Skip to content
Welcome guest. | Register | Login | Add
About | Wiki | Legacy

Openoffice is for auction on eBay - $61 paid already

20 replies [Last post]
User offline. Last seen 7 years 26 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-02-26
Exactly, if "my body my

Exactly, if "my body my choice" is good enough for the ladies it's good enough for us men too.

I suppose my issue is that the FDA approved Aspartame as safe, and the US Government used GATT to foist it on other countries, just like they're trying to force GM products on EU consumers using the WTO stick. On the other hand EU regulators are starting to ban traditional remedies that date back thousands of years, everyone knows Marijuana can give exceptional relief to ill people, and hemp should be reinstated as a crop for rope and cloth etc (made illegal in the US the year Du Pont patented nylon).

Regulation is OTT, I think you're right, by all means highlight risks and put the important ones on labels, but don't take away our choice. Preserving choice runs into a conflict though:

If someone wants to eat GM products drenched in pesticides and herbicides well that sounds fair enough, but I want to be able to choose to consume produce that are as close to natural as possible. I can buy organic and avoid most of the crap (we're stuck with some groundwater and air pollution) but GM is a particularly worrisome case.

BASF got outline permission from an Irish Government body to trial potatoes that were genetically modified to have blight-resistance. They probably expected a PR slam dunk given the millions who starved in the potato famine caused by blight here in the late 1840's, but that was not the case. They kept the location of the field secret so we couldn't attack. Turned out there was no need, they refused to comply with the government stipulation that they must take some measurements of cross-contamination of pollen into surrounding fields. Credit to the politicians, they wanted to appear "investor friendly" but knowing GM is a political suicide issue in Ireland caught BASF on the irresponsibility of the proposed experiment itself.

Pollen spread is the real killer. once you put an experimental life form in the wild it will spread and interact. My choice of having natural food disappears, to isolate organic crops from GM contamination using some sort of bio dome would make it unnatural. And spare a thought for Percy Schmeiser, sued by Monsanto because some of their "intellectual property" (roundup ready canola) blew into his field and grew with his crop!

GM experimentation goes way beyond selective breeding (carrots weren't originally orange) or natural dna mixing (insect dna affected human evolution), it's a rate of change and extent of combining of species that is unheard of in and untested by nature. Claims that no GM dna could survive the human gut were proven false, it was found to have interacted with gut bacteria forming mutant species. Keep mixing these experiments into our food supply and eventually one or a few in combination will result in gut bacteria producing carcinogenic and/or toxic by-products.

Maybe I'm just a big old scaredy cat, but in any event I have a bad reaction to the notion that agro-corps or big pharma can force me to take that risk. Also, software patents are obnoxious enough but patenting our food chain? That's fightin' talk!

So in general I don't want regulators taking away choice, but to preserve choice, GM and anything that threatens to pollute the entire food supply are red-line to my mind. While scientific advancement is great, surely there's an ethical issue in forcing us all to be guinea pigs in a 'no way back' global experiment?

"Kevin Dean" wrote:

I no longer believe in conspiracy stories... I think the evil-doers in the world have enough power not to be openly evil.

Heh, that's it alright, comedians here went to town on politicians who repeated the phrase "in the national interest" over and over. Nation states co-opted to further the interests of the elite, citizens fighting every other nations citizens for jobs in a flat world. On the upside awareness of the issues is on the rise so democracy may in time "deliver us all from every evil" more effectively and the need for direct action is reduced.

PS we're all in it together, the US may be a big player in injustice but that's only due to its power being co-opted by the elite (Dubyas base), by 2050 it could be the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party using that nations economic and military might to set the world order. I'd much prefer a nation with democracy to have that role while it exists. There's still time, we can save the world from an uncertain fate, if Americans save America.

User offline. Last seen 11 years 27 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-02-09
democrates wrote: I'd much
'democrates' wrote:

I'd much prefer a nation with democracy to have that role while it exists.

Interesting you say that. The more I research politics the more I'm sure that democracy is the CAUSE, not the cure, to most of our problems.

Before I'm labeled a Communist (I might actually be, though it's beside the point. Sticking out tongue ) I invite you to look at the views held by the Founding Fathers of the United States. Their views on democracy essentially came down to "democracy is a system that allows the 51% majority to oppress the 49% minority". It's true, frankly.

Some people don't care about the history of the US because the US today is seen to the rest of the world as being corrupt, which is in most cases true. However, what the planners CREATED was gradually worn away into what it is today.

And interesting read, I think, is here: http://www.geocities.com/fountoftruth/hated.html

User offline. Last seen 7 years 26 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-02-26
That geocities link seems

That geocities link seems dead, unless it's blocking me because I block pop-ups and javascript by default.

Yes, the "tyranny of the majority" is a downside, that's why I agree with you on not over-regulating. Generally speaking, the lowest common denominating values of the masses tend to be sound, since we all want the same basic things out of life. That common core is the foundation we can build upon, if we don't billions will die needlessly as the elite push consumption and pollution ever higher and foster wars to concentrate wealth and cement their positions.

Representative democracy in many countries has descended into musical chairs for the elite and does not represent the people as it should, but my answer is to fix it rather than ditch it, until I hear tell of a better option.

I haven't read the US constitution in years, and only read/seen/heard a few famous speeches by the founding fathers and various presidents and popular movement leaders, most inspiring, and that's the good stuff ordinary decent Americans hold dear. But looking at political debate, I sometimes wonder if a lack of imagination around democracy is deliberately preserved in the US as well as elsewhere.

Maybe I'm wrong, it's just when I hear for example politicians, pundits, and think tank talkers express core beliefs in terms of "what our founding fathers intended", it strikes me that thinking from first principles is a no go area, at least when the powers that be and their minions talk in public. When is the last time you heard one of them talk as frankly as you, or express such openness to the possibility of other arrangements? The status quo does not seem to be seriously questioned.

No doubt the founding fathers did the best they could in the pertaining environment, but slavery is gone and women have equal rights now. They didn't know it all and with that "station in life" mentality of the day I wouldn't expect from them the kind of egalitarian systemic prescriptions I think could best position the US and the human race for optimum survival, any more than I would from the ancient Greeks who invented democracy but were similarly immersed in the prejudices of their times.

The biggest change of all, is that we now have the technology to achieve a level of transparency that was hitherto inconceivable. That's the big tamale right there, put the books online. Simple as. Follow the money and when the truth gets out there'll be changes.

There's no room for complacency in my optimism, it's not that long since we had Nazi Germany, Maoist China, Stalinist Russia, Mussolini's Italy, Franco's Spain etc. and now we've madmen in North Korea, Zimbabwe and elsewhere. It's not inconceivable that bit by bit the free world gets less and less free, it's already happening due to secretive oligarchy replacing transparent democracy.

Ultimately it may turn out the NRA were right all along, the right to keep and bear arms may be what saves the USA from becoming a de facto police state, and creates a space for fixing democracy so that the USA can take a positive role in pursuit of world peace. God be with the days of teaching the world to sing, Bush and his cohorts are teaching the world to cry.

Europe Russia China India Canada and Australia are all big players with a responsibility too, and they're shamefully lacking, but it's the US that has a sole veto in the World Bank and IMF, while WTO negotiations are stalled because poor countries have had the audacity to insist on fairness. Irish farmers have not been slow to lobby with other Europeans for preservation of subsidies that destroy third world livelihoods either.

The UN security council is hamstrung with vetos too, nothing gets through any of these unless it conforms to the washington concensus which at this point is narrowed down to an elitist orgy of war and profit. I hope I haven't come accross as a simple-minded anti-American here, I've family there and have the same respect for ordinary decent people the world over, the focus is on the "leaders" and merely reflects the key role of the USA in setting the world order.

If Ireland were that titan my beliefs would not change, as it is the whole celtic tiger obsession with the economy turns me right off, those aren't the values we got from Sesame Street, The Waltons, or The Little House on the Prairie (I fancied Nellie Oleson even though she was a total wench), instead it's Dallas and the Colbys, any and all selfish decadence and reckless abandon at the expense of healthy relationships and sustainable living.

But the Internet, the discussions, the organisation capability, I'm still optimistic that we can retrieve things peacefully.

memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 2 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-07-12
That reminds me of a thought

That reminds me of a thought that crossed my mind when I was watching the news last time. The way decisions are made regarding the change of laws and addition of new legislations is parliamentary majority where we have two biggest parties and only few small ones and few independent individuals. The biggest parties could basically consolidate between themselves regardless of personal opinion therefore possibly not adding much value to the decision making discussion.

What we end up with is that probably most of the time the ruling party gets its proposal adopted. This is of course justified by the fact that people elected them.

But what if the parliament served not to make final decisions but to help carve proposals only? Various parties would come up with their own solutions, perhaps even a multitude of solutions each based on how their members think individually and then these proposals would be laid to the public as a referendum. As you said, due to internet we have the technology. I find animating the public in various ways, through TV and online advertisements, appeals to their caring about the environment they live in etc. into voting quite plausible. All a citizen would have to do is go to a certain web site that is set up for voting, read the user-friendly proposals and vote, providing their unique identifying number as a way to confirm the legitimacy of the vote and it being cast by an adult.

Sure perhaps a great percentage of people would never vote, but how could that be any worse than it is now, when the only people who get to vote on this stuff are the few that show up in parliament discussions?

So far the only way people who actually want to be heard get to be heard is through some intermediaries like the unions, syndicates or just media pressure. We devised these ways of interacting with the government and its decision making process because of a lack of direct access. Today this access is possible.

So this is a much more direct kind of democracy. Of course, the majority would still be at an advantage. However this kind of system could evolve into something that would give even certain minority votes due consideration. For example, if the vote results are close to 50/50 another poll could determine why did people vote they way they did to possibly find a way to merge the two proposals into one which would be sufficiently acceptable to all. Basically it would be about finding the right compromise.

Anyway, I'm just brainstorming now a bit, but I just think that the communications technology that we have today could really help change the way we govern ourselves by decentralizing the decision process much more than it is today, getting us closer to the true democracy.

__________________

Daniel Memenode signature

User offline. Last seen 7 years 26 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-02-26
Yes, being close to the

Yes, being close to the technology we can see various ways in which it can strengthen democracy so that we get better societies.

So, maybe leaving the standard paper-based voting in place for political office for now, we have:
- Voting on legislative bills
- Consensus Building
- Transparency of accounts and the political process

The national ID issue attracts howls from civil liberties campaigners who fear it's potential as an instrument of control, but switch that around and instead of government controlling people, the people can use it to control government to a feasible degree. Now each citizen can demand their input be 'entered on the record' as it were, and we can use it to vote on issues as you describe.

You're right about most people not bothering, after a hard days work and cooking, cleaning, helping kids with homework etc, watching a soccer match etc is more likely to fill private time than wrestling with community or national issues. I think feeling powerless itself is the reason why most people don't take more interest.

Quick case study: My local council were all set to "develop" a green space at our picturesque promenade. It took mass public protests on the streets to reverse the decision. It seems like the developers had gotten their claws in and "our" representatives almost privatised an amenity that has benefited locals and visitors for centuries.

While this particular plan was so big a betrayal that people took to the streets, most of the dirty deeds get through with only a handful of people protesting, and these people are easily ignored or cast as BANANAs (build absolutely nothing anywhere near anyone).

The solution is greater public engagement. Transparency can let us know the who, what, why, where, when and how of policies and by-laws, put it all online, our local libraries already offer citizens free internet access. But that's of little use if accountability is reduced to not voting for treacherous councilors at the next local election. We need a formal method for intervention, get N signatures on a petition and you can trigger a public vote. That facility can be proactive in bringing new measures too, not just reacting to options presented.

So that's an outline prescription for local government. Trials of these measures could be very useful and when wrinkles are ironed out it can be adopted at the national level. Once we dilute the power of politicians to reward rich people who funded their election campaigns, we'll get a better quality of public representative, and government for the people.

As per the Swiss examples on the Iron Law of Oligarchy thread, there have to be limits on what local people can enact so that extreme communities do not arise. For Ireland these constraints already exist at various concentric levels: national legislation and the constitution, EU legislation, and UN treaties.

It seems to me that the larger the group, the more universally humanitarian the core values agreed. For example the UN Declaration of Human Rights, or the fact that equality in the Irish workplace was driven by EU directives. For this reason I wouldn't go quite as far as the Swiss with direct democracy, women there only got the vote in the 1970's.

Change is needed. Tradition is great and we should preserve as much as possible, except those parts based on prejudice from bygone eras or old practices based on technological limitations which have now been removed. There's no future in being glove-puppets on the dead hand of the past, this is our time now, and we can reach our full potential if we allow ourselves to imagine what is possible with our new networking power.

User offline. Last seen 11 years 27 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-02-09
libervisco wrote: a
'libervisco' wrote:

a multitude of solutions each based on how their members think individually and then these proposals would be laid to the public as a referendum. As you said, due to internet we have the technology.

Every action has a consequence. A few years back, here in the US there was big discussion about what is called the "Digital Divide". Namely, you could almost lable individuals' voting habits with the fact that they're online. Statistically, there's a HUGE disparity between liberals and conservatives as pertaining to online access. The vast majority of "regular" internet users are white, have some college education and vote Democratically. As those things change, so does the likelyhood of that person having consistant access to the internet. In rural areas, where college educations are more rare, there's less internet connected people. In "minority" areas there are less internet connections. One could argue that by turning to online voting without serious internet infrastructure changes, you'd essentially LESSEN the ability for other forms of input to be heard. An environmental bill, for instance, is more likely to be approved by the liberal (internet-using) majority where as a bill focusing on economic development (supported by 60% of people, most of whom AREN'T online) would be shot down rather easily.

'libervisco' wrote:

All a citizen would have to do is go to a certain web site that is set up for voting, read the user-friendly proposals and vote, providing their unique identifying number as a way to confirm the legitimacy of the vote and it being cast by an adult.

Sounds well and good. Smiling However, many people are afraid of buying things online. Some people who really should know better still refuse to divulge financial or identifying information online. The only "identifying" number that US citizens are certain to have is a Social Security Number, and it's actually illegal to use that as identification now (because of the ease it can be used for identity theft). To assign such a number to every citizen in the nation would be a HUGE undertaking and would be very VERY costly... The kind of cost that would require the government to subsidize it... And governments tend NOT to subsidize things that take power from them and put it back into the hands of the people. Same reasons why the pharmacutical industry "treats" but never "cures" anything... That's not a sustainable business model.

There's also another problem and I'm not sure if this pertains to places outside of the US and Canada. The US is a federal republic, which means that certain minimums are set by the federal government, but ultimate determination of a persons eligability to vote is determined by the states... Some states allow everyone to vote, some bar felons (even those who comitted crimes 30 years ago, and have no record since) from voting. It's quite a bit of an undertaking to ensure that everyone who visits a website has the legal status to view the content on it.

And another problem, inherent to all online voting... There's no way to ensure that the person CASTING the vote is the person who can. Unless you have to be physically present and verified by another human being, I can VERY seriously see eBay auctions for "Presidential Vote 2008 codes!". Of course, votes can be bought NOW, but when the person has to go to the polls themselves, it's less inticing.

'libervisco' wrote:

So this is a much more direct kind of democracy.

We've been debating government for a while, you and I. Smiling I'm more sure today than a week ago, and a month prior to that, that democracy is the CAUSE of most of the problems we have today, not the solution to it. Two wolves and a sheep voting on what to eat for dinner might be democratic, but it certainly isn't fair. A government set up to protect a set of rights - even overriding the majority opinion to do so - is what I am quite fond of.

'libervisco' wrote:

For example, if the vote results are close to 50/50 another poll could determine why did people vote they way they did to possibly find a way to merge the two proposals into one which would be sufficiently acceptable to all.

In some cases, this can work. But there are some cases where this is impossible at all. For instance, I defend people's rights to their own body. ANY infringement on those rights (banning abortion, banning smoking, banning suicide) is something I stand against, and I WILL NOT compromise. If the public needs to "comprimise" rights, there's a problem. Bush wants people to "comprimise" between rights and security... There's no such beast. When you loose SOME rights you're loosing rights. If you can loose ONE right (the right to bear arms) why not another (free speech) if they're EQUAL in the eyes of the law?

Some things simply can't be comprimised on, and as long as there's a system in place to "comprimise" we'll have unsatisfied people. Stalling a bill because you can't come to a solution still impacts the world - inaction has consiquences too.

memenode's picture
User offline. Last seen 10 weeks 2 days ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-07-12
Unfortunately, even if the

Unfortunately, even if the government set a certain set of rights to protect regardless of majority or minority opinion, someone's view of ethics will be compromised, just as with democracy, and I'm beginning to think; just as with any other system.

So what is the solution?

Maybe we just have to do best we can to make as many people as possible happy.

But something tells me it wont be until the technology that removes currently known constraints that everyone will be satisfied. Of course, for technology to solve the major problems we need to decentralize its power.

I think that after all is said and done, this is really the most fundamental thing to focus on as we move forward in time: decentralize the power of technology, as it continues to evolve. It's about preserving the "whatever floats your boat as long as it doesn't sink mine" principle. The No. 1 commandment of common sense, the prime directive, a principle undisputable by nature - the very basics.

Before we reach a level at which we can claim we truly live to this principle, in all areas and that certainly includes technological empowerment, we probably wont be fit to properly address any of the more fine grained issues because all of them rely on the compliance to or breakage of that fundamental principle.

Then we will probably find that the answer is a form of anarchy.

__________________

Daniel Memenode signature

User offline. Last seen 11 years 27 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-02-09
libervisco
'libervisco' wrote:

Unfortunately, even if the government set a certain set of rights to protect regardless of majority or minority opinion, someone's view of ethics will be compromised, just as with democracy, and I'm beginning to think; just as with any other system.

Firstly, let me define what I believe a "government" to be... My definition fits current governments sort of...

I define a government as "the agreement among a community on how to act AS a community". The government, therefore, is the systems put in place by the people to protect the rights the people agree on protecting.

In the US that agreement protects religion, press, assembly, fair trials and so on... Canada agrees to protect equality, which the US does not (hence allowing gay marriage)... Most nations have charters or constitutions - that "frames" a government, and is probably as close to a written form of that agreement among the community.

Ideally, government's ONLY purpose should be to protect those rights from a small majority.

The government can only "fail" when the people are no longer in agreement. When the people begin valuing "security" over "freedom" for instance, or when the "good of the majority" outweights the rights of an individual. In both cases, you slip (because of this disagreement) into a form of mob rule where the small majority begins enacting laws that oppress the minority. Ironic, that at that point, by listening to the majority, you become a "true" democracy and at that exact moment you solidify that some people's opinions don't matter.

'libervisco' wrote:

So what is the solution?

Keeping in mind my definition, that a government is an agreement among people on how to act as a communtiy, there are two choices to "fix" failed governments.

1.) As a whole, change the agreement.

In the US we have the ability, with an overwhelming majority, to make changes to Constitution through Congress. This requires SUCH a majority, however, than in US history it has only been done 26 times - 10 amendments (called the "Bill of Rights") came at once and was actually required to get people to agree to the Constitution itself.. In some way, the first 10 ammendments are actually PART of the constitution, not changes to it. Which brings the number closer to 16 changes throughtout the history of the US.

The second way to change this agreement is protected by the second amendement, actually... The REASON American's right to have weapons is protected is simple - the Founders feared that Americans would have to take arms again to protect themselves from tyranny. Interesting, really, that the framers actually considered democracy and tyranny to be very similar - protecting the right to own a gun gives Americans protection from the oppression of a small majority, and the government the small majority controls when the Republic falls to democracy.

If both of those situations fail, or fail to appease everyone there's only one other choice...

2.) Make a new agreement

That is, to make a new government.

I grew up in the northern part of the United States, I'd be what is called a Yankee. Smiling I was taught to believe that because the southern states wanted to break away from the US and form their own government they were BAD! Furthermore, years and years of history tied in with slavery make, to an American, seperatism look like a desire to own slaves.

As an adult, I have to wonder how the world might be today had the south won that war. Now, I don't agree with slavery (required socially acceptable disclaimer. Smiling )but if you ignore the specifics of the issue, the south tried to break away because the small majority (the north) was attempting to impose their views on a minority. This may have very well been the start of democracy in America, and things have gotten worse since.

Even in the free software community we have this implication, sometimes subtle, sometimes VERY vocal that "forking" is a bad thing. I've always found it hypocritical and ironic that the community, who demands freedom protected by the right to fork also considers it taboo to fork! If not for the ability to go your own way and do what YOU want to do with the software there's no purpose at ALL to having Free Software. How is it then, that the right to "go your own way" in government doesn't ALSO give you freedom?

User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-23
How about a new thread? This

How about a new thread? This has nothing to do with OpenOffice or eBay anymore...

User offline. Last seen 7 years 26 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2007-02-26
Yeah i was thinking that

Yeah i was thinking that too, I've started off http://www.libervis.com/topic/freedom_versus_democracy

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.