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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Slashdot Reports WH Putting Arm on ISPs

Everything that's reported isn't always true, but see this and this:
That is, while most folks have been focused on COICA, the White House's Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (IP Czar) Victoria Espinel has apparently been holding meetings with ISPs, registrars, payment processors and others to get them to agree to voluntarily do what COICA would mandate. While the meeting is carefully focused on stopping websites that sell gray market pharmaceuticals, if registrars start agreeing to censoring websites at the behest of the government, it's as if we're halfway to a COICA-style censorship regime already. ICANN, who manages the internet domain name system was asked to attend the meeting, but felt that it "was not appropriate to attend" such a meeting.
There has, IMO, been a pattern of overreach in the Bush administration, but the tide seems to be running much higher in the Obama administration. My doctor gave me the name of a pharmacy in Canada he uses for a lot of his patients who can't afford US drugs.

Regardless, it bothers me that they are doing this without law to support them.

PS: I think the reason why this type of thing bothers me so is the problem with the "Big Assumption". Start at Photon Courier and continue to his link:
...one particular assumption must be disproven. This assumption is so fundamental and widespread that I will call it The Big Assumption. I believe that it has been held by every person who has ever lived on the planet. Moreover, I am convinced that the Big Assumption has profound consequences for politics, economics, psychology, and sociology. This assumption is: The experiences that constitute my individual life are representative of the entire human condition.

This cannot be the case for a variety of reasons. Our experiences are shaped by the time and place of our birth, our parents, our spouse, our education, our friends, our gender, our race, our religion, etc. To put it in statistical terms, our experiences are not a random sample of the experiences of all human beings who have ever lived. Nevertheless, the Big Assumption has been and continues to be held, knowingly or unknowingly, by almost everybody on the planet.
The peculiar strength of the seemingly inefficient system of representative government is that there is an inherent sampling and checking of regulatory assumptions. All these czars and all the end-runs around the legislative process (such as strong-arming representatives to vote on bills they and their staffers have never read) justly provokes the population. No matter how enlightened and idealistic a small group of government operatives may be, they are really just operating on the basis of their own experience, hopes and prejudices. They cannot govern effectively in this manner.

I find "The Big Assumption" commentary very interesting. It falls neatly into my "Sure Thing" bucket.

As a country, I believe we're losing the ability to distinguish right from wrong and part of that stems from the inability to place oneself in the shoes of others.


Empathic distress is feeling the perceived pain of another person, which feeling can be transformed into the empathic anger, feeling of injustice, and guilt. These emotions can be perceived as pro-social, and some say they can be seen as motives for moral behavior.

0% teaser rate mortgages flooding my mailbox "felt" wrong and was a warning sign to me, although I personally do not have any debt. It would have been easy to dismiss it as junk mail, but it was more than that.

It is said that every people has the Government it deserves. It is more to the point that every Government has the electorate it deserves; for the orators of the front bench can edify or debauch an ignorant electorate at will. Thus our democracy moves in a vicious circle of reciprocal worthiness and unworthiness. - George Bernard Shaw
I think The Big Assumption is partly right and partly wrong.

It is certainly true that the path of one's life differs, often greatly, from the paths of others' lives. I, along with many others, have suffered because of laws that were written that assumed people's lives followed the same trajectory as that of the lawmakers.

However, I've found that there are many experiences which are common to all human beings, such as the feeling of having sought acceptance and found it, or the feeling of a long-anticipated plan going awry. Not every human will have every experience, but all lives' experiences are drawn from the same set of feelings. In that sense The Big Assumption is true.

As for making decisions on the basis of one's own experience, that begs the question: whose experience, other than one's own, is available for reference? You can hear others speak of their own experience, but that doesn't give you their experience any more than watching Jacques Cousteau on TV makes you a scuba diver. All you have after such conversations are your own experiences of them; you gain no expertise of your own by them. And no human being can possibly experience the entire range of human activity. So all you have to go on, in the final analysis, is your own experience.
Mark - well, something's wrong.

WH - good points, but the difference between making decisions for oneself versus making decisions for another based on your own experience is the salient, surely?

I'm sure you and I are able to make a bunch of good rules for ourselves. In some cases rather rigid rules, but good rules for ourselves. Translate our knowledge of our own failings and capacity to the wider sphere, and then try to promulgate some of those rules which would be good for ourselves to everyone, and I doubt either of us would like the result.

And then it gets worse, because a lot of current fervent rule-making is done by those who have no attention of being subject to the rules themselves.
Someone needs to remind the Leftists that, for all the baseless accusations thrown about, the Bush administration never tried this. Or perhaps they believe that a Democrat administration will never do them any harm.

You take the cluebat and the clue-by-four. I'll get the Great Sword Cluebringer.
MoM, thanks for the link.

Wacky, it's true that watching Jacques Cousteau on TV will not make you a scuba diver, but learning diving from an experienced instructor will greatly improve your odds of success.

In our current society, we have too often lost both the *oral* transmission of experience as is the practice in nonliterate societies, and the *written* transmission, as evidenced by the rather extreme ignorance of history that afflicts so many people.
Thank you for a thoughtful post. Could somebody remind ALL of our politicians that we HAVE a constitution and perhaps explain to them what the Phrase "The Rule of Law" means? and Why it is important for them too? The more you have the more important the "Rule of Law" is,because what YOU have can be taken away too...
When I read your post and the "Big Assumption" my take was to reinforce Hayek, Friedman, and von Mises. The whole idea of centralized control and decision making can never work because no one has the depth of knowledge and immediate access to to current facts to ever make correct and current decisions.
Wacky Hermit:

I never viewed The Big Assumption as an all or nothing thing. Of course, we have to take into account our own experiences. It's more illuminating that our experiences are necessarily limited. It's more about recognizing the limitations of our own experiences, not discounting them entirely.

In speaking to your point about The Big Assumption being wrong because there are common experiences to all human beings, I articulate my ideal response after disproving The Big Assumption is that it "leads to the never-ending search for the universal in the human condition. Oddly enough, the second step in a liberal education is exactly the same as the first. The student examines ideas, feelings, beliefs, and experiences via literature, philosophy, art, and history, which are so foreign to their own life that they can find what is universally present in the human condition. This is the ultimate goal of a liberal education. I believe the difficulty in recognizing this goal is that both the first and second step are superficially the same activities."
NJCommuter - I think a lot of the left is deeply perturbed and outraged by this sort of thing.

I believe I first read about this on DU. If I didn't first encounter it there, I certainly did read concerned postings about it there.

The vast majority of the US population is firmly in the moderate group, and that means that in one fashion or another, they prefer checks and balances.

IMO, the Tea Party is gaining support largely because there are a bunch of voters scandalized by the excesses and lack of attention to the popular needs AND EVEN THE LAW by the leadership of both parties.

Tom is right. We are either a country of laws or a country of men, and it seems to me that we are slowly drifting toward being a country of men.

I don't like it and the link above explains why I think it can never work. After reading left and right politically oriented blogs and forums for the last year, I see a surprising commonality between many of the concerns expressed on each.

One of the great ironies of this Congress is that I believe it has managed to unite the population to a surprising extent.
One of the problems is that many in the Congress and also the White House, regardless of the occupant, do fervently believe they are smart enough to solve most of our problems and micro-manage our lives.

This is illustrated by an e-mail about HCR that's currently making the rounds:

"Let me get this straight. We're going to be 'gifted' with a health care plan we are forced to purchase and fined if we don't, written by a committee whose chairman says he doesn't understand it, passed by a Congress that hasn't read it but exempts themselves from it, to be
signed by a president who also smokes, with funding administered by a treasury chief who didn't pay his taxes, to be overseen by a surgeon general who is obese, and financed by a country that's broke.

What could possibly go wrong?"

Yes, what?
No matter how enlightened and idealistic a small group of government operatives may be, they are really just operating on the basis of their own experience, hopes and prejudices.

That's simply ego.

I think when ego overtakes someone, they wind up with a combination of false compassion and idealism which they mistake for enlightenment. True enlightenment regards ideals as false gods.
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