Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The fake news problem

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  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Farmer Green,

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Neil,

    Greenwald has gone all anti-anti-fake news.

    There’s this really weird phenomenon of people denying at great cost to their integrity that there were any factors that decreased the chances of. a Dem victory (other than of course Clinton and the Elites being corrupt liars etc etc,).

    And with such vehemence and dishonesty

    Yes! I got sick of having any kind of discussion with people screaming that it was only permissible to talk about one reason for a result for which there are patently multiple reasons.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Democracy is discrediting itself by means of the results it’s producing

    I think you might be overstating the case against democracy there. What range of results do you expect from a democracy that has spent about 93% of its existence at war? Who has elected luminaries like Warren G. Harding and James Buchanan. To my eye Andrew Jackson is probably the most Trump-like in character, and he is considered by most Americans to have been a "good" president.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    With a meritocracy, competence determines the outcome. Since such a positive alternative has never been tried...

    Except in the world's most populous country, in various forms over thousands of years.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    How about voluntarism as primary social ethic? A system that provides a way for volunteers with confidence & expertise to volunteer for solution implementation roles. Know how, can do. A traditional kiwi social ethic proven successful for generations before some goddam corporate privatised it. Crowd-sourcing intelligence, then enabling it to achieve required results. Better than the usual left/right shambles, I reckon.

    I can personally attest to the key problem with voluntarism being extremely low levels of engagement. You're literally talking about the people doing all the work getting paid nothing for it. It's only an improvement upon the current model in that people not being paid are rather free to pick and choose their position, financial motivation doesn't come into it, but they are extremely vulnerable to simply being bought out or paid off, unless they are already completely secure in their income.

    So the pathway to that model is that you have to FIRST solve the problem of impoverishment of anyone not working. Or you are literally relying on the idle rich or the unemployed for your solutions. The first group will naturally work voluntarily to protect that situation, which is hardly going to be a progressive social movement, and the second is totally vulnerable to being bought out.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I got sick of having any kind of discussion with people screaming that it was only permissible to talk about one reason for a result for which there are patently multiple reasons.

    So much this. The usual fight over the mandate delivered by some binary choice. As if the entire way that hundreds of millions of people think can be summed up in the choice between the two least popular candidates in US electoral history.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Not that I'm knocking your idea, Dennis. Lots of amazing things have been done by volunteers working freely on them. Many of societies greatest intellectual works. But political organization could probably be said to mostly be the work of free volunteers, mostly self selected from middle to upper classes, and they've had a damned good go already. Some piece of this is missing, and I don't think it's the professionalism of politics. I think its the complete lack of the winning actual idea that either professionals OR volunteers could get themselves behind to deliver a decent government that is by, of and for the people, and yet also still effective, efficient, productive and fulfilling.

    Which is not to say this idea is not out there, but just that I haven't heard it. I've dreamed since youth of a society in which decision making might leverage technological advancements more to get around some of the cost of democracy. But the basic problem of engagement and competence remains, no matter how easy you make it for people to participate. It's not exactly hard to vote, but loads of people can't even be bothered to do that.

    I'm not surprised. On most issues, people don't feel competent, for good reason. The consensus model of engagement start breaking down the more complex what you are organizing becomes. When it's just a household, both parties can participate in nearly every decision (and even then they usually don't, instead specializing in their interests). But when it's a nation, it's so damned enormous I don't even know what's going on with 99% of it. Within that 1% I do know about, I'll likely feel engaged enough, but it's hard to claim big mandates from tiny participation. What I can claim is that of the people who give a shit, x percent said this. It's not the same as saying that "people" said this, or want this. But when it's all you've got, it's what you take.

    So what we have is not so much meritocracy as giveashitocracy. Which is in some ways a shadow of meritocracy, but is not exactly the same.

    But outright meritocracy has serious problems as a political system. It's going to entrench privilege and power, and there is no safety valve at all. At least giveashitocracy does have the valve that if something becomes enough of a problem that the giveashit factor rises, then the entrenched privilege can be swept aside.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to B Jones,

    Good one: I was wrong. Only half-way thro part 1 so far but seems an excellent essay, thanks.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to David Hood,

    Wasn't Jackson famous for defeating the central bank option? Vaguely recall it was the second Bank of the United States which he campaigned against & the people gave him victory. That epic struggle between those who wanted a free market in banking & those who wanted a central bank to rule them all took a century to resolve, ending in the defeat of the former & the creation of the Fed just over a century ago.

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to BenWilson,

    I appreciated your in-depth comments Ben. I think the positive side of meritocracy lies in the potential for using clever designs.

    For instance, most of the good-news green stories I've seen in the media the past decade haven't come from democracy via green politicians; they've come from inventors & entrepreneurs applying their inventions. I remember Branson telling an interviewer that he spends his entire time awake thinking about green energy. Such a synthesis of philanthropy & voluntarism requires only the explicit advocacy & use of enterprise teams as the suitable vehicle for volunteers to collaborate in.

    Last year, in my submission to parliament's Justice & Electoral Committee Inquiry, I advocated reviving our moribund Legislative Chamber by means of a similar team-driven voluntarist scheme: http://www.alternativeaotearoa.org/get-this/parliamentary-reform-to-facilitate-a-new-style-of-politics

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to B Jones,

    We did try . . .sort of . . . briefly.

    ” In 1886 the Government of the day made another effort to systematise the public service and eliminate patronage.
    Competitive examination was established as the sole method of entry into the service and the appointment of outsiders to higher positions was made difficult, though not impossible.

    Parliament’s self-denying ordinance had a brief life.

    In the following year amending legislation gave the Government power to appoint persons for any temporary service. The ‘back door’ was once more wide open; and through it, in the period of prosperity and expanding state activity which followed, poured a stream of political appointees which soon swamped what was left of the system of entry by merit and promotion from within.”

    http://nzetc.victoria.ac.nz/tm/scholarly/tei-WebGove-t1-body-d5.html

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green,

    I think that there was a public service examination in Godzone until the early nineteen forties.
    I have not been able to document it from available archives.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to B Jones,

    Thanks for this. A couple of things possibly also worthy of inclusion are the process to join the party, plus the fact that new membership has dropped to half its previous rate since Xi took office and since that article was published.

    In the late 2000s joining the party offered the prospects of a stable – though not well paid compared to the private sector – job for life. Though a shift in public perception under Xi has resulted in a decline in new members annually, a key influence on this drop has been the perception of a heightened ideological resolve.

    In contrast I attempted to join the National Party (!?) just now and found I was unable to do so unless I paid $5 - that reason alone.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to mark taslov,

    That's not a bad system. It at least ensures that the sort of people who might support Trump or Brexit never get into a position to do so. Maybe we should have a liberalised version in the west - e.g to get full citizenship you have to take exams and write essays to show your ability at critical thought.

    (Fascism?? Many countries, not NZ, require new citizens to take an exam - why not cut out the racism and apply it to the native born?)

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Maybe we should have a liberalised version in the west

    Indeed, and voting aside, at a party level - if more stringent restrictions were imposed on new members, the ideological split within British Labour or Trump getting the Republican nomination might be more unlikely.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    overstating the case against democracy

    Democracy isnt a bad system even though its faults are glaringly obvious at present.
    It seems to fall down when the populace dont engage, for whatever reason and there are a few. And arent able to/capable of making informed decisions.

    Or when the elected turn out to be bullshitters par excellence, with hidden agendas.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood, in reply to Dennis Frank,

    Wasn’t Jackson famous for defeating the central bank option?

    Absolutely. Among white people he is remember as sticking up for the little guy against the elite and his short temper.

    Vulnerable minorities tend to focus more on the genocidal ethnic cleansing of the Trail of Tears.

    There are many reasons for seeing him as the most Trump-like president.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to David Hood,

    There are many reasons for seeing him as the most Trump-like president.

    Including, perhaps, that his backwoods supporters trashed the White House at his inauguration pissup.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank,

    Last night Howard Kurtz was discussing fake news on Fox, tonight Seven Sharp did a feature on it (normally I don't watch either - nor any tv) and showed a graph of clicks on fake news sites cllimbing past clicks on real news sites in recent months, so it's a happening thing alright...

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    to get full citizenship you have to take exams and write essays to show your ability at critical thought.

    I'd be very much against that. Obviously teaching those things is important, but I don't think something as arbitrary as the luck you have in upbringing and natural intelligence should be the basis for access to power. That's how it already is, to a highly significant extent. But no amount of intelligence gives you moral authority, as so many clever evil bastards have shown throughout the ages.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to BenWilson,

    the basis for access to power

    In fairness to Rich’s point and example there, I achieved the required score on that sample test to be granted British citizenship. It wasn’t so much testing intelligence as it was testing knowledge. A test of the nature presented need not be dissimilar to the hoops one need jump through in order to legally drive a motor vehicle.

    Having said that I strongly support this:

    But outright meritocracy has serious problems as a political system. It’s going to entrench privilege and power, and there is no safety valve at all. At least giveashitocracy does have the valve that if something becomes enough of a problem that the giveashit factor rises, then the entrenched privilege can be swept aside.

    Most relevant is that with the US system they have a – loosely defined – meritocratic system already in place to protect their democracy from the worst excesses of the people.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to mark taslov,

    "irresponsible demagogue "
    Pre-inauguration, that looks like an "early call" :-)

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Attachment

    Maybe we should have a liberalised version in the west - e.g to get full citizenship you have to take exams and write essays to show your ability at critical thought.

    There's a couple of pre-existing ones we can use as a starting point. Here's one:

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich Lock,

    LOL. I fail on question 1. Question 10 is curly. For 11, crossing out the 1 makes the number below one million (zero is below one million). 2 is some kind of figure of speech, to underline the word line in this line. 5 is cunning, looks like a typo. Again it's some kind of cunning figure of speech that the first first letter of the alphabet happens to be the first letter in the word alphabet. To solve 12 you need to obviously either accept that a line can be not straight, or tear the paper accordingly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Dennis Frank, in reply to BenWilson,

    "To solve 12 you need to obviously either accept that a line can be not straight, or tear the paper accordingly."

    Flawed assumption? Note that the test does not specify a straight line. Same applies to #1 perhaps (a line around something tends to become a circle).

    New Zealand • Since Jun 2016 • 292 posts Report Reply

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