Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Problem with Governance

Traditionally our leaders have come from positions of privilege. I was having a conversation this morning with someone about the idea that money can't be the end game. That when governing you can't hide behind a blanket statement of "people want high paying jobs" or whatever.
Behind that money (this sounds much like my whole "behind every computer is a user" bit in the I.T. industry) there are people. A saving in one place may have a greater cost somewhere else. For example, having our trains built in China instead of the Woburn and Hillside Rail Workshops, has a cost in terms of jobs and the lack of accumulated value from keeping the money onshore (from the perspective of the government, keeping money on shore means that part of that investment is coming back in taxes. Those employees are then spending that money at their local whatever and it is then taxed again, and hopefully they're spending that same money within the country and so on and so forth).

I don't think Labour are much different in this respect. While they may see that particular example, they did have the whole S92A debacle. The problem with S92A is that it criminalized a large proportion of our population. It did nothing to benefit people. Instead, it was about big business.

Okay, so the argument could be made that people need to be paid for their works except that they aren't. Or rather, it's not the creators who get the money, but rather the rights holder (stop trading away your rights!).

So we need a government that knows that money is not the end game... but how can this happen?

If those who are in line for power are all coming from a position of privilege, where a system of capitalism has treated them well and they've equated this to meritocracy, then the voices in government are very much biased and just don't represent the population.

So the first step is acknowledging that there is a problem. Here in New Zealand we're going in the wrong direction. We seem to be following America's lead in the whole capitalism going too far. We have a problem. Let's see if we can find a solution. We, the people, need to have a voice which extends beyond voting every 4 years. We need to acknowledge when a law exists for the benefit of business and when a law exists for the benefit of people and acknowledge that there is a difference. What is the trade off? Does it benefit both? Or is it lopsided? Is it a compromise we're willing to make?

This problem is probably bigger than we acknowledge. Think of the small "I agree with the terms of service" or whatever checkbox you find on websites. It would take a month of every year to read through those terms and conditions and the fact that they're also a moving target (I think Google have just changed theirs again?) makes it all the more difficult. Make it as long as a long thing in small text and you've got something that's not made for people.

I think there needs to be a quick easy people friendly version. A "to use this service, we collect stuff about you anyone else you may communicate with using our services. While the contents of the works you create using our services is yours, we have the right to sell it to advertisers" kind of a thing. 2 or 3 sentences that don't attempt to spell EVERYTHING out but rather, give the user a useful indication of what it is they're agreeing to.

This would be acknowledging the fact that there are users to the service!

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