Monday, February 6, 2012

What is Government? Who cares!

Cool people capitalize terms for dramatic effect. Anyways...

What is Government? I have heard this question asked in a plethora of contexts, but invariably do the answers fall short to answer the question. Answers that do work are just based on the terminology of the theories of which the advocate feels so warm about. If I were to ask what is our Government right now, would any answer suffice to explain all the intricate appendages that the government has so donned? No, not a single answer would suffice. That is because Government is a continually fluxing array of objects that is bounded by no connotation, but rather by the incentives of the Body that determines it.

So lets not even ask that question. It is totally pointless. We'd be better off not even thinking about Government, right? Clearly this isn't the case, but why? Well, two things: First of all, if we ignored Government then we wouldn't have the ability to stop it from failing. We'd be subjected to the whims of an elite few. Secondly, if we ignored Government then we wouldn't know when it does work and how to capitalize on such instances. When introspecting the government apparatus we need to have some questions, and so I propose these ones:

1. Who does it represent?
2. Who does it affect?
3. How should it be improved?
4. How should it be removed?

I would claim that the foremost issue of any Government is to ensure that the Representative Body is equivalent to the Affected Body. Surely we can make exceptions, such as children and Adam Levy, but heuristically we can just aim for complete representation. After all, the goal of Government adheres to maximizing the utility determined by the Affected Body. If the Government apparatus is not aware of the desires of the Affected Body ... phailure. And Government phails at the margin. Luckily, however, we live in the age of communication! No longer do we have to rely on a selected elite! No, we can actually pull off confederacy! (lol) However, completely decentralized power wouldn't work either, for if decentralized power then we are still going to have to deal with the resultant geopolitical factions. If these geopolitical factions don't work together then we may create great social costs.

As said in "The Darwin Economy," Frank expresses there is a need for Government when the social cost of an activity outweighs the aggregated individual benefit. That is, where cost > benefit. However, the major problem is not that people are too illogical to realize that costs suck and benefits are cool. Nay, it is more so because the whole idea of calculating cost and benefit can be a nightmare when we're dealing with an aggregate moral system full of contradictions and irrationality. Nevertheless, we live in the age of communication! We can do this!

So picture it. Government from the ground up. An individual chooses their Values by their voting age, hopefully. They then interact with their geographically closest peers to form the Value Consensus of the group. The Value Consensus of this group (not so much the group itself) can then interact with the Value Consensus of other groups. So on and so forth until the groups constitute a geopolitical region and those geopolitical regions so constitute a nation and those nations then can so constitute a planet and those planets can so constitute a GALACTIC CONFEDERATION! Now, I'm not the first person to ever have this idea. So why hasn't it gone into effect?

Rational Ignorance. Nobody believes that their individual contribution will make a difference once the entire process has been carried out, and in the majority of cases they can argue fact out of it. So how do we cure this? Free pizza at the meetings? I'd say the problem with curing this is that we can't just release an antidote on the shelves and expect everyone to know about it or buy it. Instead, we have to rely on everyone to come up with their own incentive structures for ensuring their democracy.

Good luck, planet Earth.

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