Every time I think my kid probably doesn’t know much about something, he says “Have you looked at”, and tells me about the best Youtube links on the subject. We were discussing the primaries, caucus mechanisms, superdelegates, and he pointed me to a 25 minute very nicely done piece on the eligible voters through our history and the thinking that produced that, the electoral college, strengths and weaknesses of different systems of counting votes, etc.
Then he rushed off to a bicycle trip ( 5 hours for his first 35 mile trip) My reply, which has taken 6 weeks to complete :
A very good discussion, thanks.
Seems to me the voting system isn’t the most important thing in preventing mis-direction of a nation, if you get the limits on power right you don’t much care about how voting is done so long as there is enough contention to force great caution in public policy. In fact, sortition could do it, random selection of office holders from the voting populace, and that would prevent prevent political parties from influencing the process and the relentless stuffing of government with people incented to expand its powers. Those people are the ones that have ruined our great nation with big government.
Limits on government power via divided power the Founding Fathers got right, but they didn’t specify an adequate pushback mechanism from citizens, basically just voting and the courts, with an extremes handled by dueling so long as we did that. People took their honor seriously in a time when someone could challenge you to a duel over it. But only landowners could vote, the courts were either elected or appointed by legislatures, and gentlemen need not respond to challenges from non-gentlemen, they had no honour to defend.
So the system was failing before the Civil War, all state legislatures and most courts were seriously corrupted. The Civil War’s being at least partially caused by tariffs was a symptom of that, Lincoln was the railroad’s man, and the entire manufacturing north was behind him in increasing tariffs to give them trade advantages relative to Great Britain. The system accreted power faster afterward the civil war, and after every war since, of which there have been many.
No effective, reliable pushback mechanisms exist now, as the elites control the police, the judges, the legislators, the election process, and the political parties that are allowed on the ballot. Thus, the Constitution has been less and less effective in restraining government power, and the system of the media and government has evolved to the point that our Status Quo doesn’t have to recognize very major crimes, economic (banksters) or political (9/11 FF and Sandy Hoax). The skim operation that is a government such as Jefferson or Baltimore is no less oppressive for being throughly de-segregated. It took riots and a lot of national attention to get the St Louis area governments to do what they were unanimous on once forced to deal with the problems.
Bunny Bangers and KickEnders and Open Justice trials will soon fix that, a fact first predicted by Jim Bell. When any individual human can prosecute any other human individual for a crime, open or contribute to a KickEnder account for any other citizen, or install autonomous effectors which will execute KickEnder contracts for monetary reward, all covered by impenetrable anonymity, we will all be equally vulnerable.
Ready or not. None of that can be stopped, outlaw what you may, with any draconian penalties you wish. King, or President or CEO or policeman or anybody at all, if you reveal your location in public, or any place accessible by an emplacer of enforcement mechanisms with your picture in them, we will all be vulnerable to an assassin.
This is not a completely new situation, in fact it existed throughout most of history, and still does for most people in most places most of the time. Shocking to think how easy it is to kill a person and not be caught. You just don’t want to be associated closely enough to the victim for the police to start asking questions about you, otherwise it is quite safe, given a reasonable plan and barring random chance of things going wrong. Completely idiot serial killers get away with much closer associations for years, are often only caught by accident.*
Anonymous retaliation from the oppressed or vengeful has been a constant wherever in history the those elements have had arms. For example, after William took over England in 1066 and began installing his Normans everywhere and regularizing administration and taxes, he had to pass a law to the effect that all deaths the sheriff investigated had to establish that the victim was not Norman. If they could not prove that, or Normanhood was shown, the local jurisdiction was fined for the murder. Forested England had woodsmen archers since the beginning of people on what later became an island. Archaeology is finding many bodies with arrowheads in them from throughout English history.
That inconvenienced rulers, they had to travel in groups with their own archers. That protection worked and works because people generally fear more for their own lives than they hate the life of another. Automated weapons won’t much care about their own fate. The security needed to protect against them has not developed far enough to keep our troops anywhere people in even 3rd world economies that don’t want them, explosives and penetrators are keeping well ahead of armour, as always.
This vulnerability of everyone to everyone can foster great trust among the survivors.
Contrary to everyone’s current view, we already have at least some trust at that level of one another, most of us are confident enough to travel alone in most places in America. Mass shootings are rare, and even the non-hoaxes would be much rarer without psychiatrists and psychiatric drugs. Anyone who can’t think of many safe ways to screw things up fatally for some J. Random Individual had their creativity killed in public school, failed to learn practical arts and science, and ignored all novels and TV series, action movies, arts movies, …
Be serious, there are no shortages of ideas about how to kill people, and life provides plenty of reasons. Nevertheless, there are not many killings of even a motivated sort in non-criminal arenas of life.
We all realize that vulnerability to random killers, I think, and that isn’t a case we are scared of. The important case is that we all know how often we really would have liked to kill someone, and think there are people less controlled than we are.
You can believe nobody does murder because of fear of being caught or because we have great inhibitions against killing. Given that the military has to train people to kill, and has only gotten good at doing so in modern times, inhibitions seem to be sufficient to explain much of it. Certainly homicide death rates have fallen steadily throughout history even as easily available weapon’s effective leathality, killing range and radius have increased, all of which increase the likelihood of escape.
And at the same time as popular culture and video games have fostered every dangerous idea and allowed practice at killing with every modern weapon in very realistic scenarios, the world has gotten more peaceful. We are wiser, many fewer parents are acting in ways that produce the next-gen sadists and authoritarians. And many more are owning guns and teaching their kids to shoot, so they know the major differences between the video game and the real results of pulling a trigger.
So I do not think there will be many deaths from automated weapons past a transition period during which our rulers decide on whether to go for Amnesty or try to find a secure living space, somewhere in the world they can be safe from automated weapons, including the tiny poison dart guns disguised as hummingbirds and powered by sunlight and nectar.**
In fact, for innocents or the amnestied, life will go on along with mostly as before, the only changes are incentives that will move our manners back to the extremely polite side : why take the chance of annoying someone? Courtesy and helpfulness and efficient service will be again in vogue as people are careful to demonstrate they are entirely on the good side of human nature. The way we would all act if we believed there really was a god waiting to strike us dead for evil deeds or give us a headache for small slights.
And not because we think anything we are doing could possibly warrant death, but because we want to be beyond suspicion of anything dishonest. Dishonest is about to be a bad trait, one that opens you to public scrutiny.
The reason for that is the big change happening in our social system: ubiquitous surveillance. Being human will be a different problem in a world of ubiquitous surveillance. That is to say, your every step is reported by your cell phone. Already police generally find several difference surveillance cameras looking at everything in central cities and often suburbia, and an early hint at government impropriety is the many videos showing nothing. Often the FBI has to be called in to find nothing.
Automation and fast-falling cost of storage means more and more is extracted from the streams and more and more is saved. Already computers can identify abnormal behavior and alert security people in car parks and other public arenas. Facial identification, with payment for positive IDs, mean that everyone can be tracked anywhere there are cameras. Indeed, that is one of our government’s many plans.
Ubiquitous surveillance means everything can be known about you, if people decide to look. Anonymity on the internet, the existence of overlay networks and the ability to synthesize images of real events from real cameras as tho they were from a camera positioned somewhere else, mean there will be no way to prevent such surveillance.
That cannot be prevented, and it also cannot be allowed to be under the control of any individual, group or organization. So long as we continue to run a society that can have both shame and laws regulating the shameful behavior, it sets itself up for a takeover from the center. Or, in this case, the Israeli-criminal + deep state + MIC side of American cretinous Conservative.
That is not a stable configuration of society, it will immediately produce a series of ever-more-complete totalitarian states with those standard dynamics of contending cabals-with-guns and willingness to use them. Very hard on us in peonage as their power consolidates to a Stalin or Mao, and those cases have very slow recoveries of their societies and economies, even without losing wars such as Hitler put Germany through.
Control by anyone with the consolidated power to know all of our life’s detail is the danger. It matters not whether that ‘someone’ is Google or an anonymous information broker or NSA, when the owner of that information wants something of you, they know just what questions to ask and levers to apply. Dennis Hastert was an unusually bad person, but if we normal individuals had ever been important enough, probably many of us could have been tempted into less-compromising sins. That is the standard result, by all accounts, and you can know that all of your various police and intelligence forces at every level of our society have their partisans in legislatures, judiciaries and executives at every level of our society, just like Dennis Hastert was.
That is the case we must try to prevent at all costs, and we are on the edge of too late.
Survivors will have adopted general rules of behavior to allow us to be human. People will still do all of the things they do, they just have to be honest about it with the people who are affected. The rest of us will carefully not notice, politeness from older times. Unless there is reason to look, we only protect our own eyes from their sights and and our ears from sounds and our minds from their propaganda. Attempting to protect any other’s eyes, especially for their own good, is non-Freedom and will lead to conflict. Using force could rapidly escalate in a world of Bunny Banging.
This is an appeal for action on preventing the slide into the disaster of a revolution by instituting real reform and real cleanup of the entire system. We need to repeal all the laws that make the kleptocracy possible, back down to basic Constitutional principles. Repeal every law, and then let us think about what kind of a world we want, and build that, every one of us living as we would expect a citizen of that higher civilization to live. Humans talking to each other as equals can solve that problem every time, when we let it.
Leadership will change in the face of this very egalitarian anarchy, it will require very great honesty of anyone in their dealing with others. A very good base for the next stage of our civilization to develop upon.
*All of the components of that weapon exist except for the target identification circuits, those don’t discriminate well yet. But that might not matter, if you can’t convince innocents to accompany you into exile.
**John Ross used that immunity as the basis for a revolution, a human-powered version of the automated weapons case, so still vulnerable to security personnel. Good book, I recommend it.
***Even if we were to completely shed individual shame, not at all what I am proposing, our society has only worked to this point because the authorities could not know all of the laws that we broke. At least with any finite amount of police resources. So the local sin scenes worked out under-the-table compromises, all major cities have been through 4+ waves of deep corruption and simulated reform, and here we are.
Prohibiting sinners is bad public policy. Prohibitions are bad public policy. We have to prohibit our government from prohibiting things.
Shame works better, but you have to be careful about the side-effects of that also. Buying slaves out of slavery increases the incentives to enslave, by actual experiments of missionaries. Ring any bells? The only slaves that remain are in very marginal industries in commodities in marginal countries and by the use of some physical coercive force. Only there can people disappear into slavery with nobody important suffering enough loss to make a fuss.
You end slavery by making it uneconomic. Automating sugar processing did more to end slavery than all of the laws, Africa would supply as many as necessary.
Can social mechanisms control the supply of lovely young women in the brothals and Backpage? Look how many are foreign. Girls come here on visas, all the reasons in the world, completely legitimate so far as paperwork is concerned. And then move massage parlour to massage parlour and/or motel to motel around the US and don’t go home until they have to. The number of massage parlours in our metropolitan area that advertise just-short-of-explicit sexual services is just amazing.
We are in the culture and set of laws that we are in by cosmic accident plus bad planning, that is, any planning to be implemented with force or fraud, which pretty much sums up our government. Time to unroll a balled-up system and work it through again from the smallest localities on up. What things make sense in a world of ubiqutous information and very great power of individuals must be carefully enwrapped with protecting culture. Stoic philosophy is about to make a big comeback as we decide that raising intelligent young people, able to manage the world, is the goal, not SAT scores.