Tag Archives: government

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”.

On legitimate authority:

Ok heavy topic today, the crux of this one is legitimacy. I do not mean it in the post world war one sense of the word. While democratically elected officials are a nice step in the legitimate authority direction it is not the end all be on for making an authority legitimate.

First there is a basic dichotomy on authority, and sadly it comes down to intent vs. ability, the highest authority has historically been proven to be martial. This is what I mean by ability, authority based on force, this is the kind of authority used by governments, (some) adults on children, police and so forth. It is basically follows the narrative “do this, or I will bring harm to you because I can” where the “I “ is whatever the governing body is. This I think is the most basic, oppressive, and barbaric form of authority. It is EASILY divorced from any moral oversight, and (from a historical view) constantly directly responsible for tragedy and atrocity. The other kind of authority is one born of concern, not force, like that of an elderly parent or a religious leader, here the narrative reads “do this because it is “best” for us” now this kind of authority is only better then the first in the degree that “best for us” is open to communication and dialog. To clarify all this I give you this scene: a child wants a cookie but his parent does not want the child to have one:

With the first type of authority the parent could simply say no and move on, continued protest would result in punishment. This is the basic and “bad” type of authority, the child learns nothing beyond a dis-taste for authority ( and indeed might seek to subvert it in the future) The second type would still have the parent say no, but there would be an explanation involved: “you cannot have a cookie right now, it has far too high a sugar content and you will not be able to go to sleep” or some such reason. The key here is whoever is in a position of authority can at any time be called upon to justify the use of that authority. I know that in practice this is a HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS, but it is also HUGELY necessary for people who live under that authority. We need to understand AND consent to the authority, and not just once, not just be born into it! It must be a continuing dialogue to have legitimacy! Here in the U.S. our legal system has a small nod in that direction; while a police officer can arrest a citizen for pretty much any ( or no) reason, in theory we will at some point be taken before a judge. This is where we have the justification explained to us (kind of). It is better than simple martial authority, but I think it falls short of legitimate authority, our government does not have the right to end our lives, don’t get me wrong, it has the ability ( and uses it all the time), but this is not a legitimate authority; there is never a dialogue, “well for justice’s sake you have to die” I would argue that the ill actions of our citizens are FAR more a reflection of society’s failure to care for, provide for and understand our citizens than any personal weakness or deficit in a lone citizen. The masses need a good direct way to challenge authority, the electoral process is nice, but woefully corrupted and slow. It offers no redress for those marginalized (read as poor) peoples.

For an authority to be legitimate it must explain itself to those it rules. There MUST be a mutual understanding, and that understanding must be a living dialogue, ideally there should be consent as well; only then can the governed trust those in power, and only then can any use of martial authority be considered legitimate.

On hopes for science

Demons, in your head! In different parts of our history there have been places where hearing that phrase would strike TERROR into people’s heart! I assume, for it was uttered in earnest belief of such things and the cures were… un-pleasant. I firmly believe it was the work of the truly best among us to both put in the work and share with the rest of us, because that is how science is done proper. In the future many people like that might lead us as well…

I will start with the idea of “debate”: both the political and scientific communities have a long and varied history of debates. They are different however; political debates tend to be short 2 hr. affairs, marked by one liners and the most broad of platitudes. Scientific debates, conversely, are most often long drawn out affairs with every angle of an issued researched to the point of consensuses ( or the debate rages on). The outcomes of these two different approaches are clear, one is meant simply to give and impression on an audience, a show or kind of performance for personal gain, the other is intended to find the truth, whatever it might be however it might be understand. Oh, and to share that information with eveyfuckingbody. Now I have a clear preference for one kind of debate over the other, but that is not where I stop insisting we model our political system on an older scientific one.

Consensus, getting people of wildly different opinions to agree:   In the scientific community disagreement is sometimes heated; accusations of conclusions driven from funding are not un-heard of.  On the whole however it has agreed on some fairly major stuff and come a HUGE distance in the last 200 years or so. From spontaneous generation to aether to schrodinger’s cat and the LHC. In contrast the political system we have is 200 years old, and while quite good, it is like most old systems: it’s getting the living daylights exploited out of it. If you don’t understand how fractional reserve banking is allowing a very small part of the population to live like kings at the expense of the rest of us; you do not understand how the only way money comes into the economy is through loans…with interest, Not that money is not corrupting of science, I just argue a bit less so. But I have digressed, the political system serves it purpose by being divisive, Inextricably divisive, never, outside a large enough 3 party will people who identify themselves as either democrat or republican chose to cast off their affiliations and truly work together. This is super counterproductive, because it forces people to argue about the dumbest stuff: no matter how long we discussed it a final agreement on who’ god has the biggest dick will not a single person feed, humanity needs to agree to table some issues for now and find agreement on simple things first, like “everyone should have food and water”. Sadly it seems that politicians of today seem far more interested in how to exploit masses than serve humanity. I see a history where scientist of the most bitter disagreements still held respect for the truth of what their opponents say. As I opened with science has come a LONG way, think of the progress made, now compare that to progress made in other areas, in America we are just now being ok with gay people getting married, that is progress to be sure but now think of any emerging technology. I do not think sciences huge progress in the last 200 years and our social/political … lack thereof, coincidence, science has made grate strides in making people lives easier while the political system has dug in it’s heel and lied, cheated and just acted in a manner that is horrid, this has happened far to consistently for far too long across many cultures it must be systematic! I think the pursuit of truth if a far more noble aim than the pursuit of power, to me at least it is simple, we stop putting people who pursue power in positions of power, and rather we place people who simply want the truth. This could lead to reasoned global government and a chapter in human history where for the first time ever we don’t butcher each other for personal gain…

I would like to see that…