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Linux As a Model For a New Government?

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the i'm-X,-and-i-release-this-message-under-the-GPL dept.

Government 509

An anonymous reader writes "The hedge fund investor who prided himself on achieving 1000% returns, Andrew Lahde, wrote a goodbye letter to mark his departure from the financial world. In it, he suggests people think about building a new government model, and his suggestion is to have someone like George Soros fund a new government that brings together the best and brightest minds in a manner where they're not tempted by bribery. In doing so, he refers to how Linux grows and competes with Microsoft. An open source government. How would such a system work, and could it succeed? How long before it became corrupt? Would it need a benevolent dictator (Linus vs. Soros)?"

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509 comments

How long before it became corrupt? (5, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423707)

How long does it take to make a phone call?

 

Re:How long before it became corrupt? (3, Insightful)

Splab (574204) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423929)

Wikipedia has proven time and time again that "openness" will be corrupted just as easily as anything else.

Re:How long before it became corrupt? (1, Insightful)

Reikk (534266) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424009)

I'm pretty sure they've tried this before. It's called communism.

Re:How long before it became corrupt? (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424269)

How long before it became corrupt? ... How long does it take to make a phone call?

Not necessarily so, if the process of 'implementing' would be of the 'bottom up' (vs. 'top down', hmm, well) kind, spread across a long time interval and building on small elements that are shaped during the evolution of the system (think self-organizing), in contrast to trying to establish a 'new and better' structure from what is left in the ashes.

It won't happen here, though.

CC.

A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423715)

Most of their proposals seem to be based on the idea of some sort of dictator, with everyone's best interests in mind. I'm sure like communism it might work well in theory.

Democracy is basic open source government. You get what you put in. Adding in a republic aspect allows you to have some higher level maintainers to keep things orderly and to occasionally make unpopular decisions for the good of the project. Yes, it's potentially open to corruption, but as long as the democratic process itself isn't corrupted, repairs can be made.

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423843)

And then along comes some group that disagrees with the project leaders and they fork it. Since the government 0.6.1.1 code is open, they start their own 'republic of Tivo', which makes consumers of government very happy and makes 'the father of open source government' unhappy.

Soon, there are so many government distributions, each with their own election managers and schedulers (some completely fair, some not) that nobody knows which government is best for them. They only know it sometimes won't sell wireless and sometimes the open source penal code is not 100% compatible with new versions of the city manager and some people keep getting called 'blobs'.

I'm sure that someday will be the 'year of open source on the government' and one of the distributions will Linspire us to all wear little red hats instead of tin foil. What a Novell idea!

We'll be laughing all the way to the bank about our new, freee government until the judge hits us with patent infringement and says gleefully, "RTFM Noob!" as he issues the kill -9 sentence on us.

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (2, Funny)

MrZaius (321037) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424197)

AC wrote: And then along comes some group that disagrees with the project leaders and they fork it. Since the government 0.6.1.1 code is open, they start their own 'republic of Tivo', which makes consumers of government very happy and makes 'the father of open source government' unhappy.

Soon, there are so many government distributions, each with their own election managers and schedulers (some completely fair, some not) that nobody knows which government is best for them. They only know it sometimes won't sell wireless and sometimes the open source penal code is not 100% compatible with new versions of the city manager and some people keep getting called 'blobs'.

Sounds like hellheaven ala Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash or Ken Macleod's Star Fraction. There are plenty of nutty little microstate endorsers that would love to see something similar to this occur. Me, I'll be happy when they let me eat cake. Preferably with Oreo-based crust. Mmmmm.... crust.

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (2, Insightful)

sleigher (961421) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423915)

but as long as the democratic process itself isn't corrupted, repairs can be made.

I guess we're fucked then......

Re: minor correction (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424225)

but as long as the democratic process itself isn't corrupted, repairs can be made.

I guess we're fscked then......

Fixed that for you. ;)

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423923)

I'm sure like communism it might work well in theory.

And Capitalism too. Or hadn't you been paying attention these past few weeks?

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (2, Insightful)

PunkOfLinux (870955) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424017)

On the topic of capitalism:

Have you ever noticed how people gasp and look at you strange the moment you mention anarchy?

Capitalism is essentially economic anarchy. If it's good enough for our money, what's to stop it from being good enough for us?

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (4, Funny)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424169)

Logistics?

If the Dow loses 15% of its value we don't have to figure out where to hide all the lost dollars. Lose 15% of the human population and you either have to find lots of grave space or learn to live with the stench.

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424179)

"Capitalism is essentially economic anarchy. If it's good enough for our money, what's to stop it from being good enough for us?"

By the same criteria and taking mankind as a whole, who's to say we are not already practising anarchy? - I mean aside from the wrath of your peers and their agents, what's stopping you from doing what you want right now?

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (3, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424133)

Actually its just a deregulated economy that only works well in theory well that and the trickle down economy. capitalism works well in practice (or did until the idea that people could just invent money anyway)

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (3, Insightful)

ral8158 (947954) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423943)

Um, I think you're confusing 'liberal' with 'all people who I disagree with and think are crazy'. Because I'm pretty sure liberalism is, in general, at odds with the idea of a dictatorship? You know, like 'liberation'?

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423967)

Hence my use of "". They call themselves liberal, vote Democratic, etc, but are they really? Their suggestions seem to make me think not. I'm personally a libertarian and am generally the odd-man out in my circle of friends when it comes to politics.

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (2, Informative)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424101)

In that case i think the term your looking for is socialist, in particular facist-socialists. where as you would be a liberal-conservative.

Perhaps the problem with the US is that its a country, the amount of power needed to run a country that big inevitably leads to a lot of pressure from special interest groups. There is also a huge discrepancy between how American's think of their federal government (something with limited power over the individual states, like the EU over its countries) and the reality (something which controls its states, like the UK gov over county councils). There is also the entire two party system problem and because you dont trust your main parties enough to not vote tamper, you wont even consider the solution (proportional representation over relevant areas), let alone will it ever be implemented, the 3rd party in a 2 party system here has won the popular vote a couple of times but not even come close to being in power.

But hey i should probably sort out my own shit (also a 2 party system, with both parties getting increasingly similar and power hungry, with plenty of corruption and an increasing amount of US style media manipulation) before i say anything.

Fundamentally a democracy (be it in a 'socialist' European form or a 'conservative' American form) is the best of a bad bunch of forms of government.

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424153)

except that liberalism has very little to do with the idea of liberation, except etymologically.

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (4, Insightful)

darjen (879890) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424039)

Open source is a much closer model for no government - or, in other words, anarchy. The last few years have been pretty clear to me that democracy doesn't produce government that works in the people's best interest. A linux model for government would allow people to choose how to organize themselves on a voluntary basis. Government, even the democratic version, rests on the application of force. So the two ideals really are mutually exclusive.

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (5, Funny)

eobanb (823187) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424055)

Most of their proposals seem to be based on the idea of some sort of dictator, with everyone's best interests in mind.

As a Mac user this sounds strangely familiar [wikipedia.org]

Re:A lot of my "liberal" friends seem to agree (0, Troll)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424073)

As a Mac user, you sound like a delusional idiot.

So long and thanks for all the money (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423717)

So long and thanks for all the money.

Nothing would change... (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423727)

... there would be illicit "code" sharing with interns and staffers, killing of wives and ex-wives. And then there would be religious differences (devil worshippers and penguin followers) and we would be polarized into two parties once again: The Penguins and the Little-Red-Devils.

The more we try to change, the more we stay the same.

And ultimately, who do appoint as our "constitution-kernel" manager to approve any constitution-kernel amendment-patches?

I propose a new driver... a pro-choice driver that does not pass moral judgement over others.

Re:Nothing would change... (2, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423807)

And when the government makes a bad decision, can I fork my government? Of course, no government is all that bad if you can just opt out. Not that effective either...

Re:Nothing would change... (2, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424041)

And when the government makes a bad decision, can I fork my government?

In USSA, government bailout forks YOU!

... and they didn't even give you the courtesy of a reach-around ...

Re:Nothing would change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424263)

"I propose a new driver... a pro-choice driver that does not pass moral judgement over others."

But then you'd have to spread the wealth...

Fork. (5, Insightful)

jadedoto (1242580) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423737)

Well, I think the real question here is how long till it forks?

And which one to choose, there are so many! Would it be possible to try each fork on my family first in a sort of LiveGOV program instead of committing to one particular fork of the government?

Re:Fork. (2, Insightful)

paroneayea (642895) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423785)

There was a serious threat that the government was going to fork. Then they switched to a distributed VCS, everything went better, and world hunger ended.

Until, of course, the next week, when a brand new flamewar erupted on the mailing list.... the mix of politics and free and open source philosophy and development styles... it was just inevitable...

Re:Fork. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424045)

Well, I think the real question here is how long till it forks?

As proposed?
It would never get off the ground.

George Soros is widely hated by the (far) right elements in the USA.
http://www.google.com/search?q=george+soros+evil [google.com]

You would need someone non-political to kick in the seed money, or a significant part of the population will never get onboard.

Re:Fork. (4, Insightful)

wfeick (591200) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424243)

I would not just say it's the far right. There are plenty of centrists such as myself who happen to own firearms and hunt would are very wary of Soros. He gives a lot of money to gun control organizations and would strip us of our current rights.

I wouldn't want to live in a country Soros was running.

Re:Fork. (4, Interesting)

Znork (31774) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424099)

Actually, the lack of the ability to easily fork may be one of the most deeply ingrained flaws and problems with current political systems. It's a privilege largely reserved for corporations and/or the very rich, to easily change into and out of what political system you currently prefer.

It would be interesting to explore the options of more modular political systems where citizens, when they dislike their unit enough, could reasonably easily disengage and join another unit. A system could be designed on multiple dimensions ranging from geographic protection through healtcare through trade-related aspects, and comprise both low-level units up to world spanning organizations. If nothing else it might at least provide more interesting and intellectually challenging politics.

Re:Fork. ( I wrote this, this morning.) (1)

Aldenissin (976329) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424295)

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=ddmhxhmm_0fn4jjmfc [google.com] Are you tired of it yet? Are you tired of it yet, yes that is the question. But are you really... No, I am not tired enough of it yet. I am not ready to do what it takes to take control of my life. The things that are most important to me. Such as my family, my friends, my pets, my life. I am simply doing what I hope is the best that I can to get by. That is an excellent example of exactly how many people feel right now. Or you might of answered, I am a true patriot. The definition of a patriot being (lets consult [Princeton] S: (n) patriot, nationalist (one who loves and defends his or her country). The thing in my mind, would all but have to be about the most important thing for me. Because let's face it, the most important thing to me is me. Without me there is nothing.. at least to me. I am my most valuable possession. Because if I have any possessions whatsoever, you want to protect them. The only way to be sure in anyone's mind is if they are there to protect the objects they "possess." I either do or do not possess a family (one at least I can be taxed on) or have to many other items, but one thing is for sure as long as I own and on a mission to possess a selfless desire but to acquire what I only need and required think of how I could really, truly impact my world. I am but a man in my country. We love, represent, and back football teams, families and organizations on close to a daily basis. The one thing that most represents me, in the world is my country. I must take it seriously. Not doing so does unequivocally include guaranteed annihilation. End of story. This is not meant to be propaganda, although admittedly falls under such definitions. The fact of the matter is my fellow Americans that if enough of us do not immediately decide to make some different correct decisions it appears soon we will not be in possession of our country, if we call it that now. Without my country, I am a changed man. Borders move all time, but never with any consistent peace. The ultimate preservation is therefore my country. Without which I am changed forever. I would be willing to take a bullet, if it meant that 9-11 woulnd't have happend. I may not be politician, or have any answers, but there are those that do. I am likely not of quite enough peace of mind and ineptitude to find the best choice, but I recognize that and to continue the logic, willing to seek the answers from those that do. I may happen to know a few people that are smart enough to recognize their preservation priority, and I am going to nominate them to themselves. In order to perform a more perfect union. Who is responsible for this country if not but us, we the people. You, me and everybody. You may have to make some tough decisions, whether it be lifestyle changes, or getting up off our pity stones we have strapped to our feet. I am a prime example, one with his first heart surgery at two, his second at 7 and his spinal fusion surgery at 11. I have seen some "negative circles" of people and I have seen and been lucky to be the beneficiary of some of the countries best and hardest working. If you consider yourself close to a hard worker, you owe it to yourself to standout and decide today right here and right now that you want to see and participate in some serious discussions.

Sad but true... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423751)

Libertarians or perhaps the Hermaphroditic party will win the desktop before Linux does.

Open Source IS the ideal behind democracy (2, Interesting)

DontLickJesus (1141027) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423759)

The ability of anyone to suggest changes, managed and seconded by those who maintain the project on a day to day basis.

Man was not meant to rule himself. Some men are natural leaders, but no man is meant to rule.

Re:Open Source IS the ideal behind democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424125)

Man was not meant to rule himself.

*citation needed*

  - An Anarchist

Re:Open Source IS the ideal behind democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424137)

The ability of anyone to suggest changes, managed and seconded by those who maintain the project on a day to day basis.

And if the idea isn't liked by the one person in charge, it is crushed.

You and I have a very different idea of what a Democracy is.

Too Late... (4, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423771)

We are already about to have a government bought and paid for by Soros

Mod Parent Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423845)

And damn, was it cheap. He didn't pay enough for Kerry in 2004, but he did well on congress in 2006.

Idiotic (5, Insightful)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423779)

This has to be the most idiotic suggestions I've seen here for a while. There is nothing wrong with the current U.S. government - it is ignoring the constitution which is the problem. There are clear boundaries presented by the constitution to protect citizens from the abusive and corrupt politicians, but if the law is ignored, it does not matter who is in charge and whether or not the government is "open source" or not. Why not all put our pants down and bend over for the Linux boys...since they write good code, they obviously could be really good at coming up with constitutional law and governmental suggestions! Of course, they would never get corrupt at the first sight of pr0n, because they already have the hottest women on the block :)

Re:Idiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423857)

Most people would classify the government's ignorance of the constitution as a PROBLEM WITH THE GOVERNMENT.

Hear, hear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424027)

The more I read about history and politics, the more I'm impressed by the US Constitution and by the people who wrote it.

Re:Idiotic (2, Insightful)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424085)

This has been a strong belief amongst geeks for a very long time, if you were around the culture (or visiting Slashdot) during the dot com era you know it was worse then. In summary: I can program a computer to do rocket science, therefore I can do rocket science.

Flip through RMS's writing to see the scope of subjects he was compelled to expound upon and know that before he turned against the hivemind geeks lapped up every single essay like a cat does milk. Dude, if he is smart enough to write The Cathedral and the Bazaar he must be smart enough to tell us how to bang our girlfriends.

So Slashdot taking this guy's suggestion seriously shouldn't be a surprise at all. We have a software development model that more or less works, we like it a lot anyway, so lets apply it in doublecoats to every unrelated aspect of our lives. Lets not worry that it can be and has been perverted to ratify the will of one small group over that of everyone else. Lets not worry that as a whole the model produces ridiculous levels of inefficiency that economies dealing in tangible raw materials aren't going to be able to stand. Lets not worry that it is a fucking software development model, no more no less.

So lets develop government like we do software so we can each choose from 140 different ones like we do Linux distros. Meanwhile, the actual government (we'll call it MS for this example) will continue to find ways to get me to continue to rely on it in some small way, which means it'll have to keep finding new and inventive ways to get me to pay its MS tax. Or maybe it won't have to think up new ways because it has the market cornered on rifles.

Re:Idiotic (1)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424093)

"ignoring the constitution which is the problem." is just one problem. Lobbyists have a greater influence than the voters. Politicians treat getting reelected as a higher priority than their commitment to the voters.

We need term limits and campaign contributions should be anonymous or publicly financed.

Re:Idiotic (1)

paniq (833972) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424161)

Why not all put our pants down and bend over for the Linux boys...since they write good code

i recently visited finland, the home country of linus torvalds; a country full of trees, lakes and mosquitoes, close to nature, with lots of fresh air and little commercialization. i got the impression that finland was like a virgin, waiting to be raped by US interests, to be mcdonaldized and burgerkingified.

who would have thought that it turns out to be the opposite case ;)

Re:Idiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424209)

Well, the fact that it is even possible to ignore the constitution indicates that there is something DEFENITELY wrong with a republic, sir.

Re:Idiotic (1)

alcmaeon (684971) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424227)

"There is nothing wrong with the current U.S. government - it is ignoring the constitution which is the problem."

And you don't consider the existence of a constitutional government with the ability to ignore the constitution that created it to be something fundamentally wrong with that system?

terrible idea (4, Funny)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423787)

This is a terrible idea. Any thinking person knows that we should use BSD as a model for a new government.

Re:terrible idea (4, Funny)

swillden (191260) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423985)

Nah, the OpenBSD model is clearly superior.

Imagine the State of the Union addresses.

Re:terrible idea (1)

mgiuca (1040724) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424051)

Are you insane?

Then proprietary governments around the world will steal our ideas, improve upon them, and not release them back to us.

We already have governments that operate that way. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423789)

We already have governments that operate that way, it's called communism.

Re:We already have governments that operate that w (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423977)

And then US is microsoft using its evil proprietary wares to crush any form of communism (even non-evil variants, like the smurfs!!!) . But where does the fascist part of all attempts at communism fit in? I mean linus is a bit of a control freak when it comes to what gets into the kernel, but he is unlikely to shoot you if you fork the kernel (try and break away).

In summary this analogy really sucks!

Fork the government (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423799)

Cool! I always wanted to fuc.. fork the government.

Well for one thing, it has to be paid for..... (4, Insightful)

3seas (184403) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423809)

... but even now as we pay taxes, we should be telling the government what we want them to spend it on.
This way any election of persons "running' the government can at worse just bias such usage rather then run us into the ground with misusing your taxes and leaving us low and wet with no retirement or healthcare.

Someone said to me, when I suggested we tell the government "for the people by the people" how to spend our taxes, that the constitution of the US says we do not have the right to question how the government spends our taxes.

I agreed and said we will not question them, we will instead tell them how to use it.

The Linux ideal was applied when this country was first started, "for the people by the people" and reason, specific reasons, given is found in the "Declaration of Independence."

As an example of Government Abuse today, if you genuinely uphold the "Declaration of Independence" you WILL BE LABELED A TERRORIST and put of list of such people!

Idealist have great ideas that shouldn't be used (2, Insightful)

Narnie (1349029) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423821)

Sure that sounds great, but how are you really going to place qualified people into government positions? Open elections? We're having troubles putting competent people into the White House as is, and that's with the assistance of an 'enlightened' electoral college. The USSR tried something similar with Soviets and a Benevolent Dictator but when their economic system collapsed, their government fell too.

The best solution falls along the lines of (1) choosing a government system that is hard to corrupt and easy to flush when corruption/evil is found and (2) educating the public to understand how the system works and how to identify corruption. I guess you can say the same reasons that corruption exists in any government is the same reasons why the world still uses Windows: the end user doesn't understand the system, they believes whoever tells them what they want to hear, and doesn't really want to sweat the details.

they have that in China, Cuba, and elsewhere (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423829)

A "benevolent dictator" is usually not benevolent, except in his own mind. Even if he is, he usually becomes less so over time as pressure builds to show results for society.

You can bet that he will act as a dictator when someone outside his circle proposes changes, though.

Good luck with your job search.

Pffft (2, Interesting)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423835)

He comes with some half-baked proposal, followed by a diatribe on the legalisation of dope. Big impression that is going to make.
I do love these money-sharks turned philosophers. Yeah we took a lot of cash from those idiots, but it isn't our fault they are stupid.. What they forget is that I as a non-expert don't have a snowball chance in hell to find out if my pension is in safe hands. Fortis Bank here in Belgium was marketed as a "good housefather - sleep on it for 20 years" share and now it is poof because some fatcat financial "specialists" burned their fingers on something even they didn't understand.

It would have similar flaws to our current Govt. (4, Insightful)

JWman (1289510) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423849)

Namely, how are people put into positions of power? Through growing reputation and ability? Meaning that the govt. would be populated (in theory) by the best politicians (and uhhh, do we really want that)? How would you get people out of power once they got there? Currently, you can just fork an open source project if you don't like the project leaders. Clearly this is not a good option for government because it usually involves bloody warfare to happen.

No, this seems like a bit of a silly, not well thought out argument. Most discussions of open source that I've been a part of trumpet it as a more "democratic" process, meaning that open source mimics the current US government more than the government should mimic open source.

Now this will likely cause a flood of comments declaring our current government as broken, and not democratic. It is fine if you think that, but if you are going to rant about a problem, you darn well better have a better solution. and if you're thinking of improving the voting process (a good place to start) you may want to check out Arrow's Impossibility Theorem [wikipedia.org] which states that no voting system can possibly be fair to everyone.

Re:It would have similar flaws to our current Govt (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424025)

Our current government is broken and not democratic!
My solution involves free bacon for everyone. If you love bacon, vote for me in the upcoming election.

See isn't that the way the democratic process is supposed to work?

Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423885)

Benevolent dictators like Torvalds, Rossum, Moolenar etc are few. Power corrupts everyone as Stanford Prison Experiment showed. Nobody is immune to it. We are only human.

Open Source Govt. (4, Informative)

gryf (121168) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423889)

I'm all for open government, which is not to say a government based on an open source software product development group.

Any one who has taken a poli sci class or a history class that covered ancient rome, athens or the founding of the US should see that the organization of ideas and resources in order to build a good software product is a vastly different paradigm than organizing a 'good' government.

First, the argument should be about what government means. I'm less concerned with what a government provides me ( a product ) than what it denies me. The moment government thinks it's supposed to produce a product as opposed to leave me alone, I would describe that government as tyrannical.

The bad mortgage/bad credit crisis was in large part created by people who felt it was the government's job to ensure anyone could get a house, regardless of ability to afford it. This is but one example of how government by good intentions invokes the law of unintended consequences for disastrous results.

Benevolent dictators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423901)

Through out history, there has on occasion actually been dictators that did good for their countries. The big problem is succession. Even the most benevolent ruler will, if given the choice put his own offspring on the throne, and said offspring invariably turns out to be either a moron or an asshole.

It almost seems like an historical law.

he's stoned (3, Informative)

gladish (982899) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423909)

I've got ten bucks that says he was stoned while writing that. The letter is very scatter-brained. He sounds like he's at a frat party when he's arguing about the legality of marijuana. Not that I disagree, I'm just saying that when you write your good-bye letter resigning as the head of a hedge-fund, you're probably better off leaving the "weed talk" out.

Re:he's stoned (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424163)

If you noticed what he wrote, you would be best to convert that $10 to something other than US currency real soon

might not completely worked (5, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423917)

The last time we tried to fork the US, it didn't work too well. But actually, I do think that this could be the germ of a new idea, experimental modes of government in test communities. People will argue the pro's and con's back and forth but until the theories have been put to the test, it's just speculation. The only problem I've seen is that when a bad idea is proven to be such in a proper experiment, the true believers won't say the idea was flawed, it simply was not applied with enough vigor. We're thus back where we started, only the true believers are crazier for it.

The thing I keep coming back to is that rigidly hierarchical models of direction and control were necessary in the pre-computer age. Just imagine trying to keep up with documents and records when they're all held on sheets of paper in real folders in real file drawers, just imagine trying to communicate with someone when long-distance communication is just scratchy phone lines and letters. It makes sense to concentrate all of the command and control in one place and issue orders from there, capital cities, corporate HQ's and all.

With modern telecommunications, it will be easier to push the brains of the organization out to the periphery. Just drawing from my own experience, I've worked in several different corporate environments starting with food services, then telecommunications, then a mixture of small and big shops for computers and financial services. The thing that really struck me about the chain stores is that they took away the initiative from the store manager. A place could not vary from corporate standard and while this sets a base line of acceptable quality, nobody was allowed to rise above that level, either. What also happened is that management refused to accept feedback from the stores, the front lines of the business, so when they tried to implement stupid ideas, they never got the feedback that it wasn't working; either they didn't ask for it or wouldn't listen.

Just talking about restaurants, the strength of the traditional franchise is national brand recognition, expensive marketing and research efforts to develop products for the menu, and a proven formula for success that simply needs to be adopted and adhered to. Of course, this also means that you'll often get crap. If I compare the local Denny's with the local breakfast and lunch place, there's no comparison, the local mom and pop kicks the shit out of Denny's and their "real breakfast" bullshit. Of course, Denny's gets huge advantages of scale with purchasing, etc.

What I think would be interesting is if the mom and pops could create co-ops to do the same thing nation-wide. "Look, we're all individuals but together we represent a thousand restaurants. We promise to buy in this quantity at these prices, and if anyone drops out, the rest of the members will pick up the slack." Very hard to do 30 years ago but with computers these days, should be far easier.

When I was a kid, the strength of the capitalist versus communist economies was described as demand versus command. Command economies tried to decide everything from the capital city and they really had no clue how many paperclips were needed, would set unrealistic production goals and would never have the right amount. A demand economy places the paperclip decision at the level of the people buying the paperclips and the people making the paperclips -- a better understanding of the need for paperclips helps limit the production to just as much as is necessary. This decentralizes the bureaucracy.

Can the same thing be done at the federal level? Break the monolithic agencies into smaller "franchises" with the same goal but offices spread throughout the nation, all following the same game plan but fully cognizant of what's going on at the front lines? Can we bring back a meritocracy where the successful succeed and the failures go away? That used to be the strength of the western capitalist economies but now we allow such concentration of resources in oversized companies that are "too big to fail" that we've arrived at the same inefficiencies as the communist nations.

Nothing new, Karl Marx had it laid out 130 yrs ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423919)

It's called...well, you know it as communism. It's alive and...not so well, in Cuba. Vietnam. Parts of Russia (the parts no one really wants). And parts of Alaska and Arizona. As you know, in Soviet Russia, the people THINK they own everything, but in fact, they own nothing. It suxors to be a kommie !!

No "good" government (3, Interesting)

Kohath (38547) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423949)

In the history of the world, there has never been a "good" government. When things were at their absolute best, the government was mediocre and it didn't last.

The usual quote for this situation is Thomas Paine:

Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.

I am glad this hedge fund guy is moving to a purely theoretical field. If he can't learn from history, at least he can't hurt the economy with silly financial deals.

a new gov. that's the ticket (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25423951)

a new gov. that's the ticket

A few thoughts (1)

Dripdry (1062282) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423953)

A few thoughts:

While this is an interesting idea, it seems to me like getting a majority of people (enough to redefine government) to put confidence in a governmental system such as this would be hard. Getting people to understand it, then putting confidence in an untried system, would be difficult. It's like Linux versus mainstream OSes: Linux is being adopted because it's been working in the wings for years as a reasonable alternative in some instances. It has a reputation.

Also, when the Founding Fathers came to the table they WERE the best and brightest in many ways. As I've seen so many places, would even be possible to recruit the best and brightest, gut the system, and put them in place? Could a movement like that in Amrica occur? What would be the fallout? I imagine many of our political and economic ties would be severed with other countries and it could very well crash our economy.

While a new government may sound good in principal, keep in mind that government has fostered relationships with other countries for a very long time. Can we give them up?

It's already like Linux (1)

mattOzan (165392) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423955)

It's inner workings are totally opaque to the general public (me included, for the most part). The fact that is works at all is "magical," in the Asimovian sense.

And for both, if you want answers, you have to ask "The Man!"

Under the sea (2, Insightful)

wlt (1367531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423981)

all the current places already have governments. they need a new country for their new government.

I vote they build a city under the sea - somewhere all the existing governments can't get their hands on.

They'll need to bring in all the best scientists, artists, doctors and engineers in as well - I think it'd be important for them to bring in geneticists to help develop new DNA sciences in this new place so that they can build a better, newer world, no?

Re:Under the sea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424007)

In an Octopus' garden in the shade?

Already there (2, Funny)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 5 years ago | (#25423989)

The wealthy bankers already buy and sell our elected representatives; why would they want to make it official?

You can't compare it this way (1)

paniq (833972) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424011)

You can't compare government with software development. Contrary to government, Linux is needed. ;)

He's a one hit wonder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424029)

870% return - NOT returns. [latimes.com]

He's just a self-aggrandizing self-promoting - Harvard MBA full of shit hedge fund manager. What I'm saying is he got real lucky once and was smart enough to cash out while he was ahead. And, he will never be able to do it again.

Re:He's a one hit wonder (1)

gadabyte (1228808) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424149)

he got real lucky once and was smart enough to cash out while he was ahead.

the cashing out while ahead is what i'm impressed with. it's kind of a rare intelligence.

of course, maybe that's just because i checked out a long time ago, without bothering to get ahead first...

New governements (2, Interesting)

Bayoudegradeable (1003768) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424049)

As a social studies teacher I am happy to see people discussing the idea. Maybe the open source government has no chance of succeeding, but to hear talk of different governing styles is a good thing. Don't get me wrong, I love the promise and potential our U.S. Constitution offers (note the PATRIOT ACT is NOT part of the Constitution tyvm) but am also aware of some shortcomings. Society, like the animal kingdom, evolves. Therefore to say we are stuck with the late 1700s as the best we can do for a backbone is selling ourselves short. Though it can be said that Japan's postwar constitution was something of an update of that system. If the open source idea sounds terrible, then perhaps throw out some alternatives. Why not kick around ideas? With elections hinged on money and elected officials seemingly tied to a cycle of the constant reelection game, discussions on alternatives can't make things any worse.

Contribute (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424061)

Find a corrupt/broken/inefficient part of government.
Learn about the source of the problem.
Then do what you can to rid it of corruption, fix it, and make it more efficient.

Hacker Commune? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424065)

Does such a thing exist?

The houses could be Earthsips, the food could be farmed through aquaponics and rotating gardens(see omega garden).
Practically everything could be automated with enough smart people.

I would love a place where I would be free to live as a renaissance man, working on whatever projects I liked.

I remember reading about "hacker spaces" a few years ago which are a similar idea.

Heavens Gate also tried something similar but that didn't end very well :-o

Direct Democracy (1)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424067)

I believe what's called Direct Democracy is like Open Source, citizens can pretty much vote on every issue.

  In this day and age it should be easy, if not cheap, to allow every citizen to vote on everything. I know electronic voting has a bad reputation but if the bugs could be worked out (quantum cryptography) this could allow countries with large populations the ability to hear from all citizens.

  On the dark side though a true Democracy is probably not a good idea since the majority rules unlike current Western style governments where the majority doesn't, large populations in rich sections of a country could have all the power.

ret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25424091)

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The problem is (1)

slughead (592713) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424109)

"best and brightest" != correct

There's a reason why we have incredibly smart people holding differing opinions on nearly every single issue. Joe six pack who has never even read a book might have the "best" idea to solve a problem, even with no idea when the War of 1812 went down. This concept of being right just because you've thought it through is just arrogance. Yes, it probably helps to have an education, but ultimately a lot of decision making is guesswork and judgment calls.

There is an existing model to work from (1)

under_score (65824) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424119)

I haven't posted in a looooong time! Here goes: This is a good idea, in that we need better government. The thing is, it doesn't need Soros or anyone else to invest. There is an existing, excellent example governmental system already at work in the world. Six million people are organizing themselves around the world using a system originally designed in the late 1800's. The Baha'i World Community has three levels of government, it is completely free of corruption, it is non-partisan, it is based on individual capabilities rather than party platforms, it is free from electioneering/campaigning, and it has been functioning effectively for over 40 years at a global scale (prior to that it was functioning for many more decades at a national scale in various countries around the world).

There is an excellent wikipedia article about the Baha'i system [wikipedia.org] .

As a member of the Baha'i community myself, I have first-hand experience with the functioning of this system. It is amazing how incredibly different it is from the existing governmental systems you see running in nations.

There are other people who have commented here about how this system or the other system is excellent, it's just that (some excuse for why it's not working)... The Baha'i system _is_ working. There is no excuse to offer about how it's great in theory, because it's also great in practice.

The only challenge is that you have to actually buy into it... Oh, wait, that's a challenge for every other system too. Oh well. :-D

Actually, the real challenge is that it is not just a mechanical system. It uses spiritual principles in its operation. This is difficult for many people, but still, I encourage you to investigate it and the Baha'i community itself [bahai.org] . Mishkin.

Stop thinking about systems, think about people (2, Insightful)

wikinerd (809585) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424131)

Stop thinking about changing systems, start thinking about changing people. Any system can serve everyone well if it is operated by capable and good people. So, instead of trying to change a system, let's focus on education and developing people's skills and sense of duty and ethics. What we lack and what we need is people who are capable and willing to do what is right. We have lots of systems and every system is guaranteed to fail if no capable and good people can operate it, so focus on what we need most first: people.

Re:Stop thinking about systems, think about people (2, Insightful)

Xuranova (160813) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424215)

Except the people are all under working under a set of rules to achieve something. The system is what puts this into place. If people don't believe in the system(and in turn the rules and goals) they're working for, they will do what they believe is best which might be different than the 'system'.

Extreme example: Capitalism vs Communism. They each have different systems in place to achieve their ends. If the people don't agree with the end goal, doesn't make them necessarily bad or good but they will do the most in their power to undermind that end goal.

Benevolent Dictators work... (1)

Thakandar2 (260848) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424155)

for a single lifetime. Then they die, and they never really get the hand off they should have to the next person, who will most likely be a dictator, sans benevolence. That's why Plato called the Republic practically unattainable - there aren't enough Philosopher Kings to handle the mess in the most expedient and trustworthy manner.

Also, certain governments, like Singapore, have tried paying their government officials salaries that are so high that they become less bribable. This works, since Singapore is seen as less corrupt than many countries in similar levels of development, but modern society in America might have a problem paying government officials after several hundred years of distrusting politicians.

Yeah, this would work about as well as: (0, Flamebait)

Toll_Free (1295136) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424201)

Well, this will be adopted about as fast as Linux on the Desktop.

Why the FUCK does everyone in geek circles compare EVERYTHING to linux?

I mean, it's an operating system. Once you allow it to envelop your life or help you make decisions, your an idiot that can't think for yourself.

Seriously, how the FUCK did this become news for nerds, as if it even matters.

More blogging constituted as journalism.

--Toll_Free

Broken summary (2, Insightful)

rzei (622725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424241)

After for once reading the article (very interesting let me tell you) it'd seem that the summary is a bit off course.

Adrew Lahde talks about the need for George Soros (or alike) to fund or start a forum that'd discuss a new form of Goverment/economics, that could grow in the sense of Linux (one guy starts it up, other start contributing).

He does not want Linus or Soros to run a country. He wants people like Soros (anyone with loads of money) to help wise people (not necessarily oil owners) to think about a new world order past capitalism.

He also talks about number of different good ideas which should be put in play.

Wars (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424253)

This idea annoys me. First we have OSS governments and then we'll see physical, deadly, flaming wars between the vi and emacs parties. Finally we end up with a world ruled by several Beowulf clusters of robotic overlords.

ummm....err...that's not how OSS works (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25424279)

Andrew Lahde obviously hasn't a clue about OSS. First, Linus isn't a "benevolent dictator" of OSS; at most, he's the ruler-via-merit of Linux, specifically, not OSS in general. OSS doesn't have a ruler of any sort these days, but until probably a couple years or so ago that would have been RMS - not Linus. "Linux" can be replaced by any number of things (FreeBSD, OS/X, Solaris, HP-UX, Windows, etc etc) and still use the majority of the rest of the OSS's community's flagship products. And are we really, after what the last few weeks have shown us, calling any damn financial elite "benevolent" at this point? Soros in particular has been on a mad power trip for a few years now, doing what I can only hope he thinks is the "right thing," but... Had Linus gone on the power trip Soros has been on, we would have replaced him by now. See, that's the difference between a OSS project that can be easily forked, and a "benevolent dictator" - we can't fork a government. I have to say though that given Soros' misguided attempts to "promote democracy" I find it fittingly ironic that someone would suggest him as a dictator. I personally use the OSS community as an example of why, in the future, when we are much more evolved socially than we are now, true communism would not only work but prosper. That being the case, communism (the only sort of example OSS can provide) isn't a method of rulership, it's a financial system. Governments protect financial systems, that doesn't mean they are the financial system (though they are always deeply entwined). One could have a democratic state with a traditional, market, command, or mixed economic system. But since, as I mentioned, one can't fork a government...the strength of OSS doesn't remotely apply (any such easily replaceable government would be easily removed by external forces too, and wouldn't have lasted long enough to piss off their constituents enough for them to have "forked" it).
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