Tag Archives: society

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 Equality of access

The impact of access (or lack thereof) is immense. Being able to directly interact, command the time and attention of an individual can be a catalyst for change, a source of information or even a life line. It’s importance is hard to understate, to illustrate take an example of building a fence:

A fairly simple process as far as land development activities go. Like everything else money comes first, then finding a contractor, then building. Every step of that process can be eased by access to the right people:

Money: Anyone who knows me has access to 1$ (that’s about all I’m good for most days), but there are a select few who know people with FAR greater amounts of money, and far greater complicity to dole it out. Not that people are usually appreciate of being hit up for cash, but it happens all the time. People who have access to billionaires don’t go to the bank for 10k loans, indeed people who know the .001% are usually others in the .001%. For those of us who don’t have access to someone like that, the next step would be a bank (or community organization). Even there access is key, I assure you meeting the owner of a bank for a loan (when the meeting was setup by your billionaire friend) is a decided different experience that meeting with the loan officer at the local branch. Who you deal with is as important as what is being dealt.

Contractor: The CEO of a major company generally do not take orders or work with a single customer (when there are millions of customers there is not enough time). Major clients can usually get face time with the PIC though. The difference is service is staggering (think call center customer service vs concierge)

From getting a zoning variance to getting a transplant, who you have access to is critical, and (took a while, but getting to the point) in government we need to have equal access! All our public officials’ time should be handled by a lottery type system, having the .001 % and those they hire command the attention of our most powerful leaders is detrimental to a fair democratic process. What we get is just another facet of corruption.  (Spending time with the ultra-rich to the determent of the rest of us is a corrupt practice in my opinion)  Should our officials be free to spend their time with whoever they like? NO! Hell no!  They are given power by the masses for the betterment of the masses, in accepting power far beyond that of a normal citizen they should likewise accept limitations on their freedom far in excess of a normal person.

There are some simple things we can do to turn the tide: Make all communication of elected officials public, have all campaigns publicly funded, Prohibit political ads.  Looking further out: Rework entire legal system to eliminate legalese, have easy to understand laws (and just a few of them), add a boat load of government employees.

The old adage “it’s not what you know, but who you know” is as true today as when it was first uttered. Sadly with the common practice of “closed door” meetings, the insanely disproportionate involvement of the super wealthy in government and a few thousand years of history, I don’t think this is an issue that will resolve itself.

On why the wealthy should not fear re-distribution:

I tend to be unabashed in expression my opinion that we should all (more or less) be operating on the same economic level, by that I mean differences in income should be as little as necessary for survival of the specials, not a continuation of a (literally centuries long) system of exploitation of the many by the few. However the transition from barbaric winner takes most economic systems to a we’re all in this together style need not be cause for alarm, or really event concern and here’s why:

First: This transition would be good for everyone wealthy and poor alike. I reference it a lot, but the spirit level outlines fairly well the negative effects of in-equality on societies, not poverty mind you, but wealth/income inequality. We are social creatures and less “I’m better than you” in our social interaction makes for an all around more pleasant place for us all to live. Now I am sure there are social niches in society that quite enjoy having or at least proceeding themselves to have an air of superiority. While I doubt near universal economic in-equality will completely eradicate this it should at least relegate it matters that are not life and death importance. If you’re one of the un-fortunate few who currently derive pleasure from pretending you are better than everyone else the transition from inequality to equality will provide fertile soil for personal growth. Moreover sustainability will play a much larger role in economic policies from local to global, when we stop chasing profits it will be much harder to rationalize our insane consumption of fossil fuels. To cite just one example shipping cargo containers from one country to another: the expenditure of fossil fuels just moving things from Asia to the U.S. and vice versa is insanely unnecessary if we’re not perpetuating a profit based economy. Transmitting the information necessary to construct goods has a cost that is orders of magnitude less than transmitting physical goods across the world, the drawback being telling someone across the world how to make your product there is not profitable.

Second: Economic equality will lead to better (although probably) less stuff. With us all operating on the same economic level the focus of our leaders will be the same as the focus of the people they lead. This will naturally cause a transition from producing things that people will buy, too producing things that people need. This might be the hardest pill for today’s wealthy to swallow, an economically equal society will have little use for personal yachts and private aircraft, until such things can be produced in quantities were all want them can have them. However I wish to make a clear distinction here I do not recommend nor do I really see it possible that the unwashed masses rise up and sees such things, rather we just stop producing them. Eventually they will take on a new role as relics of an era when mankind was cruel to his brother, and the desire to own them will fade. Now as for the better stuff: technological advancement will continue, however our current system of competition can be truly detrimental to technological advancement. Think about how our academic progress would be stunted if each institution did not share its findings, or even went so far as to pursue legal recourse against others who tried to use their findings. We have many bright people working in many different companies who could benefit immensely from cooperation, indeed humanity as a species could benefit greatly from cooperation, equality will help lead to that. The kind of progress humanity could make if we’re aligned in a single direction staggers the imagination, it rises to the level of power necessary to force a god to act. (tower of babel reference).

Third:    It’s going to happen. While inequality might have thousands of years of history on its side, so dose progress in one form or another. While the slow march to economic equality has seen many setbacks we stand on a technological presupposes that will hopefully demonstrate the need for humanity to look critically at our economic systems (and our governmental systems). The current global socioeconomic systems as we have in place are ill equipped to deal with a world where each citizen has an un-told power at his fingertips. As we become more connected with one another hopefully our understanding of each other’s suffering will force us to make more empathetic decisions. As this plays out over the next two or three decades and will be a slow and pleasant transition, and certainly nothing to fear.

On why the wealthy should not fear re-distribution:

I tend to be unabashed in expression my opinion that we should all (more or less) be operating on the same economic level, by that I mean differences in income should be as little as necessary for survival of the specials, not a continuation of a (literally centuries long) system of exploitation of the many by the few. However the transition from barbaric winner takes most economic systems to a we’re all in this together style need not be cause for alarm, or really event concern and here’s why:

First: This transition would be good for everyone wealthy and poor alike. I reference it a lot, but the spirit level outlines fairly well the negative effects of in-equality on societies, not poverty mind you, but wealth/income inequality. We are social creatures and less “I’m better than you” in our social interaction makes for an all around more pleasant place for us all to live. Now I am sure there are social niches in society that quite enjoy having or at least proceeding themselves to have an air of superiority. While I doubt near universal economic in-equality will completely eradicate this it should at least relegate it matters that are not life and death importance. If you’re one of the un-fortunate few who currently derive pleasure from pretending you are better than everyone else the transition from inequality to equality will provide fertile soil for personal growth. Moreover sustainability will play a much larger role in economic policies from local to global, when we stop chasing profits it will be much harder to rationalize our insane consumption of fossil fuels. To cite just one example shipping cargo containers from one country to another: the expenditure of fossil fuels just moving things from Asia to the U.S. and vice versa is insanely unnecessary if we’re not perpetuating a profit based economy. Transmitting the information necessary to construct goods has a cost that is orders of magnitude less than transmitting physical goods across the world, the drawback being telling someone across the world how to make your product there is not profitable.

Second: Economic equality will lead to better (although probably) less stuff. With us all operating on the same economic level the focus of our leaders will be the same as the focus of the people they lead. This will naturally cause a transition from producing things that people will buy, too producing things that people need. This might be the hardest pill for today’s wealthy to swallow, an economically equal society will have little use for personal yachts and private aircraft, until such things can be produced in quantities were all want them can have them. However I wish to make a clear distinction here I do not recommend nor do I really see it possible that the unwashed masses rise up and sees such things, rather we just stop producing them. Eventually they will take on a new role as relics of an era when mankind was cruel to his brother, and the desire to own them will fade. Now as for the better stuff: technological advancement will continue, however our current system of competition can be truly detrimental to technological advancement. Think about how our academic progress would be stunted if each institution did not share its findings, or even went so far as to pursue legal recourse against others who tried to use their findings. We have many bright people working in many different companies who could benefit immensely from cooperation, indeed humanity as a species could benefit greatly from cooperation, equality will help lead to that. The kind of progress humanity could make if we’re aligned in a single direction staggers the imagination, it rises to the level of power necessary to force a god to act. (tower of Babel refrance).

Third:    It’s going to happen. While inequality might have thousands of years of history on its side, so dose progress in one form or another. While the slow march to economic equality has seen many setbacks we stand on a technological presupposes that will hopefully demonstrate the need for humanity to look critically at our economic systems (and our governmental systems). The current global socioeconomic systems as we have in place are ill equipped to deal with a world where each citizen has an un-told power at his fingertips. As we become more connected with one another hopefully our understanding of each others suffering will force us to make more empathetic decisions. As this plays out over the next two or three decades and will be a slow and pleasant transition, and certainly nothing to fear.

On Abortion:

EDIT: Updated 2019 ( was bad… really bad. (still is, but not as bad))

Going to weigh in on a divisive one today, killing little pre-people. I think of abortion as more of a symptom that points to a social cause, rather than a problem in and of its self. I also think that there is a lot to be said about tabling the issue of abortions in practice and focusing efforts on work that would regulate them to a dark time in humanity’s past. What follows is why, and how.

Why: Killing is never; NEVER a desirable outcome. Hopefully we are all in agreement at this point that eliminating abortions is really a common goal for society, the real meat and potatoes of this issue is how to go about doing that.

Now it is MOST unrealistic to assume everyone will be convinced to stop fornicating.   Here is where the work is, the most effective way to prevent abortions is sex education, accesses to contraception, and to take things a step further income/education equality. There is no magic here, no need to invoke gods or collect outside clinics, the most practical way to prevent abortions is to create a climate where it is easier for young people (or really anyone) to indulge their desire to fornicate in a responsible manner than it is to do so in a manner that will produce a pregnancy, simple as that. Now as to what that would look like: as stated before, education as a first step, it is incumbent on a society that does not want abortions to educate it’s people about sex no later than when they reach puberty, IE at the point they are capable of making a baby. Any argument that such an age is too young simply adds to the probability of an unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. Next (and more tricky) is to make “responsible fornication” easier than non- responsible fornication.

So if you or anyone you know really wants to stop abortions, that is how. All other actions are merely treating a symptom. Making them illegal simply puts them underground, same with hassling clinics. All involved know it’s an all around bad practice, but stopping it is possible and desirable, as long as we all believe the focus should be on the work, not the rhetoric. (or who’s god has a big dick https://acetheguy.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/on-hopes-for-science/ )

On elected officials: Why we just cannot get it right…

It will surprise no one that at the time of this writhing Congress is sitting at a 16% approval rating. Now any explanation of such strong disapproval would be incomplete without reference to gerrymandering, however while that is part of the mix, I believe the root is far more basic, and prevalent. Most of our major political offices are filled by people who win elections, and ( most ) of the rest are filled by direct appointment of the winners, so my main focus here is that our system rewards people who are good at winning elections, not people that are good at governance. These groups are not mutually exclusive, but I am going to argue that the overlap is small, and the difference ( over MANY MANY elections over time) has had and will continue to have a huge impact.

So what do I mean that being good at winning elections and being good at governance are different things? To start just look at the skill sets, what makes a good governor, or leader? Honesty, integrity, concern for others, there are many more, but I’m keeping it basic. Now what traits make a good politician? Access to money, appearance, ability to speak well. Notice the lists are not the same, sure there is some overlap, intelligence would apply to both, but my point is our elections are kind of like holding MMA tournament to appoint a police chief, there is no reason someone good at MMA will not make a great chief, but really that system will ( especially over time) will turn out more good MMA fighters than good chiefs.

So our ( or really any ) election system is a ( hopefully) cleverly devised means of narrowing down everyone who wants to do the job to just one person, I argue that it should output ( ideally) the best person for the job or at least a good person for the job. Given the approval ratting I started with I argue this is NOT the case with our current system, and here is why: The single largest means of narrowing down the pool in an election is money, ask any one you know who would make a good leader, who has potential why they do not run for office. This eliminates an un-told amount of EXCELLENT people from the running, AND gives those with access to money a free pass from the largest cut to the pool. I cannot stress this enough, access to money does NOT equal a good leader! These are two VERY different things but by the time the ballots are printed this is what has in effect decided our candidates. This is why our government has such poor results, our entire election system skews not towards good leaders, but toward the wealthy.

So how would an election that is designed to elect good leaders look? Well we start out with a big pool and then eliminate people based on our criteria for good leaders. So start with everyone interested in the position as a potential candidate, then have the first round eliminate who simply cannot do the job, a BASIC civil service exam would suffice . Of those remaining ( which would be a HUGE pool of people) hold conferences of a few hundred each, maybe 8-12 hrs each where the pool will narrow its self down, remember we are looking for people who can build consensus and work together, I think that we record everything and that process will replace the campaign, just put 100 people in a room and ask them nicely to come up with 5 or so people who would be best for the job, Record EVERYTHING! And have the 4 or so people named form the next 100 or so person carcass, so on and so forth until we have the desired amount of candidates. When a caucus fails to produce 4 ( or any ) names the recording will be INVALUABLE in showing exactly who said what and who was not working towards consensus. There would also have to be a STRONG prohibition on “outside” political activity, IE: campaigns as we know them. Ideally this system would produce one person who all agree is the best ( or at least good) for the job, it would assuredly produce FAR better leaders than our current reward the best at winning elections system, not that 14% is a very high bar…