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 Post subject: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 12:11 pm 
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Just taking a break and thought I'd ask this question. I think there was a similar thread on the old board.

I think we should always be looking for ways to minimize the impact of power (especially arbitrary power) in public and private life while still accounting for the need for collective power to address collective problems. I tend to support policies and politics that look to create countervailing types of power. I'd define power fairly broadly---political, economic, cultural, and of course these things intersect.

I think the 'government' is not a unitary entity capable of acting (for the most part--there are areas where there are exceptions), and is instead a neutral piece of machinery that can be appropriated by the groups that are bound to it.

I think the power wielded by financial and corporate interests has dangerously eclipsed everything that can currently contain or constrain it.

Power should be managed in such a way as to maximize, as much as is feasible, the input of people who are affected by decisions. However, since this is rarely plausible given the size and scope of our society (and given its complexity is sometimes irresponsible) accountability is far more important to me than participation.

I think individual freedom, autonomy, and dignity are important political ends, but that they cannot exist without the capacity for substantive choice, which requires certain material, political, and psychic thresholds to be met. Public policy should work on creating and preserving those preconditions for as many people possible.

I think human beings are not rational, self interested, isolated actors. We live in, and are defined by, our larger context (material, intellectual, emotional, etc) and the way we think about politics should reflect that.

I think wealth is socially created and that the role of an economy is not to make individuals wealthy but to make society wealthy (although, obviously, incentivizing individuals is an important part of that).

I think the idea that there is any such thing as a free market is one of the most dangerous political illusions of the last several hundred years. Markets are collections of rules governing behavior, written and enforced by people with power, designed to benefit the people who write them. Rules are necessary, but it is important to recognize them for what they are.

Politics is messy. When you have millions of people with different values, cultural backgrounds, economic interests, varied experiences, etc. forced to live with each other you are always going to have imperfect politics, policies, and institutions. Ideal standards are important as a basis of critique, but politics is about managing imperfection, not creating perfection.

Having said that, I think almost all our political institutions are in a state of serious decline and need revising.

I am also growing more and more sympathetic to older anti-federalist critiques of the Constitution, and increasingly think that regional, rather than national, legislation will be the most effective way to address economic and environmental decline. That's a relatively new position for me.

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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 1:53 pm 
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That was a really good post. I agree with all of that.

stip wrote:
Power should be managed in such a way as to maximize, as much as is feasible, the input of people who are affected by decisions.


I remember on the old board you posted a link or two from truthout.org.

I was just wondering if you've ever listened to Economic Update on Saturdays with Richard Wolff, and what you think about his ideas for democracy in the workplace (worker self directed enterprises). I wonder if it's politically possible (in a distant future, I guess) and/or something that could only happen after we've reformed education so people were actually prepared for something like that. It's something I find interesting, and seems to work on a small scale in select instances, but wonder if it'd ever be possible large scale.


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 2:26 pm 
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Rob wrote:
That was a really good post. I agree with all of that.

stip wrote:
Power should be managed in such a way as to maximize, as much as is feasible, the input of people who are affected by decisions.


I remember on the old board you posted a link or two from truthout.org.

I was just wondering if you've ever listened to Economic Update on Saturdays with Richard Wolff, and what you think about his ideas for democracy in the workplace (worker self directed enterprises). I wonder if it's politically possible (in a distant future, I guess) and/or something that could only happen after we've reformed education so people were actually prepared for something like that. It's something I find interesting, and seems to work on a small scale in select instances, but wonder if it'd ever be possible large scale.


I've never listened to his talks, but I occasionally read his articles. Workplace democracy can mean a lot of things, ranging from voting for management to direct democracy to rotating leadership to profit sharing. I think it depends on the model used and how well it applies to a particular business. It's been plenty successful in some small scale examples. I am personally less concerned with workplace democracy and more concerned with elevating the role of employees within a business to stakeholders equivalent (or honestly, superior) to investors. That the purpose of a business is to not just make money for its owners, but to provide decent and secure employment for its workers, to benefit the larger community it is a part of, and to keep these things in balance with each other.

In terms of its political feasibility, it could be possible with economic incentives to restructure companies, making money available for workers to buy businesses back from investors, starting new concerns on that model, etc. Is it feasible in terms of a massive top down transformation via legislative action--I doubt it. Not now.

If a business will go out of business if it does not fire workers it may have to fire workers. But if a business could make more money for investors by shrinking its workforce, and the workers have a say in that decision, I suspect there would be a lot fewer mass layoffs.

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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 4:36 pm 
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i'd say anything to stem this rushing water would be nice:

story #1:
Spoiler: show
techdirt.com wrote:
Speed Cam Contractor Responds To Challenged Tickets By Cropping Photos, Moving Cameras
from the if-you-can't-fix-the-system,-just-'fix'-the-output dept

While the discussion over whether red light and speed cameras are helping or hurting continues, there's no denying they're very profitable. In most communities, the beneficiaries of the additional income are extremely reluctant to unplug the cash cow (if you will...). The beneficiary least likely to welcome any dip in income are the companies supplying the camera systems.

American Traffic Solutions is one of two major traffic cam contractors. Its DC-Maryland camera system has recently run into a few snags in the money-making department due to challenged tickets. In one documented case, a driver had his ticket thrown out because the photographic "evidence" showed two vehicles in frame -- and in radar range. (This leads one to speculate whether ATS simply decided to issue two tickets...)

Rather than simply toss out any questionable photos, ATS has decided it would be simpler (read: more profitable) to do a little creative work to alter the output.

The firms operating red light cameras and speed cameras in the District of Columbia and Maryland are working to suppress evidence that could be used to prove the innocence of a photo enforcement ticket recipient. In Washington, the Arizona-based vendor American Traffic Solutions has repositioned cameras and cropped photos so that it is impossible to determine whether another object or vehicle happens to be within the radar unit's field of view.

The change is important since DC hearing adjudicators have been throwing out citations whenever another vehicle was visible, creating the possibility of a spurious radar reading (view ruling). The cropping also makes it extremely difficult to use pavement lines to perform a secondary check of the speed estimate provided by the radar. Lines painted on the road for this purpose are visible in one photo, but not the other (view first photo, view second photo).

Even though the cameras are also video-capable, no corroborating video evidence is provided to ticketed drivers. The efforts being undertaken to ensure ATS can "write" as many tickets as possible are questionable at best. As The Newspaper notes, they bear every resemblance to suppression of evidence. Cropping a second vehicle out of frame in order to push a ticket through unchallenged is legally dubious. Ethically, it's just plain wrong.

This isn't ATS' only experience in the ethically/legally dubious arena. Its system in Florida now sports one of the shortest yellow lights in the country, just a shade above the absolute minimum. Decreasing a yellow light by a half-second can result in double the amount of tickets issued. Of course, it also increases the number of accidents, but that's hardly of concern to the red light cam contractor. (It would seem to be a problem for the complicit DOTs, but the ultra-cheap source of revenue is apparently too good to pass up -- or even use responsibly.)

And it's not just law enforcement and traffic cam contractors reaping the benefits of cropped photos and shortened yellow lights -- the money goes all the way up. A reform bill aimed at red light/speed camera systems tanked earlier this year in the Maryland legislature, thanks to nearly $100,000 in direct contributions from camera companies (and their subcontractors) to lawmakers in Annapolis.

There's nothing behind these programs that indicate "safety" or "better driving" is the intended outcome, not when a camera contractor needs to resort to cropping photos and moving cameras just to ensure the income continues to roll in. The complicit government entities are only making it worse with their tendency to become swiftly addicted to new "revenue streams" -- ones that often complement campaign contributions from these same contractors.

The losers here are members of the public who are now more likely than ever to be slapped with bogus tickets, often without any reliable form of recourse.


story #2:
Spoiler: show
consumerist.com wrote:
Colorado Lawmakers Have Magical License Plates That Prevent Them From Getting Tickets
By Chris Morran August 2, 2013

Okay, so the license plates given to state legislators in Colorado aren’t actually magical, but they are invisible, at least on the state Dept. of Motor Vehicle database, thus allowing some scofflaw lawmakers (scofflawmakers?) to get out of hundreds of dollars in parking and speeding tickets.

According to CBS Denver, the info for these particular license plates is never entered into the DMV database, so when some state senator goes zooming by a speed camera, he or she won’t get a ticket, because the camera system looks up the license plate number through the DMV. Since no info comes up, no ticket is given.

This appears to be true for parking tickets as well. See, even though a parking enforcement officer might leave a ticket on the car, cities like Denver that rely on the DMV for addresses of vehicle owners come up empty when they try to collect on those tickets.

CBS has a PDF showing several examples of parking tickets given to cars with state legislature plates that have gone uncollected because of this “glitch,” that we have a hunch is probably not a glitch at all.

“Because the Department of Public Works relies on the DMV Database to contact people with unpaid parking tickets we are not able to contact legislators with unpaid parking tickets,” a rep for the DPW tells the station.

At first, the rep said it was going to endeavor to collect from those lawmakers responsible for $2,100 in unpaid tickets… then it decided that it would be too costly. But it’s probably not too costly for the DPW to collect from people who don’t hold the state’s purse strings in their hands.

The plates are not tied to state-issued vehicles. They are given to each of the 100 men and women who make up the state legislature in Colorado for use on their own vehicles.

One state lawmaker recently stated his intention to close this loophole through legislative action in the next session, by simply doing away with the plates altogether.

“[I]t’s absolutely unfair,” said state representative Chris Holbert. “We should be held accountable like any other citizen. We are elected to represent the people and there’s no reason for us to be treated differently.”


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 5:12 pm 
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humanity as a whole is a retarded, self destructive beast that needs to be carefully controlled before it kills us all.

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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 5:22 pm 
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BurtReynolds wrote:
humanity as a whole is a retarded, self destructive beast that needs to be carefully controlled before it kills us all.

reminds me of a movie title: The Limits of Control

maybe we're the fools for thinking we had any to begin with.


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 6:44 pm 
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I don't know. I always try to wrap my head around everything but I can never see the wood for the trees.

I don't know how this directly relates to politics, but Technology. As much as it has improved our life style, people need to slow the fuck down. Sit under an oak tree. Read a book. Plant a garden. Build a bird house. Find a meditative state. Be contemplative. This wave of secular humanists in the younger generations has me worried. I'm not saying you have to believe in a God, but man people need to sit in silence and look inward once and awhile, and learn to trust your instincts, even if it sometimes goes against your reason. I feel like I'm teaching a fricken yoga class.


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 7:04 pm 
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And didn't someone say on the old board that the pharmaceutical & oil companies basically had the country by the balls? I thought I remember a post explaining that theory.


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 8:38 pm 
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Harry Lime wrote:
I don't know. I always try to wrap my head around everything but I can never see the wood for the trees.

I don't know how this directly relates to politics, but Technology. As much as it has improved our life style, people need to slow the fuck down. Sit under an oak tree. Read a book. Plant a garden. Build a bird house. Find a meditative state. Be contemplative. This wave of secular humanists in the younger generations has me worried. I'm not saying you have to believe in a God, but man people need to sit in silence and look inward once and awhile, and learn to trust your instincts, even if it sometimes goes against your reason. I feel like I'm teaching a fricken yoga class.

I would have thought all those secular humanists would really dig yoga

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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 8:46 pm 
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stip wrote:
Harry Lime wrote:
I don't know. I always try to wrap my head around everything but I can never see the wood for the trees.

I don't know how this directly relates to politics, but Technology. As much as it has improved our life style, people need to slow the fuck down. Sit under an oak tree. Read a book. Plant a garden. Build a bird house. Find a meditative state. Be contemplative. This wave of secular humanists in the younger generations has me worried. I'm not saying you have to believe in a God, but man people need to sit in silence and look inward once and awhile, and learn to trust your instincts, even if it sometimes goes against your reason. I feel like I'm teaching a fricken yoga class.

I would have thought all those secular humanists would really dig yoga


I don't know. Maybe they do. That last part wasn't really important.


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 8:48 pm 
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Yoga might be too closely related to Hinduism to be secular-humanist kosher.


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 9:46 pm 
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In answer to stip's titular question:

Harry Lime wrote:
I'm not saying you have to believe in a God, but man people need to sit in silence and look inward once and awhile, and learn to trust your instincts, even if it sometimes goes against your reason.

The opposite of this.


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 9:47 pm 
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Birds in Hell wrote:
In answer to stip's titular question:

Harry Lime wrote:
I'm not saying you have to believe in a God, but man people need to sit in silence and look inward once and awhile, and learn to trust your instincts, even if it sometimes goes against your reason.

The opposite of this.

heh

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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 9:51 pm 
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Birds in Hell wrote:
In answer to stip's titular question:

Harry Lime wrote:
I'm not saying you have to believe in a God, but man people need to sit in silence and look inward once and awhile, and learn to trust your instincts, even if it sometimes goes against your reason.

The opposite of this.



It's called taking risks. Plenty of great men in history have taken them.


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 10:04 pm 
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Harry Lime wrote:
Birds in Hell wrote:
In answer to stip's titular question:

Harry Lime wrote:
I'm not saying you have to believe in a God, but man people need to sit in silence and look inward once and awhile, and learn to trust your instincts, even if it sometimes goes against your reason.

The opposite of this.



It's called taking risks. Plenty of great men in history have taken them.

Forgive me if I'm not enthusiastic about elected representatives adopting "hey, what's the worst that could happen?!" as a guiding mantra.


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
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Harry Lime wrote:
It's called taking risks. Plenty of great men in history have taken them.

countdown to Godwin's Law...


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 10:07 pm 
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elliseamos wrote:
Harry Lime wrote:
It's called taking risks. Plenty of great men in history have taken them.

countdown to Godwin's Law...

I don't think it works if you acknowledge it right off the baHITLER ah goddammit


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 10:08 pm 
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Birds in Hell wrote:
Harry Lime wrote:
Birds in Hell wrote:
In answer to stip's titular question:

Harry Lime wrote:
I'm not saying you have to believe in a God, but man people need to sit in silence and look inward once and awhile, and learn to trust your instincts, even if it sometimes goes against your reason.

The opposite of this.



It's called taking risks. Plenty of great men in history have taken them.

Forgive me if I'm not enthusiastic about elected representatives adopting "hey, what's the worst that could happen?!" as a guiding mantra.


Well, I don't imagine that's the exact dialogue going around the room. Maybe with the Nazis, but not many other places.


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 10:08 pm 
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fuck you beat me


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 Post subject: Re: what are you basic political assumptions?
PostPosted: Wed August 07, 2013 10:09 pm 
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I may answer this question more thoroughly when I'm not as worn out, but one basic assumption that I've been finding is that I tend to get uneasy when force is applied to people to do (or not do) something. I recognize that it can be necessary, but those times should be limited to as small as possible.


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