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The laws, rules and policies have become so numerous and voluminous they can never be enforced in full (and can't ever be known in full). This opens another opportunity – in some cases, pushing for full work-to-rule compliance might be preferable to non-compliance.

Here's an example. Here in our backwoods of Eastern Europe, we have a law that commands everyone who sees a stray dog or another animal to immediately inform the municipality of this fact. No one ever does that, and anyone why walks down a street violates said law about two to three times an hour.

Now... if couple hundred people suddenly decided to report all dog sightings, preferably in written form... I reckon the law would be gone in a week but we'd have some fun meanwhile.

Such opportunities for DDOSing the system are all around, and could be used to punish them for something else altogether.

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Absolutely, yes. Malicious compliance could bring the entire system to a screeching halt, and thereafter motivate a rethink about whether we really need all these rules invented by anonymous regulators.

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

«Malicious compliance» was the term I was looking for, thanks.

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A running series of articles just listing about potential Malicious Compliance opportunities would be fun. A little Hive Mind initiative to get as many on board with it as possible.

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🤔

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Can't do it. I "opted out" of such systems. I am at a point where i need to earn resources, that requires me to put effort into my work. I'm not going to spend all my working hours resisting "the man" in a dead-end job. I just left one of those. The DIE is pervasive and powerful. It's totally toxic for anyone who's seen the truth.

I think your idea is a worthy endeavor for those who are trapped still, but i won't be participating in exactly that capacity.

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Maybe the assembled brain trust can help me out with something that has puzzled me for at least a couple of decades. When I was a young’un, we called the action now described as “work-to-rule” or “malicious compliance” an “Irish strike.” I’ve used that phrase around other people and no one else has ever understood what I meant. Was it a hyper-local piece of slang? Did I just hallucinate it? Has anyone else ever heard this phrase?

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I've never heard of an Irish strike, but it's got a certain ring to it.

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Nov 14, 2023·edited Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

It is not hyper-local. I have heard it before, along with a few other euphemisms around work-to-rule. You might locate it in older unionist/socialist/syndicalist literature from before identifying people by ethnicity or national origin was verboten. Think I last saw it in either a Graeber or James. C. Scott book, but don't quote me on that.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

Not called that over here - we call it "Simply obeying orders", to connect present day goose-steppers with their predecessors.

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

I have heard of it here in Texas, but not often.

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Funny -- I grew up in Indiana!

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In Poland it's called "Italian Strike".

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‘Work to rule’ was common parlance in my youth; unions would use it to lever pressure on employers to come to negotiations on pay & or conditions.

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Nov 13, 2023·edited Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

Reverse the Cloward-Piven?

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It'll collapse as intended, when intended no doubt.

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Unfortunately, i think you are correct.

The Great Reset will fall upon us like a ton of bricks.

I've tried resistance from within, but the damage is so extensive, i don't see any way to stop the monstrosity. It's captured the minds of most of humanity, so we have to fight against that as well. Outlook is not good.

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I'm not sure their penetration of human consciousness is anywhere near sufficient to bring their goals to fruition. Just based on conversations that I have I'd guess something like 10% of the population is 'awake' to some degree, and therefore to some extent immune to further manipulation.

Working against them is that every time they make a major move, another fraction of the population gets woken up, thereby generating friction that makes further movement more difficult. But, to achieve their objectives, they have to make major moves.

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Well, their major moves include iatrocide and financial slavery (and an ongoing social engineering program of degeneracy & chaos). We're living through a massive depop right now and the financial enslavement plan has been underway for more than a century, with no sign of slowing. They're able to crush economies at will and the CBDC is coming. They're coming at us with massive inflation, digital ID, social credit & bank crashes at a furious rate. Just referencing the CBDC, what do you think will stop its implementation? If people can't pay the rent and buy food without government credentials, they're fully enslaved.

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I disagree. Most people are in favour of action on climate change, but won't be when it comes time to pay the bill. One analysis I looked at showed the cost of Net 20% to be somewhere in the region of $11K per individual (household?) per year, forever.

I was chatting with my window cleaner the other day over an espresso an a cigarette. He told me about the fact that insurance companies in the UK are suddenly putting up the price of insuring an EV, because of the potential risk of fires. I told him about a YouTube cost comparison I had seen on a petrol VW Golf versus an EV VW Golf. After two years from new, both ended up being worth £18K for resale. The showroom price of the petrol vehicle was £22.5K, whilst the new EV cost £37.5K. Few working people can afford to blow £18K's worth of value in two years...

The worst area is housing- specifically available building land. Only a 2% restriction in the availability of any commodity will rapidly ramp up prices over time, and scarcity costs are a particular risk, because it's not that easy to open up the supply pipeline. OSHA-style building restrictions are raising rents and house prices beyond the point of feasible lending ratios. Why? Because planning tsars don't like suburbs or houses in rural areas. It's one area where I really do feel sorry for millennials. It's a shame they'll probably never know that it's the green apparatchik who are stealing their dreams of home, family and children...

They'll probably just blame capitalism. Cloward-Piven indeed.

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Absolutely. I worked on DoD contracts with civilian companies for eight years. It is a vast swamp of rules and regulations so numerous, that to follow them all, you'd not get any of the actual work involved completed. You spend more time writing reports and checking boxes than accomplishing anything useful. As a side note, such a swamp of policy enables toxic personalities to excel, as they know no one is following all the rules, all they have to do is document such oversight and report anyone that hinders them as they climb the corporate ladder, while they themselves skip regs that don't suit them.

Another example is health inspections for restaurants, while necessary and useful in theory, the regs are incredibly numerous and no one person can cover them all. Different inspectors focus on the aspects with which they are familiar, so you never know what's coming.

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I worked very briefly for the US Navy "Price Fighters". Defense contractors figured out that they could charge the government basically whatever they wanted because everyone is asleep at the wheel. In typical government fashion, it decided to set up a task force (50 - 60 full time employees) to review all defense contracts and come back with a counteroffer of what the Navy thinks it should cost. The government solution to government incompetence is more government. Always more government.

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Just saw a piece the other day about how much a government spent on a consultant to advise on reducing government consultant costs.

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It's true and when the contractors get caught, it's more paperwork and more reports to "solve the problem" and hiring subcontractors to shift blame.

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In the UK, a Civil Engineering Manager for HS2 Limited (a governmental NGO) came forward as a whistleblower. HS2 is the UKs high speed rail white elephant. Current cost of project to date £100 billion, but some estimates put the true cost at £130 billion.

His job was the compensation scheme for compulsory purchases. He thought the fund was seriously underfunded. He commissioned a report from Deloitte. They found the £2.8 billion fund was short to the tune of £2 billion, naturally resulting in top down pressure to try and convince people to part with their property for under market value. The week before he was due to deliver the report to the relevant department, he had a new director appointed as his boss. He was promptly told to shred the report.

I watch Institute for Justice from the US on YouTube. I never thought that sort of shit could happen here in the UK. How wrong I was. All it took was an ill-conceived white elephant infrastructure project. Now I know why you Americans bitch about eminent domain...

Apparently, workers on the project report an omnishambles.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

This is why I alaways advice americans and pals to look at eastern Europe. Not just under communism, but earlier, you guys developed to an art how to appear to obey while doing whatever you wanted.

Brave soldier Svejk is my go-to example for this.

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I love this idea and already live it as much as I can. Civil disobedience! If I lived in London, I would definitely be one of those people sawing down the ULEZ cameras.

I think thermodynamics plays a big role in all of the obscure power structures. There is money to be made in expanding bureaucracy, especially by _former_ members of the bureaucracy who can then get lucrative government contracts for themselves and their cronies. Corruption grows on tax revenue like mold grows on bread. How can this be countered?

I read my aunt's high school Latin textbook ("Latin For Today" by Gray and Jenkins) and was struck by the stories of ancient Romans. They all seemed to be about civic virtue, and the unity of Romans as one people. This was the secret sauce of the early Roman Empire. They were all interrelated, a nation and not just a country, definitely not an empire yet. They gave a shit. This, along with impressive engineering, made them nearly invincible.

Then they slowly opened up citizenship to the world, and slowly sank into the miasma of corruption and bureaucracy. The secret to security and prosperity is _unity_ as members of a nation. Deliberately divisive diversity is death for nations. Anyone praising diversity should be publicly slapped. The melting pot was the answer. We need to bring it back.

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100%. The organic unity of blood and culture makes bureaucracy largely unnecessary; and vice versa. There's more to it of course - the Romans succeeded not only because they were one people, but because that people was passionately committed to virtue.

We have neither the unity of blood and culture, nor an alignment with virtue, and so, things fall apart.

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I was amused to find that the word "virtue" itself comes from Latin virtus (“manliness, bravery, worth, moral excellence”), from vir (“man”).

Very politically incorrect these days.

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I had an essay on that very subject about a year ago ;)

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The word Arete is my favorite word in greek, and doesn't have an easy translation into english. It means something like the ideal man but far more complex. They asked questions like: A wolf knows intrinsically how to be a wolf. A bear a bear. An eagle an eagle. But what is it to be a man? What is being a man entail? The answer was an amalgamation of all the ideals it took to be a fully embodied, fully expressed man in all his potentials. Thie quote by Heinlein would be a good summary of the concept: "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

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That Heinlein quote is one of his best.

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I have long thought that “Arma virumque cano” is the most thrilling opening line in all of literature.

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Had to look that up, as I didn't read the Æneid in Latin. Should be required reading, especially in this age in which Westmen have been rendered effectively stateless.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

This board is too smart for me.

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If you are the smartest guy in the room, you are in the wrong room. Love lurking and learning.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

So true. I'm a lurker too!

Sometimes I get out ahead of my intellectual ski's...but that's the way I learn.

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Nah, I just happened to have read a Latin textbook. Took me several months to get through it. Well worth it though.

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Nov 14, 2023·edited Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

Either way I always read your posts.

We need more people with balls.

You're definitely not afraid to tell it like it is.

Stay Strong.

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Thanks. I do pay a price. Some relatives and friends refuse to talk to me for telling it like it is.

But the alternatives, ie not saying what I believe, or saying what I don't believe, are both worse. I could not live like that.

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There is also a connection to virus in the 'vir' root, and 'virility': the vax has slapped awake/alive so many.

The best thing about the Roman Empire is that there is a physics behind their unity and virtue. Their symbol of the fasce has its precedent in nature, in the 'Birkeland current', which is an electromagnetic force interconnecting planets to suns, and their influence to us. When everyone flows in the same direction (as the Bc does, as the Roman fasce symbolised) the force is unstoppable and eternal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wtlhe1JS4pY (From about 4.5 minutes in, goes for a minute or so, if you're interested.)

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Actually, that's a common misconception. Virtus was a specific type of Roman virtue, but there were others. A Roman man was supposed by possessed of both types. Virtus was actually a female Roman Goddess, although she was possessed of manly virtues. In some instances, particularly those commemorating successful campaigns, this was dealt with by substituting Mars.

One can find a list of Roman virtues online. Some, but not all, overlap with the concept of Virtus.

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What's sad is there was a time "the left" got this. I remember a bit on left anarchist Utah Philip's album "The Past Didn't Go Anywhere," that went something like, "what good are laws, the good people don't need them, and the bad people ignore them." We can of course quibble about the stupidity of full anarchism, the point is there was a time in the past when the left weren't hopeless suck ups to the establishment system. The loss of that left is a tragedy IMO.

As a side note, can you imagine a modern left anarchist releasing an album with a title praising the past, like "The Past Didn't Go Anywhere?"

The left of course has became parasitic suckups to the system, we must move on, but I for one don't mind taking a moment to mourn what was.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n0UOn6SeM2U

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Hi, may I suggest that what is called the “left” is really the very tiny remnants of the old left that wasn’t discredited, imprisoned, or killed. The survivors were co-opted and allowed to pretend that they were still leftists. All the supposed left or liberal or even much of the conservative parties are not anything remotely like they were fifty years ago. They say the same pretty words of the past only.

Restated, if “they” have any ideology, it’s neoliberalism and austerity while wearing the different labels of mummified organizations, looking to keep their grift going.

If there are any leftists or moderate conservatives in them, they are trapped in the mummies’ corpses.

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Frankly at this point "neoliberalism" simply means "any part of the status quo I don't like".

Thus it's easy to form dissident coalitions against "neoliberalism" while papering over the fact that the members don't agree on which part of the status quo they want to get rid off, or what they want to replace it with.

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Wait...you think the left is neoliberal?

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The official, remnant "Left" of today has been subsumed into Neoliberalism.

Please remember that the American Left before the 1960s had communists, socialists, social democrats, and democratic socialist, moderate left, and left of center people in it. Starting in the 1950s, the leftist edge of the American Left was gradually sheared off. First the communists in the 1950s, then the socialists, and onward until the elimination of the everything but the remnants of the moderate left was the most left of this left in the 1980s. Bill Clinton and his DLC (Democratic Leadership Council) put the shiv in the little that had not been castrated and coopted.

To paraphrase Clinton, where else are they (Blacks, the poor, working class, etc) going to go? The old language of equality and justice with a tiny soupçon of economic baloney to remind people of the New Deal as they shipped the factories overseas.

Do not feel too bad about the Democrats, the Republicans have undergone a less extreme version of this process as well. The acceptable, official, establishment Overton Window has moved so far left that the Democrats are economic conservatives and the Republicans are insane. This has *nothing* to do with their social ideologies are and no matter what either party purports, their economic and social ideologies are not connected to the old school left, moderate, conservatism, or liberalism of pre 1980, say before the Reagan Revolution.

Both parties are firmly establishment and the Establishment believes in the Washington Consensus: low taxes, reduced regulation, and nearly absolute free market capitialism. As a corollary, they also believe in reducing to almost nothing the social programs especially those of the New Deal and the Great Society.

So, yes, the "leftists" and "liberals" of today are neoliberal. I could also mention that Neoliberalism is not liberal either, but that is another loonnng post. Traditional Liberalism comes out of the Enlightenment and its child Classical Liberalism. It is what the American Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are based on. Also there was the New Left's (New Left of the 1960s that is) Free Speech Movement.

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Well summed up, very succinct - much better than I could have done it!

Also, this development happened all over the western world during the Cold War, with slight variance in pace and tone between nations of course.

In France, it largely pre-dated and inspired the american development; in Sweden it happened between 1986-1995, f.e.

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The Left is neoliberal, but with the caveat that big government is the answer to any of the problems which arise from the market. For example, the market reallocates both labour and capital, but if you are fifty year old in a redundant field, you're not going to fare well in terms of future labour competition.

The Nordic Model actually scores quite high on the Index of Economic Freedom. One of the few areas where they make an exception is with stronger worker protections. If one wanted to try and create a stripped down version which optimised social good, whilst maintaining employer freedom, then it would be by retaining statutory redundancy pay for longer serving and loyal employees.

It's not an option American government seems keen on exploring. It's a legal mechanism which is relatively cheap for employers and fair to workers, so obviously they wouldn't like it. The smart thing is that it utilises soft incentives rather than force or coercion. An employee with 20 years of service can look bad on a balance sheet even though anyone with half a brain really shouldn't care about structural costs, when cost recovery is usually less than two years.

American government prefers bureaucratic bloat and welfare. They like to encourage a significant number of citizens to become 'clients'. Like most types of regulation simple legal obligations and contract law remains by far the cheapest option for the taxpayer, and the fairest system for all parties- which is why American government won't allow it- it runs counter to Jerry Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy.

A 2018 ProPublica article showed that 56% of American men over 50 who lose their job will do so for employer-driven reasons. A healthy statutory redundancy law (which isn't great compared to voluntary agreements), would probably prevent about two-fifths of this loss, allowing more people to capitalise on better terms for their company or private pensions, military pensions or social security.

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Yes an ultra woke person like you is a useful idiot for transnational capital.

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Nov 16, 2023Liked by John Carter

John, Brownstone would like to republish this piece. which will give you massive exposure you deserve. How can we get in contact with you?

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Just reply to the same email that you receive my newsletter from, and it will go to my inbox.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

Bureaucracy is the death of a thousand cuts that all empires suffer over time. Every ruler and administrator has his own bugaboo that he lobbies to do something about, and individually they're small one-liner things with marginal impact that either prohibit something that peeves some petty fuck or else slightly improves someone's business prospects.

But they accumulate over time and this drives the growth of the administrative state, which in turn produces more petty fucks and their bugaboo projects, and it grows exponentially until it consumes all of the state's operations.

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Maybe the total number of lines of laws needs to be limited by Constitutional amendment.

Then creating any new law would require first removing old laws to make space.

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I've thought about this. A word count limit. The Law may consist of no more than 100,000 words - the length of a long novel. Should give them plenty of space.

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Nov 18, 2023Liked by John Carter

Turn the tables, be like Calif. They've tried to limit the second amendment through a roster of "safe" handguns, and if any gun model is added, two have to be removed. It is obviously being challenged as unconstitutional, but what if congress, the supposed body that writes and approves "law", were to sneak in a rule that for every proposed new law, two had to be eliminated?

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

Any kind of natural growth limiter on laws would be great. It wouldn't stop them filling up the register with retarded ideas, but at least the scope and scale would be constrained and a single human could be expected to review and comprehend them all.

You don't want to say "lines" though. Then some midwit will figure out you can use wider paper and bad punctuation to stick lots of dumb ideas on one line.

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That's why I suggested a word count. Of course they could then just start inventing words that each take several paragraphs of definition to understand, thereby laundering the legal complexity.

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Nov 15, 2023Liked by John Carter

And that's how we all ended up speaking German.

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Kek

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How about: don’t kill; don’t steal; ejaculate responsibly/tell him to; do unto others as you would have them do unto you, do nothing to another you would not want done to yourself.

I think that covers it.

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That's all good advice.

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I've heard that if 99 people chant the word ' laws' 33 times in 33 seconds, a Mason writes a new law.

Gee, those Masons must have a good constitution... Writing all those laws would be tiring.

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All for one! And one for all!

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Amazing that you published this on the heels of your wonderful piece on the military!

Extra rhetorical points, also, for not just diagnosing a problem, but actually impelling us to action (or inaction). But my main response is: "sure, okay... but YOU FIRST." It's a collective action problem.

One of the principles of the State's enforcement of administrative norms is to make an example out of precisely chosen actors, "pour encourager les autres." Those actors are selected on the basis of how likely their forced compliance will lead to the unquestioning obedience by a like cohort of the greatest size possible.

These are not flaws in your argument, just additional points for consideration. It may simply be the inevitable result of a prosperous, unchallenged administrative state is that laws and regulations will proliferate exponentially until they choke the entire system with bureaucratic effluent. Perhaps summarily firing half the civil service would work, but their interests are vested too deeply for this to actually be implemented. Look at Japan.

The New Mexico example offers some insight though. She tried to boil the frog a little too quickly and he hopped out of the beaker. No doubt the Cryptocracy will be furiously studying the lessons from this episode for its next iterative attempt to steal our liberties by means of an emergency. Nonetheless, we should carefully consider what it was that made this attempt different and do our own furious study to achieve some comparative advantage of their engrossing bloat.

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You're absolutely correct: the collective action problem is the key to this. It's made dramatically worse by atomization. A cloud of pulverized dust is powerless against the wind.

There's really no way around the necessity for leadership - a magnetic center around which the charged particles of electrified dust can self-organize. That turns the collective action problem into collective action - and then, making examples of individuals becomes much less effective.

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Covidocracy introduced a new dynamic however - (well new to westerners): an army of unpaid informants, energized by the zeal of a moral crusade ("saving" "lives") that can also transmute the "message" to an act of tribal association (I wear a mask, ergo, I hate Trump). In other words, collective action will still need to counter these human-automaton paramilitaries.

Lastly there's the problem that a massive bureaucracy is (directly or indirectly) the biggest employer and is thus inexorably entrenched among the people. Another strategy of the Cryptocracy is to always frame every suggestion of reform as a reactionary attempt to "roll back" human rights or environmental protections for fuzzy animals. As meretricious as this suggestion is, the framing is seminal as further discussion revolves around that framing and can never escape its orbit. Meanwhile the masses pushing paper at BlackRock or Pfizer understand the suggestion as a shibboleth for "reform makes you redundant".

I think the only way your collective action can be attained is in populations (towns, communities, tribes) where there are enough likeminded individuals to assuage the "you first" insecurity and still out-muscle the aforementioned zombie paramilitaries. This will NOT happen in cities (bifurcated between ghettoized tribes of underprivileged clients, and their managerial class patrons), nor in most suburbs where residents work for America's largest corporations - effectively a limp extension of the State. It will be in smaller towns and communities in red or purple zipcodes where this will be possible.

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

Kipling's 'Pict Song' might be relevant here. Publicly resisting is heroic, and gets being made an example of. Joining the mist in some sort of vaguely submissive "Obedezco, pero no cumplo" would blithely turn the tables on the cryptocrats.

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The Spanish colonial saying is very apt here. Can you think of examples of where and how it was used to blunt the thrust of imperial bureacracy/power?

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Going against bureaucracy is always going to be a matter of Gentlemen vs. Players- or amateurs vs. professionals. During the UK coalition days they tried to redress the system by ensuring that for every new set of regulations or legislative burdens brought in, two would be removed from the book. The Civil Service quickly responded by searching for long since redundant or arcane laws.

Personally I hope they didn't remove my favourite law- the one requiring the local vicar to muster and train local young men in the use of the longbow. It makes for a nice gift for C of E appointees new to the parish.

Government wont change until the incentives do- and incentives aren't sexy enough for most politicians. The media is completely absent. They like nothing better than to tear into elected officials (provided they play for the opposition), but are noticeably silent in criticism of NGOs, the institutions and the rest of 'the Blob'.

There's a great way to turn accusations of WEF conspiracy theories. Just mention the fact that Paul R' Ehrlich's Population Bomb and views on resource limits have been thoroughly disproven, and that the degrowth agenda is therefore little more than an insane cult. They know its true- but loathe the fact that some people know it's true.

We know the narrative is turning when Bill Gates decides to get into the act. A while back, he admitted that Covid was a serious new flu which mainly affected the elderly and vulnerable. Just the other day, he admitted that climate change is a serious problem, but not an existential or civilizational threat!

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Agreed on the amateurs v professionals. Or experts (and their acolytes) vs the rest of us. Which is just an expression of information asymmetry in an age of deified information.

As for incentives changing, I don't see that happening as the elite self-preservation instinct is strong enough to always justify moving the goal posts. How many times have conservative commentators written the "we got them this time!" post only to be confounded by the Blob.

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A prime example of this would be bureaucracy hiring freezes in both the US and the UK- it explains the massive ballooning of temporary and contract workers.

The only way to change the system is to address it through pay and promotions above certain pay grades. If 60% of your salary is dependent upon head count reductions and productivity, you're suddenly going to be very interested in shifting the deadwood out of your department. It's by no means unusual in government to find that two people in an office of thirty dispose of 50% of the workload.

The incentives should be just as clear for the Left as they are for the Right. For the Left it should be about manning mental health crisis lines, so that police aren't tasked with talking down jumpers at their busiest times. Reallocations could come to mean event management-style coordination in supporting community resources to maximise their reach and utility. But the Left tends to think of public employment as a public good, per se- irrespective of the fact that public employment is naturally inflationary, as it creates salaries with no corresponding production of market goods or services.

I did think about pointing out 'reified' as an alternative to 'deified' but deified is just as good!

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How many people have the stick to be Jessica Reznicek?

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We have reams of regulations in part because we do not have sufficient accountability. If a building falls and kills people, is it murder? Did the inventor of leaded gasoline serve time for all the people he killed or ruined?

Nassim Taleb's "Skin in the Game" has some interesting solutions from the ancient world. In the Roman Empire, a bridge builder had to live under the bridge for a time.

We could do something similar with nuclear power plants, oil refineries, and similar hazardous installations. Surround them with golf course communities and posh private schools, and those in charge have to live there and send their children to said schools. Leakages would be reduced substantially, inspectors or no.

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I believe Hammurabi's code incentivized architects to build safely by sentencing them to death by crushing if their buildings fell down. That always struck me as a just and effective policy.

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But were they actually enforced in reality? They were probably just elaborate window-dressing to elect politicians, with the infrequent enforcement of some engineer or builder who had insufficent political connections. We have to be careful when using ancient "laws" as example of either behavior or outcomes.

Moreoever, while the above prescription would be totally justified, it would never happen in practice. Elites would simply take control of the process (legal or political) to either subvert, delay or annul (after a suitable time wherein folks have forgotten, ofc) these rules.

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I have no idea about how strictly they were enforced, but, it's hard to bribe a king, and Hammurabi doesn't strike me as squeamish.

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No one knows, that's why they make great parables but not precedent for policy. Nevertheless, the sentiment is surely right that there MUST be creative new prescriptions we could develop to fit a modern setting. There's just no one that ingenious incentivized to work towards that goal!

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The basic concept is, everyone involved in building something gets punished if the building falls down. Which seems like it would focus the mind wonderfully.

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Can't argue with you there. I think this approach to solving problems of accountability in regulatory structures works BECAUSE you don't need to be an expert to figure out how to keep related actors honest. THAT should be the goal of any regulation - though a hard one to implement precisely BECAUSE the elites ARE the experts and of course trust experts dearly.

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

Excellent essay John. Lot to digest here, but I think it comes down to one thing (of course my libertarian leanings could lend bias):

Once The State reaches "critical mass", a "thermonuclear" chain reaction begins. One in which your agency must be cannibalized in order for the government to exist without external agency. The self-perpetuating power of the bureaucracy is more powerful than a thousand suns.

The entire purpose of government has now become a inexorable stage exercise to keep their unlawful and unconstitutional self appointed internal agency by purloining the publics agency in order to protect the self-perpetuating sprawl of government. The States sword and shield is a cooperative and reliant public that gifts self-determination in exchange for the scourge of powers phony "promissory notes".

Their lifeblood and "survival" is dependent on the publics willingness to trade their right to self-governance, only to be governed by the people who they are supposed to govern. They will go to all lengths to make sure the people are oblivious and/or incurious to the brick wall at the back of the theatre. If this were not so, they could only steal your agency by force, otherwise the profligacy, ineptitude and their contempt for the citizenry would be laid bare as a farce by the self-governed.

The illusion of freedom and the absurd notion of a benevolent government is carefully arranged on the stage in order to perform the best magic trick of all time; to camouflage the obvious as illusory through a Cabal of Consensus. They must do this to make sure they remain the "unmoved mover", free from the dependence of external agency.

The revolution will be complete when the definition of patriot has been completely transmogrified into "love of government" - the exact opposite of what a true patriot is. This didn't happen through magic; it was a deliberate slow march through the institutions allowed incrementally by the public and our representatives.

We are in the acceleration phase of this imo, where absurdities are used to force people to live a lie (or worse when people don't know their living a lie) in order to emasculate them so that they progressively loathe themselves for not speaking out with each new lie/absurdity they know not to be true from their experience on the ground.

Seriously, you have to wonder how long before the minds of men will be so terrified, by unjust power, to the point they degenerate into all the vileness and methods of servitude. A place where the only means of preferment is the abject sycophancy required by The State, lest they be eaten alive by bureaucrats....

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Things that can't go on forever, won't. As the managerial system metastasizes, it becomes increasingly incompetent and therefore destructive. Witness the recent freeway fire in LA for but one example. Having cannibalized the rest of society, the very organism that sustains it begins to die, thereby dooming the very parasite that feeds on it.

Mind you, the aftermath is unlikely to be pleasant.

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

agreed. may the heavens hasten it imo

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Inshallah

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

Mashallah by Martial Law

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

This is an interesting point about what happens to agency during the construction of larger entities - governments, bureaucracies, institutions, etc.

The thing about self-governance, and about freedom, is that it entails "owning" one's own power for good or for ill - ie willingness to suffer and learn from any consequence of an act, willingness to be accountable for consequences of one's acts that fall upon others. One's own powers are not large, but they are not insignificant, either.

What seems to happen when "two or three come together" to accomplish any purpose, is that each cedes "ownership" of his or her personal powers to the group, and the group accepts that power, without being capable of accepting full "ownership". The group, when it acts, now acts as the power of three, or 10 , or 50, or 5000, or 5,000,000. Which is a huge amount of joined-up power. However, no group has the capacity to collectively learn from the consequences of its acts, even if consequent suffering is widespread. And the group's accountability for the consequences of its acts can only ever be on an abstract level, a "show", it cannot *effectively* be held to account. Not in any deep, character-transforming way.

To be free, and self-governed, not only entails accepting and learning from and being accountable for one's freely undertaken acts, but also the retrieval of any of our agency that has somehow been ceded to any larger entity. Such agency as we carelessly cede, and fail to retrieve, stands as a centre of operable, but un"ownable", unaccountable, power, which is always, always dangerous in the wrong hands.

I am partial to both of the proposals mooted here - non-compliance and "malicious compliance"... (which I tend to think of as "uncivil compliance"). But even more crucially, we (each) need to be clear about what we (each) will build and do and how we (each) will make use of our retrieved and free powers and agency.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

Very well said. Much to chew on here.

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Let us not forget this started with hypnotizing the public using catchphrases such as "We the people" and "The people's Government, made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people." This further diffuses the power and responsibility in the minds of the people, thus dividing everyone. But There is a sense of learned helplessness, like you point out, among the public, who feel they cannot influence the system through normal democratic processes like voting, protesting, etc.

So while democratic principles point to government derived from the consent of the governed, this is more fiction than reality based on this analysis. The obscured and concentrated nature of power they describe undermines the idea of a transparent system accountable to the public. So the rhetoric of "We the people" arguably helps maintain the illusion of popular control.

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Damn, yes, that is a very good point. This diffusion of accountability is implicit in democracy, at least as practiced in our society.

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Nov 25, 2023Liked by John Carter

Accountability = Authority and Control. Theyre seeking to disconnect that formula constantly. I see it daily in my professional life.

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

Yes!!!!! I have been saying this for years! If we all do not vote, nobody is elected! If we all refuse to pay IRS, they can't jail us all! DO NOT COMPLY means DO NOT COMPLY! not just in the case of va××!

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Every time I refuse to obey some petty, intrusive, insulting to my intelligence, bureaucratic garbage imposed by the megalithic bureaucracy I feel shame for my fellow humans who go along with it for whatever damned reason, unthinking usually, but often out of cowardice. Just stop going along! Resist! As you say DO NOT COMPLY

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Same. Though at the same time I also get a thrill out of the disobedience. Which I think is important - people should understand that it's *fun* to thumb your nose at these petty tyrants.

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Admittedly, it is fun, exhilarating even.

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I will never tire of smoking next to no smoking signs 😏

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nor I running a red light when no traffic is coming from any direction. Mind, I do stop at the light and make SURE no traffic is coming, but I don't sit there drumming my fingers waiting for the light to change, either. Damn the cameras. I don't care.

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Part of taking responsibility is not being an idiot ;)

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

A heart too to your footnote on anglerfish! And that illustration by Peter Polach is one of the most strikingly creepy pictures I have ever seen!

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It gave me the willies.

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It seriously I hope this is not too graphic made my sphincter clench. Ugh.

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*evil grin*

I went through *a lot* of anglerfish pics before selecting that one.

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Well done! Shared it far and wide.

I live in NY state, small village. Of course our property taxes are obscene, but hard to find out who sets the taxes, etc. they’re at least three groups who set the tax; village, county, and unknown. Have to be careful not to dig too deep or question, or your home could be suddenly “reappraised” to a much higher value. Anyway, dealing with these bureaucrats is like walking in a minefield. Of course, I always play to win.

Thank you for writing this.

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

This about sums it up

“It will be of little avail to the people that the laws are made by men of their own choice if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood”.

James Madison

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But absolutely wonderful for the men making and enforcing those laws.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

Exactly.

I think Tacitus said:

"The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the state." (Or vice-versa).

The ouroboros of obfuscation.

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Congress votes 100 times per day on legislation that encompasses not less that 1,000 pages each. The state legislatures do it too.

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

I'm not sure that building codes are a great example here.

Yes, they're way more onerous than they need to be. Yes, they are often arbitrarily and pointlessly restrictive.

But!

Buildings can and do collapse, especially in countries with lax/absent building codes or corrupt/non-existent enforcement. All the time. And not just there either. Dozens of people died in the Grenfell Tower fire in London just six years ago.

Yes, humanity has been building structures for a long time. But 1) building codes are probably older than you think (e.g., London banned thatch roofs after the Great Fire in 1666); and 2) the ancients weren't building multi-story buildings using modern building materials and high-energy utilities.

Here's the problem though: even if we accept for the purposes of argument that building codes are worth it. . . now we're left with the difficult problem of trying to tell which aspects of the regulatory regime are worth it and which aren't. Unless there's some obvious, bright-line rule that lets us say "all of these sorts of codes are good and all of those are bad," how are we supposed to know which ones to ignore?

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Keeping skyscrapers from collapsing is obviously a good idea. OTOH, having to get approval for the fence you're putting up or other minor home improvements isn't.

It's all cost-benefit. If the regulatory system is making it unreasonably expensive to build for only marginal improvements in safety, it isn't worth it. Right now the cost isn't considered, only the marginal safety improvements. Too much of a good thing.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

Yeah. Cost-benefit analyses never seem to work out right when the people doing the analysis are pathologically risk-averse neurotics.

Any potential applications to sexual dimorphism are left as an exercise for the reader.

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Nov 14, 2023·edited Nov 15, 2023Liked by John Carter

The final form of the system is anarcho-tyranny. You still need to go through vast bureaucracy to get approval but the codes no longer have a connection to safety.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

Classic example, car seats as contraception: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/Delivery.cfm/SSRN_ID3964326_code1356481.pdf?abstractid=3665046&mirid=1

As Garret Hardin wrote "We can never merely do one thing."

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

That last paragraph illustrates the problem, though. We're asking for an obvious, bright-line rule to decide what rules to have. That's exactly the problem any decision maker faces, who isn't a technical expert himself. So he hires a panel of experts to tell him in detail which rules to have. This panel now provides jobs for appointed experts, and soon their job description is making up rules instead of constructing buildings so that the 'appointed' part of that comes to outweigh the 'expert' part. Since the officially appointed experts are now incompetent, they form associations and look to their peers for best practices. With all decisions made under advice from people blindly copying each other's decisions, we wind up where we now are.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

I was thinking about it from the other direction, i.e., that of the dissident considering the merits of Irish Democracy or outright non-compliance.

At some point, arbitrary regulatory and/or Regime bullshit sticks around long enough that it becomes difficult to tell the difference between that and what might otherwise be called. . . "tradition."

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Nov 15, 2023·edited Nov 15, 2023Liked by John Carter

Building codes are a actually an excellent example. Start by codifying a bunch of rules to stop us all from burning to death and getting crushed by collapsing buildings. Nobody could disagree with that! Run it forward a hundred years and, oh look, accessibility standards have been added, including (in the Ontario building code for example) "barrier-free access to and around all public pools and some public spas." Sure that's nice but that's drifted far from the original "prevent buildings from falling down" policy, it is straight up social policy and a form of tax. Even if you fulfill the building code to the letter and you can still get charged by another bureaucracy that claims primacy.

https://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/policy-ableism-and-discrimination-based-disability/8-duty-accommodate#_edn145

If only we could figure out why it is so expensive and takes so long to build things now.

Diagnosis of the problem is easy, it's ubiquitous, but I'm not clear there is any solution. The Bartleby the Scrivener option proposed (saying "I would prefer not to.") is personally appealing but doesn't really go anywhere.

An alternative I've been toying with is to turn it on itself. A lot of the regulation comes from the "Precautionary principle". But this is only applied in some cases, the world of DEI policy and regulation in general has blossomed with naive assumptions that the intended results will occur with no second order effects. So, force the precautionary principle on new regulations.

An example: mandatory DEI training is clearly a psychological intervention. As such, it should have ethics review board approval, insurance, and studies to ensure that there are no secondary effects. This would require a war chest and the sort of lawfare engaged in by environmentalists and equity agitators. Something like this would be a good marquee case for DEI: "https://nationalpost.com/opinion/jamie-sarkonak-toronto-principal-bullied-over-false-charge-of-racism-dies-from-suicide"

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Nov 16, 2023Liked by John Carter

You won't find me arguing that the civil rights revolution made things better. . . .

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Eh, you assume that the sad story of the principal committing suicide is going to induce feelings of remorse or empathy in the bleeding-heart normies who go along with all the DIE bullshit, but I suspect its purveyors are inwardly rejoicing that a “white supremacist” killed himself.

Don’t encourage them by showing them their poison is working.

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Nov 24, 2023Liked by John Carter

No, I'm thinking of creating fear of liability via a long court case. Even though it will likely fail to find guilt, it will have a chilling effect. Ugly facts are ugly and the case will document them. Doing this a few dozen times strategically will should put some brakes on behaviour.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

Pretty sure London had building codes six years ago.

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I'm also pretty sure Grenfell burned down because of third world living habits, not third world construction standards.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

As much as I hate to disagree with you, I'm pretty sure you're wrong here. At present, investigations seem to be pointing at a combination of factors. One is an electrical wiring system for the building known to produce frequent power surges of the sort known to start electrical fires. Another is the use of cheap, combustible materials as exterior cladding and insulation in place of more appropriate non-combustible materials.

The tenants didn't have anything to do with either of those conditions.

Really though, I think the best way of thinking about Grenfell Towers from a dissident perspective is as a glaring example of the incompetence of the regime. For one thing, whatever code issues existed at Grenfell Towers, the use of combustible materials for external cladding was actually allowed, and that despite the fact that there had been at least seven fires with fatalities involving building cladding since 2005. This was a known issue. More to the point, tenants and inspectors had been complaining about fire safety issues at Grenfell Towers for years.

So yeah, building codes are great and all, but when the people responsible for writing and enforcing them are terrible at their jobs, who cares?

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

It did.

Grenfell Towers was a gigantic code violation.

Which, admittedly, highlights the Achilles' heel of regulatory regimes in general and building codes in particular: whatever the potential merits of any given code, those merits go to zero in the absence of enforcement.

But I don't see how you go from there to discarding building codes as such. One might as well say that because people routinely get away with murder that we should legalize it. Also, it's not as if the relevant codes in Grenfell Towers couldn't have been enforced. They are (and as far as I can tell, generally have been) routinely enforced in building projects across the UK. Grenfell Towers seems to be a case of a landlord cheaping out on renovations and the local code authority letting them get away with it. Investigations are ongoing (prosecution decisions should be coming out soon), but it's entirely possible that people will go to jail over this.

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Nov 15, 2023Liked by John Carter

This is halfway to the point I was making.

But it strikes me as incredibly unlikely that this was an isolated incidence where for some odd reason the inspectors were selectively incompetent or corrupt with just this one building. Corrupt officials aren't sticklers for rules except on Tuesday afternoons in September on a full moon with a little cash and booze to lubricate their neglect.

And yet many other buildings were built and are still standing, presumably inspected by many of the same people, who by the way went on to inspect many other buildings for many years afterward before the problems with this building revealed themselves.

That leads me to think that perhaps builders of buildings are motivated by something other than fear of the wrath of a civil servant when thinking about whether to build a safe building or cut corners.

It makes me think if most builders would, absent codes and inspectors, build buildings out of toilet paper and toothpicks, all of London would have burned down ages ago, since clearly the officials responsible weren't up to the task.

It wouldn't have been just one real estate developer coincidentally being a con artist *and* falling through a very narrow crack in the otherwise well-functioning system. It would be tons of them, all the time, and everybody would be dead.

No, I think there's something else going on here. I think engineers know what they're doing, construction crews are generally honest, and even shyster real estate developers are much better motivated by reputational risk and liability than pissant bureaurats with bachelor's degrees in engineering compiling ever-longer lists of nonsensical and self-contradictory rules. I think without those codes in place and the bureaucracy that makes it very difficult to modernize them, we'd likely have safer, nicer, cheaper buildings than we do have - _as long as the liability and reputational risk stayed in place_.

And things would still fail. As they do sometimes, even when strictly compliant with the bestest of practices and the most up to date of regulations. Like that ridiculous Millennium bridge.

Conversely when you have a culture of fraud and corruption like, say, China, no amount of rules and paperwork is going to save you.

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Nov 16, 2023Liked by John Carter

I'm sympathetic to your points in general, but I don't think they're applicable here, for one simple reason: this was a public housing project. There was no "real estate developer". The entity responsible for the building, including construction, renovation, and ongoing maintenance, was a species of municipal government. Yes, the threat of liability and downstream effects of reputational damage are huge motivating factors in most construction projects. Hell, in most projects in general. But neither really work against state actors for precisely the reasons outlined in the original post: public, bureaucratic institutions tend to diffuse responsibility to the point that no single individual can ever be held responsible for anything.

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Sure ok, but how does this support the existence of building code bureaucracies?

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Bureaucracies? It doesn't. But the problem here has more to do with bureaucracy on the landowner side than the code or enforcement side.

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Couldn't have said it better.

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Nov 19, 2023Liked by John Carter

A practical field doesn't need any code/regulations or you think towers of Bologna are near collapse because 800 years ago the building code was not extensive enough? Or the highway bridge near Genova collapsed because there was no building code at all? Or exactly the reverse. Bologna towers were built without codes and the collapsed bridge was built under code...

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Oh, come on. That's not a good counter-example, and you know it.

Most of those towers were gone within a century of their construction, seemingly due to a combination of either outright collapse or deliberate demolition to avoid an uncontrolled collapse.

Further, those towers really aren't comparable to modern skyscrapers. The tallest ones were, what, maybe 300ft/100m? Impressive for anything not built using steel, sure. But that's not even table stakes was far as post-nineteenth-century urban construction goes. Hell, you could put one of those things entirely inside the atrium at any given Embassy Suites.

Codes aren't perfect, and I never said they were.

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Love this anadiplosis!

Pure brilliance:

"Dispersed power is hidden power, hidden power is unaccountable power, unaccountable power is illegitimate power, and illegitimate power does not deserve your compliance"

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Thanks! I remember your piece on that technique.

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I admire your writing so much btw

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You're making me blush, but also made my day. Cheers, bro.

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I follow my own rules. I'm old so I know all of them. I do what I need to do and hope that nobody gets in my way. Since the break(lock)downs, I've become even more reluctant to follow the lines. Noncompliance is my mantra!

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

All politics, everywhere and always, boil down to this: cui bono? Laws, rules, regulations, etc. are all promulgated to enrich someone, to limit others from encroaching on those riches or punish those who dare to transgress, thus eliminating them from encroaching. And yes, I know there are exceptions, such as laws against murder, rape, etc. (aka agreed upon social covenants), but we are not discussing those here. The mundane, the seemingly trivial (recreational fishing, hair braiding, barbering are licensed, why?), nothing escapes the “eye of Sauron” if there is money to be made, power consolidated and wielded. And there is nothing more arrogant than a bureaucrat with a tiny sliver power who enjoys exercising their “authority” over you. Their pleasure in increasing your misery is almost palpable.

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

And as a codicil: bureaucrats, everywhere and always, will do what is necessary to ensure their continued existence, making themselves “invaluable” to the continued order. Isn’t the old saying “get yourself a government job”?

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Nov 14, 2023Liked by John Carter

Yes. They love us all equally.

They replicate like mushrooms on a moist dark patch.

"Bureaucrats can neither be hurried in their deliberations nor made to see common sense Indeed, the very absurdity or pedantry of these deliberations is for them the guarantee of their own fair mindedness, impartiality, and disinterest. To treat all people with equal contempt and indifference is the bureaucrat's idea of equity."

- Theodore Dalrymple

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

*Cryptarchy (love u bruv)

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You're right. That's got a better ring to it.

I'm starting to think I should solicit titles from my readers before publishing. If only that were physically possible.

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Nov 13, 2023Liked by John Carter

Have you tried just being smarter? I know it’s hard (you’re already pretty smart) but I yoinked the title “Achilles Shrugged” for a play I’m working on and now Cryptarch Aga-Nero is titled.

The Rosencrantz and Gildenstern characters have an exchange about “doesn’t calling yourself a Cryptarch kinda defeat the purpose?” “Stop saying the quiet part out loud, you’ll kill the mystery”

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I'm just bad at titles 🤷‍♂️ No one's perfect.

That sounds like a great title for a play. I'm looking forward to it. Let me know when it's published.

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The three myths of management:

1 - The illusion of control

2- There is one right answer

3- There is always someone or something to blame for failure, i.e. scapegoat.

Corollaries are:

- HIPPO: The highest paid person's opinion is the only one that counts

- ZERO SUM: Deny accountability and move onto greener pastures where you can play the same or similar cons. It doesn't matter the cost to businesses and staff so long as you come out whole.

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