Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welfare vs Charity

Michael E, thank you for posting.  I'd like to drive your point even further:

Let's pretend we know someone is in need.  I mean, everyone reading this knows there's this, say, family, that is in need.  We have two ideas on the table about how to help them:

1) Let's agree to have everyone put $100 in a fund.  We'll have an election to see who will collect the money and deliver it to the family.  We'll provide that person with a few percent of the fund in return for making sure everyone contributed.  If anyone refuses, either we'll get their employer (or whoever owes them money) to put it in the fund before paying them, or else lock them in a cage for a while.  Maybe both.

2) Let's each provide whatever we feel like providing, directly, to the family.

Many people very strongly believe that the family will benefit more if we use the first idea, which is the one our government has implemented.  Whether or not it's an ethical plan is something they haven't considered (isn't it obviously unethical?) because the amount isn't $100.  It's more like 30 cents or maybe three cents.

But let's pretend for a moment that there isn't anything immoral about it.  Pretend you're a member of the family in need. 

Do you have dignity?  Do you have honor and integrity?  What is your response to the elected official bringing you money to help you out?  A fund, you have to remember, that you were forced to contribute to when you weren't needy enough.  Are you grateful?  Or would "expectant", "entitled", or "demanding" be more accurate?  Perhaps you are grateful. 

Now suppose that we used idea #2 instead, and you didn't get enough money, because people just aren't generous enough.  Are you more "demanding/expectant/entitled", or more grateful?  Let's suppose that you are more demanding simply because your needs haven't been met.  You sarcastically say "Gee, Thanks A LOT!" to the people who give you quarters and pennies.  But because of that need, wouldn't you be pretty motivated to find and engage in useful work to earn what you need? 

Now let's switch back to idea #1, where you do get enough, and it comes from an official fund.  How motivated are you in that case?

You can argue that you would be just as grateful and kind with #1 as with #2.  You can also argue that you'd be just as motivated with #1 as with #2.  If that's true, then you're an angel.  I know that I'm a pretty good person, but not that good, and I can't believe that anywhere close to half the people in need are that good either. 

Welfare damages motivation, which makes it impractical.  It also requires what most would consider stealing or kidnapping.  It's an immoral and impractical solution to the problem of poverty.

Facebook: "The message could not be posted to this Wall."

Solution for Facebook wall posting problem.  I was trying to post to my own wall and FB gave me this error: "The message could not be posted to this Wall."

If you get this error, you might want to log out and log back in.  This seems to have fixed the problem for me at least once.

I tried updating my status and got a message that said something like it couldn't be done at this time - try again later.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Bad Internet Citizens

Just about everyone on the Internet has suffered because of bad Internet citizens.  They drop spam in our forums.  They drop it in our email boxes.  They create elaborate methods of copying code to thousands of machines and then use it to attack a business and extort money from it, raising the costs of everything.  What's sad is that the best of them could be writing video games or logistics algorithms or advertising copy.  They could be useful, but instead, they are attracted, like flies to poop, to the freedom the Internet gives them, and our failure to cooperate in an effort to frustrate their depravity.

My proposition is this: Website owners should have a place to register bad IP addresses.   Such a centralized database will provide a method of tracking the decisions of the individuals who are misbehaving, but it provides a valuable resource to everyone with a website.  While spam in forums and email is bothersome and wastes a lot of time, Denial of Service attacks cause much more concentrated damage.  Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks are much much worse.

Many DDOS attacks are executed on botnets, which consist of computers belonging to naive Internet users.  These users have executed some "unsafe" code which installed "malware" on their computer.  It doesn't do much harm to them, but en masse, it can be directed to wreak havoc on a website business until the owners pay a ransom.  But here comes the catch...

Those users undoubtedly sometimes use other websites that also suffer from DDOS attacks from time to time, and those sites would also benefit from educating the naive owners about the compromise of their systems.  Armed with the fact that several "other victims" have reported their IP address as that of a compromised system, some will choose to deny access for a time, or perhaps until the naive owner submits a log of the output from a cleaning program like Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware.  Others will simply offer the info.

But none will be able to use the system until someone compiles a database of IP addresses used in a DDOS attack, and then puts in the effort to keep it up to date.  That's me.  Can you help?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Weiner vs Libya

What should be done is that anyone talking about Weiner should be directed to information about Obama's violation of the War Powers Act in Libya, and furthermore, the War Power's Act's own violation of the Constitution. Or perhaps the Paul Ryan "VoucherCare" proposal that someone claimed is another possible media story that is getting crowded out by Weiner.
Don't you think this story is crowding out much more important news?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Dear Rep. Mary Bono Mack

Thank you for contacting me with your views regarding one of the recent congressional bills. I value your opinions on this and all other legislative matters and appreciate your efforts to keep your constituents informed.

As you may know, the boilerplate letter you send out in response to email inquiries does not include the recipient's original email.  As a result, I have no idea what email you're responding to and can't really put the information you've provided to use.  If you could please begin including the original email in your response, or at least the subject line or a brief summary, your effectiveness as a representative would be greatly enhanced.

Again, thank you for taking the time to share your views with me on critical legislation. Rest assured I will keep pestering you whenever your representation seems lacking.  For example, you placed security at a higher level of importance than adherence to the Constitution when you voted for H.R. 514.  You may have heard of Ben Franklin, who said "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."  As you'll see in the coming months, this was a mistake you may soon regret.  Your regret will stem not from any kind of violence (which we abhor), but rather from the PR headache of dealing with persistent supporters of the constitution who demand that you do your job of protecting their freedom, as opposed to keeping them secure by passing laws that violate the Bill of Rights.

For your convenience, you can sign up to receive regular email updates from me at litmocracy.blogspot.com. Please feel free to contact me on other matters of mutual concern.