We're in for a wild ride. Exponentially accelerating technological, cultural, and socioeconomic evolution means that every year will see more developments than the previous one. More change will happen between now and 2050 than during all of humanity's past. Let's explore the 21st century and ride this historic wave of planetary transition with a confident open mind.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sound Money and Deflation

"With the enormous leaps in industrial productivity over the 20th century, shouldn't a penny now buy me at least 10 Snickers bars instead of nothing?" 

(Or how fiat money serves to prolong the life of capitalism while libertarians are ironically fighting to make capitalism disappear)

A great question, considering world's population rose 4.2 times from 1900-2010, annual copper mining output rose 30 times in same time period, and industrial/agricultural mass production technology (for making candy) has made exponential efficiency leaps. To investigate this serious matter lets look beyond the screams of "federal reserve and fractional lending robbed us all with depreciating overprinted fiat currency!" and delve into the underlining physical dynamics.

A one ounce Hershey's bar cost 3 cents (9 grams of copper) in 1918 whereas a 1.45 oz Hershey's bar in 1982 (last year to have 95% copper pennies) was 20.6 cents/62 copper grams per chocolate ounce. As of 2010, the Hershey's bar approximates 65 fiat cents an ounce but since the imperial authorities diluted the penny with mostly zinc (making current pennies a harder to quantify mix of zinc and copper), I'll use the 1918-1982 period for simplicity.

If one adjusts for inflation, 3 cents in 1918 is 19 cents in 1982 (539% depreciation in purchasing power). An 80 year old, lets call him Bob, getting his favorite childhood candy treat would have seen his under the mattress savings buy 6.3 less Hershey's chocolate. Now this may not seem too bad IF Bob was in a theoretical situation where his real income growth was pegged to inflation the entire life and his fiat currency grew in a bank under inflation pegged interest throughout the 20th century. Considering the candy's probable mild price buoyancy due to brand recognition, on the surface it looks like the company is only charging Bob 8% more than they did in 1918 (20.6 cents to 19).

Looking through an Austrian economics lens of inflation being an increase in the money supply, since most people do not have their finances perfectly adjusted to inflation, Bob is being continuously ripped off and impoverished via inflation tax. He may not get exactly 6.3 times less chocolate but even 2-3 less Hershey's towards the end of life is a criminal swindle.

A defender of the socioeconomic status quo in 1982 may partially agree but counter this via a pseudo-Austrian angle, "If anything Bob is lucky to only be paying 62 grams of copper per ounce instead of 9 grams in 1918 since copper is mined faster than people are breeding. He looks like he is getting a deal when using this depreciating physical metal! Copper is as fiat as paper!" (Authorities saw the copper content in penny spike more than a fiat cent in 1980-1981 period and thus changed the content, the price of copper in penny then collapsed to just under 1 fiat cent again in 1982-1984).

This is an interesting response and lets take a look at it without distracting ourselves with multitudes of other serious issues such as the government ending the use of silver in currency, going off the gold standard, stagnation of real incomes, etc. Some of these issues will begin to be resolved indirectly by the end of the article.

If one tries to look at Bob's situation via Marxist economics lens of commodity exchange, then we see that the poor fellow is being swindled in another way. This investigation is a little trickier considering technological productivity cannot be readily quantified and since the concept of productivity itself is culturally determined. What is very safe to say is that mechanical efficiency in producing an ounce of Hershey's has risen a lot more between 1918 and 1982 than the 260% rise of human population in same time period. That is, if copper production/demand magically froze in place, a 1982 Hershey's chocolate ounce should cost not 9 grams but substantially less. Surely, they've figured out ways to stamp out these chocolate treats by the millions in ways not dreamed of before (even taking into account employee salary operating expenses).

Of course copper dynamics were not frozen but they also end up benefiting Bob. If you consider the borderline exponential and evolving industrial demand for copper for electrical/water purposes throughout the 20th century, then it is clear that the 530% rise in copper production in 1918-1982 does NOT devalue 62 grams (needed to buy one 1982 Hershey's ounce) by half.

In other words, even though the copper money supply rose at twice the rate of human population, we did not see 100% inflation of the penny since the industrial demand for copper kept up pace with the human population at the very minimum. Therefore, a Hershey's bar ounce in 1982 should have cost at most 6 cents (1918 price * population growth) instead of 20.6 cents. Therefore, Bob doesn't just get ripped off through expansion of the fiat money supply but by value of goods not reflecting the breakneck pace in development of production and distribution of Hershey's bar. Considering a pre-1982 copper penny is approaching 3 fiat pennies in worth at the end of 2010 (and many countries having pulled copper from their currency in last 30 years), it may well be that a Hershey's bar should cost a lot less than a copper cent today. This makes more sense if one remembers that a silver dime from 1964 is worth over 2 dollars presently (even though annual silver output expanded 35 times in 1900-2010 period).

It appears safe to say that fiat currency was haphazardly introduced by business leaders in first half of the 20th century (via their political appointees) to prolong the life of capitalism via inflation. Ironically, the financial robber barons ended up doing the same thing that rural agricultural interests wanted in late 19th century America. 19th century saw various deflationary collapses and farmers wanted silver/gold bimetallism since rapid mining of silver would have introduced inflationary pressure on the dollar and thus prevented profit loss. Banksters 100 years ago were gold bugs since they made money from loans and deflation benefited the loan sharks. Since financial capitalist take over of industrial/agricultural capitalism was mostly complete by 1900, bankers tended to win political arguments.

During the great depression, there developed a compromise and some convergence of thought between financial, agricultural, and industrial interests concerning the benefits of inflation. Biggest bankers by that time, found a way to profit while expanding the money supply via modern money mechanics and farmers ended up getting governments to pay them to not produce too much and thus prevent deflationary profit loss. FDR managed to reconcile the key parasites, preserve capitalism, and artificially prolong the profit taking of major monopoly industries at the long term expense of the consumer (in a very humane developmental manner). Yes, he also did a lot of great things and is one of the kindest masters people saw in the last century (no sarcasm).

If the price of an 1982 Hershey's bar reflected the real amounts of hard money (commodity) availability PLUS availability of Hershey's ingredients (commodities) PLUS the cutting edge technological ability to produce and distribute the Hershey, then we'd see the company experience the periodic deflation born crisis of overproduction that the communist manifesto summarized. One can imagine what will happen to corporate bottom line if a copper/silver/gold/rare earth metal commodity money coin buys more consumer goods every year than the previous one. On paper, Austrian utopian capitalism is too efficient and benefits the consumer too much (so much in fact that it quickly implodes in deflationary collapse horror show, massive unemployment, and technologically driven socioeconomic evolutionary leap towards post-scarcity society).

It is little wonder that Trotsky sided with Austrian economists when he wrote of pre-requisites of United States going communist. They being commodity backed hard money utilized to barter for consumer goods. This is especially true for gold since gold production only rose 5.5 times in the 1900-2010 period, barely above population growth. Ironically, the current wave of libertarians are fighting to make capitalism disappear (since non-fiat currency would fully unleash the post-scarcity potential of means of production and distribution that have existed around us since at least the 1950s and that Buckminster Fuller and King Hubbert described in detail). I will leave with a few 1934 quotes from Leon Trotsky regarding the absolute necessity of ending the federal reserve. ;)

"-This system will be made to work not by bureaucracy and not by policemen but by cold, hard cash. 
-Your almighty dollar will play a principal part in making your new soviet system work. It is a great mistake to try to mix a “planned economy” with a “managed currency.” 
-Your money must act as regulator with which to measure the success or failure of your planning. 
-Your “radical” professors are dead wrong in their devotion to “managed money.” It is an academic idea that could easily wreck your entire system of distribution and production. That is the great lesson to be derived from the Soviet Union, where bitter necessity has been converted into official virtue in the monetary realm. There the lack of a stable gold ruble is one of the main causes of our many economic troubles and catastrophes. It is impossible to regulate wages, prices and quality of goods without a firm monetary system. An unstable ruble in a Soviet system is like having variable molds in a conveyor-belt factory. It won’t work."

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, December 13, 2010

Time to Ban Advertising to Children

Ads to those below the age of consent are a form of cognitive pollution that adversely affects the developing psyche and endangers society politically

Nothing shows out of control consumerist culture more than scenes of people trampling each other half to death in order to save a few dollars on black friday. Such ghastly herd behavior is just one among many symptoms of allowing corporate structures almost unlimited informational influence on homo sapiens. We're well familiar at this point with other maladaptive behaviors involving:

1) Emotional distress from lacking some non-essential item/service for which the desire was externally implanted (conditioning to want useless junk begins with infants)

2) Definition of the self being partially dependent on concentrated, frequent, and evolving advertising propaganda and priming (100 years of ever more sophisticated efforts to exploit psychological research to influence the human psyche, now going as far as delving into neuroscience and brain scans for brainwashing). Emotional distress and splintered chaotic personality resulting from not keeping up with these directions.

We saw a rather substantial ongoing backlash against consumerism in the last decade but none of the efforts go to the root of the problem. This being the mass scale targeting of children by advertisers. These children then become adults who are much more open to continuing manipulation (and other more hidden materialist priming on how to live/be via movie and TV series characters).

A common and insufficiently thought out reply to this is that people have free will to overcome propaganda and that those with weak wills deserve to become shallow, borderline sociopathic, and financially drained individuals. This is a poor response to the advertising onslaught since (as Aldous Huxley described as early as the 1950s) research shows that 20% of the human herd are very informationally susceptible physiologically, 20% are not really susceptible at all, and 60% are semi susceptible. Free will itself as a concept is very problematic.

This susceptibility applies to everything ranging from hypnosis to criminal swindlers to political statements, etc. We're talking about a fifth of homo sapiens born with severe risk of being manipulated further in life. They need to be protected since the science behind relatively benign corporate messages about what shampoo makes one a real man/woman can and is utilized by politicians, cultists, criminals, etc.

We are all put at risk by a section of very manipulated public especially now that transnational corporations compete with nation states and families for allegiance of individuals (successful corporations have their own origin myths, founding fathers, pseudo-nationalism via brand internalization, office "family" subculture, funding of weddings/funerals in some countries, etc).

We cannot have massive oligarchical structures that often buy out entire governments also have a major role in shaping the young. Family and public/community educators need a child's mind to be less clouded so they can step in.

One of the obvious solutions is a forceful full spectrum ban on advertising that explicitly targets those below the age of consent.

Nope. Not just a ban on ads that promote anything specific to those under 18 but an overall blanket ban on corporate propaganda aimed at the young. This means cereal, toys, sports equipment, etc. In effect this also means disappearance of majority of childrens' television programming (which do their own part to promote hyper materialism and imitation of fake personas). Advanced advertising directed at those below the age of consent can be conceptualized as a form of visual/cognitive pollution that cannot be handled safely by a developing psyche. This is especially true when it comes to young children who are still in a pre-conventional stage of moral development (hyper-egotistic stage that, as The Onion humorously yet truthfully mentioned, shares a lot of traits with psychopathy).

Large scale corporate indoctrination of children through marketing may not appear as harmful as religious or political indoctrination at first sight. However, in some respects it is even worse since it affects a child via a thousand different cuts which are hard to escape and which prepare the person to be more open later to cuts from religious/political entities using similar techniques (see megachurches).

I wont even go into depth about the problems of potential responses to an ad ban such as people who parrot about "parents not doing their jobs" and played out knee jerk reaction against the supposed cliche of any policy that is "for the children". There is also little reason to think exposure to ad pollution creates immunities and that those exposed to ads after the age of 18 will somehow be more affected than presently.

Large swaths of humanity are being subjected to a never before seen global experiment in psychological priming by completely amoral externalizing actors (modern corporations). Banning child specific ads from obvious places like public spaces, television, and printed media is but the first step to push back. To get a foot in the door politically towards the goal of a total ban, the growing memes of child obesity and junk food effect on learning need to be harnessed.

Second and more politically/logistically difficult solution is to create psychological immunities against propaganda in public schools (yes, public schools by well paid and meritocratically selected educators).

But that is an article for another day.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Maximum Wage and the Limits of Human Inequality

Pegging the rise of maximum compensation to the rise in the minimum will go a long way towards avoiding global disruptions

The appropriate maximum wage that society should have will be a critical issue in this century. It is generally agreed upon at this point that a neurosurgeon should get compensated more than a tour guide. The Soviet experience of a relatively narrow gap between highest and lowest compensation (top company manager officially earning 3-5 times the entry level worker) shows that society's progress stagnates if tangibly unequal abilities and contributions are rewarded with compensation that's perceived as relatively equal. Yet various banana republics (United States included) around the world demonstrate that stagnation also sets in when wage inequality gets sufficiently monstrous.

It is not enough to look at relatively egalitarian societies like Japan or Sweden to try to find some golden maximum/minimum ratio. What is needed is a common sense and/or philosophical framework that 1) justifies a certain income ratio
and 2) creates conditions compatible with human nature and self interest that allow the set ratio to be maintained.

1) Justification for capping the difference between top and bottom incomes should be grounded in reality and pragmatism and not idealistic popular desires of how a world should be. Theorists like Nietzsche spent considerable time elaborating that humans aren't equal. Yet in an ironic twist, the same reasons (that he gave for not having a leveling system where everybody is assumed to have the same value) can be used to set limits to difference in valuation.

click to enlarge
Like many characteristics of a population, the natural abilities to be exchanged for money are spread along a bell curve. Natural ability is anything that gives a physiological edge in addition to training. An example would be the hyper sensitive and rare taste buds of a top chef or a fighter pilot with remarkable reflexes and fast twitch muscles. If you take a person with poor taste buds and a person with exceptional ones and provide both with identical intensive high quality training on food preparation, there will be a certain intangible limit to how much better one chef is than the other. This applies to all professions. What is known for sure is that one is not 1000 times better chef after the training (or 100 times). Such numbers are simply ludicrous mathematically.

Napoleon Bonaparte is not 100 times superior person to say, a gas station manager and neither does Napoleon deserve 100 times more cars, 100 times more houses, 100 times better quality food, 100 times the salary, 100 times the size of personal land, etc. Think about it. Even without the leveling of military training, if you take the brain of the gas station manager and multiply its function by 10, the gas station manager would give Napoleon a run for his money in most if not all areas of life. Whether intelligence, speed, personality, patience, if you take an ability on one low end of the bell curve and multiply it by no more than 10, you automatically get to the other end of the bell curve (ex: IQ of 30*10=300).

I am using a multiple of 10 for simplicity here since the actual difference cannot be readily quantified (one perhaps can argue better for 15, 20, or 8). Considering the outrage over the bankster bonuses in the last 2 years, it appears the general public intuitively knows that there are limits to salary compensation. What remains to be done is to draw some line in the sand. A person earning 10 times as much as somebody earning 50 grand a year is getting half a million and automatically gets into top 1% income bracket. 10 times the compensation is an enormous leap. This perhaps sounds shocking, the way explaining that a duke does not have divine right to all the local land might have sounded shocking 300 years ago.

"But isn't compensation also determined by social importance of an ability (usually allocated by market forces)?"

As far as social importance, it is a very valid point. In today's absurd dying socioeconomic system, we don't see prime ministers and military generals receiving the same incomes as Lloyd Blankfein or other wall street criminals. We also don't see the operators of nuclear missile submarines getting 400 times the amount a waitress or a new army recruit gets (the way a modern CEO does compared to entry level workers in his/her organization).

Certainly the argument from social importance would indicate societal leaders, augmenters, and protectors to be the most vital. It is a tricky subject which should be properly studied with in depth examination of what professions benefit society the most (hint: engineers and scientists in political power). There are various ways of determining social importance with length and difficulty of educational training being one of them and critical examination of what makes real physical economy grow being the other (to filter out people who spent 13 years in intensive study of psychoanalysis or Gregorian chant from the top compensations).

This leads us to the idea of a free market competition, a concept as utopian and disconnected from reality as pure communism. The unregulated "market" is and will remain a diverse collection of political power centers that evolve the rules of the global private casino as they see fit. The obvious examples of the market giving top rewards to athletes, pop stars, and organized crime (Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, etc) shows that it is a very poor determining mechanism of socially important tasks. This is where we see a difficult social divergence happening between perceptions of important jobs (nuclear power plant director) and consumer determined rewards for not-so important jobs (national talk show host). Obviously we'd like for both the public and infrastructural demands (that allow the public to live) to have a say in compensation without too much divergence.

If incomes could be broken into 10 levels, it very well could be that a top entertainer should be a level 7 worker (earning 7 times more than the minimum income of level 1) while the nuclear power plant director gets to be level 8. This will be up to the politicians and the needs of the crowds as long as they maintain the ratio system (in this case, based on maximum wage difference of bottom income multiplied by 10).

2) How does one make the maximum wage system stable and compatible with human nature? The simplest solution is to make the rise in maximum salary dependent on the rise in minimum salary. This means that if level 1 worker earns 100 units a day while the top level 10 worker earns 1000, the level 10 would only be able to get a raise of 10% to 1100 units if the salary of level 1 goes to 110. If you are beginning to suspect we are moving beyond capitalism to a more high tech welfare system of the future, then you are correct. Notice how the maximum salary gets to grow while being tied up to the minimum.

Pegging the material progress of the highest compensated to the material progress of the poorest can easily work within the capitalist system but it begins to work even better in a post-monetarist technocratic system. The strongest and richest must be given a personal incentive to improve the lives of the weakest and poorest through an income peg. They will still remain 10 times better off (10 times the cars, 10 times the living space, 10 times the clothing) but at the same time, if they work in their self-interest they will be lifting all boats. This dynamic inevitably puts more technically oriented people into top positions of society where they are most needed anyway. We're talking people who understand how to improve infrastructure, logistics, and basic structural economic welfare provision.

These matters will continue being a major concern as we gradually transition to a post scarcity transhumanist world of the future. It is important that we start discussing the limits to human inequality early on before social disturbances on a planetary scale have a chance to really develop.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, November 29, 2010

21st Century Spirituality

Spiritual framework that will fill the vacuum of meaning in the Western world should be compatible with psychological diversity of human beings (their brain architecture). Hinduism may provide some insights on bridging the past with pre-singularity world of the future.

Every major socioeconomic transition creates a belief vacuum that is often rapidly filled with grassroots seeking of meaning. Western leaderships are still in the process of formulating a replacement for Christian, communist, nationalist, (and these days neoliberal) belief structures. This means that the following few decades will see a great burst of spiritual experimentation before world's elites successfully overcome their nihilism and agree on something to push from the top down. Until then, ordinary people will have their own parallel struggles with nihilism that go through various conventional attempts of physical escapism, hedonistic escapism, relying on emotional snakeoil salesmen, and escapism through embrace of older fads and norms (imitating the wealthier strugglers by indulging in eastern religions, new age, esoteric traditions, etc).

Something will emerge as dominant due to the sheer necessity of belief for the herd's survival. What complicates the matter is the great cultural and psychological splintering of the world due to mass communication and compartmentalization. Whatever dominant belief structure emerges, it must have both a unifying base for harmonious international/intercultural relations while allowing and enabling for the expression of the great pluralism of the world. Before anybody can say that procedural democratic functioning satisfies all of this, I would say that the belief structure should have a common goal in mind, something to look forward to (the next free and fair election doesn't exactly cut it emotionally). Monetary acquisition also appears rather ineffective against nihilism.

There are a number of grand semi-tangible goals that may step in as the time goes on (singularity, space exploration, world peace, etc). Grand goals are general enough that they don't stifle the seeking of smaller individual goals and don't infringe on the various journeys to get there.

When discussing spirituality and non-organized personal religious world systems, it is important to keep in mind the different emotional needs of various breeds of homo sapiens. (As in previous articles, I will use Myers-Brigg personalities as rough guides to neurologically diverse types of humans.) This automatically hints that although there may be thousands of ways to seek one's own unique spiritual fulfillment, the ways will tend to cluster based on brain architecture among almost 7 billion people. This clustering serves as a general midpoint between infinite ways of seeking and one singular way (which, if it existed, would be expressed spontaneously in a roughly identical organized religious format across the planet).

Working with MBTI typology, we see that the number of spiritual path clusters can range from 4 major vague ones to up to 32 ultra defined ones. Interestingly enough, Maslow's description of self-actualization can provide hints when a certain type of human is on the right spiritual path.

In addition to satisfying a) "what a man can be he must be" 
self-actualizing individuals experience a higher frequency of  

b) "The mystic experience, the oceanic feeling...`peak' experiences or times of intense emotions in which they transcend self. During it, they experience feelings of ecstasy, awe, and wonder with feelings of limitless horizons opening up, feelings of unlimited power and at the same time feelings of being more helpless than ever before. The experience ends with the conviction that something extremely important and valuable has happened so that the person is to some extent transformed and strengthened by the experience that has a carry-over into everyday life."

This definitely sounds like emotional fulfillment typically associated with spiritual experience or awakening. We can conclude that natural abilities of a certain psychological type coming together in a highly pleasurable and empowering way is one of the signs that one is on the right spiritual path. Obviously there may also be an environmental aesthetic triggers such as a certain landscape or a strong sensory overload. The self-actualization trigger however is unique to a specific breed of human and leads to interesting as well as troubling conclusions.

If a naturally aggressive quick reflex human is more likely to get his or her peak/mystic state on the battlefield or the sports arena, then high energy/violent competition becomes a spiritual path. This may strike one as odd considering the popular cultural association of spirituality with calm and gentle INFP/INFJ new agers. But wait there's more. Intuitive thinkers (NTs) may fill the spiritual vacuum from helping along technological progress, intuitive feelers (NFs) from idealism, SFJs from caring for others, and so on. The domineering personality types could thus be on their spiritual emotionally satisfying path when exploiting/commanding fellow human beings.

What emerges is an intuitively common sense yet somewhat unpleasant throwback to the polytheism (or polyspirituality) of the ancients. Certain warlike deities that one wouldn't invite to a dinner party have been a constant throughout every region of the globe. Yet it seems polytheism or polyspirituality are the most compatible with reality of a pluralistic human society. This is in part demonstrated by the great amount of force and time that was necessary to eliminate polytheism in the western world and the remarkable perseverance of polytheism on the Indian subcontinent. Hinduism has survived (although in a very distorted corrupted form) 3 major attacks against it so far:

1) Indian elites becoming Buddhist and pushing it from the top down (a form of psychological therapy for the wealthy who are not fulfilled through hedonistic indulgence).

2) Long term rule by Muslim invaders who otherwise successfully converted large swaths of Eurasian landmass.

3) Long term occupation by Christian Western forces who brought along different materialist economic thought systems as well

click to enlarge
Part of the explanation of this incredible durability is that Hinduism took into account the psychological differences that exist within a population and provided the emotionally satisfying theistic outlets for these differences. Regardless of your personality, you can find a deity right for you. In addition, Hinduism did unify the deities into one harmonious cloth, allowed for addition of new ones, and appears the most compatible with the increasingly popular transhumanist trends in the Western world. Transhumanists and singularitarians are notorious for being excited over the great potential diversity of forms that may be possible in the future.

I am not suggesting that Hinduism should be the cure for the Western world (as it succumbs to nihilism and confusion over the failure of its economic structure). I am saying that it may provide some insights on how to combine the secular goal based singularitarian thinking (a.k.a. rapture for atheists) with an emotionally satisfying framework for physiologically diverse individuals ("we all have an important role to play in bringing about the future by following our own  semi-unique spiritual path"). Even the aggressive and domineering personality types can be made useful on the road to the singularity through compartmentalizing their competitive natures via some socially safe release valve. As people in the West succumb to aimlessness, it is not too late to start thinking about an emotionally fulfilling and innovative bridge from the past to the future (before the rich, spiritual charlatans, or cultural reactionaries provide one for us).

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ways to Screen Political Candidates

The goal of acquiring better politicians and eliminating influence of money in government points to an exam based selection system as the means

How to better achieve the age old goal of having political candidates that are right for the job? The job of course being to visibly and tangibly advance social welfare and involves:

a- decreasing price (in caloric energy spent) while increasing quality/quantity of food, electrical output, transport, shelter, education  
b- decreasing necessity for backbreaking work and subsistence living  
c- increasing safety from violence and coercion and advancing interethnic harmony
d- preserving and even expanding human autonomy during the process of all of the above

Yes, very difficult and definitely not the type of job that morons, pandering charismatic narcissists, rich man's stooges, and quick fix/gimmick driven individuals should engage in. Unfortunately, very often these days these 4 types are blended into one toxic package. To know what we want from candidates is to conceptualize a way to screen them. The public desires 3 basic simultaneous things from a person seeking power:

1) sufficiently competent to run and evolve technologically complex and very populous (over 10 million people) social units
2) sufficiently independent of oligarchic corporate influence
3) sufficiently legitimate in eyes of the public without it minimizing 1) and 2) (successfully approved by some sort of democratic input)

It is becoming very clear that neither public or private financing of candidates is achieving these. Rather than engaging in a futile task of tweaking an easily abused system (more public financing, ban on ads, regulating funds, etc), it is possible to cut off degradation and corruption of the candidate pool at the root. What needs to be made structurally obsolete is a need for money in politics in the first place. This in turn eliminates the need for advanced election marketing propaganda, fund raising pandering, and for extremely self absorbed individuals that possess a solid acting/lying/showmanship ability.

Screening method 1: Technical Exam

As previously mentioned, since economics is an engineering challenge, it is imperative to dramatically increase the quantity of candidates with scientific, civil engineering, and technical backgrounds. This calls for a comprehensive examination that candidates have to pass. Unlike the 1920s progressive era desire to screen voters via literacy tests and such, screening of ambitious power hungry candidates will find a lot more support. Relatively unbiased apolitical technical exams can rapidly be formulated and mandated for those who are to appear on the ballot the same way signature collection is.

The difficulty of the examination process can depend on the level of responsibility the candidate will possess. Perhaps the highest offices in the land may mandate taking a general exam, then secondary more closely watched exam for top 10% of scorers, and finally a final filtering test for 10% top scorers of surviving group. The last individuals left standing (say 10 people) can then be put under rigorous investigation of their personal and psychological backgrounds and be made to engage in debates before the public finally votes for who they want.

"But who controls the process!!?? Who makes the exams!!!??? Wouldn't rich people just have super specialized prep schools to create super engineers that always pass!!?? We're back to where we started!!!"

Sigh. The rich ivy leaguers are nowhere near as advantaged under the examination system since they would not get the automatic social networking and money raising boost. The materials to pass would be much more diffused and available in society (unlike the ivy social networking advantage many politicians have that prevents average people from even trying to run for office). This means that more people can try their luck at higher office. Additionally, due to the color blind nature of the meritocratic candidate selection process, the chances are a lot better for a highly qualified individual to make it into the final candidate pool (who would otherwise not get there due to voter bias against race, gender, ethnic group, age, class, etc).

We must keep in mind that the goals of candidate competence and independence from corporate control determine the means of candidate selection. If for example, one looks at a hypothetical proposal where some sort of social networking-video presentation candidate selection method is implemented, it becomes clear that once again the visually presentable and narcissistic are at an advantage. Visual selection of candidates via videos of speeches filters out the potentially far more competent individuals who may be camera shy, not be sufficiently attractive, not possess superb verbal eloquence, and so on. As of today, politics is dominated by extroverted semi psychopathic backstabbing individuals who are very eloquent and presentable. This corporate type led our society to disastrous consequences on a planetary scale. Reducing reliance on video presentation and increasing other ways of evaluation is key.

The exam itself would consist of sections such as systems thinking, civil engineering, organizational architecture, basic materials science, energy science, history, systems analysis, organizational psychology, infrastructure design, etc. If children of rich people do have some advantage of specialized prep schools, so be it, they'll be better occupied than snorting coke and becoming lawyers.

Screening method 2: Psychiatric Exam

This would test candidates for psychopathy using cutting edge medical and psychological means. This is a very serious if not the most critical issue for leadership filtering in terms of preventing damage to society. Further information concerning the societal justification can be found here.

A hypothetical argument against this can be made from certain possibility that as the ability to pass the technical exam increases, the ability to pass the psychiatric one decreases. This may be true to a degree considering schizoidia leaning introverted individuals with low empathy may excel more at engineering and systems analysis the colder their temperaments are. What has to be kept in mind is that a degree of physiologically determined empathy and emotional intelligence is not in conflict with competence but is a significant characteristic of it (especially for a political leader). To see some discussion on taking emotionality into consideration when determining policy in a group context (or even formulating a candidate exam), see here.

The reader can be assured that humanity can overcome the problem of balancing the need to screen out genuine psychopaths (who are not likely to be synonymous with advanced technical/analytic ability to begin with according to Lobaczewski) from the candidate pool while allowing very cold but harmless people to participate in evolution of social policy.

Final thoughts:

It is worth noting that technical and psychological exams can be applied to all levels of public recruitment even if the leadership is still selected completely democratically. A council of engineers instead of council of economists by the side of the mayor, governor, or president would go a long way. Some countries have already engaged in trying to screen out psychopaths during hiring of new police officers. This can be expanded easily to entry level positions within all public hierarchies. If we are to have proper reindustrialization of the Western world, the public cadres must be up to the level of the task.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Guide to Effective Protests: Dress Code

Which picture shows people who are more serious?

The title was going to be "making demonstrations more effective" until I realized my previous titles increasingly began with ING suffix words. This reminded me that the trend of statements with ING suffix starters seemed to pick up pace under Bush. He would make many speeches in front of a background that would be endlessly covered with written tidbits like "rebuilding American families", "increasing opportunities", "making heartland strong", etc.

News organizations caught this propaganda flu as well. Since adding the ING suffix creates an action noun and conveys that continuous action is happening, it could very well be that GOP came up with very effective, psychological, and viral informational tool. Instead of definitive statements conveying a beginning and end such as "The act of 2006 caused this" we got streams of meaningless and cerebrally confusing "financing our future" which just told that vague action is happening nonstop. Perfect for 24/7 cable and do nothing politicians since definitive statements with an end would invite thought. Bush excelled at psych ops.

When talking about increasing effectiveness of protests, it is good to remember that the gathering of demonstrators is primarily a psychological propaganda tool for various media and apathetic middle class sections of the public. During the Bush era, the early Iraq war protests numbered in the hundreds of thousands. These protests were dramatically ineffective and not just due to 3 major media conglomerates deciding to ignore them. These anti-war gatherings were utilizing shockingly outdated methods (if they were ever that effective to begin with considering cultural backlash in 1970s).

The participants thought that the sheer numbers of people would be enough to catch the media's eye. Many of the baby boomer organizers have been using the same tactics that seemed to be successful decades ago and for which the establishment and society at large had developed a serious immunity. It may have been shocking and eye catching to have colorfully dressed hyper individuals in large numbers in 1960s in one place. In 2003 however, the insistence than protesters find their own unique way of expressing discontent became counterproductive since MSM was able to use it as a weapon of ridicule when it wasn't ignoring. It was easy pickings to zoom in on the strangest looking hippy or funniest paper meche statue.

Anybody who was exposed to this silly groan inducing spectacle could not have come away psychologically impressed. The actual target audience, politically dominant elderly and middle aged voters in the western world (majority of them were not on the side of earlier protesters in 60s/70s) were exposed to the wrong psychological marketing strategy and completely counterproductive anti-war propaganda.

The organizers would complain that just getting everybody organized enough to show up was an accomplishment. If they faced such critical organizational issues they should have spent serious energy on creating a perception of organization that was lacking. This is easily accomplished with a general agreement on what to wear and what color theme the demonstration should be.

It may sound silly but one just has to look back at US suffrage movement and the various CIA engineered "color revolutions" in eastern Europe in recent years. The green "movement" in Iran for instance was comprised of multitudes of various groups and previously unaffiliated individuals yet it miraculously became transformed into a monolithic "movement" with a simple color emphasis.

The effect of 2003 protests would have been multiplied dramatically if everybody showed up in their most formal wear and decided on a singular color. All it takes is for organizers to send a simple message to those attending such as "whatever you do show up in work pants/work skirt and a white shirt and wear a cheap blue headband or scarf, etc". When a reporter takes a picture of 50,000 people each dressed individualistically, it looks as you'd expect, just a horde of disorganized people. However a picture of 50,000 all dressed in office cubicle formal wear that also has blue headbands and occasional blue flags would be visually and psychologically stunning. It would:

1) Prevent reporters (both MSM and amateur) from singling out the strangest looking costumes and pretty much force more wide crowd shots since shots of so many people wearing the same are better photography in general (think psych ops of crowd shots in 2003 Ukraine and 2009 Iran). More media coverage is guaranteed.

2) Create the illusion of organization and "movement" which in turn invites giving the whole coalition of diverse groups an umbrella nickname (even simple tea bags can do this much less blue headbands)

3) Most importantly the psychological effect on elderly people (who see a crowd of crisp well dressed people of all ages) would go further in achieving the aim of the event in the first place. Even if the demonstration gets a derogative nickname like "bluebaggers/bluetesters" etc it would still give power to "movement" by putting it under one category. People like to lump things into categories.

Doing something as simple and seemingly trivial as coordinating color and asking everybody to wear a white shirt automatically starts a process of integration where common themes and slogans are developed. It may be asking too much to also coordinate 3 simple phrases such as "Telling to End Afghanistan War" to utilize propaganda of repetition as a voice of the crowd. It may also be asking too much to have everybody at a protest shut up and walk in solemn silence for a mile to create a psychological sense of gravity in onlookers. It may definitely be too much to replicate the simple parade formation walking that suffragettes showed.

But when people feel seriously enough about something to gather in a large crowd (knowing that the crowd itself is a marketing tool) then they should also take the next step to demonstrate their seriousness instead of treating the event like a giant Halloween party, music festival, or socializing opportunity. Until common tricks to multiply message are used, American protesters will not show they are serious no matter how they feel on the inside. Then again, in today's climate next time there are that many people in the streets the catchy nickname they'd get may be pitchforkers.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Constructing Efficient Socieconomic Systems

Part 1: A second look at non-technological top down approaches we're already familiar with

The last article touched upon a simple overarching goal that seems to have been lost in the discourse about the public sector. That is, constantly using cutting edge engineering and technological knowhow to create a bigger energy bang for your energy buck when delivering goods and services via public means. When one makes the effort to replace a plow with a tractor one has greatly cut spending in terms of energy/resources over the long run.

Many governments in the world are the plow/ horse and buggy equivalents. Throwing more money for a better plow isn't going to cut it in the 21st century. Public tools at humanity's disposal must be restructured to meet the demands ahead, these demands being mass scale production of fission and fusion reactors to power up southern hemisphere and reindustrialization of the Western world.

Future public sectors will be judged in how they balance:

1) preservation/expansion of human autonomy


2) speed in construction of energy plants needed for continental infrastructure projects in irrigation, transport, farming, etc.

The idea will be to create virtuous cycles where the public tools and infrastructural products of said tools reinforce each other in a rapid movement forward.

No, this is not a call to emulate China (as some in the West are beginning to do) or argument for some sort of a scientific dictatorship (although after the current ghastly rule by bankers and lawyers a congress/parliament of scientists would be a liberating breath of fresh air). Efficiency should not be a dirty word. The word was certainly dragged through the mud by free market economists (the energy logistics behind outsourcing being so inefficient as to make Soviet central planners blush) but we can reclaim it.

Many people are currently focused on bottom up structural reform within their communities and micro governance in general. That is all good but before we move on to that lets remember that there are always 3 other basic ways to get things moving on a macro level. Additionally, whether reform is from above or below, the extent to which it is possible depends on a certain level of technological development and proper implementation of communication devices, transport, etc.

Common top down types of restructuring to bring about efficiency on a macro scale:

A) Breaking up larger political structures geographically to infuse the newly independent parts with new life and autonomy. Example: dissolution of Austria-Hungarian Empire and USSR. After the fragments became independent they learned how to function and are now joining up again in new economic/political blocks on their own free will. Think of it as a bloated monopoly or an unwieldy AOL/Time Warner merger coming apart. When the different parts don't compliment each other well (if they are kept together by historical force or if the ethnic groups don't mix well), then major public sector efficiency gains can be made locally through splitting up the country. Some even argue that countries should have population caps (ranging from 10-50 million people) as small countries provide best examples of governmental streamlining.

If large entities like India, China, or United States (it can easily be 5-7 smaller federal unions) are split up, the fragments can reorganize and then merge again in a fashion that is more productive for all. This is not realistic brainstorming in most cases but lets continue to illustrate types of macro reform that may be attempted in unforeseen regions in the future.

It may presently be absurd to join the already huge and ungovernable Mexico and USA together with Canada to form a North American Union. However, if Mexico splits, if USA splits, and then if Canada splits, after 10-15 years of independence the newly streamlined governments of fragments can rearrange into a North American Union that is dramatically more productive. This of course is recommended for those bloated beasts that can split without bloodshed (once again you know who you are... Indian subcontinent).

B) Joining industrial enterprises together to create economies of scale.
One may think that A) contradicts itself. Why would countries join together again (even partially) after political decentralization and independence? Once again, efficiency is the reason. Think of a hypothetical federal union that has 3 major states: Mexas, Malifornia, and Mew Mork. The country has one large industrial monopoly (Mockheed Lartin) that makes advanced passenger planes. The factories to assemble the airplane parts are scattered throughout the union, research facilities concentrated in one part, vertically integrated mines in another and so on. If this imaginary country splits up, the new governments may become a lot more efficient, responsive/closer to the people, freer, have greater energy and ability to do things faster, etc. However, the new sovereigns of Mexas, Malifornia, and Mew Mork may suffer greatly if Mockheed Martin is similarly split up into three pieces. That is because synergy between the parts of the industrial giant has been lost. The new countries will be left with pieces of a giant and will not be able to barter planes for other things that they need (or even provide planes for themselves in the short term as cheaply as before). The slow down of real physical economy would then negate benefits from acceleration of the political process.

This is not to say that all industrial monopolies with a global reach are synergetic. Lockheed Martin for instance purposefully decentralizes its operations through all 50 states to influence congressmen which creates ridiculous cost overruns and logistical inefficiencies. But if one looks at how European Union and USA emerged, there were major industrial enterprises driving the integration. When it comes to infrastructure builders and providers for products like MagLev trains, tunnels, and canals it's obvious that some organisms need to stay together and expand for cheaper utilization of materials and assembly lines. Industrial giants benefit from size and are the only way to advance real physical economy and wealth of the world.

Therefore, if we continue discussion of what may be best for North America, the optimal restructuring may be: the 3 great countries on the continent splitting into a bunch of smaller sovereign political units (while preserving their industrial links) THEN coming together again as a North American EU confederate  equivalent and THEN creating singular continental industrial monopolies to take advantage of economies of scale. This way North American Union can fully utilize its resources to stamp out planes, trains, fission reactors in large cheap quantities to compete with similar continent wide industrial giants elsewhere. These continental giants would dwarf Gazprom and most likely be born from bilateral/multilateral agreements between sovereign governments (rather than any private interests). At this scale, such continental industries are necessarily public property as a mater of simple energy economics and common sense. On a longer timeline, this process would eventually lead to UN being partially or fully in charge of a planetary electrical grid, irrigation construction, and other things of sufficiently international scale.

C) Finally another structural reform is elimination of local governments. In parts of northeastern USA, the oldest parts of the country, there is an absolutely absurd, archaic, and insanely inefficient overlap of tiny local governments. An area and population that would simply and cheaply be covered by a county government in the Midwest would have an ancient village government, a town government, and various neighboring microgovernments all fighting tooth and nail with each other as if it was some Middle Age feudal principality.

Often, a good way to cut spending is to simply wipe out local governments and replace them with one bigger horizontal government with a flat managerial structure that can provide goods and services cheaply by utilizing its larger negotiating power. Unlike A) which wipes out an umbrella gov, C) creates a new umbrella gov for localities while eliminating those under it. Feudal political middlemen on the village level may sound like they are close to the people but when it comes to adding to resource costs and societal progress they stand in the way like some strange Western tribal elders. Here is an example of a fiasco that can occur.

This will be all for now, I'll return to question of efficiency and its interplay with human autonomy in later parts as well as discuss micro bottom up approaches.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How to Raise Public Sector Efficiency

It is not a secret anymore that the "choice" between raising taxes and cutting public services is a false one.

Shrinking the government without drowning it in any bathtub is something we lost sight of. Similar to how the amount of workers in agriculture sector went from a quarter of the labor force to 1% of it, the government workers can shrink in numbers while delivering more. This involves meritocratic placement of system engineers and scientists in administrative charge instead of lawyers and political appointees.

Streamlining of bureaucratic functions and restructuring of service delivery mechanisms allows budgetary savings without raising additional taxes or resorting to cuts in provisions. This realization is especially key for advanced countries around the world as they struggle with the convulsions of a gradually dying monetarist debt based system. Reforms to raise the efficiency of the public middlemen are very important since they prepare us for the long and difficult transition to a post-monetarist resource based socioeconomics.

Even citizens of countries like Germany, a country that has weathered the international depression remarkably well, have to put up with a ridiculous false dilemma of either less spending on infrastructure/public provisions or higher taxes. Angela Merkel, a former physicist, may hopefully yet show the world how productive politics are done.

[ Please note: this discussion has the bottom 90% of citizens in mind who are most affected by the presentation of between a rock and a hard place construct. Taxes on the richest people should be hiked without mercy to pre neoliberal wave levels (especially in the English speaking world). This will make up for some of the looting that has occurred. Sarkozy's recent quest for an international Tobin Tax is a great start. ]

Shrinking the government without drowning it in any bathtub:

Often politicians don't focus on restructuring the public sector for the following two reasons:

1) It is a very difficult task both politically and logistically and requires long term effort. It doesn't produce the wanted quick pre-election results in a democratic system. Making the post office work 20% better so it requires 20% less funds is not a flashy gimmick to present to the crowds.

2) The majority of money that backs many politicians in the western world come from public unions and oligarchs. Both of these have deep interests in stifling efforts to raise efficiency.

Raising efficiency of transportation delivery for example may require replacement of some public workers with machines. This creates a clash with organized public labor. In the English speaking world, the government is the last place where unions have any real power and middle class wages and thus it becomes a fierce last stand.

The wealthy on the other hand can point to the politically created inefficiency of the public sector as an example of private sector superiority and use this comparison to call for cuts in public services. It becomes less palatable to raise taxes to support something that refuses to streamline. Cutting money spent on an inefficient "bloated" middleman without reform makes the services even worse.

One may think that many wealthy would call for reforming the PS instead of butchering it when pro-higher tax sentiment wins on occasion. However that would aide the idea that government can actually provide something well. A solid example is GOP puppets in USA making public sector dysfunctional deliberately to make privatization of it an easier sell.

Once the public fully realizes (that raising PS efficiency by 50% is not only doable but would allow a surplus of funds which can then be used to either lower taxes or increase quality/quantity of services), reforms can proceed. The problem of what to do with displaced public workers is not different than one facing anybody else replaced by machines. In fact, we will be able to face this key global question sooner. The sooner the better.

Privatization with its own mass scale inefficiencies due to overhead and profit driven qualitative degradation is NOT an option. Privatization of public heavy industry and other large organs drains a lot more wealth out of society long term than even lack of reform.

The solution is mass scale focus on filling the top ranks of government bureaucracies and enterprises with engineers and scientists. Just like economics is an engineering challenge, so is streamlining of delivery mechanisms for social goods. The relative success of the French public service sector can be directly attributed to large scale presence of technically minded people at the top. The same allowed East Germany to be the most productive country within the old communist block.

Regulations: Not more or less red tape but improving the quality of the tape so less is used in the first place

Same principle applies to regulative functions. "Throwing money at the problem" always pales in comparison to better implementation of advanced technological tools and application of systems theory.

Major reform is not for everyone. Some societies (you know who you are) are so rotten that major reform would destabilize them the way sudden exercise may give a very unhealthy person a heart attack. Such societies will have to do the equivalent of dying first in order for the public sector reform to truly begin within a new reincarnated body.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Collective Land Ownership: Journey and Implications Part 2

Gradual fading of nationalism into regionalism and globalism is a natural process that shouldn't be feared.

In part 1, there was some exploration of the meaning behind a claim that the environment belongs to all of us. It began to appear that people already do collectively claim indirect ownership over all the land within their specific national boundaries (nationalism has done a good job of ingraining that notion). Various conflicts throughout the 20th century have demonstrated that average citizens don't take international trespassing lightly.

This is beginning to change.

The political elites of powerful countries have long moved beyond viewing themselves as sovereign landowners and masters of just their territory. The scale perception of a jet flying, conference attending globalist politician is radically different from perception of a nationalist citizen. To globalists, the world is but one country in the process of being put together due to the necessity of large scale cooperation and prevention of a nuclear war. To put it another way, they think the world can enter into a more perfect union the way the 13 colonies did.

It seems absurd to many international elites to have the equivalent of a giant village hurtling through space where every house or block is strictly sovereign and militarized. Thus powerful landowners (members of state governments and their oligarch backers) routinely meet to enjoy drinks and to hammer out ways to have more joint collective ownership and management over the planetary surface.

The United Nations was a solid start to this project. Rather than making nation states share sovereignty under some umbrella body within a federal structure, it allowed the landowners to have the final say in all matters and remain sovereign. UN literally does not exist without its components. The slow progress of global integration in the past 50 years has been due to some major differences of opinion among largest landowners on the security council when it comes to what planetary managerial approach is best. Every plantation boss whether it be Chinese or American government desires to be the backbone of a future world government.

Gradually, the more educated people in the northern hemisphere began to partially follow the thought process of their political elites. This is most evident in their acceptance of E.U. confederate structure without a violent insurgency. At this very moment, French, Spaniards, Irish, etc are increasingly claiming psychological collective ownership of land within the borders of neighboring countries and allowing citizens of neighboring countries to do the same. It may be objected that they are prodded/dragged by their unaccountable internationalist masters in government but the same objection was brought up during the formation of United States, Germany, Italy, and many other states.

And it is true to a large degree. As the perceptive scale of elites expands beyond their city walls to include first nation states, then entire continents, and then the whole world, the people follow. The process is a mix of coercion from above and voluntary acceptance from below due to understanding and desire to solve large scale problems. There was very little input from average people when landed oligarchs founded the American republic. Constitutional Convention was not transparent and not open to social networking for debate. If it happened today there would be a furious outcry and accusations of smoking rooms and conspiracy. This is not to say that transparency and public input should not be allowed in the future. Regional and global integration is no joking matter to be at risk of group think.

Implication 2: Some sort of tighter planetary unification and collectivist global governance is inevitable.

The political end point (before the arrival of technological singularity) will likely be a planetary confederate structure between various continental and semi-continental unions. There are many reasons for this from providing security from nanotechnological terrorism to fulfilling the psychological desire of global elites to compete (but in a non-violent manner) while preserving some of their wealth and position in a world transitioning to post scarcity socioeconomics.

We are well on the way towards formation of South American Union, North American Union, Arab Union, etc. The heads of these unions will have a bigger claim to be represented on the UN security council in the years ahead compared to claims of Brazil, Japan, India, etc. It is to be noted that the UN general assembly is already split by regional blocks. Overlaps of trade blocs and regional organizations will just pick up pace barring some catastrophic event.

Considering the absolute humanitarian failure of Anglo-American globalist "free trade" project, there are understandably major reservations among nativists the world over when it comes to further planetary unification. This manifests in partially true conspiracy theories involving global banking cartels that use American imperial center of force for their own needs until they find another host body whether inside EU, Russia, or China.

The almost total transplantation of US economy onto Chinese soil seems so deliberate as to imply a half baked attempt at standardizing the world's citizens to a certain degree. Third worldification of the West and first worldification of the East is bringing enormous pain but to those with the eye for world governance may seem no different than New York getting poorer at expense of South Carolina. This unprecedented reshuffle of world wealth has largely run its course and can't really go further without creating a blatantly revolutionary situation (actual famine in parts of the West). We should now see people demand (and get) much needed protectionism on continental scale. China is showing that mercantilism definitely works.

Additionally, there are serious disagreements among globalists concerning which route is best to take. The severe decline of the English speaking world due to imperial transnational financial parasitism will discredit English speaking globalists and reduce the influence of their sympathizers among globalists of Germany, China, and Russia. That is, after the American economic crisis deepens substantially, Alan Greenspan equivalents in Beijing, Berlin, and Moscow will be displaced. Since Soviet route to planetary unification is also discredited, the future route is likely to take a creative rethinking of EU model with major helpful input from Asian/Russian elites.

The nativists the world over may truthfully note that regardless of what type of road to world government we take, the people in charge will find a way to profit from it. That is correct. It is also likely that many of the financial banking parasites who caused the current worldwide depression will find themselves in new positions of power as high powered civil servants in other global power centers.

The desire to bring back the guillotine (for people like Lloyd Blankfein) as revenge for massive historic Anglo-American financial exploitation is understandable but is very dangerous. The most likely event in the western hemisphere will be a packed transition. The way soviet elites had a deathbed conversion, former free market bigwigs will start changing their stripes (into technocrats, collectivists, social democrats, and socialists) when pitchforks appear on the horizon. Whether they pull it off remains to be seen but we can be sure that the power that they had in shaping the world of the future will pass on to top dogs in eastern hemisphere.

To conclude this part, there are many different conceptions of a New World Order that are being discussed. Some of these conceptions even maintain the sovereignty of major states like US, Russia, China, India within a more collectivist framework. It may be hard to believe but among the elites there are even factions (they tend to be "new money"/"new power") that want to genuinely improve the human herd and raise its welfare. Nihilism and hedonism has infected many top policy makers but not all. Now that the Internet is awakening thoughtful humans on the outside of power/wealth hierarchies, it'll increasingly become easier to connect with the "kind masters" to formulate a new type of globalization that is not a dirty word.

I'll discuss some alternative futuristic globalization models in part 3.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Collective Land Ownership: Journey and Implications Part 1

Beginning of exploration concerning certain issues on the way to global governance and international problem solving

Now that Georgism and resource based socioeconomic theory (technocracy) are having a major revival, it's time to look at the ins and out of collective land ownership.

As explained in one of my earliest articles Story of Joe the Land Baron, private land ownership is a feudal concept that capitalist/libertarian thinkers just came to defend without giving it much second thought. Their arguments on taxation being theft and coercion are much more applicable to private holding of territory (if basic history and dynamics of control over land are looked at). It is likely that in the years to come, there will be a rise in popularity of bridging theories (such as geolibertarianism) due to the desire of Internet hatched free market zealots to reconcile their socially atomizing beliefs with psychological communal longing.

The most likely focus of attack would be private land ownership (first the unrestrained corporate variety and then smaller scale slumlord variety due to severe housing shortages). Such a hallowed notion under attack is the result of educated individuals now increasingly seeing the world as one splintered country in formation and themselves as citizens within it. The globalist mentality of elites has been infiltrating the minds of middle classes for some time now as they realize that key problems are international in nature. The massive damage to the ecosystem puts large scale land owners under greater scrutiny than ever before. The realization that capitalist theory doesn't defend private land control makes this scrutiny all the stronger.

The nation's and world's environment being a collective responsibility inevitably leads to certain clarifications.

Idealist Statement: Environment belongs to all of humanity.
Realist translation of statement: The state is the ultimate landowner (practically and morally)

Working with accepted definition of the state being a monopoly on violence over a given area, it's clear that most of the land acquired throughout the world was via the state providing muscle, support, and protection. This could be anything from an absolute monarch settling a territorial dispute to the federal government engaging in Louisiana purchase.

In 2010, the ultimate defense of all the land in the world is given by statist military guarantee. At least on paper. There may be de facto areas not under state control in which case the armed individuals creating leadership in those areas become temporary micro states rather than remain private individuals. Yes, the public government may devolve power to individuals when it comes to day to day defense and maintenance of specific bit of land but you can bet that if another government lands helicopters there and puts a flag in, there would be a massive statist reaction (see Georgia 2008).

Idealist Statement: The government is people's tool and is a managerial extension of the people.
Realist translation of statement: People are indirect landowners of all the land under their state's military protection.

If people ideologically (and naively given the oligarchic reality) perceive the government as their tool and servant, then they claim ownership to the totality of territory under that government's control. This seems as a no brainer in that in many nations nativist patriots would be enraged and feel violated if a neighboring country's people invade with the goal of land acquisition. The concept of nationalism has psychologically imbedded the idea of collective ownership of land for many decades now. Statement of "our country" is amusing coming from the mouth of a pro-private land ownership libertarian. It's no less amusing if this person says "the state's country" and then proceeds to argue how he is just in some contract with the state to get contract enforcement, etc.

Whatever the socioeconomic structure and popular legitimacy of any given state is, it is evident that most people within it have had their ancestors acquire the state's land by force, kept it by force, and continually claim strong joint psychological ownership over it. The fact that the notion of private land ownership still exists in the modern world points to the continuing strength of feudal power (large landowners having incredibly larger leverage in using the government as a tool compared to masses at large). Seizure of land by the government from private interests "in the name of the people" is like a car owner seizing his glove compartment to reestablish control over it. Legality and morality of it is as absurd to discuss as legality of modern country borders. Ownership of improvements on the land (contents of the glove compartment) are a different matter to be discussed below.

Implication 1: Acceptance of collective ownership of land results in elimination of feudal middlemen as rents are now publicly collected.

The rents that land owners collect is based on the value of the land (that landlords are allowed to sit on by the state). Since the state is the ultimate landowner, these rents need to go directly to it while cutting out the feudal middlemen out of the equation. This means that private rent collection is to be eliminated as a practice. Private individuals are not allowed to collect whatever tax they like at the moment and same would apply to rents from locations they happen to occupy.

to be continued in part 2

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Psychiatric Reform

A panel based solution to proper mental evaluation

The transition period from current societal embrace of negative psychology to one of much needed positive psychology will be a turbulent one. In order for psychology and psychiatry to get good social reputations again (to make this transition quickly and smoothly) three key problems need to be tackled:

1) Serious and debilitating split between psychiatrists and psychological therapists (with corresponding lack of synergy between the two in creating holistic improvement of the individual). 

The split has occurred due to different breeds of humans that go into the fields of therapy and pill prescription. The amount of schooling (10+ years) and training that is required to become a full pledged psychiatrist is enormous. It takes a certain type of reptilian cold blooded patience and unemotional personality to become a doctor and then do additional cramming to be able to prescribe hard hitting narcotics to children as young as 5 (and sleep at night). The final result is that many psychiatrists are just neurologically not built for empathic understanding of their patients. It comes as no surprise then that after such herculean effort to make money, many become easily corrupted by big pharma. They get just a few minutes with their clients and could care less about what happens to them.

Therapists on the other hand are an emotional empathic bunch but just don't have the patience and attention to detail to go through over a decade long ultra boring journey to become professional pill pushers. They genuinely care about humans and are emotional sponges (that subconsciously get a feeling of power from endlessly listening to other people's troubles and feeling better about their own turbulent inner emotional world through comparison).

I exclude remaining psychoanalysts and specialists who specialize in ultra wealthy clientele. The dichotomy problem mentioned affects to vast majority of the patient demographic. People who are physiologically capable (have the right serotonin and dopamine production in their brain) of emotional understanding AND who have the ability to become excellent PhD psychiatrists are few in number. Therapists most likely are ENFJ/INFJ Myers-Briggs personalities and can get joy from helping troubled children whereas psychiatrists are probably INTJ/ISTJ leaning who can get a kick out of molecular chemistry.

2) Corporate and political domination of psychological research, consensus building, and norms.

This is likely a more difficult problem to take care of. As mentioned in my previous article, the members of American Psychiatric Association are thoroughly compromised. They are the ones who write the mental health bible [DSM] and descriptions of ailments thus creating industry standards and norms.

"Of the 170 panel members, 95 (56%) had 1 or more financial associations with companies in the pharmaceutical industry. In 6 of 18 panels, more than 80% of the panel members had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies".

The corruption among top medical professionals in APA is especially serious because within the scientific hierarchy, many youthful upstarts have to cite these bought off clowns in order to have their peer reviewed papers be taken seriously. In other words, there are a few hundred people with high enough "seniority" whose research has to be integrated and over half of them are partially if not fully in the pocket of international corporations. This creates the absurd situation analogous to agricultural scientists having to indirectly cite the thoughts of McDonalds board of directors when writing their research papers. Of course this analogy is extreme (and done for illustration) considering this top down rot is very indirect. But if done long enough and on a large enough scale, it becomes Soviet in its abuse of the field of psychiatry. At a certain point, when politically significant numbers of the herd are medicated and are part of the "clientele", ruling factions become involved by trying to use the APA the way they use other influential structures (mass media organs, department of education, etc). Thus we see an unholy monstrosity of a couple hundred cold blooded 60 year olds sandwiched between corporations and the government defining what ails school children.

And people wonder why psychology/psychiatry has such a bad reputation. In its current form, it is a very advanced form of Brave New World-esque social control. Soma now comes in many flavors. I wont go further into the profit driven pill pushing abuses as there have been many articles concerning this in recent years.

3) Severe fundamental and structural confusion in the field since many of the "disorders" are just intense physical characteristics of certain human breeds that are exacerbated by their socioeconomic environment.

This third problem will be naturally and gradually resolved by itself as more and more research gets connected from across the planet in the coming years. It will then be finally understood that psychology and psychiatry mostly treat symptoms of certain socioeconomic developments and their effects on the two legged animals. In the future what is done now will be seen as obscene as giving anti-depressants to a moody elephant forced to do tricks in a circus.

What's the solution?

Even in an enlightened welfare/human centric society of the future, psychology/psychiatry will remain important as there are genuine neurological ailments and environmentally acquired conditions. In addition, even individuals in a healthy socioeconomic system will want to reach new heights of development through positive psychology and not just "treat" themselves "back" to some notion of homeostatic normalcy. This would be analogous to wild and free elephants seeking augmentations to be even more empowered in the wild.

In the meantime, we need to focus on problems 1 and 2 mentioned above. The obvious solution to the first problem is to have a panel analyze an individual.

An example would be 2 therapists and 2 psychiatrists and perhaps 1 sociologist make a joint simultaneous assessment of the patient. This automatically greatly reduces the problem of false diagnosis when it comes to prescribing pills. Different assessments by individual practioners being made is a legendary problem in the field. The first session should be lengthy and the doctors in the room would be aided by the empathic understanding of the 2 therapists present.
The follow up sessions can then minimize the doctors' role and just leave the patient with 3 people to work on him or her. The sociologist would provide environmental explanatory framework.

The obvious benefits is that the 5 professionals would learn from each other and have a more holistic outlook in the future. The patient benefits from 1 democratically reached opinion that is the product of 5 brains. These brains will work harder as well since they'll want to demonstrate their will to power and expertise to their educated peers. This will boost confidence of the client and the people augmenting him. A human being's psyche is too important a thing to leave in the hands of one person. Problems of salary, time, and economics are but engineering problems that can be resolved with sufficient effort.

When it comes to the second problem mentioned, only muckraking and structural reform can resolve it. Different countries have different levels of corruption in their psychiatric bodies. Perhaps some term limits or age limits are needed to constantly bring new blood into psychiatric leadership. Those countries that are at the bleeding edge of progress should create joint bilateral education programs with other states. Eventually United Nations should deal with the issue of abuse and non-interference when it comes to mental health.

Stumble Upon Toolbar