Common Features of Social Collapse

The important thing to remember about our economy, is that it is a nonlinear system.  It does not go up automatically, and what is a positive trend today can be a sharply negative trend in the near future when there are underlying fragilities and weaknesses in the overall social system.  The United States actually seems to have very weak governing institutions.  Its legislatures and executive bodies are unable to operate without the blessing of a few outside and unaccountable power brokers and funders who are not accountable to the public’s needs and have demonstrated no care or concern for the overall well-being and health of the public and the environment.  The judiciary is appointed by these weak institutions, and are therefore, tainted with the unhealthy biases towards personal private profit at the expense of overall social, individual, and environmental health and well-being.

A common thread of societal failure are these institutional weaknesses in the political field.  Losing legitimacy, lacking authority and agency, and genuinely not caring or knowing about the health and well-being of the society as a whole are all signs of severe weakness that the American system has been displaying for a number of decades at this point.  A sufficiently powerful government that is able to assert itself over the powerful few, working on behalf of the general public is preferable to any kind of government.  Powerful governments that don’t work effectively or at all on behalf of the public are obviously not good for the government or the society.  Weak governments, regardless of whom they are working for aren’t good either, because they leave a vacuum for the private elite to set up shop and take over society and make the powerful sub-government that is unaccountable to and disinterested in anyone but its small self that actually rules.  When the government doesn’t have sufficient power, it just gets taken up by those who can afford it.  That’s what Americans don’t seem to get, and why they’re being played the saps by the CEOs and shareholders in the guise of Libertarianism and conservatism.

Therefore, we need a new system of government entirely which is transparent, able to be held accountable often and effectively by all citizens for all citizens by peaceful methods, and independent of the powerful private concerns that are already present.  It’s only an idiot group of people who would rig a democratic system in their relative favor at the expense of other people.  That’s precisely what we have in the United States and how we are more likely to fail in the long term (which becomes the short term all too soon).  Enjoy your fun.

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A multifaceted program causes lasting progress for the very poor: Evidence from six countries

Source: www.sciencemag.org

Don’t ever tell me that poverty is a condition that will always be around or is something that laissez-faire economics will take care of.  Quite frankly, it’s lazy thinking and unfeeling to view a challenge such as poverty or extreme poverty as a feature of human society that has a place in such global abundance or that doing nothing will solve the problem.  Furthermore, I am willing to hypothesize that these efforts to relieve poverty, using time, energy, and resources from the production of wealth in our societies will not come at a great expense to that production of wealth and may, in fact, balance out or exceed on its returns for the overall global economy, especially with more consumption, increased savings to protect against shocks, and if it is done in an environmentally sound and sustainable way.  It’s science, but it’s not rocket science.  Enjoy!

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5 facts about the minimum wage: Pew Research

While the idea of raising the minimum wage is broadly popular, efforts to do so at the national level have stalled. We gathered key facts looking at the issue. While the idea of raising the minimum wage is broadly popular, efforts to do so at the national level have stalled repeatedly in Congress, leading advocates to focus more of their efforts on cities and states. A Pew Research Center survey from January 2014 found clear partisan differences in support for raising the minimum wage: Overall, 73% of people favored an increase in the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour, mirroring a Democratic-backed proposal that failed to move ahead in Congress last year. But while large majorities of Democrats (90%) and independents (71%) said they favored such an increase, Republicans were more evenly split (53% in favor and 43% opposed).Here are five facts about the minimum wage and the people who earn it

Source: www.pewresearch.org

It is, quite honestly, criminal that we permit so many people live on so little so that a few people can have so much more than they can ever hope to spend in a lifetime.  These people are people too, and they are entitled, as human beings and American citizens, to live and have the ability to thrive and pursue happiness as well.  What good comes for those who take so much while delivering so little in return for the rest of us by comparison to the labor and potential contributions of these tens of millions of people?

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Data Mining Reveals a Global Link Between Corruption and Wealth

Social scientists have never understood why some countries are more corrupt than others. But the first study that links corruption with wealth could help change that.

Source: www.technologyreview.com

The question then becomes whether wealth, or the lack thereof, is a cause of corruption or wealth is caused by a lack of corruption.  It makes sense in my mind that a lack of corruption leads to increased potential to make wealth because the appropriate use of resources (ie, using resources for their stated purposes) and the honesty that underlies that point could, in my view, make for more wealth than the dishonest methods and inappropriate usage of public funds would.  We could hypothetically run simulations to test which one is the case, similar to the Sugarscape experiments.  On the other hand, a lack of resources may incentivize those who don’t have much to take more from the public resources and use them for private uses (ie, what I call the Jean Valjean effect).  More experimentation should be done to tease this out.  Perhaps by knowing what they’re giving up by having corruption, the officials will be more circumspect about how they live off and take from the public till.

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A Theoretical Organizational Framework, Logic, and Ethic for Governments

The science of policy-making, governance, and politicking from the perspective of improving, enhancing, and maintaining power structures all stem from the science, principles, practices, and ethics of good medicine from the perspective of benefitting all patients.  Policy-making and governance are the technical, scientific parts of it.  Advisors, staff, and researchers are like the specialists, surgeons, and medical researchers who develop the techniques full time; potentially great at what they do and at operating technically, but sometimes not so great at the bedside manner which is important in communicating medical treatments and policies to and for the general public.  Politicians and those who work with the public need to be more like the family doctor or the general practitioner; trained and aware of the science and limitations and able to do experimental treatments sometimes, but ultimately owing a lot of advice and knowledge to the researchers and technical specialists.  The communication processes with the public and with people in the public is an art.  It can be practiced and taught; but not all will be great at it due to personality, temperament, or preference.

The politicians are the ones who need to be able to synthesize all of the research and knowledge and practices of every field of medicine in order to come up with an accurate, general, and overall picture of societal, economic, and environmental health in order to make the day to day management choices over the governing agencies and the social body that is human society.  Advisors, researchers, and staff help fill in the technical cracks in their knowledge, awareness, and function, creating a detailed yet holistic synthesis of information for the politicians to do.  All members of the government and the governing and research bodies are interdependent on one another and on the health and well-being of the society that is in their technical charge.  Any failure in the society that can be addressed by government is ultimately a reflection of the failures within the government.  Any failure in the society that the government cannot get at due to a matter of political choice and preference on the part of the society is a fault of the society.  These can possibly be remedied by the government through its policy and choice making systems in given moments and over time, especially as the benefits and costs are made more known to the public.  There is also the fact that there are diverse “correct” answers in policy making depending upon the given situation that a planet, international region, country, intra-country region, state, intrastate region, or locality may be in that does no harm to others or to themselves and enables the given area to thrive due to its favorable circumstances and choices.  All of these layers must work together and communicate with one another freely, openly, and honestly in order to ensure optimal functionality in the long term, both within governmental organizations and across social organizations and people.  Otherwise, we get less effective and efficient policy-making and governance in our social world and across societies, which ultimately costs lives, well-being, health, quality of life, resources, energy, and effort for disappointing or negative returns.

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The Evolution of Science, Society, and Policy Engineering

A big problem with data is that it takes time, energy, and resources to accumulate and acquire.  This is easier to do in the “hard” sciences where things are done in laboratory conditions over relatively short periods of time.  In the social sciences, data collection can take years or decades and has to be done in the fuzzy conditions of the real world or in a simplified world that may or may not be accurate in a computer program.

The first step to making our government operate more effectively and efficiently is to make a conscientious and sustained effort to ethically and effectively collect data.  The next step is to synthesize and analyze the data to tell a story about how things work in our human societies.  The third step, and I think, the most difficult step, is to actually use the data to achieve better results in our human societies and across human societies.  To do this, we must sacrifice our old notions of how things are and how things ought to work in an endless stream of refinement and bias smashing until we recognize the universe, ourselves, and our places in it for what they really are.

We were at this same place once before, way back in the Renaissance when Western civilization rediscovered, refined, enhanced, and built upon the awareness and knowledge of medicine.  We can infer causal relations amongst aspects of the social system, just as we learned about the human body. However complex and interconnected societies and parts of society may be, it is incorrect to say that it is impossible to figure the age old problems of societies, economies, and environments, even if we may not presently have the statistical techniques or software to do so at the present time.  We can either invest in this new research now and implement what we can ethically implement at this time to help ourselves, or we can wallow in the willful ignorance of the past, consuming planet and society in the pursuit of wealth and relative power that is not real and is not being used well anyway.

Policy making is a science; politicking is an art.  The former serves as the root for the latter, even though the former is effectively impotent without the latter.  Politicking without grounding in the science of policy engineering and compassionate care will always only backfire on those who are exercising their technical abilities to politick.  Policy engineering, however, needs to be wrapped in the garments of effective and appealing politicking in order to be preserved, implemented, and expanded.

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Some Thoughts on Trade

The principles of free trade must also be balanced with the insurance of well-being within the given society.  Jobs will be lost as a result of trade and since the free market will not likely provide opportunities for retraining, it would behoove the government to ensure effective training programs to help people transition to new jobs that are more valuable in the context of the given global market economy.  This must also be done while ensuring that wages are not left to stagnate for the sake of businesses’ profits or executive compensation, which will ultimately cheapen the any bargain from the perspective of human society and prevent meaningful growth, health, and improved well-being from manifesting in the given society.  With these two caveats in mind, free trade, indeed, does ensure a certain degree of improved quality of life by making goods cheaper to the general public.  However, without jobs, there will be no room for people to afford the cheaper goods and without the insurance of fair wages, all of the benefits will go to the top executives and shareholders at the expense of the general public that the deals were intended to help.  There is also the issue of national defense which has to be considered when making calculations in trade deals, as a loss of meaningful manufacturing capacity can make a country by default less sovereign and able to protect itself from those who have manufacturing capacity.  The societies in question will have to balance these points when making trade deals that truly benefit everyone in their given societies.  Otherwise, it’s just a transference of wealth from the many to the few with no room for advancement and improvement for the many, along with a potentially weakened strategic position in the context of an overall global system.

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Concerning the Baltimore Riots of 2015

I would like to start by acknowledging that I know that prospective employers, specifically Baltimore Corps, may be reading this and other posts.  While it would be easier to pat the leadership of the city on the back and tell them that it’s not their fault, the simple fact of the matter is, that it is not true.  Quite frankly, they have failed to resolve the underlying issues that are erupting and have been bubbling under the surface for quite some time in the general American society, let alone, within their own little corner of America.  Police departments cannot be allowed to exacerbate tensions amongst the very real communities of Americans, nor should police officers be left unpunished and at liberty while they run rampant in our streets.  We cannot keep officers who see everyone, especially those of color, as a criminal and every action as a threat.  It is a fault of the city governments of this country that has led us to this place and a lack of truly effective action on the part of the state and federal governments to call the local governments, no matter how remote and backwards they may be, to account for their actions.  A government is not a throne upon which the idle and stupid can afford to sit, nor can it ever really be used as a tool to serve the already powerful few at the expense of everyone and everything else.

I would caution to those who would exacerbate the violence on the side of the protestors that more violence on their part will only lead to more violence in return.  The same goes to the police and those pathetic individuals who think that power is a badge and a gun that allows one to beat on people without consequence, or those who think that the public is best served when the already powerful few are served above all others.  I don’t condone violence.  But I will point out that it’s a natural consequence for governing people who fail to adequately do their jobs on a day to day basis.  We need police officers who live and serve in the regular neighborhoods of the communities in which they work, not those who are imported from other places and treated as mere units in a large organizational machine.  We need to stop putting some bankers’ and executives’ profits and sham economic “growth” ahead of our citizens’ well-being, quality of life, and environmental sustainability.  Above all we need to acknowledge the actual limits of government force and manipulation,0 and the real role that governments can play in preserving, maintaining, and advancing our entire human society.  We cannot keep dishing out favors to the already powerful, and I will not stand in the way of those who would rip out those who are toxic in government to our larger society.  When peaceful methods are rigged in favor of a few, the public will more likely resort to violent methods to get their way.  That is why you don’t rig the peaceful methods in the first place and prevent them from working out, sometimes, against your own personal absolute favor.  If you can’t do your job or take the criticism that is needed to do your job, get out of government, and stop playing with social and environmental forces beyond your comprehension.  I would rather stand and have my honest say than be a quiet sycophant.  That is what makes me valuable in government to anyone who wants to govern.  If you can’t get on this level, you’re truly out of your league, and I don’t care how “savvy” you may think yourself in the cat games of political “power”.

Enjoy your night.

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A Hypothesis About the Nature and Framework of Law in the Universe

There doesn’t appear to be a hierarchy of laws, in the traditional linear sense.  Rather, there appears to be an interconnected web of laws and rules that apply to the universe, the society, and to the individual.  The purpose of this piece is to logically get a theoretical image of what is present in our universe with regards to law and the limitations and possibilities of human beings within the context of this universe.

The universal laws apply to all societies and to all individuals.  They can include, and are not limited to, the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, societies, and economies.  They influence behavior and performance on the micro scale and on the macro and vice versa.  These are incredibly complex laws, with many caveats, nuances, and possibly different levels of application.  However, they are what are most relevant to human beings as they seem to be the hard limitations of what we can and can’t do, and how we approach things in this universe at the very least.

The next level of law are the social laws.  These are the aggregate and collective logics of individual human or otherwise societies.  They help define the group; in terms of internal identity and external identity relative to other groups.  These social laws are what we’re raised with and influence and are influenced by the content of the individuals in the society.  These have mixed effects on the individual(s) in society, depending upon the content of the individuals in the society and their willingness/ability to acknowledge and accept these social laws.  Thus, unlike universal laws, which do not appear to be changeable by present human technology or awareness, social laws are malleable to the needs of the society, because they are only present if individuals agree to follow them.  However, as experience has shown with the major innovations in human social law, these laws are limited by what came before them, with humans frequently reverting back to the same logics and principles when the change occurs with force or all of a sudden.

This brings us to the individual, who both internalizes and absorbs the socially aggregated and universal laws and finds themselves subject to sometimes breaking or attempting to break the other two sets of laws with mixed effects depending upon the popularity and legitimacy of the social law(s) or whether or not the laws are indeed universal in nature.  It is through mutations on this individual level that can spread within the social law and eventually, if at all, spread to the rest of society and influence the very behavior, logic, and perception of the individuals’ fellow human beings.  However, the individual is always limited by their biology, circumstance, and the consequences of their actions.  These appear to be universal laws that are always applicable in the universe, as far as we can tell with present technology and comprehension of the universe.  A human can only imagine what he/she is somehow familiar with and not all humans have the same capacity for imagination or comprehension as others.

Thus, we are bound in a networked nest of sometimes conflicting, sometimes harmonious laws in which the universal laws triumph over the social and individual laws and the social and individual laws have a mixed relationship where one influences the other and vice versa.  It should be noted that this is only a thought experiment and the derivative of the Socratic method of philosophy.  Hopefully we’ll someday be able to test these frameworks out to see how law actually works in the natural sense, the social sense, and on the individual level.  To know this is to, again, understand our limitations and potential to move beyond or around those limitations.

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Steps to Take After the NSA Shootings, 3/30/2015

The American governments at all levels and in all places are going to have to come to terms with a few things.  The first set of things are their own anti-social, repressive, oppressive, and anti-democratic tactics and methods and policies that they have enacted towards the general public.  The American people cannot and will not voluntarily be marched into a neo-feudal serfdom without some form of resistance springing forth.  Worse still, the people who will be behind such a resistance will also be the least qualified, least able, and least willing to establish a functional and effective new order from the ashes of the old.  The second set are the anti-social, anti-progress, moronic, baboon-like group of radical right wing personalities and people whose anti-social, anti-progress, and anti-democratic tactics are what have brought us to the point where one is dead at NSA headquarters.  These are the fat cat millionaires and radical right wingers who are sitting in our Congressional delegations, posing as bankers and businesspeople, making a mockery of the American spirit and the nature of Americans throughout all levels of society.  We can either be cleansed of these people by ignoring them, voting against them, and by defending ourselves with lethal force if necessary.  Or we can continue to sit around and do nothing while they dismantle our entire society and environment in the name of profit, control, and some abstract notion of liberty that they’ve never questioned or seriously examined.

I’ve always suggested that we turn our attention towards ridding our human societies of these conservative elements and the more pragmatic economic elite who fund them.  The shooting at the NSA should be taken as a wake-up call for all Americans to unite against the growing right wing despotism that is threatening to erode our nation’s core integrity and to disband the dysfunctional and ineffective establishment “left” in favor of a new progressive state in America that relies on science, evidence, and the well-being of all people, not just the rich, as the benchmarks for good policy and good policy-making.  Financial wealth for wealth’s sake should not be the end all of a society’s goal, nor should we condone or accept those who can’t get that through their heads.

A government and its members are never self-sustaining entities.  A government and their members rely on the legitimacy, acceptance, and authority that is granted to them.  These are things which can be revoked with disastrous consequences to follow for all people, including for the governments’ members, when and if they are revoked.  Governments can fail; their existence is not guaranteed.  Best to continue working with the general public in a dialogue for the sake of improving the quality of life for people rather than act as if there are no consequences for your actions.  The sooner our governments in the United States and throughout human society get this through their heads, the sooner we’ll all be better off.  We need to eliminate the right wing by allowing them to eliminate themselves, and the world will be that much closer to being reasonably settled, even though it will never truly be settled in the long term or short term.  This will never be a utopian world; some problems will continue, old ones fade away, and new ones will rise.  What we can change is how we live, interact with, and respond to the changes and common reality, first, by acknowledging that there is a common reality where all opinions, hypotheses, and perceptions are not equal and should not be given an equal light if they prove to be unfounded and without evidence to support them.  The second thing we need to do is learn about this universe as thouroughly, deliberately, and accurately, specifically with regards to ourselves and to our own place within it relative to all other things on the individual and collective level.  The third thing is to apply the lessons in our daily lives, policies, laws, programs, and actions, such that we can live healthier, happier, and more sustainable lives as individuals within the context of our environment and our societies.  We can follow these three steps and all the subsequent steps and implications, or we can all collapse as a civilization and ruin ourselves and the world around us in the name of senseless greed and baseless ideology.  These are the options.  What side will you be on?

Think about it.

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