Question time! Post your questions and answers!

Summary: It’s time again for question time — “ask the mineshaft”. In the comments post your questions about geopolitics — and post your answers to other people’s questions.  This is a community exercise, from the German “Gemeinschaft” (see Wikipedia).

Questions are especially welcome about current events and recent posts (which appear on the top of the right-side menu bar).  Please reply to comments using the REPLY button (to keep the thread together).

  1. Why do conservatives bash California so much?
  2. Who will win the Presidential election?
  3. What caused the American people to become so supine? Were we always so?
  4. More discussion about California.
  5. Will Israel attack Iran?
  6. Important question, interesting answer:  Will there be a violent Revolution in the US within 5 years?
  7. Will the EU collapse within 5 years?
  8. Will you be attending the Boyd conference this year?
  9. Will the Army and Marine Corps merge as a defense cost saving measure?
  10. Will there be a formal recognized World Government within 20 years?
  11. Within 20 years will there be a World War?
  12. Will Globalization continue or will it completely reverse it self?
  13. Sidenote.
  14. ____________

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59 thoughts on “Question time! Post your questions and answers!

    1. it drives me nuts when people send me emails explaining how the state is going down the tubes, and yet we all live here because of how nice it is!! most of the guys send me these emails and such all have jobs, so really the griping in the abstract.

    2. Why questions are among the most difficult to answer. And often the most interesting.

      Let’s start with hard data: “Americans love Hawaii, dislike California“, by Public Policy Polling, 21February 2012:

      Americans generally have a favorable view of most states. Only five are in negative territory, led by California (27% favorable and 44% unfavorable), Illinois (19%-29%), New Jersey (25%-32%), Mississippi (22%-28%), and Utah (24%-27%).

      … Democrats’ favorite states include Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Colorado, and New York, and their least favorites are led by Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi. Republicans love Alaska and Texas, and absolutely hate California, followed distantly by Illinois and Massachusetts. So the greatest partisan gap is for California, which Democrats like 91 points more than Republicans do, followed by Texas, which is favored more by Republicans by 82 points.

      Other articles exploring the question.

      Why do so many people hate California?“, Emily Wilkins (Hearst Washington Bureau), SF Gate, 23 February 2012

      “No one knows anything about Delaware. No one has a clue about Wyoming – but everyone knows California,” said Dowell Myers, a professor of policy planning and demography at the University of Southern California. “Its visibility is really high.”

      Why Do People Hate California?, TheStreet.com, 1 June 2012:

      That’s the way us “liberals” roll in California. Same goes for Manhattan. It’s easy to accept everything and everyone when you call home a playground for well-educated, upper-income Whites and Asians. Few of us are willing to set up shop in East L.A.

      I think it’s this very high and mighty existence that prompts the rest of America — really just Middle America — to hate California so much. The weather is great here every single day. I can smell the ocean when I step out of my house. There’s nothing you cannot do in this state professionally and culturally if you have money, education and time. And all I really worry about is getting cancer or experiencing a major earthquake.

      That’s the new American dream.

      The rest of the country wishes it could live the somewhat hypocritical good life we lead in Northern and Southern California. The disdain this coveting sparks is akin to what Howard Lindzon called “entrepreneur envy.”

    3. I think TheStreet.com’s ‘They’re just jealous’ is the easy answer. More likely I think is that they’re afraid.

      Many of the nation’s economic, political, and cultural trends originate in California (when they don’t originate in New York City). That means much of the rest of the country follows its lead whether they want to or not. Conservatives see California as a symbol for liberal mumbo jumbo and big-government dysfunction. They worry the California condition might spread like a disease to the rest of the country if left unchecked, or un-ridiculed.

      Here’s a December 2003 article by Fred Roe: “So Goes The Nation” — “Liberalism is a disease, and as a trend that will destroy California, so goes the nation.”

    4. Having spent much of my life in California (I lived there through third grade and again in my twenties, and I’ve traveled extensively throughout the state my whole life), I find most stereotypes about the state to be either absurdly narrow and misleading or appallingly hateful.

      Stereotypes about LA are particularly grotesque: smog, the endless “concrete jungle,” drug-addled, narcissistic showmen, etc. One hears almost nothing in the national media about the region’s oil industry, still very much a going concern, except maybe for reruns of “Beverly Hillbillies;” the ports; or the resilient and highly diversified manufacturing base (as much as any other metro area, greater Los Angeles is home of the American Mittelstand). Stranger, the media do very little with the region’s amazing natural beauty, even though the camera crews don’t have to go far to get footage of lush subtropical vegetation or the snow-dusted San Gabriel Mountains on a clear winter day.

      Americans living elsewhere are right to be envious of this unparalleled physical setting. Even though LA’s beauty is played down, glimpses of it get onto TV now and then, and coastal SoCal has a well-deserved reputation for excellent weather.

      The problem comes when the envy turns into resentment. California, land of successful libertines, is a perfect lodestone for resentment. Many Americans secretly wish that they were wallowing in drugs and sex, but instead of seeking out more fulfilling recreational lives for themselves they project their repression onto those who are caught having too much fun. It’s the same reaction that nonunion American workers have to unions, especially public sector ones.

      Another group that loves to trash California is the California diaspora. The part of Oregon where I work is swarming with ex-Californians and ex-city slickers from other states who compensate by adopting an overbearing country shtick. Some of them are still complaining about traffic in the Bay Area in the 1970s. Some of the things they say about the awfulness of cities are just unhinged.

    5. Thank you for posting a link to that brilliant article! Over the past five years I’ve stumbled towards a similar conclusion, but never said so clearly (not that I agree with all of his conclusions). I recommend that everybody read it!

      We’ve become like Russians, in this respect.

      An Englishman, a Frenchman, and a Russian get marooned on an island. They find a bottle in the sand. Rubbing it, a genie appears and says he’ll grant each of them one wish.

      The Englishman wishes to become an Earl, Lord of a great estate in the Midlands. Poof, he’s gone.

      The Frenchman wishes to become the master of the finest château and vineyard in the province of Champagne. Poof, he’s gone.

      The Russian says “At home my neighbor has a healthy strong cow, and I don’t. Kill his cow.”

    6. There’s no one right answer, and the answers here get at the explanations. Yes there’s envy (California has done too well for its own good), resentment (conservatives can’t catch California voters) and fear (California represents the demographic doomsday that threatens the GOP just by numbers alone).

      It took a relatively short timeframe for the GOP to grow ineffective. It happened in about half to two-thirds of the 1990s.

      Southern California, hard to believe now, was a Republican stronghold and had been for its formative period in the 20th century. It was the left flank of the Sun Belt. Southern California was what Texas is now: fast growing, prosperous and reliably Republican.

      Then it began to unravel. First came the devastating cutbacks in the aerospace and defense sector. As noted by Kevin Phillips, who coined the Sun Belt concept, the aerospace/defense workers in the Southwest and Southeast are a Republican mobilization force. The defense cuts took the wind out of the GOP.

      Next came the 1992 L.A. riots. The riots could have catalyzed a white, ultra-right reactionary bloc into power; instead, most of the reactionaries left. (Most likely to Arizona. If you look at Arizona’s politics today, that’s what Southern California politics was supposed to look like post-1992.)

      Then came Proposition 187 in 1994, which was passed by the electorate but ruled unconstitutional in courts a few years later. The effects of 187 as a law were short lived, but ironically they helped to catalyze Latinos in a way the riots failed to catalyze white conservatives. Latinos, both legal and illegal, were a growing population and their wealth and education attainment were improving — much to the GOP’s detriment. And 187 served as such a slap to Latinos’ faces that there’s still a lingering “never forget and never forgive” sentiment close to two decades later.

      Another effect, one that wasn’t expected, was term limits kicking in. The old hands in the state Legislature were being turned out slowly. Term limits helped to bring in legislators who looked and worked in similar jobs as the electorate (there are many more women and minorities and fewer lawyers), but a fixed tenure meant legislators were inexperienced, impetuous and had to appeal to their parties’ activist wings. There was no place for a moderating influence.

      These all contibuted to the “bluing” of California, at least in the major population centers.

    1. That’s the key question of our age. We are different than we were. We were a violent, unruly, skeptical, impudent, difficult to govern people. Now we’ve become domesticated: docile, credulous, and passive.

      What caused the change? My guess (emphasis on guess): the foundation of the Republic was destroyed during the post-civil war era. The frequent depressions (the gold standard at work) reduced the small farmer, craftsman, and merchant classes. Many, such as Jefferson, considered these independent yeoman the core of the Republic, independent both in spirit and economically. Now most of us are employees, dependents on large corporations — which encourages a servile attitude.

      We’ve living in land in some respect like that of late Republic Rome. I strongly recommend that you read Caesar by Christian Meier (1982). Excerpt:

      Ultimately it was the contradiction between the forms of the communal state and the exigencies of a world empire that led to the collapse of the republic. … Here lay the true cause of the moral decline to which the Romans ascribed its downfall, and of its inability to bring so many abuses under control.

      … The situation could arise only because of the universal conviction that the inherited order was the only just one. Had this not been so, the Senate’s many failures and its conspicuous weakness would inevitably have raised serious doubts about the viability of its regime.

      As there was no alternative to the existing order, the underprivileged, those suffering hardship and deprivation — the potential rebels, in other words — had no change to unite and produce an intellectual and political counter-force. No new ideas emerged about the governance of Rome, let alone any prospect of linking such ideas with various interests in a purposeful endeavour to create something new.

      Instead there was general satisfaction with the old order on the part of the powerful or potentially powerful, and impotence on the part of the dissatisfied.

    2. Interesting that in the 1930’s when there was just about no social safety net and economic conditions were much worse, we saw the Bonus Army and the unionization, often associated with violent resistance, of American Industry. Does the existence of a safety net make a people more supine or are there other reasons? Perhaps the conservative desire to remove the safety net will bear results they haven’t really anticipated?

    3. That’s an interesting idea, worth some thought! Does anyone know of any studies exploring this?

      Note that the social safety net was created during the past two centuries largely as a result of social violence. The 1848 revolts led to the great 19th century expansions of the franchise, the first public retirement systems, etc. The New deal was largely a reaction to the Russian revolution and stresses of the Great Depression (the ruling elites of Germany, Austria, and Italy took a different path).

  1. Ah California… the west side of LA is full of people who want wide open borders Mexico yet will not live anywhere near them.

    IMO the rest of the country hates us because we’re so damn self righteous.

    P.S. how many companies ‘located here’ are incorporated in Nevada?

    1. “how many companies ‘located here’ are incorporated in Nevada?”

      I don’t believe it matters where a company is incorporated. Regulation and taxation are based on the location of operations. A large fraction of the large corps are incorporated in Delaware.

      A more serious situation is companies based in California — their senior executives and finance here — but operations are in Asia. That’s a standard model for venture-capital funded start-ups.

    2. “A more serious situation is companies based in California — their senior executives and finance here — but operations are in Asia. That’s a standard model for venture-capital funded start-ups.”

      Would you elaborate, please?

    1. No. It’s a fantasy. We imagine ourselves as big bad citizens. Our leaders should be careful least we rise up and smite them! We’re Rambo, John Wayne, Arnie

      That’s a grossly wrong misdiagnosis (ie, the dreams of mice). In fact we a fearful, docile, credulous people. That’s what’s undercut the foundation of the Republic.

      But reform, regeneration always remain possible. We can recover our lost selves, become again what we once were.

    2. Follow-up answer: This is an important question. We have no future as a free people if we cannot see more clearly.

      • Look at how quickly the bold indepenedents of the Tea Party were enlisted as GOP shock troops. From protesting bank bailouts to core support for the most banker-friendly Congress since the 1920s.
      • Look at how quickly the Occupy Wall Street movement collapsed into street parties and political impotence.

      Imagine these trends continuing for another 12 years! What form will protest movements take in 2024?

      Dear President Ryan,

      Please allow me to congratulate you for your boldness. Not just slashing social security, medicare, and medicaid — but also tripling the fees for tricare and cutting the mortgage interest deduction. You have restored the government’s solvency! Also, what a bold statement to nominate Ann Romney’s dressage horse “John Galt” as your candidate for Vice President!

      However, may I be allowed a respectful complaint about cutting taxes on the wealthy with a 5% capital gains tax? I realize that you and your fellows are America’s job creators and innovators. But perhaps a slightly larger tax contribution might be more fair? Just a suggestion from a loyal American, one who looks forward to voting for you again!

      Winston Smith

    3. I will throw my two cents in here. I completely agree with FM but would add that violent revolution, especially if it is to succeed, must be preceded by decades or generations of gross mismanagement that completely infuriates the upper middle class and the ranks below. Also all avenues of reconciliation must be exhausted before the majority of people can be mobilized.

      The upper middle class in the US today is pretty comfortable today and has no reason to rebel. The ranks below tend to feel left behind but are anesthetized by spectacle on TV and the feeling that sacrifice is necessary to win the “forever war” against terrorism.

      And a final note, civil wars are poorly named, they are about the least civil thing you can imagine and should be feared above almost everything else.

    4. I agree on all points with Pluto. Civil wars are the express route for a society from riches to rags.

      But — history, as usually done, is a study of exceptions. The American and French Revolutions get lots of attention. The thousand and one long-suffering peoples who did NOT revolt get no attention. Despite what Captain Kirk says, human beings make excellent slaves. We’re easy to oppress.

      That’s the thing to fear above all things when looking at America. That we’ll become like most peoples in history. Draft animals.

    5. “We can recover our lost selves, become again what we once were.”

      Consider the scary possibility that that’s also part of the “American Legend.” The people of the colonies appear to have been sheeple, as well, who were easily led into a bloody rebellion, then who accepted a pseudo-democracy by the elite for the elite which erected itself above them. After that, they cheerfully accepted an endless blitz of marketing and propaganda – a diet that we have admittedly “supersized” today, but which began around the civil war (again, so the power elites could re-align the economy to integrate the country more closely and industrialize into a world power) In one sense it’s tempting to resent “the sheeple” but their lot is, really, similar to that of sheep: occasionally a sheep kicks out at one of the dogs, in frustration, but it gets savaged (and often rendered to mutton) for doing so.*

      I argue that we never were “as we once were.” But it’s a good dream. Unfortunately, it’s an integral part of the bullshit that is American ideology.

      (* I spent my summers herding sheep in the Aveyron! It is not as peacefully agrarian as it seems.)

    6. The time barrier is not between us and future (we’ll get there, one day at a time). It’s the past that is inaccessible. It’s a story we tell ourselves, a comforting myth that events have meaning and can be understood. It’s now we understand not the dead, but ourselves.

      So Ranum has his past and I have mine. We compete to get your agreement, so that we can move forward into the future.

      We don’t tell the children, but the choice of stories about the past is not about truth, but operational utility. For in fact the people of the past are aliens. For evidence of this read real history, such as the series A History of Private Life.

    7. @Marcus,

      Ok, most people have and always will be sheeple. That is beside the point. The question is, what will the people capable of leadership do?

      The reason the OWS failed was because they alienated the upper middle class. Without middle class leadership, these social movements degrade into little more than peasant uprisings. Medaeval history (i.e, a period of an almost non existent middle class) is full of examples of peasant revolts that went nowhere.

    8. OWS made a tactical mistake of trying to hold parks and plazas indefinately. The homeless have no where else to go, and there are quite a few of them. But a movement also needs people who work for a living and pay bills and all that, and those kind of people can’t camp out in a park for week after week. With camps full of homeless, the TV news can scare all the little-old-ladies into thinking that the OWS camps are filled full of dirty old drug addicts, and once properly demonized the police can come in and bash a few skulls. Everyone scatters; problem solved — Democracy (sic) wins again. Would have been better to take control of large public spaces, and then disperse.

      I think the current system is ultimately unstable because the power of the financial system is unchecked. They will get more greedy, and then they’ll get even more greedy — and this means squeezing out the last dollar out of the middle-class to roll over the bonds. At some point, either resistance buids up and this ends, or it just gets worse and worse and worse.

    9. (1) “OWS made a tactical mistake of trying to hold parks and plazas indefinately.”

      Agreed. Buy what caused this tactical mistake? Mistakes seldom just happen. They’re usually the result of deeper factors.

      (2) “I think the current system is ultimately unstable because the power of the financial system is unchecked. They will get more greedy, and then they’ll get even more greedy — and this means squeezing out the last dollar out of the middle-class…”

      We can only guess at such thing. My guess is the opposite of yours. I see no basis to assume they’ll destroy the system that works so well for them.

      1. Our fears are unwarranted. America is in fact well-governed. 18 August 2011
      2. Fear not! America will not fall due to its citizen’s imprudence. We’ve found a sure solution., 16 April 2012
      3. President Romney will prove an effective President, reshaping America for his constituents., 17 April 2012
    10. The question is, what will the people capable of leadership do?

      They will either submit,
      or join the plutocracy,
      or overthrow the plutocracy and become a new plutocracy.

      It’s actually impossible to do anything else, because the winners of a rebellion have to dictate the terms necessary to establish a new society. You can’t simply hold a constitutional convention because that entails deciding who’s going to participate and what the ground-rules are, etc. And, generally a rebellion is not for something; it’s against something. This is a crucial point too many would-be rebels overlook: it may be easy to get a lot of people to agree that they don’t like the king, but once you’ve gotten rid of the king you then discover that the only common beliefs that bound your rebellion together are “get rid of the king” and some of your former comrades-in-arms want to be the new king, others want an oligarchic fake representational democracy, others want a direct democracy, and the biggest badass of the lot becomes your Stalin.

      I’m an anarchist and, of course, this is the question that has bedeviled anarchism (and peaceniks) for a very long time: “maybe you don’t believe in’a government, but government’a she believe in you.” Of course as an anarchist, I argue a legitimate social contract cannot be imposed by force or inheritance, which checkmates anarchism as never being able to produce a legitimate social contract in the first place. Conclusion: anarchism is actually 100% anti-social; humans simply cannot do it.

      It’s a moral position, I argue, to look at the state of government, despair of repairing or changing it, and to choose to do nothing, on the grounds that doing anything is more destructive.

      My dad’s field of study is the history of the French revolutions (there were about 10 before the big one that finally took off) and we had 30 years of dinner-table arguments about this topic. ;) BTW, to the comment above – it’s really never a plurality of the people that makes the revolution succeed: it’s when the standing army joins the rebellion that it’s the beginning of the end. This has relevance for the 2nd amendment ideologues who don’t understand how governments really collapse. :(

      When I’ve had too much wine I describe myself as a “checkmated revolutionary.” I think that governments are evil – including ours – and have no legitimacy, but that attempting to do anything about them inevitably makes the problem worse. That’s a checkmate for a utilitarian.

      So to your question: those who can lead and are foolish enough to bring about significant change, are a terrible threat to everyone else’s survival, unless they are legendary paragons. If I knew a super-charismatic political philosopher media expert saint who told me he was about to lead a march on Washington to try to convene a new constitutional convention, I would gently shoot him in the back and hide the body. Because if someone actually did get the people in gear to have a convention, it’d wind up with assholes like Cheney and Rumsfeld and Reed and – all the lightweight scum that always rises to the top of a septic tank; it’d be them or Stalin – hobson’s choice. It’s always hobson’s choice.

    11. “I’m an anarchist and, of course, this is the question that has bedeviled anarchism (and peaceniks) for a very long time: “maybe you don’t believe in’a government, but government’a she believe in you.””

      You need only to see the light (or rather the darkness) and convert to Gnosticism. Then all these things will become clearer. Evil is immanent and omnipresent in a world run by the Demiurge. God is omnipotent but uncaring. Freedom and liberty are dares against the very structure of the universe.

      And then there is glory…

    12. I am more concerned about a Collapse than a Revolution. Collapse from the shear complexity of life in the US. When I grew up in the 60’s when my father went to the store he carried money in a money clip and a “paper” Drivers License (that did not contain a photograph) and a set of keys, that was it. I take a look at all the stuff I carry in my pockets today and wonder how much longer can it last before it all just falls down from the shear weight of “stuff.”

    13. People have complained about the complexity of life probably since the first cities. I see zero basis for belief that complexity makes a society more vulnerable.

      By the way, it’s possible that men use to carry around much more than they do today. Look at the list of things in the deceased’s pockets in the Sherlock Holmes story Silver Blaze. I doubt you carry around nearly as much, yet that’s described as typical.

  2. Will the EU collapse within 5 years? Thought I would take advantage of the question format before it shuts down.

    1. The European Union will not collapse. This political union works well. It’s not even under pressure.

      You might be thinking of the European Monetary Union. The Euro, the European Central Bank. That might lose some members, but it’s worked well for the core of Europe — so I doubt it will collapse.

    1. US military policy with respect to organization and procurement is largely a political process. The Army probably would like to absorb the Marine Corps, and there is substantial logic for doing so. The Marines have more than adequate political support to remain independent, although they might lose funding — forcing reductions in size and capabilities.

    1. Twenty years is a long time. My guess is no, as the preconditions necessary for common government do not now exist.

      Successful nation building takes many generations, and often involve turmoil — and sometimes war (internal or external).

      • The US had most of these conditions in 1776, but it took a century and two large wars to accomplish this (ie, we were a strong unified nation only after Reconstruction ended).
      • France was a nation for centuries, but was only a nation in the modern sense after the Revolution and Napoleon.
      • Italy and Germany had most of the preconditions for nationhood, yet only became nations in the late 19th century — after considerable turmoil.
      • Europe has many of the preconditions to become a nation, but is not yet one — and despite the strong wishes of so many of its leaders and people, it’s having severe difficulty become a nation.
    1. Probably not. The era of large-scale State-State warfare ended with the explosion of the first nuke over Hiroshima. Non-atomic powers will fight amongst themselves; there will always be civil wars.

      It took a while for people to realize this. I arbitrarily date this happening during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Since then there have been no real near-atomic-wars. That’s easy to test. For example, it’s commonly said that people worried in 2001-02 that India and Pakistan were on the edge of firing nukes. But nobody ran. No mass evacuations of the cities, like one sees in movies under such circumstances.

    1. It’s one world. Improving transportation and communication tie us ever-tighter together. It will take generations to absorb the changes that have already happened. More are coming.

      The biggest driver of globalization is also the slowest-acting: migration and intermarriage.

  3. Who among the 0.1% feels the way you do about where this country is headed? Are any of them willing to risk their fortunes to turn it around? Like it or not, superpacs are the name of the game now. IMO even one 30 second spot that makes the evening news and gets under peoples’ skin can get this ball rolling.

    1. “Who among the 0.1% feels the way you do about where this country is headed?”

      None. That’s not the problem. It’s that the rest of us remain leaderless sheep. Not because we lack leaders, but because we don’t have within us the ability to act as one seeking a common goal. As such leaders are not possible.

      That can change. But the lesson of history is that it seldom does. The Republic is, and always was, a challenge against the odds. But even if it falls there remains the possibility of a Third Republic, built on the ruins of the Constitution — and gaining from our lessons learned since 1776.

    2. It’s that the rest of us remain leaderless sheep.

      One day, among the sheep, there was born a ewe who was wise, and beautiful, and of unsullied reputation. Even the dogs backed away from her voice, which was dulcet and spoke words of truth and power that could make the grass in the pasture weep with her passion. And the sheep complained “baa! baa!” that occasionally one or two of them would be slain for the farmer to take to market, and that the barn was smelly and hot (as indeed it was) and the dogs were rude and snarly and sometimes bit and drew blood. Woeful was the lot of the sheep, and the ewe heard them and her heart was moved and she became a radical.

      Relentlessly after, the ewe began to organize the sheep, to drill them in the ways of kung fu and the teachings of Boyd, until the sheep herd had undefeatable OODA loops that were vastly tighter than the dogs’ and they rose up and they stomped the dogs heads in, one night, as the dogs slept.

      All except for one, the grizzled old hound, who yelped as the sheep bore down on him, “wait! remember me, Rufus, I am the gentle dog! my fangs are dull and the fire in my eyes in gentle! I did my job, aye, as a dog must, but I do not deserve to die!” and the ewe bleated “HALT!” and the stampeding sheep spared Rufus, the dog, and then began to hold a constitutional convention.

      First, they offered the ewe a crown and she did it refuse it. Thrice, they offered her a crown, and she did refuse it. Finally the sheep began to bleat in frustration, and one of the littlest sheep (a fairly wise one) said, “but we are sheep! do do not know how to lead! we have been raised to be sheepish and fluffy, not strong and determined!” Another of the sheep said, “yes! It’s not like we are dogs or anything!” and all the sheep’s eyes turned to old Rufus, who was lying on his side under a tree with his tongue lolling out in the heat.

      Rufus lifted his head and said, “what you need to do is establish a ‘democracy’ in which no sheep is more powerful than the others and all sheep are equal” “yes! yes!” bleated the sheep. Then Rufus said, “and you need a committee of wise sheep to make decisions for you!” (again: “yes! yes! baaa!”) and for hours the sheep drew lines in the dirt and crossed over them, to vote which was wisest. And, at the end it turned out that the beautiful ewe was the ‘President’ of the sheep and Rufus, the gentle sheepdog, was the Chairman Of the National Security Council. And there was much rejoicing.

      And Rufus broke the ewe’s neck with his powerful jaws and led the sheep back into their pen, and the farmer came and occasionally killed one to take to market, and the new sheepdogs sometimes bit the sheep a bit hard, but they were only sheep and Rufus was old and passed in his sleep, dreaming of the sweet sunny green fields.

    3. The analogy breaks down when applied to humans. We are both killer dogs and sheep, with both inherent in our nature. It depends on the nature of our society (or culture, if you prefer). How we organize. How we raise our children.

      At some point, I think in the last third of the 19th century, we took a wrong turn. Slowly, slowly we have become domesticated. Tamed beasts of burden.

      My guess — wild speculation — is the universal military service during WWI and WWII. It taught us to value hierarchy, uniformity, and obedience. We became cattle. This is the hidden text in Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, which describes a somewhat fascist State in which only vets vote and hold office.

  4. Do you see the problem of our media becoming more stenographer than reporter being a chicken/egg situation with what their audience (us) wants to consume? If so, do you have an opinion of which came first, or what can be done about it?

    1. That’s a great question. My guess is that your “chicken and egg” analogy is accurate. It’s a quantum mechanics kind of thing. The news media shape society, and society’s structure and incentives shape the news media. The result is that the news media acts as a two-way mirror: we look at them and see our weakness and biases, while they act as a magic mirror and show us our true selves.

      What can be done? It’s like voting. Each of us casts a vote as to what we consume, and casts “votes” with our friends as to what news media we find trustworthy. So far this process has provided positive feedback to weaken us, as sources providing partisan lies are encouraged and profit from our weakenss — and accellerate the decay. Fox News, somewhat. The Washington Times, a great deal.

      We seek the wellsprings of reform. This week we’ll talk more about this.

  5. I hope I’m not too late to join in.

    My question has to do with regime change in America.

    (Note: By regime, I mean it in the sense of institutions and processes of governance independent of the people or political parties that happen to be in charge.)

    First, should America continue with the current regime — a president, two senators for 50 states, and 435 representatives distributed to states by population? Second, if not, what form of governance would you propose as an alternative?

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