Monday Message Board

Another Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. Civil discussion and no coarse language please. Side discussions and idees fixes to the sandpits, please.

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5 thoughts on “Monday Message Board

  1. America, Compromised: Lawrence Lessig explains corruption in words small enough for the Supreme Court to understand

    Lessig proposes as lucid and devastating a theory of corruption as you’ll ever find, a theory whose explanatory power makes today’s terrifying news cycle make sense — and a theory that demands action.
    “From this historic perspective, Lessig painstakingly builds up an argument about how inequality has fueled corruption, which has fueled inequality — and how the bankrupt ideology of the Chicago School corrupted every institution, forcing each of us to make one tiny compromise after another, until we arrive at the present moment.

    Lessig’s use of case-studies alternated with broad statistical and political analysis flips back and forth from the microcosmic to the macrocosmic, from individuals and institutions to the whole society and back again, in a story that is as compelling as it is infuriating.”

  2. The article mentions:

    “Lessig is well-known for having formulated the “four forces” theory of social change: that the world is moved by markets (what is profitable), norms (what is considered ethical), code (what is technically possible) and laws (what is legal).”

    I am a little puzzled by the term “code” here. Surely what is meant is technology?

    Of course, natural forces and natural resources (abundance, scarcity, substitutability etc.) affect social change too, so there is need for an expanded list. What affects human societies are the following (in summary);

    (a) natural forces in general;
    (b) biosphere (incl. climate which is worth noting these days);
    (c) ecology;
    (d) biology (including non-human and human evolution;
    (e) human knowledge, skills and beliefs – true or not. (science, technology, philosophy, arts, politics, religion, ideology ); and then;
    (f) customs and institutions (incl. laws)
    (g) ethics;
    (h) markets.

    Some of these overlap and they all interact to generate social change. What we particularlt have to remember is that the important forces which affect the direction of civilization are not all endogenous: far from it in fact.

    Having said all that, Lessig is right about the descent of the US (and not just the US) into systemic corruption. Inequality certainly plays a major role in this. Only a democratic, socialist and egalitarian society stands a reasonable chance of minimising corruption.

  3. Hi Ikonoclast

    Yes. Just 4 simple points and the world will be great. Meadows (below) and Lessig imo need to caveat with “depending on culture”. I love system dynamics ala Jay Forrester. Here is Meadows 12 point list. Top of the list (bottom!) is paradigm shift. Almost in black swan territory – paradigms and culture.

    PLACES TO INTERVENE IN A SYSTEM (in increasing order of effectiveness)

    12. Constants, parameters, numbers (such as subsidies, taxes, standards).
    11. The sizes of buffers and other stabilizing stocks, relative to their flows.
    10. The structure of material stocks and flows (such as transport networks, population age structures).
    9. The lengths of delays, relative to the rate of system change.
    8. The strength of negative feedback loops, relative to the impacts they are trying to correct against.
    7. The gain around driving positive feedback loops.
    6. The structure of information flows (who does and does not have access to information).
    5. The rules of the system (such as incentives, punishments, constraints).
    4. The power to add, change, evolve, or self-organize system structure.
    3. The goals of the system.
    2. The mindset or paradigm out of which the system — its goals, structure, rules, delays, parameters — arises.
    1. The power to transcend paradigms.

  4. Share prices have fallen so hopefully this will discourage Trump from further escalating the trade war he has started which causes real hardship for people who rely on income from work rather than investments.

    “The decline in the paper value of your assets means more to me than real suffering ever could…”

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