In the movie, Lawnmower Man, the main character goes gradually from being in the bottom of the IQ range to the top. As the movie progresses, he begins to realize how people have been ripping him off, and that there is no reason he has to put up with that.
The information processing revolution has been gradually increasing the effective intelligence of the ordinary people of the world. As they begin to see the breadth and depth of the scams that are being perpetrated on them every day, they are coming to realize they don't have to put up with that.
The price of information is falling at a Moore's Law rate, and the price of publishing content is also falling exponentially. It's getting more and more difficult for the government to sell it's version of public opinion. That being the case we would expect there to be an accelerating rate of political change across the connected world, and that seems to be happening. And this could be only a beginning. Our integration of the new information technologies has only begun.
The recent upheavals in the Ukraine region have brought something new to the table. The police turned. I'm no expert on revolutions, but it seems to me that the usual course of events is for the cops not to give up until they have taken substantial casualties. Of course, it's not clear whether that cop cop-out is the beginning of a trend, but it is clear that we have seen a lot of clashes between authoritarian forces and large, leaderless flash mobs, and the flash mobs have won a surprisingly large percentage of the time.
The power of the lower and middle classes dwarfs the power of the one percent, but people power is not controllable by a central authority. If you are an enlisted soldier, you don't have the legal right to refuse to serve. But every other US Citizen has the right to walk off the job and not come back. Government doesn't want you to do that, and some countries have tried to make it illegal, but total authoritarianism is now know to be an economy killer. The Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic of China gave us a clue. And we also have North Korea as a reminder if we forget. If your want, you can join the underground economy, and probably get a subsidy from the government. You trade a higher paycheck for more personal freedom. There's the 40 hour lifestyle and there's the 24/7 lifestyle. Some people have jobs, but everybody works. If you think living on food stamps isn't work, you haven't tried it. Lyndon Johnson instituted this system in the 60's. It's beginning to loose its charm.
Here's a way of stating the fundamental law of economics:
|Work less; fight more; become poor.|
More authoritarian rules enforced by harsher and harsher penalties mean more fighting and less working. Fighting breaks the infrastructure, and erodes trust, and less working means less resources to fix the damage. It's a degenerative feedback loop that goes rapidly out of control once it reaches a tipping point. Unfortunately, there seems to be no scientifically verifiable method to tell when that point will come. What seems clear is that states all over the world are caught in this degenerative feedback loop.
I would think that even the most venal and corrupt upper class would want to keep things stable so they could retain their privileged positions. The US oligarchs have developed a host of criminally oriented wealth extraction strategies based on advanced mathematical and psychological techniques, but they have made their extraction technologies so efficient that they are causing the system to become unstable. A corollary of the fundamental law of economics is that crime doesn't pay. That applies whether it's state sanctioned crime or unofficial criminal activity. It seems that a society that has a large amount of state sanctioned crime also usually has a large amount of private crime, with the amount of state sanctioned crime at least a hundred times more than private crime. Think sales tax ripoffs at Walmart checkout vs getting mugged in the parking lot. It's not a matter of how clever the criminal is. The smarter he is and the more criminal actors there are, the sooner the the system will become unstable. The stability of the system depends on feedback loops and the feedback loops get disrupted when coercive and deceitful actions by the upper classes interfere with the content or bandwidth of the feedback.
News commentators are fond of saying that the top x percent have more money than the bottom y percent. That is totally irrelevant if the bottom y percent gets united enough to take issue with the top x percent for some reason. Money can't buy the energy of a large group of truly irritated people.
The income tax is a very efficient economy killer. Government has an incentive to get people on W-2 jobs where a larger percentage of their income can be harvested. An economy composed of a lot of small organizations is much harder to tax than one filled with giant corporations. Especially if those corporations are are barely disguised branches of the government. But even if a worker in one of these giant tax plantations wants to be efficient, she has neither the information, nor the authority to actually manage her job efficiently. And of course her incentives are just to get along by showing token compliance with the latest management fad. Not to mention the fact that her children are in the public school system where she needs to worry about them being bullied, indoctrinated with statist propaganda, or even killed by some student who breaks under the considerable stress that the public school system causes in the children of the USA. The way we treat our mothers and our children in this country is a total disgrace. A mother's natural means of survival, her family, has been replaced with a plastic substitute--a government safety net built to ensure the safety of the one percent.
There is no scientifically verifiable way to measure economic fairness. There is no math equation or computer program that gives a repeatable, and verifiable analysis of what is fair and what is not. The justices of the US Supreme court do not have access to any form of analysis that can be scientifically verified to compute fairness. The president has no adviser with this capability. Neither does any lawyer, cop, or bureaucrat, and yet we are expected to defer to these individuals as if they did have access superior fairness technology. No one has a monopoly on truth.
We all have our own vision of what constitutes fairness. So, how can we best arrive at a collective vision of fairness that we can all agree on? Just granting the right of refusal could get us there. That right can be derived from the libertarian non-aggression principle. If it is not right to initiate force or fraud, it is also not right to initiate force or fraud because someone does not do what you tell them to, no matter who you are or how many badges or warrants you have. We need a right of divorce not only from an unhappy marriage, but from an unhappy relationship with a government, or a church, or business.
If all people in the society were only involved in activities they had agreed to, we would have a lot greater perception of fairness. If you don't think its fair, just say no. A perception of unfairness is what fuels revolution, so even if you think that the right of refusal will not bring fairness, you might still be for it if you want social stability.
There is a distinction between authoritarianism and authority. There are authoritarians and there are authorities. An authoritarian is someone who has gotten political power, or would like to get or use political power. An authority is someone who has earned trust by providing service. They are seldom the same people. You don't earn trust by bossing people around. An authoritarian has the illusion of power. An authority has real power, as long as he keeps providing service at his current level. An authoritarian is the cop who gives you a ticket for speeding. An authority is the plumber you call because he has built up trust in your friends and family by providing good service.
I remember when people would shrug and say it's a free country. It was kind of a conversation stopper. It was a statement that there was no use talking about something that would not be changed because there was a recognition that applying force would only make the situation worse. When I was a kid, I used to hear people say that a lot, but I don't hear it at all now.
When you vote to take some economic function away from the private sector and have it done by the government, you are voting to take a business away from a plumber and give it to a highway patrolman. Would you rather have your sink fixed, or get a ticket for not fixing it? Just paying the plumber will end up being a lot cheaper, because you only pay him when you need him. You pay the government whether you need the service or not. The highway patrolman will hire three politically appointed plumbers who get the job on who they know, not what they know, and you will get the bill for all of them, even if your sink doesn't need fixing. But the reverse is also true. You can take functions away from the government, and get a real plumber back on the job and the highway patrolman and the three state appointed plumbers can look for honest work.
Chief among the government scams is the central bank. When we adopted fiat currency, we were also opting for a fiat society. We have fiat lawyers who care about billable hours more than justice. We have fiat doctors who care about their state licensed privileges more than the health of their patients. We have fiat jobs that have little relation to real work. We have fiat education that has an extremely low wisdom content, and is mostly a platform for indoctrinating the young with statist propaganda. We have fiat politics with a lot of discussion about fraud among voters, and very little discussion about fraudulent counting of the votes. We have fiat political debates that exclude opinions held by vast numbers of voters. The levels of honesty and trust are at record lows. The information processing channels of the system are filled with lies, and decisions based on lies quickly lead to economic ruin.
Violence is not an effective strategy for dealing with authoritarians. If you turn violent, you are just joining them. Avoiding authoritarians works, though. If you want more freedom, move to less densely populated areas. Don't work a W-2 job, but do work on constructive things that you enjoy doing.
There is no reason we have to put up with that.