New White House Privacy Report

Two days ago, the White House released a report on privacy: "Privacy in our Digital Lives: Protecting Individuals and Promoting Innovation." The report summarizes things the administration has done, and lists future challenges:

Areas for Further Attention

  1. Technology will pose new consumer privacy and security challenges.
  2. Emerging technology may simultaneously create new challenges and opportunities for law enforcement and national security.
  3. The digital economy is making privacy a global value.
  4. Consumers' voices are being heard -- and must continue to be heard -- in the regulatory process.
  5. The Federal Government benefits from hiring more privacy professionals.
  6. Transparency is vital for earning and retaining public trust.
  7. Privacy is a bipartisan issue.

I especially like the framing of privacy as a right. From President Obama's introduction:

Privacy is more than just, as Justice Brandeis famously proclaimed, the "right to be let alone." It is the right to have our most personal information be kept safe by others we trust. It is the right to communicate freely and to do so without fear. It is the right to associate freely with others, regardless of the medium. In an age where so many of our thoughts, words, and movements are digitally recorded, privacy cannot simply be an abstract concept in our lives; privacy must be an embedded value.

The conclusion:

For the past 240 years, the core of our democracy -- the values that have helped propel the United States of America -- have remained largely the same. We are still a people founded on the beliefs of equality and economic prosperity for all. The fierce independence that encouraged us to break from an oppressive king is the same independence found in young women and men across the country who strive to make their own path in this world and create a life unique unto to themselves. So long as that independence is encouraged, so long as it is fostered by the ability to transcend past data points and by the ability to speak and create free from intrusion, the United States will continue to lead the world. Privacy is necessary to our economy, free expression, and the digital free flow of data because it is fundamental to ourselves.

Privacy, as a right that has been enjoyed by past generations, must be protected in our digital ecosystem so that future generations are given the same freedoms to engage, explore, and create the future we all seek.

I know; rhetoric is easy, policy is hard. But we can't change policy without a changed rhetoric.

EDITED TO ADD: The document was originally on the whitehouse.gov website, but was deleted in the Trump transition. It's now available at the Obama archives site.

Posted on January 20, 2017 at 9:51 AM • 121 Comments

Comments

de La BoetieJanuary 20, 2017 10:24 AM

Good intentions = hell. It's a bit rich coming from successive administrations who've done the opposite in practice.

Policy is not hard - it's very easy for the wrong policy to become established as it has already been - empire-building secret organisations over-funded by willingly ignorant politicians who can only respond to war on x, we can save you from the t'rrists and keep your children safe.

Of course, good policy which met the good intentions above is hard because of the above. But the basics of it are actually easy: individual articulated warranted surveillance/hacking. Minimal data retention. No algorithmic guilt & assignment on no-fly, no-employment databases. Redress for wrongful accusation. Punishment (jail time) for abuses (including the senior managers). No mass surveillance & storage and data mining.

Won't happen.

PiperJanuary 20, 2017 10:40 AM

"It is the right to have our most personal information be kept safe by others we trust."

Black man speak with forked tongue.

If Obama thought that was a right, he would not order Federal alphabet agencies to tap every phone, read every email, steal every bit of data in the country.

PanopticonJanuary 20, 2017 10:49 AM

This is the same White House that, in one of its final actions before today's inauguration, expanded the NSA's official powers to carry out warrantless bulk surveillance of hundreds of millins of people:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/12/obama-us-intelligence-greater-access-warrantless-data-foreign-targets
It's enough to make me feel so hopey-changey all over again, I could almost cry.
I know policy is hard, but no one at the top is even trying. No amount of unaccountable power is ever enough for them. I don't see this changing with the incoming administration, which promises to be every bit as authoritarian as the previous one.

AlanSJanuary 20, 2017 11:15 AM

@Bruce

Your link is now broken. It gets redirected to "transitionsplash", so not anything remotely related to protecting citizen rights. I almost hurled my last meal all over my keyboard.

David HJanuary 20, 2017 11:23 AM

I have no doubt that we Obama will go down in history as one of the better presidents; certainly with respect to the disaster he followed and the abomination that is following him.

But in this regard he is utterly two-faced.

During his two terms he has spoken many pretty words about privacy whilst continuing to systematically destroy the same. Actions speak louder than words, and this is one area where the president had the authority and ability to act and chose not to.

He deserves no credit for more pretty and comforting words in direct contradiction to his actions that only serve to deflect and blunt necessary criticism of his mistakes.

Ross SniderJanuary 20, 2017 11:30 AM

"we can't change policy without a changed rhetoric."

Since when?

I've watched policy change continuously and it's all the same rhetoric. Freedom. Democracy. Children. (TM).

But yeah, lukewarm change. It's welcome. But it's lukewarm.

One of the issues is it is that the Third Party Doctrine is wholly consistent with this new rhetoric of freedom to trust only specific individuals with communications/information: "third parties are trusted can be secretly compelled to abuse their trust."

Namely, the policy of abusing trust relationships isn't being condemned here. I've seen all of the points from this rhetoric used to justify the collections and surveillance regime we have today: "but you TRUST your internet provider, social media aggregator and Operating System! (by virtue of exchanging with them in the market and by clicking their Terms of Service without reading them)!"

The rhetoric is behind, the doctrine is poisonous, and the policy is backward.

AlanSJanuary 20, 2017 12:19 PM

I agree with others posting above about the hypocrisy of the Obama administration on this issue.

I have to comment on them using a cite to the famous Brandies and Warren 1890 paper on The Right to Privacy. As legal scholars have noted, Brandeis rethought the privacy issue afterwards. It is revealing that the Obama administration cites the 1890 rather than the 1928 Brandeis on privacy.

The more pertinent writing by Brandeis on privacy is his blistering assault on government invasion of citizen privacy in 1928's Olmstead dissent. The latter reaches all the way back to the English North Briton 45 cases and the invasions of privacy in Massachusetts that helped spark the American revolution (the history of which Obama misrepresented in his January 17, 2014 speech to justify NSA spying) and looks forward to a future of ever-more invasive technologies.

Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen. In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that, in the administration of the criminal law, the end justifies the means -- to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal -- would bring terrible retribution. Against that pernicious doctrine this Court should resolutely set its face.

Slime Mold with MustardJanuary 20, 2017 1:14 PM

It standard practice that the White House website is "wiped" when a new administration comes in. Search "White House" and (some policy/issue). Links will be "404" unless some Trump staffer ducked out of the rain to get to work.

Since the words are so at odds with his policies, and the paper so very late in his administration, I can only conclude that the (then) president was throwing yet another mess on the floor for the next one.

This won't bother Trump. He likes the snoops.

@Clive Robinson likes remind us occasionally that Trump "isn't really a Republican". How did some guy in London catch that but the primary voters didn't?

albertJanuary 20, 2017 1:29 PM

Just this morning I was thinking about the time when you could get key fobs that looked like mini license plates with your cars plate number on them. If someone found your keys, they'd just toss 'em in a mailbox, and they'd be delivered back to ya. And the times when your family vacation was delayed, 'cause no one could find the house key. Or you'd welcome a stranger to help you fix a flat, or pick up a hitchhiker, help a little lost kid...you get the idea.

"...I know; rhetoric is easy, policy is hard. But we can't change policy without a changed rhetoric...."

Rhetoric is meaningless. Labels are meaningless. They are the tools of the propagandists. As @AlanS pointed out, the Olmstead dissent, (quoted in his comment), hits the nail on the head: if the gov't can do it, so can we. The kind of gov't behavior we see today is practiced by the corporatocracy, religious and educational institutions, and private individuals. Privacy is only one aspect of it.

@wiredog,
RE:404,
It doesn't even show up in: ObamaWhiteHouse.Archives.gov

. .. . .. --- ....

RobJanuary 20, 2017 1:34 PM

Wow, just wow - I doubt even he can get those words out... I have to side with the other. It's more cleaning of the conscious and likely crafting a statement he can use in the future for deniability. In many ways he has done critical harm to privacy and there are no obvious sign that will turn around.

TatütataJanuary 20, 2017 1:47 PM

Re: hypocrisy

+1, +1, +1 and +1

Re: 404

Wow!

At least they didn't "301" to Breitbart or Alex Jones - yet.

My InfoJanuary 20, 2017 1:50 PM

Privacy?

Can't even take a piss or a shit in "private" anymore, because of the new policy of audio/video enforcement of federal restroom sexual conformity laws inspired by Chelsea Manning.

Privacy?

That's under video surveillance in the back alley behind the Planned Parenthood building downtown Baltimore, Maryland. NSA promises not to make the videos public. "They're only for the amusement of top-secret cleared personnel."

TedJanuary 20, 2017 2:05 PM

Thank you for posting the report. There’s a good collection of research, resources, and policies to unpack and explore. Some of the keys items mentioned in the 'areas for further attention' were the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, modernizing the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, the EU-US Privacy Shield, support via the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Privacy Council, IC on the Record, etc.

To add to that, here are some recent events giving life to privacy R&D:

FTC’s second annual PrivacyCon 2017 (Jan 12)
https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/events-calendar/2017/01/privacycon

• Call for Presentations, Scope of research
• Research Submitted, 74 comments
• Video of the Event, Parts 1 to 5

Recap of the Twitter Chat: Managing Your Privacy in the Internet of Me (Jan 18)
https://stopthinkconnect.org/blog/chatstc-twitter-chat-managing-your-privacy-in-the-internet-of-me

Future Twitter Chat: Being #PrivacyAware is Good for Business (Jan 25)
https://stopthinkconnect.org/get-involved/events

TatütataJanuary 20, 2017 2:23 PM

It is still available in the Google cache, all 24 pages of meaningless pieties.

I tried to download a complete copy for posterity, but failed. Do you have a link?

The stuff in my browser cache is incomplete.

I attempted to find the report at archive.org, but even though the site is indexed several times a day, there doesn't seem to be any trace of the URL.

Good night, and good luck.

RhysJanuary 20, 2017 3:11 PM

Upon what basis is 'Privacy' distinguished from being compelled to testify against one's self? Is everything 'public' to the Government? Or otherwise conspiratorial?

"Technology" is just a tool- not a causative agent. Form follows function.

Forgetting the logic (if one can), the "facts" have no real reconciliation in history or reality.

This President did not vary from what the Republicans, George Bush, and his cabinet- particularly Ashcroft, embarked upon following 9/11.

2 decision BHO made- not to challenge what he inherited, and
to build further infrastructure entrenching the precedence.

(Imagine what it would have been to admit to opening mail and packages sent between citizens without the checks and balances of the courts due process. Or phone conversations of citizens under Posse Comitatus.)

The purpose for the Internet was not be a vehicle of commerce or government policy. Free exchange. Not exclusive of those other uses but, not the consensus upon which it was built/funded.

The coopting of this tool (the internet) by commerce and government policy, not technology, has converted (controverted) its uses. With more passive-aggressive speak to hide motivations that they already know wouldn't pass scrutiny. Or conscience.

The expectations for security, privacy, or a community without the like-minded is no longer reasonable. Perhaps this what things devolve to when there is no longer any like-minded community of stakeholders. Just special interests. Each seeking to evade punishment in a zero-sum game to coerce only net gains or losses of utility for every more fractionated stake-holders groups, not the larger stake holder community.

buckarooJanuary 20, 2017 3:39 PM

@David H "Obama will go down in history as one of the better presidents"

Based on what? The only good thing he did was the Affordable Care Act. He:
- Presided over the complete destruction of the full-time worker, with the vast majority of created jobs being low-paid, part-time, no-benefits service ones.
- Completed the destruction of the Middle East that Bush the Younger started, ignoring the plight of Christians and Yazidis.
- Allowed into the country a large number of Muslims, but only allowed in a handful of Christians, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, and other religious minorities.
- Actively worsened race relations, with it being the worst since the 1960s.

But back to the subject, if BHO was genuinely interested in privacy, he wouldn't have allowed over 250 Google employees to join his administration, with Google being the largest data-snarfer in history, not to mention the many times Google data-mined the emails of students. And perhaps he could have mentioned Glass and imitators thereof which e-children use to remove the privacy of others.

mozJanuary 20, 2017 5:32 PM

If you search Google you will find that the top two references for this are, firstly this blog posting and secondly an article that US Seeks To Intervene In Case Against Privacy Shield.

Even more telling are phrases such as

what the expectations of consumers are for their privacy and security in the digital ecosystem
(my emphasis)

The word consumer occurs 65 times throughout the document, more than twice as often as, for example, the word citizen. By contrast people occurs eleven times and person a mere four times. This strongly suggests that this document is for use in the context of consumer privacy which would match the fight against the privacy shield.

This document seems to be specifically designed to be used in a European court context. Even the broad "right to privacy", which includes things such as limitations on photography in public locations is not really a US concept, where instead there is a much narrower right "to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects" very much tempered by an absolute right to free speech.

The release in the very last days of the Obama presidency looks as if it was specifically designed so that the lawyers who requested this document to support their case against privacy in Ireland could get the full benefit of presidential support whilst it would be too late and to easily blamed on a previous administration to be of any use to privacy advocates fighting the Obama administration in the US.

Bruce, probably this just came out as a lucky catch, however if someone fed it to you, you might want to check they weren't using you.

Ergo SumJanuary 20, 2017 8:12 PM

@buckaroo...

The only good thing he did was the Affordable Care Act.

Affordable Care Act is anything, but affordable for most people without government subsidies, especially for the 50-65 age group. The premium went from $1K to $2K/month in three years, while the deductible increased from $3K to $12k. You do the math, that's a lot for a year that people have to pay out before the insurance covers anything. If they do at all...

Was it really a good thing? That depends I guess...

Health insurance companies' stock price tripled and a year after ACA had became the law, they started to pay dividend. And they still do ever since at the tune of $2.60/year/stock. In the case of the Anthem BCBS, it paid out $680B dividend for the year 2016. Yeah, ACA had been great for health insurance companies in the US...

The establihsment lostJanuary 20, 2017 8:53 PM

Bruce, and other establishment-minded people, you lost. Get over it.

This, is for you,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzSvzTTBALg

The Obama era is now history. We are living in the Trump era where the old political alliances no longer work.

The Obama administration after having expanded NSA spying beyond G W Bush's wildest dreams has no moral authority to talk about privacy. We had no privacy under the dragnet programs it operated.

When I complained about these things, people like Bruce always told me, gee, you have nothing to worry about if you do nothing wrong. Your digital life is only stored "just in case" it is required to solve terrorism cases.

In addition to this line of reasoning being the reverse of the 4th amendment -I don't have to prove I am doing something wrong for the government to not collect my info; rather it is the government who needs to show I am doing something wrong to be able to collect it- I always replied that while I didn't personally like Obama, sooner or later there would be somebody at the top who they didn't like.

Guess what Bruce, that day has now arrived. Now you have somebody with access to all the information the NSA has about you. I am sure that you are not as comforted about this as you were 1 year ago.

buckarooJanuary 20, 2017 8:55 PM

@Ergo Sum

I don't disagree with what you wrote. Quite a few insurance companies have left my home state because their profits aren't enough to keep CEOs in prostitutes and BMWs. Clearly we need to start thinking about regulating insurance companies, something that probably won't happen while Trump is in office. Then again, given Obama's refusal to prosecute any Wall Street banksters for the 2008 crash, things won't be any worse.

That said, there is one enormous advantage that the ACA brought to Americans, the end of denials for preexisting conditions. Most people have no idea how bad it was before. In enlightened states, the state legislature created an insurer of last resort, but in social Darwinist states, people were forced to do without. I priced a generic prescription just for laughs before the ACA, and one that cost $10-20 with insurance would have cost the unwashed masses around $200, because pharmacists were not allowed to negotiate prices due to edicts from corporate.

AlanSJanuary 20, 2017 9:03 PM

@Theestablishmentlost

"Bruce always told me, gee, you have nothing to worry about if you do nothing wrong. Your digital life is only stored "just in case" it is required to solve terrorism cases."

Really?

Gerard van VoorenJanuary 20, 2017 9:15 PM

Yet another one of the jokes.

Two days ago, the White House released a report on privacy

There is simply to much money to be made. If this is important, the old guy would have posted it two days after he entered that white building. And if it is important to the new guy it wouldn't have been removed.

1. Technology will pose new consumer privacy and security challenges.

Wrong. It would have been right if posted 15 years ago.

2. Emerging technology may simultaneously create new challenges and opportunities for law enforcement and national security.

True on both accounts.

3. The digital economy is making privacy a global value.

Since when does the US cares about the rest? Don't they only have "interests"?

4. Consumers' voices are being heard -- and must continue to be heard -- in the regulatory process.

Yeah right. Deleting this report says enough.

5. The Federal Government benefits from hiring more privacy professionals.

True, but that won't happen.

6. Transparency is vital for earning and retaining public trust.

The Obama administration is the most closed one ever. That says enough.

7. Privacy is a bipartisan issue.

Who cares?


But then, here it comes:

[Bruce] I especially like the framing of privacy as a right.

In the EU privacy *is* a right. Not only indoors but outdoors as well.

[Bruce] I know; rhetoric is easy, policy is hard. But we can't change policy without a changed rhetoric.

Remember that ABBA song: Money, Money, Money.

PubliusJanuary 20, 2017 9:28 PM

At the end of his term Obama has taken several steps that appear to be calculated to paint him as a champion of freedom, of the right to privacy of the constitution maybe.

Truth is he may have been the worst enemy of whistleblowing of any US president.

Many are not fooled.

The establihsment lostJanuary 20, 2017 9:33 PM

@AlanS

Yes, people like Bruce who either were cozy with the Obama administration or who had this faith in him. They always forget about the 22nd amendment.

Those of us who understand that government is evil are well aware that while we might be luck to have once in a while somebody on top whom we like, more often that not we will have somebody whom we detest. In addition, we always have the bureaucrats/technocrats who are evil by definition since they suck our tax money in exchange of making our life difficult.

In short, the above report, coming from the most privacy violating administration in US history, cannot be taken as anything other than a practical joke.

AlanSJanuary 20, 2017 9:55 PM

@The establihsment lost

I agree about the report being a joke. See Brandeis post above. I have no knowledge of Bruce's relationship with the Obama administration. My "really?" was in response to "Bruce always told me, gee, you have nothing to worry about if you do nothing wrong."

rJanuary 20, 2017 9:59 PM

@the establishment lost,

Funny, I think if one needs to see just how evil government really is then one needs to look no further than Aquadots.

Praise to the unbridled capitalists.

Pay raises to all.

AlanSJanuary 20, 2017 10:02 PM

@Bruce

"I know; rhetoric is easy, policy is hard. But we can't change policy without a changed rhetoric."

This isn't a changed rhetoric. It's the same old lip service to privacy rights while doing the opposite. Presumably they put out this crap at the end of an administration in a sad attempt to burnish their tarnished record.

The establihsment lost January 20, 2017 10:28 PM

@AlanS

This is Bruce's relationship with the Obama administration,

http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/fecimg/?11972680681

And while he hasn't condoned explicitly the NSA dragnet program, you can read in his posts a veiled justification for their existence making excuses for the Obama administration using them.

I get the feeling that he won't be as generous with the Trump administration.

In short, I believe government is evil and that we should use every tool in our power to make the NSA's job as difficult as possible when it comes to it collecting our information. The most effective way to fight terrorism is not to collect everyone's info and then do big data analytics on it but rather, infiltrate the groups that are thinking about attacking us and then, and only then, use whatever techniques necessary to understand what these people are after.

65535January 21, 2017 5:08 AM

I agree with the majority of posters who show Obama to be a hypocrite.He may have had privacy for himself but he certainly did not give a Tinker’s damn about the average Joe/Jane. He vastly expanded spying on the average Joe/Jane.

I will say the Obama was an experienced politician. He would give lofty speeches a on privacy and perform opposite actions of his speeches – which is a classic move of an experienced politician.

rJanuary 21, 2017 5:30 AM

@The establishment lost,

We should make it harder, but not because the government is or isn't evil. We should make it harder because God says to, these are OUR rights. As silly and extreme as it sounds if we admit that God gibs us our rights then we need to admit that plant usage is permitted (at least to an extent)(by not putting it before God) and that we should follow the other recommendations too (that's reasonable right?). Being good to your neighbor means respecting him the way you would expect he [or her] respect you.

They, THEY are going to have different interests than us as - THEY - are not who God bestowed our rights upon. They move with a muddied hand, and taint and smear what they touch even when there's good intent.

That's what we should be protecting ourselves against, muddied and smeared intent.

Just like with the second amendment, it's up to us - and the washtenar treaty provides entrance into the digital realm for the second amendment.

Evil will always seek to undermine, to pervert. You are expected to guard and to rail against that, but the question should always be: how, why, where, when, and what.

How evil?
In what way?
Why?

Anything less is neither constructive nor fair to the reality of what it is to be human.

I refuse to let you come into my home and take my defensory.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/weapons-treaties-look-ready-to-unravel-and-thats-a-big-problem/2016/11/30/2ffcf11e-b5ad-11e6-b8df-600bd9d38a02_story.html

Do you really think that it is not within your right to support the extensibility I speak of? You may protest, you may die, you may spaz out from a nerve agent but some of us think unionization has at least a few valid points - disband the cooperative we all supposedly operate from and you destroy both our abilities to not be at each other's throats in a time of dire need.

Guberment is evil, no - people are evil and maligned people will malign others.

/tirade

rJanuary 21, 2017 5:33 AM

Someone on the bus with me last night got robbed at gun point on his way home from work, 3 kids robbing another because their microchasm of microculture is corrupt and indecent to others. Government is evil? It's all open to interpretation, but my recommendation to you is instead of merely exercising your right to speak freely - you should use some of your time to really think.

rJanuary 21, 2017 5:36 AM

The kid was 50 feet from me and another old schooler, hopefully he learns from his experience and I'm deeply gratified that no one was hurt.

rJanuary 21, 2017 5:41 AM

@65535,

My recent comments about strategic lying aside, Rolf Webber's premonition betrays the pitchfork's we've taken up against the NSA ever so slightly. It might explain why the repeal process was never started once Obama came into office and it may betray some other practices in ways that alleviate certain concerns. Considering Trump's stance against the MSM it could very well be that many of our objections are due to spin and only a partial view of the subject en question brother.

We still have a long way to go.

rJanuary 21, 2017 6:16 AM

@Wael,

Sometimes you have to break things down in ways the person you're speaking to would understand. ;-)

mozJanuary 21, 2017 6:26 AM

@The establihsment lost

Bruce posted on his blog that he's disappointed Hillary lost. You are hardly pushing news on us.

us who understand that government is evil

This is glib and unthinking. The alternative to government is not the freedom the anarchists called for, it is the warlords of middle ages Europe and of today's Somalia. Your narrow minded analysis blinds you to the complexity of different aspects of government both good, evil, selfless and more and more often commercial.

the above report, coming from the most privacy violating administration in US history, cannot be taken as anything other than a practical joke

Except that, as my earlier post shows you've missed the point and this probably isn't a joke. It's probably a memetic weapon in the war against privacy. The US Government is doing this because US commercial interests want support so they can override privacy and get access to EU data.

Perhaps Bruce knows or has reason to believe differently? It would be interesting to hear. If you have evidence that Bruce, who as the author of applied cryptography and the original password safe took noticeable legal risks for your privacy, has gone over to the other side and is somehow pushing this report for bad reasons, that would be interesting. As it is you are all talk and no evidence.

VinnyGJanuary 21, 2017 6:34 AM

@Panopticon & AlanS
NTM that Obama surrogate AG Loretta Lynch removed all restrictions on NSA sharing information with the plethora of 3-letter fed police/spy agencies on her way out the door:
http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/01/19/andrew-napolitano-attorney-general-loretta-lynch-and-parting-shot-at-personal-freedom.html
Sadly, I have zero expectation that Trump will roll back any of the instrumentality of oppressive authority put place by Obama - he will almost certainly build on those elements to create an even worse police state than already exists.

Dirk PraetJanuary 21, 2017 7:29 AM

@ Slime Mold with Mustard

How did some guy in London catch that but the primary voters didn't?

Trump told them what they wanted to hear, and in a way they could understand. Then they saw what they wanted to see.

@ AlanS

The more pertinent writing by Brandeis on privacy is his blistering assault on government invasion of citizen privacy in 1928's Olmstead dissent.

Where did you find that little gem?

This isn't a changed rhetoric. It's the same old lip service to privacy rights while doing the opposite.

Given Obama's pretty miserable record on the matter, it is very hard indeed not to read this as anything but painfully hollow words.

mikeJanuary 21, 2017 8:23 AM

Bruce,
I noticed something strange about this file.
As pointed out above the link became dead after the inauguration.
I looked at your site before you added the edit and the new link.
Then I got the file as html from Google cache.

As I read your edit today and saw you offer the file, I googled it again with this search string: 'privacy in our digital lives whitehouse pdf'; your site has disappeared from Google's list.

Could it be Google wish their copy is the only one on offer?
Or could it be that parties unknown are removing it?

My InfoJanuary 21, 2017 9:00 AM

@Ted

Re: "Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights"

Several free and open source Customer Relationship Management software packages are available, including SugarCRM and OpenCRX.

You will need to employ a database administrator or someone competent in this respect if you do not wish to avail yourself of one of their (or others') commercial CRM offerings, such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, or even SAP. I do not mean to cast aspersions on any particular vendor, but definitely beware vendor lock-in and vendor theft and misappropriation of your customers' data!

These software suites are where small to medium businesses tend to store their potentially consumer-privacy-violating data. Larger businesses have the personnel and unique requirements to justify developing the necessary software in-house, and they are perfectly competent to avail themselves of standard vanilla commercial and/or open source databases for this purpose.

the establishment lostJanuary 21, 2017 9:23 AM

@moz

I am not an anarchist and I do not defend anarchy. You are proposing a false choice here. I am not saying to do away with government altogether rather to acknowledge that government is a necessary evil, but evil nonetheless and act consequently.

My idea is to have enough government to avoid anarchy, but not too much government that it becomes totalitarian. I think that what we know Obama's NSA ended up doing bordered totalitarianism when it came to our digital lives. We need to resist that not because Obama was in power but because it was an unwarranted invasion of privacy. So I do not take seriously anything any official associated with the Obama administration says with respect to protecting the privacy of our digital lives. none.

@r

You are preaching to the choir here. Government is made of people, that's why it is inherently evil. Our rights do not come from government but from our Creator, as the US declaration of independence correctly says.

buckarooJanuary 21, 2017 9:33 AM

@moz "The alternative to government is not the freedom the anarchists called for, it is the warlords of middle ages Europe and of today's Somalia."

Thanks for noting this. Anarchists and libertarians have an ignorant view of the world, believing that no-government ends up as some kind of panacea. Limited regulations gave us the Gilded Age, great for oligarchs, but really bad for workers and the environment. Somalia is a lawless society for the most part, yet anarchists and libertarians are not moving to their promised land.

Historically speaking, it is curious that the last time anarchists and communists arose en masse was in the 1960s when the Democratic Party ate its own, especially in Chicago in 1968. The time before that was the turn of the century when the Gilded Age was ending.

kevinJanuary 21, 2017 10:23 AM

@ Alan S

Great cites & links: they were full of rich secondary links.

Thanks for posting.

AnuraJanuary 21, 2017 10:44 AM

@the establishment lost

So you take away the one thing in this country that give individuals power, take away the things that allowed average Americans to be more equal and prosperous, and then give corporations complete control of the government that remains: law enforcement, and military. Yeah, that sure sounds like freedom to me. The corporations can declare war on any country they want, imprison anyone they want, and pretty much enslave the entire population.

Government is not evil - in a world with high inequality, if there's a recession the government is the only entity with the power that the people can use to get themselves out. If you remember anything from the recession, the narrative from the anti-government types is that we need to rely on "job creators" to do stuff for us, because individuals can't do anything for themselves - those are the people you give all the power to in a libertarian government.

In the last few decades, we've done a sliver of what you are asking for - we kept minimum down, made taxes flatter, cut regulations, cut government spending, and the result has been that the economy has weakened and the people are struggling and powerless. The rich capitalize on that, telling people it's all the government's fault when they aren't telling people that the rich are inherently better than them and that's why higher inequality is always better.

You want freedom, you have to stop allowing corporations to control every aspect of our life. Your proposal does exactly the opposite.

SpookyJanuary 21, 2017 11:18 AM

The layers of hypocrisy in this report are simply jarring. It is much too late for this sort of discussion and besides, Snowden beat him to it several years ago. Privacy is already dead. Barack's own people lead large-scale international efforts to kill it, and by most accounts succeeded. For the vast majority of folks who are not technically inclined--roughly, 99.75 percent of the global population--they have no defense against this corrupt collection and collation of their data by corporate and government interests. They will be caught in these nets and they will become potential targets. And lest you feel too smug about that, rest assured that all of you non-cloistered programmers fall within multiple activity graphs of this unprotected population. Anything the spooks want to know probably falls within one or two levels of inference. You will share their fate. But at least you'll have lots of company and for primates that is usually a source of comfort. :-)


Cheers,
Spooky

buckarooJanuary 21, 2017 12:25 PM

BHO spoke "You now have more control over the privacy of your financial information"

This was typical BHO horse manure. What he should have done is criminalize data breaches. At a minimum, fines should have inflicted pain by making them a double-digit percentage of revenues. We should also prosecute corporate officers for allowing such things, but instead we saw Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel walk away with a $61 million golden parachute. Boy, we sure taught him a lesson!

Most of you have not yet been caught by a breach involving your medical data. Let me tell you what will happen: nothing. I was a member of a HIPAA complaint against a medical insurance company. HIPAA is advertised as a serious law with serious consequences for breaches. We received one year's credit monitoring, with the corporation, not to mention corporate officers, suffering no pain. If we had been victims of identity theft, we would have been on our own (I froze my credit to prevent that).

And if the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act was so effective, why didn't BHO take the belt to Google each time it was caught data-mining student emails? Instead his administration operated a revolving door for Google employees, with over 250 of them employed by him.

Not that Trump will be any better.

TedJanuary 21, 2017 4:43 PM

@My Info

Re: Privacy, Free and Open Source CRM Software Packages, Commerical CRM Offerings, and DBAs

SugarCRM’s general privacy policy states that the data submitted via a purchased or downloaded solution is governed by the applicable SugarCRM agreement, and as required by law. They provide an email to contact their General Counsel with questions, and perhaps that -- along with reviewing the applicable privacy policy -- would be the wisest course of action for securing documented assurances on data usage (especially for the purpose of managing customer data). Microsoft provides an overview of their privacy policy for Microsoft Dynamics' customer data and content via their Trust Center where they also review their security, compliance, and transparency policies.

The FTC has a substantial collection of weekend worthy reading on their legal resources for consumer privacy page, where you can filter and search through relevant cases, reports, staff opinions, and events. Some reports I'd like to read are their Data Broker Industry report, Consumer Privacy Best Practices report, Big Data report, among others.

Because I am now curious, guides on database security best practices. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your links. Thanks for sharing :)


rJanuary 21, 2017 6:25 PM

@the establishment lost, CC: moz, Anura

This:

(by moz, earlier) This is glib and unthinking. The alternative to government is not the freedom the anarchists called for, it is the warlords of middle ages Europe and of today's Somalia. Your narrow minded analysis blinds you to the complexity of different aspects of government both good, evil, selfless and more and more often commercial.

You said:

My idea is to have enough government to avoid anarchy, but not too much government that it becomes totalitarian.

I'll ask you now the same thing I've asked others:

"Where do you draw the line?"

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/deadkennedys/wheredoyadrawtheline.html

How totalitarian is totalitarian?

How unregulated is free?

How unregulated is decent and fair?

Like you said, you and I are likely quite a bit alike - BUT -

Is government evil by default for including people?

Are people evil by default?

These are vantage points that are not completely shared by the rest of society, none of the positions we take up are. When you figure out how to deal with legislating away other's rights let me know.

rJanuary 21, 2017 6:30 PM

@the other white establishment

We have the right to have access to foods free from poison: the FDA is evidence of that.

We have the right to have access to media free from severe forms of 'smut': the FCC is evidence of that.

We have the right to live a life free from criminal mayhem: the FBI is evidence of that.

I can go on all night with this line of thinking can you?

What is it that you want to repeal?

'As much as possible without losing a basic minimum functionality.'

You're a spigot of unthought, you're a thot.

rJanuary 21, 2017 6:37 PM

@the other white establishment,

We have the right to live in a relatively disease free society: the CDC helps us with that.

We have the right to invest our money in insured institutions: the FDIC is evidence of that.

Society and Government are NP hard, is the reality and gravity of this situation for you?

Being an idealist is one thing, suffering from a casual naivete is another.

That sort of blind eye to your fellow man is general labeled as being callous.

Are you callous?

The NIST is evidence of our right to generally live a secure and private digital life, does it make sense to you then that that's why we've railed against the disclosures?

Who's going to protect us from Ma Bell now?

There are aspects that are 'corrupt', but not necessarily or necessarily evil.

Who's going to protect my free speech when I ridicule Comcast for price fixing or predatory surcharges?

You?

the establishment lost January 21, 2017 11:20 PM

@Anura and others,

Again you are giving false choices. The answer to the problem of what constitutes "too much government" is found in federalist paper 10,

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed10.asp

"AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction. The friend of popular governments never finds himself so much alarmed for their character and fate, as when he contemplates their propensity to this dangerous vice. He will not fail, therefore, to set a due value on any plan which, without violating the principles to which he is attached, provides a proper cure for it. The instability, injustice, and confusion introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments have everywhere perished; as they continue to be the favorite and fruitful topics from which the adversaries to liberty derive their most specious declamations. "

"By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community. "

That, is the problem with "too much government": it ends up being the government of a faction imposing its own ideas and vision of society on society as a whole. Take the example of a recession. Government might impose a solution that doesn't work for everyone. The way Obama handled the great recession is a case in point. We learned recently that eight individuals, mostly Americans, have as much wealth as the bottom half of the world population. These individuals got wealthier as a result of the Obama policies (because of the stock market bubble fueled by low interest rates). The rest of society, not so much. The unemployment rate of 4.7% is a fantasy not only because it doesn't count the people who gave up looking for work, but because it doesn't include people who have part time jobs that don't pay enough to get these people above the poverty level. The number of people on food stamps remains at high historical levels, despite the alleged low unemployment. On the other hand, the new debt Obama issued to fund this travesty is on all Americans.

Further, the 2008 crash itself was caused by government backing mortgages of people who couldn't afford their homes (the so called "subprime mortgages").

Given the historical record of excessive government ruining societies and, on the other hand, the economic growth and prosperity that results when government gets out of the way and focuses itself on guaranteeing our most basic rights (security, freedom of speech, private property), etc, it begs the question how is that there are some people who still naively believe in government as a force for good.

We will never know how our society would be today had the Obama administration pursued a different agenda, however few people question that the reason Bernie Sanders gave Hillary Clinton a run for her money in the Democratic primary and the reason we have president Trump is that the Obama economy worked for very few at the expense of many.

GreenSquirrelJanuary 22, 2017 3:12 AM

@The establishment lost

And while he hasn't condoned explicitly the NSA dragnet program, you can read in his posts a veiled justification for their existence making excuses for the Obama administration using them.

Wow. I think we've been reading a different blog to each other so I don't know how I managed to comment here.

I don't recall any posts where Bruce provides any (veiled or otherwise) justification for NSA's surveillance or makes excuses for government data hoovering. In fact it is nearly always the exact opposite.

The one time he did align with the USG was around Russian info-ops, so this may have clouded people's thinking.

However, I am open to the fact I may have misread his posts about the problems with security theatre, the need for people to secure their data and his efforts to out the excessive NSA surveillance ops as being wrong. Please remind me where I can find all the veiled justification.

rJanuary 22, 2017 5:50 AM

@GreenSquirrel,

There's been a couple times where the 'necessity' or 'usefulness' of intelligence has been conveyed, that's about as 'extreme' as I've seen @Bruce post. I have no qualms with the concept of intelligence either, I think @Bruce tries to understand and steer our/they're perceived necessity and understanding of such practices.

I'm much the same way, (hopefully I'm not putting my foot in my mouth and have this right) I think dialog is required and that over-reach is the problem and that security and intelligence can be done in a forthright manner by the IC/USG.

But, in creeps "absolute power". I definitely don't agree with the policy pusher above who thinks that what would be very nearly a free-for-all would be any better than what we have now with respect to the 'default' [m]alignment of humanity.

If he believes the whole world is evil, then he's just a couple steps from grabbing a gun.

And people call me crazy/paranoid. ;-)

rJanuary 22, 2017 5:56 AM

@the other white establishment,

Your response, although substantial lacks substances outside of the quoted bloc.

Are you rambling or advertising?

WHAT makes you think that the government is too big or too small?

AND where do you advise making changes rather than vague references to culling the pigs on the hill?

Outrage and anger can be harnessed for good, it seems to me that you're still lacking a true direction.

rJanuary 22, 2017 6:05 AM

@the other white establishment,

And you think forcing tax credits down American companies' throats for keeping American's employed is not the same thing in your loose definition of "let the chips fall" ?

If these companies can't afford American workers why are we keeping them propped up in the face of globalization?

You're off your rocker, I think you hit some titanic style black ice in your oh so holy see.

I can't fathom for a second why the banks were bailed out at all, I would've let them fail - they have lawyers - I would've given that money to the people instead. If the Casino bank rolls you for $1m USD when you've only got $1000 bucks that's THEY'RE FAULT - you don't bail the educated (they knew what they were doing look at Wells Fargo) thieves out from a self-made problem. It's improper to let or encourage such behavior.

But you, you push a thinly veiled attempt to appeal to the anarchists and the working man who's tired of paying out to a government that only pays attention to corporate interests.

The Tea Baggery of the Tea Party has revealed itself as nothing more than populism, but the key is that since a veil exists the meta of this reality is that the existence of such a veil qualifies them as evil and maligned in itself.

Your reasons, their reasons - should be in plain view and not masked.

Welcome to the leak that is your mouth and heart.

rJanuary 22, 2017 6:09 AM

The fact that the banks were bailed out should leak the concept I pushed the other day about world capitalists v the people 2.0.

Someone upstairs must've been apprehensive about the repercussions of not letting walstreet survive it's vampiric hunger for the blood of the underling.

rJanuary 22, 2017 6:16 AM

If by your account, the crash occurred in 2008 - and prior to that the republicans had a reasonable amount of control over the country you would advocate doing that again? If the crash occurred in 2008 due to the fermentation of mortgages do you think that it just happened over night?

Mortgages are 10,20,30 and 40 years long. People like Bernie Madoff are eternal, you want evil? There's your example ftard.

People who couldn't afford their mortgages lol, no - people who couldn't afford to make deals with the devil - a predatory unregulated indecent lender.

rJanuary 22, 2017 6:19 AM

And now, here your types are making more populist popular promises of success while you plot and you scheme to suck their success right out of their hard working hands.

You're a spin doctor.

Of course people who receive robocalls for free loans and cheap mortgages are going to bite out of desperation considering the state of eclairs we find ourselves in.

Is it sad? YES
Should we encourage either behaviour? HELL NO

But who is at fault when intent is considered?

rJanuary 22, 2017 6:27 AM

@the other white establishment

We used to own a form truck, we could build you any size house without the bank having a say at all.

It was called savings, who's been eating away at that?

Who?

I can still build you a house from the ground up, maybe we'd have to sub out the basement at this point but who cares. It's the choice between you paying $100k and paying $500k (mostly interest) and people are idiots and part of the "convenience culture".

The banks make those investments in big builders like a gamble in vegas (because it's lucrative), then they have to pay on their bets with the heads of the commoner so they devise a way to get their empty homes filled.

But alas, you're not here to debate: you're here to push.

rJanuary 22, 2017 6:38 AM

@the other white establishment,

The good thing, about the GM style bailouts excluding the banks - was that it I believe largely saved pensions whereas bankruptcy would've liquidated the entire thing for the union. Which would've been even more unfortunate than what occurred in this aspect.

Ford(?) hardly even needed the help, I think they were the first to declare a complete recovery.

But you want to cut more of our fat out of our body, for what?

So you can sell us some nice glycerine soap?

No thank you, I'm not buying.

Dirk PraetJanuary 22, 2017 8:34 AM

@ r

I can't fathom for a second why the banks were bailed out at all

Because it was the lesser of two evils. The consequences of not doing so would have been even more catastrophical in causing a domino effect that would have crashed the entire financial system, plunging the world into a deep recession and reducing many regions all over the planet to the status of Greece and worse. The outrageous thing however was how it was done, and by whom. With the exception of some "rogue traders" like Jerome Kerviel, no politician or banker was ever held accountable or indicted, let alone went to prison (Iceland being one of a few notable exceptions).

Instead, those tasked with the bail-out were the exact same people who for years had been fostering the deregulation, short-term thinking, climate of risk taking and corporate irresponsibility that had caused the financial crisis in the first place. While at the same time the entirely legitimate Occupy Wall Street protest was labelled a form of domestic terrorism.

One of the few legislative initiatives that in the US came out of the crisis was the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, and which the new Trump administration has already announced they will fully dismantle. So anyone even remotely thinking Trump is not firmly on the side of Wall Street and corporate America is totally deluding himself.

PS Please try to write down your comments in one comprehensive post instead of hitting the Enter key every ten minutes. It really makes for easier reading.

WaelJanuary 22, 2017 8:40 AM

@Dirk Praet,

Please try to write down your comments in one comprehensive post instead of hitting the Enter key every ten minutes. It really makes for easier reading.


Problem is: @r gets an epiphany every 10 minutes which results in a cacophony of posts. I speak from first-hand experience when I'm up late :)

The establishment lostJanuary 22, 2017 8:46 AM

@GreenSquirrel

You say,

"The one time he did align with the USG was around Russian info-ops, so this may have clouded people's thinking"

And then I say, study the No true Scotsman fallacy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_true_Scotsman

@r

I won't address every point of your rant, I will only say that if you believe I supported the Bush administration when it did nothing to prevent the pushing of subprime mortgages and then I supported the bailing out of banks, you'd be wrong. That's precisely my point: government is so evil that you always get the worst result possible. The only thing government offers to its faithful followers is Faustian bargains.

You want to help people prosper? Make sure the economy creates good paying jobs.

You want to get people educated -which I assume nobody here questions is a desirable goal-, give students -and their parents- choice. Instead, what government gives is teacher's unions powers that protect pedophiles http://nypost.com/2014/06/14/tenured-teachers-they-cheat-they-loaf-they-cant-be-fired/ .

I could go on, but you get the idea. Government is the only institution in society that cannot fail by design (when it fails, we call it revolution, such as French revolution, American revolution or Bolshevik revolution). In addition, it is the only institution the society gives police powers and prisons.

On the other hand, the free market takes care of failing institutions by putting them out of business.

To me it is obvious that giving such an institution -government- too much power is inevitably ruinous. In their wisdom, the founding fathers made sure that government was divided and that each branch had an adversarial relationship with the others.

AnuraJanuary 22, 2017 9:57 AM

@The establishment lost

On the other hand, the free market takes care of failing institutions by putting them out of business.

If your only measure of success is (gross profits - worker pay), where the lower the worker pay the higher the success then sure... It's like selective breeding - the economy evolves and if that's what you think the important measure to society is, and you use that as your selection criteria, then that's what your economy will evolve around: maximizing (gross profits - worker pay). If your measure of success is whether good outcomes are generated, it's pretty clear that capitalism is a failure.

We've spent the last century struggling to prop it up with regulations and redistribution, because it does not result in good outcomes - it results in a plutocratic society in which workers are wage slaves, left powerless and forced to accept whatever job they are offered for whatever will allow them to pay for food at the company store, while personal possessions become entirely owned by the corporations themselves. This is because wealth is the measure of control over the economy, and past a certain point the only use for wealth is gaining more wealth.

Dirk PraetJanuary 22, 2017 10:34 AM

@ GreenSquirrel

I don't recall any posts where Bruce provides any (veiled or otherwise) justification for NSA's surveillance or makes excuses for government data hoovering.

That's because he never did.

@ The establishment lost

On the other hand, the free market takes care of failing institutions by putting them out of business.

A totally unregulated free market leads to the kind of unbridled capitalism that benefits only a small elite while invariably wreaking poverty and misery on everybody else. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had already figured that out in the mid 19th century. You should read up on their work some day.

The establishment is a loserJanuary 22, 2017 3:22 PM

@Anura
@Dirk Praet

You both are making a straw-man here and oversimplifying the struggles of the XX-th century. Ironically, the idea that a group of "best and brightest" exercising command and control of the economy is the best option was disproved with the Soviet Union. I don't know how much either of you know about what the life in the former Soviet Union was like, but children were identified early in their lives through exams and tests to be the next generation of professionals (including the wannabe economists that would do the economic planning). Those who didn't make the cut became the working class, were told what to do, and were guaranteed a basic income for life. This way of organizing society had many fans, including in the West.

The late Paul Samuelson, an esteemed Nobel Prize winner in Economics, wrote in the 1989 edition of his textbook "Economics"

"The Soviet economy is proof that ... a socialist command economy can function and even thrive."

That same year, the Berlin wall fell. A couple of years later, the Soviet Union imploded because its "command and control economy" produced a society in which most people lived in extreme poverty and indeed, concentration of wealth at the hands of few: the "experts" at the top who controlled the economy. In some ways, today's Russia still echos some of this.

If there is a system that took to core the Marxist notion of "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability" is the Soviet Union and it collapsed. The only reason China didn't follow the same fate is that well, it became a market economy.

From time to time I encounter people who are ignorant of these facts. It begs the question what is that people are learning these days in their world history classes.

AnuraJanuary 22, 2017 3:33 PM

@The establishment is a loser

You both are making a straw-man here and oversimplifying the struggles of the XX-th century. Ironically, the idea that a group of "best and brightest" exercising command and control of the economy is the best option was disproved with the Soviet Union.

So when you say "ironically" do you mean that the intention of that sentence was irony? Because I don't think anyone here has advocated a command economy.

If there is a system that took to core the Marxist notion of "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability" is the Soviet Union and it collapsed.

Huh? What world did you live in?

From time to time I encounter people who are ignorant of these facts.

These aren't facts, this is a regurgitation of US anti-communist propaganda talking points from the 20th century.

Dirk PraetJanuary 22, 2017 4:07 PM

@ The establishment is a loser

If there is a system that took to core the Marxist notion of "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability" is the Soviet Union and it collapsed.

The failing of the Soviet Union does not invalidate Marx and Engels's findings about capitalism. It merely invalidates some of the attempted solutions neither @Anura or myself were advocating.

rJanuary 22, 2017 4:48 PM

It's funny because he blames post-2008 on the evil's of humanity (as governmental exclusively) but can't separate the problems of the soviet era from their failed ideological exercise.

It didn't fail because it doesn't work, it failed for the reasons you tried to pin on our democracy - it's vulnerable to the corruption and malignancy of the people running it.

rJanuary 22, 2017 4:50 PM

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, I think a marxist model is just as vulnerable with current (and the lack of) technology as democracy is to maligned actors.

AlanSJanuary 22, 2017 5:49 PM

@Dirk Praet

totally unregulated free market leads to the kind of unbridled capitalism that benefits only a small elite while invariably wreaking poverty and misery on everybody else. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had already figured that out in the mid 19th century. You should read up on their work some day.
And Adam Smith. A free market depends on regulation. It can only exist within an instituional context and legal framework that ensures justice. The Wealth of Nations is a critique of mercantilism, which among other things involves collusion by merchants and the corruption of government in order to obtain monopoly against the public interest. Which brings us back to Obama's corrupt history of the "The Sons of Liberty" to justify NSA spying. There's a connection here between the two as one of the original members was James Otis the lawyer who fought Writs of Assistance (or general warrants) used by the British to find smuggled goods that skirted monopoly control of companies such as the East India Company. The tea that ended up in Boston Harbor belonged to the British East India Company, the original corrupt global corporation. For some discussion see: Adam Smith's Critique of International Trading Companies.

@ The establishment is a loser

The late Paul Samuelson, an esteemed Nobel Prize winner in Economics, wrote in the 1989 edition of his textbook "Economics"
There is no Nobel Prize in Economics. There's something called "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel". Members of the Nobel family have argued that Alfred Nobel never intended such a prize and it's a misuse of the their name. And they have good cause to be embarrassed, given that Paul Samuelson invented the "invisible hand of the market" and propagated it through his best-selling textbook, a blatant misreading of Adam Smith that has been spread by other 'Nobels' (Friedman, Stigler, et al.) in a disciple that rationalizes monopoly and elite power, a sort of neo-mercantilism. Anti-liberal, anti-Enlightenment. No wonder we find ourselves where we are.

Dirk PraetJanuary 22, 2017 6:30 PM

@ AlanS

It is supposed to be one of the more famous SCOTUS dissents and it is almost inevitable you'll encounter it if you read up on the legal history of the 4th Amendment.

Kinda what I have been doing all weekend. Re-reading Ex parte Jackson, Katz, Berger, Miller, Smith, Graham. The whole nine yards. Fascinating stuff. Someone should call Oliver Stone to do a 4th Amendment movie called "The Olmstead Dissent".

And Adam Smith.

Yep. I should have mentioned Smith too.

AlanSJanuary 22, 2017 9:51 PM

@Dirk Praet

They should also do a movie on John Wilkes, the character at the center of the North Briton 45 cases in England. The best known of the latter is Entick v. Carrington, which is an important reference in one of the earliest US 4th Amendment cases, Boyd v. U.S. 1886. John Wilkes was a scoundrel but a witty one. The judge, Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden also seems to have been something of a character. Wilkes and Camden were widely celebrated in the colonies, because Camden ruled against general warrants. James Otis, of course, lost his case in Boston but gave a rousing speech that inspired John Adams (according to Adams). There are numerous places in the eastern US named in honor of Camden and Wilkes. Wilkes was also a member of the notorious Hellfire Club. So the Wilkes story really has it all: offended royalty searching for the source of anonymous libel, colonists in revolt, dramatic legal speeches and judgements, and powerful people engaged in satanic rituals and orgies in church yards.

the establishment is really, really a loserJanuary 22, 2017 11:30 PM

@Anura,

"I don't think anyone here has advocated a command economy"

If you say so. A command economy can also be "passive-aggressive"; that's what socialism, of the kind they have in Western Europe, is. When government confiscates 50% or more of a country's GDP, I think you have a command and control economy of a different kind. I still say, thanks, but no thanks.

I also hope you also understand that I am not advocating anarchy. I am saying that government is inherently evil and as such it has to be contained and reduced to its minimal expression.

@AlanS

I am of the opinion that economics, as a field, is junk science. I am well aware of the status of the "Nobel Prize in Economics", but that's besides the point. Economists consider it to be the top award in their field. What I was saying is that even those considered "the best" were fooled by the Soviet propaganda.

I agree that the free market requires regulation, but this regulation -that seeks to ensure fairness with things like enforcement of contracts- is very different from regulation like "you need to buy health insurance just for being alive". Not only you need to buy health insurance, but said heath insurance has to include things you will never need in your life, such as alcoholism rehab, even if you are not an alcoholic. The second type of regulation is a form of passive aggressive intrusion in the economy.

AndrewJanuary 23, 2017 12:02 AM

What's going on now it's a malign form of capitalism called oligarhism, corporatism. The competition dissapear, also the middle class, the inequality grows and things are heading towards chaos. It's basically a form of feudalism, the mankind have seen this before.
It's somehow against nature, which made distributed systems to resist and progress.

However, this may be a way to go with strict regulations and maybe some unexpected changes due to technological advancements, like probably artificial intelligence management or whatever. This, in order to make possible some hidden goal we are not aware of, like leaving the earth to avoid autodestruction. Such a goal requires more resources and cooperation and may not be possible in small forms of associations.

AnuraJanuary 23, 2017 1:09 PM

@the establishment is really, really a loser

How about we look at what exactly would happen under your system?

So we get rid of everything in the government that's not military and law enforcement. The top 1% currently own 35% of the wealth1, which is around $902 trillion in total or $31.5 trillion for the top 1%, which grows around 5.6% per year over the last 20 years.

So let's say that over time, the wealthy are able to save a higher share of the wealth than the non-wealthy (which is generally the trend) and there is no inheritance tax. For example, worth for the wealthy grows 10% faster than worth for everyone else. They will own half the economy in about 120 years. However, as wealth grows, so does power and the ability to accumulate it - so let's say it only takes 150 years for the complete accumulation of wealth (recessions can speed this up significantly, and if you control half the economy then it's trivial to cause one).

We end up with the following society:

1) 1% of the population owns 100% of the wealth.
2) Only One company exists in the market (we'll call them UberCorp)
3) All employees are paid in scrip available to redeem at the corporate store
4) All land is owned by UberCorp except for the residential properties of the owners
5) UberCorp provides food, housing, and clothing for its employees
6) UberCorp also rents out land and sells goods for cash, which if you don't have dollars you will have to get a job somewhere and earn money

All of this arose entirely through free transactions and everyone is, of course, completely free to live somewhere else and no one is forced to work for UberCorp. So this is, of course, perfectly fine and acceptable - after all, the people at the top got there completely legally.

Now, by all accounts 99% of the population is in slavery, but it's not legally mandated slavery. Sure, refuse to work for UberCorp and you starve or get arrested for trespassing, but that's just because it would be immoral to force them to give other people their hard earned money.

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_inequality_in_the_United_States
2 https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/TNWBSHNO
3 https://www.bea.gov/national/xls/gdplev.xls


-----

On contrast, let's give an example of one possible socialist system. Principles I am applying:

1) Everything is commonly owned by the people
2) Any economic rent must be paid out equally

So for starters, the public owns all land and naturally resources. If you want to use that land and those resources, you have to pay the public for it, and those revenues are used to invest in and maintain any public infrastructure. Any surplus, is then paid to the people as a citizens dividend - this replaces all welfare systems, again making for a much more efficient economy. Since this is a socialist system we don't require any taxes whatsoever, making the economy significantly more efficient off the bat. This covers the first principle.

We can create all businesses as consumer cooperatives. Depending on the business, you would either pay a membership fee or simply have a subscription to their service and that gives you one share of ownership in the company. Now, since you can no longer buy and sell shares of the company, as an investment mechanism that goes away and that leaves you with loans, membership fees, donations, or crowdsourcing as your mechanisms of investment.

As an immutable rule, consumer cooperatives must pay out 100% of revenues on purchases as either wages or costs. This way profits can only be returned as lower prices/fees or higher wages for the employees.

Over the long run (and as much as reasonable in the short run), the average expected return on all loans in the economy should be equal to inflation. So while there will be winners and losers in the debt game, over time there is no real gain but if you don't loan it out, you lose it. This combined with the requirements on profits ensures as much as possible that all real economic gains either go to the workers or are distributed evenly to everyone.

Now, let's say you own a store. That store will have to purchase inventory, and thus they also own a portion of the companies that supply that inventory. This is called a purchasing cooperative, but the concept also expands to manufacturing, infrastructure, really anything that benefits from lower costs or increased bargaining power due to larger numbers. You then have an ownership chain that takes the shape of the supply chain, and everyone effectively owns everything.

So, if you want to buy software like an operating system, you can buy a support contract which gives you actual ownership of the company and the operating system itself, with a controlling share. You can pretty much combine all the advantages of open source, with the funding of private enterprise, and the price will be reduced to the bare cost to develop and support it. Since there's no profit motive, the only question is whether it is actually worth it to pay someone to fix a bug or improve a feature, not whether you can market that change in a way in which the increased revenues will exceed the costs.

Now, the socialist society realizes that the concept of fee for use is inherently inefficient. They will see that if they try and make sure everyone gets what they use, that they have to spend time to track usage, there needs to be individual claims, collections, court battles, etc. So instead, they just create a health care system, and charge a flat copay for non-emergency visits. So now everyone both pays less and gets hassled less, without having to worry about bankruptcy.

Of course, all land is publicly owned. So you can't dump, pollute, dig up, or do anything to damage that land or harm the people in it without their consent (and, likely, compensation). If we do raise the price on oil, for example, it will reduce demand by making it closer in price to other energy sources, but the additional cost gets automatically paid out evenly to everyone so there isn't much hardship.

So tell me, which society is more free? The small government capitalist system, or the big government socialist system.

the establishment is a loser big timeJanuary 23, 2017 3:57 PM

@Anura

One of the most frustrating things of arguing with liberals is that almost always put straw men or utopias or imaginary realities to talk about.

The terms you are setting up for discussion would have made sense 100 years ago -among the many things we are celebrating this year, one of them is the 100-th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

We have a 100 year record of comparing the difference between market economies and socialist economies:

- Germany: while the capitalist west flourished, the communist east became poor.

- Korea: while the capitalist south flourished -specially after it liberalized its economy-, the north is poor.

These two examples show that when you have the same type of people (same ethnicity, same culture, same history), socialism produces misery, capitalism prosperity.

Even uber leftist Bono, U2's singer, is convinced that capitalism and free enterprise raises more people out of poverty than handouts,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAjKyEGDlXA

So sorry, you are arguing in favor of a 100 year old idea that has been falsified by history.

AnuraJanuary 23, 2017 4:26 PM

@the establishment is a loser big time

One of the most frustrating things of arguing with liberals is that almost always put straw men or utopias or imaginary realities to talk about.

You have no capability to reflect on your own comments do you? You do realize you are proposing a world where if we just get rid of all government except for military and law enforcement, all corruption goes away and everyone is free, right? How is that not an imaginary reality or a utopia?

And you keep saying that this is a straw man - are you not saying the only government you want is to provide the minimum military and law enforcement necessary to enforce contract law? Because I just described the result of that system. Without government to stop it, all of the wealth goes to the wealthy, and they control 100% of society and the economy. If you think that's not going to happen, tell me what part of your system prevents it.

We have a 100 year record of comparing the difference between market economies and socialist economies:

Well, maybe if you read my comment, or if you looked into that 100 year history, you would have realized that I what I just described was the structure for a market socialist economy - a decentralized one to boot! The only difference between that and capitalism have to do with the legal structure of how property ownership arises.

"Even uber leftist Bono"

Who in the holy fuck thinks Bono is an authority on economics?

Dirk PraetJanuary 23, 2017 5:42 PM

@ the establishment is a loser big time

Germany: while the capitalist west flourished, the communist east became poor.

Please note that West Germany rose from its ashes and became an economic power with a little help from the US Marshall Plan and by adopting a social democracy model with a regulated market economy, a thriving middle class and universal healthcare. Which is something entirely different than what you are advocating. The socio-economic model as implemented in North Korea even by Russian and Chinese standards is completely retarded, and the concept of hereditary leadership an abomination even for communist hardliners.

The end game for both the capitalist and the North Korean economic model is an authoritarian police state in which a small minority controls all wealth and resources and that eventually either implodes on itself or is overthrown by a revolution.

@ Anura

Who in the holy fuck thinks Bono is an authority on economics?

He is on tax evasion. Gotta give him credit for that.

Sancho_PJanuary 23, 2017 5:45 PM

@AlanS

Thanks for your interesting links, in particular re 4th Amendment.
One can see how they try to twist words over time, finally ending in the Third Party Doctrine, which is, using the word “voluntarily”, a slap in the face of the helpless plebs.

the establishment is gigantic loserJanuary 23, 2017 6:25 PM

@Anura

I skimmed through your comment because I don't have go through every detail. The premise of your proposal, like of the zillions of communists who preceded you, is that there is a high correlation between moral behavior and high IQ and that we only left the "best and brightest" manage the economy the world would be awesome.

There is plenty of evidence that that is not the case, but if you still have doubts consider the 2008 mortgage crash. It was caused by the "best and brightest" doing creative accounting to rate packages of bad mortgages in A++ funds.

Or consider Bernie Madoff.

Or consider anybody who works with highly intelligent people (like yours truly) everyday.

Smarts and IQ are orthogonal qualities. Given too much power, smart or dumb, to anyone is a recipe for disaster.

Free markets are the best mechanism known to man to correct the excesses of the few:

- IBM thought of itself as invincible, until Microsoft and Intel proved otherwise.

- Microsoft thought of itself as invincible, until Google proved otherwise.

- Google thought of itself as invincible and that it could conquer any market, until Facebook proved otherwise.

You get the idea.

The heavily regulated European markets on the other hand have the same large and influential companies that they had 50 years ago. Regulation only benefits the incumbents, which is why every incumbent favors regulated economies.

Free markets beat heavily regulated markets as engines of growth anytime.

I can make the prediction that the next Google will not come from Europe, China or India, precisely because the heavy regulations in these places are an obstacle to innovation.

You can regurgitate your Keynesian economics talking points all they long, but they cannot contradict the facts above.

Clive RobinsonJanuary 23, 2017 6:28 PM

@ the establishment is a loser big time,

Both the examples you pick, actually show the fiscal advantages of being a nation with a large injection of cash into your economy from an "occuping force".

US troops --along with those of other nations-- in both Germany and South Korea accounted for two effects. Firstly these countries as with Japan did not have a defence budget payed for from their own economy. Secondly the US "occuping forces" had --unlike CCCP-- a policy of actually spending locally for as many services as the could. Thus providing significant investment in these countries economies without any return (other than peacefull growth).

Now depending on who you believe this had an effect on these countries economies of between 5% and 20% of GDP no return investment...

Now imagine if you will what an equivalent investment in the US economy would do?

People tend to forget just how expensive peace is untill they have to buy it back.

AnuraJanuary 23, 2017 6:47 PM

I skimmed through your comment because I don't have go through every detail. The premise of your proposal, like of the zillions of communists who preceded you, is that there is a high correlation between moral behavior and high IQ and that we only left the "best and brightest" manage the economy the world would be awesome.

I'm sorry, earlier you were saying something about the left and straw men?

Clive RobinsonJanuary 23, 2017 7:28 PM

@ the establishment is gigantic loser,

First off the owner / @Moderator of this blog has asked in the past that people stop changing their name/handle every post on the simple basis that it makes the thread difficult to follow...

Secondly, the companies you pick as examples of failure fail not because of a lack of inovation but because they become to large and in effect --if not practice-- monopolistic and turn from inovation to rent seeking as their primary method of income via the likes of patent portfolios and other anti-market behaviours.

They also become bloated with "managment" and equivalent "free riding" on the "rent seeking" and become another part of the "inflationary industry" along with banks etc. That is the in effect cease to invest in inovation and pay unwarented and unproductive wages and sink capital into legal mires instead (it's as stupid as gambling with a 50% gambling tax). Oh keep an eye on Apple it's the next one likely to fall.

Like all empires they become top heavy, slow to respond to changes and eventually fragile.

It's interesting to see what happens when such a monopoly is broken up by law as happened with AT&T. Arguably it was at the time the best thing that happened, not just for the market and the customers but for the company as well (but not so for those free riding on the rent seeking behaviour).

When Microsoft faced the same issue, like IBM before it fought hard and did not get broken up, but the rot had set in and their performance started showing the same trends as other monoliths that did not get broken up.

That is companies that continue to inovate as their primary income stream build the market constructively. Those that shift to rent seeking stifle the market and sow the seeds for their own destruction when an innovation causes a sea state change and the market moves, the rents nolonger give unearned income.

One advantage that appropriate regulation has is that it can when used judiciously cause the market to remain innovative and not rent seeking in nature, which actually benifits all as the market grows creating space for new innovation thus players. It's why the idea of "market share" is such a bad one to use as a metric for investment that is anything other than very short term/sighted. Which in turn is bad because the volatility it creates actually deters other investment and creates the issues that give rise to the 1% of the 1% owning increasing amounts of the economy for rent seeking, which is highly undesirable.

Regulation is needed to redress the balance, but it has to be both the right sort of regulation and judiciously applied. That is it needs to be a carrot rather more than a stick to lead the market rather than drive it to a desired state.

One way to limit the rent seeking activity is to destroy the current US patent and IP system that favours the legal proffession and it's high fees. There are various ways this can br done, but one essential is that it must stop the use of patents ring fencing the market with "Keep of our grass" notices. That is licensing has to be mandated for all, otherwise the market will be stifled, one way is via the standards process. The trick is to balance the need for inovators to receive compensation so that they can continue to innovate, whilst making the market as open as possible to allow new entrants to grow the market and thus act as a rising tide.

rJanuary 23, 2017 9:09 PM

AT&T,

@Clive,

Even after the breakup, had the taste of blood in it's and had tasted blood. Ma Bell is the hydra, without a doubt. 5 States sued the reconstituted hydra and they still gouge your eyes and pocket out with the survey lance.

Evil evil evil to grant immunity to such a snake.

AnuraJanuary 23, 2017 9:38 PM

@r, Clive

Of course, you know what happened to the companies that were broken off?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakup_of_the_Bell_System

The breakup of the Bell System resulted in creation of seven independent companies that were formed from the original twenty-two AT&T-controlled members of the System.[5]

At the time of the breakup, these companies were:

Ameritech, acquired by SBC in 1999, now part of AT&T Inc.
Bell Atlantic (acquired GTE in 2000 to form Verizon Communications)
BellSouth, acquired AT&T Inc. in 2006
NYNEX, acquired by Bell Atlantic in 1996, now part of Verizon Communications
Pacific Telesis, acquired by SBC in 1997, now part of AT&T Inc.
Southwestern Bell (later SBC, now AT&T Inc.), which acquired AT&T Corporation in 2005
US West, acquired by Qwest in 2000, which in turn was acquired by CenturyLink in 2011

Isn't it great to see how great of a job we did at keeping such a competitive telecommunications market?

Clive RobinsonJanuary 23, 2017 10:39 PM

@ Anura, r,

Of course, you know what happened to the companies that were broken off?

Yes and no, I used to work for one --Pacific Telesis-- many years ago, in a part that is nolonger with us because of a sea state change in technology (that killed the Telex Network stone dead).

With regards,

Isn't it great to see how great of a job we did at keeping such a competitive telecommunications market?

Prior to the break up the market was very dire, with little or no customer choice and inovation on the consumer side virtually non existent as there was no competition. The break up unfortunatly was not done in the right way in that the new companies were not actually in competition with each other (why Harold Green did it the way he did has always been a puzzle, which many put down to having to compleat whilst still under the Carter Administration).

For the consumer it had pros and cons, firstly choice went up and new services appeared, however although costs overall dropped, for many the costs rose when local call subsidies of around 50% derived from long distance calls ceased.

The problem was that the breakup did not stop the rent seeking, just some of the inovation. Thus instead of the worlds largest rent seeking organisation you had many rent seekers in non competition. The removal of the long distance surcharge that payed for the local subsidy ment that long distance calls became "open season" and new companies formed. Many used unsavoury tactics such as "as bate and switch" charging and charging for not providing a connection.

So whilst the breakup did actually improve the market for consumers giving more choice and services/product it did not solve the original cause of the problem it actually made it worse in a number of peoples eyes. So whilst Ma Bell had been killed in name the heads of the hydra remained to carry on similar behaviour as before, which from an AT&T shareholder and employee position was also a pro...

What the breakup did do was remove a number of constraints that had been placed on Ma Bell with the result that the hydra heads could and did expand in other areas of business. What did not happen was the withering that IBM and Microsoft experienced post their conflicts with the Federal Authorities.

So arguably it's the failure to implement what the legislation alowed for, for political reasons back in the 80's that alowed the hydras to use the same business model as before. Whilst the use of the legislation arguably did open up the market as well as removing both legal barriers and subsidies that acted as barriers. There is also argument that can be made that the Internet could not have happened had the Ma Bell breakup not have happened.

I don't like establishment sore losersJanuary 24, 2017 12:59 AM

@Anura,

"I'm sorry, earlier you were saying something about the left and straw men?"

No straw-man. A regulated market requires regulators. Defenders of Keynesian ideas necessarily must believe that people will be better off if these regulators make the decisions for the people than if the people make their economic decisions for themselves. Otherwise, Keynesian economics doesn't make any sense. I don't know any Keynesian who believes that people are better than regulators at making decisions for themselves.

There are several problems with the premise of Keynesian economics:

- First, as I said, that regulators are "holier than though" people that cannot be corrupted. We know, from human nature, that this is not true.

- Second, that there is a single measure of well being that is agreed by all participants in a market. This again, is demonstrably false because different people have different priorities and preferences when it comes to economic decisions.

- Third, that in addition, even if such a measure existed, the regulators will do a better job than the people themselves.

Free markets get rid of all 3 problems. In a free market nobody is assumed "holier than though". The only regulation that is pertinent in a free market is that that seeks to enforce that contracts are enforced. Second, free markets assume that such a "measure" doesn't exist. And third, that people making their own economic decisions are better at achieving their economic goals than a bunch of bureaucrats.

There is no straw-man. You can dress your Keynesian/Communist ideas all day long, but they are necessarily based on the three premises above.

@Clive Robinson

The only thing I agree with from your expose is this,

"One way to limit the rent seeking activity is to destroy the current US patent and IP system that favours the legal proffession and it's high fees"

The current US patent systems is the direct result of the incumbents influencing regulation. Currently, patents do not serve their original purpose but rather they have become tools by which large companies build IP portfolios for litigation purposes. Then again, this is the direct result of having regulation in the economy. So I don't think your point advances your case, rather, it advances mine.

Dirk PraetJanuary 24, 2017 4:44 AM

@ the establishment is gigantic loser

... but if you still have doubts consider the 2008 mortgage crash. It was caused by the "best and brightest" doing creative accounting to rate packages of bad mortgages in A++ funds.

And the reason they did so was because your free and deregulated market let them. Millions lost everything they had. Adding insult to injury, the taxpayer ended up paying the bill. Nobody went to jail. Your views on human nature are in fact a contradictio in ipsis terminis with your thoughts on unregulated markets. What do you think is gonna happen once Trump & co. dismantle Dodd-Frank?

The reason we have rules and laws is because we know from experience that want and greed trump self-regulation. As a thought experiment: let's scrap murder from the penal code. Are there going to be more or less murders and is society going to be more or less secure as a consequence thereof?

Free markets are the best mechanism known to man to correct the excesses of the few:

No they aren't. That's nothing but a purely religious claim by social Darwinists that throughout history has been proven false over and over again and is as pernicious a doctrine as the Soviet one was.

Defenders of Keynesian ideas necessarily must believe that people will be better off if these regulators make the decisions for the people than if the people make their economic decisions for themselves.

The people do not make the decisions. The rich and powerful do. That's the essence of the rule of law ever since Hammurabi's codex: to protect the weak from the strong.

Dirk PraetJanuary 24, 2017 5:07 AM

@ Anura

Re. Bono

Did you, BTW, ever read that interview with Lemmy Motorhead on economic theories? I can't seem to find it back anywhere, but - however much I idolize this guy - was nothing short of hilarious.

rJanuary 24, 2017 6:55 AM

@Dirk Praet,

What we're witnessing is nothing more than an infomercial, it's like watching QVC trying to hock their fake wares we all know better - only the valium'd house wives and dodo bird beltway 500+ pound husbands don't have a clue.

rJanuary 24, 2017 6:57 AM

Less Taxes! Less Government! Less Protections !!!

Hurray!

Anyone who's been in a cyberpunk scare for the last 30 years knows where the corporations would like to go, and that's in the direction of monetizing EVERYTHING.

I'm not giving up government in it's current form for that at all.

rJanuary 24, 2017 6:59 AM

I'd rather take bickering and taxes over companies digging up my back yard because they have the mining rights without a single say from me any day.

Free market, "free" as in cheap is what they see.

Boy, establishment types are losers!January 24, 2017 11:21 AM

@Dirk Praet

"And the reason they did so was because your free and deregulated market let them. Millions lost everything they had. Adding insult to injury, the taxpayer ended up paying the bill. Nobody went to jail. Your views on human nature are in fact a contradictio in ipsis terminis with your thoughts on unregulated markets. What do you think is gonna happen once Trump & co. dismantle Dodd-Frank?"

Actually, I don't think you realize your statement is self-refuting. Indeed, nobody went to jail, and the reason nobody went to jail is because when you create a new regulation, you create a new opportunity for somebody to game that new rule. There were rules at the time on subprime mortgages, only they were gamed by the best and brightest working for Goldman Sachs and Co..

Dodd-Frank I has not made the problem gone. It has made the Fed maintain near zero interest rates for longer than ever in history. The consequences of this nobody knows except for the fact that the US has doubled its public debt from ~ 10 trillion to ~ 20 trillion during the Obama administration. Many people have benefited from this situation, including those 8 individuals who right now own as much wealth as the bottom half of humanity.

If this is your definition of "good regulation", then we are speaking different languages.

Again, the notion that government bureaucrats know best has been refuted so many times in history that I am in disbelief that anybody is still pushing for more and more regulation.

Your metaphor about repealing criminal laws doesn't apply. Criminal laws are the kind of things that are needed to avoid anarchy.

However, you don't need to force people buy a particular product -ie, a particular type of health insurance- to prevent anarchy.

Dirk PraetJanuary 24, 2017 12:42 PM

@ establishment thingie

Indeed, nobody went to jail, and the reason nobody went to jail is because when you create a new regulation, you create a new opportunity for somebody to game that new rule.

By creating a new rule, you create an opportunity to work around it. Ergo, a new rule is a bad thing. In formal logic, such reasoning is known as the slippery slope fallacy, or "throwing out the baby with the bathwater".

Dodd-Frank I has not made the problem gone.

I never claimed Dodd-Frank was a one-size-fits-all comprehensive solution. You're actually repeating the same fallacy: Dodd-Frank didn't solve all problems, thus regulation is useless.

Criminal laws are the kind of things that are needed to avoid anarchy.

Thank you. Where there is no law, there is anarchy. And which unfortunately applies to every domain that involves human activity.

Establishment, you are a painJanuary 24, 2017 5:23 PM

@Dirk Praet,

"By creating a new rule, you create an opportunity to work around it. Ergo, a new rule is a bad thing. In formal logic, such reasoning is known as the slippery slope fallacy, or "throwing out the baby with the bathwater". "

No logical fallacy here. It is called "introspection". We know human beings are fallible and that any rule creates opportunities for cheating both because the "rule creators" -irrespective of how they are elected or appointed- are fallible and also because rules create new opportunities for others to game them. I see it perfectly reasonable that given this reality -which I haven't seen you questioning- the number of rules should be the strict minimum necessary to avoid anarchy. In fact, the US constitution, that has been the supreme law of the land for more than 200 years is a very short and concise document. It establishes a very general framework with very few detailed rules. It has stood the test of time whereas other documents -such as state constitutions or federal laws- full of minutiae have perished.

"Thank you. Where there is no law, there is anarchy. And which unfortunately applies to every domain that involves human activity."

I think you are a bit confused here. Criminal laws are those that seek to address the damage that individuals or groups of individuals inflict to society as a whole. An example of a criminal offense is murder. On the other hand, there are also civil laws that seek to regulate behavior of individuals or groups of individuals among themselves. Examples of activities regulated by civil laws are marriage, divorce or Obamacare and in fact most of the Keynesian proposals.

Both types of laws are required but only in its minimal expression to avoid anarchy. The most severe penalties are usually reserved for criminal violations, and there is a reason why. If each and every offense were to be penalized with jail, not only pretty much a large portion of society would be locked up, but also the incentives to change behavior that come with the threat of going to jail would go away.

This brings me to another point. When laws become an unreasonable burden, what you get is the opposite of the intended effect: people try to influence the law creation process by bribing law makers -whose with the resources to do so- or go to the black market. The most corrupt countries of the world all have laws and regulations. It's just that they are so ridiculous that nobody follows them. In most countries that have socialized medicine for example, getting ahead in the waiting list for medical procedures can be accomplished by calling your family member -if you have one- that is in charge of the queue. That happens as much in Sweden as in China. So even if you are interested in the benefit of having laws, you should want them to minimize the effect they have in society.

Final point speaking of Sweden. It is the "paradise" for those who defend regulated economies, but even there so called "school vouchers" are very popular. They were introduced in the 1990s by one of few non socialist governments the country has had since the end of WWII and remain in place because the following socialist governments couldn't get rid of the program due to its popularity. So this is a clear example of individual choice trumping government mandated choice.

Alyer BabtuJanuary 24, 2017 6:40 PM

But it wasn't founded on "equality and ecomomic prosperity for all", it was, under God and nature, created equal, with unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which has no necessacy intersection with what was stated by Pres. Obama, whose formulation could (and probably did) describe communism. So also Justice Ginsburg.

Dirk PraetJanuary 24, 2017 6:51 PM

@ establishment thingie

No logical fallacy here. It is called "introspection".

Err, no, sorry. When someone finds a loophole in a law, you close it. Using an existing or even theoretical loophole as an argument against a specific law or the concept of law as a whole logically doesn't even pass the smelling test.

It (the US Constitution) establishes a very general framework with very few detailed rules.

As does every other constitution. But it's pretty much meaningless in practice without detailed statutory and case law. Ask any judge.

I think you are a bit confused here.

Not really. You're trying to make an artificial distinction between civil and criminal law. As much as they may cover different domains, both have a similar system of rules. What you're saying here is that some aspects of society should have rules to avoid anarchy, whereas others will just regulate themselves. Unless mankind is completely schizophrenic, that thesis is absurd.

tired of establishment typesJanuary 25, 2017 7:19 PM

@Dirk Praet

"Not really. You're trying to make an artificial distinction between civil and criminal law. As much as they may cover different domains, both have a similar system of rules."

You are indeed confused. Not all laws and rules were created equal. A society can perfectly thrive with imperfect divorce laws (or even with no divorce laws) whereas the same society will quickly descend into chaos if it doesn't enforce criminal laws that penalize murder or robberies.

By conflating "must have laws" that avoid anarchy with laws and rules that seek to do social engineering in society, you are weakening your case and strengthening mine.

Ad end umJanuary 25, 2017 8:32 PM

And not bankers and banksters or the otherwise generally unaccountable accountants.

Cognitive Bias, robbers or robber barons?

Pick One.

Dirk PraetJanuary 26, 2017 4:07 AM

@ establishment thingie

By conflating "must have laws" that avoid anarchy with laws and rules that seek to do social engineering in society, you are weakening your case and strengthening mine.

Quite to the contrary. You are merely repeating a credo that doesn't add up, also known as a logical fallacy called the argumentum ad nauseam. Both civil and criminal law have the same purpose: to protect the weak from the strong and to right what is wrong.

The one thing you do have a point in, however, is that regulation can never become either an end in itself or just another means to impose more taxes, as unfortunately happens way too much in my own country too. It is a matter of striking an acceptable balance to avoid either the law of the jungle (no regulation) or a stifling chokehold on society (over-regulation), and whatever the area of application.

the establishment is indeed confusedJanuary 26, 2017 8:41 AM

@Dirk Praet

"The one thing you do have a point in, however, is that regulation can never become either an end in itself or just another means to impose more taxes, as unfortunately happens way too much in my own country too."

Dear, this is what I was saying all along. If you are a law maker or a bureaucrat, your incentive is to make more laws and regulations to justify your own existence for the people paying you a a salary. A software engineer writes code. A rule making bureaucrat makes rules.

The only way to avoid that these -lawmakers and bureaucrats- take over society is to "starve the beast", namely, constrain government to its minimal expression to avoid anarchy so that its excesses don't contaminate society.

AnuraJanuary 26, 2017 9:11 AM

@the establishment is indeed confused

The only way to avoid that these -lawmakers and bureaucrats- take over society is to "starve the beast", namely, constrain government to its minimal expression to avoid anarchy so that its excesses don't contaminate society.

Have you ever played Nomic? Because if you did, you would recognize the flaw in your plan. The idea is that there are a series of immutable rules, and a set of mutable rules, and the game is that you debate and change the rules; the point is, even immutable rules can be changed, and over the course of the game the rules will be changed.

https://legacy.earlham.edu/~peters/writing/nomic.htm#initial%20set

You are trying to create a system that explicitly rewards greed with power as a feature, and then saying that if you just have a set of bulletproof, immutable laws that everything will be perfect - a laughable concept - but at that point the laws become completely irrelevant as they are only legitimate if the people in power choose to make them so, and they can always change them.

The reason why there are so many regulations is specifically to protect us from the harm the rich do to society. When they reduce every single aspect of business to net profits, they can justify everything from war to slavery in the name of it. We know this, because history has shown it time and time again.

You are the exact problem you are complaining about: ignoring the structural problems of our society and thinking that if you just pass the right set of regulations, capitalism will finally work for everyone. It won't, because capitalism's problem is inherently in its model of property ownership.

the establishment is sovietJanuary 26, 2017 9:27 AM

@Anura,

"The reason why there are so many regulations is specifically to protect us from the harm the rich do to society."

And again, you believe that the regulators have your good in mind. It never occurs to you that the regulators have their own good in mind, not yours. In the Soviet Union, while society as a whole was impoverished, these people https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politburo_of_the_Communist_Party_of_the_Soviet_Union had awesome lives.

In Western Europe today, most young graduates dream of a government job because those are the people who have the most comfortable lives.

The notion of "government = Robin Hood" is one of the dirtiest tricks used by promoters of socialism to brainwash their citizens. They did a pretty good job with you.

AnuraJanuary 26, 2017 9:44 AM

@the establishment is soviet

And again, you believe that the regulators have your good in mind.

No, I don't, but I also don't believe they are inherently bad. The more inequality there is, by definition, the easier it is to make laws to target specific groups and classes. On top of that, the more inequality there is the more social unrest there is and the greater demand there is for regulations to fix the problems. End the inequality, fix the structural problems to give everyone equality of wealth and power, and those problems go away.

In Western Europe today, most young graduates dream of a government job because those are the people who have the most comfortable lives.

[citation needed]

The notion of "government = Robin Hood" is one of the dirtiest tricks used by promoters of socialism to brainwash their citizens. They did a pretty good job with you.

Seriously? You are the one who has managed to convince himself that if you just give the rich everything they have been asking for that society will flourish. Tell me, who exactly do you think came up with the idea that minimally regulated capitalism will result in the most prosperous and free society, and that anyone who says otherwise is objectively wrong? Who is it that is telling you that any economist or scientist or news report that disagrees with you is part of a liberal conspiracy to destroy America? Who has been regurgitating that without question?

Dirk PraetJanuary 26, 2017 9:59 AM

@ establishment thingie

Dear, this is what I was saying all along.

No, it isn't. What I am advocating is an acceptable balance across the spectrum. What you're saying is that some aspects of society need regulation, whereas others don't because they will regulate themselves. And which remains fundamentally flawed, no matter how many ad hominems you throw in.

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