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What will divide us next?

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--- Quote from: 3catcircus on November 04, 2021, 01:19:13 PM ---
--- Quote from: Pat on November 04, 2021, 01:02:33 PM ---
--- Quote from: 3catcircus on November 04, 2021, 09:21:44 AM ---
--- Quote from: Rafael on November 04, 2021, 03:52:09 AM ---
--- Quote from: Ratman_tf on November 04, 2021, 02:21:28 AM ---It's always boggled me that people put stock in government acting "better" than private citizens. We see the President, and congress, etc, flying about in private jets, enjoying health care perks, and making deals with corporations that secure their wealth and power while doing a half-assed job on the occasional project or plan that they campaigned on.
This is my non-partisan critique of all government, not just "those people". Both parties are guilty, and both get re-elected because they've locked down the process where we nominate new candidates.
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Completely agree with you there. Government is made by people, and they are going to act just as selfishly as anyone else if you let them. Just take this story, from a year ago:

But that's why we supposedly have a system of checks and balances in place. And if the system has stopped working as it should, then we need to adapt it so it works more efficiently again. If politicians are doing a "half-assed job", it's the public's responsibility to properly motivate them - for example, by reducing their possibilities to connect every decision they make to them making some sort of extra salary. That's what the democratic system is literally designed for.

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But isn't that the root of the problem?  "The Government" or "The Company" is treated like a person without having the accountability of a person.  No, the government didn't decide on something - the *people* elected or appointed or hired into that government made the decision.  Likewise, a corporation didn't make a decision, the C-suite or board of directors made a decision or set a policy.

The collective *we* need to stop blaming nameless, faceless entities and start holding accountable the people shielded by their association with those entities. Name names. Fire people. Try and convict people. Make it so that corrupt people will no longer see government "service" as a viable career. Make it so that sociopaths are weeded out from positions of authority in publicly-held corporations.  It would help to have term limits for elected officials and it would help if interlocking corporate directorships were unlawful.

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The "company as a person" problem is overstated, and mostly a distraction. In some ways, a company is legally treated as a person. But only in a very narrow fashion, for specific reasons.

And how exactly would you choose which individuals to hold responsible? Large bureaucracies, including governments and corporations, are systems designed to widely distribute responsibility. Some things can be pinned on specific people, but many other things are the result of systems in place that create certain outcomes, and it's not clear who created the systems, and even if it were they're often long gone anyway. The CEO and C-suite can set direction to a certain degree, but have to deal with a lot of inertia and can't just redesign the system from scratch. This is even more true in the federal government, which is morass of overlapping responsibilities created by accretion over centuries that allows blame to be shifted around like quicksilver in a beaker.

(And I say that as a person who believes we should throw a lot more executives, and many, many, many more government officials, in jail. But it's not a solution to the underlying problems.)

It's even harder to blame the voters, because any political system that's created will immediately attract the busybodies and other people who think they should have a say over what their neighbors are doing, and they'll immediately start tweaking the system to ensure they remain in power. They'll spend their entire lives doing this, making the system as opaque and murky as possible to disguise what they're doing. Conversely, the general public make poor watchdogs, because the improvements they can make in their own lives by learning all they can about the different candidates will be marginal, but require a vast expenditure of effort, thus leading them to the rational conclusion that it's in their best interest to throw up their hands and do nothing. It's not about "letting" the cronies and crooks in power get away with anything; it's that there seems to be no way to stop them, and all the sound and fury aimed in that direction amounts to nothing.

These are all systemic problems, not personal problems. We can't fix the problem that corrupt people will be attracted to loci of political or managerial power, so the solution isn't just better people or a magically more attentive public. No, the real solutions have to be systemic. In this case, limit the appeal of government to the power hungry. Circumscribe their powers, by hard limits and massive decentralization. If there's less power in one place, worming yourself into power provides less benefit; and having to lobby 50 or 70,000 different governments for corporate favors is a lot harder than lobbying just 1. Replace arbitrary discretion and fudging with clear rules that are applied consistently. If your job is just applying rules with little leeway allowed, then you can't benefit by granting boons to your friends or further employers.

These would be hard changes to make. It will require taking on the seemingly overwhelming number of people who screech when a single redundant program is threatened with excision, and the even larger number of moral busybodies who think they should be able to tell everyone else what to do. And even harder, it would require converting many of them. That's education, and the mission of a generation or two, not a quick fix.

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I don't necessarily agree.  The collective we allows people to hide behind institutions instead of actively forcing them into accountability.  As someone who works intimately with the federal government, I see exactly how federal employees operate.  If 10 fed employees, 1 is competent and qualified, 1-2 are complete morons, and the other 7-8 are barely capable - to the point that contractors do their jobs for them while they perform the official but largely ceremonial duties.  And I'm not talking about ambassadors and such - I'm talking about GS-12 to GS-14 or so. 

A contractor does all of the heavy lifting to, say, put together a study or report, and the government employee hits the "send email" button on it.  Should that document get delivered to who it shouldn't (in a legal sense), the government employee isn't going to get in any trouble but the contractor would go to jail.

That's the point - as you go up in power and influence in government or industry, there needs to be *more* scrutiny, not less.  And it isn't a systemic problem - it's a character defect problem with the people that gravitate towards government service or float to the top (like shit in the toilet) into suites in industry.  At a broad level, it's all because of laziness in pursuing potential empoyees, in getting political candidates, and in interaction with lobbying groups.  People won't do the hard job of due diligence because they don't *want* to find out what might come up as a result.  This laziness and fear allows the corrupt(ible) to make bolder and bolder moves the further up the food chain they rise.  A guy who cuts a few corners as a middle manager ends up running Enron. A Hillary Clinton email server full of classified documents operating in a closet without an ATO is accepted.  It isn't until they reach the point that their own praetorian guard stabs them that their terrible behavior ends.  At that point, it's too late.

Prevention needs to be the order of the day.  The only way I know how to do that is term limits for the elected and preventing people from sitting on multiple corporate boards while employed in the c-suite of other corporations in a quid pro quo.

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The system is designed that way. Do you have a nonfunctional department, or is your department riddled with useless people? Can't fire them, hell no. The best solution is often creating an new department with some vague name and purpose, sending all the people you don't want over there, where they check in each day, check out, and collect a paycheck for the rest of their lives. While generating reams of paperwork that mean nothing and saps the will of anyone reading them. I am not fabricating an example. This is a serial numbers filed off version of a story I've heard from people in the trenches.

The only solution is to shrink the bureaucracy. And the only way to that is to change the system, and change the incentives, to prevent the bureaucracy from ever growing to that extent. A few scapegoats won't change anything, term limits are one of those ideas that sound great, but have very little practical effect, and blaming it on laziness is absurd.


--- Quote from: Rafael on November 04, 2021, 01:32:49 PM ---Oh, come on. Words do actually have meaning. And what you're describing is just another spin on the faerie tale of trickle-down-economics - just supposedly from the Moon, this time. And for that matter, if you're really regarding your personal understanding of "efficiency" as more important than constitutionality - then you're the totalitarian, not me.  :P

--- End quote ---

"Faerie tale of trickle down economics" answered in on easy to understand picture


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