Sunday, July 08, 2012

sunday afternoon, procrastinating, politics

slight headache today. was reading this morning and kept getting a pre-scotoma sort of feeling, as though the letters were hard to see and overlaid with a faint sort of phosphene criss-cross, but there never was any scotoma, and the phosphene sensation was very ethereal. i suspect this headache is due to my having slept until 10:39 this morning.


not a very productive week. i managed to get the video rivalry experiment into working condition, but never actually cut a prism setup to start trying to collect some data. really, i want to get j* to cut the prisms for me, but she's never around. definitely will start early this week. i also finally started writing the ADI report. pretty dry stuff. most of the report will be figures showing that nothing is happening, accompanied by captions that explain as much.


i get randomly preoccupied with politics sometimes, so i thought i'd sit here and type out a bit on my political thinking. why not? i think writing this stuff down gets it out of the system. i don't like thinking about it - this sort of thing, writing it down and looking at it is sort of like spitting into a cup: you can't deny that it came from you, but you don't want to ingest it again. seeing this stuff in print might keep it out of my mind for a while.

okay, i'm basically a libertarian. i don't like saying that, because my general impression of libertarians is that they're kind of hateful and resentful of the way things are, and i feel that (even though, truly, i do have a lot of hate bundled deep down inside) i am more apathetic and discouraged than either of these qualities. i think that it is undeniable that in times of crisis, big and small, the state grows and accumulates power, and refuses to give it up. it just gets bigger and bigger, and acquires more and more power and responsibility, and consumes more and more resources, and becomes more and more inscrutable.

this sort of reaction to the government might also make me an anarchist, and when i was younger i considered myself one. the only books on political thought that i've ever read were proudhon, kropotkin, chomsky, and zinn. but as time has gone by, i have decided that anarchism, and socialism, can only be useful in the social sense, and not in the economic sense. people cannot agree on what they need, and what they deserve in return for what they produce, and on who controls what resource, unless there is a system of incentives and disincentives in place, and i think that the only such incentives that can work in the long term are free markets and law enforcement. so, i think we need capitalists and police, which means i cannot be a true socialist or an anarchist. i do think that capitalists should be more progressively taxed, and that police should be governed more closely by the people they serve.

i'm not impressed with democracy. i don't know why people must be able to decide on their own laws, when most people don't understand things very well beyond their own private spheres. i would be more in favor of a technocratic meritocracy running things, with democratically instructed public taxation and democratically elected police leadership. the main benefits of democratic government are that official corruption and state violence against the people are minimized. corruption is addressed by making it so that corrupt officials cannot possibly be reelected because of their reputations; violence is prevented because different arms of the state will be pushed by the people to prosecute excesses. i don't think that the way to get these benefits is, necessarily, to elect all legislators and executives, and even judges. the people need power to impeach corrupt officials, which can be done through referendum; they need power to investigate and monitor the bureaucracy, which can be done through some democratically controlled agency; and they need power to punish reckless state violence, which can be done through the same democratic means. it also would seem to be a good idea to put taxation in the hands of a democratic agency, or require all taxes to be subject to referendum. the state should only carry out functions that the people are willing to pay for.

basically, the democratic branch of government should be purposed with supervising the other branches, with the mandate of preventing corruption and violence in specific ways. the effective branches of the government would be run like a corporate meritocracy, setting goals for the purpose of improving and advancing the condition of the city or state that they govern. laws would pertain entirely to protection and advancement of commerce, public safety, and civil rights. there's the rub, i guess - what constitutes these pillars, and how to achieve them - but i think that a meritocratic technocracy, strongly bound by public supervision, would be better than the power and charisma driven system of institutional demagoguery that we have now.

so, i am in favor of a sort of libertarian technocracy. both the r* and d* party are corrupt, writing laws for the good of private industries, rather than for the good of commerce itself; they both lie constantly to the public and favor the opaque system of government that we have now, i.e. they both are opposed to public supervision of the state; the r* party is fine with social backwardness and feudal ignorance of human desire for freedom - a position they call "social conservatism", while the d* party pushes public reliance on dictates from the state, and the idea that all problems should be remedied by the state, which they call "progressivism"; they're both prone to doing stupid, wasteful things because in the short term it gets them reelected. i think that the people should be free to fail and be stupid and fat and suffer, unless they explicitly volunteer to pay for the alternative - not to say i'm against safety nets, just cradles - which i think means i cannot be a d*. i also think that traditionalism and nationalism are backwards and harmful, and that the state should be a modulatory force for progress, which i think means i cannot be a r*.

anyways, unless there is some big change coming, this year will be the first of many in the future that i will no longer vote for d*s as i have in the past (i did vote for a r* mayor once). i feel pretty stupid for having written this, but there it is. please get out of my head now, politics.

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