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Patrick's Politics


By Patrick   Follow   Fri, 30 Dec 2011, 4:24pm PST   17,025 views   50 comments   Watch (2)   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (3)   Dislike  

Principles of human nature: how people are.

  1. Self-interest affects perception and reasoning.
    People start from their desired conclusion, and then work backwards to find a reasoning that fits it.
    Once any action is performed, the mind automatically starts to come up with reasons to justify it.
    It is difficult to be truly honest to yourself, or even to perceive a reality that threatens your desired conclusions.

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it. -- Upton Sinclair

  2. Self includes certain select other people.
    Self-interest includes the interests of your family, your team, your country, etc. The division of people into "my people" and others is basic to human thought.
    People are more comfortable with and identify with people from their own ethnic and economic backgrounds.
    Most people adopt the beliefs of their social crowd, to minimize the stress of independent thought and the fear of rejection.
  3. The line between good and evil runs through every human heart.
    People intuitively feel the difference between good and evil, even though self-interest obscures it.

    "If only it were all so simple. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?" --Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  4. What is unspoken is hard to hear, but it's always the most important point.
    Honest opinions often cannot be spoken because of embarassment or political correctness constraints. See the case of Juan Williams.
    Those unspoken opinions are the true explanation for much otherwise inexplicable behavior.
  5. People prefer simple explanations and stories instead of critical thought and subtleties.
    Critical thought means looking for mistaks in what you are taught, which can be uncomfortable, especially when it requires that you challenge widely accepted authority.
    The world is composed of shades of grey, and they are difficult to distinguish.
    The bible is popular partly because it is a series of simple explanations and stories.

    Most people don't do math very well. Math is hard work.

    "Please give us a simple answer, so that we don't have to think, because if we think, we might find answers that don't fit the way we want the world to be." -- Terry Pratchett in Nation
    "If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." -- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow

  6. Most people don't have time for politics.
    Whatever it is, they usually don't care unless it affects them.
    They're busy with work, family, shopping, etc.
    That means the people who actually do care have more influence than those who don't.
  7. People are social animals.
    All human rights and obligations exist in a social context.
    Your right to swing your fist is limited by where the other guy's nose is.
    No success was ever achieved alone. Succes is always a combination of individual effort and social context.
    People are acutely aware of their status and most consumer spending is to increase status.
    The rich are worshipped as examples of what we want to be, even as they continue to exploit us. The American dream creates self-blame that protects the rich from responsibility:

    America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”
    Their most destructive untruth is that it is very easy for any American to make money. They will not acknowledge how in fact hard money is to come by, and, therefore, those who have no money blame and blame and blame themselves. This inward blame has been a treasure for the rich and powerful, who have had to do less for their poor, publicly and privately, than any other ruling class since, say, Napoleonic times.
    Many novelties have come from America. The most startling of these, a thing without precedent, is a mass of undignified poor. They do not love one another because they do not love themselves.
    --Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five

  8. People are motivated by money and status, but also by the desire to help, and to be fair.
    Homo economicus, the "rational economic man", is a myth used by economists.
    In reality, the ultimatum game proves that the motive of fairness is greater than the motive of direct personal gain.
    The existence of Linux and the Wikipedia are testaments to the desire of people to be helpful.
  9. Fear is an even stronger motive than money, status, helpfulness, or fairness.
    People willingly give up their rights and hand control to self-interested authorities when confronted with fear of death, as after 9/11.
    Even if you yourself are not afraid, if your neighbor is afraid, he will supress your rights because of his own fear.

    Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger." -- Nazi Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials

  10. Human history is a series of revolutions against hereditary aristocracies.
    The rich use governments, corporations, and religion to gain ever more wealth and power.
    They entrench themselves and their families by law as the non-productive owners of all land and other assets, while everyone else does the actual work.
    The more they have, the more interest and rent everyone is obliged to pay them, until finally the people revolt.

    For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance, but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. -- Matthew the Evangelist

    And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression. -- John Steinbeck

    See the French revolution, Russian revolution, many others. Read Ibn Khaldun.

Goals: how things should be, given how people are.

  1. An end to hereditary aristocracy in America.
  2. Deflation. The goal of all economic policy should be gradual deflation. Lower prices reward savers even if interest is 0%. Deflation is perfectly compatible with economic growth. People buy more when prices fall.
  3. Government that represents the 100%, not just the 1%.
  4. Minimal laws, well enforced.
    The average person should be able to read and understand all the federal, state, and local laws that apply to them.
    The total number of laws should also be limited to an amount that is possible to read in a month: one large book.
    There should be elementary, middle, and high school courses in law.

    If a law is on the books, it should be well enforced or else people lose respect for the law. For example, every single car that speeds should get a ticket, every day.

    Most licensing and zoning laws are designed to protect entrenched interests against new entrants and new business models, so licensing and zoning requirements should be the absolute minimum that are truly required to protect public safety. See http://www.ij.org/
  5. "Jury nullification, that is, the right of jurors to judge the law as well as the facts, is a right of the people and the courtroom norm." -- Ron Paul
    Jurors should be allowed to decide that the law itself seems unfair and should be contested in a higher court. Maybe they get overruled, but at least they get to slow down what they consider to be bad laws.
  6. Near-absolute freedom of speech.
    All non-commercial file sharing in the internet should be legal, as the Pirate Party wants. Copyright enforcement is practice for suppression of political speech.

    National Security Letters and gag orders are direct attacks on the first amendment and must never be allowed under any circumstances whatsoever.
    Government should not be able to read your email or spy on any non-public digital content without a judge-signed search warrant as specified in the Fourth Amendment:

    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

  7. True equality of opportunity.
    America has the lowest social mobility in the developed world.
    If you were born poor in America, you are almost certainly going to stay poor.
    If you were born rich, you will almost certainly stay rich.
    To really have equal opportunity, every child must get excellent health care and excellent education through high school, with explicit instruction on how social class and the business world works.
    What we have now is a farce:

    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread." --Anatole France

  8. Freedom from your boss.
    Most adult human life in America is wasted in boring jobs, a kind of slow death for hundreds of millions of people.
    Corporations and governments use dependencies to control you and make you work for them, especially mortgage debt, but also health care costs.
  9. Freedom from your teacher.
    Untold years of childrens' lives are wasted in boring classes.
    If they learn the material and can prove they know it through testing, they should be free to leave the class so the teacher can help those who don't know it.
  10. Freedom from cars. We must make it possible to live and work in America without ever being required to buy a car or buy gasoline.
  11. Freedom from debt.
    Both personal and national debt are bad, except when they increase your future income more than the cost of the loan. Mortgage debt should not be subsidized or guaranteed by the government.

  12. Non-intervention abroad, to save trillions of dollars and to maintain foreign goodwill.
    Aggressive wars, even when called preventative, and even when they pertain only to trade relations, are forbidden. --Ron Paul
    We should not have army bases all around the world.
    It's called "national defense" for a reason. It's to defend our own nation, not to impose our ideas or commerce on other nations.
  13. An end to all subsidies. Subsidies harm the public in two ways: first, they cost tax money, and second, the use that tax money to increase demand, which increases prices. Instead, if the people have decided we need more of something, the government should help increase the supply of it, not the demand.

Means to those ends: how to achieve the goals

  1. Taxes on non-productive rent-seeking, not on income from productive work.
    Most wealth in America is inherited, not earned.
    Wealth should be the result of your own personal productivity, not a redistribution from poorer people to the rich via mere non-productive ownership of other wealth, especially landowning.
    If you could be in a coma and still earn money, then that income is non-productive rent-seeking and should be taxed:
    land rent, interest, dividends, capital gains through mere ownership of stock, inheritance.
    There should also be a 0.1% financial transation tax on stock and bond trades to discourage fast trading.
    Income earned through actual work should not be taxed at all, nor should there be any sales tax.
    There should be unified land ownership and land tax records for the whole country in a standardized and free digital format.
    A tax on land values is good for the environment too.

    Hereditary bodies... always on the watch for their own aggrandizement, profit of every opportunity of advancing the privileges of their order, and encroaching on the rights of the people. --Thomas Jefferson to A. Coray, 1823.

  2. Physical gold and silver money by weight. No dollars, just grams, coined by the government in standard amounts, always 99.9% pure.
    Though gold and silver money will not end credit problems, they will guarantee that savings preserve value.
    No national debt. All government operations should be funded out of already-collected revenue.
    No bonds. It costs taxpayers twice as much for everything when they pay interest.
  3. The option to join Medicare by paying in, with a 10% co-pay.
    This is the biggest step in freeing you from your boss, and that's why the US Chamber of Commerce opposes it.
    If you have a family, the ability to start a small business requires that a government catastrophic health insurance option exist. Minor and optional procedures should not be covered, but paid for out-of-pocket.
    Except in life and death emergencies, all medical bills should be presented in advance of treatment so that the consumer can make a choice.
    Insurance companies should also be obligated to immediately state the exact amount of coverage given a medical billing code.
    Fee-for-service just encourages more unnecessary services to get more fees. Instead, your provider should get a fixed amount of money each month from your insurer.

    There should be a SMALL set of STANDARDIZED health insurance plans.
    So there would be plans A, B, C, D, and E and every member of plan B, for example, would cover exactly the same stuff and have the same out-of-pocket costs. Only the premiums would be different, making it obvious which plan is better.
  4. No mortgage interest deduction.
    Debt for consumption is harmful, though debt for production is sometimes helpful.
    Government should never encourage debt for consumption.
    The government should publicly acknowledge that lower house prices are better for buyers. Deflation is good.
    No Fed, no Fannie, no Freddie, no FHA.
    Mortgage lending should be based on rental value, not on comps, so that
    the borrower can always rent out a house rather than default on the loan.
    There should be an open and transparent market for housing, with all bids verified and published.
    Sellers should be legally obligated to accept any payment that meets his published asking price within 30 days.
  5. Legalization of marijuana.
    Prison guard unions oppose legalization because they like having all those prisoners.
    Mexican drug cartel violence is 50% driven by marijuana profits.
    The same laws about alcohol should apply to marijuana: no sales to minors, no public intoxication, no driving while high.
  6. Recording police action.
    It should always be legal to record the police with cameras. Police should never be allowed to forbid photography of arrests and other law enforcement.
  7. Free speech for prisoners. All prisoners should be allowed to talk to all reporters at least once per week for one hour, no matter what they are accused of.
  8. All non-commercial file sharing should be legalized as free speech, no matter what the content of the file.
    Copyright should be 10 years maximum, since copyright is censorship.
    No "Mickey Mouse" extensions to copyright to protect Disney profits at the expense of the public.
    Repeal of DMCA as unconstitutional. DeCSS DVD decryption software should be free to download in America under the First Amendment. It must be made legal to play movies on any device you choose, in any manner you choose, skipping the bogus "FBI Warning" and previews and going directly to the beginning, middle, or end of the movie if so desired.
  9. Patents should be abolished.
    Most patents are non-productive rent-seeking.
    Drug companies spend only about 15% of revenue on drug research.
    Drug research should be publicly funded and published for use globally without royalty payments. Taxpayers would end up paying much less with public drug research.
  10. Corporate personhood should be abolished until Texas executes one.
    Corporations should not have any of the constitutional rights of natural people, because corporations are not people.
  11. All workers in a publicly traded corporation, even temporary, contract, and janatorial workers, should get a vote on how the company is run.
    Everyone who is being paid by that company, no matter how indirectly, should get to vote.
    Workers should get half of the votes, and shareholders should get the other half.
  12. Long euphemisms and spin should be banned in government names. All program and law names should be as short and spin-free as possible. Welfare should be called exactly "Welfare" and not "Temporary assistance to needy families".
  13. Unemployment benefits should come with the requirement that the recipient work half-time for them in roadside cleanup or graffitti removal. The work requirement should be no more than half-time so that the recipient still has time to upgrade skills and to search for a real job.
  14. If we must have elected Congressmen, we should at least have public campaign funding for anyone who can get signatures from 1% of registered voters in their district or state.
    Congressmen and their staffs should all be forced to leave DC after two terms, and it should be a serious crime for any of them to join or advise any lobbying firm or to use their connections or influence in DC.
    Congressmen must be required to READ the laws before signing them.
    We should frequently scramble people in power to prevent corruption. See "The Evolution of Cooperation" by Robert Axelrod.
    We should ultimately aim for direct democracy via the web, or for sortition, the random selection of Congressmen from the population.
  15. Children should have the ability to test out of any subject and have more free time. There should be a required course in lending, compound interest, and the evils of borrowing from a payday lender.
    Many working mothers depend on school as a kind of day care though, so maybe kids who test out of a class should still be in school, but allowed to be in the library, or the gym, or working on a personal project.
  16. No privately owned bank or other financial institution should under any circumstances ever receive a grant or a loan from the public, or any guarantee of their debt, or any bailout.
    No privately incurred debt should ever be purchased, or guaranteed, or paid off by the government.
    No bank should ever have more than 1% national market share.

    Mortgage lending should be limited by law to the amount that can clearly be paid back by renting the place out and subtracting property tax and maintenance. That would prevent all foreclosures, since you could always rent the place out to cover all expenses.
  17. Interest must always come with risk.
    If your deposit is to be available on demand, then it must be held at the bank for you, and you will not get interest, and will probably pay a storage cost.
    Deposits lent out (participation in risk for return) will not be available on demand, but rather only after a certain term, as with a CD, and may lose value if the loans are not repaid.
  18. Urban commuter rail should be publicly funded by taxes on land values within several miles of any station.
    The land values will go up when the trains are free, and the cost of ticket collection will be eliminated.
    Highway traffic and deaths will be greatly reduced, and businesses near the stations will get much more business.
    Security on free trains must be very good, or people won't ride the train. Fear motivates more than greed.

    End of all medallion sales for taxi operations. It should be completely free to operate a taxi and would greatly reduce car trips and parking.
    Taxi drivers should have to print out the exact cost to your destination before they start moving.
    All traffic laws and road construction should give pedestrians the highest priority, with bicyclists second, and cars third. This will lower our dependence on foreign oil, make us healthier, improve air quality, save money, and allow more personal interaction.

  19. Hate speech must be legal, however repulsive it may be, or we risk further erosion of free speech. There should be no such thing as a "hate crime". There is only assault, which is already illegal. You cannot legislate good will. The motive for an assault is irrelevant. The assault itself is what must be punished.
  20. Government encouragement of locally generated power and food until half of it is local.
    Local production may not be as efficient, but it removes dependency on centralized sources of control or on foreign powers.
    Heating and cooling via deep heat exchangers and wastewater heat recovery.
    Local fruit trees, especially in schools. Required middle school classes on food production, with actual hands-on work and eating of the harvests.
    Girl Scouts should be allowed to personally bake and sell their own cookies, rather than being dependent on centralized corporate control for the benefit of the 1%.

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Patrick   befriend   ignore   Fri, 17 Feb 2012, 1:12am PST   Share   Quote   Like (2)   Dislike (2)     Comment 11

I'm just saying we should make it possible to live without that particular dependency, because it's one of the ways we are enslaved to corporations, which in turn are dependent on foreign and anti-democratic places like Saudi Arabia.

There are many ways to defeat that dependency. Public transit is one, but publicly funded high-speed internet might be another. ISPs are terrified of losing their high-priced relatively low-speed service, so are working to make it illegal for any local government to provide an alternative:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-02-15/the-case-for-publicly-owned-internet-service-commentary-by-susan-crawford.html?source=patrick.net

wthrfrk80 says

Will you run for office?

Not unless it's possible without taking money from private parties. That would be selling out even before getting started. But just blogging and getting these ideas out there is also useful. Maybe the blog can help found a party.

freak80   befriend   ignore   Fri, 17 Feb 2012, 4:12am PST   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 12

I like the idea of telecommuting. Seems like so many jobs are just sitting in front of a computer sending emails anyway. Still nice to have "face-to-face" contact, though.

Why not have "multi-use" zoining? I can't think of a reason not to have condos and offices in the same area, if not in the same building. Especially since so much "heavy" industry (with its need for large-scale facilities) has gone overseas. No reason that office work can't be decentralized. In the company I work for, it already is decentralized.

I'd love to "commute" by elevator and internet connection.

Patrick   befriend   ignore   Fri, 17 Feb 2012, 4:32am PST   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 13

I like multi-use zoning, but it's very often prohibited by cities. Learned this in "The Geography of Nowhere" by Howard Kunstler.

In theory, I think zoning is supposed to "protect" residential areas from having any businesses in them. But in reality, it's not just the house owners but also business owners who, say, don't like the idea of a corner shop competing with their supermarket. And since the supermarket is probably much richer, it can influence the laws to prohibit the corner shop.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoning_in_the_United_States

leo707   befriend   ignore   Fri, 17 Feb 2012, 7:43am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 14

Patrick says

Not sure what you mean by difference between method and implementation. I was just thinking of pushing for specific laws. You mean maybe using the internet to organize support and voting?

OK, well...

You have solutions, i.e.- your ideas for new laws. Now, how do you get those laws enacted? Could be internet organizing, etc., but with some of the sweeping changes you identified, as solutions to other problems, are going to be very difficult to pass into law. What is the overall plan to get this to happen?

Also... Patrick says

4. Minimal laws, well enforced.

Runs contrary to the way we currently create the laws. There would need to be an entire rewriting of the legal system.

We currently operate under common law. Basically common law runs off of a general "rules", then specific situations brought to court refine the law. Hundreds of years of laws and rulings on the laws can not be summarized into, "[A]n amount that is possible to read in a month: one large book."

While I agree that law currently is perhaps too complicated, it may have to be that way. Take a simple law like "Do not steal". There are a million things to steal, and a million motivations to steal. Is a person stealing the retirement savings from 10,000 people the same as a starving person stealing bread? No. These and all permutations need to be covered under law. Common law does this by giving the general guideline "Do not steal", then as cases come up evaluating them in relation to all past cases in an effort to be "fair". I don't even want to guess how many law volumes cover just theft.

Perhaps what should be focused on is not so much the volume of laws, but how laws effect people and more "fair" laws. Currently stealing the life savings of 20k people, driving some to poverty and suicide, does not seem to be viewed as much worse than someone who breaks into one house and steals the TV and silverware.

Also, as evidenced in these forums semantics can cause big misunderstandings. Laws have to be very clear. That is why they seem to be written in almost another language entirely. Can laws be written to be better understood by the average person? I don't know perhaps, but it would have to be done in a way where the clarity is not lost. I know... I know... there are often very ambiguous laws written. That is not a fault of legalese, but because the legalese is specifically written because the law makers want the law to be ambiguous. Perhaps there should be no ambiguous laws?

leo707   befriend   ignore   Fri, 17 Feb 2012, 8:04am PST   Share   Quote   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 15

Patrick says

8. People are motivated by money and status, but also by the desire to help, and to be fair.
Homo economicus, the "rational economic man", is a myth used by economists.
In reality, the ultimatum game proves that the motive of fairness is greater than the motive of direct personal gain.

I don't think that is the conclusion of the ultimatum game. That is only the case because both people in the game have power. Play the same game but give one person both the ability to split the money and to accept or reject the split. I think that the outcomes would be entirely different. I don't know if there are any factory owners in China ,who through their own sense of fairness, are giving pay to their powerless factory workers that equals their own -- or even comes close to their own for that matter.

I think that, while there are other factors for some individuals, most people are more "rational economic men" than not.

This idea that people have an innate desire to be fair, particularly as groups grow beyond the tribal level, seems to not have much basis in history. Would we have the growing economic divide if the top 1% were concerned with what is "fair"? Would there be more than 4-5 of Forbes richest 400 joining Warren Buffet in his comments on fair taxation?

To me this seems very similar to the "just world hypothesis".

*edit*

Oh, I just wanted to add that I do think people are hardwired to understand what is fair. I just don't think that they are hardwired to be fair to others even at their own economic expense.

leo707   befriend   ignore   Fri, 17 Feb 2012, 8:17am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 16

Patrick says

5. Jury nullification, that is, the right of jurors to judge the law as well as the facts, is a right of the people and the courtroom norm. -- Ron Paul

I am not sure what this one means. Is Ron Paul saying that jurors should be able to remove laws from the books?

So, after you work long and hard to get prisoners the right to freedom of speech a jury could hear a case and end up throwing out your law? If that is the case I don't think it is such a good idea. Even though I would love to get the chance to be on a jury and throw out a law.

leo707   befriend   ignore   Fri, 17 Feb 2012, 8:23am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 17

Patrick says

13. An end to all subsidies. Subsidies harm the public in two ways: first, they cost tax money, and second, the use that tax money to increase demand, which increases prices. Instead, if the people have decided we need more of something, the government should help increase the supply of it, not the demand.

I don't understand how the government is going to increase the supply without a subsidy.

I agree that many of the current items subsidized are ridiculous, but I think the problem there is more lobbying and campaign finance than the actual subsidy program.

Patrick says

17. Government encouragement of locally generated power and food until half of it is local.
Local production may not be as efficient, but it removes dependency on centralized sources of control or on foreign powers.
Heating and cooling via deep heat exchangers and wastewater heat recovery.
Local fruit trees, especially in schools. Required middle school classes on food production, with actual hands-on work and eating of the harvests.

How can this encouragement happen without government subsidy? Oh, I also agree that we would be better off if these programs were encouraged.

leo707   befriend   ignore   Fri, 17 Feb 2012, 8:28am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 18

Patrick says

2. Physical gold and silver money by weight. No dollars, just grams, coined by the government in standard amounts, always 99.9% pure.
Though gold and silver money will not end credit problems, they will guarantee that savings preserve value.
No national debt. All government operations should be funded out of already-collected revenue.
No bonds. It costs taxpayers twice as much for everything when they pay interest.

I am not totally sold on the gold standard. Perhaps I don't know enough about it. It just seems to me that it has it's own set of problems -- some similar to fiat money. I feel that a fiat money could be more "viable" than our current system is. Basically, both gold standard and fiat need to be carefully managed or they could be abused. I just have not been convinced gold is inherently any better.

Also, how would we even get back on the gold standard? It would have to be way more complicated than passing a law.

Patrick   befriend   ignore   Fri, 17 Feb 2012, 10:46am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 19

leoj707 says

Basically common law runs off of a general "rules", then specific situations brought to court refine the law.

But the rulings are not law. They are specific interpretations of law. The actual laws passed by Congress do not grow with rulings. So we could limit the actual laws on the books as laws into a smallish number that could be read in one month.

leoj707 says

Perhaps what should be focused on is not so much the volume of laws, but how laws effect people and more "fair" laws.

I believe the complexity of the law is routinely used to hide unfair parts. Jack Abramoff gave some great examples of this in an interview, pointing out that if people can't understand the law, they can't effectly object to it.

leoj707 says

I don't think that is the conclusion of the ultimatum game. That is only the case because both people in the game have power.

It is always the case that both parties in any transaction have some power. You can simply refuse to cooperate with a situation that you think is too unfair. I still maintain that the point demonstrated by the ultimatum game is that the perception of fairness is immensely important, and completely ignored by the theory of homo economicus.

leoj707 says

So, after you work long and hard to get prisoners the right to freedom of speech a jury could hear a case and end up throwing out your law?

I think a jury should be able to conclude that a law is unconsitutional.

leoj707 says

I don't understand how the government is going to increase the supply without a subsidy.

The government itself can temporarily get into whatever business is not producing enough. If we don't have enough oranges, there could be government orange groves.

We have government elementary schools for exactly the same reason.

leoj707 says

How can this encouragement happen without government subsidy?

Lots of ways to encourage local food and energy production without subsidies: Educational campaigns, government-provided fruit trees or local energy machinery, taxes on food and energy imports.

leoj707 says

I feel that a fiat money could be more "viable" than our current system is.

We have fiat money right now. It is created from nothing, just by the power of government (well, the Fed) saying "Let it be so." Which is "fiat" in Latin.

leoj707 says

Also, how would we even get back on the gold standard? It would have to be way more complicated than passing a law.

First, the Fed must be completely prohibited from issuing any more dollars. Then the government must allow people to pay their taxes in gold at the current exchange rate. Finally, the government must commit to burning dollars to maintain their value as the economy moves to gold.

France did finally destroy the old Franc, and made a bundle doing it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/world/europe/as-old-francs-expire-france-makes-a-small-mint.html

leo707   befriend   ignore   Thu, 23 Feb 2012, 6:01am PST   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 20

Patrick says

Recording police action.
It should always be legal to record the police with cameras. Police should never be allowed to forbid photography of arrests and other law enforcement.

FYI, looks like BART is moving in the right direction. Only thing is that the camera should activate as soon as a gun or taser is drawn.

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/crime/2012/02/bart-cop-cams-put-more-eyes-clashes

leo707   befriend   ignore   Thu, 23 Feb 2012, 9:50am PST   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 21

Patrick says

I believe the complexity of the law is routinely used to hide unfair parts. Jack Abramoff gave some great examples of this in an interview, pointing out that if people can't understand the law, they can't effectly object to it.

That is a good point, but I just don't know if law can actually be simplified enough. Some things by their nature are complex, and can not be simplified.

Patrick says

I think a jury should be able to conclude that a law is unconsitutional.

I guess we are going to have to agree to disagree on this. I would hate to think of what may happen when 12 people are brought together and they think like this:
http://www.theonion.com/articles/area-man-passionate-defender-of-what-he-imagines-c,2849/

Patrick says

The government itself can temporarily get into whatever business is not producing enough. If we don't have enough oranges, there could be government orange groves.

We have government elementary schools for exactly the same reason.

OK, I see where you are going with this. I don't think that the school system is comparable to oranges, but I could see how this would work.

We would need to be careful that the government only actually gets into businesses that are truly needed, and the exit strategy for the government should not include selling the business off for pennies on the dollar.

Patrick says

Lots of ways to encourage local food and energy production without subsidies: Educational campaigns, government-provided fruit trees or local energy machinery, taxes on food and energy imports.

Government provided fruit trees/energy could be a subsidy; depending on who the trees and/or energy was going to. Also, educational campaigns could effectively be subsidized advertising.

Patrick says

We have fiat money right now.

Yeah, I understand that we have a fiat currency now, I did not phrase my comment that well.

What I meant to say is that our current fiat currency is perhaps not optimally managed, and could be managed in a more viable manner.

Patrick says

First, the Fed must be completely prohibited from issuing any more dollars. Then the government must allow people to pay their taxes in gold at the current exchange rate. Finally, the government must commit to burning dollars to maintain their value as the economy moves to gold.

France did finally destroy the old Franc, and made a bundle doing it:

Well, the old Franc died to be replaced by another fiat currency. The Euro is a good example of moving to a different currency.

I am still not convinced that a gold standard is much better than a fiat money supply. I will have to look more into it.

Patrick   befriend   ignore   Thu, 23 Feb 2012, 10:03am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 22

leoj707 says

I just don't know if law can actually be simplified enough.

I think it could. Though of course the interpretation, common law, etc could get very twisty. But the basics should and could be simple enough for everyone to quote.

There's a nice quote by Josephus, the Jew who escaped to Rome while ancient Israel was being sacked, to the effect that every Jew knew their law very well, so they had no need of lawyers, but the Greek law was so complicated that no Greek could defend himself in court.

leoj707 says

I would hate to think of what may happen when 12 people are brought together and they think like this

I'm not saying that just 12 random people should be allowed to make the law, but they should be allowed to decide that the law itself seems unfair and should be contested in a higher court. Maybe they get overruled, but at least they get to slow down what they consider to be bad laws.

leoj707 says

Government provided fruit trees/energy could be a subsidy; depending on who the trees and/or energy was going to.

Yes, I need to define subsidy better.

I'm pretty sure that the reason all current governments have fiat currency is that it gives governments power over foreigners and power over their own citizens.

Dan8267   befriend   ignore   Thu, 23 Feb 2012, 12:24pm PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 23

Patrick says

I'm not saying that just 12 random people should be allowed to make the law,

Actually, I do think that would be better than the system we have now.

And if we add any non-random, but constructive selection say by taking science, math, and economic literacy tests, then we can improve the results.

leo707   befriend   ignore   Fri, 24 Feb 2012, 1:20am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 24

Patrick says

I'm not saying that just 12 random people should be allowed to make the law, but they should be allowed to decide that the law itself seems unfair and should be contested in a higher court. Maybe they get overruled, but at least they get to slow down what they consider to be bad laws.

OK, this I can buy into.

TMAC54   befriend   ignore   Sat, 25 Feb 2012, 1:32am PST   Share   Quote   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 25

Dan8267 says

Actually, I do think that would be better than the system we have now.

Dan mentioned in an earlier thread that an electronic voting or controlling system might better our future. I have also envisioned the computer and information age might allow the masses to become more aware of the growing corruption in the ruling classes, then subsequently become involved via the keyboard and balance that power. Until then we are relegated to the following chart.

From the top looking down you see only shitheads. From the bottom looking up, we see only assholes .

marcus   befriend   ignore   Sat, 25 Feb 2012, 1:47am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 26

TMAC54 says

From the top looking down you see only shitheads. From the bottom looking up, we see only assholes

Good one.

TMAC54   befriend   ignore   Sat, 25 Feb 2012, 3:15am PST   Share   Quote   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 27

" Wag the Dog " should be required study in Junior High School.
This is no longer funny. The assets we paid for, by bailing out Ferdie & his furberger will be sold to the "CRONY PARTY" exclusively.

freak80   befriend   ignore   Mon, 27 Feb 2012, 2:42am PST   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike