On sovereignty:

Sovereignty is defined as absolute or supreme power (of self-direction). It’s used contemporarily as a state’s ability to self-determine. Recently there has been a push in the north of Spain (Catalonia region) for sovereignty, a push that have been called illegal by Spain, and most EU countries have said they will not recognize an independent Catalonia. It begs the question: What should the criteria be for self-determination of a “people” or county? Currently it’s clearly might makes right, in essence only groups that can martial the economic and martial forces to cast off others are “sovereign nations”, but is that ideal?

Why would a people saying they have a right to self-determination prompt a large show of force and condemnation form the most liberal, pro-democracy part of the world? Like most things it mostly boils down to who gets what… Currently the region is a major economic powerhouse, and Spain is the 3rd largest economy in the EU; losing that would be a major hit to Spain, and may even compromise the finical solvency of the country, so it’s seen as self-preservation. For the other countries, most have regions themselves that like Catalonia are economically strong and stand to gain from secession. None want a precedent set.

So leadership, by and large wants to keep countries big and people (by and large) want self-determination… Historically disagreements between the two have resulted in horrific, bloody affairs (Think Kosovo). What is the ideal?

I think the answer is contingent on the answer to a basic question, are we our brother’s keeper? I’ve address that one here, but setting those thoughts on the matter aside; if we are our brother’s keeper than there is really no sovereignty – he is beholden to us, and conversely, we to him. The most basic interpretation of sovereignty is “I’ll do what I like, you have no say”. It is truly as anti-social as ideas come, that one (individual or nation or anything in between) is not beholden to anything else, and free to act as it sees fit. Looking at sovereignty in this matter there is a basic truth to it; as individuals we are free at all times to do as we like; at least for now if I wish to start tossing out haymakers in the market I very well can but that kind of freedom is as dangerous as it is natural. The ideal is likely the same for individuals as it is for nations, humanity at large is not served by my market punches nor would it be served by the national equivalent (war). The other extreme is as (if not more) frightening- not having that freedom…

Imagine that each though we had, as we had it was evaluated by a 3rd party. If that system also had the ability to alter or arrest such thoughts, it could be used to ensure all actions by all people met a standard. But would the people of that system be free or sovereign? (we are already working hard to understand how to connect thoughts to computers, hardware-wetware interface is in the pipes… so this may be a topic with very real consequences soon enough…) regardless, I see that as the extremes- absolute freedom/ sovereignty, absolutely no freedom/ sovereignty. So again; where is the idea?

It should hinge on consent! Once humanity is technologically advanced to the point where any one of us can fudge things up for the rest (more so than currently at least) it will be incumbent on society to offer at least 2 (likely more) levels of involvement/ awareness: for those who reject the notions of cooperation little to no involvement (or access to knowledge that would enable them to be dangerous). For those who do, a mental monitor and unlimited access. The first group would have their sovereignty, but lack capability to do harm and the 2nd would have capability to do harm, but not the sovereignty to use it unilaterality. The system would be best as a dynamic, real time affair: as moods and opinions change one could move to the group that suits them best. It would maximize both freedom and safety.

Ultimately as individuals we have a level of sovereignty that will always be at odds with others, however protecting that freedom ( to a degree) is in the interest of all; it is at or close to the heart of human experience, and losing it would represent a form of oppression humanity as we know could not co-exist with. As for Spain, it may be better to show love for their sister state and courage to face the fallout than leveraging power to deny a (or any) people the freedom they deserve.

On the lowest common dominator:

One bad egg spoils the batch, ruining it for everyone ect… The idea I’m harping on today is the least common dominator, that smallest bit that still fits and how it’s bad when the actions of everyone else are based on that small group. ( I know that’s not the mathematical correct use… forgiveness please.)  Ex: Notice those yellow concrete pylons around businesses, infrastructure ect? Those did not exist when wagons and the 1st automobiles rolled out,  it was not until some lowest common dominators plowed their vehicles into important stuff that they sprung up, (and with the recent rash of people plowing vehicles into people we will likely be seeing more). They are a visceral daily reminder that (intentional or not) people drive into stuff. I’m not of the opinion they are bad, just a sign that people in general are poor at planning and how when faced with large problems tend to focus instead on small ones.

Like people crashing into stuff, there are accidents/ tragedies happing today that have yet to get their practical solution, and far more troubling are the accidents/ tragedies that may be coming down the pipes. Moreover the short sighted solutions used to prevent tomorrows tragedies will (if history is any guide) be horrific to present day sensibilities. Do you like others to have access to all your thoughts? It’s coming. Do you want literally all the technology you use to be remotely shut down by someone else? We’re ½ way there already.  Personally I don’t take much issue with either, (I personally think there is much to gain by having all thoughts recorded, logged and searchable) but my point is this: When we let the least common denominator dictate our actions it prompts short sighted, knee jerk solutions that are bad.

Leaving the Sci-fi behind and getting back to my first example the pylons, there are many ways to prevent people from driving into important stuff: stop producing cars, have all cars equipped with a 5 MPH governor, require 2-3 years of training before issuing licenses, and so on, those are all bad ideas. Restricting freedom in favor of safety is not a new idea, and the trade-off is always painted by those in power as a good one. The catch is it never is, not once. Solutions that are dictated by the LCD have in the past, and as far as I can tell always will only address a facet of larger problems. That’s the rub, people running their cars into stuff is a problem for stuff owners, so they put up pylons, but now we have issues with people running their cars into people, do we put up pylons everywhere people gather? (Possibly)… but there are 2 larger problems at play the 1st I see is humans propensity for accidents, the 2nd some people’s desire to do harm. There may be a solution where it is worth trading freedom to solve one of those 2 big guys, but not the multitude of little problems that spring from them individually.

When we let a small group dictate the actions of the entire population (regardless if it’s a dictator/oligarchy, person with a gun, people with bombs ect.) it leads to bad policy and suffering. It matters not what the small group is (Lawmakers, terrorist, zealots ect…) the narrow focus that always comes with small groups inevitably leads to short sighted solutions.  So ware the LCD, they are never specific problems that need solution (though that’s exactly how they feel) they are merely early warning signs of larger problems we need to focus on together.

So next time you see one of those pylons, take a second and think: Are they a solution to people crashing into stuff, or a sign that humanity takes the quick and easy solution far too often.

On Life:

Hay all, going to put all the petty concerns away for a little bit today and ramble about the bigger things. So if you’re looking for my usual practical and pragmatic advice go read “On elected officials: Why we just cannot get it right…” again, cus what follows is more of a “if you don’t know, know you know” type thing.

 

Currently I have 33 continuous years of life racked up here on Earth, in that time I’ve come to strongly prefer people, opinions, situations ect. that respect life. Now I’ll freely admit my current living state may make me particular bias towards other living things, I’m spouting off how I feel today so a bit of biases will no doubt be in the mix. I’m not a fan of killing (though I support it indirectly all the time… (Taxes paid, food purchased ect..) It always seems so wasteful, especially when it comes to more complex organisms. That is not to say I give a free pass to the killing of “lower” organisms, plants should be entitled to live their plant lives, ants to do their ant thing ( IE take over Earth…) and so on. That is at least what I see as more ideal; letting life do what it wants to do… It’s a cool system we would be well served f-ing with as little as possible.

Humans (an area I have a special understanding of) tend to muck things up when it comes to life, when we are not killing each other en-mass, we regularly kill on small scale, both as indivual and societies. This may all be explained (and solved?) as our collective understanding of empathy ( and empathy gap) progress but when I look at the history of public execution, how violence is portrayed in media  and our infantile understanding of “Rights”…I’m not holding my breath.

How valuable is my life? I ask myself this fairly often, I know very well that my life is finite and try to be honest about what I think my life is worth. So far I’ve come up with a lot of different answers, mostly depending on what was going on in my life at the time. The most common answer (the one that came up this week and most) is “Very”, at least to me.  That said I do not consider it to be the end all be all of my existence, there are things that I would trade my life for, situations where I would (and have) risked it for something more valuable.

The personal value I place on my life is not the only measure thought, as a member of humanity my life also has value to the species (and if I’m going to look really far out, to all life in the cosmos). Now with the current state of humanity that value may be negative when looking from a cosmic perspective. Regardless life has value, it may be absolute (I don’t see it that way, but I also begrudge no one for fearing death, and acting like an asshat because of that). That is why I fall so strongly on the “let live things live” side of things, I value my life (as I think all humans on some level do).

Getting off the “Humans are everything” train, the value of life anywhere should be something we innately empathize with. From animals to bugs and bacteria, we can see parts of ourselves in them and should respect that as best we are able. Ownership when extended to live things is likely a bad idea, while I paid for him I do not “Own” pups, he’s a companion I try to be worthy of each day. ( Most day’s I’m not, but he’s super cool about it)

In the end we humans are all members of humanity (membership is mandatory^^), further as living beings we are all members of … something…   I long for a world where any human will always be happy to see another human, and by extension, where all humans are happy to see life, everywhere it exists, in all it’s forms. Where we abandon the death filled ways of the past and work only to understand life and through that understand ourselves. Once we show that minimal level of dedication to our condition, we can start interactions with intelligent life. (I think there’s a fundamental difference between life and matter, and it’s important to respect that. People who are forced (or by choice) to see life as means to an end are not their brother’s keeper, are being selfish and in need of an environment where they can learn to love.)

On contemporary humanity:

We’ve seen a lot in 2017 so far, from wars to Despacito, what a Trump presidency looks like to China pivoting to a leader in environmental regulation. We live in interesting and exciting times to be sure, but today’s post is going to be a downer, while there are countless positive things going on right now, and the overall course of human history is on path I ( generally) agree with, as the song goes: “There’s so much trouble in the world”…

The trouble of which I speak can be traced back to a basic lack of empathy, it’s expressed by selfishness, fear and anger (Humanity’s oldest frenemys). (While I have harped on this prior it bears repeating) Hunger and homelessness are at this point 100% caused by too many people sucking too hard at sharing. Now there is much that can be debated when trying to answer why that is the case, but my base assertion stands fairly strong: 2017 FAO report has food prices remaining flat for the next 10 years, we have complicity to feed everyone, we (humanity) have had this power for decades. Yet hunger remains a daily part of life for millions, we’ve made progress to be sure, but 1 involuntarily starving person is too many (and here’s why).

Let’s take all the geo-political bs out for a second and look at the problem via analogy: your next door neighbor is in a bad situation, their home was blown up when their meth lab blew. They have both an immediate need (for food and shelter) and a long term need (without the meth lab they have no income). You can ignore them, but it takes a truly evil person to watch a neighbor starve while enjoying an excess of food. SO you invite them in, and solve their acute need for food and shelter. However, wanting to protect your own house from ending in the same way as their old house, you prevent them from going back to their old job. As a compromise you offer them entry level work at your place of employment, the hrs. are long and pay is low, but it’s what you went through to get where you are and is the best you are willing to do. Eventually you ask your neighbor to start buying their own food and get their own place so they can go on with their lives.

That’s kind of the model the developed world has taken with the developing world, and on the surface it appears kind enough (you did not let them starve to death remember). But the devil is in the details, and there are lots of them when it comes to how the developed world “helps” developing nations. 1st the house did not really blow up in an explosion, but was blown up. (Indigenous peoples by and large produce their own food, it’s not until they switch to producing commercial crops that they find themselves relying on outside forces for food.)  2nd the time you let your neighbor live in your house and eat your food, they have to pay for that ( with interest): The developed world is not really interested in giving things away, even when those things are knowledge of how to feed people. Loans for infrastructure projects are expected to be paid back, and beyond the funding the World Bank has (in the past) required privatization of entire sectors of public works. Lastly, that entry level job you got them as their very own path to self-sufficiently, that just puts them working for the exact same people who blew up their home in the 1st place.

I ask this, imagine you are across a table from someone who has starved in a corner of the world you don’t care about. They see how you live, what you care about (and they know that it takes about 1-3$ a day to feed a person), do they have a right to be angry? As I see it, not only are we in the developed world hording all the stuff, all the knowledge of how to make and get stuff, we are also very slowly selling that knowledge as we figure out better stuff. We operate under the guise of “helping” but really it’s exploitation, of the developing world’s ignorance, natural resources and very people. What’s stopping every person with over $10k in the bank from donating everything else? It’s not desire to help I can tell you that.

And that leads us to why hunger will be solved, why at some point the only people who starve will be those who freely chose to: It offends a very basic sense of fairness to horde when there is need elsewhere, and while those without are ignorant of the fact they have only their suffering to motivate them, however when the millions of people that are starving now ( most children) get wise to the fact that the only reason they are starving is because most of the developed world is hyper greedy, they will be motivated to change that power structure… Very motivated.

And all of us in the developed world have no moral leg to stand on, we allow people to spend billions on yachts and get-aways that benefit an extremely select few. That kind of individual extravagance needs to be eliminated immediately, and can be re-introduced in a scaled down form when we solve hunger and housing. Right now we are being wasteful with stolen goods, and their owners may not be wise to the scam yet, but they will be soon enough.

Getting back to the topic, Humanity is not being good to itself, we are exploiting the week for the pleasure of the few. While I have deep moral objections to the practice, it’s on the grounds of basic self-preservation I implore us to cut it the fuck out: The people we exploit today will remember it tomorrow, the nation’s we bankrupt and rape of limited natural rescores will remember as well. There will come a time when those same people and nations are across a table from us, and we’ll need their help and when that time comes the outcome will hinge on whether exploitation is standard practice for all humanity ( like it is now) or if exploitation has been relegated to our dark past.

On GAAP

For those not in the know GAAP is known by some as generally accepted accounting principles, it’s basically the rules that public (and most private) companies use to report their financial data, and it’s use is required by law in most western countries (Europe uses IFRS) I’ll skip the specifics and just say GAAP is CRAP because of how it treats payroll.

According to GAAP payroll is an expense, the antithesis to profit, something to be minimized. While it is true that monies paid in payroll are not available for other uses by the business, they are in effect a part measure of how much that company is supporting the public good. While a board room may simile upon paying the least to people and maximizing their profits, that mentality is a force for inequality. How can businesses determine a fair rate of pay? Clearly there is not enough money to pay everyone CEO rates, how can we (more) fairly determine how much money a person gets?

Time! By and large we are all equal in the # of hours we have in a day. All non-government pay should be based on hrs. Service and little or nothing else. This ensures that the person in the mail room or the executives in the board room are on an even playing field. They both have 24 hrs. in a day, and should be compensated for the # they spend working.  Ideally, the hr. rate (how much money 1 hr. earns) would be level across all enterprises and industries, but (especially during the transition) indristires that the government would like more people in can have their hr. rate given a premium.  (NOTE: this is counter intuitive as a main advantage to the universal hr. rate would be compensation would NOT be a consideration in selection of work. People would work where they want to.)

Now to address the naysayers who would undoubtedly claim that the most skilled among us would not work (or at least not be utilized to their max benefit) in such a system. Good! Humanity as a whole has seldom if ever needed the best, the best is overrated, it’s costly, transient and on the whole hard to re-produce. We need good happy people doing good work. Anyone who’s main motivation is $$ will never do as good a job as someone who cares about what they are doing directly, not merely as a means to an end.

Getting back to GAAP, it’s an example of institutional, government required economic inequality. It is a set of rules that treat income as an externality, a cost, something to be minimized (and the people it applies to likewise marginalized). A better accounting system would require tracking the # of hours and how equitably the value earned from those hours are distributed in society. Instead we have GAAP, forcing all business to report payroll as a cost, with no mention of the hours involved. The human cost that each employee pays to keep the enterprise alive. Its codified repression, entrenched economic discrimination, part of the body of law that implies it’s ok to buy and sell people, as long as you call them “jobs”.