What in the World: A new report finds that an elite few dominate US policy, the human error behind South Korea's ferry tragedy, and Algeria's uneasy status quo election.
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|Rescooped by Eli Levine from Strategy and Competitive Intelligence by Bonnie Hohhof|
While the idea of raising the minimum wage is broadly popular, efforts to do so at the national level have stalled. We gathered key facts looking at the issue. While the idea of raising the minimum wage is broadly popular, efforts to do so at the national level have stalled repeatedly in Congress, leading advocates to focus more of their efforts on cities and states. A Pew Research Center survey from January 2014 found clear partisan differences in support for raising the minimum wage: Overall, 73% of people favored an increase in the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, mirroring a Democratic-backed proposal that failed to move ahead in Congress last year. But while large majorities of Democrats (90%) and independents (71%) said they favored such an increase, Republicans were more evenly split (53% in favor and 43% opposed).Here are five facts about the minimum wage and the people who earn it
It is, quite honestly, criminal that we permit so many people live on so little so that a few people can have so much more than they can ever hope to spend in a lifetime. These people are people too, and they are entitled, as human beings and American citizens, to live and have the ability to thrive and pursue happiness as well. What good comes for those who take so much while delivering so little in return for the rest of us by comparison to the labor and potential contributions of these tens of millions of people?
The science of policy-making, governance, and politicking from the perspective of improving, enhancing, and maintaining power structures all stem from the science, principles, practices, and ethics of good medicine from the perspective of benefitting all patients. Policy-making and governance are the technical, scientific parts of it. Advisors, staff, and researchers are like the specialists, surgeons, and medical researchers who develop the techniques full time; potentially great at what they do and at operating technically, but sometimes not so great at the bedside manner which is important in communicating medical treatments and policies to and for the general public. Politicians and those who work with the public need to be more like the family doctor or the general practitioner; trained and aware of the science and limitations and able to do experimental treatments sometimes, but ultimately owing a lot of advice and knowledge to the researchers and technical specialists. The communication processes with the public and with people in the public is an art. It can be practiced and taught; but not all will be great at it due to personality, temperament, or preference.
The politicians are the ones who need to be able to synthesize all of the research and knowledge and practices of every field of medicine in order to come up with an accurate, general, and overall picture of societal, economic, and environmental health in order to make the day to day management choices over the governing agencies and the social body that is human society. Advisors, researchers, and staff help fill in the technical cracks in their knowledge, awareness, and function, creating a detailed yet holistic synthesis of information for the politicians to do. All members of the government and the governing and research bodies are interdependent on one another and on the health and well-being of the society that is in their technical charge. Any failure in the society that can be addressed by government is ultimately a reflection of the failures within the government. Any failure in the society that the government cannot get at due to a matter of political choice and preference on the part of the society is a fault of the society. These can possibly be remedied by the government through its policy and choice making systems in given moments and over time, especially as the benefits and costs are made more known to the public. There is also the fact that there are diverse "correct" answers in policy making depending upon the given situation that a planet, international region, country, intra-country region, state, intrastate region, or locality may be in that does no harm to others or to themselves and enables the given area to thrive due to its favorable circumstances and choices. All of these layers must work together and communicate with one another freely, openly, and honestly in order to ensure optimal functionality in the long term, both within governmental organizations and across social organizations and people. Otherwise, we get less effective and efficient policy-making and governance in our social world and across societies, which ultimately costs lives, well-being, health, quality of life, resources, energy, and effort for disappointing or negative returns.
The principles of free trade must also be balanced with the insurance of well-being within the given society. Jobs will be lost as a result of trade and since the free market will not likely provide opportunities for retraining, it would behoove the government to ensure effective training programs to help people transition to new jobs that are more valuable in the context of the given global market economy. This must also be done while ensuring that wages are not left to stagnate for the sake of businesses' profits or executive compensation, which will ultimately cheapen the any bargain from the perspective of human society and prevent meaningful growth, health, and improved well-being from manifesting in the given society. With these two caveats in mind, free trade, indeed, does ensure a certain degree of improved quality of life by making goods cheaper to the general public. However, without jobs, there will be no room for people to afford the cheaper goods and without the insurance of fair wages, all of the benefits will go to the top executives and shareholders at the expense of the general public that the deals were intended to help. There is also the issue of national defense which has to be considered when making calculations in trade deals, as a loss of meaningful manufacturing capacity can make a country by default less sovereign and able to protect itself from those who have manufacturing capacity. The societies in question will have to balance these points when making trade deals that truly benefit everyone in their given societies. Otherwise, it's just a transference of wealth from the many to the few with no room for advancement and improvement for the many, along with a potentially weakened strategic position in the context of an overall global system.
There doesn't appear to be a hierarchy of laws, in the traditional linear sense. Rather, there appears to be an interconnected web of laws and rules that apply to the universe, the society, and to the individual. The purpose of this piece is to logically get a theoretical image of what is present in our universe with regards to law and the limitations and possibilities of human beings within the context of this universe.
The universal laws apply to all societies and to all individuals. They can include, and are not limited to, the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, societies, and economies. They influence behavior and performance on the micro scale and on the macro and vice versa. These are incredibly complex laws, with many caveats, nuances, and possibly different levels of application. However, they are what are most relevant to human beings as they seem to be the hard limitations of what we can and can't do, and how we approach things in this universe at the very least.
The next level of law are the social laws. These are the aggregate and collective logics of individual human or otherwise societies. They help define the group; in terms of internal identity and external identity relative to other groups. These social laws are what we're raised with and influence and are influenced by the content of the individuals in the society. These have mixed effects on the individual(s) in society, depending upon the content of the individuals in the society and their willingness/ability to acknowledge and accept these social laws. Thus, unlike universal laws, which do not appear to be changeable by present human technology or awareness, social laws are malleable to the needs of the society, because they are only present if individuals agree to follow them. However, as experience has shown with the major innovations in human social law, these laws are limited by what came before them, with humans frequently reverting back to the same logics and principles when the change occurs with force or all of a sudden.
This brings us to the individual, who both internalizes and absorbs the socially aggregated and universal laws and finds themselves subject to sometimes breaking or attempting to break the other two sets of laws with mixed effects depending upon the popularity and legitimacy of the social law(s) or whether or not the laws are indeed universal in nature. It is through mutations on this individual level that can spread within the social law and eventually, if at all, spread to the rest of society and influence the very behavior, logic, and perception of the individuals' fellow human beings. However, the individual is always limited by their biology, circumstance, and the consequences of their actions. These appear to be universal laws that are always applicable in the universe, as far as we can tell with present technology and comprehension of the universe. A human can only imagine what he/she is somehow familiar with and not all humans have the same capacity for imagination or comprehension as others.
Thus, we are bound in a networked nest of sometimes conflicting, sometimes harmonious laws in which the universal laws triumph over the social and individual laws and the social and individual laws have a mixed relationship where one influences the other and vice versa. It should be noted that this is only a thought experiment and the derivative of the Socratic method of philosophy. Hopefully we'll someday be able to test these frameworks out to see how law actually works in the natural sense, the social sense, and on the individual level. To know this is to, again, understand our limitations and potential to move beyond or around those limitations.
The economy is much more complicated than the businesses that occupy it. While it is important to understand how businesses and businesspeople respond to external factors in the economy, based on internal preferences and desires, it is also important to bear in mind the relative value of financial profit relative to environmental, social, and economic concerns. Since businesses and businesspeople are too preoccupied with monetary gain and profits, it behooves the society, businesses, and businesspeople alike to turn over final authority over the economy, at the very least, to the society under the trust of the government in order to preserve the businesses and business interests non-monetary concerns. The beauty of an effective and efficient democratic system, free from the constraints of businesses, businesspeople, and general social elites, is that the government is more likely to be corrected by the society and the people living in the society than if it were left to the oligarchic manipulation by the economic and social elites. Working people benefit from being protected from businesses and businesspeople attempting to take advantage of them and their labor. Businesses and businesspeople benefit from maintaining a relative environmental and social homeostasis in which they can best operate to make money within the constraints of society, the environment, and technological know-how. Without this combination of factors, it is impossible to maintain a society in which people can live or make money over and above the financial costs that are required to maintain such a system.
"When Anu the Sublime, King of the Anunaki, and Bel, the lord of Heaven and earth, who decreed the fate of the land assigned to Marduk, the over-ruling son of Ea, God of righteousness, dominion over earthly man, and made him great among the Igigi, they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it great on earth, and founded an everlasting kingdom in it, whose foundations are laid so solidly as those of heaven and earth; then Anu and Bel called by name me, Hammurabi, the exalted prince, who feared God, to bring about the rule of righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm the weak, so that I should rule over the black-headed people like Shamash and enlighten the land, to further the well-being of mankind." - Prologue, Code of Hammurabi.
These are the principles for which I stand. Like Hammurabi, I submit myself to the conditions and workings of the universe (read, God) as discovered by scientific investigation and analysis, not by revelation and opinion. I am just a human. I am not likely to do much in this world for the sake of others, nor will I likely be successful at communicating these concepts to the leading classes of the world and to the working underclasses whom the upper classes have such scorn and disregard for. I will always, however, be throwing myself in calculated and adaptive manners at the wall isolating humanity's conscientiousness, for the sake of humanity. We should never rely on written laws for constitutions for our guidance, but only on the discovered truths of the universe in which we live and must make our living. There are an infinite number of possibilities for actions we can take, limited by practicality and feasibility. These remaining practical and feasible options are then limited by what is actually healthful for us, which is then limited by what is optimally healthful for us. The trick now is to experiment with methods of organization and political games, such that we can fine tune our society's politics, such that the needs of the general public becomes the central focus of our political leaders, not the perceived needs and interests of a particular population or group of populations. This is how you're best able to maintain a system; this is how you're best able to preserve your office, your institutions, your legacies, and, perhaps, even leave a positive memory amongst the people once you inevitably depart from this lifetime. If you don't truly want to be happy, healthy, successful, and able to be in office or have a lasting, sustainable, and perpetual institutional basis for society, how then can you expect to survive in office or ensure your own health and well-being, let alone, the health and well-being of others? If you truly want to be happy, healthy, successful, and able to be in office and have a lasting, sustainable, and perpetual institutional basis for society, then why would you take actions which actually leads to the destruction and degradation of your office and institutions for any reason whatsoever?
I therefore testify to the world that there is a common reality which has natural features to it with unwritten, yet at least partially discoverable rules of cause and effect to them which we can partially manipulate for our overall improvement or our overall detriment as a collective and individual species. The trick to staying in office is to follow, learn about, and abide by these natural laws, and then apply them for the general well-being of the public through adaptive, dynamic changes in policy, programs, at the absolute expense of the particular interests for the sake of the absolute and relative interests of the general whole. There is no need to rely on the lawyers or merely eloquent arguers of opinion who don't, and likely won't, accept the natural laws and conditions of society. The trick to dialogue and debate is to discover truth, in its most subtle, complicated, and simple terms. That is how you preserve a society. That is how you preserve institutions of society, formal and informal. That is how you, as a policy-maker and decision-maker keep your seat and make it easier on yourself to justify your positions and get re-elected in the short term, which then condenses into the long term. I for one have no more use or interest for the incorrect and unfounded opinions of others. I think that, given a comprehension of the bad, while allowed to have tastes of the good, will help guide society as a whole to the same general conclusion in the long term, which then collapses into the short term all too soon.
I will stand for these principles and these facts from now, until the time that I physically die in this form, and throughout all time and space, for my own absolute improvement, or my own absolute detriment in this lifetime and beyond. I stake my life, liberty, and happiness on this being actually the truth. Let all challengers come to knock it down. I will continue to stand by it honorably until it is actually and conclusively knocked down by someone more adept at perceiving the world as a whole than I am. I will then, at that point, humbly alter my opinion to bring it in alignment with the new understanding of common reality and cease to support it. That is how science works and I am only human.
We will not have an global governmental system of any sorts until we first recognize the communal nature of all human societies and respect the sovereign right of all peoples to self-determine and make their decisions on a national, regional, and global level. There can be no central leader, no cabal of powerful nations or people to rule over all. Such a model is impractical and infeasible, and will likely be undermined in time by the many smaller nations, or else, fall prey to its own stupidity and purity of thought and reasoning. The first practical step to creating a global civil society that has legitimacy on the bottom levels of human society would be to eliminate the veto power of the 5 Permanent UN Security Council Members. The effect of this would be that all nations would have a say in whether to intervene in a given area, with defacto power and influence being turned over to the regional, national, or intra-national levels, such that the locals can have ultimate control and say over what happens to them in their own territory. We all have a stake on this planet to mediate disputes in such a way that they that it works for the people who are in conflict and to resolve common problems for all of humanity, such as resource consumption and environmental impact. You cannot have a centralized, singular, and conscientiously homogenous body in charge of the diverse planet. Rather, the world must be regarded as a community of peoples, not unlike neighborhoods within a city or clusters of people in an apartment building, with reasoned respect given for all person's privacy with collective action being taken only in instances of severe violations of common human dignity and well-being. Corporate private interests must be subsumed for the sake of the collective well-being and, in that check to personal ambition and prowess, the individual is better able to survive and be well on this planet.
So, my suggestion would be to eliminate the veto power of the Permanent UN Security Council Members and for the great nations of the world to scale back their meddling operations to recognize the sovereignty and dignity of each human being, at the absolute expense of corporate and financial interests, for the relative gains to having those supreme egos checked. This is my conclusion based on my observations of history, human psychology, and sociology. We cannot continue to afford to bully or act unitarily and capriciously against our own perceived threats, nor can we counter popular resistance in its home territory. This is my general prescription for logic in International Relations, not firmly in any of the schools of thought. This is a new synthesis based on the old schools and at least my own observations and interpretations of facts. Test it, shape it, mold it. In the end, it is always going to be power backed up by kindness and legitimacy that wins, rather than power backed up by pure force alone. As it is on the personal level, so as it is on the collective.
What progressives and liberals need to recognize, is that they need to go down with their honor and dignity in tact. The United States is, and always has been, an essentially progressive nation, where inclusion, equal opportunity, and human rights, the essentials of liberalism, are put on pedestals while monarchy, aristocracy, exclusion, and the corporate pretender wannabes, the essence of conservatism, are shunned and vilified in popular culture and sentiment. We want leaders who are accountable, responsive, and genuinely concerned with the well-being of ourselves as leaders. Why would we vote for anyone who doesn't fulfill these things for us on a practical level?
The progressives in their present form need to pull back, reorganize, go underground if necessary, and cede to the conservatives and Libertarians all the power and influence that they want. The leadership should be prepared to get out of the country and find safe haven overseas while maintaining lines of communication inside. We need to prepare for war, make friends overseas, and prepare for combat if necessary against the conservative and Libertarian forces. Let the people eat the dog shit provided by the wannabe corporate aristocrats, and they'll more than likely grow weary of it. They'll long for a return to what their government was meant to be about. This is the United States of America, not the play pen of some inbred pseudo-nobles. I think that, if given enough rope, and provided that the progressives avoid being condemned as a group by the public, the conservatives will hang themselves or be forced to evolve on the terms and lines of the progressives. Conservatism in government is little more than an abusive, unfeeling, and uncaring relationship with the public. Only the public can make the ultimate cut with the conservatives. The progressives, for their part, must get themselves ready to out campaign the conservatives on the grassroots level, and possibly fight a popular guerrilla war against the bankers, the corporate executives, and the establishment union leaders and entrenched interests. It is time that our leadership should recognize their true interests relative to the public.
I call this the Obi Wan Maneuver. "Strike me down, and I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine."
Ants, like human beings, have a limited capacity to know, comprehend, accept, and work with their social and ecological environments. However, there must be something built into the ants' brains that enable them to have some kind of pro-sociability with ants from the same colony in order to enable and facilitate communication and production amongst the ants for survival and well-being. Without this pro-sociability and willingness to engage with and help other ants, the ant colony would not likely be able to survive, let alone to potentially thrive in its given context.
Humans have more of an ability to know their environments and their social and ecological conditions than ants do. Yet there seems to be at present a strain of "broken" or "confused" human beings who don't or won't get their individual places within the ecological and social contexts. These people, who are likely to have brains that are less inclined to sociability, wisdom, and awareness of common reality, populate our societies and are able to wield influence within our societies through either the democratic processes or through the monopolization of positions of relative power and influence in our societies. When people with this anti-social, unwise, and delusional brains get into these places of power or wield significant influence in our societies, they tend to wreak havoc on themselves and on others in the long term in spite of them believing that they're doing the correct things correctly. I wonder if ants at one point had to likewise evolve beyond their own anti-social and/or non-perceiving cousins within their own colonies to achieve the degree of success that they have on this planet and within their own colonies. I wonder if we, as a younger species, are likewise going to evolve around these anti-social, unwise, and non-perceiving people or whether we're going to be destroyed by them in the grand scheme of things.
The economy actually seems to be composed of fairly simple processes and flows. The initial capital stock is produced through labor and energy, which then adds value to the raw materials and leads to a diversification of the economy, and gets reinvested in the initial capital stock. There can be positive shocks (such as technology that saves on labor or energy costs and increases the amount of labor and energy that can be added to the system within the constraints of natural law and conditions) or there can be negative shocks (such as poor weather/climate/environmental conditions, or over speculation and over extension of capital without value being added). In order to have a robust, highly complex, and large economy, it is likely better to have income dispersed throughout the population to enable everyone in the society to have access and participate in the markets. This creates a democratizes the economy and society, as well as bring on the Internet of Goods and Services that allows people to innovate, experiment, or spend in the economy on more valuable goods and services. This has to be enabled and enforced through legislation, just as any institution in the market requires legislation and enforcement in order to produce and perpetuate social institutions in our societies. This being said, there is likely a diminishing marginal return on wealth that varies from person to person (some people produce more wealth back than others and everyone can only do so much with the wealth that they have, in spite of the quantities that they may possess). To this end, there are likely maximum amounts of wealth that are valuable to the economy per person or family, even if it would be better for some people to control more of the wealth than others to a limited extent.
The government's role in the economy can then add value to the economy by creating and sustaining certain economic, social, and environmental conditions through law, law enforcement, and the investment in services and goods that the private investors in the regular market economy would not do voluntarily or in good quality. As such, while it's an opportunity cost between government spending and private investment (there is no free lunch), there is some degree of government spending on certain programs and projects in certain and general conditions that does add benefit to the society and the economy that would not be created in laissez-faire market conditions. Overall, the economy is going to grow perpetually provided that the activities and people in the economy do not bring on negative shocks through their actions, no negative shocks occur in general that are beyond our control, and within the constraints of technology, demand, and physics that is present in our universe. There is likely to be periods where the marginal growth rate slows down due to the size of the pie growing in proportion to the rate at which it Is growing and/or due to the temporary lack of new demand and innovation in the economy.
This is before we get into notions of what the economy grows into and how the economy affects the societ(ies) in which it is embedded. This then becomes a normative question of taste and desire, rather than a question of a description of facts and functions. The point of this exercise is to talk through the processes of the economy in simple terms. The actual activity in the economy is quite dynamic, just as weather patterns are in nature. However, to my mind (and, it is my mind only until it is confirmed or denied by empirical investigation), these are the processes by which the economy grows or shrinks in actuality. Hopefully this may help others develop models to test relative to actual real world data rather than leaving us to rely on untested, untestable, or potentially incorrect theories about how the economy works.
Termites, like many social insects, build nests of complex architecture. These constructions have been proposed to optimize different structural features. Here we describe the nest network of the termite Nasutitermes ephratae, which is among the largest nest-network reported for termites and show that it optimizes diverse parameters defining the network architecture. The network structure avoids multiple crossing of galleries and minimizes the overlap of foraging territories. Thus, these termites are able to minimize the number of galleries they build, while maximizing the foraging area available at the nest mounds. We present a simple computer algorithm that reproduces the basics characteristics of this termite nest network, showing that simple rules can produce complex architectural designs efficiently.
Emergence, self-organization and network efficiency in gigantic termite-nest-networks build using simple rules
Diego Griffon, Carmen Andara, Klaus Jaffe
Confucius observed that when humans follow a particular, internalized code and logic, the need for the top-down command and control forms of social organization disappear, allowing for much more effective and efficient bottom-up systems of organization to arise. In other words, laws from on high levels of government should be simple, basic, and in accordance with the present natural laws and conditions of bottom-up organization. Imagine a border collie moving sheep in a particular direction. It guides the system by moving them in the general direction that the farmer needs while simply correcting and focusing on those sheep who stray from the flock or begin to pull the flock in undesirable directions. Each society probably uses different strategies depending upon their own internal logic and "state of propriety".
In the United States, it seems that we get extremely focused on the details and what was past rather than consider the general principles behind the laws, which are reflective of our actual values and stable desires as a nation. We need to refer back to the principles and deeper meaning of the Constitution and not get so hung up about what is or isn't actually written in the Constitution. It's this intuitive base level of understanding where the logic of our society is and how we are doing that is relative to that common direction we all share as Americans that is more likely to help us. The details of which sheep are going where is insignificant relative to the big picture of what direction are the sheep as a flock headed and which ones are pulling us in those unhealthy directions. Sadly, Americans prefer to look at the sheep rather than the flock at their own expense. That's probably how we got so many highly detailed laws and rules that are contradictory or counter to our base principles and values. Silly society. Silly people.
Value, in terms of economic and financial growth, can only be created in a society up to a certain point. I believe that the aggregate demand function for a society is, in fact, nonlinear just as everyone's individual demand curves for goods and services may also be nonlinear. I believe that they start off going up exponentially. But I also believe that, as the diminishing marginal utility kicks in, the curve evens out or maybe goes down, possibly spiking back upward at a certain point (depending upon the good or service in question). It makes sense to say that demand may shift from goods, as people come to a limit of the amount of stuff that they can want, and moves into service and services, as people demand the already excellent products delivered in a more effective and customer friendly format. As such, the market will slow down in growth, unless costs can be cut in production (this may be rendered moot, as we'll need to pay people from the profits to have demand if there is a permanent loss of jobs), or unless new technology and methods of production can be explored and invented. This can create a cycling of products as goods become obsolete and new ones come into being. However, and this is critical, people need to be able to spend, innovate, and buy the new products and services, in addition to have enough savings to sustain themselves through shocks and retirement. As such, we have a dynamic flow happening in the market where growth will naturally even off, bound by technological limits and the environmental resources needed to support. This carrying capacity is about as close to a macroeconomic equilibrium as we will likely get. It will be highly sensitive to external and internal shocks, and there will be periods of oscillating around the carrying capacity as people see that there's no more room for money production, divest in the economy, and then cycle back up as they find that there is room for "growth" again.
It should be pointed out that this is not absolutely likely to happen, especially if wealth is more equitably distributed and more agents have a greater capacity to innovate, spend, invest, and save in the market economy. By democratizing the economy through wealth redistribution, many other goods, services, and innovations may happen which can destabilize the existing social, political, economic, and environmental systems. This can be a bad thing, in the sense that we get destructive goods, services, and innovations which hang around and wreak havoc in our societies and environments. It can also be a good thing as we get new products, services, and innovations which are more healthful and helpful to us. It will be critical to link peoples' costs and benefits to themselves as individuals, in order to ensure that they select those goods, services, and innovations which are healthful to society. Should that not be possible, the government may have to intervene in the market to encourage people to avoid negatively affective products and services and take up positively affective ones. The goal is to preserve the actual (not perceived) health and well-being of society for the individuals' who live in society's sake. Anything short of that leads to problems in the society and for the government in question who would, accidentally or purposefully, harm the society and the people who live in the society.
Therefore, we are left with a picture of a dynamic, flowing economy with multiple possible and highly fragile equillibria. Some of these quillibria states are more beneficial for the society and for all the individuals in the society than others. It is the government, through its power to create and enforce laws in the society, who determines the legal and social environment in which the market comes into being. The environment also has a powerful check on market growth in terms of its size, nature, and composition.
Don't ever tell me that poverty is a condition that will always be around or is something that laissez-faire economics will take care of. Quite frankly, it's lazy thinking and unfeeling to view a challenge such as poverty or extreme poverty as a feature of human society that has a place in such global abundance or that doing nothing will solve the problem. Furthermore, I am willing to hypothesize that these efforts to relieve poverty, using time, energy, and resources from the production of wealth in our societies will not come at a great expense to that production of wealth and may, in fact, balance out or exceed on its returns for the overall global economy, especially with more consumption, increased savings to protect against shocks, and if it is done in an environmentally sound and sustainable way. It's science, but it's not rocket science. Enjoy!
The question then becomes whether wealth, or the lack thereof, is a cause of corruption or wealth is caused by a lack of corruption. It makes sense in my mind that a lack of corruption leads to increased potential to make wealth because the appropriate use of resources (ie, using resources for their stated purposes) and the honesty that underlies that point could, in my view, make for more wealth than the dishonest methods and inappropriate usage of public funds would. We could hypothetically run simulations to test which one is the case, similar to the Sugarscape experiments. On the other hand, a lack of resources may incentivize those who don't have much to take more from the public resources and use them for private uses (ie, what I call the Jean Valjean effect). More experimentation should be done to tease this out. Perhaps by knowing what they're giving up by having corruption, the officials will be more circumspect about how they live off and take from the public till.
A big problem with data is that it takes time, energy, and resources to accumulate and acquire. This is easier to do in the "hard" sciences where things are done in laboratory conditions over relatively short periods of time. In the social sciences, data collection can take years or decades and has to be done in the fuzzy conditions of the real world or in a simplified world that may or may not be accurate in a computer program.
The first step to making our government operate more effectively and efficiently is to make a conscientious and sustained effort to ethically and effectively collect data. The next step is to synthesize and analyze the data to tell a story about how things work in our human societies. The third step, and I think, the most difficult step, is to actually use the data to achieve better results in our human societies and across human societies. To do this, we must sacrifice our old notions of how things are and how things ought to work in an endless stream of refinement and bias smashing until we recognize the universe, ourselves, and our places in it for what they really are.
We were at this same place once before, way back in the Renaissance when Western civilization rediscovered, refined, enhanced, and built upon the awareness and knowledge of medicine. We can infer causal relations amongst aspects of the social system, just as we learned about the human body. However complex and interconnected societies and parts of society may be, it is incorrect to say that it is impossible to figure the age old problems of societies, economies, and environments, even if we may not presently have the statistical techniques or software to do so at the present time. We can either invest in this new research now and implement what we can ethically implement at this time to help ourselves, or we can wallow in the willful ignorance of the past, consuming planet and society in the pursuit of wealth and relative power that is not real and is not being used well anyway.
Policy making is a science; politicking is an art. The former serves as the root for the latter, even though the former is effectively impotent without the latter. Politicking without grounding in the science of policy engineering and compassionate care will always only backfire on those who are exercising their technical abilities to politick. Policy engineering, however, needs to be wrapped in the garments of effective and appealing politicking in order to be preserved, implemented, and expanded.
I would like to start by acknowledging that I know that prospective employers, specifically Baltimore Corps, may be reading this and other posts. While it would be easier to pat the leadership of the city on the back and tell them that it's not their fault, the simple fact of the matter is, that it is not true. Quite frankly, they have failed to resolve the underlying issues that are erupting and have been bubbling under the surface for quite some time in the general American society, let alone, within their own little corner of America. Police departments cannot be allowed to exacerbate tensions amongst the very real communities of Americans, nor should police officers be left unpunished and at liberty while they run rampant in our streets. We cannot keep officers who see everyone, especially those of color, as a criminal and every action as a threat. It is a fault of the city governments of this country that has led us to this place and a lack of truly effective action on the part of the state and federal governments to call the local governments, no matter how remote and backwards they may be, to account for their actions. A government is not a throne upon which the idle and stupid can afford to sit, nor can it ever really be used as a tool to serve the already powerful few at the expense of everyone and everything else.
I would caution to those who would exacerbate the violence on the side of the protestors that more violence on their part will only lead to more violence in return. The same goes to the police and those pathetic individuals who think that power is a badge and a gun that allows one to beat on people without consequence, or those who think that the public is best served when the already powerful few are served above all others. I don't condone violence. But I will point out that it's a natural consequence for governing people who fail to adequately do their jobs on a day to day basis. We need police officers who live and serve in the regular neighborhoods of the communities in which they work, not those who are imported from other places and treated as mere units in a large organizational machine. We need to stop putting some bankers' and executives' profits and sham economic "growth" ahead of our citizens' well-being, quality of life, and environmental sustainability. Above all we need to acknowledge the actual limits of government force and manipulation,0 and the real role that governments can play in preserving, maintaining, and advancing our entire human society. We cannot keep dishing out favors to the already powerful, and I will not stand in the way of those who would rip out those who are toxic in government to our larger society. When peaceful methods are rigged in favor of a few, the public will more likely resort to violent methods to get their way. That is why you don't rig the peaceful methods in the first place and prevent them from working out, sometimes, against your own personal absolute favor. If you can't do your job or take the criticism that is needed to do your job, get out of government, and stop playing with social and environmental forces beyond your comprehension. I would rather stand and have my honest say than be a quiet sycophant. That is what makes me valuable in government to anyone who wants to govern. If you can't get on this level, you're truly out of your league, and I don't care how "savvy" you may think yourself in the cat games of political "power".
Enjoy your night.
The American governments at all levels and in all places are going to have to come to terms with a few things. The first set of things are their own anti-social, repressive, oppressive, and anti-democratic tactics and methods and policies that they have enacted towards the general public. The American people cannot and will not voluntarily be marched into a neo-feudal serfdom without some form of resistance springing forth. Worse still, the people who will be behind such a resistance will also be the least qualified, least able, and least willing to establish a functional and effective new order from the ashes of the old. The second set are the anti-social, anti-progress, moronic, baboon-like group of radical right wing personalities and people whose anti-social, anti-progress, and anti-democratic tactics are what have brought us to the point where one is dead at NSA headquarters. These are the fat cat millionaires and radical right wingers who are sitting in our Congressional delegations, posing as bankers and businesspeople, making a mockery of the American spirit and the nature of Americans throughout all levels of society. We can either be cleansed of these people by ignoring them, voting against them, and by defending ourselves with lethal force if necessary. Or we can continue to sit around and do nothing while they dismantle our entire society and environment in the name of profit, control, and some abstract notion of liberty that they've never questioned or seriously examined.
I've always suggested that we turn our attention towards ridding our human societies of these conservative elements and the more pragmatic economic elite who fund them. The shooting at the NSA should be taken as a wake-up call for all Americans to unite against the growing right wing despotism that is threatening to erode our nation's core integrity and to disband the dysfunctional and ineffective establishment "left" in favor of a new progressive state in America that relies on science, evidence, and the well-being of all people, not just the rich, as the benchmarks for good policy and good policy-making. Financial wealth for wealth's sake should not be the end all of a society's goal, nor should we condone or accept those who can't get that through their heads.
A government and its members are never self-sustaining entities. A government and their members rely on the legitimacy, acceptance, and authority that is granted to them. These are things which can be revoked with disastrous consequences to follow for all people, including for the governments' members, when and if they are revoked. Governments can fail; their existence is not guaranteed. Best to continue working with the general public in a dialogue for the sake of improving the quality of life for people rather than act as if there are no consequences for your actions. The sooner our governments in the United States and throughout human society get this through their heads, the sooner we'll all be better off. We need to eliminate the right wing by allowing them to eliminate themselves, and the world will be that much closer to being reasonably settled, even though it will never truly be settled in the long term or short term. This will never be a utopian world; some problems will continue, old ones fade away, and new ones will rise. What we can change is how we live, interact with, and respond to the changes and common reality, first, by acknowledging that there is a common reality where all opinions, hypotheses, and perceptions are not equal and should not be given an equal light if they prove to be unfounded and without evidence to support them. The second thing we need to do is learn about this universe as thouroughly, deliberately, and accurately, specifically with regards to ourselves and to our own place within it relative to all other things on the individual and collective level. The third thing is to apply the lessons in our daily lives, policies, laws, programs, and actions, such that we can live healthier, happier, and more sustainable lives as individuals within the context of our environment and our societies. We can follow these three steps and all the subsequent steps and implications, or we can all collapse as a civilization and ruin ourselves and the world around us in the name of senseless greed and baseless ideology. These are the options. What side will you be on?
Think about it.
A society derives its characteristics from the collective behavior, attitudes, desires, hopes, dreams, wishes, and aspirations of every individual who lives within it. Every society has a different way or logic about how they go about their business in government and in society, just as every person has their own strategy to achieve their own desired goals and outcomes. Sometimes they're in alignment with the universal laws of humanity and of human society. Sometimes they're optimal, or more optimal than others. Sometimes, they're less optimal or less helpful than others. Sometimes, it's just a question of luck that they succeed or fail, with no control over what went wrong or what went well for them. The trick then is to work out what is significant for the general public's well-being (which is also the leading powers' well-being), and what isn't. We can only ethically encourage governments and leading societal figures to change what is significant for their own benefit at the very least (for the public's well-being at the very most). We must then work to accept those things that are insignificant for the public's overall well-being. We must either respect the diversity of the societies of the universe, or we will forever be miserable and dragged into conflict, bitterness, and hatred trying to change that which will not forcibly be changed as well as that which is insignificant, irrelevant, and maybe damaging for a society to experience in their turn. I hate to use this buzzword, but there must be synergy across cultures, societies, and peoples, if we are to achieve better social, economic, and technological conditions for our own selves, at the very least, for all others, at the very most. The constant goal needs to be health, well-being, sustainability, and adaptability for ourselves and for the peoples of the world collectively. Otherwise, we will kill ourselves seeking out the irrelevant, the non-existent, and the self-destructive. The societies who are best able to pursue these goals while maintaining and adaptive and defensive edge over others will undoubtedly be the longest surviving societies with the most enduring social, cultural, political, and economic institutions. May the best societies succeed. May all others revert backwards or become extinct in their present or desired form.
I know that I'm closed to some things. But it's just silly to be open to everything. Honestly, why should we take the opinion that the Earth is the center of the universe seriously, or that 1+1 can equal anything other than 2? The same principles apply in our social, political, economic, environmental, and government worlds. You make one configuration in government, in policy, and in funding, you get a series of possible outcomes, depending upon all the other conditions that the government does not and cannot control for. But, if you make a different configuration in government, policy, and funding, you get a different set of probable outcomes which may or may not actually be better for all of our social units and the entirety of the universe. Utility is a subjective thing, that is true. But, as far as human beings go relative to all other life in the universe, there seem to me to be some things that are universal, objective, or both for life as we know it and for human life relative to all other life in the universe. Water, H2O, is one of those things that I can think of. The presence of one thing that fills this criteria proves that there may be other things which also fit this criteria. It doesn't matter what your brain believes or what your brain thinks should be done.
It is possible to look at objective truths differently. You can look at the sum of two integers equaling 9 in many different ways (9+0, 1+8, 2+7, 3+6, 4+5, or the reverse for each of these values). But these are the only whole numbers which can sum to 9 and in those specific combinations.
Thus, I'm left with the image of a universe wherein our brains and neurological systems are in charge of sensing, interpreting, perceiving, and working with reality first (before you make any choices that will change that reality for one way or another). Our brains may or may not be healthy and functional relative to common reality, and to ourselves relative to common reality. Some brains and neurological systems may be pathological to the world (for example, people who persist and refuse to acknowledge common reality and choose instead to invent or produce their own mental image of reality based on their personal motivations and preferences). The root of all human activity should, normatively, be directed at trying to understand reality, accepting that which holds up to scientific testing and falsification, and rejecting that which actually does not hold up to scientific testing and falsification. If there is no evidence that is provable for something, why should we simply accept that personal version of reality over our common reality?
Now, there are many ways to see reality that are accurate, just as there are many ways to add whole number integers to equal 9. If you want to get even more complex, there are an infinite number of ways to sum partial numbers to equal 9. But even then, there only the appropriate combinations of these partial numbers will equal to exactly 9. The first number determines what the second number is going to be, and vice versa, such that you're again, not able or technically free to add whatever combination of partial numbers that you'd like and try to get 9. You can't add 4.5 and 3.32 to get 9. That's just an axiomatic fact. Therefore, while a plurality of perspectives is likely the desirable conditional set, it must be recognized that there are some opinions, beliefs, and perspectives which simply don't match with common reality. The template is reality; the authority is the universe itself. No human may abridge, alter, or influence the discovered laws of the universe, as far as we can tell at present. Furthermore, if we do end up being able to affect common reality through the altering and shifting of natural laws (as per natural laws that are subtler and deeper than the laws we’re working with), we must be extremely careful not to alter those laws in such a way that our very existence becomes untenable or self-destructive as a result of our tampering with them. We could, in such a hypothetical situation, wipe out all of existence in our present form if we were to tamper with certain laws in certain ways, just as we may wipe ourselves off by killing off certain species in our ecosystems or altering the conditional state of our ecosystems in such a way that our own existence may be put in jeopardy.
Therefore, in my mind, we get a view of the universe that is highly complicated, complex, and interconnected discretely and across boundaries. We are bound in this universe, as such, that we technically and normatively should not tamper, alter, or destroy certain aspects of the universe. We are never, as it were, free from altering the universe or ourselves in the universe without consequence. The same rules apply on the physical and quantum levels of the universe, so too does it apply in our social, economic, environmental, and political levels. You are, to begin with, not able to conceive of everything that you can do (thus limiting what you can or may do). You are not physically or mentally capable of doing everything and anything in the universe that is beyond your abilities to handle, even if you are able to imagine or conceive of those things. Finally, even if you are technically, physically, and/or mentally able to do some things in this universe, there is a wide range of things that you should not do, from the perspective of preserving your own health, safety, and well-being on the individual and relative levels. There are right and wrong answers in this universe; better or worse solutions to complex problems. There are correct, better, and worse assessments of problems and situations, just as there are correct, better, and worse solutions to those actual problems in our universe and for our actual well-being. There are criteria for our utility, health, and well-being on the individual and social levels which are relevant and some that are not, in actuality, relevant at all.
Now, I’m never going to say that I have all the answers to all of these problems or the solutions to every problem that we are experiencing or can possibly experience. No human can be 100% correct 100% of the time. All that I’m asserting is that these points are correct 100% of the time in our universe, and that we can experiment with them ourselves to prove that they’re actually true. What I am proposing and advocating for, is that we switch over to a sustained, systematic review and exploration of our social, economic, political, environmental, cosmological, and integrated reality, such that we can make better individual and collective choices for ourselves in the universe relative to all other things. Those opinions and desires which aren’t right and/or are unhealthful should be treated as such. The real sin isn’t having an incorrect belief, but persisting in that belief when it’s been conclusively proven to be likely or definitively incorrect or unhealthful. That’s all that I’m saying, that’s all that I’m advocating for, and I’m 99.99999999999999999% sure that this is axiomatic for the entire universe as we are able to know and comprehend. Ignorance is what should be wiped out, and those who won’t or can’t come to grips with reality are the ones we should be labeling as those possessing pathologically formed neural systems. The solution for these people is optional rehabilitation, if they’re not posing an immediate threat to themselves or others, and care. I could be wrong too, very easily. But I’m not going to persist in a belief just because I think or feel it to be right, if it is demonstrably the case that my opinion and belief is actually incorrect or mostly incorrect. Again, the real sin is persisting in ignorance when it is revealed, not being ignorant in and of itself. Some people are more able to be correct than others; some people are less able. It’s only a bad thing if you continue in an incorrect view.
Such is my view of reality. Such is the reason why I am closed to certain beliefs, opinions, and people. I hope this clarifies my logic and ways of thinking for you all. Thank you.
If you're going to govern over a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, and multi-cultural territory, I think that you're going to have to do one or more of three basic things.
The first, would be to make a common denominator that everyone shares; a singular touchstone of identity that everyone can feel apart. This cannot be a top-down given thing, but requires communication amongst the whole population (meaning, all peoples from all populations) in order to arrive at that common denominator that cannot be determined in advance. This is most similar to what the United States has done successfully over the years and least like what is happening in France or other Western European countries. You need people to be one people. Just because you may give up something as the host, doesn't mean that you can't preserve the essence of your society in a more general and less specific form.
The second is to include people into the political and economic systems, such that you don't have people alienated, helpless, and potentially angry at whomever they have chosen to live with. Just because new people have chosen to live in a given territory and are given a hard time within that territory by the native population, doesn't mean that they're necessarily likely to go back to wherever they came from. Again, the American society has done this fairly well over the years relative to others, while we look at other societies with marked social divisions leading to economic divisions and political divisions. These social, economic, and political divisions are toxic to maintaining health and happiness within a society, as we can plainly see when looking at societies, such as Nigeria or Iraq or Turkey, where exclusion or forced assimilation are the defacto policies of the society and the government.
The third option, is to part ways outright and to divide land with the recognition that violence only exacerbates negative economic, social, and political conditions for all sides. It usually is more costly to fight and hold onto land that doesn't have your people occupying it than it is to let the land break off and form its own sovereignty, for better or for worse, depending upon how all involved handle it. People tend to demand agency and, when that agency is denied, it tends to make things worse for all parties who are involved in the conflict. We can look at cases, such as India and Pakistan and Bangladesh as ways to not divide territory and societies, while we can look at the Czech Republic and Slovakia as ways to divide territories.
These are the principles that seem to be generally at the heart of international relations, political science, sociology, and human psychology. To neglect these concepts is to spark war, tension, and economic collapse between two or more collective consciences of humanity. We see this in Ukraine at the present time, as well as in Northern Ireland and Israel/Palestine. It boils down to two basic options. The first is to welcome people into a society, develop a bottom-up approach to building a national consciousness while including people in the political and economic systems. The second is to part ways, hopefully amicably, and let the two national consciences be apart with less territory. You can't force a people to be someone or something they're not, anymore than you can force a single person to be someone or something they're not. It just doesn't work out, and tends to increase net suffering while decreasing net well-being in the process. This is based on personal observations from history, cultural geography, sociology, political science, and human psychology. These have not been statistically tested in practice, nor do I think we can test them with the present data that's available. However, our consciousness of the past is growing all the time, and our awareness of world events can already happen at the speed of electricity. We can either use the general information to guide us as best as we can while we collect and model data to make our conclusions more solid, or ignore the information that is already present from these different disciplines and from our world, and simply continue trying to fit the square peg in the round hole. We can do a much much much better job at handling our public affairs with the knowledge and insights that we can have at present. What in Hell are we waiting for?