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  1. #81
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    "What would your ... ideal America look like and how would it function?"
    Never really thought about it. Best I could do is an off-the-cuff answer. Let's see....

    1) Divide the Federal Government into a "core services" kernel which represents those functions which cannot be delivered unless they are delivered to everybody, and those functions which are only delivered to some people/interests. As an example... the defensive military applies to everyone, but the Department of Defense really serves the military and the Military Industrial Complex. So the Army stays in the federal kernel, but the DOD splits off. Peel off every administration, department, bureau, (BLM, DOD, TSA, FAA, DOE, BLS, etc) that serves a specific group, not to get rid of those functions but to clearly separate them from the core government that by absolute necessity applies to everyone. The 'kernel' is strictly constitutional and applies uniformly to the entire territorial united states. Funding of the kernel should be a universal "head tax" on everyone living in the territorial united states.

    2) Take all of the parts of the federal government that were stripped from the kernel and make them into a new state, co-equal with the existing 50.

    3) Abolish the idea of exclusive citizenship. Right now I am a dual citizen of Texas and the United States. However, I have interests in other states. Extreme example: because I own a house in California, I might be willing to pay to be a California citizen even though I don't live there simply to have a say in what happens to house/my interests. However, that is not currently allowed because I can only be a citizen of one state at a time. Get rid of that limitation. Let me be a citizen of every state if that's what I want.

    4) Abolish all geographical boundaries for governments operating within US territories/subject to that kernel of federal government. In other words, no more saying that California and Nevada divide along this line, and no more saying that the Federal government (all those parts that were stripped away in #1) applies to everyone within these borders. Note that I am not saying to abolish the governments themselves, only the borders. Instead, governments should be like... well... like the ACLU is... a membership organization that operates within the system, but with a membership only of people who believe in and support the ideals of the organization.

    5) Establish a process for citizens to form new governments within the system. This may be a matter of incorporating the way a current day non-profit organization incorporates.

    6) Abolish birthright and residential citizenship. This was a hold-over from when America was a vast wilderness and the former colonies needed every person they could get. Instead, EVERYONE (myself included) should have the choice of becoming citizens. State citizens, federal citizens. If you are not a citizen of a government, it has no obligation to you and you have no obligation to it. States should have the right to choose their own citizenship test, whether it is "do you want to be a citizen," "can you pay us x dollars a year," or, "can you pass this calculus test?"

    7) Getting back to the "head tax" I mentioned in #1. What I mean: When a child is born, or a new/untaxed person first enters the territorial jurisdiction of the Kernel Government, the Kernel government uses an actuarial table to determine the total remaining lifetime cost of that individual if they were to stay in the territorial boundaries of the Kernel Government until death. If they are newly born, their parents are handed a bill for the total amount, with the option of paying by installments. If they are entering as a migrant or visitor, they must also post the entire amount, but when they leave the calculation would be run again and they would be given back the difference (NOTE: just like there are bail bonds companies today, there would instantly be travel bonds companies for foreign visitors... they promise to stay for only 2 weeks, they pay the bond company for 2 weeks worth of their Head Tax, and if the visitor doesn't leave (skips out on their head tax bond) the company would be responsible for finding them and either collecting the rest of their money or getting them to leave). On the flip side, if you take an international vacation or decide to live in another country you should be able to apply for a refund for the time you were not in country. I suspect that this would amount to several hundred thousand dollars per head. Further note: There is nothing saying that an organization couldn't pay the head tax on a new child for the parents. So if the Catholic Church thought this was a form of birth control, or someone else thought it was unfair to low income people, they have the option of establishing a fund to pay the head tax for whatever group has their sympathy. I imagine "child tax insurance" would become common.

    8) All the other governments are limited to making payment of tax a condition of membership. No tax evasion crimes, no back taxes, no tax collection asset forfeiture. If you don't pay your California income tax, you cease to be a citizen of California and the state is no longer answerable to you (doesn't need to honor your vote if you attempt to vote, doesn't need to provide whatever services they offer to citizens), nor you to it (you don't need to vote, don't need to pay taxes, don't need to follow the bylaws of the organization).

    Why?

    1) Because nobody should be bound to a system they don't believe in, and doing so creates civil unrest. Since you've got to be bound to something for common safety and defense, that something should be as small and ethically unambiguous as possible, and even there if you didn't make the choice of being there you shouldn't be forced to pay for it.

    2) Because services are necessary, and a "night watchman" state isn't enough for everyone.

    3) Because by allowing freedom of association (membership in governments) including multiple associations (so you can be a citizen of more than one government), you hold onto both the (small 'r') republican virtues of a representative system with professional and limited governments, and the (small 'd') democratic benefits of the ability to vote for, or against, what you believe in by choosing who you associate with.

    4) By removing geographical boundaries, you allow people to vote their conscience without being forced to literally sell their homes and vote with their feet. This also allows for the peaceful transition as different generations have different values. If millennials all want to live under the New York government, let them do so without having to move to an already overcrowded New York.

    5) By allowing individuals to form new governments within the system, you create a way for the new ideas to incubate without overthrowing the old ideas or disrupting the people who are happy with the status quo. You want to have a socialist government? Get your buddies together and make it happen. It grows to 300,000,000 people and everyone wants in? You Rock! It shrinks to 5 people? Oh well. In the mean time, you didn't hold a gun to my head or destroy my life to do it.

    6) Birthright citizenship forces children into legal and ethical systems they may strongly disagree with, simply because of where they were born. Birthright citizenship also naturally tends to need a uniform age of majority because children are not capable of fully participating as citizens. In the US that age is somewhere between 18 and 21. Unfortunately, there are some people who are capable of operating at an adult level when 14 and others who aren't capable of operating at an adult level at 45, so birthright citizenship results in age discrimination as well as forcing children to be bound to social covenants they may strongly disagree with simply because of their place of birth.

    7) The head tax, and the idea of parents paying it for children born within the system, has several important points. First, it gives everyone a real stake in the system. Second, it provides known and advanced funding for every person who will need services. Social security shortfall? Not under this system. Third, it removes the whole "illegal immigrant" question. If you've paid your head tax, stay as long as you like. If you haven't? First time you come in contact with any official, you are ejected and billed for the unpaid head tax for the time you were here. Fourth, it helps to address point #6...the children didn't agree to this when they were born, so they shouldn't have to pay for it...but it still needs to be paid so the parents (who made the choice to have children) should pay.

    8) This goes back to most of the previous points. It is important to the right of free association and the idea that "conscientious objection" is a sign of a lack of freedom of association. If you were free to choose your associations, you wouldn't need to have an official status of "abstaining from participation for reasons of conscience" because you wouldn't have associated with that group in the first place. It is important to the idea that children should not be automatically bound to a system not of their choosing. It goes back to the marketplace of ideas and the concept that if everyone wants to live under the governmental system of Idaho, they should be able to do so without moving to Idaho BUT if they do they need to pay their share.


    I think that should offend just about everyone, but I also think that with the reality that we face (automation replacing rote work/the "middle class", finite resources, tragedy of the commons, capacity deviation in young humans such that some teens/20-somethings are capable of starting and building multi-billion dollar companies while others can't function well enough to produce enough value to provide for their own upkeep, et cetera) this is basically our only realistic choice if we want to avoid extinction.

  2. #82
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    Marvelous! Far exceeds my hopes for imaginative possibilities and offers opportunities for great fun.

    Do give me some time to think this over, I'm not as quick as I used to be.

    And a few questions for clarification.

    1. As there are no geographic boundries except for the territorial national boundry, how are the state gov'ts to deliver their services? Unless protection of private property is NOT one of them.

    2. Please be more specific on the Core services. These might include the national Military, weights and measures - particularly of gold and silver, possibly coining them but not exclusively. Does it include a Congress? How would such a body be constructed.

    3. On the additional state of the non-core services. Are these one bundle of services or can they be split. I suppose particular services could be duplicated by other gov'ts.

    4. The 'Head Tax' seems similar to the requirement of owning land was originally for voting rights. (I'm not disagreeing with that.)

    5. The non-geographically contained states sound like private companies offering services on the internet. Like Mark's Daily Apple, in fact.

    6. I assume that ownership of land requires care of it. What about land that no individual owns? Is it left to the Core Gov't (not good, that would perpetuate the tragedy of the commons). Is it parceled among the other states?

    7. Why's - your list of principles. Very good. But why the need to pay for your entire life's services in advance. If that's a democratically elected congress you're paying to you've given them unlimited tempation for theivery. How would you hold them responsible without a private army?
    Last edited by Cryptocode; 01-24-2013 at 10:38 PM.

  3. #83
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    Agreed, a very interesting breakdown Him. With the headtax are persons only paying for essential services that only the government can provide or does this also factor in possible unemployment, welfare, social security etc as we have now? Is there a set retirement age at which time the state kicks back some of this money? Are those with ill-health charged less due to expected lower life spans? If someone dies early does their estate receive the remaining money?

  4. #84
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    1) they would probably default to limiting service to areas they can serve, just as the ACLU isn't going to send lawyers to China even though there are almost certainly ACLU members currently residing in China.

    2) It would have legislative, judicial, and executive branches. However, since it has fixed funding and rigid limits in scope the budgetary powers and political advantages (e.g. rent seeking payoffs) are limited.

    3) Whatever they could get members to pay for. I imagine that some would specialize (just like the EFF, ACLU, et al) while others would push the buffet/Amazon.com model of one bill for all kinds of services (probably hinting at how you don't know what you'll need so you should sign up with a full service state Justin case).

    4) It isn't meant to be that. One of the big problems we are facing right now is that automation is changing the nature of labor in a fundamental and irreversible way. In 100 years most of the jobs we have now simply won't be necessary. At that point you have a choice of keeping everyone busy doing BS work, or making everyone into a "trust fund baby" (and I don't mean that negatively) who pursue avocations instead of vocations. Busy work is unethical (waste of human potential) so you've got to move everyone to a ”trust fund” baseline in a sustainable (not depending on perpetual growth) way. That means you can't pay as you go like Social Security, you must fund in advance. This is your stake, your capital investment that pays for what you will need (not what you want...that you can work for or not as you will). If periods when you leave the country can be refunded, shorter lifespans maybe can be too, but that's a detail.

    5) in a sense. I think some differences exist due to them being membership based vs fee for service like most businesses.

    6) Land ownership record keeping today is managed by local governments, but that's a relic from pre-computing. Nowadays everything can be recorded in a single moderately sized database, and that would logically be part of the Kernel Gov. As for public land, that is a good question... Probably Kernel Gov.

    7. It gives a limited temptation (there is only so much money, vs today where they can always fudge things), and every individual is a stakeholder with a keen interest in their ”share".

    ETA: Canio6... #4 probably answers your question.
    Last edited by Him; 01-24-2013 at 10:31 PM.

  5. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rojo View Post
    You don't.

    ......... A collectivity making decisions democratically is .......... .
    The Borg?

    Are there a lot of "Big Thinking" Democrats? Or Republicans for that matter? You're a Dem, right? I think I've seen you throw that up before. Is it an intellectual exercise to vote Democrat specifically, or just vote for free shit generally? I see little difference, as a practical matter, between those who wave a Dem or Republican flag and vote the "team" ticket. It takes a certain amount of cognitive dissonance to, on the one hand, vote for people who use the coercive force of the State to bring about desired ends in society and, on the other, insist that they be allowed to live their lives as they see fit...... pretending the State will not intervene in their specific situation..... and condoning the idea that everyone else be forced, if necessary, into a pattern of behavior that they approve of.

    No, indeed I believe that the idea of no inalienable rights, by virtue of your very humanity..... where everything is up for a vote at any time..... is base majoritarianism, does not protect the rights of the minority, and is generally anti-intellectual sophistry.
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  6. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Him View Post
    ETA: Canio6... #4 probably answers your question.
    It did for the most part. Thank you. It seems though that your premise is that much of the labor/work done today will be automated freeing humans up to either do nothing (busy work) or expand on a personal level (avocation, though perhaps the avocation will now take up the amount of time of a vocation today). It kind of reminds me of Childhood's End, though with robots doing the work not alien overseers fixing our problems. Given that many avocations do not pay well, I wonder how the trustfund will be funded. Few people have $200,000 (or whatever) just sitting around. Paying in installments requires income, which many will not be able to pay due to automation of many jobs/services for which they are now employed. This seems one way to limit population or at least limit procreation to the wealthy. Either way it is an interesting outlook.

  7. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by canio6 View Post
    It did for the most part. Thank you. It seems though that your premise is that much of the labor/work done today will be automated freeing humans up to either do nothing (busy work) or expand on a personal level (avocation, though perhaps the avocation will now take up the amount of time of a vocation today). It kind of reminds me of Childhood's End, though with robots doing the work not alien overseers fixing our problems.
    To be clear, this is happening today, and it isn't innately benign. We are producing more widgets with less people right now. Any job that can be done in a routine or formulaic way is under threat. Every job. In my career I have seen literally thousands of people whose jobs were replaced by machines. How that turns out in the long run is our choice.

    The thing is, if a machine can do your job, then you doing it is a waste of your potential. Humans are uniquely capable in some areas (call them "the arts" if you will, but I have a very broad definition of that) and machines will never replace those people... but they will replace the entire middle class of today. The choice we have is whether the displaced people move to the lower class, to the upper class, or die off. We don't have the option of ignoring technology...and it would be morally reprehensible to do so anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by canio6 View Post
    Given that many avocations do not pay well, I wonder how the trustfund will be funded. Few people have $200,000 (or whatever) just sitting around. Paying in installments requires income, which many will not be able to pay due to automation of many jobs/services for which they are now employed. This seems one way to limit population or at least limit procreation to the wealthy. Either way it is an interesting outlook.
    They don't pay well today, because our culture is arranged to concentrate the pay for avocations to a very few (there are 1000 athletes on the planet who make seriously good money, and 1,000,000,000 who pay to play). I'm not sure that will continue.

    I know that, for myself, when I have the opportunity to get something that was hand made by an artist/craftsman, I often take it. I have kitchen utensils that I watched the blacksmith beat out, furniture I watched being built, et cetera... hand made by someone people loved doing it... but a lot of people don't have that option today because they are head down concentrating on 'needs'.

    Not sure how it would all work out, but I'm sure that what we have today won't work as it is currently practiced.
    Last edited by Him; 01-25-2013 at 09:30 AM.

  8. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by Him View Post
    To be clear, this is happening today, ...snipped.....
    Yes, it certainly is and it makes sense in many ways. I was reading on another site where a person had a job, which required him to push a button once every 10 minutes for 10 hours a day. There is no reason this cannot be done by machine and is a huge waste of any person, no matter how little potential they possess. As technology advances, I wouldn't be surprised if this occurs more and more, much as you stated.

    That said, not every human is skilled in the arts. 1000 athletes get paid to play because they are at the top of their game. There are thousands of unpublished authors, every 13 year old girl is a poet, and while I can cook no one is going to compare me to Gordon Ramsey (his language is cleaner ). Also the arts requires monetary support. Support which comes from those with disposable income. Like you I buy handmade kitchen utensils (knives specifically). I have the income to do so. If the middle class disappeared there would be a far smaller group of consumers able to purchase said products and thus fewer craftspersons who could be supported. Unless we went back to a barter type economy where a knife made by my buddy Joe is better than I can make so I trade him a box of my tomatoes for it. I guess I can see that working to an extent.

    Either way, it would be a slow transition (unless brought about by a major catastrophe) so perhaps people would adapt. My guess is most would die. Perhaps that is not necessarily a bad thing either.

  9. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by BONZ View Post
    The Borg?

    Are there a lot of "Big Thinking" Democrats? Or Republicans for that matter? You're a Dem, right? I think I've seen you throw that up before. Is it an intellectual exercise to vote Democrat specifically, or just vote for free shit generally? I see little difference, as a practical matter, between those who wave a Dem or Republican flag and vote the "team" ticket. It takes a certain amount of cognitive dissonance to, on the one hand, vote for people who use the coercive force of the State to bring about desired ends in society and, on the other, insist that they be allowed to live their lives as they see fit...... pretending the State will not intervene in their specific situation..... and condoning the idea that everyone else be forced, if necessary, into a pattern of behavior that they approve of.

    No, indeed I believe that the idea of no inalienable rights, by virtue of your very humanity..... where everything is up for a vote at any time..... is base majoritarianism, does not protect the rights of the minority, and is generally anti-intellectual sophistry.
    I've heard it put this way by democrates who know the Obama people: think of the kids you went to high school with that thought they knew the best way of doing everything and that everyone else should recognize them for their smarts. They are the ones who would run for student councel but because the other students knew who these people actually were, and few people liked them outside their smug circle, they wouldn't get elected.
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  10. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by canio6 View Post
    Yes, it certainly is and it makes sense in many ways. I was reading on another site where a person had a job, which required him to push a button once every 10 minutes for 10 hours a day. There is no reason this cannot be done by machine and is a huge waste of any person, no matter how little potential they possess. As technology advances, I wouldn't be surprised if this occurs more and more, much as you stated.
    And it goes WAY beyond that. I know someone who works in a lab that does cancer screening. Her job 15 years ago was to look at cells and make an expert judgment about whether they were cancerous. 10 years ago they installed systems that tracked every judgment she made, so she would highlight cancerous cells and the system would remember what she highlighted. Five years ago they changed the equipment again, so that now instead of her highlighting cancerous cells, the machine highlighted them and she OK'd the machine's choice. Of course that means she is given less time per decision already, but the next step is for her to manage a pool of machines and just spot check the results (the way manufacturing QA works), and eventually even that will go away.

    That's just one example of how jobs that even 15 years ago were viewed as high training/high skill "safe" jobs are going to be automated.

    That said, not every human is skilled in the arts. 1000 athletes get paid to play because they are at the top of their game. There are thousands of unpublished authors, every 13 year old girl is a poet, and while I can cook no one is going to compare me to Gordon Ramsey (his language is cleaner ).
    Two points:

    First, how much of that is a cultural bias due to scarce resources? In other words, if I only have 2 hours a year for entertainment, I want something really world-class good. Maybe I'll see a professional sporting event or a top shelf concert. If I have 2 hours a week, I want something good but a movie is OK. If I have 2 hours a day, it doesn't even have to be a movie. TV is OK. If I have 20 hours a day, will I really be obsessed with seeing only the absolute very best athletes play, or will I be happier going out and playing myself?

    Second, How much of that is innate ability, and how much is an inability to pull away from the struggle to stay alive long enough to develop? I am not a professional musician in part because decades ago I made a choice to pursue what I saw as a more monetarily rewarding track. I play music for fun, I have musical instruments that are quite good, but when it came to putting 10,000 hours of practice into building the skill, I spent that 10,000 hours building a skill I knew would pay off. Had I instead put that 10,000 hours into music, I'd be a kick ass musician... and if I didn't have to worry about survival (trust fund baby + automation everywhere, right?) I'd have seen that as a viable choice.

    Also the arts requires monetary support. ...
    Remember, everyone's a trust fund baby, and automation covers as much as can be automated. That lowers the bar significantly. In that scenario, disposable income is not as important.

    I don't see barter economies working. Money develops naturally because it is so handy.

    Either way, it would be a slow transition (unless brought about by a major catastrophe) so perhaps people would adapt. My guess is most would die. Perhaps that is not necessarily a bad thing either.
    It is an inevitable transition that is happening now. The middle class is shrinking today. The assumption is that when the middle class shrinks, that means most of them are going to go down... but the traditional "lower classes" aren't going to be sustainable either. So the challenge is coming up with a way for the middle class to transition into a new version of the upper class.

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