Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Man Behind the Curtain

The corruption of the US political system has been previously described as the evolution of a small worlds network in the gap of responsibility between the government and the electorate that evolved due to the natural aggregation of individuals by feeling-thinking personality types in a technologically developing country.

The choice to adopt a small worlds network for system control rather than information flow is the primary causal reason for the corruption and ultimate self-reinforcing dysfunctions of the system. Quite simply, this choice is to either distribute responsibility to those with the knowledge to add value to the problem solution or to hold responsibility (and power) closer to select operatives. However, this responsibility is unknown outside the small worlds network--it is only known to adjacent connections which have an inherent interest in keeping the network alive. Thus, the small worlds network is not directly correctible in case of errors or inefficiencies by the system.

Opacity is a necessary condition for the continued existence of a dysfunctional small worlds network. Also, as previously noted, small worlds networks are inefficient for command and control. They adapt to the problem rather than solve it. Why then do the networks tend to displace functional networks? Cowardice—the choice for tangible short term gain over the commitment to a greater good not entirely under our own control.

There is nothing more complex than that. Small worlds networks allow "leaders" to shield themselves from the consequences of their decisions at the cost of huge reductions in the efficiency of the system. Where leaders cannot make mistakes, they cannot learn. Where they cannot learn, they adopt crony networks to shield themselves.

As a whole, the overall leaders responsible for the total system choose cowardice by refusing to devolve authority and grant the subordinate networks the ability to make knowable mistakes. The result is an effective choice for greater unattributable mistakes. These supreme leaders chose to allow the development of ignorance. They chose to increase the "unknown knowns" due to a deficiency in their individual character and infidelity to the system that they lead.

Learning is a moral choice. It always has been. It always will be.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

There is Something Wrong

There is something wrong in the United States. The political system is tearing itself apart and for no discernible purpose and to no appreciable benefit. The system is broken and we don't know why or how, but it is definitely broken. In times such as these, the villains and  heros become indistinguishable by vantage point, but we are sure that they must exist. How else can this situation be explained?

The problem is the system that we have been using to seek its solution. The problem is crony capitalism, or more specifically, cronyism. Cronyism has become the means that we control large organizations; it is the means for control of the US Government as well as large corporations. We have allowed cronyism to supplant our traditional systems because of the overall complexity of the system and our desire to centralize control.

When we know someone that knows someone that is in the business of doing something that ultimately might be turned back around to us for our advantage, we are using a network of cronies. In systems theory it is called a small worlds network and it is very efficient at transferring information over distances. Using a small worlds network, it is sufficient to know that a certain individual is the one to go to if you want something done. That individual knows others that know others and sure enough, ultimately they know someone that can do the job.

The referencing in a small worlds network is done not by competence, but by connectivity.

When crony networks displace functional networks, the problem itself as a problem, is never what is solved. Crony networks are information transmission networks, they are not direct command and control networks. They do not take responsibility for the problem such as it is and they avoid the exploration necessary to add definition to the original problem. Each stage in the routing is a loss of useful information. The network simply routes the information to another location that will deal with the increasingly abstracted problem in return for a price which is again multiplied as the "solution" is routed back to its source in a circuitous quid pro quo fashion. Crony networks respond to problems the way the brain responds to injuries--it routes around the problem.

Thus, we don't fight wars any longer as a country. We adapt to them. The situation was made very clear to me when I had occasion to ask Senator Corker, the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, if he was planning on rewriting the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Afghanistan seeing that the military objectives all flowed down from this document and at the present time (several years ago), the US military was rudderless. His response was that he thought that President Obama had enough power through the current authorization. In other words, Senator Corker could not even comprehend the problem. Rather he saw the situation as one of negotiating relationships.

We would be right to imagine that the problem of the Iraq war was conceived in similar terms by President Bush. Not until the time when he understood that if we were not winning the war, that we were losing and then making the speedy connection to his reelection prospects, Bush finally decided that a different strategy by different generals was appropriate.

The deficiency of small worlds networks is that they do not simultaneously sense that which they control. Crony networks are ignorant of the larger problem surrounding them. They were never meant to solve problems, they were meant to transmit information across distances.

So today, the crony networks that make up the US Government have been ignorant to the burdens that they have put on the American people over the past many years. Like the absurd Rules of Engagement impressed on our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US Government understands the actual problems of the American people as abstractions that are then routed around. Each layer of complexity justified by the problem is meant to insulate the government from its affects rather than to solve the actual problem.

Thus, in a failing educational system, we are offered common core as a "solution". In response to an economic collapse, we are given more taxation and more government spending. In response to the destruction of the American family, we are given more restrictions on family life. Is it no wonder that labor is imported so readily and lawlessly from Central America when our government restricts the ability of the US worker to profit from his own labors? The system is simply routing around the problem as it sees it.

In a normal functional relationship rewards are distributed to those that contribute productively to the solution of a problem. In situations where crony networks flourish, these rewards are chocked off. Furthermore, the information flows that sense problems are suppressed. Thus a gap has opened between the people and its dysfunctional government just as a gap has opened between the US Government and the reality of problems in the outside world. Our government has no idea of our problems and we are increasingly powerless to represent ourselves to this government in order to have these problems solved.

The crony network has grown to the point that the cumulative costs that are siphoned off at each stage of the quid pro quo network are so much that they are consuming the host. It must be beaten back if we are to survive. Immediately, it requires that the individual voter become responsible and aware for his own vote. The solution to the problem is to regrow our civic structures and save what remains. This work is hard and with little psychic reward. But, it is the reality of the situation. The alternative is worse.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Fear and Loathing in D.C.

The U.S. political system can be thought of as a distributed system with relationships between voter and candidate stand-ins for government (and its prospective alternative forms). When distributed systems fail, they fail in a catastrophe. Relationships fail successively in a wave of destruction because the mechanism of failure in one relationship is very similar to that in another within its basin of influence. All that is necessary is to bring the system to saturation and then give it a tiny shove. After this destruction, there is a space minimizing contest to fill the void.

Both political parties in the U.S. are in a state of collapse. After years of steadily increasing pressures, the average voter has reached a level of stress and frustration that is near some saturation point. The polarized system fails at the weakest point and the destruction spreads outward leaving the functional ideological extremes and the remaining locally functional rump of the corrupt structure as cores. In this region of destruction, nearly anything can evolve untethered from the ideologies of the core factions and the quid pro quo relationships of the establishment rumps. Thus we have the Trump phenomenon.

The failure mechanism here is a vote of no confidence in the fiduciary relationship between voter and representative. The bipartisan corruption of crony capitalism, awash in trillions of dollars of taxpayer leveraged debt has simultaneously destroyed the faith and trust of both factions in their government. Primitive sources of failure produce inchoate symptoms. When individual trust is lost, the disruption is manifested in ways that are difficult to identify and impossible to control--until the system learns.

Given that there is no readily known fix, the voter is drawn towards the visceral satisfactions of delusion--democracy without responsibility, ends without means, and rhyme without reason. What other possibility does he have in the near term?

In other systems, we would have civil war. In the U.S., civil war is no longer a possibility. The political forces are too intertwined. So instead we will have turmoil. What comes out of it cannot be predicted in excruciating detail. There are some significant chaotic effects. However, it is true in general that the faction that makes the necessary corrections the fastest without destroying itself in the process will dominate the U.S. political landscape until its competitor does likewise. Until then, both will be thrashed by the groundswell that their failures have unleashed.

Trump rose out of the gap between the two parties that allowed crony capitalism to flourish. After the ideological battles of the 60s were roughly settled (circa 1985 by my estimation), the system reached a stable bipolar arrangement such that thereafter the two poles became move divided to the point that personality rather than ideology was the defining characteristic of the separatrix.

In the 2016 election, Bush and Clinton are the rumps of the old crony capitalistic parties. (Bush is presently losing the establishment rump to Rubio). Cruz and Sanders represent the ideological political extremes. Trump could not come from nowhere and he judged that the right was more fertile territory to launch a populist campaign. It could be said that he sprang from the GOP like Athena from Zeus's head ready to fight (Zeus's head was temporarily split apart in the process).

What can be predicted by this? Assuming that the system learns ahead of its decisions:

First, in the GOP primary race, Trump's popularity as a candidate is strictly bounded and he will not be able to attract many more to his nebulous cause than those already immediately enthused.  Reason is persuasive.  Stupidity, while exhilarating, has a finite shelf life.

Secondly, of the two sentient cores of support in the GOP race, the conservative core led by Cruz will ultimately dominate the establishment rump led by Rubio. In a three way race where Trump is bounded to below 45%, the two other cores will ultimately coalesce. Between the ideological and pragmatic cores, where the two are not mutually exclusive, the ideological core wins what is seen as an insurgent battle.

If Trump was to fail early, the establishment core could reassert itself since the factional threat would once again loom large. This was the traditional game of the establishment core that lead to the crony capitalistic situation originally. Alternatively, if the establishment core was to fail early, then the Trump core would lose part of its reason for existence and the ideological core should prevail.  If the ideological core was to fail, it is anyone's guess since then the relative percentages could push the Trump core over 50%. None of these scenarios are likely.

Third, when the race is contested and the weak muddled core is a minority, the fight ultimately goes to the principled core.  In other words, the Trump phenomenon will fail unless there is a significant influx of liberal partisans into the mix to sustain his bandwagon.  At this point, that possibility seems unlikely.

To summarize: The Trump core exists by its own momentum due to the failure of government. The Cruz core wins by drawing off support of the Rubio core against Trump and simultaneously from Trump against Rubio. The Rubio core wins by some annihilation of the Trump core. In no case does the Trump core win in a three way race although it could potentially be the strongest of a collection of minor players in a fragmented field. But even then, this is a temporary situation.

It's a race to learn now or fall to a demagogue.