Politics & Government (as a social issue)

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Common problems in governments



  • 2016.10.09 - NYT Op-Ed - Colombia’s Proof That Democracy Doesn’t Work
    • MI: The current system isn't actually representative because so many people don't vote.
      • 60% of Colombians didn't vote.
      • "Voting, to which so many aspired for so long, has become a burden or has been forgotten by so many...because they don’t think they are actually electing anything"
    • MI: Many Colombians aren't actually even capable of making good decisions about big issues.
      • "Often, war is rejected by those who have experienced it; those who see it from afar can afford the luxury of wanting it to continue."
      • "an increasing number of Colombians do not understand other Colombians, and they don’t understand the country they are living in."
  • 2016.10.08 - NYT Op-Ed - Howard Dean - How to Move Beyond the Two-Party System



  • 2016.08.14 - Nassim Taleb - The Most Intolerant Wins: The Dictatorship of the Small Minority
  • 2016.10.12 - Cracked - How Half of America Lost Its Fucking Mind
    • See, rural jobs used to be based around one big local business -- a factory, a coal mine, etc. When it dies, the town dies. Where I grew up, it was an oil refinery closing that did us in. I was raised in the hollowed-out shell of what the town had once been. The roof of our high school leaked when it rained. Cities can make up for the loss of manufacturing jobs with service jobs -- small towns cannot. That model doesn't work below a certain population density.

      If you don't live in one of these small towns, you can't understand the hopelessness. The vast majority of possible careers involve moving to the city, and around every city is now a hundred-foot wall called "Cost of Living." Let's say you're a smart kid making $8 an hour at Walgreen's and aspire to greater things. Fine, get ready to move yourself and your new baby into a 700-square-foot apartment for $1,200 a month, and to then pay double what you're paying now for utilities, groceries, and babysitters. Unless, of course, you're planning to move to one of "those" neighborhoods (hope you like being set on fire!).

  • https://medium.com/mit-media-lab/what-i-learned-from-visualizing-hillary-clintons-leaked-emails-d13a0908e05e#.5qt2jn4cr
    • What I saw on Clinton’s emails was not surprising to me. It involved a relatively small group of people talking about what language to use when communicating with other people. Also, it involved many unresponded-to emails. Many conversations revolved around what words to use or avoid, and what topics to focus on, or how to avoid some topics, when speaking in public or in meetings. This is not surprising to me because I’ve met many politicians in my life, including a few presidents and dozens of ministers and governors, so I know that what work means to many people in this line of work, on a daily basis, is strategizing what to say and being careful about how to say it. I am sure that if we had access to Trump’s emails we would see plenty of the same behavior.

      So what I got from reading some of Clinton’s email is another piece of evidence confirming my intuition that political systems scale poorly. The most influential actors on them are spending a substantial fraction of their mental capacity thinking about how to communicate, and do not have the bandwidth needed to deal with many incoming messages (the unresponded-to emails). This is not surprising considering the large number of people they interact with (although this dataset is rather small. I send 8k emails a year and receive 30k. In this dataset Clinton is sending only 2K emails a year).

      Our modern political world is one where a few need to interact with many, so they have no time for deep relationships — they physically cannot. So what we are left is with a world of first impressions and public opinion, where the choice of words matters enormously, and becomes central to the job. Yet, the chronic lack of time that comes from having a system where few people govern many, and that leads people to strategize every word, is not Clinton’s fault. It is just a bug that affects all modern political systems, which are ancient Greek democracies that were not designed to deal with hundreds of millions of people.

  • https://www.amazon.com/Private-Truths-Public-Lies-Falsification/dp/0674707583
    • rec'd by Balaji S. from A16Z

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