Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Game Theory and Naivety

Game theory can teach some very curious lessons.

Perhaps the most important is that the obvious solution is frequently the wrong solution.  In order to create an environment where cooperation is possible, you have to create an environment where profitable defection isn't.

The naive solution is always "Let's cooperate".  In an environment of people who -always- cooperate, defecting is a -very- powerful tool, and very attractive.  "Always cooperate" as a strategy rewards defection.

In order to foster a truly cooperative environment, you have to be willing to defect, and most specifically against those who have first defected.

Naive anarchism or communism is the belief that "Let's just work together" is a viable strategy, that you can rely upon goodwill.  Even I'd defect in that system, if for no other reason than resentment of a system that doesn't punish defection.

We can't reward cooperation enough to make defection unattractive - we have finite resources, and defection is, in any system, the gaming of the system to get disproportionate reward.  The only real option is to make defection less attractive.

Government is one mechanism of punishing defection; it is a universal agent, with whom cooperation is paramount, and whose defection is lethal.  There's just one issue with the use of government in this manner: It permits a grander scale of defection, that of false accusation.  Government becomes the arbiter of grudge, rather than law.  Coyote Blog comments on one example.  It's hardly the only.

Belief in government as a reliable arbiter isn't -quite- as naive as "Let's just work together", but still makes the same mistake: Assuming cooperation and defection can be made infallible.  They can't.  That's the metagame.  Then there's the third level of naivety - the belief in a solution to this mess.  There is no end solution - whatever rules you use, there's a metagame that will defeat them.

The Cure...

...is surprisingly simple: It's a sledgehammer.

Our existing government is made up of masons; the legislative branch exists to build new walls, the Supreme Court -at best- exists to make sure the walls are in the right places, and the Executive branch mans the walls.

We need a branch whose purpose is to knock walls down.  Our government is fundamentally constructivist - it needs a deconstructivist element.  A branch devoted to knocking down the things the legislature builds.

The courts have kind-of sort-of fulfilled this role in the past, but only for the most egregious cases.  The legislative branch has this power, but rarely if ever uses it; they're elected to fix problems in society.  Knocking down parts of the government just makes it harder for them to do their job.

So break the legislative branch's powers up.  One branch to construct, one branch to destroy.  Hell, even give them the power to send the bills back to the legislation with notes on what needs to be adjusted and why - they can't propose new legislation, but they can remove legislation and suggest changes.

And give them a reason.  Put a cap on the total pages of law in the government.  Is a single person's life even long enough to -read- all the laws on the books right now, after all?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Politics Today...

...is largely the process of millionaires spending inordinate amounts of money in an attempt to convince people that -other- millionaires are spending inordinate amounts of money convincing them of things.

It's not even grounded to anything anymore; this is the postmodernist era of the political art, full of abstract pieces that don't mean anything but that's okay because the whole "meaning" concept is conceptually oppressive, man.

I've seen Democrats -literally argue to me- that Hobby Lobby only protested in the first place because they hate Obama because they're racists.  There are Republicans who -legitimately believe- this is all an attack on religion.  And six months from now the arguments will be completely different, based on completely different principles, and everybody will behave as if this is the way it's always been.

Which means, in a curious roundabout way, that politics is fundamentally about -fashion-.  Which shouldn't surprise me, but does anyways, and explains so very much about how society got to where it is.