Urban planning community | #theplannerlife

+ Reply to thread
Results 1 to 16 of 16

Thread: Why democracy always fails and will always fail

  1. #1

    Why democracy always fails and will always fail

    We live in a changing world, where circumstances evolve and require a reaction. There are two ways to react to such circumstances. There is the individualistic way, whereby someone perceives a problem and acts in order to achieve a solution this individual has conceived. Then there is the communistic way, whereby one perceives a problem and proceeds to convince a group to implement a solution. Democracy is the latter kind. The free market is the former kind. Democracy fails because the process of convincing the group consumes so many resources that it is usually not worth engaging in at all. That is if it is even possible to convince the group that the proposal is in fact a solution to the problem, which often requires expert knowledge that only a tiny minority of individuals possess. Since we live in a world of changing circumstances, by the time the group has been convinced to implement the solution, the problem will have taken a completely different nature and the solution will fail. Someone else will have to undertake the task of convincing the group to act once more, and the result will once more be too late.

    That is why democratic systems are always in crisis mode and why corruption is endemic in democratic bureaucracies. In any structure there are people who will find a flaw that is exploitable. There are no perfect systems. In a system governed by an individual this individual can react immediately to close the flaw and adapt the system to the new situation. In a democratic system once a flaw has been discovered, the individuals who discover it have to then convince the group to close the flaw. This will publicize the flaw and worsen the corruption as the profiteers race to exploit it as much as possible before it is finally closed, because the profiteers have the advantage that they can act as individuals. They react faster than the bureaucracy, and they will always have this advantage until the system can react as individual. That is what I mean when I say that for a private enterprise corruption is impossible. As soon as any individual becomes aware of the corruption they can act upon it, and if they choose not to act then this means that they accept this behaviour as part of the normal costs of doing business.

    Let's look at some examples. Suppose that someone encounters a bum living on a park bench. The individualist perceives a problem: homelessness. He decides to act on the problem by giving the bum some money, or helping him find shelter. He acts immediately and his action has an immediate impact on the problem. Now let's see how the communist acts on the same problem. He sees the bum and thinks "we must as a society do something to help this bum!" He begins discussion with his peers about the problem of homelessness. They have community meetings, and write pamphlets, and then articles in the papers are written, televised debates take place, books are published, political carreers are advanced, and so on. And while all this time passes, the bum is receiving absolutely no help. Time is a precious resource, and the bum has little of it. Winter is coming. By the time a solution has been implemented, he could have frozen to death several times over. Communism fails him.

    We saw exactly this occur when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. The situation was completely new. The government agencies that had been set up to nominally protect people were caught unprepared. People asked questions. Where is the government? Where is FEMA? Why aren't they intervening? People in FEMA asked: whose department is supposed to be handling this? Why aren't they handling it? People blamed the director of FEMA. Then they blamed the president, and some said he didn't care about black people. But that wasn't the only story. Individualists who saw the survivors in New Orleans waiting for rescue did not wait for "society" to intervene. They took a boat, any boat they could find, headed to New Orleans, and rescued people. It was done in no particular order, but it was done in time. A teenager who heard that survivors would be received at the Houston Astrodome commandeered an abandoned schoolbus, filled it with as many people as he could find, and headed there. It was the first group of survivors to arrive. They didn't want to accept them at first, because obviously they hadn't been prepared for this circumstance. What if they weren't authorized to do it?

    Imagine how well the evacuation of New Orleans could have gone if, instead of clamoring and waiting for the government to act, every American had done a small part to help the evacuation. Many more lives could have been saved.

    What if the solution you want to implement simply can't be understood by the group? The men who built the first computer did not ask society if they thought it was a good idea. It was impossible for everyone but themselves to understand how the system would work, under what conditions it would work or if it would work at all. Any advanced technology requires pioneers to defy the common knowledge. Laser eye surgery is an example I've used before. Who trusted laser eye surgery when it first appeared? How would "society" have reacted if it were proposed to invest its resources into such a counter-intuitive technology? They would have buried it before it ever got off the ground. We would all have been the poorer for it.

    And yet what do I constantly hear on these forums? That planners must do a better job convincing the public that sprawl is bad. Where the hell do you get the idea that this is possible? Our environment will continue to be ruined until we accept that the public has to be presented with revolutionary ideas in existing form before they accept them as normal. That means that individuals must be allowed to act counter to what the public believes to be possible. That means that we have to make our cities into a market, and end two centuries of communism that has wrecked the landscape everywhere it has been applied. There is no avoiding it. It is the only solution.

    Time counts. Acting on time is critical. Competence is critical. Communism wastes time and destroys competence. It also wastes lives. It has ruined your job and your cities. And yet instead of condemning the system as evil, you blame the people or the politicians that the system produces for all of your woes. Why? Why are you so attached to such a terrible system? Why is the system more important than the result? Why does every reply to reform I hear consist of fearmongering about corporations? How could it possibly get worse?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,968
    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    Let's look at some examples. Suppose that someone encounters a bum living on a park bench. The individualist perceives a problem: homelessness. He decides to act on the problem by giving the bum some money, or helping him find shelter. He acts immediately and his action has an immediate impact on the problem. Now let's see how the communist acts on the same problem. He sees the bum and thinks "we must as a society do something to help this bum!" He begins discussion with his peers about the problem of homelessness. They have community meetings, and write pamphlets, and then articles in the papers are written, televised debates take place, books are published, political carreers are advanced, and so on. And while all this time passes, the bum is receiving absolutely no help. Time is a precious resource, and the bum has little of it. Winter is coming. By the time a solution has been implemented, he could have frozen to death several times over. Communism fails him.
    You seem to give a lot of moral credit to the individualist. Might the Individualist not run the homeless guy out of his neighborhood instead of spending the day finding him a shelter? (and the homeless that sometimes sleep in my neighborhood park all know where the shelters are - they are just not allowed in if they are drunk or high, so the substance abusers usually end up outside) Wouldn't this also have failed to address the problem, but simply moved it somewhere else for others to deal with? Does giving the homeless person money actually solve his/her homelessness? Will they not face the same threat of freezing the next night? And if the Individualist sees no potential profit from devising a systemic solution to the problem, will it not simply go unaddressed? Lastly, what is to prevent individuals in a democracy (or "commune") from giving money also?

    And who built this park, anyway? Did the individual in charge of the city feel out of the goodness of their heart that there should be a public space for people to gather in, buy it and build a park? If so, is it a true commons, or are only certain people allowed in? If it is privately held, what is to prevent them from restricting it to not allow those pesky homeless (or anyone else deemed "unwelcome")? What recourse do these parties have to petition their right to occupy public spaces, or are they just out of luck?

    Why is the system more important than the result?
    This is the old "ends justifying the means" argument. The "system" is what allows a particular approach to problems/society to remain consistent over time. Its what allows the market to even function well. If governments decided to, say, change currency on a regular basis, or indiscriminately alter trade agreements, we would be in a terrible situation (oh, sorry Japan, we've decided NOT to allow your next shipment of 100,000 cars to enter our market? What? I know I "promised," but, well, you kow how it goes...).

    Why does every reply to reform I hear consist of fearmongering about corporations?
    Stating absolutes is a good way to alienate those who might be interested in your arguments.

    Democracy fails because the process of convincing the group consumes so many resources that it is usually not worth engaging in at all.
    Which makes you wonder why you are so set on convincing us. Still, we ARE social animals and (generally) we delight in coming together in groups to achieve tasks, celebrate, achieve notereity, etc. From hunting/gathering to think tanks, this is our human heritage. It may not always be "logical," but despite what some would like to think, a great deal of our behavior as a species is NOT guided in any way by logic.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  3. #3
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    Posts
    17,294
    Why do we continue to have this discussion is the bigger question.
    If you're not growing, you're dying. - Lou Holtz

  4. #4
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2005
    Location
    in a meeting
    Posts
    9,801
    seriously...

  5. #5
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
    Registered
    Dec 2001
    Location
    West Valley, AZ
    Posts
    3,895
    Democracy always fails because it is of human creation. Human creation will always fail (eventually).

    Therefore, there is no good system that humans can create, including the system of not having a system.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    Democracy always fails because it is of human creation. Human creation will always fail (eventually).

    Therefore, there is no good system that humans can create, including the system of not having a system.
    That's nihilistic nonsense. Human civilization is a human creation that succeeds. I'm in Paris right now and I can see the proof all around me. Democracy fails because it is counter to human nature, and is holding back civilization.

    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    You seem to give a lot of moral credit to the individualist. Might the Individualist not run the homeless guy out of his neighborhood instead of spending the day finding him a shelter? (and the homeless that sometimes sleep in my neighborhood park all know where the shelters are - they are just not allowed in if they are drunk or high, so the substance abusers usually end up outside) Wouldn't this also have failed to address the problem, but simply moved it somewhere else for others to deal with? Does giving the homeless person money actually solve his/her homelessness? Will they not face the same threat of freezing the next night? And if the Individualist sees no potential profit from devising a systemic solution to the problem, will it not simply go unaddressed? Lastly, what is to prevent individuals in a democracy (or "commune") from giving money also?
    All the moral flaws you describe about individuals are present in the commune. The only thing that is different is how quickly and appropriately the system responds to changing circumstances, and the individualist system will always be faster, more economic and more appropriate.
    And who built this park, anyway? Did the individual in charge of the city feel out of the goodness of their heart that there should be a public space for people to gather in, buy it and build a park? If so, is it a true commons, or are only certain people allowed in? If it is privately held, what is to prevent them from restricting it to not allow those pesky homeless (or anyone else deemed "unwelcome")? What recourse do these parties have to petition their right to occupy public spaces, or are they just out of luck?
    There is no such thing as true public space. The commune denies access to the park on the same grounds as any individual owner would, only it does so less quickly, less economically and less appropriately. All the moral flaws you attach to individuals also apply to the commune.
    This is the old "ends justifying the means" argument. The "system" is what allows a particular approach to problems/society to remain consistent over time. Its what allows the market to even function well. If governments decided to, say, change currency on a regular basis, or indiscriminately alter trade agreements, we would be in a terrible situation (oh, sorry Japan, we've decided NOT to allow your next shipment of 100,000 cars to enter our market? What? I know I "promised," but, well, you kow how it goes...).
    What you are saying is that the slowness and inefficiency of the system restrains the state's acts of aggression, but in reality the problem is not how quickly the state constrains its population, but that it does so at all! If, ultimately, Japan will suffer an act of war anyway, we have gained nothing with a democratic system over a much more reasonable system. In fact the democratic system allows certain individuals to externalize their aggressions through the commune, while in an individualistic system individuals must pay for themselves the costs of aggression, making aggression completely irrational in most cases.
    Stating absolutes is a good way to alienate those who might be interested in your arguments.
    And yet every time the subject is brougt up, people complain about what corporations will do as if that consists of an argument. Corporations are made up of people.
    Which makes you wonder why you are so set on convincing us. Still, we ARE social animals and (generally) we delight in coming together in groups to achieve tasks, celebrate, achieve notereity, etc. From hunting/gathering to think tanks, this is our human heritage. It may not always be "logical," but despite what some would like to think, a great deal of our behavior as a species is NOT guided in any way by logic.
    Civilization, everything that you depend on for your high standard of living, comfortable and secure life has been built on logic and reason. Human societies that were not built on logic were wiped out a long time ago.

    To proclaim that illogical systems must go on is to embrace barbarism and the destruction of civilization, which is in large part what democracy has produced.
    Last edited by jaws; 23 Oct 2006 at 2:38 PM.

  7. #7

    Registered
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Solano County, California
    Posts
    6,468
    Quote Originally posted by boiker View post
    Democracy always fails because it is of human creation. Human creation will always fail (eventually).

    Therefore, there is no good system that humans can create, including the system of not having a system.

    But TEH MARKET (all caps) is TEH PERFECT. Worship TEH MARKET because it transcends history, it transcends life, it transcends existence itself! IT IS ALL.

    In the Name of Saints Ayn, Smith, and Mies:

    AMMMMMMMM-ENNNNNNNNNNN

  8. #8
    Quote Originally posted by BKM View post
    But TEH MARKET (all caps) is TEH PERFECT. Worship TEH MARKET because it transcends history, it transcends life, it transcends existence itself! IT IS ALL.

    In the Name of Saints Ayn, Smith, and Mies:

    AMMMMMMMM-ENNNNNNNNNNN
    That's not what I'm saying at all. But here's what you're saying: since there are no perfect systems, then there are no good systems. Everything is bad, nothing good can come about, there is only despair. Let's just keep voting until the day we die.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
    Registered
    Mar 2005
    Location
    London, UK
    Posts
    1,147
    Jaws, I don't understand why you are incapable of recognizing that:
    - people will willingly, repeatedly, in full awareness of imperfections, seek to reach
    some decision collectively as opposed to bilaterally.
    - the reason they do so is not that they are foolish or ignorant but that they believe
    there are larger costs/risks to not doing so.

    That is called government.

    If you want to argue as to what government works best, I think there is overwhelming historical evidence that all systems have flaws but that as social cohesion and civil society develop, representative government works least badly.

    Your argument for dictatorship is based on the assumption of expertise which is flawed and, may I add, contrary to everything the Austrian school of economics you purport to belong to espoused.


    Oh, enjoy Paris - home of republicanism.
    Life and death of great pattern languages

  10. #10
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    Posts
    17,294
    Quote Originally posted by BKM View post
    But TEH MARKET (all caps) is TEH PERFECT. Worship TEH MARKET because it transcends history, it transcends life, it transcends existence itself! IT IS ALL.

    In the Name of Saints Ayn, Smith, and Mies:

    AMMMMMMMM-ENNNNNNNNNNN
    PRAAAAAAIS the market brother BKM!




    If democracy is so bad, don’t tell the members of the board... they think that they still have a say in how the company is operated!
    If you're not growing, you're dying. - Lou Holtz

  11. #11
    Quote Originally posted by Luca View post
    Jaws, I don't understand why you are incapable of recognizing that:
    - people will willingly, repeatedly, in full awareness of imperfections, seek to reach
    some decision collectively as opposed to bilaterally.
    - the reason they do so is not that they are foolish or ignorant but that they believe
    there are larger costs/risks to not doing so.
    This is incoherent. If people believe that the benefits outweigh the costs of the system, then there are not fully aware of its imperfections. I gave you the Katrina-New Orleans example where people were absolutely shocked about the way the system responded. They were certainly not aware of its imperfections. Had they been aware, they would have made other arrangements.

    Thankfully there were some enterprising individuals who didn't believe in the system and who intervened immediately, saving many lives. So it's not true that "people" put up with the system with all its flaws. Some quite actively reject it and do actual useful acts.
    That is called government.

    If you want to argue as to what government works best, I think there is overwhelming historical evidence that all systems have flaws but that as social cohesion and civil society develop, representative government works least badly.
    I think recent evidence shows that all representative governments have declined into bankruptcy and runaway corruption. Even the recent experiments, such as Hungary's, have collapsed into tragicomedy. I think you need to look a bit more clearly. I think the original definition of government was that institution charged with providing security, and democratic governments have extended their spheres of activities into so many sectors that civilization itself is threatened. What justification is there, democratic or otherwise, for government to provide transportation? None, yet it does and the result is a transportation mess. You will all reply: write your congressmen! I just proved to you this process doesn't work.
    Your argument for dictatorship is based on the assumption of expertise which is flawed and, may I add, contrary to everything the Austrian school of economics you purport to belong to espoused.
    I've made no such argument. Your argument for totalitariam communism is based on the assumption that the moon is made out of cheese, and thus wrong.
    Oh, enjoy Paris - home of republicanism.
    Paris has been the home of many things, including 5 republics, 4 of which failed (some quite violently), and the fifth on its way out.

    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    If democracy is so bad, don’t tell the members of the board... they think that they still have a say in how the company is operated!
    The shareholders of the company can act individually by selling their shares at any moment, or buying enough shares to take full control of the company. They are not bound to what everyone else does.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    Posts
    17,294
    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    The shareholders of the company can act individually by selling their shares at any moment, or buying enough shares to take full control of the company. They are not bound to what everyone else does.
    So is that like a person who does not like living here has the ablity to move to Cananda without being bound by what everyone else does?

    The board of control of many companies have what would be comparable to the 3/4’s vote that you see in the house and senate... and they don’t always have the leading amount of shares. As for purchasing the majority of the shares, if someone spends enough money, they can buy a company or run for election. In either case, there is a chance that they will be a great leader, or a chance that they will be an absolute failure. But at least with elected officials there are measures put in place to remove them if things get too bad.

    That is a bit more difficult in the corporate world to force someone to sell their shares and relinquish control.
    If you're not growing, you're dying. - Lou Holtz

  13. #13
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    So is that like a person who does not like living here has the ablity to move to Cananda without being bound by what everyone else does?
    They never agreed to being bound to the system in the first place, which a shareholder did by buying shares. And they can't actually take over the system, just escape it. And, last but very significant, they are not compensated for leaving like a shareholder is by selling his part of the capital of the company. Someone forced to leave to Canada is literally being robbed of his capital.
    The board of control of many companies have what would be comparable to the 3/4’s vote that you see in the house and senate... and they don’t always have the leading amount of shares. As for purchasing the majority of the shares, if someone spends enough money, they can buy a company or run for election. In either case, there is a chance that they will be a great leader, or a chance that they will be an absolute failure.
    If someone spends a lot of money to buy a company, they better damn be sure they are competent enough to run the company well, otherwise all the hard-earned money they have invested will be lost. Since a bad leader in a democratic system does not lose anything himself if he is a bad leader, he has no reason to be sure he is competent for the job before volunteering for it. And since becoming an elected politician requires only the primary skill of demagoguery and no other skills, and since the best demagogues are unlikely to bother developing any other skills, we are essentially guaranteed to have bad leaders.

    In a private company, on the other hand, one does not need any crowd-pleasing skills at all. All one needs to do is present a bid in order to become the boss. That allows entrepreneurs to focus the development of their skills on productive endeavours and ensures that the leader in place will always be the most competent available in all of society.
    But at least with elected officials there are measures put in place to remove them if things get too bad.
    If things go bad in a shareholder company, the market value of the share will fall making it very easy to remove the bad management by doing a takeover bid. Elected officials have no fear of this, and anyway only need fear removal once every four years instead of, as is the case with management, always.
    That is a bit more difficult in the corporate world to force someone to sell their shares and relinquish control.
    Nobody needs to be forced to do anything. Take the bid or don't take the bid.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
    Registered
    Apr 2003
    Location
    Somewhere between the mountains and the ocean.
    Posts
    17,294
    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    The shareholders of the company can act individually by selling their shares at any moment, or buying enough shares to take full control of the company. They are not bound to what everyone else does.
    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    They never agreed to being bound to the system in the first place, which a shareholder did by buying shares. And they can't actually take over the system, just escape it. And, last but very significant, they are not compensated for leaving like a shareholder is by selling his part of the capital of the company. Someone forced to leave to Canada is literally being robbed of his capital.
    Soooo... I am lost here. They are or are not bound. Can you explain the hierarchy of a Global Corporation to me? Who is in charge, who is below them, how do they decide to buy up smaller businesses or sell off sections. Who is responsible for the choices and what happens if they make enough wrong choices. How do CEO’s get fired?

    Then, can you explain how people move from one country to another and become citizens of a new country. Also can you explain the hierarchy of the Canadian government and just exactly how does the Queen of England get mixed into all of this?

    Why do corporations change hands of ownership so often yet democracy in the US and several other places including post communist countries, seem so darn successful when compared to any other form of Government in existence.

    Next I will let you explain to me how things work in tribal villages in Africa, Asia, and South America. Do they have dictators? Do they have groups of people? Do these tribes fight with each other. What’s there GDP?

    What about Monkeys, Wolves, or other social animals. They seem to naturally follow leaders. Is it primal instinct to just follow leaders without being employed for a corporation? Or is there a Monkey’s Union that they belong to? Oh wait... Unions are also a democracy with elections and all.
    If you're not growing, you're dying. - Lou Holtz

  15. #15
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    New Town
    Posts
    3,968
    Quote Originally posted by jaws View post
    Civilization, everything that you depend on for your high standard of living, comfortable and secure life has been built on logic and reason. Human societies that were not built on logic were wiped out a long time ago.
    Except democracy, eh?

    BTW, shouldn't you be out soaking up Paris? Ou la vie française est-elle trop démocratique à apprécier? Au revoir!
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  16. #16
    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Soooo... I am lost here. They are or are not bound.
    They agree to the terms of their participation in the corporation, but that is an individual act. When they are no longer satisfied with the way the corporation is run, they can sell their shares or they can purchase a large enough participation to effect change on their own individual initiative.
    Can you explain the hierarchy of a Global Corporation to me? Who is in charge, who is below them, how do they decide to buy up smaller businesses or sell off sections. Who is responsible for the choices and what happens if they make enough wrong choices. How do CEO’s get fired?
    When a takeover occurs or the company does poorly enough. For the latter case, see Disney corporation's Michael Eisner, or HP's Carly Fiorina.

    Eisner's case was interesting in that it only took a minority opposing him to cause his dismissal. The shareholder system, by linking capital value to votes, thus protects minorities. Democracy, on the other, allows the majority to exploit and plunder the minority at no cost to themselves and great profit from the plunder.

+ Reply to thread

More at Cyburbia

  1. Texas Geography Fail
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 12
    Last post: 15 Mar 2013, 10:58 PM
  2. Replies: 17
    Last post: 03 Jan 2012, 8:10 PM
  3. Getting rich in a democracy
    Friday Afternoon Club
    Replies: 22
    Last post: 01 Dec 2006, 12:39 PM
  4. Replies: 10
    Last post: 30 Mar 2006, 12:54 PM