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Comment: Step in the Right Direction (Score 1) 245

by ozborn (#40163263) Attached to: Ask Candidate Jeremy Hansen About Direct Democracy in Vermont

I think this is definitely a step in the right direction, obviously a majority decision made by the electorate may be the "wrong" (whatever that means!) decision but I suspect it will generally be better than the decisions made by representatives. The reasons:

1. Bribing the electorate is more expensive than bribing a single politician. The influence of moneyed interests is arguably one of the biggest problem facing Western representative democracy today and that alone is sufficient reason to move towards direct democracy.

2. Generally the crowd (after some discussion) comes up with better answers which is why asking the crowd for their input in game shows is usually a good idea.

2. Having meaningful participation in the process will encourage civic involvement and political engagement, more so than voting for somebody every few years. I think there is a good chance that more people will become informed if they have a say in the process.

One I find really crazy reading these slashdot posts is the worry over "mob rule". I think we have the absolute opposite problem (plutocracy) and anything that moves us away from that is going in the right direction. Also I would argue that technology only helps, it does not make direct democracy possible. Direct democracy has been around longer than computers and I suspect that even now you could gather all the people who actually care about politics within most electoral boundaries into a large stadium and do much of the business face to face.

Comment: Re:Smart enough isn't the problem (Score 1) 1276

by ozborn (#39248073) Attached to: Scientists Say People Aren't Smart Enough For Democracy To Flourish

1.) "A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax can escape the obligation to pay it."

2.) That is one of the reasons why the founders of the United States wisely chose a republican form of government instead of a democracy

Care to elaborate how 2) follows from 1) ?

Comment: Re:Contact's inherent flaw (Score 2) 1276

by ozborn (#39247991) Attached to: Scientists Say People Aren't Smart Enough For Democracy To Flourish

You've got a better method of conflict resolution? You really think everybody is going to come to consensus on serious matters of difference?

In practice our system doesn't do this anyway, a minority impose their will on the majority by virtue of their economic power. Most Americans were against the various bailout programs but they did them anyway. Same thing with NAFTA. Iraq war. The list is long.

Comment: Re:Democracy is 51% telling the other 49% what to (Score 2) 1276

by ozborn (#39247891) Attached to: Scientists Say People Aren't Smart Enough For Democracy To Flourish
I think that problem is pretty rare, the common situation is 1% of the population buying off the majority of representatives to push through legislation and tax breaks that serve their interest. Anyways, what percentage would you be happy with? Or do you really think that some "enlightened" individuals are really going to do a better job? My money is that they will take care of themselves first.

Comment: Re:Frak! (Score 3, Insightful) 297

by ozborn (#39070247) Attached to: Study Says Fracking is Safe In Theory But Often Not In Practice

Even if industry and government should have similar goals (keeping the screw ups and cheaters out of the game), they can't seem to get together and put up some fairly simple regulatory frameworks.

You're somewhat confused about what the "similar goals" are between industry and government actually are. It has nothing to do with stupidity and much more to do with corruption and money. Industry (including and particularly cheaters) pay people in government through campaign contributions plus the age old promise of high paying jobs in industry once their political career is over to produce a "favorable" business climate. This can mean passing favorable legislation or removing regulatory pressure. If that isn't possible the regulators can simply be de-funded, the options are endless. The politicians love it, they get campaign contributions, connections to powerful people in industry and maybe even a cushy jobs on the Board of Directors when they are done. Where I'm living (Alabama) this sadly explains the majority of political practice here, from both parties.

Maybe this is what Tainter means by too much complexity causing our eventual downfall. Humans are just too stupid sometimes.

One possibility is that politicians are too stupid to establish a functional regulatory framework. However they somehow manage to construct a complicated taxation framework to collect trillions in taxes, build a massively complicated military and defense structure... I think a more reasonable explanation is that many (not all) politicians have no interest in building such a structure. The constituents are too diffuse and disorganized to make it worth their while except during election time, when they are at least give it lip service.

Comment: Re:Abolish IP (Score 1) 517

by ozborn (#38702096) Attached to: White House Responds To SOPA, PIPA, and OPEN

Right, because there was no entertainment industry before the digital age?!

I think what you mean is that the profitability of the entertainment industry will be be decreased and you might be right about that, but my guess is there will still be a multi-billion dollar industry before and after the abolition of any digital copyright.

+ - Ask Slashdot: Open vs. closed-source for a start-u-> 1

Submitted by
atamagabakkaomae writes "Together with a friend I am starting up a company in Japan that develops sensors used in motion capture. For these sensors we develop hardware and software. Part of the software development is an open-source toolkit called openMAT. We have some special purpose algorithms that we developed ourselves and that are better than our competitor's technology. I first wanted to publish everything open-source to spark interest in our company and to do development in collaboration with the community. My company partner disagreed and said that we will lose our technological advantage if we open-source our best IP. So I eventually published only a part of the toolkit open-source and closed the most interesting code. How do you guys think that open-sourcing your code-base affects a company's business? Is it wrong for a small company to give away precious IP like that or will it on the contrary help the development of the company?"
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re:Great (Score 1) 529

by ozborn (#38223566) Attached to: Anonymous Threatens Robin Hood Attacks Against Banks

There are no truly poor in America.

What you mean to say is that there is nobody in America who meets YOUR definition of truly poor - whatever that is.

There are more than enough truly poor people in the US - as defined by the US government, OECD, etc... Most people also intuitively (and correctly IMO) realize that the crazy homeless person they see wandering the streets of major urban centers is truly poor - they have no or little money, no shelter, etc... Pretty much the very definition of poverty and destitution, but perhaps in your world they have to be actively starving to death to be truly poor?

I think what you mean to say is that you can't emotionally handle the idea of real poverty well, so you declare it impossible (at least in America) so you don't have to think about it and definitely not do anything about it.

Comment: Worry more about smart people (Score 1) 594

by ozborn (#37982228) Attached to: Could Crowd-Sourced Direct Democracy Work?

You really think this is a problem? Every one should be an expert to have a say? I should know about every weapon system the US military produces in order to say I think the defense budget is too big?

I think you should worry less about stupid people and more about smart people. Smart people who can for instance construct intricate economic models on say sub-prime US mortgages, government issued bonds - figure out they are a horrible value - and then sell them to the US government or their own clients (whom they are supposed to be serving). A few of these smart people can cause a lot of damage.

Comment: Re:Occupy is the worst possible model to use (Score 1) 594

by ozborn (#37982184) Attached to: Could Crowd-Sourced Direct Democracy Work?

Ask them if they want free healthcare, or free college tuition, and they will say yes. Ask them if they would be willing to pay 30-40-50% or higher taxes for this, and they will probably say "no, I don't make enough money.

If by "free" you mean public health care, it is a lot cheaper than the current mix of private and public that exists in the United States. I'm also sure most people would be willing to pay more taxes to avoid paying private insurance and ending the stress of worrying medically related bankruptcy.

The few times that any majoritarian consensus is achieved
On planet earth I don't think there has ever been such a consensus, nor is there likely to be. The main problem in the real world is dealing with a tiny, powerful minority who wields vast wealth and power over the rest of us. I think you have better things to worry about.

Comment: Re:No, it won't work (Score 1) 594

by ozborn (#37982144) Attached to: Could Crowd-Sourced Direct Democracy Work?

It's a really bad example.

Democracy isn't about people being experts in a profession, it's about people in general being their own judge of what is best for them. People of course make mistakes, but in general people do a better job than anybody else looking after their own interests.

At some level, a meritocratic group -- people with real expertise -- has to step in and exert control
The problem is that if that group maintains control, they will distort the system to enrich and entrench themselves at the expense of every one else.

Information is the inverse of entropy.