Take a look at the current political landscape. We have national socialists and international socialists doing battle openly. College campuses are currently deciding how much free speech they should allow. The harden the fuck up crowd and the snowflake crowd aren’t terribly pleased with each other. There are a lot of rifts between Americans today and they’re only becoming wider and more numerous. What makes these rifts worse is the fact that deciding which side will win on the political battlefield won’t be done by rigorous debate to decide the pros and cons of each idea, it will be decided by a popularity contest:
“Democracy,” H. L. Mencken once said, “is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” He also famously defined an election as “an advance auction sale of stolen goods.”
Mencken was not opposed to democracy. He simply possessed a more sobering view of its limitations than today’s conventional wisdom.
Indeed, democracy may be the world’s single most oversold concept of political governance. Commonly yet erroneously romanticized, it is assumed in most circles to ensure far more than it possibly can. The Norman Rockwell portrait of engaged, informed citizens contending freely on behalf of the common good is the utopian ideal that obscures the messy details of reality.
I’m sure you’ve all heard George Carlin’s quote, never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. Democracy is a mechanism that empowers people in large groups to do stupid things. One of the biggest flaws in democracy is the fact that it gives everybody an equal say in matters. Considering almost everybody on this planet, including myself, is incompetent when it comes to a vast majority of things, giving everybody an equal say in every matter is a recipe for disaster. The United States’ economic policies are probably the best illustration of this. Most people are incompetent when it comes to economics, which is why they’re willing to support a lot of really bad economic policies.
I think the best example of the power of stupid people in large groups is the fact that a majority of people still claim that democracy is a great system. Hell, a majority of the people who claim that the current state of the United States, which was created through democracy, is deplorable still claim that democracy is a great system. These people are simply parroting what they’ve been told. They’ve put almost no critical thought into the idea of democracy. Yet their voice on the matter is treated equally to everybody else’s, even the people who have done a great deal of research on democracy.
Let’s say that you’re a law enforcement officer and you’ve just pulled over a white individual because you suspect that they’re driving under the influence. Due to the reputation the people in your profession now have, the suspect is hysterical because they’re afraid that you’re going to murder them on the spot. How do you handle the situation? If you answered, by informing the suspect that law enforcers only murder black people, a promising career in law enforcement may be in your future:
On a Sunday night in the summer of 2016, a Georgia police officer pulled over a white woman he suspected was under the influence. Lieutenant Greg Abbott walked up to her car on the shoulder of an Atlanta highway and stopped at the passenger side window. Asked to take her hands off the steering wheel and pick up her cellphone, the woman refused, telling the officer she’d “seen way too many videos of cops—.” He cut her off.
“But you’re not black,” he told her. “Remember, we only shoot black people. Yeah, we only kill black people, right? All of the videos you’ve seen, have you seen the black people get killed? You have.”
And now you know why Officer Noor and his partner didn’t bother to turn on their dashcam or body cameras when they gunned down Justine Ruszczyk. If it weren’t for the dashcam recording, Officer Abbott wouldn’t have been caught in this embarrassing position.
Who says government agencies can’t innovate? The
Fascist Communications Club Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has an online commenting systems that allows individuals to give their input on proposed rule changes. In addition to being a commenting system, the system also served as a file hosting service:
The application programming interface for the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System that enables public comment on proposed rule changes—such as the dropping of net neutrality regulations currently being pushed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai—has been the source of some controversy already. It exposed the e-mail addresses of public commenters on network neutrality—intentionally, according to the FCC, to ensure the process’ openness—and was the target of what the FCC claimed was a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. But as a security researcher has found, the API could be used to push just about any document to the FCC’s website, where it would be instantly published without screening. That was demonstrated by a PDF published with Microsoft Word that was uploaded to the site, now publicly accessible.
I guess the FCC decided that since you’re already paying taxes to find it, it didn’t need to charge you for file hosting services.
The level of incompetency displayed by the government never ceases to amaze me. Commenting systems aren’t exactly rocket science, they have been available on websites for ages now. Most of those commenting systems managed to implement basic protections against uploading arbitrary files. Why didn’t the FCC just go with one of those services or at least hire a developer with some basic understanding of how to develop a commenting system that isn’t vulnerable to such a trivial exploit?
From what I’ve read, it doesn’t appear that the FCC has fixed this hole yet. While uploading arbitrary files to the FCC’s commenting service might cause you to run afoul with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, you still have access to a government provided free file hosting service.