Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Law Brackets

Accountability inversely proprtional to income.
  [vote for,

I apologize if any of the following is overly obtuse. I'm terrifyingly sober right now, and it's had an effect on my normally high personal standards.


Remember cyberpunk? How corporate executives, industrialists, and government officials didn't have to obey the all of the law and enjoyed special privileges and stuff? Basically the complete opposite of that.

I think it's a completely fair arrangement to require, in exchange for an exorbitant salary and massive power to effect (& affect?) other people, you're required by law to surrender most of your privacy, make most of your personal information public knowledge, and suffer heavier fines, stiffer punishments, and more zealous policing that people who don't.

So, we won't hold success against our more ambitious citizens, we just hold a gun on them in case the abuse their position.

The execs involved in the Gulf oil spill? Execute them. It will never happen again.

Hang them all, for their crimes. Hell, I think under certain circumstances maybe we should just lock them up on general principle. Like the Bank Execs that invited the recession: strip their assets & lock them all in prison, not because it will fix anything, but because we'll feel better for doing it.

On the other hand, the guy making $8 an hour to drive a bulldozer will be dealt with more leniently when he gets stoned and accidentally drives it through an orphanage or whatever. We kind of expect him to be an idiot, so we can't really hold it against him when he proves us right.

His $25-an-hour boss still gets it right in the neck, though.

The Tyranny of The Mob is still tyranny but it's become obvious that those "in power" don't love or respect those who are not, so let's take a page from The Prince that we might at least invite them fear us.

victory, May 30 2010


       [marked-for-deletion] read it.
rcarty, May 30 2010

       This is so wrong it's not even wrong. You're saying that someone who earns less is punished less severely for crime? And that earning more means that you "surrender most of your privacy"?   

       Why? What point are you trying to make?   

       Also, the concept of fines proportional to income is well baked.   

       Also, nobody does bossing for $25 an hour.   

       Oh, hang on - is this irony or something?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 30 2010

       The point I'm trying to make is that there needs to be a system for adjusting legal recourse to better suit the level of implied trust that an offender violates. A rich person is made so because they take on greater responsibility, so it's more than fair that they suffer greater consequences when they fail to meet the obligations they're being paid so well to meet.   

       The privacy thing is mostly intended to offer a preventative system in support of this.   

       Also, I WAS being hyperbolic with my descriptions. I just... thought it made it more fun to read. Came off a bit foaming-at-the-mouth though, didn't it?   

       Also, I got paid $25 an hour to play babysitter for a landscaping crew one summer, which is what I meant by "Boss".
victory, May 30 2010

       //Hang them all, for their crimes.// Hyperbolic, yes. I picture you in a leather jacket and peaked cap, haranguing a crowd in St. Petersburg, circa 1917.
mouseposture, May 31 2010

       [21 Quest]! Nice to see you again! Have you gotten off with whatisname yet? ;D   

       To answer your question, YES. Emphaticly yes. As the leader of the operation, it was my responsibility to provide the oversight and guidance that should have prevented the damage caused when I shirked my responsibilities. Thus, as the fault is mine, the consequences should be also.   

       [mouseposture] yes, I was going for something like that. Really, I'm a gentle person by nature, I just thought it would be funny to juxtapose my (admittedly radical) ideas with some really sketchy rhetorical bullshit. I still think it was funny, but I'll be the first to note that my sense of humor is pretty twisted...   

       I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel strongly about this though. I've long felt that people in positions of financial, political, and social power enjoy privileges that they don't deserve and in fact cannot be trusted with.   

       For example, In the US, we tend to treat our elected officials with a level of respect that borders on reverence. All of their official processes are veiled in doctrine and ceremony, almost as if they were an elected Aristocracy. I think this is backwards. They should be treated as the opportunists they are explicitly, and as servants they are theoretically. We invest exceptional faith and power in these people, and we should be free to monitor and retaliate against them in direct proportion.   

       This all sees very obvious to me. The fact that so few people seem to feel the same way makes me wonder if I'm a little insane sometimes.
victory, May 31 2010

       Eh, abuse of a position of trust is in many jurisdictions an aggravating factor in sentencing decisions, which is, if we're being honest, what you're talking about here.
calum, May 31 2010

       So, does this mean that if I go bankrupt and then run up enormous debts so that my assets are all negative, I can get away with more crime?   

       I think that, in general, the law tends to take into account the level of accountability and the assets of the individual when sentencing, imposing fines and so forth.   

       And as for privacy, I still don't understand why I need to forfeit any of my personal rights if I'm earning a lot and breaking no laws. By your criteria, and judged on a global basis, anyone with enough money to be reading this on a computer is more suspect, and hence should have less privacy, than the majority of people on earth.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 31 2010

       //Have you gotten off with whatisname yet? ;D//   

       We would have, [Victory], but I was busy testing the Blumpkin Blanket prototype with your mother.
MikeD, May 31 2010

       The rich and famous are, like it or not, role models.   

       A pro footballer earning (is that the right word?) thousands per game should be fined thousands when he gets caught propositioning pole dancers or fighting in the street or driving at twice the legal speed limit. His position as a role model (even if he doesn't want it) obliges him to set a 'good' example, or to be made an example of.   

       The no-mark dozer driver on 8 dollars an hour would feel punished with a hundred dollar fine, and his lowly status means no-one is looking to him for exemplary behaviour.   

       <Aside>I thought HalfBakery would expand my horizons and so far it has, but I'm sorry I ever looked up "blumpkin". I can't imagine a situation where I'll use the term, except here on HB.</Aside>
Tulaine, May 31 2010

       //I thought HalfBakery would expand my horizons and so far it has//   

       Felching, Dutch Rudder, Rusty Trombone, El Paso Mudslide, Angry Midget, The Pirate, Dirty Sanchez, ATM.   

       Google... if you dare.
MikeD, May 31 2010

       So, if I get rich, I have to be a role model whether I want to or not? How exactly does that work?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 31 2010

       //I still think it was funny, but ...// No, it *is* funny -- I just didn't realize it was intentional. Good on you.
mouseposture, May 31 2010

       /I was busy testing the Blumpkin Blanket prototype with your mother/   

       Oh, Mother! Ever since her sexual reassignment surgery he's been so adventurous! Did he were his Airforce outfit for you?
victory, May 31 2010

       //So, if I get rich, I have to be a role model whether I want to or not?//   

       OK, not just rich, but "rich and famous" is the current popular aspiration. If you're rich and famous people want what you have got, and want to be like you, so you're a role model. Live with it.
Tulaine, Jun 01 2010

       Nah - I'll settle for being rich and famous, and I'll just wear a badge saying "I am a counterexample". If I feel like modelling a role, I'll be sure to tell someone. Live with it.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 01 2010

       What is interesting here is that it tacitly approves of the idea that a person's income provides a measure of their social responsibility.   

       What about the responsibility of less-paid members of society? Should we also stalk teachers, doctors, policemen and other public servants who, while not placed as high on the monetary ladder, do exert a certain amount of authority?   

       At the same time, do we now give leniency and freedom to drug addicts, alcoholics and others who for one reason or another forgo their social duties in order to persue their own personal gratification?   

       It is important to temper power with responsibility, but that kind of balance should emerge naturally anyway - the tighter the concentration of power in a small number of individuals, the more vulnerable they are to being deposed by the masses. Which I suppose is the gist of your idea - in which case, it's not really a new idea - the Magna Carta, written in 1215, nearly 800 years ago, focuses on limiting the powers of the rich and granting the poor with rights and recourse to the law.
zen_tom, Jun 01 2010

       // How exactly does that work?//   

       We're going to find out by following you.
pertinax, Jun 01 2010

       //the tighter the concentration of power in a small number of individuals, the more vulnerable they are to being deposed by the masses// Actually, no - bad history. Read some classical theory about the relationship between democracy, oligarchy and tyranny.
pertinax, Jun 01 2010

       //If I feel like modelling a role// It's not your choice. If you are in the public eye, for whatever reason, the hoi polloi take you as representative. Rich is what the hoi pollio want to be, so they will emulate behaviours of the rich people they see. They will likely only see famous rich people, so "rich and famous" makes you a model for "rich".
Tulaine, Jun 01 2010

       //Actually, no - bad history// Really? There are quite a few historical precedents.   

       If I make an evolutionary analogy, you have lots of biological systems that despite having existed all over the globe for millions of years, are around no longer - and in the same vein, you have those "Classical" societies where a small elite were able to establish themselves as Kings, High Priests, Gods and other oligarchic arrangements – that don’t tend to be around today.   

       Maybe the modern era (post 1700) is a blip, or a progression - but there has generally been a process of democratisation over that time – at least in Europe anyway, but I’d suggest elsewhere as well. The English Civil War, The French Revolution, The Russian Revolution, The Chinese Revolt, The American War of Independence, The Granting of Indian Independence etc – all examples of situations where the ruling classes were not “balanced” against those being ruled.   

       It’s certainly easier, in today’s socio-political climate to adopt the principles of the rule of law than to establish a new Royal House or proclaim oneself a Ruling God in the absolutist sense. In the Darwinistic struggle for a self-perpetuating system of organisation, at least in the current, technological, global, inter-dependent world that we live in today, some level of democratisation is measurably “fitter”.   

       What is interesting is that revolution, in many cases will lead directly to Tyranny (see list of revolutions above, at least 4 of those resulted immediately in a tyrannical, oligarchic state of affairs, albeit only temporarily) – I wonder what it was that took Cromwell’s England, or the French Reign of Terror, Stalin’s Russia or the “Cultural” revolution in China out of absolutism and back into “normality” – but in all these cases, usually within a generation, things tended to settle down to what a physicist might describe as a “low-energy” state.   

       Perhaps in Classical times, where governmental change may have been more polarised, violent and swift, they didn’t get the long-view – the “geological” view if you will, that we benefit from today.   

       [PS] Having just wikipedia'd Plato's 5 Regimes - I notice that he (or at least in the article wikipedia presents) suggests an almost inevitable encrumblement from Aristocracy down to Tyranny, via Democracy somewhere in between. It doesn't suggest that after Tyranny, a new Aristocracy might formulate, and begin the process anew - which would be my first thought on it. My second thought being that rather than being an inevitable serial progression, there might be "tipping" points that cause one stage to slip into another through dynamics that Plato has left untouched such as influence from afar, genetic degeneration, resource limitations, natural disasters etc.   

       Adopting Plato's approach (though with the proviso that we regard his 5 regimes as being cyclic - a reasoable assumption since the alternative - a one-way system - would result in everyone, everywhere, ever only able to look forward to tyranny) we can either make a value judgement (as Plato is entitled to do, ethicist that he is) or (and I think this is where I'm coming from) we can make a judgement based on a government's stability i.e. its ability to adapt to the climate in which it finds itself without breaking.
zen_tom, Jun 01 2010

       Seems like the Russians tried something like this with their wealthier farming families around 1930 with disastrous results.
RayfordSteele, Jun 01 2010

       //the tighter the concentration of power in a small number of individuals, the more vulnerable they are to being deposed by the masses//   

       My objection is to the "by the masses" part of this notion. What's wrong with it is this; imagine, for a moment, that class of people with enough leisure, money, education and other resources to think of themselves as *potential* contenders or participants in politics (not necessarily at a high level). A broad-based elite provides opportunities of some sort for most of this class. A narrow-based elite doesn't.   

       Hence, a narrow-based elite resorts to populism, to protect itself against the rest of the "political" class. The narrow-based elite defends itself using creatures drawn from among the masses, who have no political power-base of their own (such as the freedmen of Roman emperors, or the orphanage children in Ceausescu's secret police). The broad-based elite doesn't need to do this. Hence, in some ways, the narrow-based elite is more in touch with the masses than the broad-based one.   

       That doesn't mean the narrow-based elite is in less danger of being overthrown. It does mean, however, that the danger comes more from the disenfranchised chattering classes than from the masses. Consider, for example, that President Ahmadinejad may have a genuine constituency among the "masses" in Iran (though not necessarily as big as the election result suggested). If so, then he's a good example of a narrow-elite guy under threat, not from the masses, but from the middle class.   

       I didn't make this stuff up. I think (though I can't quote you specifics) that it's in Aristotle, I think it's in Cicero and I don't think either of them invented it out of the blue either.
pertinax, Jun 03 2010

       // the Russians tried something like this//   

       Well, no. This idea is (approximately) to hold richer people to higher standards. Stalin's idea was to exterminate them. That's not quite the same.
pertinax, Jun 03 2010

       //The execs involved in the Gulf oil spill? Execute them. It will never happen again. // That does rather look like //Stalin's idea//   

       But, on this masses vs disenfranchised chattering classes definition thing - i think we're approaching this from slightly different points of view, and focusing on two different elements of a complex picture.   

       My point is the simple truth that if you have two groups of people (or things) in competition with one another, at some level, there is some advantage in numbers. So my definition here of masses is a simplification to describe that larger group - my assumption is that this group is already disenfranchised, angry and in direct competition with a smaller group of people who have managed to dominate. The concept of Middle-classes does rather complicate matters, but they are either happy middle-class (in which case, let's for the sake of simplicity class them as being in the "Elite") or they're not (in which case, for simplicity, we'll put them in with the "Masses") If you take both populations and put them into conflict with one another, one population will overpower the other.   

       I think the point you're making is a more qualitative one in that it's more about how cross people get, rather than how many of them there happen to be. Broad or narrow, there are methods and techniques that can be applied to subdue and placate the population. And that's quite correct.   

       And here, I think we can come to an agreement - using the language of energy states - the correct handling of a large group of people by a small group of people requires some effort - it has a low entropy - (Ahmadinejad may be on top now, but it's taking a certain amount of effort on his behalf to remain in place) - like a pyramid balanced on its head. If things continue to go well, then the status-quo is maintained. However, should Murphy's Law exert itself and something go wrong, there is a good chance that the triangle will topple to its base, and a higher entropy state come into being - a large enough proportion of the population gets annoyed enough to enforce change, to overpower those who are currently in charge.
zen_tom, Jun 03 2010


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