Running Blind

We all have blind spots.  And some blind spots are universal, particularly in these days of fast change.

I realized this as I was thinking of one of the back-list short stories I brought out under Goldport Press.  It was written… eighteen? Years ago, published ten years ago (I think in Absolute Magnitude, but I’d have to check and I’m lazy.)

Ten years ago – heck, fifteen years ago – I was using Internet searches to find information and reading most of my news online.  And yet, this story assumes the character, being out of the country has no access to information.  Her family members don’t send her email.

Yes, it is a period piece, having been written eighteen years ago, but all the same, I read it over, edited it and brought it – ALL without, EVER hearing alarm bells at the back of my head or thinking “people finding this first won’t know it was written eighteen years ago” and making the necessary adjustments (it would be a little more work.)  I just didn’t NOTICE.

Blind spots.

Politically I think the left has more blind spots than the right simply because the left is accommodated by entertainment and mass media and has been for decades.  It’s easy to dismiss the new media and to proudly proclaim that you are mainstream.

And you might very well be mainstream, but you’ll have blindspots the size of the Taj Mahal.  There is nothing quite so cute as American socialists being totally unaware of socialism’s many failures (no, truly, Sweden is not getting trotted out again.  Sweden is tiny and has a peculiar culture – and even there it’s failing under impact of hordes of foreign takers.  Also, no one would mistake it for a dynamic land of innovation, even though it was just that before the present regime. Deal.)   Or the fact that they don’t know that all over the world “socialism” is the euphemism for “communism that isn’t ready to shoot people.”

But it’s not their fault.  Our mass media never reported how rotten the stinking corpse of communism was by the time the USSR fell.  It also never reported the millions used to subvert American institutions.  (And anyone, anyone claiming that “capitalism has failed too” will have to point me out to ONE example of unbridled capitalism in the modern world.  Doesn’t exist.  It’s all hemmed in with “regulations” – er… sealed for our protection, I guess.  The closest we come to it is the sort of crony capitalism of Asian countries and that’s closest to fascism than anything else.  If you think that America is “unbridled capitalism, you REALLY do have a blind spot.)

The right has some blind spots too, usually in “moral” areas.  People who are otherwise smart enough not to believe Cuba has “world class” health care actually believe that Cuba has eliminated AIDS by quarantining those infected.  The fact that I travel semi-regularly to a country where tourism to Cuba is not unusual and HAVE read advisories about er… frequenting ladies (and presumably gentlemen) of uneasy virtue over there BECAUSE HIV is rampant, would say otherwise.

It is sort of like believing there are no homosexuals in Muslim countries because their leaders tell us so.

Or believing that China is a raging economic success (which I grant seems to affect leftist economists too.)  Or believing that Brazil is (Bother!  If someone had pumped as much money in here as we have in Brazil we too would be an “economic success.”  It won’t last, the timber is bad, even if the house is pretty.)  Or believing the population figures out of Arab countries where – come on guys – an army of ten thousand is reported as an army of a million.  (And there are never any Americans at the airport.)  Apply the same divider to population figures.  It is what it is.

But right or left, we ALL have blind spots when it comes to where we’re going.  Right and left, we have to work at focusing.  We have to work at seeing where the changes are – and where we’re going.

Yeah, I’d challenge those on the left harder and demand they look closer, because they believe in central planning — which means they have to work harder to come up with a coherent plan in the face of a tech that’s moving so fast it has the possibility of taking us – and rapidly too – out of all known parameters of human civilization so far.  (And please don’t come up with the plan where you create superior humans to lead us.  I wrote those books.  It doesn’t end well.)

Ori talked in the comments yesterday about perhaps the Constitution having to be rewritten to accommodate the new tech.  I don’t think he’s right.  Amended in the particulars perhaps, but not in the fundamentals.

The particulars, however, are a doozy.  Let’s start with representation.  All the representation in the Constitution has to do with the area in which you live.

How will this apply when we’re entering an era where someone might live in an area they have absolutely no ties with?  No?

Come on.  To a great extent, we are already there.  I work for out of state companies, have colleagues I talk to all over the country (and a few all over the world.)  I buy stuff from all over the world, via Amazon.  My economic interests and my associations are impacted by a multitude of out-of-state events and decisions.

Yes, what my state does can affect me too (for instance I can’t get money with an Amazon Associate’s Account, I have to pay local tax and my city is saving money by turning off lights on the cross streets. [I wish I were joking on that last one.])

And please, please please don’t say we just need “A stronger federal government” because the wind that’s a-coming respects no federal governments better than it respects state ones.  This is where the left is caught with its pants down and the Russian winter howling up their backside.  Their whole model is based on the idea that a country’s government can redistribute and “make things less competitive and more fair.”

The cracks (pardon for using the word with the image in the last paragraph) in this are already obvious when it comes to outsourcing and customer service and other jobs that are easily exported leaking out of the country at speed.

But that trickle is about to become an hemorrhage, and you can’t stop it with regulation.  It won’t work.  Once the tech is there that anyone can work from anywhere at all (and we’re very, very close) countries and governments that try to hold their populace in an outmoded form of territorial subjugation are going to find themselves holding nothing.

Yeah, we can all go North Korea, and sometimes I think that’s the end game of most “progressive” tactics “turn back, turn back” to the early twentieth century when this stuff could work.  It won’t work.  Not world-wide.  North Korea, like Sweden, is a peculiar instance of place and people and culture.  It won’t apply universally.

It doesn’t matter how much governments want everyone to travel in trains, people are not going to forget the private automobile.  And no matter how much you want us to read the approved papers, we have the Internet.  And no matter how much you want us to live in certain areas, if we can work from others and it’s cheaper – we will.

I’ve read some truly scary stuff from the seventies about representation by groups you claimed membership in.  Mind you, this was from the left side, so it was bizarre nonsense.  Congress would have to accommodate representation for several unions, plus “collectives.”  For instance, I’d be a member of a Writer’s collective, an artist’s collective, a mother’s collective, a woman’s collective.

Just the name alone is enough to make me gag and fall in a fit of Tourette’s.  But let’s forget that for a moment.

Some book – Diamond Age? – had people swearing allegiance to various groups and those groups represented them.  I’m closer to liking that, of course, except that it feels like an incomplete solution because it’s unenforceable.

Look, you can enforce authority locally and territorially, because you can march troops in and physically make the subject comply.  You try that in a group – say neo-techno libertarians – that’s spread all over the world.  In the end government and its authority ALWAYS comes down to “you and whose army?”  The idea that it’s anything else is a fairytale for grownups.  (In the US it’s our army, but it is still someone’s army.)

The best I can imagine is that you pay an amount to belong to a certain group which will then fight for your interests, (which, yes, might involve physical force.  Read the account of the revolution/terrorism in Friday for how.)

But if things are going to go that crazy, you’ll also have to pay some sort of local fee to belong to your local polity.  Why?  Because it don’t matter if your entire neighborhood is sitting on its front porch, reading its Bible.  If the central government for your area loses control (or goes completely bonkers, which looks likely at least for me) then some bad dudes can still come along an beat y’all up.  Unless you hire defenders.

“But Sarah” you say “You’re talking about a sort of poll tax.  A place where people pay to have a say in the common governance of the groups they belong to, including their neighborhood.”

And?  I’m not saying that this is moral or right or just or any of that stuff – in the end that stuff is always secondary to survival – I’m just saying it MIGHT work.  I don’t see how our present form does, though.  Not long term.

No?  See, this … dislocated residence versus work, versus shopping is going to hit EVERYTHING – not just politics.  EVERYTHING.

Yeah, they can put patches on it for a moment, like making Amazon pay tax.  But catalogs haven’t traditionally, and if Amazon has to, it just means smaller companies spring up to do what Amazon does and they won’t…  In the end it all spins out of local control.  And fast, too.

Right now, your livelihood depends to a great extent on where you live, how much your house is worth, the cost of living for your area, its relative safety, etc etc etc.

Spin all those out in different directions.  Suppose I CAN work in NYC and live in Iowa.  Yeah, many of us (okay, I like big cities.  Deal) would still want to live in the big city for a variety of reasons, but we don’t have to, and my guess is the majority of people wouldn’t want to.  (I realized the other day that at least one of the reasons I used to like living in big cities — access to entertainment, lectures and books — is irrelevant because Amazon.) So… what does that do to … property values?  Cost of living? Availability of stuff that has to be shipped in?  (The enormous costs of feeding a place like NYC are offset by the sheer size of the population being fed, so it’s worth to have a lot of things available that would, in other places, not be worth the price of shipping.  I.e. there is more variety because there are more people there.  Even losing half the population will affect that.)

Real estate prices are going to go insane.  EVERYWHERE.

Now take in account all the people who will be caught five years from retirement, and their house is suddenly worth nothing.  It’s much much worse than 2008.  In fact, 2008 might have been the first foreshock of what’s to come.  As for real estate, just having people start to telecommute preferentially (no, it’s not science fiction.  Like ebooks it’s something we’ve been talking about for decades, but I suspect when it hits it will be with stunning rapidity.  I also expect it not to be more than ten years out.) will cause a huge upheaval.  No?  Commercial buildings.  Yeah, sure they can be converted to residential, but at the same time people will be moving out to Podunk where they can have forty acres…

And yet stuff like the infrastructure for the Internet will still have to be maintained, as will highways and…  Yes, there are solutions for it, other than what we’ve been using.  But it will take removing the blinders and looking – REALLY LOOKING – at what’s coming down the pike.

Neither the left as it exists now, nor the right, as it exists now, have the solution to what is happening because we’re all prisoners of the time we were born in, and the tech we learned as kids.  No matter how much we think, really think we’re up to date, we’ll forget that the Internet exists, or that people can google-search someone.  Or at least we will when reading an old story.  And then we’ll fail to see all the ways the “new way of doing things” affects us and everyone we know.

The tech we have – the future we’re speeding towards – is one of greater individual freedom and choice and less ability to enforce conformity.  This is good and bad, as anyone has found out who has homeschooled a kid in the age of Internet courses, and also as anyone has found out who has had to warn their kids off  the more bizarre Internet sites.  (And not just porn.)

It is good because in the battle between those who want to control others and those who just want to be left the f*ck alone, those who want to be left alone are about to have the upper hand.

But human nature doesn’t change overnight, and there will be bullies, local, national, international, trying to create their own little North Koreas in their lifetime.

Which means the rest of us need to be very aware of where the blind spots are, and where we can escape them and how.

In other words – the future is great, but there will be very, very rough patches before we get to a place where we’ve figured out what works.

Until then, kindly tighten your seatbelts. Also, to quote Heinlein, keep your clothes and weapons where you can find them in the dark.  And take off your blinders.

(Because today is Wednesday, there is a new and writing-related post at Mad Genius Club.  [In this case Writing Business Related post.])

194 responses to “Running Blind

  1. The left’s worst blind spot appears to be a persistent inability to do sums. The worst case of which (in the US that is) is explained here – – although there are plenty of others (e.g. any study of renewable energy anywhere).

    I don’t know what the answer to this is but it’s all going to end in tears

    • Math is a tool of the Masculinist Hegemony by which the Patriarchy suppresses those who discern knowledge intuitively, through an organic process of interpretation of spiritual energy. If we can just eliminate negativity and bad thoughts EVERYTHING will work out all right.

      • And tools which can be used to hurt people. Like guns. And knives. And sharp sticks. And … words …

        • and staple guns. And glue guns. Oh, the fantasies I’ve had about some of our allegedly elected officials and staple guns… It’s so… crafty and artesanal!

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Eh… I just like the idea of stapling the loose skin of their extremities all around to a piece of plywood and mounting them on the wall.

            • Are these examples of assault weapons? (run-away)

              • No. A salt (in the wounds) comes after. Yes, I’m very, very angry. (Add own verys to taste.)

                • As I’ve said repeatedly, government began to go to he$$ once we stopped hanging a congresscritter now and then. Going back to that would be a GOOD regression, not a bad one. Sometimes old methods work best.

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Heck no. Modern Art.

                “And on this wall, we have the Western Socialist Drone Congressman, still showing the final stages of Rigor Mortis. It took this one 7 days to stop moving.”

                • Ah, finally modern art one could admire. 😀

                • The problem with stapling congresscritters to wall plaques is the difficulty in determining when they are brain dead. There are at least 40% of the current House who I would swear had long ago ceased brain activity, yet their staffs still vote them.

                  • Raymond Jelli

                    Most people do not know this but science is in the process of developing the Congresso-MOTILITY Index. The CMI measures how much life is actually left in a member of Congress despite any measurable brain activity. Often called The Schumer Scan (it’s first test subject) it measures how hard the test subject strives to be on camera. Any camera. When a camera is in sight and there is absolutely no visible reaction (even when comatose Schumer would still wheel his bed to a kid’s Fisher Price Pretend Camera) then the subject is truly dead.

                    The other test (often used in conjunction to the Schumer) is the Outer Garment to Cover test (informally known as the Chicagoland or the New Jersey). The tester yells indictment while camera flash bulbs go off around the test subject. The test subject must move his jacket over his face within a specified amount of time. If he is unable to he is legally congressionally dead.

                  • Wayne Blackburn

                    I don’t believe I mentioned anything about them being dead first.

                    • Acknowledged, you didn’t state their being dead was a prerequisite for mounting, nor did I. But it would almost certainly be a requirement for display of the art, lest they persuade some demmed fool to remove the staples.

                      “still showing the final stages of Rigor Mortis.”

          • Staple guns are dangerous!. My dad shot me in the nose with one when I was 5. He had just bought it and pulled it out of the box, pulled the lever and a staple shot through the air, across the dining table and hit me in the nose. He never expected it to be pre-loaded.

            Remember kids, ALL guns are loaded, unless you have just emptied them. 😉

            • Scissors are dangerous, my mom took a chunk out of my ear, while cutting my hair.

            • Also, I took out Marshall’s front tooth — fortunately not the permanent one, with a golf ball.

              What we need is regulation of mini-golf courses o:-)

              • Wayne Blackburn

                Makes me remember – I’ll never understand how I didn’t lose my two front teeth when a hard ground ball bounced up and hit me in the chops when I was playing baseball.

                As far as children are concerned, I once cut Sean’s (younger son) hand when he stood up in the high chair and was flailing around. I reached to grab him, forgetting to drop the steak knife I was holding. As soon as I realized what I had done, that scared me more than his imminent crashing to the floor did.

                • Given the risk of bringing down upon your head the full wrath of Child Protective Custody Services you should have been terrified.

                  Of course, if questioned now you need only quote the wise words of our Secretary of State: “What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.”

                  • “What difference, at this point, does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.”

                    Totally ignoring of course that the entire point of questioning her is ‘to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.’ Then again, what difference does that make?

              • We need a three day waiting period and a criminal and mental health background screening before allowing anybody to purchase golf clubs. A law needs to be put into effect limiting the number of balls in any golf bag; nobody needs more than three balls for a round of golf.

                OTOH, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

                • My mother missed a piece of the tip of her left index finger. She had lost it during the war. When chopping up vegetables for a soup she was making for soldiers. According to her that piece had probably ended in the soup too… Well, anyway, as we can see sharp knives are quite dangerous. We should figure out safe devices which can perform the tasks knives are currently used for without endangering the user or people around her, and then outlaw knives. Right? Aren’t they trying to do something like that in England?

                  • I thought they were just outlawing knives big enough to slice an onion without working from both sides.

                    • Consider how small some onions are.

                      We want to be SAFE after all.

                    • They are trying to ban knives with sharp tips, so you cannot stab anything. Slicing is still OK, for the moment.

                    • Make everyone use an ulu? Great chopper, minimal sharp point.

                      On Fri, Jan 25, 2013 at 8:11 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                      > ** > TXRed commented: “They are trying to ban knives with sharp tips, so you > cannot stab anything. Slicing is still OK, for the moment.” >

                    • “They are trying to ban knives with sharp tips, so you cannot stab anything.”

                      Stabbing things with a knife is bad table manners, that is what a fork is for. They are just trying to encourage etiquettete.

                    • Hey, I used the spellcheck, and it changed etiquette to etiquettete!

                      Bad WordPress, no biscuit!

  2. Separately, the more I look at our potential future the more I look at Pournelle’s codominium (in addition to RAH’s Friday, as you mention).

    We’re going to end up with a prole class of unemployables who will be allowed to fester in mass housing estates with no hope but plenty of drugs.

    In addition to the proles, there will be a class of people – service techs, garbage collectors and anyone else who has to do things with/to stuff that can’t be moved – who are tied by job to particular places. The rest of us will be able to move – government’s permitting – where-ever we wish because our jobs won’t depend on anything that is at a fixed location.

    I’m a good example of this seeing as I spend significant periods of time in Japan, California and the French Riviera all the time working for a company based in Ca with development done partly in Russia. This applies to anything from Starbucks baristas to writers to millionaire hedge fund managers. Some jobs (the barista) require there to be a coffee shop to offer employment but there are no region specific skills for such work beyond a basic proficiency in local language.

    • Francis — a little further off, but I totally can see things like garbage collector, transport and manufacture being operated remotely. They already do this in the army, as you know. We call the things they operate with game-like controls unmaned drones.

      As for the proles — I don’t know. Those in power are certainly trying to create them. I can’t tell you why my inner sense says “it doesn’t stick” except that it has the same taste as a lot of the seventies dystopias.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        I don’t see them being done remotely. The cost of the equipment is high enough that if they are going to mechanize the job, it will probably be after they have the technology to automate it completely.

        • Actually Wayne, “the technology to automate completely” might turn out to be like “the technology to make us live forever” always fifty years off. And the remote stuff can be very safe — look up the cost of unmaned drones sometime. The tech is there and it’s GOOD and we have a generation “trained” to computer games.

          • Handling of garbage entails sanitary risks which can be exaggera …. determined to pose significant dangers from exposure, mandating the development and purchase of remote handling drones able to sort and process the materiel without endangering humans. There is a wonderful new economy awaiting investment of taxpayer dollars to create bountiful clean, safe jobs yadda-yadda-yadda.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            The computer control systems for full automation are probably less than 10 years away. Right now, they’re a tad too expensive. Google’s auto-driving car is an example.

            Drone planes are not a good example, I’m afraid. A better one would be sort of a cross between the Lockheed Martin Human Universal Load Carrier, and Honda’s Asimo robot, for general-purpose human replacement machines. Most things, of course, could be a lot more specialized. But those cost between $100,000 and $1M.

            I’m trying to think of things that could be made remote that wouldn’t be almost as easy to make automatic, but I am not coming up with anything. Hairdresser, maybe. Anything else I can think of that can’t be automatic, also isn’t going to be easily made remote, like a general-purpose welder. The requirements needed for a lot of the ancillary work involved in that, such as figuring out how to get the parts together to be welded, don’t translate well to a remote method without a VERY expensive multifunction robot in the mix.

            • With jobs like hairdressers part of what people are paying for is probably the attention – getting your hair washed and your scalp massaged by another person can be very pleasant, even if that another person is a complete stranger. So I’d guess that types of services will stay around even if we do get machines which can do the job as well, although then we’d probably have the cheap – machines – and the not so cheap, an actual human doing it. But I’d guess everything that can be automated where that attention is a not part of what attracts customers has a good chance of ending up automated soon after that becomes possible.

              With the problems I have being able to do simple manual work has been what has allowed me to make a living for most of my life. The idea that most such ‘everybody can do this’ type of jobs may disappear – the main work I have had, delivering the morning papers, can’t possibly exist much longer, although I suppose I’m probably safe until retirement age – sounds quite scary. Where will that leave those people who really are unfit for anything more complicated, and are not enough of people persons to do what remains, those jobs where part of the service is being coddled by another human?

              • Wayne Blackburn

                That’s been bothering me. Other people say that new jobs will open up in the meantime, but it’s going to get to the point where the only things not able to be done more efficiently by machine will be creative-type jobs, and frankly, not everyone is qualified.

                • Sigh. Most people are capable of more than what they’re doing — period. But yes, there is a class, let’s call them the ‘non-strivers” who will do very badly in the new economy. H*ll even smart, skilled but non-flexible people will do badly.

                  I’m not proposing solutions. I’m just looking ahead. Strap down. It’s going to get ROUGH.

                  • Heh. One partial solution: cut the red tape for small businesses. Cut it a lot. Especially if we are talking about something which is just additional income, or supports, at best, just one person or maybe one family. Might help quite a bit.

                    • The best thing there would be to eliminate the #$%^ price floor on the labor market, not to mention things like health insurance mandates and payroll taxes. If workers could freely negotiate their wage, many more of them would be employed.

                    • AND there would be fewer illegal workers. people hire illegal workers because they can’t afford the ancillary costs of hiring someone… which have just gone up.

                    • Oh yes. Instapundit has proposed a legislative chamber whose job it is to repeal laws and regulations. Various UK politicos have proposed something similar: a “great repeal bill” that is to be passed once a parliamentry session (year) that repeals previosuly passed laws and regulations. I’d say that a good chunk of the UK’s dissatisfaction with the EU is the amount of pointless bureaucratic paperwork it has entailed. Mind you the UK (and I think the US too) also suffers from the fact that most peopel try to obey all the laws whereas in continental Europe you just ignore the mor picky and stupid ones (see for an example)

                    • Heinlein had the same idea. Plus you could repeal laws by a simple majority.

                • My hubby decided recently that he would have to do some retraining (software mostly) so that he would be ready for the new economy. He has some real mad skills with hardware, but it won’t be enough. Smart man. Plus he doesn’t see that the Social Security will be there– any time soon. He expects to work until he dies. I am writing like a ninja and hope that it will be enough.

                • Dorothy Grant

                  You know, the more things that are done by machine, the more jobs I see opening up. But then, I look at Etsy and Ebay, and I see a flea market distributed across North America (haven’t bought anything from overseas on it yet), able to support a lot more people (from coffee money to livelihood) than their local flea market would. Some people are wildly creative, like the jeweler who made my engagement ring, but others are just doggedly persistent at going through library sales, thrift stores, and garage sales to find things they can post and resell for a profit.

                  Technology also often aims to aid humans, not completely replace them: enough automation can make a shift of six teenagers able to run a food place (be it a barista stand or a McDonalds), and many adults will still choose that over the fully automated food service (vending machine roulette). This doesn’t even touch on the people needed to install, maintain, service, and replace the machines – or the fact that the less predictable the environment, the more human interface is valuable.

                  • I have ordered a few things direct from China (isn’t everything made in China these days?) off Ebay. Many times they come with free shipping, but shipping is what you MUST watch when ordering anything, and especially anything from overseas.

                    • not quite everything: my caffeinated chapstick is from Alaska. 🙂

                      But I’ll definitely keep that advice in mind, thank you.

                    • Caffienated chapstick? I thought I was a caffiene addict, but I’m pretty sure my chapstick is caffiene-free. (Now your going to make me go out and get it out of my glove box and check) 🙂

                    • Dorothy Grant

                      There’s only one company I know of making caffeinated lip balm; SpazzStick, out of Alaska. Ritchie’s got accounts reselling it on Thinkgeek and Amazon, so it’s no longer so hard to get in the Lower 48. Yay! If you’re isn’t his brand, it’s not caffeinated.

              • I expect we’ll see hybrid systems, automated but with remote montors who intervene at need. Farm equipment may be one of the first places it shows up. Lots of robotics in manufacturing. How many monitoring jobs can be exported to the boonies, further reducing on site personnel?

                As for the festering proles in their drug riddled high rises . . . stop paying the women to have babies. If they have a monthly stipend, that they can spend on themselves, or stretch to spend on themselves and three children, you’ll see a very fast drop in birthrates. It is not a long term problem. In fact, the solution may be mostly psychological. No handouts. Everything must be earned or won. Even if that is scratch-off lottery tickets with such good odds on small prizes that some one can depend on winning enough to live on if they expend some effort toward it. Sure, it’s still coming from the government. But psychologically it is something they accomplished, as opposed to something somebody owed them.

                • Yep. Also, a lot of the “can’t learn” is frankly educational and nutritional. Not all. I’ll grant you not all. But holy h*ll, people, my classmate with an IQ of what? 70 with luck? Not even that as she was stuck at 6 years of age mentally, did improvise a way to live — well, she and her husband who was only a little better (if he was) rebuilt an old, abandoned house. She took in wash and cleaned houses and he did handyman stuff. They had six kids. Interestingly her kids have college degrees in a country where it’s not automatic to enter college. So whatever this was was not genetic.

                  You’ll say “But cleaning houses and handyman stuff will go away” — maybe. I live in hopes of the robots from The Door Into Summer. OTOH I’m talking about the fact they went out and FOUND a way to make a living, instead of depending on handouts. Somehow, I’m sure the cyber world will have those too. They might not be challenging or wonderful, but they’ll be there. Remote-monitoring manufacture comes to mind.

                  How mentally-slow were they? Well, they were on child six before someone told them what was causing it… And then it stopped.

                • Now, let us be just. There are people who really can’t look after themselves.

                  That is why we have mental institutions.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            One of my friends just posted this. Interesting timing:


        • Garbage collection by some companies here where I live is already beginning to be done “remotely”. The truck driver never leaves his vehicle. He picks up the trash cans (supplied by the company) remotely. The homeowner has to put them on the curb just right so he can, or there’s an extra charge.

          • That’s recent? That’s how it’s been everywhere in the US I’ve ever lived! Sure, I’m a little younger than you are, but I’m not that much of a whippersnapper!

            • Here in my city ( in Ontario, Canada) they are just now starting to experiment with this. For the most part, garbage collectors in my city still have to get out and physically load the garbage into the truck.

              • Yes, it tends not to work as well on country roads without nice straight curbs, and especially not as well in areas that get frequent large amounts of snow. (I’ll kindly leave off the rant about forcing people to pay for garbage pickup whether they use it or not)

                • In Kansas City, we get “free” trash pickup. Which is how they sold the 1% earnings tax way back when they first put it in. They also had free trash bags, which didn’t last long.

                  A couple years back, when they were adding curbside recycling, they were talking about getting rid of the free trash pickup, but not the earnings tax. Apparently there was enough of a backlash that they decided just to keep the pickup free.

                  On Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 5:51 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                  > ** > bearcat commented: “Yes, it tends not to work as well on country roads > without nice straight curbs, and especially not as well in areas that get > frequent large amounts of snow. (I’ll kindly leave off the rant about > forcing people to pay for garbage pickup whether they use i” >

      • Dorothy Grant

        I’d hazard a few guesses. The first is the simple truism: the poor will always be with us, as will criminals, wastrels, scoundrels, and misfortunately destitute. However, if we no longer contribute actively toward maintaining a large pool of untrained, educated to be untrainable, and entitled people, most of them (that survive) will find ways to exist that don’t depend on handouts. People are smart, clever, and adaptable that way, down in the DNA.

        Second: something that can’t go on forever, won’t. If jobs aren’t tied to physical locations, or the jobs that are have skills that can be transferred elsewhere, people will move away from the place that demands money and mindsets to support a prole voting block. When things gets shoddy and uncertain enough in the shrinking pool, enterprising members will bail for better pastures. See: California, Detroit. For an accelerated version, if a local disaster overwhelms the local government’s ability to support and maintain said prole voting block (much less its taxpayers), many will move on. See: Post-Katrina population of New Orleans.

        Third: those in power are trying to create them because they crave an easy-to-satisfy, easily understood, easily bought voting block that allows them to dominate over other politicans who must operate with caution or face voter opposition at every turn, much less every election season. Changing the politicians does not change the broken incentive system, and therefore the new lot react to the same system, inevitably, just like the old lot. Changing the incentive system to limit the effectiveness of said voting blocks would be more effective: the problem is figuring out how (but isn’t that what science fiction is for?), and then getting it through over the screaming objections of those who like their current power base. See: the proposal to have the electoral votes cast by region, not as a block by the total state population – effectively limiting the power of the dense populations to overrule the rest of their state.

      • As to garbage collection, I can easily see it going that way. It wasn’t that many years ago when garbage collectors in my city hoisted garbage cans to dump them. Now they use mechanical arms and don’t get out of the trucks. So instead of 2 union jobs, there’s only one for the driver.

        • Around here, they have 3 people picking up trash, one driving the truck, and two picking up garbage bags (one for each side of the road).

          On Wed, Jan 23, 2013 at 1:11 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

          > ** > Frank commented: “As to garbage collection, I can easily see it going > that way. It wasn’t that many years ago when garbage collectors in my city > hoisted garbage cans to dump them. Now they use mechanical arms and don’t > get out of the trucks. So instead of 2 union jobs, the” >

  3. Politically I think the left has more blind spots than the right simply because the left is accommodated by entertainment and mass media and has been for decades.

    Definitely more blind spots. Jonathan Haidt in his moral studies found that if you give conservatives, libertarians, and liberals all his moral foundations tests and ask them to fill it out as if they were the other ones, liberals did the worst at guessing what the other mind frames think like

    • Conservatives/libertarians for the most part understand the leftoid mindset (I don’t like calling our “liberals” by that name as they are not true liberal thinkers … the name was co-opted to hide an agenda). The difference is the c/l group also can see the results of that mindset are not good. Or put another way I once said in an argument with a leftist about 0bama “I know exactly what you think and that is why I am against it”. Said fool also would wear a Che shirt to work. He didn’t seem to like it when I told him Che would have beat him to death with a baseball bat. (like the 14 yr old Che killed, the fool’s parents owned a small grocery store)

      • It comes from conservatives & libertarians living inside the progressive bubble. We see their bias daily in their foundational premises; they are as blind/deaf/dumb to those biases as fish are to water. At the same time, they possess a higher awareness of the currents within those waters, of thermal differentials that promise richer feeding grounds and higher risks.

        • There is another complication: conservatives are more generous to charity than liberals. This will cause liberals to have hissy fits and fudge up excuses for why their giving is really more generous even though they give less, but it makes it crucial that they impute bad motives to conservatives. If your behavior is objectively worse than other people’s, the only way to retain your glow of moral superiority is to taint it with bad motives.

  4. Hmm, I’d just like to emphasize one thing (not implying anyone here believes it): Communism/socialism/fascism wasn’t a better way to deal with the world in the 1900’s either. The immorality of socialism is not dependent on the specifics of your technology. It was just as awful when the Spartans tried it as when the French tried it, as when the Russians tried it, etc.

    Likewise, capitalism has no preferred era or setting for being relatively good. At bottom, it’s just a respect for free association – allowing people to come to their own arrangements with whoever they want. Freedom of association wasn’t “premature” in the middle ages (just difficult), and it won’t be obsolete in any hypothetical post-scarcity economy.

    At bottom, socialism is about wielding the force of government to use people as raw material for someone else’s vision. It doesn’t matter how good the vision is, or how your technology might enable more exacting and efficient domination and molding of others – hijacking their lives for your vision is wrong.

    Maybe technology will give us an advantage in the “might makes right” sense of the word, enable us to win in the coming years. In that case, great! Bring it on. But there was never a time or place that belonged *morally* to slavery and central control.

    • of course not, but they believe that communism DID work once upon a time.

      • Communism can work quite effectively at the micro, ie family, level for some period of time. From each according to ability, to each according to need is reasonable as long as familial, or at the extreme tribal, trust is strong. At anything approaching the macro level where human’s natural instinct to kick back and let the other guy sweat becomes a significant factor true communism fails predictably and quickly.
        But then again most purportedly communistic societies simply used communism as a cover for a totalitarian regime not so very different from your average monarchy with an all powerful ruler at the head and a supporting cast of nobility/party members.

        • If the group is small enough, slackers get caught and made to work, one way or another. In a bigger group, it’s easier for someone to pretend to do more than they actually are doing, or to get away with pretending they are incapable of more.

      • As Ronald Reagan (?) once said, “it’s not that liberals don’t know anything, but that most of what they know is wrong”. Personally, I believe in the words of Thomas Jefferson that the greatest amount of government a free people should tolerate is the minimum amount of government absolutely necessary to meet the needs of the governed. Most of today’s governments fail that test.

    • Socialism, in all its variants, had at least a chance of functioning under past social conditions — say, those of feudal economies. Which is why the Progressive’s Golden Age of JFK was personified in the musical Camelot — a myth about an ancient past which never actually was.

      If you make the world poor enough, the failures of socialist thinking are not so readily apparent.

  5. PS Diamond age (not including the ending – the book just sort of meandered off track) was interesting.

    Actually Snow Crash was where I saw another version of Stephenson’s subscriber-nationalism idea, and where it first impacted me. Snow Crash was supposed to be a dank cyberpunk dystopia – the franchise nations were people doing their best to hold their neighborhoods in an otherwise collapsed society. And yet, I couldn’t help thinking that it was somehow a relatively just and fair arrangement – having thousands of small “nations” you could choose to belong to, and relatively free travel and communication among them, stripped of all the regalia and pseudo-moral-authority of traditional nation states. I was thinking I could deal with Stephenson’s dystopia (with it’s choice and range of motion) a lot easier than I could live in many other sparkling monolithic unanswerable utopias that various writers have come up with over the years.

    • Agreed on Diamond Age. I never understood where he went in the end. I THINK it was an editor thing, honestly. (Having seen these, and having destroyed at least one relationship with one house by saying “No, I’m not doing that. Are you nuts?” only more politely.)

    • Relatively free travel without extradition treaties is a formula for trouble.

  6. I like my situation right now city-wise. I live out on a small horse ranch on the outskirts of a small town (4300 people, but much of that is rural) but I ride 25 minutes into work on the outskirts of a 6.7 million population. Just ten minutes the other direction is the boonies. Telecommuting is out of the question. Hard to dump 25kg bags of acid or pump one ton totes of goo from the comforts of home. But even commuting in I certainly ain’t got that big city feel, as the field behind the warehouse I work in is full of cattle.

  7. All this depends on communications infrastructure. Which means that whoever controls the cables and servers controls the world.

  8. Sometimes (even though I have my own blind spots) I feel like a one-eyed man in a land of the blind.

  9. Glad you referenced RAH and “Friday”. In “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” Prof. de la Paz proposes different methods for apportioning representation, to poke fun at all of them. Can we live as individuals just being “Rational Anarchists”? or does the mass of lib/socialists weigh that down to extinction?

  10. Speaking of economic interests and associations being impacted by a multitude of out-of-state events and decisions, not long ago I sat here in Southern California dealing with a client in France through a project manager in India because UPS had changed a shipping policy on an author in Canada. Just another day in our global publishing paradise.

  11. Pingback: Stones Cry Out - If they keep silent… » Things Heard: e245v3

  12. Sarah wrote: ““capitalism has failed too” will have to point me out to ONE example of unbridled capitalism in the modern world.

    The lack of examples of unbridled capitalism in the modern world makes me wonder if unbridled capitalism is even a possibility anymore. For example, it could be because of the material wealth of the modern world, any attempt at truly free markets immediately attract hoards of looters which will instantly turn unbridled capitalism into crony-capitalism.

    And if unbridled capitalism is impossible (or at least very unlikely based on the evidence) and socialism sucks, what’s the alternative?

    • Unbridled capitalism is POSSIBLE in short bursts, it just runs up against the monkey brain’s training for “fairness” which works well in TINY bands, but not in modern society. Which is why The Socialists We Shall Always Have With Us. (And they create the poor.)

      • I dunno – Hong Kong? Singapore? Just what exactly would “Unbridled Capitalism” be, anyway?

        History indicates that bridling capitalism is as lucrative for its bridlers as bridling horses was for those bridlers. The jury is still out on how good it is for capitalism, just as there were those who bridled horses to work them to an early death and those who took good care of their stables.

        • I consider Hong Kong, especially before it reverted to Chinese ownership, to be the best modern example of the success of free-market principles.

          I find your horse example disconcerting because you can substitute “slave” for “horse”. Most slave owners took pretty good care of their property because a healthier slave (horse) is a more productive slave (horse) and some probably actually cared about their slaves (horses). But a domesticated horse is nothing but a slave, even if a generally willing one (I was always amazed when I took care of horses that they would meet me at the gate instead of making me chase them all over the pasture).

          • Had the term employed been “unchained capitalism” I would have used the slave analogy, but “unbridled” implies bridles which implies horses (or mules, which probably covers most of the folk here except for the sterility issue.)

            In that light, this quote from Tommy Jefferson is well-suited:

            … the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride legitimately, by the grace of God.
            Thomas Jefferson, letter to Roger C. Weightman, June 24, 1826

            and, because its almost impossible to quote only one,

            A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.
            Thomas Jefferson, Rights of British America, 1774

            None of which should be taken to mean I endorse Jefferson as I find him a most detestable peolitician (even without granting credence to the Sally Hemings gossip), hypocritical, sly and underhanded — but he sure could write.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              (or mules, which probably covers most of the folk here except for the sterility issue.)

              Are you implying that some people in this forum may be considered stubborn? Perish the thought! I, sir, am not stubborn, I am merely determined. At least that what my dad says when someone calls him stubborn.

      • Remember that unbridled capitalism always evolves to regulation. Why? Because it’s profitable for a big business to have the government force regulations on everybody because only they have the capital to comply with the regulations. It keeps out the competition. As Adam Smith noted, you can’t have a meeting of businessmen anywhere that doesn’t quickly evolve into a conspiracy to restrain trade.

        That’s why I favor calling things by their right names. Capitalism was Marx’ term to point out that Free Enterprise always devolves. True economic success and benefit for the vast majority come from Free Enterprise and Private Property. Ahh, if only we taught those things as the virtues they are in school and our media.

      • Unbridled capitalism is POSSIBLE in short bursts, it just runs up against the monkey brain’s training for “fairness” which works well in TINY bands, but not in modern society.

        A system that is only viable for short intervals is, unfortunately, a failure. Pure free enterprise is arguably like a body without antibodies – it may function great until the socialist germ comes, but the germs WILL come. 😦

  13. One of today’s List Universe lists is “ten tragic stories of the Berlin Wall.”

  14. Sweden? [SEARCHENGINE] Ikea slave labor

    Organizing representation by region is as practical as any other system and more so than most. At least you can see where they’re leaving the lights out — and the ability to meet face-to-face has value even in this age of Skype and Twitter. Eyes-On inspections count for something with the local school your kids and your neighbor’s kids attend. As you are dependent on local municipal organizations for policing and sanitation and other factors, it is useful to be able to monitor performance.

    Now, if only we could find politicians who understand that it is preferable to hire (and fire) contractors than to maintain out-sourceable functions within government.

  15. The greatest blind spot, Left, Right and Center, is probably a human tendency to extrapolate trends in a straight line from too little data.

    Add to that the proclivity to discard as “outliers” data which does not comport with our theoretical framework.

    The Right differs in a general tendency toward pessimism, while the Left is inclined toward Bipolarity: running alternately giddy and frustrated, indicating a fundamental lack of maturity.

  16. What I particularly enjoy is being able to discover and donate to political candidates that might not be in my district or state, but better match my standards than the moldy options I technically can vote for. It gives me a little hope.

    • I also like the ability to donate to groups which can represent my interests in specific areas, such as the NRA. While my $20 or $200 or $2,000 donation likely won’t sway a representative to pay extra attention to my concerns, the ability to bundle that donations with a million like-minded contributors (and send a lobbyist to a Representative’s office to inform that politician that there is no such thing as “assault” weapons) is invaluable.

      I also like being able to combine with fellow citizens a) monitor government/big business efforts to control the interwebs, b) tell me what they are attempting to steal and c) tell the regulators that there are a bunchaton of folks who don’t like what they’re trying to do.

  17. We all have blind spots.

    Speak for yerself! I have just ONE blind spot — the belief that I have just one blind spot.

  18. Robin Roberts

    I don’t know, the term “blind spot” seems to be so … inadequate to describe some of the nutball things that make sense to the left.

    • Robin Roberts

      Oh, and look out for the auto start commercial on that link. Sorry.

      • Having seen what they’ve done to every industry they’ve taken over, I’ve been screaming since 2008 “the problem is that they CAN’T govern” not in any way that keeps people fed or alive.

        Not nagging, but did you get my email?

        • Robin Roberts

          Yep, got your email. As soon as we have a confirmed buyer for one of the boys, I’ll arrange shipping. You got roofies?

          • LOLOLOL.

            NO one would buy the boys. Ransom of Red Chief. Though having just paid for their college books, that sounds SO tempting.

            (And might I say that your response is even more fun due to the icon WP has assigned you, which looks like a green tooth with pink bunny ears? 🙂 )

  19. I used to think I had a shot at adapting to the wild and woolly future. Why not? I was young; I was adaptable; hadn’t I taught myself to operate a scanning electron microscope? Twenty-five years later, I creak in places I didn’t know I had, I can barely keep up with the tech I need to know to do my job — whenever I try to teach myself something new, someone decides I’ll be a better asset at another department and my schedule is turned inside-out. I looked forward to the future back then, but now I just don’t see a place for me in it.

  20. About telecommuting…. I’ve done that quite a bit. Last year I ran an operations test on a web site with clients in Stuttgart, DC, and Hawaii while I ran things from California. It’s the time zones that tend to get you. Interestingly China’s solution to that problem is to mandate a single time zone for the whole country (same size and girth as the continental US). Of course that means 9am is pretty darn dark in the western parts of China, but the population and especially the population engaged in non-farming tilts heavily towards the East in China.

    • Telecommuting would solve a lot of problems my current employer is having. I’d bet that at least a third of the staff at the Admin center could telecommute with no change in productivity or efficiency. I asked an older staffer in the Admin center why it had never been tried. According to him, department supervisors were terrified that someone important might drop by, note how few staff they had onsite, and decide their budget could be cut. Also, a lot of the supervisors link their importance to the size of their retinue. How will visitors know they’ve got juice if their people aren’t there on display?

      • There’s also the control factor – how do you know they’re working when they’re not there so you can look over their shoulders?

        Of course, the enterprising fellow who outsourced his own programming position to China might add a new spoke in the telecommute wheel. (Personally, I don’t see the problem. The work got done and done well. The guy appears to have legally employed the subcontractor. I suspect the employer is peeved because they were paying the guy for something he was getting done much cheaper)

        • the control thing is neurotic. You also don’t know someone is doing the work while in the building. (This guy WASN’T telecommuting.)

          • Yup. And I can say with absolute certainty that it is remarkably easy to appear to be working, and appear to be productive. This is part of why one should never piss off a geek: these are the people who are most productive when happy, and most likely to engage in… interesting forms of undetectable sabotage when angry.

        • That guy should have been promoted, but I ‘s[ect the company thought doing so would send the wrong message.

          The optimum measure for work is output, not time on task, but companies are too tied to the old command & control mindset.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Besides the question of “we paid *you* to do this work yourself not hire somebody else to do it”, there’s the question of computer security. IIRC he allowed somebody else access to the company data and system. That sort of thing can have “interesting” results.

        • Well *part* of the problem in this particular case is that he failed to consider corporate/national security issues. That was, AIUI, the reason why he was caught; the company wasn’t supposed to do business with China so seeing VPN links to China indicated immediately that something unauthorized was happening.

          Also the guy was a moron in that he didn’t set up a VPN terminator at his house for his Chinese subcontractors – if he’d done that he wouldn’t have ben caught until one of his outsourced workers stuck a nice backdoor in a critical module that was then exploited when it was put into production.

        • “how do you know they’re working when they’re not there so you can look over their shoulders?”

          How about “because the work gets done”? 🙂

          Looking forward to the day when telecommuting isn’t so frowned upon. I get really tired, for example, of having to stop work, unplug my computer, leave my desk, haul my computer into a tiny “phone room” with a door on it, and have an hour-long teleconference four or five times a day, just because our office is too crowded for people to actually be allowed to _use_ their desktop phones for any conversation longer or more involved than getting notified that the dude delivering one’s lunch order is downstairs in the lobby. (If I could telecommute every day, or even most days, I could do those conferences in my home office, without worrying about bothering anybody, which would mean that meetings wouldn’t disrupt work nearly as much. And I could get lunch from my own kitchen, too.) The 45-90 minute drive each way, with $7 in tolls and either $18 or $36 in parking charges (depending on whether I make it through the gate at 8:58 or 9:02) would be nice to get rid of as well.

          I doubt I’d ever move _too_ far from a big city, though. Life would really suck, without having friends.

          • Robin Roberts

            “How about “because the work gets done”? ”

            Bwahahaha. Oh, my, that was a good one. 😉

      • “department supervisors were terrified that someone important might drop by, note how few staff they had onsite, and decide their budget could be cut. ”

        Or alternatively supervisors might be terrified that THEY might be cut, after all if all they are doing is walking around looking at people to see if they look like their working, telecommuting would eliminate any percieved need for their job.

  21. A Christopher Anvil short story, “Mission of Ignorance” found in Baens “The Trouble with Humans” has an interesting government. It was just a throwaway story idea but I was always curious of how that could work.

    “Government in the Burdeenite territories rests largely with the House of Mogg. As nearly as an outsider can comprehend, the House is a nonheredity monarchy and aristocracy, with a minimum of laws. One oddity is that property taxes increase when property value is permitted to decline. Another is that the Chamber of Confusion, or Legislature, is permitted to put only a certain fixed number of laws on the books. Beyond that number, a previous law must be revoked, or somehow consolidated with others, for each new law added. No new or changed law can become effective until it passes examination by the Board of Dunces, a seven-member panel whose function is not to pass on the fitness of the law, but on its comprehensibility; the Board of Dunces is made up entirely of men with no legal training.”

    Part of the current problem is that all of the incentives with government are wrong. It needs a negative feedback loop. Originally the three branches of government had to compete with and were a check on each other. Throw in another 50 states worth of governments competing with each other and the federal government was another check. Now there is too much coordination and the different branches and they work too well together.

    There are no permanent solutions but consider some options and their results. A fix number of possible laws and regulations force a decision on what is truly important. All laws having only a temporary lifespan keep law makers busy constantly reinventing the wheel instead of inventing new ways to make trouble. Board of Dunces. (You probably wouldn’t want to call it that) Make membership like jury duty. To prevent our current situation where everyone violates some law every day. Add in a requirement that any new law that affects an existing law would have to be thrown out unless the previous law was repealed. A bounty system where a person receives a 1% of any money saved for any fraud, waste or budget cuts they successfully implement. Property taxes increase when property value is permitted to decline. Similar tax increases and decreases based on new patents, copyrights, new business opened, employees hired, products that earned a profit. Investments considered as savings. If you take more from the any level of government then your income you lose your right to vote. This includes any employee of the government. Apply to corporations and their employees that receive government grants or funding. Make those who receive government fund not have a say in taxing or spending.

    Change the incentives.

    Be sneaky about it.

    • I’ve often thought a limit on the number and length of laws is the only sane response to our present legal Babel situation.

      Hmm. I’ve often thought one interesting way to run a country would be this:

      Congress can set up a (flat) tax on whatever (income, etc). But they don’t get to decide what gets funded – the taxpayers get to specify directly on paying which organizations get their funding. If no organizations are offered which meet with the taxpayers’ approval, they have the right to simply burn their contribution.

      I think this would be a powerful check on redistribution, spoils systems, and cultural dominance ploys where people are forced to pay for government functions they oppose. It would also neatly resolve debates like “is NASA a proper function of the government?”, or “how much should we be spending on X vs. Y?” The voters themselves will each individually contribute to the functions they value.

      Things that no one wants, or things that people want, but want someone else who doesn’t want it to pay for it – they won’t get any money with which to pursue their goals.

      • “the taxpayer gets to specify…which organizations get their funding”

        I like this, but you’d have to forbid the government from borrowing to make up short-falls mandated by taxpayer disinterest.

  22. There are a number of articles on the Internet at the moment on our current government over-reach. Instapundit, PJMedia, and a dozen others link to them. There’s one idea that hasn’t been mentioned here, and it should be: a fourth branch of government whose sole duty is to nullify laws. It would consist of three people from each state, plus one person each from Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, Samoa, and Guam. One of the three people from each state and all of those from territories would be appointed by the state or territory legislative body. The other two people would be added this way: one would be elected from the general populace, and one would be picked at random from registered voters who voted in the previous election. All members of the House of Rescission would serve one ten-year term, be paid 80% of what a congressman from the House of Representatives are paid, and retire on 50% of their pay after their term. Members would NOT be eligible to serve in this House a second term, period. Anyone caught taking a bribe or acting in a manner that violates the general ethics of behavior would automatically lose their pension, and would be replaced by the same manner they were originally inducted. This includes any insider activity that enriches the member or any friend, family member, or employee.

    Any law more than ten years old would be eligible for negation. Negation would require a 2/3 vote from a quorum (80% of the members or more). Congress would have to pass a new law by a super-majority (60%) in both Houses to reconstitute the law, and no new provisions or amendments could be made to the law they reconstitute (they CAN remove provisions or amendments). The House of Rescission could also remove amendments to any law that have nothing to do with the primary subject of the law, again by a 2/3 majority vote. The House of Rescission would also be able to rescind regulations imposed by any executive office that exceeds the power granted to that office by Congress, or by law.

    The only action the President could take to restrict the enactment of a vote from the House of Rescission would be a maximum 90-day delay while the rescission is appealed to the Supreme Court for Constitutionality.

    This would go a long way toward reinstating States’ Rights and the rights of the people.

    • Heinlein floated this idea, and Insty promotes it wildly.

    • I think that every law should have an expiration date at the very least and have to have a vote to reinstate. But I like yours better.

      • Robin Roberts

        One of the ways we know that the expired Federal “Assault Weapons” ban was so meaningless was that it expired (it originally had a sunset date as part of the compromise to get it passed) and the world not only didn’t end … but got more crime free after.

  23. Ori talked in the comments yesterday about perhaps the Constitution having to be rewritten to accommodate the new tech. I don’t think he’s right. Amended in the particulars perhaps, but not in the fundamentals.

    I owe you an explanation. I used “constitution” to mean precisely the particulars.

    “All men are created equal”, “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness” and “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” are nowhere in the Constitution. They are in the Declaration of Independence, a document written thirteen years earlier as PR/propaganda rather than binding laws. Those are the universal fundamentals we need to keep. The Constitution, OTOH, is concerned with the humdrum details like who declares war, who appoints the judges, and how taxes are apportioned.

    To take a (possibly blasphemous) analogy to the Pentateuch, the Declaration of independence is like the inspiring stories of Exodus. The Constitution is like the niggling details of Leviticus.

    • There is an argument to be made that the Declaration established the principles which the Constitution ratifies, or something like that. IIt has been a very very long time since I read it and I merely remember that a conservative voice made the argument.

      Garry Wills — admittedly not a conservative — made largely the same argument, IIRC, in his book on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, asserting that Lincoln with that speech connected the two documents … along with changing us from the United States of America to The United States of America; from a conglomeration to a single entity.

      I neither endorse nor reject the theses, merely note their existence.

      • The Declaration of Independence said that we were free men and had the right to set up our own government. The Constitution was written to accomplish that.

        • The Articles of Confederation were also written to accomplish the same goal. Constitutions are like technologies – you use the one most appropriate to the circumstances.

          • I see them more like medicine — use the one most appropriate to the circumstances, them according to directions and be aware that they will almost surely have undesirable side effects.

  24. Been lurking for some time. Loved your Calvin Ball post yesterday!

    Charles Murray (of “Losing Ground” fame) had some great suggestions on how to end the welfare state in his “In Our Hands: A Plan to Replace the Welfare State”.

    And speaking of blind spots, these two articles hit ’em squarely:


  25. If you think that America is “unbridled capitalism,” you REALLY do have a blind spot.

    Great googly moogly, yes. Like to drove myself nuts pointing out that note to some horribly outraged folks absolutely sure that they were being talked about….. Kind a funny when the same folks usually complain about how there’s too much regulation in the US!

    • A phrase like the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism, mentioned shortly after some rather spectacular drug money laundering hit the news, is clearly…an attack on the US?

      News: Pope says people more important than profit! Also, water wet!

      Hm. Clearly, I’m still rather annoyed.

  26. @#$@# ate my post…..

    K, made a point about the folks who are “unemployable” right now not actually being so, just the value of their work vs the cost to be able to use it is jacked by current laws.

    I’d have no problem doing stuff like gardening for a little old lady if I could bring my kids for way below minimum wage, but she can’t pay me that, the taxes would nearly double the cost, and in some places I’d need a landscaping license to weed for pay….

    • Two thoughts, Fox:
      1. There’s no tax I know of on barter.
      2. Where did this table come from, and why is there a stack of bills under it?
      Find a crew, find a job… Keep flying.

      • And when the guy who is breaking the law to hire you proves to be immoral enough to not pay you….

        Problem with cheating is that there’s nobody to help you when you’re cheated.

        • Which is why criminals in fiction (I have no real-life experience) always insist on half the money up front, half when the job is done. That way in case of cheating by either party, the losses are limited to less than they could have been. (Plus the unspoken part of the contract is “I’ll never take a job from you again, and depending on how badly you stiff me, I might come back for revenge with several of my buddies.”)

          In the cash-under-the-table-for-work scenario, keeping short accounts (i.e., paying for each day’s work on the day the work is done, rather than in two-week increments) would be the way to deal with that potential problem. Worst case, the loss is a single day’s wage, plus the time spent in looking for a different employer (because you’d certainly never trust this one again). And the “revenge” part of the equation wouldn’t be anything illegal, just spreading the word around town that Mr./Ms. Such-and-Such doesn’t pay his/her workers.

          Even in a “lawless” society, there are laws, like “honor your bargains” — it’s just that they’re not written down, and enforcement is unofficial.

          • In theory, it works. Especially if you are a big guy, and assertive, or have access to the same.

            In practice, that’s why we have the legal system. Go outside of it, and you have an above average chance of finding those who would find a way to cheat you with a legal system. Especially if you are small, female, and your husband is across the country for six months.

            • 90% of my writer friends hire illegals to do the cleaning, at a really low price. Call me goody two shoes — I don’t feel COMFORTABLE doing that. (The price is really low. Also, you’re encouraging an unassimilatable (totally a word, deal) of immigration into the country. Also, those people are probably on assistance too. (In fact, have to be, at what they get paid.)

              I’m not looking down on my colleagues — except those who support minimum age because DUH contradictions, guys — because one has to do SOMETHING and I have three part time helpers. (Dan, the kids.) But I’d still rather not do it.

              • Now that you mention it, I support eliminating the minimum age as well! Let those minions work for their keep!

                • Robin Roberts

                  In all seriousness, the stricter regulations of what young people younger than 18 can do has made it more difficult for young people to gain useful work experience.

                • I forget who suggested this — it sounds Gingrichian — but one proposal I read some time back was a subsidized minimum wage: the employer pays what the work is worth, the government pays the difference between employer payment and minimum wage for a reasonable period of time (say, two years, by which time worker should have acquired necessary employable skills (such as showing up as scheduled and doing assigned tasks.)

                  Financed by what the government would save in food stamps, unemployment for 99+ weeks, etc. (In fact, now I type that I recall it as a proposed means of addressing long-tern unemployment.)

          • Robin Roberts

            No, no, no. In real life, us criminals expect to be paid …. hey, wait a minute. I almost fell for that.

      • “There’s no tax I know of on barter.”

        Actually there is, you are supposed to report it on your income taxes, it just is very hard to enforce, mainly because there is a distinct lack of paperwork but also because the value of the item or service being bartered is often debatable.

    • I run into this almost daily. Dan thinks I need someone to come clean because very week I do three jobs — indie, pro and cleaning, and then I get sick and then…
      The problem is, because of my self employment tax and double-contribution to Social Security, I don’t have enough money for even one of those services that just come in and dust and vaccuum (and no, that’s not what I need. I do that in about an hour, if I hurry. I need someone to sort, clean, wax the floors, move and neaten piles of paper and dust those when needed, change beds, make beds, and do about three loads of laundry a day. that still leaves me with two hours a day for cooking (more or less) but I CAN do that.)

      My mom, who was self employed, had “arrangements” with neighbor ladies to come and do this stuff. We had “dailies” most of my life. Mom did very little around the house till she retired.

      So, why don’t I do that? Taxes. Social security. Why not do barter, as Oyster suggests above? Because TECHNICALLY you’re supposed to report those on taxes, which means if they want to come after me for some other reason, they can. Also, barter for what, when my time is already maxed out? You see the problem right? Surething.

      Like my mom, and like Foxfier says, I’d be fine with having some woman with kids bring a couple of toddlers along and do this stuff. Okay, I’d probably lose a ton of time to playing with the kids, but probably not as much as to doing the stuff.

      BUT the laws make it impossible for me and this other hypothetically free citizen to come to a mutually agreeable arrangement. Does any of you think this is a legitimate function of government?

  27. I’ve always said that Socialism was just Communism with better manners. Fortunately, our high-schooler’s economics teacher has come squarely down against central planning and is using current events to illustrate his points.
    Much as we’d like to bug out of small-town Ohio and return to my beloved South Carolina, it’s hard to turn our backs on a public school system that by most measures is actually working pretty well. That’s worth its weight in gold these days.
    But once the kids are gone? We’re OUTTA HERE.

    • That’s one thing I can say for Ohio – you might never see the sun while you’re there, but the schools are good. I was fortunate to attend a high-school with decent teachers growing up there.

      I have tutored math in New Mexico, at a place where the seniors were struggling with basic algebra. Apparently schools where the math teachers actually understand math aren’t all that common.

      • The Educrats and Teachers’ Unions tell us that subject knowledge is irrelevant, that what is important is pedagogical expertise, knowing how to teach.

        And we all know they would not lie about something like that.

        • And yet they throw PhD students into survey courses (80 students) with no more exposure to pedagogical methodology than, “add a catch up day to your syllabus and remind them that cheating is grounds for failure of the course as well as the assignment. Oh, and don’t swear in front of students unless you have tenure.” But that’s different. Really. Pedagogy is vastly more important with 17-18 year olds than with 18-19 year olds.

          • Come to think on it, a Doctorate in education is probably of no greater benefit to K-6 students than an Associate degree. It probably has negative benefit, in fact.

            • Robin Roberts

              I would argue that a Education Doctorate is of great harm. And that the creation of the Education Doctorate, with its abyssmal lack of rigor, is the source of all the destructive fads in education.

              • I remember back in college, the education majors would have the saying,

                “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach teachers.”

                On Thu, Jan 24, 2013 at 6:07 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                > ** > Robin Roberts commented: “I would argue that a Education Doctorate is > of great harm. And that the creation of the Education Doctorate, with its > abyssmal lack of rigor, is the source of all the destructive fads in > education.” >

              • Well, not ALL of them. Sheer human stupidity accounts for at least 20% — but other than that, you’re right.

            • Well, the education majors I had class with were decent people if a little scattered and superficial in terms of knowledge. That said, I was appalled by the one who was working on a MEd – secondary education who could not write a coherent paragraph about a simple reading assignment. When we got to more complicated analytical works, the ed student was foundering despite the student’s best efforts. Note that this individual had been teaching high school for, oh 15 years. The student tried very hard but just could not handle the written work. Apparently history grad classes (and this was one of the easiest ones I took in terms of reading loads) were much, much harder than ed courses were.

              • I do not disparage any teacher, but I do distinguish between good intent and beneficial effect. As a group, Ed majors have the lowest SAT scores and the training they receive does next to nothing to enhance their capability but much to increase their confidence in their abilities. Many in the education business are very poor at differentiating between knowledge and credentials.

                I do not blame the victims of this scam, I fault its perpetrators.

      • I graduated from Stow High School (near Akron) in 1981.

    • Ohio? How does a South Carolinian find himself in Ohio? Normally the migration goes the other way!

      • Yeah, I’m always asking myself that about this time of year. You goes where the work is. What’s funny is that my wife’s an OH native but we met down in Rock Hill.

  28. Robin Roberts

    Interesting read, TANSTAAFL in Obamacare.

  29. Rather than append this as reply to any single comment, where the left-hand margin is already butting against the right, this comment on the American Work Ethic extends and illuminates our discussion of young people working:

    The American Work Ethic
    By Peter Kirsanow
    January 25, 2013 1:13 P.M.
    For more than a century much of the world has marveled at the American work ethic and American productivity. How long will that continue?

    Probably like most Corner readers, as a kid, when I wasn’t in school, I worked. Starting at age five, I began doing yard work and odd jobs for neighbors and local businesses. When I got a bit older, I got summer and after-school jobs (the latter when not involved in sports). Obviously, I had no skills, so most of the jobs involved manual labor, much of it fairly arduous.

    On the occasions when I couldn’t find a job I became self-employed — painting houses, digging trenches, mowing lawns, putting up fences. Almost all of my friends had jobs or were self-employed also. Not working was a source of deep embarrassment. Once, the summer after eight grade, I had no work for maybe one to two weeks, and not for lack of effort (we typically began lining up summer jobs the preceding October and November). One of my best friends chided me for “being on welfare.” The statement stung so much — so profound was the stigma of not working — that we almost came to blows.

    Is that changing? An observation: When I bought my house years back, two neighborhood boys appeared almost instantly to rake leaves, cut grass, paint the tool shed, etc.They worked hard and well — both after school and during breaks. When they moved away, another boy performed some of the same work for about a year.

    For the last 20 years, however, no one’s asked to do any work, even though it’s clear to anyone in the neighborhood there’s work to be had. I’ve sought kids out who, it’s plain to see, have no jobs, but I have been largely unsuccessful. For example, I recently asked two teenage boys who’d spent most of the summer playing basketball at a nearby playground if they wanted to earn some cash doing some yard work. They promise to come over Saturday morning. Saturday arrives, no call, no show. I try again the next week. More promises, but again, no call, no show.

    I’ve heard similar stories in recent years from lots of friends and employers. Yes, several anecdotes don’t amount to statistical evidence and I encounter hardworking kids all the time. But the expectation, the presumption of hard work doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as pervasive as in the past.

    Is it more likely or less likely that this phenomenon will persist (or perhaps get worse) when much of the major media and an entire political party drives a narrative that productive Americans aren’t “paying their fair share”; when a president lauds a 26-year-old’s ability to stay on his parents’ insurance plan; when nearly 50 million Americans access foodstamps benefits with a slick-looking card; when unemployment benefits continue interminably; when government encourages citizens to access ”free” benefits; when stigma or shame attaches almost as readily to the productive as the non-productive?
    [ ]

  30. We’re going to end up with a prole class of unemployables who will be allowed to fester in mass housing estates with no hope but plenty of drugs.

    Actually, they will have exactly two things to offer: their votes on Election Day and warm bodies for the riots.

    The first casualty of the wonderful world I see projected here will be our current system of warm-body franchise. And you will never get people to give up one of the few things they have to offer peacefully.

    • Truly? Most of them are too addled to riot effectively.

      • They are too addled to fight. They can probably riot, as long as the police are kept out of it and their victims are nicely disarmed. Breaking into stores and looting them is not exactly rocket science.

      • They are pretty good at Occupying, though. Call them the Occupant Generation … and Progressive Policies the Occupant Generators.

      • Sarah, remember from Jerry’s Codominium books, rioting Proles were there to be whipped on, to simultaneously provide the Taxpayers with entertainment, an Other to be afraid of and need protection from, and finally to provide the Government a club to remind the Taxpayers that their lot could always be made arbitrarily worse.