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Another series of more or less connected thoughts - bits and pieces of questions I've been driven to ask myself in response to diaries and comments I've read on Daily Kos. (And thank you all, realists and fanatics and armchair philosophers and activists who've pushed me to think about it, whether I've replied to you or not at the time.)


What is a democracy anyway, apart from the almost useless definition that it is "government by the people"? If it is to be by all the people, how do you constrain, or reward, or otherwise enhance the experience of the vast majority of those people so that they actually participate in the system? If participation is by less than a majority, or even a bare majority, can a system truly be said to be a democracy?

Without needing to divide society into us and them, there are a couple of things that are true for everybody. Everybody wants some degree of power, although what constitutes power depends very much on an individual's perception. Or, from the reverse angle, nobody wants to feel helpless, powerless. Especially people who have experienced and internalized the feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. To automatically correlate power with corruption may have been good enough for Lord Acton, but it's not enough to measure the strength of a governmental system, or its capacity to do good or ill.

Voltaire, no matter how great a philosopher, only gave half of the equation. "With great power comes great responsibility" is a great wish for how affairs might be run, but he, like most people who quote the phrase now, have ignored how it might be enforced in reality. It's not a given.

To wish for a government that does not attract and enable power seekers is to wish for a government that is not run by mere human beings. I do not know whether it is inevitable that a certain percentage of the population will rise to power no matter what the cultural institutions are, but I suspect it.

The largest problems we face today, climate change being primary from my viewpoint, require long term planning to solve. Long term planning, and short term actions, because all real action must be current, and more long term planning to take advantage of the changes that current actions bring about. And some, or many, of those actions will not bring short term rewards. Very few of them will end up producing long term rewards. At best they will mitigate potential disasters, which are, for most people, much more abstract and less compelling than any current situation. Yet they need to be taken in any case for the long term good.

A major question that arises is how to set incentives that will give short term rewards for long term thinking, that will provide sufficient rewards for the people who must cooperate in changes that are either not directly to their benefit or in fact are detrimental to them in the short term. Coercion by threatened punishment does not produce the kind of internal changes needed to implement real, creative solutions. Create such rewards, and some of the people who most abuse their power will be at the forefront of positive change, because their main delight (and talent) is in gaming the system better than anyone else.

People play games. Always. They play them for perceived rewards, and some of the most focused play is for what seems to be the smallest of rewards. Rather than decrying that part of human nature, we need to create setups for games that will focus the best of that very real talent on real future solutions.

9:09 AM PT: Thanks again, Rescue Rangers. I'm deeper and deeper in your debt.

Originally posted to serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 06:17 AM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (23+ / 0-)

    At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

    by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 06:17:43 AM PST

  •  Obviously there are people that think democracy (3+ / 0-)

    is inconsistent with human nature.  Or a victim of human nature.  And that thus some other form of political association is necessary.  Ultimately the same problems that democracy has, any organization will have.  The democracy we have in the US did account for some of those flaws of human nature.  But it didn't account for ignorance and gullibility.  Many of the policy or political fights here are the result of people who like theoretical governing structures vs. those who like ones with real people.

    "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

    by stellaluna on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 07:29:03 AM PST

    •  We've been sliced and diced for years-lots of us (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      6412093, Skyye

      and thems, even on dkos. Real hard truths hurt and scare people and with so many clinging to the illusions in America, etc., I think real democracy is more like socialism than anything else I've seen as a human being of 61 yrs. We are all connected whether so many GROUPS likes it or not. Maybe if we could get some Freedoms back we could get to the heart of the matter, for example the freedom of speech, separation of church and state, which rule of law(?) is under attack by too much 'political-xtian' rhetoric correcting these days.

      "Life without emotions is like an engine without fuel."

      "It's said that the honest man has nothing to hide. Not true. The honest man has to hide himself, because honest men are the prime targets of those who lie."

      by roseeriter on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 07:38:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I kind of like democracy, myself. (6+ / 0-)

      It's true that any system has to support its share of "muddling through", and very few work the way they're theoretically designed to work. I'd like to see it more democratic, which means more of everybody actively participating.

      Incentives for such participation need not necessarily be tangible, but coming up with solid intangibles is one of the things that might make a real difference. (If that last makes too little sense, I'm sorry. Best I can do right now.)

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 07:54:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  In theory democracy does work. In theory (4+ / 0-)

        right now if enough people voted for their own interests instead of the interests of the 1% we wouldn't have nearly as much income inequality.  And there is nothing stopping them (except for voter disenfranchising but even that can be overcome with educated and dedicated voters) except gullibility and apathy.  I won't say there won't come a time when even the US form of democracy doesn't take the vote away from people but right now it is still the most powerful tool people have.  All of the other suggestions, mass uprisings, non-hierarchical governance, etc. still rely on enough people paying attention and caring enough to be involved.  If we get that many people democracy can work.

        "Speak the TRUTH, even if your voice shakes."

        by stellaluna on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 08:14:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's nothing stopping them, no. I suppose (6+ / 0-)

          my point is that there's nothing that particularly motivates a huge number of people to even register, much less vote. I think we should be coming up with more motivators to catch the people, who, like me up until 2007, simply don't go to the trouble to register. Motor Voter way the thing that made a difference to me - surely there are other possibilities that would make initial registration much more likely.

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 08:55:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  oops. "was the thing" n/t (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            6412093, divineorder, stellaluna

            At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

            by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 09:04:40 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  why does it matter how many people participate? (5+ / 0-)

            Not a rhetorical question. I just am not spotting that part of the argument, or maybe it's a matter of preference.

            I've recently come across two very different perspectives on compulsory voting in Australia. One is that it doesn't really matter because forcing people to vote doesn't force them to learn, and even without compulsory voting there would be more than enough people voting out of ignorance. The other is that it does help at least to the extent that it seems to reduce politicians' incentives to appeal to extremes, because there is greater risk of being punished by non-ideologues.

            "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

            by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 11:25:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Hmm. I'm not sure that it does. I would like (4+ / 0-)

              to see what would happen, though, if we found a way to bring many more people into the realm of registered voters as active members. I cannot see making voting compulsory, but there surely must be positive incentives that would increase turnout without unduly influencing voters in a partisan fashion.

              I suppose the real answer is that I do not know what would happen, and for that very reason it strikes me as something to try. I can't see that an engaged population of 80-90% of eligible citizens could be a worse situation than we have now, and it's just possible it might be a better one.

              At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

              by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 11:44:57 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  fair enough (3+ / 0-)

                Registering people may not engage them, but at least it removes one barrier. (I won't repeat all the other stuff I said last time. But the combination of the War on Drugs and felon disenfranchisement is ghastly.)

                Right now I'm reading Richard Kirsch's Fighting for Our Health, and I'm struck by how hard so many people fought for the ACA. It generally wasn't "direct action," but it was very intense engagement. In no way a response to your comment, just something I'm musing about.

                "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

                by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 01:28:28 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  A saying whose author I forget goes.... (8+ / 0-)

        "A monarchy is like a fine large ship that goes proudly through the water, but sinks when it hits a rock. A democracy is like a raft; you can never sink, but your feet are never out of the water either."

        Another thing you might say about democracy in practice is that it does not center around absolute control by the people, but around their consent. They don't make the decisions; they hire the decision-makers. I've heard people go on over and over about how "the people should decide" almost everything -- this is the thinking that lies behind the curious and deadly American fascination with initiatives, referenda, and recalls. But the people can't decide. They don't have the information or the time to study it. Mastery of a single substantiative field is difficult; mastery of all of them is impossible for any mortal being. So the best any system can do is to try to produce leaders who will consult the experts in an impartial way, give them a certain fixed time to do their stuff, and decide if we like the results. We don't rule; we choose someone to rule on our behalf, and then evaluate what they have done. Fortunately, this means that the ability to participate usefully in democracy is far more widely distributed than mere specialized knowledge. All that's really needed is the same ability that you need to buy a used car without being cheated.

        "They bash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago volume 3)

        by sagesource on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 08:29:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Your second paragraph is something I've been (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hey338Too, 6412093, Ohkwai, Skyye

          playing with, though less succinctly, for a while now. To shift to that, for the moment, we certainly need a better way to evaluate the decision makers than we have now, especially since it can't be one person, but must be a team - the polity and its problems are too widespread for any single person to handle all the decisions, or even, possibly, to wisely choose among the candidates for making those decisions.

          All that's really needed is the same ability that you need to buy a used car without being cheated
          I'm not sure that's so negligible an ability - perhaps we should be building a group of people who are competent to judge candidate and advisor competence, which sits, as much as may be, outside of direct political influence.

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 08:49:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  interesting stuff (3+ / 0-)

            sagesource's second paragraph in part almost seems to channel Walter Lippmann's Public Opinion (or many other works in a similar vein). There really is good evidence that the people don't want to decide everything, nor do they want policy to be limited to what they do want to decide. Not that those desires tell us what the system should look like, but they might be a useful reality check.

            I just finished Morris Fiorina's discussion of how he used to think that responsible party government — clear policy distinctions between the two major parties — was the best way to promote democratic accountability, but now that he sees it, he heartily repents. (He says much more than that; that's just a gesture before I run outside to shovel.)

            As for evaluating the candidates or parties or advisors, well, that's why we have Glenn Beck. (Gah.)

            You might be interested in Fishkin and Ackerman's "Deliberation Day" proposal.

            "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

            by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 11:36:10 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  Second reply - I've got to ask. Have you diaried (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hey338Too, Ohkwai, stellaluna, 6412093

          this? If so, link, please, because I think it's an important distinction for anyone who's thinking about how democracy works to have seen. If you haven't, or haven't lately, will you at least think about it?

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 09:26:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Wow there's a lot here to digest... (3+ / 0-)

    ... I would take issue with the statement:

    "Create such rewards, and some of the people who most abuse their power will be at the forefront of positive change, because their main delight (and talent) is in gaming the system better than anyone else."

    "Gaming the system", to me, would indicate that they would try to figure out a way to reap the rewards without actually making any "change".  And that's exactly what we don't want.

    Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

    by Hey338Too on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 08:40:08 AM PST

    •  Bad choice of phrase, I agree. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hey338Too, HudsonValleyMark

      "Gaming the system" tends to negative connotations all around. I think, though, that there are a lot of people who play in the system for the love of the game, who would be willing to and capable of shifting the paradigms they're working under if a new game/new rules came along.

      We'll always have people who try to use the rules to warp the system, but my personal belief is that they're in the minority, even if they're the ones who crow loudest when they're "winning".

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 09:02:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I probably don't qualify under this criteria-- (3+ / 0-)
    All that's really needed is the same ability that you need to buy a used car without being cheated.
    I thought Subarus were good cars, but the automatic transmission failed in two months, then the coolant leaked and the head gasket blew.

    That's analogous to the way some people feel about what happened after electing a Democrat president.

    I see democracy writ small and close up in my union.
    Most unions function under a limited democracy.  The members directly elect some of their local leadership, and the elected delegates vote on the higher-ups.  That works decently, the delegates hear from the members and usually follow their lead.  Any member can run for local office and knock off an incumbent.

    One main problems is voter suppression, which I see as the principal evil in undermining democracy, when voters' voices don't even get heard.

    A second quandary is when union members like everyone else will occasionally vote against their own interests. To a degree that's because democracy has elements of a popularity contest, as well as a competency contest.

    My least favorite example was Teamsters #560 in New Jersey.  Tony Pro, a Mafia hoodlum ran Local #560.  He won elections by large majorities, especially after an opponent was murdered.  He was convicted of murder and the government imposed a trusteeship on Local #560.  

    The federal judge then appointed Joel Jacobson to manage the Local.  I know Joel, he'd been a brilliant union organizer for 30 years, and had served honorably on the New Jersey Casino Commission.   He and his successor cleaned up the Local, won better contracts, and negotiated a far-improved health plan.  

    Then the  Judge relaxed the trusteeship and Local #560 held its first free and fair elections in 30 years.  The membership responded by voting in the slate of Mafia-linked figures, over the reform slate.

    “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

    by 6412093 on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 09:43:25 AM PST

    •  I think this was a reply to SageSource, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hey338Too, 6412093

      but I'll tackle it anyway, because criminality is another problem I think is common to all potential systems of government, and one I don't see a any quick solutions for under any system I know. I'm not sure what you describe so much a popularity contest (though it can be) as a familiarity contest. But especially when you have a corrupt government, a strong criminal faction can be seen as the most stable organization, and stability can seem incredibly important, especially when the local government seems to operate by whim.

      My guess is that in any society that emerges, for as long as there is a "forbidden" side to a society, there will be a criminal side, if only for the purpose of offering, and making money from, the forbidden. And we fix what we can, for as long as we can.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 10:47:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your reply SAIB (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch, Hey338Too

        was very concise, pointing out the parallels and the differences between a popularity contest and a familiarity contest, and how even stable criminality can seem preferable to an unsteady government.

        That does explain a lot of what baffles me.

        “The answer must be, I think, that beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.” ― Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

        by 6412093 on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 11:28:55 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  True democracy is mob rule. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    That is why the Founders created a democratic republic, in an effort to provide protection for minorities.

    It is my opinion that once a population gets to a certain size, a size too big for "one man = one vote" and we have to elect representatives is where The People lose control of both their government and their lives.

    And, again IMO, that holds true for all forms of government, not just democracy.

    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~ Edward Abbey

    by SaraBeth on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 11:15:19 AM PST

    •  Sorry, I thought I had replied to this comment (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hey338Too

      earlier. Not sure I can reconstruct it, but essentially, we have some representatives who manage to balance their constituent needs and the sometimes very different needs of government. Perhaps we should be studying the circumstances under which that occurs, and aiming to recreate those circumstances across a wider range, rather than giving up because all representatives do not manage this balancing act.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 01:36:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I said nothing about giving up... (0+ / 0-)

        I was just stating a fact regarding what democracy is, and my opinion of why it and pretty much all other forms of government have eventually failed.

        Like all countries who try to become empires, no matter the form of their government, they have all come down. Some take longer, some vanish in a matter of days... Mainly, again IMO, they just get too big to govern.

        Rome bailing out of Britannia is a pretty good example of that. The former Soviet Union is another. France, Spain, China, England have all tried their hand at empire building...none have lasted long. The U.S. won't either. And, again IMO, only England had a relatively soft landing after implosion. I doubt that the U.S. will be so lucky.

        "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~ Edward Abbey

        by SaraBeth on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 04:10:06 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  As a project manager and software developer... (4+ / 0-)

    ... I have never liked the "game" approach to problem solving.  As such I wish that we would approach today's problems more like projects than games.  

    For truly complex problems like climate change or "democracy", project management methodology would recommend breaking a larger "project" down into a series of smaller, achievable, sub-projects.  Each sub-project would have a person or team accountable for its success, a defined goal, and a realistic time-frame.  

    Well run projects account for "gaming" issues by identifying and attempting to manage the internal and external risks which may be encountered throughout the duration of the process.  It is well documented that a team achieves better results when it is run in a democratic rather than authoritarian manner.  It is also well documented that accountability (at both the personal and team level) is important to achieving results.

    Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

    by Hey338Too on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 12:05:37 PM PST

    •  As an engineer, I agree. However, such was not (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hey338Too

      my intention.

      When I say that people play games, what I mean is that, in my experience, any group, or team, or community that does not have a specific target immediately available is likely to shift much of its excess energy into playing status games. When a group offers a coherent path for promotion, the games are much more likely to focus on real promotional strategies, thus benefiting the group; when it does not, the games tend to devolve into internal strife, which tends to harm the group.

      It strikes me that we currently have such a situation in multiple venues within our society. There is no single overriding goal to be achieved, and there are few societal incentives which reward positive societal achievement in ambiguous circumstances. Instead, many of the more powerful groups are playing internal status games, and we as a society are having to handle the fallout, most of which is negative.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 01:03:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Diaries could be written based on both... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch

        ... of your paragraphs.  A point you make in the second paragraph is very interesting.  I wonder if we don't have a single overriding goal because of our ambiguous circumstances or if it is the opposite case and we have overwhelming circumstances - there are so many key issues and prioritizing them is extremely daunting?

        Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

        by Hey338Too on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 02:28:52 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure what "games" we're talking about (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hey338Too, serendipityisabitch

      On climate change, to some extent I buy the arguments that if we can get the economic incentives right, we can achieve large reductions in emissions without explicit coordination. (I don't believe in "market-based solutions" to every problem, but I do think that we'd be better off if the economic incentives pointed in the right direction, rather than the wrong one.) That doesn't depend on "power games," surely, but it also may not entail project management.

      I think it's true that disparaging competitiveness doesn't make it go away (again, not sure to what extent that was siab's point), but I've seen it cranked up for no good reason and to no good effect. "Science challenges" may be useful or at least harmless; I really don't know.

      On a very different note, somewhere recently (maybe in Mann and Ornstein's book?) I saw reference to a proposal to increase voting turnout by giving lottery tickets to voters. Probably not the game siab had in mind!

      "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

      by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 01:13:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was riffing off of the diary's last paragraph: (2+ / 0-)
        People play games. Always. They play them for perceived rewards, and some of the most focused play is for what seems to be the smallest of rewards. Rather than decrying that part of human nature, we need to create setups for games that will focus the best of that very real talent on real future solutions.
        There is a focus today on the concept of crowd-sourcing solutions.  Basically it's a "game" that allows anyone to play, with the best two or three solutions being declared winners and receiving compensation for their efforts.  The good news is that you get a lot of people involved in the short term, but there doesn't have to be any buy in to the ultimate solution because the contribution marks the end of the game for them.  That's the gaming part of problem solving that bothers me as a PM.

        Using your example above of reducing emissions by using economic incentives, I would argue that project management (setting goals, working with stakeholders, planning, and iterative review) would be required to get the economic incentives "right".

        As for lottery tickets to increase voter turnout, I agree that's probably not what SIAB had in mind.  But I hear she is a very skillful at Bingo, maybe move precincts into Bingo Halls?

        Looking through the bent backed tulips, To see how the other half lives, Looking through a glass onion - John Lennon and Paul McCartney

        by Hey338Too on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 02:13:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Best laugh of the day. Thanks. n/t (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hey338Too

          At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

          by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 02:51:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  gotcha (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hey338Too, serendipityisabitch

          Yes, if one wants or needs participants to "buy in," the process should support that goal. Of course, a problem of practical politics is that often not all the participants are interested in being part of a problem-solving project. Some may (usually some do) oppose it. But when people are at least open to that role, they can do great and surprising things together.

          And I agree that climate policy design is, or should be, a project.

          I'm not sure how best to harness siab's design talents, but I'm sure she/we will figure something out. :)

          "I am not sure how we got here, but then, I am not really sure where we are." -Susan from 29

          by HudsonValleyMark on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 02:56:14 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  These are very good points. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    serendipityisabitch

    As I see it, the key is education. Real, high quality education for all.

    A lot of special-interests in the country don't want the "average" person well-educated. It's harder to manipulate and sell BS (physical, virtual and ideas) to a well-educated person.

    We have indoctrinated people and, in some cases, well-trained people, but most people in this country (present company excepted, notably) are not as educated as is necessary for, IMHO, a functional democracy.

    That, plus the fact that advertisers and pretty much everyone is allow to LIE outright in this country. That shouldn't be allowed. We used to have a fairness doctrine for the media. I believe the Reagan administration rescinded that. We should have strict truth in advertising laws. Say whatever you want, but DO NOT lie to people. Reinstate something like the fairness doctrine.

    I'm not naive, playas gonna be playas...but that's what good government is for, to help curtail and control our baser tendencies and to attempt to look out for those who wish to play fair. At least I think we all want that?

    I still see this as a war for our minds. You don't need to use force on very many people if you can keep most of them, as we used to say when I was in the tech biz, like mushrooms: in the dark and fed BS.

    Quite agree on Anthropogenic Global Climate Change. This is why good, quality education is so damned important.

    A society consisting of the sum of its vanity and greed is not a society at all but a state of war. - Lewis Lapham

    by joegoldstein on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 03:18:47 PM PST

    •  I'm going to have to disagree. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hey338Too, joegoldstein

      And I don't want to. I'm all for a thorough, well rounded education, but I don't think it's a solution here. I had a great education, supplemented by reading everything I could get my hands on. It didn't make me care about the issues involved in a functional democracy. That came much later, almost by accident.

      If people care, they'll learn what they need to, learn to pick out the lies, go after the information they need. It's the current electorate we have to start with - to come up with positive inducements that will let them give a shit about who's in office and what they're doing.

      The vast majority of people in this country simply aren't personally impacted enough by what the government does to become involved - or at least, not enough to feel that it's worth their time and effort when they've got other things to do. (That's an opinion only; I have no links to back it up.) If you can establish, in their minds, the additional identity of "registered / voting citizen", then this can change overnight. Just how to make that happen more easily is one of the questions I have.

      At least half the future I've been expecting hasn't gotten here yet. Sigh.... (Yes, there's gender bias in my name; no, I wasn't thinking about it when I signed up. My apologies.)

      by serendipityisabitch on Sat Jan 25, 2014 at 03:49:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There are no easy answers to this... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        serendipityisabitch

        dilemma we find ourselves in.

        I do believe that education encompasses more than simply "what we learn in school". Obviously, to those of us who value it, we continue learning forever, on our own. IMHO, this is where REAL education takes place, anyway.

        I don't know how to get people involved in the process, but I do know that right now, everything that informs people on a mass scale (including K-12 education) also indoctrinates and propagandizes. I suppose this is unavoidable, but it is also dangerous.

        I still say that one can't have a functional democracy without having a well educated public. Right now, our public is not well educated and I think that at least to some extent, that's be design.

        I certainly have no easy answers and I do appreciate your thoughts on this.

        A society consisting of the sum of its vanity and greed is not a society at all but a state of war. - Lewis Lapham

        by joegoldstein on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 05:30:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  love the games aspect (0+ / 0-)

    not so much the elitist, authoritarian undercurrent of who sets up the games, especially after questioning democracy, even though we agree completely on the primary problem

    free the information

    by freelixir on Sun Jan 26, 2014 at 01:53:55 AM PST

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