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Everyone knows that when government sticks its fingers into anything, it always end up in a mess.

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Socratic Method is one of the oldest and most respected forms of productive debate. There are many unproductive methods. All of which should be avoided. Socratic method is a very old and respected means to quickly and definitively resolve difficult issues by adhering to rules of conversation which are carefully designed to keep the discussion on track and drive it toward rapid and unreserved conclusion. Conclusion is reached when after carefully selecting questions designed to spotlight an affirmation's error, no one involved in the conversation is any longer willing to dispute the rationality of the affirmation.

Wikipedia on Socratic Method

In this way, conclusion is forced upon those who remain in disagreement, but have no rational reason for their disagreement. One remaining in disagreement is forced to admit "I still disagree, but fail to provide a reason for my disagreement which others perceive as rational." The irrationality of his or her position becomes obvious to those involved in the conversation.

For this reason Socratic Method is very unpopular with politicians who often desire to remain uncommitted on some issues.

How do I comment in Socratic Method if I disagree?

Do not pose an alternate position or attempt to show that there is a better way to handle the issue. This is the error most make in debate. Nothing ever ends up resolved because both sides continue supporting their respective and opposing views and neither view is refuted. Neither party has any reason to concede. Neither party finds it intellectually embarrassing to continue supporting their original position.

First, make sure you disagree. An argument is not won with fancy words, but by discovering the winning side before choosing your position. Is your position winnable? If not, accept it and change your mind, otherwise Socratic Method will reveal your irrationality to others. Once you've answered that, list the assumptions upon which the affirmed statement rests, and which if shown to be false, make the affirmed statement's error obvious to others.

Restate that assumption in language and terminology which make the affirmation's reliance upon the assumption obvious and ask those affirming if they agree with the assumption.

If the assumption is specious, wait to point out the assumption's flaw in your second question after those affirming answer their agreement with the assumption. Post "Considering that you agree with that particular assumption, do you also agree with its obviously erroneous implication, thus.....?

If you have difficulty finding an erroneous assumption or an error of conclusion implied by assumptions made in the affirmation, double check that you still disagree. You may find, to your surprise that you agreed with the statement all along. You just didn't think about it carefully enough at first.


Feb 26, 2011

   Incompetence Inherent to Government
   Forces Of Nature Work On Government
   Government Self Preservation

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No private company could possibly stay in business if they were unable to process their customers better than the long lines at any bureau of motor vehicles.  Centralized systems of government screw up everything they do; and most of us make excuses for them.  "They have to make every one happy... They have to be fair..."  No private industry could stay in business if they didn't keep enough people happy. So what's up with government?

Neither corruption, lack of proficiency, political pandering, nor stupidity has anything to do with government incompetence. It is a force of nature. No matter how intelligent or well meaning legislators are, their aggregate consensus is steered toward incompetence by natural selective forces.  Read further to understand how these forces drive centralized governments inexorably toward incompetence.

Any system which adopts both incompetence and self preservation is dangerous and requires constant attention until it can be abolished completely and replaced with an efficacious system. Centralized systems of government must be abolished and wholly replaced by distributed systems of government.

All Institutions Of Centralized Government Are Constrained By Robust Evolutionary Selective Pressures Which Favor Incompetence.

Every year thousands of businesses go out of business.  In the ever changing business environment sometimes more and sometimes fewer advantages are available.  Businesses who fail, fail because they prove unable to effectively differentiate between advantageous practices and disadvantageous practices.  Successful businesses select advantageous practices which persuade customer's voluntary patronage, furnishing financial support to the business.  This provision of voluntary financial support acts as a mechanism of natural selection favoring only those institutions which successfully differentiate between advantageous and disadvantageous practices.

Removing this selective pressure from any institution, such as is the case for institutions coercing financial support from patrons by threat of incarceration for not paying "taxes," also removes the selective pressure which favors the survival of only those institutions possessing real world competence and does not induce the failure of institutions which do not possess real world competence.  Real world competence is defined here as those practices which actually prove efficacious and which the majority of people find valuable.

Institutions which are not subject to such beneficial selective pressures, such as all institutions of government, accrue bad ideas and good ideas at their naturally occurring rate rather than at the rate induced by such a beneficial selective pressure which strongly favors good ideas.  Since there are many bad ideas for every one good idea, the only protection a government agency has against adopting disadvantageous practices are the mental faculties of its leadership.  As evidenced in the number of failed businesses each year, even the best business persons often fail because the mental faculties of even well educated people prove nearly useless in predicting real world competence.

For each advantageous practice adopted by any government institution, many more disadvantageous practices also accrue.  Perhaps Thomas Paine already knew this when he said  "Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one."  The answer lies not in eliminating taxes, but in replacing our current centralized systm of government, whole and entire, with a system of distributed government.  A novel means of electing leadership could forestall the inevitable.  Our current method of election selects leaders who are good showmen, not good leaders.

Forces Of Nature Work On Government

Centralized government was first introduced more than five thousand years ago by the legendary figures Narmer, Eridug and Fu Xi, independently in their respective corners of the world.  About 2,500 years ago Pericles introduced democratic oversight of centralized government.  That was the only substantive improvement to centralized government ever devised.  Since Pericles, no further improvements to centralized government have ever been introduced nor even examined, though methods of enforcement have improved dramatically, culminating in the nuclear bomb, machine guns and more recently swat teams and extensive use of prisons.

About forty years ago a group of computer geeks was asked to devise a system of regulation which could maintain robust and uninterrupted communication despite severe disruptions to the communication infrastructure.  They defined the task more generally as "a system of regulation whereby an unenumerated but finite number of independent units, each of which maintains its own sense of valuation for limited resources and offers resources of undefined character, can utilize the various resources each unit makes available for their better mutual interest."

The computer geeks found immediately that all centralized systems of regulation fail miserably when confronted with more than a few million constituents.  They designed ARPNET, which of course is our Internet today, around a distributed system of regulation where there is no central anything. No legislative body, yet new protocols are constantly generated automatically and efficacious ones are duplicated while defective ones are dismissed as a matter of the system's function not the decision of a cloistered group.

Centralized systems of government can effectively manage constituencies of less than a few hundred thousand, but when faced with constituencies of more than a few million, the logical structures required to maintain a centralized government fold in on themselves leading to unbounded trends and loss of equilibrium.  The unbounded trends are only halted by the demand of the popular electorate. This is not a stable interaction and inevitably leads to violent, or non violent revolution or to transition to dictatorship.

For Egypt, centralized government fostered growth for two thousand years, six hundred years for Rome, who knows how long for Western industrialized civilization (beginning about the time of the Great White Fleet.)  As population grows, the unbounded trends of centralized governments come against popular demands at a greater and more vigorous rate leading to one of the three inevitabilities faster and faster with each generation.  Each passing generation of mankind will experience this failure faster because of greater population.  After this generation the world is simply so populous that centralized systems of government have become obsolete.

There is no getting around it.  Only a shift to a distributed system of government can relieve the increasing pressure which a growing population places on the inadequacies of centralized governments.

Government's Means of Self Preservation

Any individual, organism or organization of members into an institution which does not adopt some mechanism for self preservation does not endure.  This is true no matter the size or complexity.  If a nation's government does not employ some mechanism of self preservation, it shall surely perish.

Such mechanisms of self preservation are not the products of the individuals staffing and who are responsible for maintaining the government.  No government official goes to work every morning saying to himself "I must preserve the fabric of government." Instead each official works to accomplish the goals and tasks assigned to him by his superiors.  Who in turn accomplish their goals and tasks as determined by a collective congress, each individual of whom is subject to various motivations, incentives and diverse goals.

In this way the machinery of government turns out products of government.  In exactly the same way the machinery of centralized systems of government turn out incompetent products through no fault of the individual members staffing the government.  They also turn out mechanisms of self preservation which are not the product of any intended activity of any individual member.  There are historical examples of governments which have not adopted mechanisms of self preservation.  Of course, there are not many because systems which do not act to preserve themselves fail quickly.

Any system which adopts both incompetence and self preservation is dangerous and requires constant critical scrutiny until it can be abolished completely and replaced with an efficacious system.

Some may disagree.   If you disagree, but are unable to identify the rational reason for your disagreement, you are dishonest with yourself.   You really have no rational disagreement.    You only feel irrational prejudges; and you should set aside your disagreement and embrace the truth.  However, if you do have a rational disagreement, and believe it can stand up to the rational scrutiny of Socratic method, post it here.    Show me that I am wrong by asking questions which demonstrate my error.

Socratic method is the oldest and most respected means of driving a discussion to rapid and definitive conclusion, despite the fact that most have never experienced a discussion where people leave believing differently than they entered the discussion.   If this describes you, you can read up on Socratic method.


I write this as a challenge.   I believe this to be true.   If you disagree, but can not defend your reasons, you should abandon your disagreement.

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Your Comment:         March 21, 2pm


16 Posts

              2    2  
Comment #1
   Jerry   wrote more than a year ago

I see no one has any rational disagreement yet.

The problem with people is that we don't know what we want.

What we want is not always what we need.

We don't know how to get what we think we want.

Everyday, we do the same thing we did yesterday and wonder why nothing changes.

              0    7  
Comment #2
   Jerry   wrote more than a year ago

Like I said, no one can refute this.

Have you thought about what you say about your self when you boo, but fail to provide any rebuttal whatsoever? Isn't it silly people just like that, people who act without thinking, that have given society all the problems we have?

              1    757  
Comment #3
   Jerry   wrote more than a year ago

Grunts and boos, but not a single one is able to articulate his or her disagreement. As I explain above, it is exactly this kind of people, those who are unable to actually think about matters who are the ones who put us in our current financial and political problems. And they still boo even after it is explained to them.

              1    0  
Comment #4
   Sean-F   wrote more than a year ago

Though inefficient in some ways and has the innate meme of self preservation there are some solutions that can only be delivered by government just as for-profit enterprises also have self preservation willfully ignore any solution that happens to provide a desired return on investment. Corporations are not responsive to stakeholders (in many cases not even responsive to shareholders) because they are not incentivized to be responsive; if executives' compensation is tied to the stock price then those executives manipulate the stock price; if the executive's compensation is tied to market share then those executives manipulate the definition of their market; the rate of executive compensation is set by corporate board's compensation committee (in general) and the CEO often selects the board as well as the who serves on the committee.

              1    1  
Comment #5
   Jerry   wrote more than a year ago

Very thoughtful, Sean-F

Of course, even though the board of directors are not subject to the selective pressures of the marketplace. None the less, the continuation and profitability of the business they direct remains so. In that way, government remains at great disadvantage.

I don't think anyone is suggesting eliminating government. Only that government bears closer watch than any business for abuse of power and that population has made alternatives to centralized government paramount to the survival of human civilization.

              0    1  
Comment #6
   Sean -F   wrote more than a year ago

Businesses can often survive without the consent of the the end user, often to the end user's own detriment. Goldman Sachs doesn't need to delivery optimum client response, as long as they are able to provide return of investment. So they create bubbles in the market, such as 2005-2006 quintupling the price of rice, making huge return on investment financial products they provide dispersing actual responsiveness to the hundreds of thousands of clients within the hundreds of funds and financial products.

If you are asking why used the rice bubble as an example, it's because of the dire results due to people that profit off of human suffering. Here in America Costco limited how much rice could be bought; through out the developing world, billions of people were getting by on subsistence level of food and due to the "free market" millions starved to death.

              0    0  
Comment #7
   Sean-F   wrote more than a year ago

for-profit enterprises also have self preservation willfully ignore any solution that happens to *NOT* provide a desired return on investment.

              0    0  
Comment #8
   Jerry   wrote more than a year ago

Yes, that is exactly correct.

"for-profit enterprises also have self preservation willfully ignore any solution that happens to *NOT* provide a desired return on investment."

That is the very mechanism which must keep businesses responsive to customers. If the board of directors implement any plan which works to discourage customer patronage, they go out of buisiness.

              0    0  
Comment #9
   Sean-F   wrote more than a year ago

The biggest disagreement I have with you is that non-violent revolution isn't considered a viable form of evolutionary selective pressure that dissuades the central government from incompetence. Also federal form of government is a distributed government as the responsibilities are devolved to National, State or Municipal governments though not automated by like you desire. You seem to be confusing evolutionary adaptation to being a path to some sort of perfection, rather it is means of self replication and is neither a means to deliver a necessary evil nor intolerable state.

By the way, the 148 word limit is really annoying.

              0    0  
Comment #10
   Sean-F   wrote more than a year ago

"That is the very mechanism which must keep businesses responsive to customers. If the board of directors implement any plan which works to discourage customer patronage, they go out of buisiness(sic)." Except they do not go out of business, personal finance services can discourage customer patronage and still continue existing. Evolutionary selective pressure doesn't select optimum choices, it merely creates a bottom threshold--anything past the threshold continues to exist. There isn't a king of the hill, all others cease to exist, evolutionary process only culls the very bottom of the process not pushing to create the very top.

              0    0  
Comment #11
   Sean-F   wrote more than a year ago

Corrupt elected officials go to jail for misappropriating $100,000 all the time. Corporations can misappropriate millions, and risk lives but because they are kings of the hills and contributing to elected officials campaigns, hiring former regulators, and advertise (as well as own) news organizations who are supposed to watch dogs for society, prevent corporations from to be watched closely or even briefly. To assume the government is the more powerful than corporations and needs to be watched closer for abuses, is the source of your hubris. For-profit enterprise is corrupting government, not vice versa. I believe we need to have all electoral campaigns be citizen financed (Lessig) or publicly financed removing private financing. Also checkout Wolf-Pac.com as a means to get Constitutional Convention to these aims.

              0    0  
Comment #12
   Jerry   wrote more than a year ago

This is really a good discussion to carry on in Socratic method. Of course the word limit is part of the problem. If longer, no one reads, but it is not long enough to discuss the details.

If you would like, we could disambiguate and probably come to a mutual conclusion in Socratic discussion by email jerry at jerrywickey.com

Selective pressures are a scientific principle which are incorporated into evolutionary theory, but are not exclusive of it.

Any practice which dissuades patronage, reduces the size, influence and power of any private organization. This selective pressure acts to reduce practices which the public does not like. Whereas government simply tells us give us money or we will put you in jail, which completely isolates them from the advantages imposed by selective pressures.

              0    0  
Comment #13
   Jerry   wrote more than a year ago

Since the public keeps electing incompetence, it would seem that the only selective pressure at work on elected officials is the ability to get re-elected. Competence at getting elected is the only qualification needed to be in public office. No other qualification is needed.

Whereas a business leader must actually know how to balance a budget and keep customers happy, otherwise he is soon deprived of the business.

The real trouble is that the general population is simply not educated to patron businesses which are also morally responsible nor vote for officials that are qualified. Humanity is simply still too young to govern ourselves. We need help.

              0    177  
Comment #14
   Sean-F   wrote more than a year ago

"Everyone knows that when government sticks its fingers into anything, it always end(sic) up in a mess." I am one person that knows the opposite of this tautological statement. Thereby it is incorrect.

Governments make very bad businesses as much as businesses make horrendous governments.

              0    0  
Comment #15
   Fang   wrote more than a year ago

Let's try the socratic dialogue.

1. What prevents a private corporation from simply telling people 'give us money or we will put you in jail?'

              0    17  
Comment #16
   Jerry   wrote more than a year ago

That's easy:

First: private corporations can't put people in jail.

Second: Even if we rephrase it. What prevents a private corporation from saying "give us money or we will do anything we can to make your life miserable, that the law will let us get away with"

The answer to that is, Selective pressures. How many people do you think would even approach a company like that? Everyone would stay as far away from it as possible so that company doesn't know about them.

That is exactly the selective pressures that keep good businesses in business and bad businesses out of business. Government is not subject to those selective pressures and so accrues incompetencies.