Starting over from scratch & the death penalty

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Starting over from scratch & the death penalty

Postby Black Sword » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:33 pm

http://chronopause.com/index.php/2011/02/07/67/

I ponder if perhaps starting from scratch would be a good thing.
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Postby BenoitRen » Wed Mar 02, 2011 8:45 pm

The USA started from scratch, and look where it's gotten...
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Postby Wing-0 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:04 pm

It can't be a good thing.

Starting from scratch means wiping off everything. While many harmful things would be eliminated, so would be the beneficial ones. Medicine, advancements in technology that help us be in contact, medical/technological aids to people who have a disability and many others.

As I whined recently, I participated in an event by explaining about signal amplification. The particular prototype I built is a low cost sound amplifier for the use by people with a damaged hearing. The technology for the integrated circuit it employs as well as other miniature components is here because of advances in the last century.

The only way to make things better for the following generations is not to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. It's to educate and eradicate the current mindset that is still holding us back.
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Re: Post what's on your mind now

Postby Black Sword » Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:37 pm

I find it darkly amusing that a man of science believes humans have changed at all in the past five thousand years of history. We're the same selfish, greedy apes we've always been. Starting over will at least dispose of our worst excesses for a while before we cycle back to them.
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Re: Post what's on your mind now

Postby carlsojos » Wed Mar 02, 2011 9:43 pm

It's funny how easy it is to be distracted- I typed this entire response, then decided to try something I found on that TV tropes site, and failed to replicate the experiment they suggested to prove one of their constants.
Black Sword wrote:I ponder if perhaps starting from scratch would be a good thing.

I think the underlying question here is whether we learn from the past, or chain ourselves to its path.
On one hand, we as a society would have to relearn our lessons afterwards, to figure out how to survive the game after such a clean slate. On the other, such erasure would wipe out the more negative traditions that would likely cause said reverting to a blank slate, allowing civilization to proceed under a different path.

I'd say that the best bet is to embrace the wipeout when it comes, but don't try to encourage it any faster than it has to be- life will likely suck for the first couple generations after a reboot, until everyone gets savvy to the rules again.

EDIT: Of course people changed in the past 5 thousand years- we got greedier.
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Postby Wing-0 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:26 am

Precisely because I favor science over all other forms of academic pursuit I think that the blank slate is a bad idea. A blank slate means wiping everything and hoping for the best. That's unscientific. It means a loss of control over the course of history. However, a controlled scenario in which information on past excesses and mistakes is preserved and put into use is what I think would be the better method. It means taking control over history with a guiding hand and suppressing undesirable variables.

I don't advocate for a society in which freedoms are repressed in order to pursue a greater good. However, some things I would violently crush under my angry foot if I was in a leading position.

Racial conflicts? Either they settle them in talks, or both sides face violent consequences.
Priests raping minors? Immediate incarceration and the remainder of their lives spent in forced labor. Screw age. Forced labor.
Illicit hoarding of money? Those that do would be stripped bare of riches and sent to forced labor camps.
Corruption in government officials? Immediate loss of their post and a meaty sentence of the above. No need to feed useless prisoners for free.
War crimes? Why... Forced labor, of course!

There are many other things that can be added to my little list.

I'm not proposing an absolutist method. People can have their democracy or their socialism if they want to, but always be vigilant of their government. People shouldn't fear the government. The government should fear the people!

As an addition, I would like to see a separation of government AND army. I know, that sounds weird. Maybe even stupid. The thing is, the government should ASK the army for help, not have direct command over it.

A good example is what just happened in Egypt. Mubarak was an unpopular government official. I was expecting the army to create pools of blood with the people protesting. The result was that the army SIDED with the people. They even proposed to hold elections after who knows what time had passed. Weird thing? The people have agreed, and stranger still is that they placed their trust on their army. Now, time will tell if they follow through.

I was left in a state of WTF when that happened. The people should trust the army and the army should in turn trust and protect the people. After all, who makes up the army? The people, not the government. I have never heard of heads of state in modern times that went to war and fought side by side with common soldiers. The times of Alexander the Great and other such people have long ended.
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Postby Wing-0 » Thu Mar 03, 2011 2:38 am

Oh, little addition:

I don't think humans have changed at all in our short time existing. I agree with you that we're the same greedy, violent trash our ancestors were. Still, we have accumulated a wealth of knowledge that if it were lost, the resulting scenario would leave very little chance for our successors to survive. That's why I support the idea of a style of government that is soft on the people, but cruel and destructive against undesirable variables.

In short, I'm a weird breed of cold pragmatist.
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Re: Post what's on your mind now

Postby Black Sword » Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:29 am

My inner historian would like to repeat: optimist. It's all happened before, and it was likely done better the first time. There are traces of civilizations even older than the pyramids of Egypt in the mountain lands of Turkey and at the bottom of the sea off Japan, both destroyed, one by man's ignorance and the other by nature. Civilizations have collapsed so often that it's not a matter of if, but rather when. The thing people ignore is that a fast collapse is typically best. It's the equivalent of slicing open an infection and squeezing out the pus, rather than letting it keep growing until it explodes in hideous mess. There is no progressiveness to history; it's all fits and starts, with some of it gotten right before we decline into gaudy debauchery and start all over again in the most painful way possible because we less long term planning ability than a hive of ants.

Keeping the masses underfoot is the most efficient way, if you view it coldly. I'm Colombian and had to watch democracy screw my homeland up for two centuries, not least of which the past forty years. If you'd have given me Alvaro Uribe as dictator, or someone like him, I'd say "Yes, sir!" I'll take an enlightened despot to such prizes as Carter, George W. Bush, and Obama any day of the week, especially when idiots are the ones breeding and voting. As to the government fearing the people, they'll pass. Hell, I'll pass and laugh alongside the government. Bread and circuses, my friend. Or in this modern era, cheap fast food and reality TV. It's the good joke of every government.

(Execution is cheaper than forced labor, by the way)

That's the thing about Egypt. Mubarak wasn't able to create enough circus to keep the people quiet. Not enough work, so they rose up. I'll admit I was wrong since I expected the army to obey. Mubarak was one of them before he became ruler of Egypt, though my logical lapse was the same as yours. Egypt has two armies, in essence: conscript soldiers and professional officers. Most everyone has served as a conscript, and young soldiers hesitated to open fire. They ended up calling their fathers, who would have served before them, and their fathers would tell them not to fire. Simple as that. The other nations, like Libya, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, have no such problem, hence why Libya is on its way to civil war.

Honestly, a ruler who leads from the front wins the love of his soldiers and his people. A man who is willing to do what he orders others to do always wins absolute loyalty. The last man to do that was Napoleon.
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Postby BenoitRen » Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:08 pm

Black Sword wrote:Execution is cheaper than forced labor, by the way

It may be cheaper, but it's still legalised murder, and it doesn't help to deter criminals. Worse, it often kills innocent people.
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Re:

Postby Black Sword » Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:56 pm

BenoitRen wrote:
Black Sword wrote:Execution is cheaper than forced labor, by the way

It may be cheaper, but it's still legalised murder, and it doesn't help to deter criminals. Worse, it often kills innocent people.


Somehow, the "legalized murder" argument doesn't hold much ground when the illegal murders are quite often more horrific and the murderers rarely have anything positive to contribute. People are not created equal. That's a bitter truth, so why pretend something so inherently flawed? Why is the sociopath who slaughtered and raped children allowed to spend the rest of his life in jail at your expense? How is that justice? He's off the streets and gets to think about what he's done? Yeah, he's off the streets and thinking about what he's done every night, just not in the way you mean it.

Executions have an error rate of 3%. I'm not fond of the idea of sending innocent people to their deaths, but human systems are imperfect. Wanting it to be a perfect system is not helpful. You can reduce the margin of error, but it'll still have holes. That's humanity. But the thing is, even if you're innocent and executed, it's a mercy, to a degree. People do not place importance on innocence. They care about the fact you were arrested for X crime and punished, and now you're out. That automatically changes the social dynamic. Innocent? Sure you are, I believe you. Totally.
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Re:

Postby carlsojos » Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:10 pm

BenoitRen wrote:It may be cheaper, but it's still legalised murder, and it doesn't help to deter criminals. Worse, it often kills innocent people.

Actually, if you attempt to implement an advanced system to minimize the executions of such innocents, the resulting costs related to the expanded series of trials invalidate the claim of less expenditures per eligible case. I decide not to argue on whether executions are fair on an overall level since it has a tendency to involve vested emotions.

Also, executions in general can also cause unrest in certain situations, resulting in resistance against other, more clearly beneficial governmental actions by the public at large due to the inherent claim of superiority by the government doing what its citizens aren't supposed to, regardless of legitimate justification. If allegations circulate on potential political undercurrents being related to an execution, people tend to get upset regardless of whether it's true. Drawing back to the primary topic, what good is it to start from scratch if the slate winds up getting wiped every other Thursday?
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Re: Re:

Postby Black Sword » Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:39 pm

carlsojos wrote:Drawing back to the primary topic, what good is it to start from scratch if the slate winds up getting wiped every other Thursday?

My snarky answer is: gainful employment for a new generation of historians.
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Re: Post what's on your mind now

Postby BenoitRen » Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:43 pm

Black Sword wrote:Somehow, the "legalized murder" argument doesn't hold much ground when the illegal murders are quite often more horrific and the murderers rarely have anything positive to contribute.

My point is that it's still murder regardless.
Why is the sociopath who slaughtered and raped children allowed to spend the rest of his life in jail at your expense? How is that justice?

How is killing someone justice? "You killed someone, so we kill you." That's not a solution. It's barbaric. But I agree that instead of putting people into jail to rot, we should treat them and make them realise what they've done.

I also find it weird that people always complain about their tax money being spent on prisoners every time this gets discussed. As their tax money is worth more all of a sudden.
Executions have an error rate of 3%. I'm not fond of the idea of sending innocent people to their deaths, but human systems are imperfect. Wanting it to be a perfect system is not helpful.

Executing innocent people is unacceptable. Furthermore, it's not always about a margin of error. Try the police hellbent on having someone guilty and planting evidence to make them so in trial. Cases like these are common, and if they weren't executed by the time it was clear that they were innocent, they would still be alive.

I should also mention that the USA is one of the few civilised countries in the world that still has a death penalty. That should tell you something.
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Re: Re:

Postby carlsojos » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:29 pm

Black Sword wrote:My snarky answer is: gainful employment for a new generation of historians.

True, but I wonder if those historians realize the potential for the lessons they hold from this theoretical revolution to be forever lost when they begin to "ponder if perhaps starting from scratch would be a good thing."
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Re: Post what's on your mind now

Postby Black Sword » Thu Mar 03, 2011 9:51 pm

BenoitRen wrote:
Black Sword wrote:Somehow, the "legalized murder" argument doesn't hold much ground when the illegal murders are quite often more horrific and the murderers rarely have anything positive to contribute.

My point is that it's still murder regardless.


Bullcrap. Legally, murder is the unlawful killing of another human being with "malice aforethought." Blindly declaring all killings equal is about as intelligent as saying all people are created equal. That's the sloppy thinking of people who don't want to make hard decisions.

Why is the sociopath who slaughtered and raped children allowed to spend the rest of his life in jail at your expense? How is that justice?

How is killing someone justice? "You killed someone, so we kill you." That's not a solution. It's barbaric. But I agree that instead of putting people into jail to rot, we should treat them and make them realise what they've done.

I also find it weird that people always complain about their tax money being spent on prisoners every time this gets discussed. As their tax money is worth more all of a sudden.


How is keeping someone alive when the supposed punishment won't have an impact "justice?" Justice is the power to balance the scale for a wrong. It has nothing to do with fairness. Keeping a monster alive isn't justice. It's a taunt. Dismissing execution as a punishment because it doesn't fit with modern expressions of "sanctity of life" or "being civilized" is ridiculous. Punishment is supposed to be cruel and unusual, otherwise it's not punishment, it's a joke. Not only that, people get to complain about their money is spent, because they're the ones footing the bill.

Executions have an error rate of 3%. I'm not fond of the idea of sending innocent people to their deaths, but human systems are imperfect. Wanting it to be a perfect system is not helpful.

Executing innocent people is unacceptable. Furthermore, it's not always about a margin of error. Try the police hellbent on having someone guilty and planting evidence to make them so in trial. Cases like these are common, and if they weren't executed by the time it was clear that they were innocent, they would still be alive.

I should also mention that the USA is one of the few civilised countries in the world that still has a death penalty. That should tell you something.


It's unacceptable, but unavoidable. There is no perfect system, and I for one argue against perfectionism as an excuse not to make hard decisions. Yes, the police can be eager to string someone up to make themselves look better, but those cases are not as common as you state, and either way, what do you want to do? Reform everyone? Impossible. Hold on to everyone on the chance they're innocent? Costs.

Civilized is an illusion. It's a sideshow so people can pretend to "progress."
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