10-26-11 - Some Things I Find Appalling

The US continues to be the largest provider of arms around the world, including to questionable third world countries and private militias.

The FBI continues to use entrapment techniques on suspected possible terrorists in which they provide a more radical undercover agent who provides the arms and encouragement. (just like the 60's, man)

The FBI continues to spy on non-criminals inside the US.

The US government creates semi-hidden propaganda to sell its policies to US citizens.

US journalists are not allowed to cover our own wars any more. Don't be misled by "embeds" or other government-provided "news" footage.

The executive continues to hide its actions under the cloak of "privilege" or "national security" , way beyond what is remotely reasonable.

Private companies are paid to imprison our citizens. Privitization of prisons is just insane, but of course it's only natural when you have private military forces, which are not only illegal but paid for by our own government. WTF.

We continue to use terrorism as a thin excuse for deporting or imprisoning ("detention") thousands of immigrants.



jfb said...

I disagree with most of your politics, but I too am appalled by all of what you mentioned here. These are all "bipartisan" evil - the leadership of both parties collude to keep all of this going, so you can't effectively vote against it.

I've recently been thinking that the solution is as follows:

- a peer-to-peer random number generator where random numbers generated by each party are sent to all parties, encrypted by and sent along with a public key

- once all parties receive it, they send the private keys -- this way there are no take-backs

- these are hashed to generate the final random number, which by the previous proceedings all can verify and yet it only requires one single honest contributor not colluding to make it truly random

- let anyone, anyone at all be a peer to this RNG

- you then use this number to pick social security numbers, and randomly select all previously elected offices

By making those in office randomly chosen, you eliminate the bias toward those rich enough to afford to win an election, you eliminate capture and entanglements by replacing everyone every time, and you eliminate conflicts of interest because it didn't take the help or money of anyone to get 'elected'.

This would also make Congress, plus or minus a few percent, a good statistical sample of the public.

The only possible objection I can see is 'but, random people might do horrible things'. Maybe, but then I ask, 'Does the average person have better or worse ethics than the average politician?' Exactly.

If 'pure evil' is 1% of the population, it will rule approximately 1% of the time, and that seems entirely fair to me. Right now it seems to be over-represented.

cbloom said...

I've written this before in more detail, but I do believe that most of the "left vs right" philosophy is just a distraction from the real problem, which is essentially just corruption. It's sort of like all the C++ object-oriented vs. functional debate; the real problem with most people's code is that they write fucking spaghetti, not the philosophy behind it.

I've thought about randomized elections too; it's sort of interesting in a bicameral structure where you have something like the Senate be a small body that's elected (though the Senate is a joke for various reasons), and something like the House that is randomly elected.

In practice I don't think it would work for various reasons.

The randomly elected people would be just as swayed by lobbyists and think tanks and offers of jobs after their term as current congressmen are. The more important step would just be making all those things illegal.

I disagree with the idea that politicians in general are somehow inferior people or are inherently corrupt; it's the corporate money that corrupts them.

jfb said...

Legality can't solve a problem if it afflicts a majority of Congress, because Congress gets to define legal.

I think they are likely to be more corrupt. They have to climb quite a ways to get to the national level, and it's easier to get the necessary money if you are willing to exchange it. In a system with elections, money _is_ necessary. This can't be solved by having the government fund elections - that gives even stronger feedback toward those already in power and their friends.

And yeah, corruption. Nobody really cares that Bill Gates is rich but object to Goldman, PNC, etc. The former (more or less...) gave people something they wanted in exchange, that is to say by trade, whereas the latter gained quite a bit by political influence.

Yet in politics, nobody calls out the distinction and so 'the rich' get demonized, whereas the real objection's the how not the what. Neither party's interested in making that distinction, because both are engaged in divvying up the loot, just a question of 'whose friends'.

jfb said...

On the object-oriented versus functional, there *are* some differences in languages that change how code gets structured. I find the lack of coroutines in many languages leads to (entirely unnecessary) massive switch() statements and hard to read code. That said, yeah, for the most part, those language features aren't what make bad code bad.

Thatcher Ulrich said...

I think on some PBS show I saw somebody explain some details of Athenian democracy, that basically amounted to randomized elections.

Oh here we go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athenian_democracy#Selection_by_lot_.28Allotment.29

Of course only 20% of the population was qualified to participate.

old rants