NOTE TO ALL: WE DO NOT MEET TONIGHT! WE'VE GOT US AN ELECTION TO MESS WITH. SEE EVERYONE NEXT WEEK
10/30/12 questions and discussion
1-why does tyranny work for business but not for government?5
2-what is the logical limit of technology?4
3-is genetic engineering a good idea for humans?9/6
4-is it possible to fix our democracy?7
5-is a little bit of dictatorship a good thing?6
6-is the current complexity of life and democracy reconcilable?9/6
7-should we colonize the underground to deal with with population growth?7
8-how can we be sure that it’s good to be alive and that it’s better than the alternative?5
Is the current complexity of life and democracy reconcilable?
Jim: looking at this election one has to say this is really disconcerting. My inclination isn’t that we’re too dumb, but the concentration -- both government and business -- of power makes problems too complicated. Democracy seems best for small communities, not for nations. Both political sides are making abstraction of facts in their ads. Is it possible to describe problems so that people can truly make an informed decision? the answer seems to be no
David: what is democracy?
Jim: we do have one kind. The Founding Fathers realized representative democracy would be better. But even our representatives seem overwhelmed.
Steve: two trains of thought. Concentration of power is a big part of this problem, which translates into money. The interests behind the money can drown out our voices.
Jim: can "one man one vote" really be better?
Steve: it’s worth a try! The second thing as to whether we’re too stupid: I actually think we’re too lazy. The information is out there.
David: what about limiting funding to the states?
Steve: only a federally funded election is reasonable and might help.
Jon: does that address the advantages of incumbency?
Marla: how do we stop special interest groups who are campaigning more than the politicians?
Steve: there’s a problem with the invisibility of who’s paying for what.
Jim: question: would you know the facts any better without the organizations who currently often mislead us?
Steve: but it’s still corrupting the process.
Jon: Edward Bernais, nephew to Sigmund Freud, invented the label/activity "public relations." he and all our nation's political/business leadership considered the American masses too stupid to successfully support any kind of democracy. They felt it was their job to manipulate us, tell us what to think, in order for democracy to succeed. Bernais coined his method back in the 1920s and apparently our leadership is still at it.
Andrew: in the UK there is no advertising or money spent on elections. There are 4 or 5 weeks of campaigning with very few, highly controlled advertising. People still say Brits are too stupid to vote.
Jon: why is the UK election process different from ours?
Andrew: we have no written constitution. America gets caught up in legal arguments rather than philosophical ones because of its constitution. In Britain it is illegal to donate money to a political party if you in turn later receive an equal/greater money benefit from that party's work in government. A complex government like the US has now can’t be run with rules written over 200 years ago. We ought to go back and look at how a constitution is built. Think about global economies. For people to ask their politicians to help them find work is absurd.
David: as to satisfying the 51%; politicians are really only replying to 35% (the ones who vote).
Jim: what politicians don’t want is 51% really angry at them. We have a facade that our representatives work for us when it’s really the bureaucracy doing the work.
Dick: is it lack of voter interest or the ignorance of the voters? Apathy comes from thinking we won’t benefit or won’t be affected no matter how we vote. 50-60% of us are registered. Of those, 40-60% of those actually show up and vote.
David: should we be unicameral?
Dick: a public broadcast of campaigns is key. Using TV commercials lead to being lied to. We are too complex to be a republic or democracy.
Jim: let’s assume we’re going to pick a topic that’s complex and decide to figure it out -- we won’t.
Steve: could we come up with a good compromise?
Jim: we can reach agreements if we don’t push any particular point past compromise.
Steve: have we succeeded up to now?
Jim: yeah. When we first created this nation we were nowhere near as complex as we are now.
Steve: is that due to technology?
Jim: yes, also social, legal, etc. A limited government is the only likely cure for me.
Andrew: is it the scope of government or the scope of problems that creates such complexity?
Jon: it's an interesting possibility that technology and our use of to deal with complexity could lead to a kind of socialism. "Labor Saving Devices", aka technology, if completely successful will end our need to work at all.
Andrew: in the UK we still vote with a pen and paper. Then, even the illiterate can vote.
Marla: as to complexity: since the constitution was written we have a much larger population, ever increasing uses of technology (which itself is changing faster as time goes by). One thing that’ll change it is a catastrophe. For a short time after 9/11 we felt united as a nation. Catastrophe can do that for us.
Jon: do catastrophes in a way make things simpler in our minds?
Marla: for a brief period we were united.
JIm: even if there is a consensus that complexity is a problem, how do we simplify it?
Andrea: things looked simpler when only white men, propertied men, could vote. Complexity was there but because it was ignored it was "simpler." Birth control -- a significant technology -- added complexity. Internet enables vast complexity.
JIm: if I believe there is a god AND I believe in determinism, that is how we end up with simultaneously seeing a rape as abomination and the creation of a lovable child. Complexity mostly comes from government: shrinking it will simplify things.
Jon: things’ll simplify?
David: it’s very complicated but the federal govenment is part of the problem. They should redraw the federal government, it's various departments. Have guiding principles sent to the states.
Richard: what makes things complicated? When an idea is dissected it becomes problematic. We’re making it more complicated than it needs to be. Stop opening wounds, leave things be.
Jim: but how?
Richard: keep politics to politics. If you want to make a bigger deal of it then maybe your platform is not politics. At first it would be near-impossible. Start simple and go from there. Work on changing things to focused directions. That’s up to us.
Jim: I agree, the problem is how.
Dick: as to health care, it’s really complex as written because lobbyists write them. Theyr want to protect themselves.