His Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition

Posted Nov 21, 2018 at 16:55. Revised Aug 30, 2019 at 19:49.

This is a raw draft being prepared for ComplexityTrap.Com. This unpublished blog is currently undergoing major content revisions.

For centuries the British Parliament has had customs for how the opposition (the minority party) can express disagreement with the majority party’s policies. Acts of disloyalty to the nation or sabotage are not allowed – a responsibility encapsulated in the phrase “His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition”. The Queen (or King) symbolizes the nation, and this phrase poetically bans disloyalty to the country. In short, there are limits to the acceptable ways of opposing the policies of another political party. Of course, situations can J.D. Nobody will now empower you to say Nobody told me after you read this post. You will have a perfect and truthful excuse for pleading ignorance of the disruptive forces in our country today.

In an era of ever-growing complexity and narrowing focus, the United States has been moving away from the opposition being His Majesty’s Loyal Oppositions to being His Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition. There are many contributing factors to this evolution, of which the growing inability to deal with growing complexity and the resulting increase in the narrowness of focus and awareness are the most basic.

The election of Barack Obama as president resulted in an announcement by Sen. McConnell that the opposition’s primary objective was to cause the Obama presidency to fail. This de facto sabotage was a great leap forward in transforming the opposition party into His Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition.

The election of Donald Trump as President made the opposition go all out for payback for the way Obama had been treated by Trump’s litany of bombastic campaign rhetoric. Both extremes of the electorate saw a moral duty to engage in total and unyielding sabotage to anything those on the other side might say or do. This extremism has precluded all reasonableness by otherwise reasonable people.

The reasonable people in both parties are more in fear of being voted out by the extreme fringes within their own parties than they are of being ousted by the opposition party. It remains to be seen to what degree these fears are justified, but extremists are turning on the moderates in their own parties and creating even more incapacitating divisiveness. Sitting down with an opposition member can occur only when both are confident that they will not get caught. This situation becomes an albatross on the nation when reasonable people dare not agree on sensible things.

Understanding how the American governmental system has evolved in the years following the American revolution sheds some light on this situation. The evolutionary similarities and differences between the British and American systems have created respective strengths and weaknesses in both countries, as well as having built complexity traps over time. After the American Revolution, there was a great fear of a new king arising who would dictatorially run a tyrannical central government. This fear led to crafting the American constitution to have substantial power limitations and checks on the central government. The American system was intentionally designed to make it difficult for the central government to exercise excessive power.

It was assumed when the nation was founded that any farmer, tradesman, or merchant would have no difficulty being a legislator in Congress. The relatively simple problems in governing at that time would be easy for the average Joe to understand. Governance issues would require at most a few weeks out of a legislator’s life during his two-year term. The idea of an urban, industrial, and technologically advanced society that would be confounding even for full-time legislators was not on the founding fathers’ radar.

The representatives in Washington were expected to represent the interests of their home districts without having any political parties. The need for some discipline soon led to the rise of political parties, but the representatives generally voted the interests of their home districts ahead of party loyalty. The political idea of parties keeping discipline with a robust Prime Minister is only partially present in the American system. In the American system, a representative is more likely to resolve conflicting loyalties by voting for the desires of his constituents and against his party’s wishes. His British counterpart would tend toward going with his party rather than with his constituents.

Historically, American parties have rarely voted as a bloc. This is now changing. Indeed, the two-party American Congress increasingly looks like a parliament of splinter parties within mother parties. In such a situation governing cannot happen without party loyalty. Congress has become a parliament without a Prime Minister.

A parliamentary system typically has a head of government (the prime minister) and the head of state (a King, President, or Governor-General) who is a different person from the Prime Minister. Most power is held by the Prime Minister, with the head of state being in the background most of the time. Strict party discipline and a parliamentary majority (or coalition) guarantee that getting things done is prioritized over constraining legislative power. In a presidential/congressional system, the president is legislatively and constitutionally limited in getting things done. The president does not have the same powers as a prime minister because the powers of the President and the legislature are constitutionally separated.

On the other hand, a president is both the head of government and the head of state. As the complexity of governance grows, increasing administrative powers are necessarily delegated to the president, slowly making him the king that the founding fathers feared. And this kingship is not the kingship of a constitutional monarchy, either.

The moral outrage at the slowly ensnaring complexity trap and its oversimplification causes Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to morph into His Majesty’s Angry and Disloyal Opposition. The main governing objective now becomes retribution and sabotage against the other party.

In this new world facts and opinions are conveniently identical, which aids in backstabbing either the “king” or the other party. This hobbles the government’s credibility when dealing with bad international actors. Nothing but more rampage on the international stage can come from bad actors when they see the President as domestically wounded or made impotent by the fractious discord.

Worse yet, the extreme opposition could spawn persons who see killing the president as their highest moral duty. Should such an assassination happen, the assassin’s most extreme sympathizers would likely turn out en masse to dance in the streets, as happened on a much smaller scale at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. The backlash to an assassination could well open the gates of Hell.

Observers of the scene have noted the current national discontent’s similarity to the anger extant before the outbreak of the American Civil War. Things could become quite ugly because today’s extremists are equipped with tens of thousands of far better guns than were the soldiers in the Civil War. It is worth noting that the first significant battle in that war was the First Battle of Bull Run, also called the Battle of Manassas. Each side believed before the fight that the other side would quickly cave and that the conflict would be over. Large numbers of people brought picnics to the Bull Run battlefield to watch the rebels get trounced, but the picnickers ended up fleeing from the victorious insurgents when the day was over. This minor squirmish went on to kill more people than any other war in American history.

No one going into the war thought it possible that His Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition could create so much havoc, but that’s the way things turned out. Who knows where the developing backlash to today’s Disloyal Opposition will lead? One can reasonably ask “Is the United States today the way it is because of Donald Trump, or is Donald Trump the way he is because of the United States?” In any event, the problems are much deeper than The Donald’s competence.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Nov 21, 2018 at 16:55. Revised Aug 30, 2019 at 19:49. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 01:43.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

Empowering Donald Trump – The Base

Posted Feb 5, 2017 at 17:26. Revised Sep 6, 2019 at 21:21.

The short answer to the question “Who empowered Donald Trump?” is just about everybody did. Donald Trump’s core supporters have shown much adoration for him at his rallies, and without their support he would have gone nowhere. The related posts A Tale of Two Factories and Trump – The Same As FDR? are starting points for understanding why his base support has empowered him so effectively. In many respects, Trump uses FDR’s (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) playbook – updated for the age of social media.

Trump is at least as in tune with the working class locker room crowd as he is with the country club elite. Being able to function effectively with both those crowds is a rare skill. Whether that skill has been used in some extremely disruptive ways or whether such skills are enough to solve the nation’s problems are different discussions.

The most important cornerstone of Trump’s power with his base is probably the patronizing elitism which much of the Establishment feels toward Joe Six Pack. As the Tale of Two Factories explains, dismissiveness, snubbing, and not listening build time bombs of anger. Those time bombs are now detonating in slow motion, but with unrelenting persistence.

The patronizing elitists are dumbfounded by what they have unleashed, and are in almost complete denial that they are dismissive, patronizing, or elitists. Of course, the well-educated and well-connected have something to feel elite about, but they nevertheless live in a sociologically different world from the people whom they regard as baskets full of deplorables. J.D. Nobody knows an astute psychologist who has observed that elitists have no idea that they are elitists, and that once they face the situation they are automatically no longer elitists.

J.D. Nobody has a rare credential for understanding the social problems which elitist create. At one point in his life he held a real “dirty hands” job, thereby gaining exposure to many real world situations that elitists only know conceptually. A real dirty hands job is a job where one uses a large jar of GoJo Hand Cleaner per week just to get one’s hands clean enough to go to the bathroom.

The elitists cannot fathom a world where washing one’s hands before going to the bathroom is far more important than washing one’s hands afterwards. That world exists, and is a normal part of the lives of many people. Elitist disconnectedness from real dirty hands people and even disbelief that they exist is quite alienating to those who do the nation’s dirty hands work.

People with experience around dogs know that most dogs can read the non-verbals of people extremely well. Indeed, if dogs were running the country their sensitivity would make them incapable of being elitist enough to enrage the anti-Trump base enough to create the firestorm currently greeting Donald Trump’s presidency. Unfortunately, Washington D.C’s. educated elitists lack the skills that most dogs have.

Complexity is a cornerstone ingredient in this firestorm. The complexity of life breeds oversimplification as people reach out for something they can handle. A key ingredient in this growing chasm is an increasing income inequality that drives people farther apart. The link between complexity and income inequality is hardly surprising once a person recognizes that people are paid what someone else is willing to pay them. The more skilled a person is at managing the complexities around him/her the more income that person can demand. Similarly, persons lacking the required skills for making things go become worth less and less economically.

The superficial solution to complexity driven income inequality is progressive income taxes. This solution has been tried repeatedly since 1980 in the U.S., but each time income disparity has increased anyhow. A major explanation for this that the increasing economic value of skilled complexity managers is a more powerful economic force than are higher taxes.

Attacking the problem with sharply higher progressive tax rates and low income subsidies is a drag on those who know how to make the system go, as well as a discouragement for low income people to seek productive work. Although progressive taxation can to some degree address income inequality, it has the unfortunate side effect of punishing economic success and rewarding economic failure.

The United States is a country where most of its people live near the East and West Coasts and much of the agricultural and industrial power is located in the middle portion of the country. this “fly over” country produces much of the nation’s basic food, but the importance of its people is usually derisively dismissed by the elite flying across the country. These elite are quite content to spend the trip with their minds absorbed in various electronic devices because they find nothing of interest in the agricultural land slowly passing by underneath. After all, the only thing this land produces is the food which they eat. At the end of the day the people living in “flyover country” control the power, know how to fight back, and will.

In contrast, Washington DC has needed a growing number of increasingly specialized people and lobbyists to function. As the narrowness of specialization increases the specialists become more disconnected from the world around them and more dismissive of it. Look no further than this phenomenon to find a key reason why heartland America is up in arms – being ignored and dismissed is an insult guaranteed to enrage, but snubbing is only the start of the troubles.

The next step is slandering the religious views of much of the Heartland with assertions like “the only socially acceptable form of Christianity is Roman Catholicism, if even that is tolerable”. In this view, Christians are categorically all ignorant, intolerant misogynists, homophobes, and bigots who must be suppressed. The facts be damned. There can be no public display by Heartland Christians of anything that can be considered religious – especially if it has Christian connotations. In this world, even the 10 Commandments cannot be discussed or displayed in public, even though the Commandments are a foundation of early Jewish law – but are apparently tainted since they are accepted as containing religious wisdom by Christians as well as Jews.

Going no further than this, it should be obvious what will happen when someone like Donald Trump comes along and tells the people in the Heartland that they are decent people and deserve to be treated as such. Then they are told that wishing a friend or neighbor Merry Christmas is not an act of religious bigotry for which they should be ashamed. People tend to like people who don’t roundly insult them!

 

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The life and death of Trumpian America (ft.com, subscription only)

http://bonnerandpartners.com/impoverished-by-too-much-money/

Complexity->specialization->Optimization-> brittalization

Complexity handling skills are randomly distributed in the social hierarchy

Oriental an insult

Micro insults

Worries are prioritized; tend to focus outside the realm of the specialty

Who empowered DT, and why? Everybody. The why trumps the who and what.

Everybody created DT via progressively more disconnectedness

Concerned far more with what than why. Smokescreens of what obscures the why.

3 blind men and the elephant – everybody has part of the picture

Tale of 2 Factories

FDR & Joshua – Locker room v country club

Incomplete truths; not incorrect

Fact and opinion have become synonymous

“Only people matter” feel, not think, the Bern!

Hillary is being attacked on both flanks, Trump on only one.

Hierarchy of economic development – food clothing shelter etc.

Heartland v coasts v beltway

Flyover country

People vote on what is important to them first, economic self-interest takes a back seat

Optimization produces capital destruction outside of the optimization focal range techno-tangle

Optimization produces progressive loss of primitive skills – heads for a new dark age

IoT -> vulnerability; primitive technology can better handle a big wallop

TDD remarks

Connecting non-contiguous dots

Value disparities based focused skills

Lenin – enemies are those that are nearly the same politically

Pol Pot phenomenon

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Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Feb 5, 2017 at 17:26. Revised Sep 6, 2019 at 21:21. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 01:43.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

Just Wait

Posted Mar 18, 2016 at 18:22. Revised Aug 23, 2019 at 12:49.

J.D. Nobody recalls the first presidential election in which he was able to vote – the 1964 election between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson. J.D. Nobody and most of the country was caught up in the fear that Goldwater was a near lunatic who would involve the country in a nuclear war. Despite having served in a fighter squadron with fighter pilots like Goldwater and having met him personally, J.D. Nobody believed the picture of Goldwater painted by the Johnson campaign.

There was recognition that some of what Goldwater was saying was the impulsive bravado of a fighter pilot, and many – including J.D. Nobody – did not recognize that Goldwater’s boast of nuking the Vietnamese into oblivion was only a locker room boast. It was not something he would have done when faced with making a command decision.

J.D. Nobody did have the prescience to see Goldwater’s expressed concerns as legitimate ones that would erupt in a bigger way later if not addressed. J.D. gave some of his ultra-liberal acquaintances the admonition “If you think Goldwater is bad from your point of view, just wait until you see what the pipeline of the future will deliver!”

None of these people could accept that anything worse could happen in the future. In prosecuting the Vietnam war Johnson did everything that Goldwater had advocated, and worse – such as effectively manufacturing the Gulf of Tonkin incident to ensnare America further in the Vietnam War. Johnson had made the first “just wait” happen sooner than anyone expected. Once again, J.D. Nobody’s admonition “if you think this is bad from your point of view, just wait.”.

A “just wait” soon arrived in the person of Richard Nixon. Nixon had some important accomplishments as president, despite there being much hand-wringing over how anybody could be worse than Nixon. Watergate was the best “just wait” yet.

The arrival of Ronald Reagan raised the cries of anguish once again. Nixon was no longer the greatest disaster of all time. J.D. Nobody now pointed out “if you think Ronald Reagan is bad from your point of view, just wait.”.

The cries of “no one could be worse” arose once again for George H. W. Bush. Again, just wait.

With the arrival of the Clintons came a jackboot political machine powered only by the polls. A jackboot political machine is not a bad thing; just a return to normalcy.

Next, there was George W. Bush, and once again the cries of anguish rose to a higher level yet. Ronald Reagan was no longer the greatest disaster of all time. Another opportunity for J.D. Nobody to point out “if you think George W. Bush is bad from your point of view, just wait.”.

And the progression goes on with Donald J. Trump and Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and AOC and Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar…

Notice any pattern?

Tomorrow, there will be someone worse yet. Just wait.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Mar 18, 2016 at 18:22. Revised Aug 23, 2019 at 12:49. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 01:43.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

The Animals In The Barnyard Are Nervous

Posted Feb 23, 2016 at 17:53. Revised Sep 24, 2019 at 19:01.

For many years, farmers in Central and South America noticed that occasionally their animals would become restless, and would sometimes attempt to smash their way out of their pens or corrals. Many farmers believed this behavior was because the animals knew a major earthquake was imminent.

Knowledgeable people thought this was just ignorance and superstition on the part of the farmers, but over time, there was a growing realization that the animals knew something. No one was able to explain with certainty how they were detecting impending earthquakes, but there is much evidence that they knew when an earthquake was coming.

The 2016 political situation in America was similar. Many people (the animals) knew that something was wrong and that there was trouble ahead, but they weren’t sure what to do about it or whom to blame. The people in the Establishment, like the farmers in Central and South America, had a hard time believing that many in the ordinary rank and file (the animals) could know something that the elite did not.

By 2016 politics had manifested itself in two extreme groups of people, a group of conservatives who wanted to throw the rascals out and replace them with people who respected traditional values, and a group of extreme progressives who wanted to throw the rascals out and then massively redistribute wealth.

Even though these factions regarded each other as enemies, they had a great deal in common. Both wanted to tear up the current order and replace it with something much more to their liking. In each case, the people of these two extremes were often ignorant and simple, having simple-minded solutions that would create more problems than they would solve. Because of this, the Establishment had difficulty listening to inarticulate outsiders. Ironically, the Establishment itself was also ignorant and uninformed about what was happening in the world beneath its feet.

Much of what was happening was a result of the ever-growing complexity of society, technology, and current life. This complexity guaranteed that people would be progressively less informed about what was going on because there was too much for any one person to absorb. It also resulted in ever-increasing specialization to deal with the fragmenting pieces of everything.

The people best able to master a world of growing complexity and keep it running become increasingly more valuable and thus can demand bigger paychecks. Those less able to stay on top of developments are less valuable economically and paid accordingly. Neither a return to the traditional values of earlier years nor wealth redistribution can reverse the forces of growing complexity.

Since 1981, there have been many conservative and liberal income-tax changes that promised to produce more tax fairness and less extreme wealth distribution. The result of each reform was the inequality increased, partly because increasing tax complexity makes the most successful people more able to game the growing tax system’s rules. Tax revisions suit the self-interest of tax accountants and tax attorneys because even a simplification to the tax code usually requires more compliance advice. Each tax revision helps tax practitioners to become ever bigger leeches on the economically productive segments of society. It is simple: more tax law complexity (and change) generates more wealth for tax specialists. The beauty in this scam is the people will demand tax revisions forever, thereby giving the legislators a perfect excuse for saying: “We are only complying with what our electorate has requested – which is what our job requires us to do!” (And we are laughing all the way to the bank in the process!).

If pro is the opposite of con,
then what is the opposite of progress?
Congress!

As complexity grows, it places an increasing drag on people’s lives. They then seek simplicity by oversimplifying everything in their lives. Ever-increasing complexity ultimately generates a complexity trap that ends each complexity sub-cycle. The result is the situation devolves into chaos and a new simplicity, which can be far more perverse than the original simplicity was.

The biggest complexity cycle, consisting of all the smaller cycles, similarly has an ultimate complexity trap. What the limits to complexity are, when they might happen, and how our complexity will simplify and will correct itself is not known. We do know that nothing can grow exponentially forever.

All this is unfolding before our very eyes, and we don’t believe what we are seeing.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at 17:53. Revised Sep 24, 2019 at 19:01. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 01:43.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

The Importance of Being Nobody

Posted Feb 22, 2016 at 18:28. Revised Sep 24, 2019 at 19:15.

Being J.D. Nobody makes me a most important person. Indeed, millions of people quote me every day when they find themselves in a mess. The great beauty in being able to say “Nobody told me” is that no one can ever question you about whether it is true or false. You win either way when you quote me or pretend to quote me because it will be unclear to your listener whether the word “nobody” is a proper noun or just a convenient collective noun. Moreover, this gift which I am providing to the world is the perfect tool for keeping glib lawyers honest.

Panic-filled pragmatism is the typical result of twenty-first-century complexity. Also, the more complexities people find in the world around them the more likely they are to seek too much simplification. My mission is to give you the cover you need to truthfully say “Nobody told me” when someone challenges you. This response will be especially convenient when I, J.D. Nobody, have in fact told you something you don’t want to admit to knowing.

Now you can honestly say “Nobody told me.”

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Feb 22, 2016 at 18:28. Revised Sep 24, 2019 at 19:15. –> Retrieved Oct 23, 2019 at 01:43.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/