbert 1984 (the year not the book)


"News is what powerful people want to keep hidden; everything else is just publicity."

....Bill Moyer


Just as having only a hammer makes every problem either look like a nail, or as something irrelevant, our very technological skills have had us look there for explanations and ignore reality it cannot deal with. With our powerful hammer, we seek only nails, and dump the rest as dross. Not all questions involve hammers, not all answers are nails.
-- Freedem---Nov., 2006

My issue with Atheists is not that they have no God, there are many religions that have no God, but that they have no religion.
-- Freedem---Nov., 2006

__Note: by this I mean that there are many things religions do besides the discredited "science" and self serving promises (give me your money and God will hold and pay the note), many like charity or fellowship, even social accountability can be very good things not requiring a God.


Many have been very disappointed that their "God-critter" was not to be found as a technology swimming about in the shallower pools of knowledge. So in the obsession basic to our culture, we search ever deeper and more difficult pools, and always the "God-critter" seems to wink at us from the pool just beyond.

In the process we have found technologies beyond the wildest dreams of our most sophisticated ancestors. The great joke is that the "critter" never existed except as the pools themselves.

----Freedem --- Oct 2006

Indeed I do think that many folk, believe all kinds of stuff from the actually true, to the utterly illogical, with no personal discernment one from the others. But that would hardly make any of them a scholar to rely on, any more that one should get their theology studies from a door to door salesman, offering "get out of hell free" cards, on special because the creator of galaxies in greater numbers than beach sand, nonetheless has an ego so weak He cannot exist without shamelessly excessive psychophancy from a major portion of the inhabitants of this particular dust speck.

----Freedem ---June-2007

More to come