[FoRK] The Platform

Stephen D. Williams sdw at lig.net
Sun Jun 29 15:45:47 PDT 2008

Jeff Bone wrote:
> On Jun 28, 2008, at 4:54 AM, Stephen Williams wrote:
> ...
>>>      - allow complete consumer access to medical diagnostics (get 
>>> off e.g. 23andme!)
>> And interpretation!  What's the deal with radiologists and others?  I 
>> am too stupid to understand "bone break of 3x5mm from distal fibula"?
> Apparently we all are. :-/  I worked for 4 years in a clinical lab and 
> x-ray department years ago, and yet my own doctor was reluctant to 
> provide me w/ historical copies of all my labs even though I own them 
> by law...
I believe I just had to sign something saying that my dentist owns my 
x-rays...  And they are digital!
>>>      - caps on judgments except in cases of gross negligence, etc. 
>>> (cf. tort reform)
>> Consider some kind of insurance-like compensation for cases of x% 
>> will have this complication.
>> There is a reason to think about this: For some things, doing X will 
>> improve y% of people, and hurt or kill z% of people.  It's not 
>> unreasonable to think of the injury to z as a distributed cost over 
>> all of y.  Is it?
> Not at all.  Again, I think private risk pools are a good way to go to 
> manage this, particularly if they're set up so that they can't totally 
> implode.
>>>    - shut down the prescription drug benefit entirely (again, 
>>> ramp-down negotiable)
>> Not including baseline generics perhaps.  They are so cheap that they 
>> can be given away.  There are some things you should not stop ever.
> I'm not suggesting that we "stop" the benefit, but rather that there's 
> absolutely no reason why the government at a federal level should be 
> the one managing (and paying for) this program and many reasons why 
> they should not.
> Basically the economic cornerstone of this whole proposal is this:  to 
> the extent possible privatize --- with appropriate safeguards --- 
> Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.  Where that's not feasible, and 
> for unemployment benefits, push both management and funding down to 
> the state level, where the "customer" ultimately have much more 
> control over things.
There should be some clear naming convention for separating privatize = 
you're on your own vs. privatize = managed, incentivized, carefully 
bounded, and backed up commercial companies performing services.  You've 
got to get complete availability, if not coverage, and limit cherry 
picking, etc.
>> Make true "national guard" voluntary service available, i.e. 
>> guarantee that you will server within the US boundaries, perhaps with 
>> some special tradeoffs.
> Logistics Division. ;-)
Yes, however many would be happy to also agree to defend the US itself 
inside borders if necessary, without committing to Iraq etc.
>>>    - consider eliminating withholding practices, requiring quarterly 
>>> (more freq.?) estimated payments of everyone
>> Yikes, only for those who can handle it.  If you fail 3 quarters, 
>> automatic or something.
> Reasonable.
> The goal here, really, is this:  most people don't even think of the 
> money that's garnished from every paycheck as "theirs."  Make 'em 
> actually write the check and they'll immediately be a lot less 
> magnanimous with their own, and others', funds.
>>>    - re-examine and significantly reduce all foreign aid
>> Require real quid-pro-quos in remaining foreign aid, or at least some 
>> categories of it.  We loan you money, you don't pay it back, we start 
>> owning land, resources, timeshare slots, offshore drilling rights, 
>> something.  Heck, you could require virtual education services or art.
> +1, I like it.
>>>  - eliminate all federal funding for schools and virtually eliminate 
>>> Dept. of Education
>> What about students?  College education?
>> College education by states is impractical or at least severely 
>> regressive, students should get out of their home state with some 
>> regularity.
> Logistics Division. ;-)
>>>    - states and municipalities can, should handle this
>> Some things you want to be nationwide.  States are not good at this.
>> Some things you actually want to be at least US/CA/UK/AU/NZ and maybe 
>> even begin to spill over to EU, MX, etc.
> Generally speaking, I think that decentralization and localization of 
> most social programs (and education in particular) would improve the 
> actual level of service while reducing cost, and without putting 
> ever-growing and ultimately intractable entitlements on the balance 
> sheet of the very entity least capable of getting efficient use out of 
> every dollar -- the national gov't.
> The federal government's role in education, IMHO, should be to set and 
> maintain strict standards to ensure nationwide normalization and 
> competitiveness with other nations.  Beyond that, they shouldn't be 
> trying to manage budgets.
Great, when it works.  We need a more or less standard process of 
quickly stepping in to fix broken attempts, yet giving those enough 
chance to succeed.
>>>    - eliminate all non-centralized federal arts and humanities 
>>> spending (keep e.g. Smithsonian, Library of Congress, etc.)
>> Disagree.
> Why should the federal government be in this business?  And wouldn't 
> local governments be more appropriate even if you assumed that taking 
> tax money to pay for art was a good idea.
Certainly the gov. at any level shouldn't be the only payer for art.  We 
are very far from that now.  I think it does make sense to spend a 
little money on a parallel track that is not next-quarter, Hollywood 
profit optimization driven.  Not everything that should succeed, at 
least to some small extent, will succeed in that arena.  I like the 
diversification, however I agree that it should be relatively small.  
While there is little justification for picking a particular number, I 
don't think this should be carried to the limit of abolishment.  
Additionally, much of the call to abolish this is from people and groups 
that were offended by something, which is more of an indication that it 
should not be abolished than anything.
>>>    - transition NASA, selling pieces of it on credit to e.g. SpaceX 
>>> and transferring the rest to the Air Force
>> Disagree.  Wrong mission NASA vs. Air Force most of the time.  
>> Non-military pro-science orientation would evaporate.  Good to have 
>> parallel, cooperative / competitive / synergistic gov. / private 
>> space.  Certain missions will not be done commercially when they need 
>> to be done.
> I have very good friends at NASA and it hurts to say this, but the 
> reality is that the organization is so thoroughly undermined now that 
> it's actually keeping us from making progress.  Any remaining 
> coordinational and pure-science missions could be organized under the 
> federal level CTO office.
I'm working at a NASA site right now.  I can see this, and I can see 
alternatives also.  I kind of like the parallel track still.  Keeping a 
baseline in something that is not a startup is a very good thing. 
Weeding out all inefficiencies if you can find someone to do it in a 
kick-ass way, great!

NASA is credited with starting the contractor model and market.  It 
still is deep into that.  What we're talking about here is different 
kinds of contractors and projects that are more lightweight and faster 
moving.  Especially on the scale of grand projects, you need a gov. 
organization to own and operate planet and solar-system level systems.  
To own the roads and light signals if you will.

The big thing, as you, I, and others have pointed out, is that knowledge 
has to be captured, maintained, and shared.
In the Darpa, X Prize, and other research contests, they write some 
reports with some information, however much of it still stays private.  
Every detail should be open sourced and shared, otherwise much of it is 
likely to become wasted and will have to be repeated by someone else 
later, just like NASA is doing now.
> Part it out.
> ...
>>>  - comprehensive tort reform;  concept:
>>>    - problem today occurs b/c plaintiffs + their atty's don't have 
>>> proportional risk
>>>    - make them put equal skin in the game;  at-risk is equal to 
>>> judgment sought
>>>    - if the plaintiff loses, they lose more than court costs, lose 
>>> what is sought
>>>    - it plaintiff can't pay, atty takes the soak;  atty's vet clients
>>>    - .: less class action suits, less frivolous lawsuits, less huge 
>>> awards, balanced incentives
>> That doesn't make sense really.  Pretty much guarantees that only 
>> suits happen between big entities.
>> What is your reasoning here?  I can't see it.
> Simple:  the reason that our courts are clogged with crap suits, and 
> the reason there are so many frivolous suits, and the reason that so 
> many settlements 
So make courts more efficient.  Make judges work more than an hour in 
the morning (I've seen it repeatedly).  Don't make people wait for 30 
days at every turn of the process.  Put in place mediators that do a 
first pass at puzzling out the legal issues and giving recommendations 
before thousands or millions are spent fleshing out cases.  There are 
all kinds of things that can be fixed.
> happen even when the defendant is not actually at fault, is that the 
> risks in the system are not balanced.  A plaintiff's attorney risks 
> almost nothing relative to the potential reward in bringing a suit, 
> and a plaintiff risks almost nothing signing on (as the atty will 
> often take the case w/o up-front payment in exchange for a 
> bigger-than-usual piece of the deal.)
There are a lot of other ways to solve this problem.  You're suggestion 
would make it virtually impossible for anyone without huge resources to 
take anyone to court, except in the most obvious cases.

I think that few types of attorneys will do contingency cases for most 
types of cases.  Personal injury is about it.
> This is broken.  This GUARANTEES that the courts will be misused, as 
> they become a general means of siphoning unearned money from 
> defendants to unworthy plaintiffs and, particularly, their attorneys.  
> And it guarantees a system that is costly to administer and maximally 
> inefficient for the plaintiff and defendant that actually have a tort 
> concern.
It guarantees money will be siphoned from defendants and plaintiffs to 
attorneys.  That should be fixed.  For starters, people should be 
educated how to do a whole lawsuit themselves, as plaintiffs or 
defendants, and given some guidelines about when they need and attorney 
and for exactly what. 

There is no reason that a defendant should lose more based on the 
current system vs. your proposal except for the chilling effect on cases 
that should have gone to court but didn't.

Rate attorneys in some way that hurts them financially, have mediators 
limit and filter for frivolous cases, etc.
> The fix is simple:  make the plaintiff declare exactly what is being 
> sought in terms of actual and punative damages, and post a bond in 
> that amount or 
I am not sure of the whole legal method here, however A) most of the 
time you do have to specify up front what you are suing for and can't 
increase it, and B) you may not know what is reasonable, C) choosing a 
number can hurt the view of the plaintiff or it can be too low.

So you are suggesting that after I'm wronged, let's say that the bank 
decides to steal all my retirement money, that I have to come up with 
that much retirement money to post as a bond to get my first retirement 
money back?  What?
> some significant fraction thereof.  If the plaintiff cannot post it 
> --- and they usually won't be able to --- then the plaintiff's 
> attorney must post it.  This will cause plaintiffs to vet their 
> clients much more closely, it will reduce ridiculous judgments, and 
> generally balance the concerns.
No, it won't at all, not in most cases.  You must have some particularly 
narrow set of examples in mind.  In most lawsuits, this would have a 
totally and erroneously chilling effect.
> Also, it will not restrict the access to courts to some large 
> entities;  it will merely restrict the scope of what is sought to that 
> which is reasonable.
It will restrict access to the courts only to large entities.
> One small modification that might make this more amenable to various 
> folks would be rather than requiring such bonds for all cases, let 
> each judge optionally require a plaintiff / plaintiff's atty-posted 
> bond in the amount of 0-100% of the damages sought based on a 
> pre-trial hearing on the merits of the case.  This would often have 
> the same effect;  it would undo the *guarantee* that exists today that 
> the cost-benefit of filing a suit is in the plaintiff's favor, and 
> would stem the flow of ridiculous, lengthy, costly suits.
Having a judge requiring something in some cases is fine with me.  They 
can try to detect frivolous suits and get some skin on the table when it 
is needed.  To some extent this does exist in some places.  There are 
significant filing fees, $500 for something I remember, that discourage 
frivolousness to some extent.
>>>      - require official denouncement, criminalization of terrorist 
>>> groups
>> And extremist education of any kind.  Extremist == advocating death 
>> or maiming of any group or individual except in self-defense.
> +1
>>> If you want to provide for people at the bottom of the scale, the 
>>> best you can do is enact policies that raise the average quality of 
>>> life.  Anything else is counterproductive.
>> And, as I suggested above, one great way to do this is to provide for 
>> a baseline, free in some sense but possibly requiring public service, 
>> of ultra-low, ultra reusable, ultra efficient housing / utilities / 
>> subsistence.
> Logistics Division... ;-)
> jb

More information about the FoRK mailing list