At times NobodyisFlyingthePlane will be a diatribe about the current state of affairs in the US and the world at large, at other times it will be an evidentiary discussion of the problem, and most of the time it will just be a collection of links I wanted to share.
This would be a fun survey to look at every 5-10 years or so. I’m curious what folks thought about the idea of cellphones in 1980. Clearly there is a lot of trepidation about certain technological changes, but perhaps that is as much about the change as it is about the technology.
I’d bet it all that when we get driverless cars sorted out people will jump on the bandwagon with no fear and a fervor rivaled only by smartphones.
Surveys like this can’t really grasp people’s feelings about complex integrations of technology into life. If you told a person in 1980 that the government would be able to tell where he or she is 24/7 that person would freak. Thirty years later we willingly gave them that power through smartphones.
The idea of robots caring for the elderly or the sick seems repugnant, but that’s when you think of old people farms run entirely by robots. What about robots taking care of the least pleasant, most mindless and repetitive tasks amidst human care givers? Picture a robot that could lift a person out of bed, get them dressed and into their wheel chair all while a human care giver is looking on. What about a robotic ass wiper? Who wouldn’t rather hold onto their dignity and let a machine take care of the unpleasant parts.
The question of the rights of Individuals versus the rights of the Majority won’t be answered in our lifetime, but finding the perfect balance seems to be the eternal purpose of our country’s existence.
George Will provides a discussion of this conflict that the staff here finds hard to argue with. Natural rights of humans exist without a government to spell them out. Governments do not exist to grant those rights to the governed, the rights existed before any government was ever formed. Governments exist to delineate the boundary of where individual rights bump up against the rights of the majority.
Hence the Declaration “sets the framework” for reading the Constitution not as “basically about” democratic government — majorities — granting rights but about natural rights defining the limits of even democratic government.
Government, the framers said, is instituted to improve upon the state of nature, in which the individual is at the mercy of the strong. But when democracy, meaning the process of majority rule, is the supreme value — when it is elevated to the status of what the Constitution is “basically about” — the individual is again at the mercy of the strong, the strength of mere numbers.
The problem (not addressed in the article) is how and when you define ‘the majority’. Why does it seem so hard for people to see powerful corporations and special interests as majorities infringing on the rights of individuals? Should a majority such as the Koch Brothers’ dirty coal powered energy machine have the right to poison the individuals and the environment which they so clearly have the right to live in? Looked at another way does an individual have the right to profit when doing so poisons the majority? Refer to McDonald’s and the Troika of Evil (ADM, Cargill, and Monsanto). It would seem then that Conservatives would accept that a natural function of government should be to protect the liberty and safety of the governed over the right of a corporation to profit when doing so clearly infringes individual’s natural rights.
This is something for the staff here to remember:
Merely invoking the right of a majority to have its way is an insufficient justification.
With the Declaration, Americans ceased claiming the rights of aggrieved Englishmen and began asserting rights that are universal because they are natural, meaning necessary for the flourishing of human nature. “In Europe,” wrote James Madison, “charters of liberty have been granted by power,” but America has “charters of power granted by liberty.”
The book author and the reviewer consider the value and importance of the statistics that make our economy “the” Economy.
The consensus seems that focusing on a small handful of statistical indicators of economic well being is short sighted. Especially our emphasis on unemployment, GDP , and the CPI.
“no one number will suffice.” Modern economies are complicated, with a vast range of products and services. G.D.P. was adequate for the age of mass production, but adding up the components of today’s American economy is not the same as adding up the number of cars rolling off the assembly line.
Even more important is a distinction not made clearly in the book, namely the difference between economic activity and society’s well-being. We need a measure of total activity, but G.D.P. cannot indicate how good economic prospects are for the next generation, or even for a majority of us today. The so-called leading indicators no longer answer the most important questions people are raising about how they live.
Its hard to endorse an idea without knowing more of the details, but this article suggests an idea worth considering. Replacing the current social safety net with one that is both simpler and more effective sounds great. Especially when looked at from the Alaskan perspective.
Alaska has a small version, called a Permanent Fund Dividend, which is incredibly popular and made the state one of the most economically equal places in America. Importantly, Alaskans don’t consider it “redistribution,” but rather “joint ownership.”
You can’t argue that America, as a country, is successful, and we might even say profitable. If we accept the premise that all citizens jointly own what this country represents and what it is to be American, then you could look at the safety net as a reward for the general success of our country, society, and government. If we accept that social stability and the absence of civil unrest are essential elements of what makes our country successful then we have to accept that they are parts of what make all companies operating here successful. If we turn around the idea and the nature of the safety net from redistribution or entitlement to reward for joint ownership we could develop a platform that delivers the social stability needed.
The staff is completely behind this proposal. Our country needs some additional paths to retirement security. Getting all workers into a plan that reaps the rewards of investing in capital markets is a necessary addition.
The proposed $.50 per hour going toward retirement would do much more for the individual and society than a $.50 per hour raise in minimum wage.
NYTimes: Capitalize Workers!
More transparency especially on costs can only help the healthcare industry.
Opaque billing and costs in Medicare and throughout the industry are a huge part of the problem.
I just hope there is no way to mine data about patients from this.
NYTimes: Sliver of Medicare Doctors Get Big Share of Payouts
Human trafficking and workers who are paid $6000/year while their company charges the Military more than $60,000/year. This is what happens when a few companies have monopolized a business and they are left to do as they please.
NYTimes: Worker Abuse at American Bases