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View Poll Results: What should we do about capitalism?
Replace it with socialism, through parliamentary reforms 5 16.13%
Replace it with socialism, through revolution 5 16.13%
Use more public regulations to counteract some of its consequences 12 38.71%
Scale down public regulations to let the free market run its course 6 19.35%
Nothing, it’s fine as it is 3 9.68%
Voters: 31. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-24-2022, 01:10 AM   #191 (permalink)
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I think you're right about the issues of democracy but I don't agree that there may be a better alternative. Unless something changes very fundamentally in our world, a 'meritocracy' (or any way at all of selecting the people who can have power) will be a plutocracy. I think the changes in order to make democracy work would be less difficult, and it comes with less danger. Leaving only the policy part to specialists but having a democratic process of electing and controlling them is good, but that's just how our democracy is supposed to work
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Old 06-24-2022, 03:36 AM   #192 (permalink)
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I think you're right about the issues of democracy but I don't agree that there may be a better alternative. Unless something changes very fundamentally in our world, a 'meritocracy' (or any way at all of selecting the people who can have power) will be a plutocracy. I think the changes in order to make democracy work would be less difficult, and it comes with less danger. Leaving only the policy part to specialists but having a democratic process of electing and controlling them is good, but that's just how our democracy is supposed to work
As you kinda mention, democracies today are also meritocracies to some degree. From having a management position in local government, I do see and am involved in many processes and most of them are actually meritocratic. One of the big reasons for that is I work in water management (wastewater and surface- / rain water). Our biggest wastewater treatment facility is inside a mountain and of course our pipes run underground, so people don't see them or know anything much about them, politicians included.

On behalf of the town and its citizens, we manage a lot of funds and stuff like where to do rehabilitation efforts and what objects go on those plans is a typical meritocratic process. Determining the funding for that is a democratic process.

At least in terms of infrastructure, I do think that meritocratic processes often end up with better decision making overall. A typical example here might be city expansion. Politicians may decide to expand the city, build more houses and develop new areas. Sometimes, this happens with no consideration or blatant disregard for wastewater infrstructure. We need capacity, or else sewage isn't going to reach our facilities, but will instead go to a water recipient (usually the local fjord in our case).

A way to hopefully avoid problems is to have competent people sorta upstream when the plans are discussed, but their competence is lacking and anyways tend to be very theoretical. They never got their hands dirty and don't know the practical reality of running these things.

For politicians, they get case notes beforehand and perhaps someone to show them a presentation, but I get the impression there's just too much for them to digest and a complicated reality doesn't always distill into a neat 10 minute powerpoint presentation. There can be a gap between what's a sensible, fact based decision and what ends up as policy that can be hard to close.

For wastewater infrastructure where people can't see the cracks or know the problems, a thing that politicians do care about is that citizens should not feel burdened economically, so wastewater across the country is perpetually underfunded. This leads to pollution and other problems. A stance on immigration can be kinda sexy, but we gotta fix the holes in our leaking pipes that you never even see isn't quite as interesting politically. At least here, that sort of thing doesn't win any elections or even come up.

I do feel like there is a similar theme in road development. Here, if there's an important stretch of road that goes through regions, many local governments want a say in the location of that road. They may want the road closer to their towns for the business and taxes it can bring and for convenience. But on the other hand, you might think hey, this makes the road longer than what was the original intention. Big transport may have to travel further. That's more pollution into the atmosphere, you have to remove more nature, perhaps you get the road close to drinking water sources, etc. But from the point of view of one local government, they may have little to gain by seeing a bigger picture or abstaining from making those kind of demands because their neighbours probably will anyways and so you may end up with something like a tragedy of the commons.

Politics of course has subterfuge built in because you have to entice voters to your cause and there's just a lot of incentives etc. that doesn't promote reality based decision making. I also feel like the decisions they make are more often short term decisions instead of based on the really long term.

My rant is getting long now, but something slightly related about measures, I also mentally divide measures into measures that actually make a difference or measures that change attitudes. Take carbon emissions for example. I was at a conference where a local government was using drones and a heat seeking camera to find leaky windows as a way to reduce energy use and carbon emissions. To me, that's a measure that targets attitudes. It looks cool on an instragram post. In reality, if you spent a bit of that time flying drones getting someone to build 1 meter less road (asfalt and road production has huge emissions), you probably could've made up for years of window hunting.

We see something similar with water saving. It's something everyone can do and it engages kids and it kinda makes for good policy because people feel like they can contribute. But in reality, how much water you use when brushing your teeth means absolutely nothing when we lose 30% of all water produced from leaky pipes which amounts to thousands upon thousands of m3s. Promote instead better funding / more taxation and you may actually make a difference.

Anyways, I like democracies, but still feel like long term important decisions could often benefit from at least a bigger degree of meritocracy.
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Old 06-24-2022, 03:41 AM   #193 (permalink)
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Yeah I agree about that. That is actually why I dislike the type of populist politician who calls for deciding everything by referendum to make things more 'democratic'. I think all that does is make democracy more direct, which is not necessarily good. It leads to uninformed decisions and doesn't help to solve the disconnect between politicians and other citizens
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Old 06-24-2022, 09:00 AM   #194 (permalink)
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I think democracy and capitalism is fun, but I don't think it's suited for the current cliamate / environment in terms of overcoming the challenges we collectively face or coexisting with the rest of nature in a way that's sustainable and good for our long term well-being.

Some utopian democracy could feasibly work, but it would require that people are much less stupid and distracted and focus on the things that are actually important. But what people want isn't always what people need and so how to create a democracy that focuses more on real needs than wants, I don't know how to achieve that.

Possibly, a meritocracy would be better where specialists and competent people in various fields make the policy decisions and then democratic processes control other things or perhaps has some control over who runs these meritocratic committees.
any world that isn't democratic isn't worth preserving anyway
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Old 06-25-2022, 08:05 PM   #195 (permalink)
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Anyways, I like democracies, but still feel like long term important decisions could often benefit from at least a bigger degree of meritocracy.
That’s what an independent public service did before the advocates of free enterprice stuck their fingers in the public pie where their own political philosophy claims it should never be found.

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Old 06-26-2022, 12:19 PM   #196 (permalink)
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America still thinks of itself as a meritocracy because to us money is merit.
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Old 06-26-2022, 01:49 PM   #197 (permalink)
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all of the efficiency in the world doesn't matter if your society isn't open and democratic

the conversation should be "how do we make democracy work" because there is no other acceptable alternative
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Old 06-27-2022, 04:48 AM   #198 (permalink)
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all of the efficiency in the world doesn't matter if your society isn't open and democratic

the conversation should be "how do we make democracy work" because there is no other acceptable alternative
One thing is certain. America doesn’t know how to make democracy work. In fact if the US constitution is considered, the US is not a full democracy. Consider for instance the Electoral College.
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Old 06-27-2022, 01:18 PM   #199 (permalink)
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yeah the US should try some democracy, it might like it

but seriously, democracy is on a scale
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Old 06-27-2022, 08:47 PM   #200 (permalink)
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The greatest agent of democracy is City Hall. And if it weren't for States, siphoning off funding from cities to build up suburbs, you'd have a real market that allowed for cities with the best policies to prosper.

Imagine if schools were funded based on the number of students that were enrolled only. Which schools would have the most funding? The schools with the most students. But this isn't the case because the State apparatus takes from population-dense cities and gives it to the gated-community schools.

Same goes for all infrastructure. Municipalities get money on a per mile basis. If one town has 50 people per mile, and another has 5000, the latter would be wealthier. But this isn't how it is in America today. Furthermore, cities would rise and fall based on preference. Don't like a cities policies, move to the one up the road. People could vote with their feet. But sadly, the Constitution favors geography over people.
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