Tag Archives: First Amendment

The future of the open internet — and our way of life — is in your hands

By Quincy Larson – So far, the story of the internet has followed the same tragic narrative that’s befallen other information technologies over the past 160 years:

  • the telegram
  • the telephone
  • cinema
  • radio
  • television

Each of these had roughly the same story arc:

  1. Inventors discovered the technology.
  2. Hobbyists pioneered the applications of that technology, and popularized it.
  3. Corporations took notice. They commercialized the technology, refined it, and scaled it.
  4. Once the corporations were powerful enough, they tricked the government into helping them lock the technology down. They installed themselves as “natural monopolies.”
  5. After a long period of stagnation, a new technology emerged to disrupt the old one. Sometimes this would dislodging the old monopoly. But sometimes it would only further solidify them.

And right now, we’re in step 4 the open internet’s narrative. We’re surrounded by monopolies.

The problem is that we’ve been in step 4 for decades now. And there’s no step 5 in sight. The creative destruction that the Economist Joseph Schumpeter first observed in the early 1900s has yet to materialize. more> https://goo.gl/dFd7MK

Will President Trump derail the U.S. economy?

By George L. Perry – The stock market should like these economic proposals for several reasons.

Lower tax rates directly raise after-tax profits. Faster expansion from the fiscal push means higher profits. And reducing regulations cuts costs and raises profits. Banks, which are a clear target for deregulation, also benefit from higher interest rates that raise lending profits. No surprise their stocks have been the best performers in the market rally.

he impact of these budgetary policies in the longer run are more murky.

Today’s Congress is likely to give the Administration most of what it asks for. And one big risk in this is that budgetary projections will be made based on dynamic scoring that assumes the programs produce large increases in productivity growth, and so project unrealistically fast growth in the economy’s potential output and revenues.

The CBO and Finance Committee make professional assessments of these supply-side effects in estimating future budgetary impacts of tax changes. But the Administration will push for more generous estimates of future revenues that will make the tax and budget proposals more palatable at present.

This will only put off dealing with long-run budget deficits and a rising ratio of debt-to-GDP that is projected as the population ages. The adverse effects of swelling debt will be someone else’s problem at some future time. more> https://goo.gl/th1nzJ

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Americans aren’t as attached to democracy as you might think

By Austin Sarat – While we have been focused on partisan divides over government policy and personnel, an almost invisible erosion of the foundations of our political system has been taking place. Public support for the rule of law and democracy can no longer be taken for granted.

While President Trump’s behavior has riveted the media and the public, our eyes should not only be focused on him but on this larger – and troubling – trend.

If the rule of law and democracy are to survive in America we will need to address the decline in the public’s understanding of, and support for both. While we celebrate the Ninth Circuit’s decision on Trump’s ban, we also must initiate a national conversation about democracy and the rule of law. Civics education, long derided, needs to be revived.

Schools, civic groups, and the media must to go back to fundamentals and explain what basic American political values entail and why they are desirable. Defenders of democracy and the rule of law must take their case to the American people and remind them of the Founders’ admonition that:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.

more> https://goo.gl/q5VdsE

Europe Must Defend Itself Against A Dangerous President

By Klaus Brinkbäumer – There are times in life that really do count. Times when a person’s character is revealed, when the important is separated from the unimportant. Soon decisions are taken that will determine the further path a person takes.

Germany must stand up in opposition to the 45th president of the United States and his government. That’s difficult enough already for two reasons: Because it is from the Americans that we obtained our liberal democracy in the first place; and because it is unclear how the brute and choleric man on the other side will react to diplomatic pressure. The fact that opposition to the American government can only succeed when mounted together with Asian and African partners — and no doubt with our partners in Europe, with the EU — doesn’t make the situation any easier.

Under President Trump, both the justified and the contemptible will be melded. Injustice is a major issue of our times, as are fears of digitalization and globalization — and rightfully so given that the division of society and the speed of modern life is, in fact, extreme. Trump fuses these worries of his voters with nationalism and xenophobia. That’s how demagogues work and it is how they become effective.

The fact that the United States, a nuclear superpower that has dominated the world economically, militarily and culturally for decades, is now presenting itself as the victim, calling in all seriousness for “America first” and trying to force the rest of the world into humiliating concessions is absurd. But precisely because this nonsense is coming from the world’s most powerful man, it is getting trapped by him. more> https://goo.gl/PwClWJ

How to Build an Autocracy

By David Frum – No society, not even one as rich and fortunate as the United States has been, is guaranteed a successful future. When early Americans wrote things like “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty,” they did not do so to provide bromides for future bumper stickers. They lived in a world in which authoritarian rule was the norm, in which rulers habitually claimed the powers and assets of the state as their own personal property.

The exercise of political power is different today than it was then—but perhaps not so different as we might imagine. Larry Diamond, a sociologist at Stanford, has described the past decade as a period of “democratic recession.” Worldwide, the number of democratic states has diminished. Within many of the remaining democracies, the quality of governance has deteriorated.

Yet the American system is also perforated by vulnerabilities no less dangerous for being so familiar. Supreme among those vulnerabilities is reliance on the personal qualities of the man or woman who wields the awesome powers of the presidency.

A British prime minister can lose power in minutes if he or she forfeits the confidence of the majority in Parliament. The president of the United States, on the other hand, is restrained first and foremost by his own ethics and public spirit.

What happens if somebody comes to the high office lacking those qualities? more> https://goo.gl/IjMqiK

How social media is crippling democracy, and why we seem powerless to stop it

Tech-assisted gaslighting is destroying truth, justice, and the American way. Can anything be done?

By ason Perlow – Because so many of us that “are on the spectrum” work in technology, and so many of us use these tools for business and not just for recreational purposes, we all have to work extra hard to hone our “soft” skills, as all of these tools are not particularly helpful in developing our interpersonal relationships and how we interact with people in the real world.

The more disconnected from face-to-face relationships we become, the more our soft skills atrophy. And these tools not only make the soft skills deteriorate, but they also reinforce bad habits and amplify our negative personality traits.

We all know someone whose personality traits are amplified in this way.

These tools can do much more than alter and distort the way we perceive our relationships with others and how others perceive us. These tools can alter our very sense of reality. more> https://goo.gl/BXBk9J

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Free speech debates are more than ‘radicals’ vs ‘liberals’

BOOK REVIEW

Hate Speech and Democratic Citizenship, Author: Eric Heinze.
Excitable Speech, Author: Judith Butler.
On Liberty, Author: John Stuart Mill.

By Eric Heinze – The main schism in today’s free speech debates pits liberals, advocating unbridled speech as a tool of freedom, against radicals, who unmask unbridled speech as a tool of class privilege. But that rift tells only one story.

In almost all democracies today (the United States being the sole and oft-criticized exception), mainline liberal doctrines overwhelmingly require limits on provocative speech. Liberals today largely consent to drawing lines between the lawful and the unlawful expression of ideas.

They disagree only about where that boundary should lie. Indeed, an ever more distinct libertarianism has arisen in diametric opposition to the ‘balance of interests’ approaches of our more conventional liberal approaches. The strident (though still minority) libertarian would wholly abolish those lines in favor of free speech. Accordingly, far from dissenting from the more mainstream liberal line-drawing, radicals wish merely to draw the lines more tightly around certain types of expression. They differ from liberals only as a matter of degree, not as a matter of principle, even when they appear to adopt different philosophies or vocabularies.

If we want to avoid the impasses and repetitions plaguing the free-speech debates, one way is to stop assuming that ‘the liberal position’ always dictates one outcome, and ‘the radical position’ another. Both approaches supply plausible justifications for supporting restrictions on public discourse – but even stronger grounds for opposing them. more> https://goo.gl/DxjOMc

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How culture Is driving human evolution, domesticating our species, and making us smarter

BOOK REVIEW

The Secret of Our Success, Author: Joseph Henrich.
Guns, Germs, and Steel, Author: Jared Diamond.
Culture and the Evolutionary Process, Authors: Robert Boyd and Peter J. Richerson.
Foundations of Social Evolution, Author: Steven A. Frank.

(cartoonstock.com)By Tyler Cowen and Joseph Henrich – For much of human history, people believed in gods that were weak and whimsical, not very powerful. There was no notion of afterlife.

If we look at the earliest human societies, the first time you see monumental architecture, it’s always religious. It’s always a temple or a tomb. This seems to help consolidate power and expand this fear of reliable social interactions.

If we look at the smallest-scale human societies, hunter-gatherers, they still rely on all kinds of social norms and beliefs to cooperate even when they’re cooperating in relatively small bands.

Psychologists have now shown when you cooperate, when you participate in communal rituals, you become more cooperative and you have greater social solidarity with other members of your group. Even the smallest-scale human societies are already using all these tricks of cultural evolution to make them more social.

The simplest and clearest one is this idea that I call the collective brain. This is simply the idea because we’re so dependent on learning from each other in order to do innovations and to construct increasingly fancy technologies, larger and more interconnected populations tend to have fancier tools and technologies.

Culture changes our biology and causes us to think differently.

War in some cases can foster cooperation, especially over the longer haul.

The trick the West pulled off is to manage to make individuals so that information could freely flow among individuals. more> https://goo.gl/YnVnsU

Putin’s Real Long Game

By Molly K. McKew – What both administrations fail to realize is that the West is already at war, whether it wants to be or not. It may not be a war we recognize, but it is a war. This war seeks, at home and abroad, to erode our values, our democracy, and our institutional strength; to dilute our ability to sort fact from fiction, or moral right from wrong; and to convince us to make decisions against our own best interests.

So far, Trump seems far more likely than any of his predecessors to accelerate, rather than resist, the unwinding of the postwar order. And that could be a very bad — or an unexpectedly good — thing. So far, he has chosen to act as if the West no longer matters, seemingly blind to the danger that Putin’s Russia presents to American security and American society.

The question ahead of us is whether Trump will aid the Kremlin’s goals with his anti-globalist, anti-NATO rhetoric– or whether he’ll clearly see the end of the old order, grasp the nature of the war we are in, and have the vision and the confrontational spirit to win it. more> https://goo.gl/vgwEmY

I’ve left Twitter. It is unusable for anyone but trolls, robots and dictators

By Lindy West – Twitter, for the past five years, has been a machine where I put in unpaid work and tension headaches come out. I write jokes there for free. I post political commentary for free. I answer questions for free. I teach feminism 101 for free.

Off Twitter, these are all things by which I make my living – in fact, they comprise the totality of my income.

But on Twitter, I do them pro bono and, in return, I am micromanaged in real time by strangers; neo-Nazis mine my personal life for vulnerabilities to exploit; and men enjoy unfettered, direct access to my brain so they can inform me, for the thousandth time, that they would gladly rape me if I weren’t so fat.

I talk back and I am “feeding the trolls.” I say nothing and the harassment escalates. I report threats and I am a “censor.” I use mass-blocking tools to curb abuse and I am abused further for blocking “unfairly.” I have to conclude, after half a decade of troubleshooting, that it may simply be impossible to make this platform usable for anyone but trolls, robots and dictators.” more> https://goo.gl/YTbReR