[PLUG-TALK] Government

Keith Lofstrom keithl at gate.kl-ic.com
Mon Jul 30 12:06:29 PDT 2012

> On Sun, Jul 29, 2012 at 8:27 PM, Russell Johnson <russ at dimstar.net> wrote:
> It's refreshing to see someone else that feels the government is not the
> friend of the people. So many people are so convinced that the government
> is the solution to all our problems.

On Mon, Jul 30, 2012 at 09:12:45AM -0700, Denis Heidtmann wrote:
> All the recent surveys show that distrust of the government is very high.
>  I am convinced that the government COULD be the solution to some of our
> problems, but the influence of forces outside government have seen to it
> that has not happened.  Hence, the government can be seen as the source of
> some of our problems.  But the problem is not really the government, but
> those whose interests are in conflict with ours
> having disproportionate influence on the government.

And your last sentence is why we MUST distrust and limit government. 
Not because it doesn't represent us, but because it might represent
some of us, the majority voters of 2012, too well.

In 1930s Germany, "those whose intersets are in conflict with ours
having disproportionate influence on the government" were the Jews,
according to many well meaning and in fact more influential citizens.
Most of the world agreed that Jews were the bad guys.  Probably my
grandparents did.  They were wrong.  I have the same genes, the
same mental equipment and language, and almost exactly the same
culture as my grandparents, so I am likely to be just as wrong
about important issues of the day as they were.

We portray the N***s (censored as per Godwin's law) as evil, top
down tyrants;  they were in fact a bottom-up, democratically 
elected movement, more popular and based on a greater consensus
than anything the U.S. has ever seen.  The evil tyrant phase came
later, as it always does when war threatens national survival.

You can find many similarities between their populism and ours. 
That is NOT to indict populist goals (many of which I share),
but only to show that even the most laudable goal is corrupted
if imposed without restraint, sympathy, or compassion by a
majority on a minority (ethnic, economic, whatever).

Imagine a different election than the 1932 election that gave
the N***s majority control of the Reichstag.  In this imaginary
election, all Germans, from the founding of the Weimar Republic
in 1919 into the very distant future (hopefully hundreds of
years from now) could also vote.  There is no way the N***s
would win a majority in this hypothetical election.   We have
no idea how future Germans might vote,  but they will likely
think as differently in 2092 as 2012 Germans think differently
than 1932 Germans.  End of history?  HA!

We have republics and constitutions, rather than direct
democracies, because democracies are creatures of the moment,
and strongly discount the past and the future.  By creating
extra hoops to jump through, and by allowing minorities to 
temporarily thwart the will of the majority, we are actually
adhering to the will of the greater majority, that of citizens
not yet born, who will have knowledge and beliefs that may be 
represented by only a small minority in 2012.  Our constitutions
protect the rights of small minorities, and are laden with
inertia, because those minorities include the seeds of our
future, and undamped control loops tend to oscillate and fail.

A republic specifies the way one "overcomes" the minority - by
one on one discussion and negotiation, until enough individuals
in that minority see things your way ... OR you learn to see
things their way.  The truly ugly thing about the current 
Demopublican hate-fest is that we have joined sides, closed our
minds, and terminated civilized discussion, rather than sought
out those who disagree with us and given them a careful and
sympathetic hearing. 

Indeed, the fastest way to change someone's mind is to help
them state their beliefs completely and in detail, without
opposition or interruption.  Sometimes the very thinness of
the details and discrepancies in their unopposed logic helps
them understand that there is more to learn.  If you fill in
some supportive details in a collaborative (but never
confrontational) way, you start the slow process of building
consensus.  You will both invest in constructing something
better than either of you could produce alone.

This is very hard, and requires more self discipline than I
can manage most of the time, so I understand how we got into
the current pickle.

Suggested further reading:  Kathryn Shultz, "Being Wrong, Adventures
in the Margin Of Error", 2010.  For more information about 1930s
(to 1950s!) Germany, William Shirer's 1960 "The Rise and Fall of the
Third Reich", and Milton Mayer's 1955 "They Thought they Were Free". 
Learn about practical negotiation and consensus at Jeff Goebel's
http://www.aboutlistening.com/ (Jeff offers training locally).  Active
listening can save thousands of lives, read Paul Rusesabagina's 2006
"An Ordinary Man", the story behind the movie "Hotel Rwanda".  We've
struggled to build healthy societies for thousands of years.  Read 
Pericles' Funeral Oration in Thucydides' "History of the Peloponnesian
War": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pericles%27_Funeral_Oration 
and http://classics.mit.edu/Thucydides/pelopwar.2.second.html
search for "In the same winter" - a 10 minute read.

The details are ever so much richer than "those whose interests
are in conflict with ours".  Indeed, those with conflicting
ideas sometimes know more details about our own ideas than we do.
We learn from our own mistakes - those who think they make no
mistakes know nothing.


Keith Lofstrom          keithl at keithl.com         Voice (503)-520-1993
KLIC --- Keith Lofstrom Integrated Circuits --- "Your Ideas in Silicon"
Design Contracting in Bipolar and CMOS - Analog, Digital, and Scan ICs

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