Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Things Today

December 14th, 2017 by G.

  • A partial-birth abortion Democrat got elected in deep red Alabama.  “Deep red.”  Demography matters, and every state now is on the left of the spectrum 20 years ago.  Progress  mindlessly churns on.
    • The GOP candidate was a bad candidate for all sorts of reasons.  But that’s populism for you.  No one is in charge, its not organized, its not thinking long term.  If it were, it wouldn’t be populism.
    • Whatever you want to call the vague malcontent right movement that has coalesced behind Donald Trump, it is feeling like taking risks and is therefore is prone to overreach.  The establishment and the establishment media still have considerable power and can exercise it when given an opening.  They did in Charlottesville and they did here.
    • A really good insight was in a couple of places at Instapundit.com.  The insight was that if the GOP establishment accomplished anything and ever did what they said, the voters wouldn’t have to keep picking crazier and crazier people on the hopes of getting someone crazy enough to actually follow through.  The voters are populists because the elite is incompetent at best and probably disloyal.
    • The Republican establishment is like the Bourbons.  They learn nothing, they forget nothing.

  • From the blog at jim.com (don’t necessarily recommend looking up the blog.  Citation is not endorsement or approval.)  Excerpted for sanity, but the excerpted parts are pretty sane:
    • Obviously a stationary bandit is better than a mobile bandit, and one might well conclude from this that the more absolute the King the better, that if he owns everything and everyone, he will have correct incentives. But the trouble with this solution is that no one rules alone. If he attempts to own everything and everyone, he claims more power than mortal man can exercise, and the power will slide through his fingers into the hands of a faceless horde of bureaucrats around the throne, who say “Yes your highness” while actually getting their own way, who endanger him and his heirs, and you get anarcho tyranny.Too much power results in paralyzing complexity, resulting in insecure power. Hence anarcho tyranny.So, he has to let some of this power be the personal property of people far from the throne – including the dangerously great aristocrats who gave King Louis XIV so much grief. When King Louis XIV disempowered the nobility of the sword, he found he had empowered the nobility of the robe, who devoured the monarchy. The further this power is from the throne, and the more it is the personal property of more numerous and less powerful individuals, the less dangerous it is for the throne. One great magnate, or half a dozen great magnates, is, as King Louis XIV found, a problem. A hundred or a million, not such a problem. The cure for the problems with aristocracy that King Louis XIV encountered was decentralization, but instead he chose centralization, which had fatal consequences for Louis XVI and his wife.

      Instead of governors failing to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, low level bureacrats are failing to give approvals of immediate and pressing importance, and senior bureaucrats are utterly neglecting to attend to them.

      This is the crisis of socialism. In Venezuela socialism takes the form of rationing and price and wage control, here it takes the form of Human Resources and Accounting, which are tentacles of the state inserted into every corporation, and the mere owners of the business are powerless before them, because they armed with laws that no one can comply with, that everyone is guilty of breaking, as fathers and husbands are castrated by family law that defines being a husband and a father as domestic abuse. Thus those that provide the capital have no power, those responsible for making payroll have no power, those that are responsible for closing deals with customers have no power, those responsible for delivering product to customers have no power, because all of them are criminals before the power of human resources and accounting, just as all fathers and husbands are guilty of domestic abuse.

    • The Sun King had troubles with powerful aristocrats dangerously far from the palace, the nobility of the sword. So he centralized all power and emasculated aristocrats, turning them into bureaucrats, the nobility of the Robe, but as his heir was to discover, he had created dangerously powerful bureaucrats dangerously close to the palace. That was the crisis of socialism then, and it still getting worse, hence the great centralization.No one rules alone, thus when the King attempts to gather all power in his own hands, he finds he has in fact gathered all power into the hands of dangerous powerful people dangerously close the throne.
    • Centralization leads to complexity, complexity leads to crisis, attempts to fix the crisis have, because of complexity, unintended consequences, which escalate into further crisis, leading to further centralization, Hence Soviet Russia, Hitler’s Germany, Venezuela, and now America.This is the crisis of socialism, explained in “I pencil”, which makes the point that no one actually knows how to make a pencil, hence socialist production of pencils will fail.In order to manage complexity, you need walls, so that one man can make decisions without having his decisions f—-d up by another man’s decisions. Hence, private property and local authority, the authority of the father, the authority the business owner, the authority of the CEO. And, not so long ago, the authority of the local aristocrat, who tended to be a high officer in the local militia, a major employer and landowner, and related by blood or marriage to most of the other high officers in the local militia.

      Ideally all the consequences of a decision should be contained within those walls. Of course they never are, but if you try to manage all the externalities, things very quickly slide of control. Every attempt to manage the externalities has unexpected consequences, and attempts to deal with the unexpected consequences have additional unexpected consequences, because trying to control matters that have externalities connects everything to everything else, resulting in a tangle beyond human comprehension.

      This, the management of complexity, is the central problem of software engineering at the higher levels, and the higher level software engineers have found solutions, but in politics, the solutions collide with who/whom, since any solution to complexity always takes power away from someone, and gives it to someone else. Further, any solution to complexity is going to take power away from the man who is supposed to be dealing with it, and who is failing to deal with it – going to take power away from the courts, the bureaucracy, from accounting, and from Human Resources.

    • Software engineering, at the higher levels, (not mere programming) is the science of managing immense complexity and detail: And the well known solution is loose coupling, minimize variables of global scope, and especially mutable variables of global scope. Otherwise large systems develop out of control complexity, which is what is happening now to the federal government. Socialism is tight coupling at global scope, as for example Obamacare, Sarbanes Oxley, and Human Resources.Tight coupling at global scope makes it impossible to control the top bureaucracy, as well as making it impossible for the top bureaucracy to control the mid bureaucracy.
    • Freehold is the center giving up attempts to control stuff that it is unlikely to be able to successfully control – for example the family and accountancy.If the King attempts to prevent the father, the businessman, the property owner, and suchlike from doing every bad thing that they might do, from doing all manner of bad things that a wise and good ruler should prevent and forbid, he finds he has not taken their power to himself, but rather granted power to a vast bureaucracy, dangerous to everyone, especially to himself, whose impossibly complicated activities make it impossible for him to control, impossible for anyone to control, impossible for the bureaucrats themselves to control. How many lives has the family court ruined with its ham fisted, brutal, unpredictable, and capricious exercise of power over people of whom they know nothing, and for whom they care nothing?The ruler needs to accept that some of his subjects are entitled by right to do bad things, are privileged, have a property right, freehold, to do bad things, which he may not rightfully interfere with, that not every wrong has a proper political remedy, for if he starts interfering in matters complicated, numerous, and detailed, he finds he has empowered an incomprehensibly complicated and dangerous apparatus, dangerously close to the throne. Hence the family courts, the Khmer Rouge autogenocide, Obamacare, the Holodomor, Sarbanes-Oxley, and Venezuela.
    • The problem is that it seems to be increasingly impossible for key executive officers to delegate certain aspects of review and analysis. Even elite performers can only do so much in a day, and so, when divide and conquer fails to be a feasible approach, it creates a fundamental human bandwidth bottleneck with regards to scale and scope for any particular headquarters-level office.The way this problem is coped with now in Washington seems to be, well, egregious delay. That is, the systems of prioritization and accountability for deadlines completely break down, and the senior officers end up constantly putting out the most immediate fires from the most senior and most angry counter-parties delivered outside the normal system conduits, and let everything else “for later”, that is, until they become anger-inducing fires too, or, hopefully, just go away (or are approved for inadequate ‘resolution’).The end result being chaos and disorder: It’s easy to observe that high level staff are personally handling matters which ought to be below their pay grades

      Yes, it would be great if everyone just got twice as much money and twice as many personnel, but the bottlenecks and key officer human-bandwidth limitations would still be there.

      Been there, done that (in software engineering, not in running a country).

      We have a saying in the software business: “Adding more people to a late project makes it later”

      With the end result that the project with its newly bloated staff gets declared finished and pushed out the door in completely broken condition, like Obamacare and every Soviet four year plan.

      We also know the solutions, which I have successfully applied.

      Unfortunately, applying these solutions in politics, rather than code, runs directly into who/whom. Instead of saying “You cannot access these variables because they are out of your scope” and expect the compiler and source control to enforce that, you have to say “You have to respect Joe’s authority over his own domain, even though there are externalities so that what he does hurts other people”

      To manage complexity, it has to be broken up into smaller bits, with walls between the bits, so that one man can plan and organize without his plans being screwed by another man’s plans (and it always is men, women are great at detail, but when the plans get larger, they get lost in detail). In software, these walls manifest as restrictions on one’s access to private variables, typically no access or read only access to immutable values, shared nothing message based multiprocessing, Google’s protobuffs, Git’s immutable versions, Rust’s temporal variable scope, and suchlike. Google’s protobuffs are a metaphorical door in a metaphorical wall with a metaphorical security man checking visitors in and out. When it comes to politics, rather than software, these walls manifest as actual walls, also as actual security men with actual clubs, stun guns, and actual guns, guard dogs trained to attack strangers on private property without waiting for human permission, not to mention walls in the less visible and physical form of power and privilege.

      The guard dogs are not producing anything directly, so to the good progressive bureaucrat they look like a net loss of utility, inflicting harm on poor people to benefit rich people, but what they are doing is subdividing the problem of production and consumption into smaller and manageable pieces, making it possible to plan and organize.

      The guard dogs are keeping the problem of social cooperation and collective action down to something human minds can manage.

      When you restrict homeowners from shooting burglars, suddenly and strangely, your administrative apparatus grows out of control.

      You take down Chesterton’s fence, and everything starts interacting with everything else, resulting in unmanageable complexity. One ad hoc solution to one problem causes a dozen other problems, and the ad hoc solutions to those problems cause several dozen more.

      And you wind up shipping completely broken software, and Venezuela winds up starving the masses as a result of their efforts to guarantee the masses food.

      To make complexity manageable, you need walls, metaphorical walls like Chesterton’s fence, which are apt to manifest as actual physical walls, which break big problems of organization into smaller problems of organization, problems small enough for the privileged man in possession  to comprehend and deal with. These metaphorical walls hurt people, and their purpose is not obvious. What is the harm in taking them down, in order to feed the hungry and heal the sick, rather than siccing savage guard dogs onto the hungry, the weak, and the frail?

      Well, Venezuela shows you what the harm is.

    • What we are today seeing in Washington is a generalization of what happened with Obamacare and Venezuela. Everything that is causing people to starve in Venezuela and be deprived of medical care in the USA was done to feed people in Venezuela and give them medical care in the USA.And any attempt to back out of it is quite correctly and entirely accurately denounced as likely to cause people to starve in Venezuela and cause people to be deprived of medical care in the USA.The reason for this seeming paradox is that urgent ad hoc measures to achieve highly desirable and beneficial ends cause tight coupling between components, tight coupling makes the system complex beyond human comprehension, resulting in unpredictable and unexpected outcomes, unintended consequences, resulting further urgent ad hoc measures.
    • The state must be one, but society must be many. You need many independent actors to operate the economy, but the state must be one actor, and must restrict itself to things where only one actor can operate.Further, in matters where that actor can operate in a geographically limited scope, the state needs to grant local power, even if it is likely to mean local oppression (King, God, and Freehold)The presidency has grasped such immense power that it is paralyzed and impotent, powerless because far too powerful.
  • This nightmare account of an encounter with the U.S. health system has some  real insight into why it is so broken and coins the useful phrase “paper pollution” (link is not wholesale blog endorsement):
    • Instead, organizations in sectors afflicted with inefficiency disease try to push their own administrative work outside. Both out into other organizations, and—more visibly—they force it onto you, the customer. It’s your job to fill out forms they could have done more efficiently themselves. When they screw up, you have to try to fix it. This negative externality could be called “paperwork pollution,” by analogy with negative externalities of smokestack industries.

Comments (9)
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December 14th, 2017 07:06:50
9 comments

Bruce Charlton
December 14, 2017

G – This kind of analysis is a red herring: fuel to sustain the conflagration of evil.

The problem is not superficial; ‘means’ like better strategy, tactics, organisation, personnel, voting or anything of that kind are focusing people in exactly the wrong places.

The more encouragement people take from the sideshow of supposed populist successes, the longer will be the delay before the *real* problem even gets noticed.

At present the ‘right’ (of all stripes) are trying to treat symptoms and strengthen the patient with infusions; while the lethal disease rages unseen and unattended – feeding-upon the medicines.

So long as most people want wrong priorites and strive-for wrong things, that is what they will surely get – one way (elite leftist) or another (populist ‘right’).


Leo
December 14, 2017

“picking crazier and crazier”

The good news is that Alabama has a limit to craziness.

We should not expect government to overcome the effects of the Fall, but good men can at times limit those effects. (see Alma 48:17)

Hence “…honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.” (D&C 98:10) This is true not only for government, but also for business and all other associations. Character counts. Even if and when society deteriorates, we can form a local environment of merit and virtue.


Bookslinger
December 14, 2017

Keeping in mind that she uses hyperbole as much as Trump, Ann Coulter has an interesting take on Moore:
http://www.anncoulter.com/columns/2017-12-06.html

The money quote:

Contrary to what you have heard one million times a day on TV, there aren’t “multiple accusers.” There are two, and that’s including the one with the fishy yearbook inscription whose stepson says she’s lying.

The other “accusers” claim he dated them when they were 16 to 19 years old and Moore was in his early 30s — or younger than Jerry Seinfeld was (39) when he dated 17-year-old Shoshanna Lonstein.

That would also make Moore 15 years younger than Bill Clinton when he had a 22-year-old intern performing oral sex on him in the Oval Office. Moore’s date “accusers” say he did nothing more than kiss them.

The media throw the dating claims in with the molestation claims so they can keep howling about “multiple accusers.” In fact, only two women are alleging anything that, if true, would merit national attention.

BTW, 16 was and is the age of consent in Alabama, and 27 other states:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_the_United_States


Bookslinger
December 15, 2017

Excuse me, I counted wrong, AoC is 16 years in 31 states total, plus Washington DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and Northern Mariana Islands.


G.
December 15, 2017

@Bruce C.,
obviously we don’t agree. Our view here generally is that reality operates at different levels and they all can pretty much be true. There is high level spiritual–angels and devils, great spiritual trends; personal spiritual–the way events, even big public events, can be influenced by individual actors spiritual state and spiritual arc; the psychological; the personal sociological–the way human events are influenced and determined by individual human interactions like status seeking, insecurity, etc.; the general sociological and political economical–the way human structures and social dynamics work, concepts like the circulation of elites, public choice theory, and the blog you are responding to; the general material–evolution, genetic drift, economics, energy production, and so on; and the small scale material–aging, sickness, hormonal changes.
All of these matter, and all of these explanations play into things.

In general and speaking very broadly, I’d say that you lean towards being a hedgehog in your thinking. You are like a Tolkien–you want the whole thing to make sense and fit together.This is OK! Because the spiritual dynamics are probably more determinative in the long run and because eventually all truth will be circumscribed into one great whole.

And we are more foxes. We are more like C.S. Lewis, enjoying our fauns and Father Christmas willy nilly. And this is OK! Because the fundamental fact about All That Is is the Incarnation and the existence of multiple agents in the world. Life is various, nothing fleshly and material is unimportant, everything matters, all up and down the scale, and the day when all truth is circumscribed is not yet. Its probably beyond the mortal human mind outside certain moments of vision.

Practically speaking, of course, there is a judgment to be made about what is valuable in any particular circumstance. If the spiritual is too much neglected, relentlessly material explanations are productive of evil. My judgment is that on this blog, with the group of men we have here, thinking about material explanations is fine.


G.
December 15, 2017

@Books,
I have not exhaustively summed up and weighed the Roy Moore evidence, but my impression is that there is a good case to be made for that point of view, that it was something of a frame-up job. But I agree with the analysis here in the post, and that’s the point. If the media can still impose a narrative even on Deep Red voters, which they did, they obviously still have enormous powers. Not infallible powers, because Trump got elected. But the dissident right’s instinctual belief that Trump’s election defeat of the media means the media is defeated is wrong, wrong, wrong.


Bruce Charlton
December 15, 2017

@G – Well, if I am a hedgehog, it is of a very foxy type!

https://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=hedgehog

I would not rule out talking about anything, not at all – but in this specific post there was a sense of getting pretty-deeply enmeshed in media issues, explanations and priorities – that set-off warning bells.

(Not that I am immune to exactly the problem! – I was so excited about the Brexit vote, as evidence that the English are not *utterly* cowed by the bureaucratic-media Establishment, that I hoped it would be a harbinger of genuine awakening – which it was Not; not even in the slightest degree!)

I just wanted to reiterate that even if every one of these issues was settled in a way that traditional conservative Republicans wanted (which, obviously, won’t happen), the overall situation might end-up worse in the end, due to prolonging the fundamentally flawed life-model; and having induced a false sense of having ‘done something’ – when the one-thing-needful had not been done.


Leo
December 15, 2017

Richard Shelby, the conservative Republican senior senator from Alabama, who had no obligation to speak out on the election other than personal conviction and who knows Alabama and its long-time political players, said that he would not vote for Moore and did not vote for Moore.

Moore, whose character I personally do not trust, was given to saying crazy things, e.g. that Rep. Keith Ellison should be prohibited ‘from taking the congressional oath’ based on his religion and that the amendments after the 10th were questionable. Given the huge importance of the post-civil war amendments to blacks in Alabama, it is no wonder that the black voter turnout was significant, even critical, in Moore’s loss.

There are or should be limits to crazy.

I am with Daniel Peterson: “Good riddance to Mr. Moore.  I hope that we hear little to nothing from or about him in the future.”

See http://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2017/12/senator-barry-goldwater-senator-roy-moore.html


Andrew
December 15, 2017

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