Recidivism rates in the US show it is objectively not working, with state prisons leaving inmates to re-offend 76% of the time.  In Norway, much derided for their lavish prisons, it's 20%. 
Throwing people away and treating them like animals is an abject failure, compounded by the mandatory fill rates in private prison contracts.  It's time to revisit the whole system, top down, and make it less about punishment and more about making sure it doesn't happen again. And it should be done with data.
1) Prison guard education is just a few weeks in the US to my knowledge. In Norway it is a 3 year college education, where you learn about mental illness, why people become criminals, how to rehabilitate people etc. The prison guard job in Norway, is by American standards more like a social worker. Guards spend a lot of time doing activities with inmates. They are not simply there hit misbehaving inmates.
2) The criminal justice system is largely under professional control. We don't elect sheriffs, judges etc like in the US. So there is less opportunity for populist "though on crime" politics to win through. Policies are mainly driven by professionals in the field.
3) Norwegian culture isn't as hung up on good and evil as American culture. I guess that is partly because religion has little importance in Norway. Christianity is quite focused on the idea of good and evil. Norse mythology was never like that. There was no evil devil. The world was divided into order and chaos not good and evil. The world "evil" almost never surface in any discussion. It isn't just the justice system, but Norwegians themselves aren't very interested in revenge. E.g. I've never heard a single survivor from the Utøya massacre express a desire for revenge.
I don't know why it is like that, but perhaps a reason is that Viking culture was very revenge and honor based. But this mentality was destroying society so authorities worked hard for hundreds of years to change this mentality.
What? Why do people say stuff like this? The Norse myths were from a millennium ago, no one has believed in them for almost a thousand years. Maybe Norway is largely atheistic now but for the majority of its recent history it was a Lutheran nation and before that the nation had a Catholic tradition dating back to 900 A.D.
Even today Christianity is Norway`s biggest religion, enjoys regular church attendance of a quarter of its population, and has half of the population declaring they believe in a Christian, not Norse, conception of God.
Clearly Christianity has some influence on Norwegian thinking.
> Christianity is quite focused on the idea of good and evil.
No, it's mostly focused on the contrast between being a follower of Christ or not. To that end, the character of God and Jesus are elaborated on at length. So subjects like "good" and "evil" come up as a part of that. Yes, Christ is described as being intrinsically good, but the end goal isn't to:
* do good things
* be a good person
* avoid evil things
* punish bad people
...that's not to say all those things are irrelevant, but they're certainly based on trusting Christ and His teachings. To be fair, the usual cast of Flanders clones (televangelists, Westboro Baptist) get this all really wrong, but just because they're wrong doesn't mean we should get it wrong, too.
If I had written your comment, this would have been the first line, not the last.
Obviously the GP was boiling down a more complex moral model into something simple enough for a social media comment. Whether (s)he knew enough about Christianity to know the difference between these two dichotomies is still unknown.
In that respect it's quite accurate.
During the course of history, numerous people have changed this into punishing bad people (for to varying degrees and widely varying definitions of "bad"), and that is I think one of the big ways where some branches of Christianity have gone astray. We are supposed to forgive, not to punish as harshly as possible and then some.
I can't quite see why Norse mythology wouldn't have had a direct impact on Norwegian culture that continues today. I don't know much about Norway but here in the UK we have laws that were passed 500 years ago that are still in use and that were strongly influenced by the church when they were enacted. You don't have to believe in something directly for it to influence your culture.
Yesterday's Norway is less relevant.
What an interesting point.
Please note that this is a metaphor for continually reworking your own ideas, not an exhortation to kill anyone who displays Buddha nature.
That said it is probably the best argued agenda I have ever heard. As a full-blown atheist I had never heard such a good defence - explanation, really - of religion, and it's no exaggeration to say the fellow has radically changed my thinking on the matter.
I think it is OK to not agree with someone one hundred percent but still urge any intelligent person to listen to what they have to say, if it has merit.
Hello? Intersex people? This is patently false under even the simplest analysis.
one of the more credible hypotheses I've encountered about this phenomenon is that early Christianity adopted many of the positions of Gnostic Manichaeism  in order to absorb rival cults.
Essentially the distinction is between mischief and error.
Edit: see e.g. http://www.cabinetmagazine.org/issues/12/najafi2.php
Biological life/intelligence, and the Earth it inhabits, is Order, an unusual low-entropy arrangement of matter; whereas the ultimate Chaos is the cosmological Heat Death.
Within a universe of absolute order, there can be no change, and no life can emerge. Within a universe of absolute chaos, there can be no structure, and no life can emerge. Neither is good, or evil, since those are human cultural constructs, and not fundamental physical laws or universal constants. Even life itself isn't necessarily good or evil, any more than a star or dust cloud is good or evil, it's just one of the many possible states that matter and energy can take as the universe inevitably exhausts itself.
Totalitarian regimes have that name because they demand total control and react strongly to any disorder. They are generally regarded as towards the "Evil" end of the Good/Evil spectrum.
In reality the OP is right - they are different things.
First off, this varies by state. Second, a few weeks might be an exaggeration for most states. In California at least the academy is 12 weeks long and that comes after application screening, written & physical exams, background/psych checks, and interviews.
It's interesting you say that. My only exposure to sagas was from reading Beowulf in school, which is a canonical example for the theme of "good vs. evil".
It also isn't necessarily about good vs evil but indeed about order vs. chaos. Grendel's misdeed is not that he attacks and slaughters good and righteous men ,it is that while doing so he violates the sacred law of hospitality by attacking the king's great hall. In doing so Grendel flouts the 'natural' order and therefore can be seen as an embodiment of chaos rather than pure evil.
Or maybe it really sprung out of the Christian influence that came after the Viking culture, with teachings like: "Love your enemies" [Matthew 5:44 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+5%3A44&...]?
Private prisons are paid based on how many inmates they have. Prisons are therefore incentivized to keep people as long as possible, and ensure that if a convict is ever released, that person commits another crime quickly and winds up back in prison.
Instead, what if the state paid prisons a one-time fee for accepting convicts (the amount would vary depending on the type of crime committed), and then penalized the prisons heavily for any recidivism after release?
Prisons would be incentivized to rehabilitate and free the prisoner as quickly as possible (since every additional day in prison costs them money) while minimizing the chance of that prisoner committing another crime when released. You'd see prisons offer education opportunities, vocational training, valuable job programs, relocation to other areas, ongoing therapy, and living conditions befitting a human being to reduce recidivism.
What would likely happen is that private prisons would spend even less on each inmate, doing the accounting to determine how much they have to cut from what they already spend to account for the amount of their fees if a prisoner reoffends. The already ridiculous cost of the prison phone system would skyrocket. Fees assessed to visitors would be increased or added. The cost of items in the commissary would go up. The private prisons would bump fees associated with being released from prison. Private prisons would also take on more forced labor contracts to cover the difference and pay the inmates even less for their time.
Further, you'll see a spike in prosecutions for in-prison crimes, causing a convict to be convicted on a new charge and more money being sent to the private prison to cover the sentencing on the new charge. So you're going to make the indefinite detention problem even worse - before, inmates got to leave. Now they may never get to leave.
In short, this is likely only a viable solution if you can force private prison owners to act morally.
Also expect for the corrections officers unions and police and sheriffs groups to start lobbying for mandatory life sentences because if there's one way to prevent recidivism it's to never actually release the prisoner.
I suspect you want to reward prisons for success rather than penalise for failure to re-habilitate. However frankly I also suspect there are actual experts in the field who should design the structure. The issue is that there is no political incentive in the States to do so.
I'm suggesting that private prisons could be solution to the problem if we change their incentive structure.
The government gains an incentive not to jail people unnecessarily (loss of revenue). Prisons get an incentive to rehabilitate and educate.
So you are proposing paying private prisons up front and then punishing them potentially ten to twenty years later. That doesn't sound workable politically nor does it sound like a good incentive structure.
Yes, it would be interesting to see if market forces could be used to improve outcomes. It does seem that we politically prefer punishment to rehabilitation though, and the incentives are aligned accordingly...
Also, prisoners count towards the population of where the prison is located at census time. It allows mostly white, rural locations to increase their minority representation at census time, that's the kind of thing that's taken into consideration when government assistance is being handed out.
Additionally, this can help when apportioning congressional districts.
Hundreds or thousands of residents who can't vote are a great reward for congresspersons who can bring new prisons to their districts.
That's the corruption, that's the stink in the system.
I would suggest the solution is properly around the question of the willingness of the US taxpayer to adequately fund the government services.
I might to too cynical but I'm guessing that more prisoners would mysteriously die.
I think we should just change the purpose of prison to one and only one thing: Reform. Leave justice out of it, and the rest will follow
For instance, could the government pay out the fee over 10 or 20 years (perhaps paying it in full on release), and stop future payments if the prisoner dies while in custody?
While prisoners would be unlikely to rate their prison highly, perhaps reformed prisoners are slightly more likely to do so?
the situation is really bad for politicians. A politican voting to reform a clearly broken prison system faces tons of risks to their career.
Even one wrong vote for improving the prison system will get you labeled as "soft on crime," a dangerous liability for Democrats and nearly a death sentence for Republicans.
Every change you make will inevitably produce a litany of stories about criminal X who was given "too little" punishment. The media will pick these highly emotional narratives up and the blame will be laid at your feet.
You can gain great political capital by making prisions more harsh (who doesn't like seeing a guilty man get punished?) but expose yourself to a ton of downside risk for trying to go the other way.
Nothing about this situation changes until societal perspectives change or politicians don't have to face downside risk for trying reform.
The most prominent example of this was the Polly Klaas murder in California in the early 90s. This one criminal act was magnified to the level of a major terrorist attack and kicked off three strikes and a major prison building and imprisonment boom that lasted two decades. It also led to a wave of "stranger danger" paranoia that ended the era when kids could go outside all by themselves and maybe even ride their bikes around the neighborhood.
Frankly, I blame the media for the whole prison thing. They don't look at statistics and instead blow everything totally out of proportion and make everybody paranoid. Usually there is a paper of record like the NYT or LA times that throws the pitch with some hugely blown out of proportion story and then it gets repeated by the rest of the media and then the politicians hit the pitched story with some ridiculously overreaching and draconian laws. For example there was a recent "Bitcoin kills children" story about kids dying from drugs they bought on the Internet with Bitcoin and voila there's an anti-bitcoin bill pulled out of the desk drawer and put on the agenda by the end of the week.
I'm not ascribing all responsibility to the media, though - it's one factor among many. I somewhat agree with the poster above about the US not having the same sort of shame/duty culture that prevails in the EU, and suggest that to some extent this derives from the coincidence of different philosophical and social cultural traditions in the US.
Can you say more about this? It sounds like you think that's normal in your community, to think that way. That's not how I hear the people around me talking about prison. I think most of us would support a candidate who talked about rehabilitation.
I worry that by trotting out this old meme as if it were an permanent fixture of our political system that you are actually strengthening it.
People who are liberal on sentencing get angry if short sentences are handed down in rape or financial crime cases.
This is not a contradiction or indication of hypocrisy.
Obv not all Boomers are this way - to be clear, just way too many.
Public opinion is swayed at a very superficial level. Emotional stories about convicts going free or people getting killed are always going to have a more substantial impact. Especially compared to mundane stores on successful prison reform -- 10% shorter prison sentences? 5% higher rehab rate? This guy who murdered people has a stable construction job now? Ignore the ideology, I think the optics of prison reform give us this unequal incentive structure.
This is a civil rights issue, and it should be written about as such.
being though on crime clearly does not work
Why's an outsider gonna stand up for a rapist or a murderer when they've got their own problems and the victims will never forget nor will they stand down. You can't get upset at the victims for that, it's very natural.
I have empathy for some prisoners and a family member was according to him unfairly convicted (he ended up dying in prison), but I've also had family members murdered and sexually assaulted. As far as I'm concerned the people who did those things took innocence and ruined lives it's hard to feel too sorry for those actors when their lives are ruined, too.
That might be a little vindictive, but you can never give victims back their peace nor their normal lives and normal people don't commit heinous crimes.
A moment of too much passion, a stupid firstandlast time drug trip, money troubles and "normal people"-addictions- yes, perfectly normal people commit perfectly normal crimes. All the time. Some of them even have company.
Normal crime is just not reported, because nobody wants to hear about how the neighbourhood they moved too- is not so nice after all.
The problem is that you're assuming that low recidivism rates are an actual goal of the US system as it stands. Look at actions, outcomes and actual effects of policies, not at the claims written by PR departments.
It's like voter ID laws in many states - the claim is that they're to prevent fraudulent voting, but they're very poor at addressing the kinds of voting fraud that actually occur. Further, if there's such a big problem with in person voting fraud does that mean that elections staff and prosecutors are completely incompetent since they're apparently unable to find and prosecute enough cases to be even a statistical ripple?
In doing so, though, those who were economically disadvantaged felt that the liberals - at least as represented by the Democrats - didn't care about them and their problems. This was a major factor in Trump's election.
And if we're honest, they have good points. We shouldn't stop at "I'm sorry you feel that way" if we want to take care of people better.
You can spin this and say that American criminals need to be locked up because they just cause more crime in general.
Some see that 76% figure and conclude prison makes them worse.
Others see it and think, well these are the bad apples, keep them locked up.
America is sort of unique in that we have very strong rule of law but also have relatively high crime.
Also those recidivism rates you cited are apples and oranges. The US rate includes rearrest and the Norway is re-imprisonment.
This https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4472929/table/p... attempt at apples to apples suggets the US is 36% compared to Norway's 20%. That's a big difference but other western nations are higher than evne ours. Canada, France, Netherlands, Germany, etc. all have similar recidivism rates.
The Scandinavian countries just have very little trouble makers it seems.
One day people will look back at this and go "they did WHAT?"
The age of savagery.
1. restitution (where possible)
2. removal of criminals from society so they cannot continue
to harm others
3. re-integration of such people back into society when they are no longer a threat
There are other reasons to reform the prison system too, but we as a people really need to work on this one. I know a few people who have been wronged in a big way. One of them (perhaps the most wronged - lost a child to a repeat DUI offender) publicly forgave the offender and didn't even show up to see him be sentenced. They're the only ones that seem to have been able to move on in any meaningful way. The others talk about nothing but what happened to them and were seriously depressed for a long time, even when they were long past the direct consequences of what happened. We all need to be willing to let things go a little more - for everyone's good.
I think the current system is actually less about punishment and more about oppression of certain social classes, namely non-whites and lower-class whites. It is a means of controlling social undesirables.
This might have resolved a lot of issues with the current system.
Where I was, there was no outside fenced area for the hour mandated rec time. It was a 6'Lx3'Wx6'H fenced dog cage. At least there was a large open window to the outside to look at from the other side of the room.
You're also mandated an occasional hour at the "Law Library", which was really just a single computer with LexisNexis and Microsoft Office in an otherwise empty 4'x6' room. That VB class I had taken really came in handy.
I learned to make some reasonable dice out of toilet paper. Too. Much. Yahtzee.
In the case of the man in the article, his case was overturned. Hopefully, he won't have a criminal record. Getting a job today with a criminal record is incredibly difficult. That's the biggest reason why recidivism is high [x]. It's great that there's a push to "ban the box" (that is, to not ask about criminal history in job applications), but it hasn't made it to all the states. Furthermore, many companies blanketly don't hire felons[x] regardless of the context of the crimes and/or rehabilitation of the individual. Background checks aren't a fair process in their review. Good-bye any real life.
[x] I'm sure somebody is going to argue that the bigger deal is a lack of quality mental health or addiction services provided to inmates and the dearth of such programs prior to conviction, and they'd be right too.
Rikers is a great example of a clearly flawed jail system, with inmates getting stuck for years without trial and sometimes killing themselves after losing hope.
Having recently gone through the judicial system as a white male, I can't image being a black man going through the same thing. I was able to buy my freedom, buy excuses, buy a lawyer to get me out of everything. When an oppressed people who already starts out behind falls into the same trap, there's little left for them to do.
Interesting read: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/05/nyregion/rikers-island-pr...
And with no loopholes for joining many smaller stays to a long big stay.
If it still happens, one can design a segregation unit that isn't as inhumane. One can lose a bit of freedom or gain some by not doing such things. Actual freedoms, like being able to move to a lesser security place. And so on.
The Wikipedia descriptions of Anders Breivik's confinement describe SHS 
According to a recent Business Insider video :
- "With few exceptions, judges can only sentence criminals to a maximum of 21 years" which is less then these three men did in solitary!
- "In Norway, only 20% of prisoners return to jail. Compared to the US where 76.6% of prisoners are re-arrested within five years."
Which is even more impressive when you learn that as of August of 2014 Norway's incarceration rate was 75 per 100,000 people, in contrast to 707 per 100,000 in the U.S. 
So we Americans incarcerate almost 10 times as many people as Norway with a recidivism rate more than 3.8 times as high as Norway - clearly our focus on "reasonable cost" is justifiable!</sarcasm>
edited to separate bullet points
They should make cells that are tiny and fit one person - but have lots of opening and permission to talk to anyone around them.
That way there is physical isolation, but not mental isolation.
Actually there's no need for the cells to be tiny -- even if they are meant for just one person.
The cell has to be small enough that no one would prefer it over general.
Additionally if the cell was larger then the number of neighbors each prisoner could interact with is reduced. But the goal is to give them the opportunity to interact with as many people as possible.
I think that's a societal problem, not a prison design problem.
> The cell has to be small enough that no one would prefer it over general.
Why? Wouldn't it be sufficient discouragement just with the removal of your basic rights to go where you like and do what you want?
They can't kill anybody if they're in a normal cell by themselves next to the other cells -- and with stuff like tv, radio, books, internet, etc still available.
If you see an animal pacing back and forth in a cage, it is generally considered neurotic behaviour and a sign that the cage/enclosure is too small. My point being that it probably did make him slightly crazy and that solitary confinement is psychological torture.
People are products of their environments just like animals. A mistreated animal is also bad behaved and violent.
Black men are dismissed... as are most men, TBH.
The incidence of incarceration goes: black men, white men, black women, white women.
Also, rich tends to beat poor, even considering race. e.g. O.J. Simpson.
Men tend to get 63% larger sentences than women. And that difference is larger than the difference between races.
I'll summarize for the lazy: taking everything else into account, men get 63% longer sentences for the same crime than women do.
If you look at crimes: http://law.jrank.org/pages/1250/Gender-Crime-Differences-bet...
About 80% are committed by men.
But 93% of inmates are men: https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_gende...
There are any number of explanations for this. The most honest and rational explanations don't involve making men "bad" and women "good".
And if you think solitary confinement is a nightmare, how about putting 2 people in a solitary confinement cell?
"Imagine living in a cell that's smaller than a parking space — with a homicidal roommate."
But on that note I think "every kind of basic human right" is a bit extreme. We have arguably the strongest free speech protections in the world, people are free to move around as they see fit, we're a pretty great place to start a business as we're a massive single market that speaks the same language with relatively lax regulations and low corruption, our higher education is second to none, and most recently we just allowed gay marriage.
Granted some things need a serious overhaul, but while we get a lot wrong we also get a lot right.
And frankly you'll be hard-pressed to find a government that doesn't try to abuse its people when it's convenient. That just a function of power-hungry people typically being assholes. The difference is the US is the world superpower and we wave the flag a lot, not to mention we're just a massive, diverse country. So our hypocrisy is orders of magnitude greater just by virtue of scale, and then on top of that we're held to a higher standard by everybody else.
If you took the government of, say Norway (or some other government that you feel best respects human rights), gave them the size and diversity of the US, and then scaled them up to World Superpower status and gave them some cultural tweaks to actually be able to maintain that status, I think you'd see just as much hypocrisy.
But that was always their deal: the power plus the hypocrisy and the holier than thou attitude that one affords from being top dog with no one to answer to.
(Of course talking about those in power - the normal people are great, just uninformed about most of those things. Then again, if you live in a huge country with no borders with anybody apart from Canada and Mexico, and with no domestic impact in your life of anything that happens outside (except oil prices), why would anybody care about geography and world affairs?).
In fact, the CIA contacts from the 80's were reactivated after 9/11 because, for the most part, they were in charge of the Northern Alliance forces that were battling the taliban in the civil war.
Would you rather have Putin or China run the show?
And, besides, neither Putin nor China are that. Whether due to being less power, or from a long history of being non interventional and isolationist, at most, they are concerned with their own national interests, in their own backyard (South China Sea, Ukraine, etc). That is, like any other country.
I don't care what they do within their borders and with their neighbour's that they have disputes with -- that's for them to sort out.
But when a country pushes their army bases in my country, controls local politics, or even goes to fund and arm a dictatorship in my own country from half a world away in the name of "their national interests" (as if they are entitled to have any say on how things are run in a sovereign country half a world away), that I don't like.
I also don't care for world cops, especially if they are trigger happy, and hypocritically push their own interests as some holy crusade.
Yeah, the US has a lot of flaws that need to be reformed, but that doesn't make it any different than any more country in history, it makes it exactly like them.
It's not an American problem, it's a human problem. When we understand that and stop pointing we'll all be better off.
What is unique about the US historically is that they have always claimed to be spreading freedom while frequently doing the exact opposite. Of course it is really just a new twist to the old western excuse for invading: we are civilizing your, or: we are bringing christianity to the poor masses.
Since the US is the main power today and it is a democracy, it is VERY important to protest the US and make Americans aware of the role the US plays world politics. Today very few Americans know about the countless abuses, power grabs, and human rights abuses the US has engaged in the last 100 years. Instead all around US schools American school children are served up propaganda about the US being the best, freest and most human country ever in existence.
How can America ever change if it keeps brainwashing its population like this?
At least the Germans owned up to their atrocities.
The differences you talk about now are, in my opinion, down to advanced weaponry. Where before it was about manpower (and England's vast empire made procurement of such very easy) and sailing (another thing England was pretty damn good at), today it's more about who has the biggest and most advanced guns, bombs and delivery technology. America outspends, America wins.
That being said, I'm reminded of a rather apt poem I read somewhere about the British invasion of Afghanistan in the 1800's, basically saying how despite many pounds of expensive training given to English soldiers, they where shot and killed by a Afghanistan pistol in the mountains that only cost a shilling (If anyone has a reference for that I would be very grateful, I cannot find it anywhere)
I'm very grateful!
I think Britain could have won that war if they had really wanted to, given enough time and resources, but there was a great reluctance to spend the resources to win it, money in particular.
There was lack of will on the part of the British government combined with a low point in British military funding. The British government (Parliament, the King was a figurehead by this time) was simply unwilling to convert the country to a war footing.
The political leaders kept hoping they could win the war with a low level of military funding and save money, which was in short supply. So the war effort was underfunded and undermanned. In the end, the Whig party (who had been against the war) came to power and negotiated an end to it. Wars are expensive, and the Whigs didn't think this one was worth the expenditure.
Compare that sad performance to the Napoleonic Wars 20 years later. Britain was on full war footing and spending huge quantities of money (going deep into debt in the process) on their military. They were cranking out large numbers of ships and training large armies.
When the War of 1812 broke out, the British were uninterested in fighting it. They were busy with Napoleon at the time, and the American war was a sideshow with few resources devoted to it compared to what was being devoted to Europe. Even then, their vastly improved military and lavish spending resulted in a much better performance than the Revolutionary War.
In the end, once the Americans were tired of fighting, a peace was negotiated. The British were uninterested in keeping that war going any longer than necessary. It was costing them money and they had better fish to fry.
The U.S. declared war on Great Britain as negotiations to roll back impressment and trade restrictions were finally progressing. Then, after some impressive U.S. victories repelling British invasions (following some impressive British victories), none of the original grievances were addressed in the treaty.
It's most accurate to say that the American Revolution was a notable but not decisive campaign in the Second Hundred Years War. Americans blow their participation in the conflict wildly out of proportion -- patriotic textbook revision has produced an epic creation mythology. Panamanian schools seem similarly to omit the role of the US in the creation of that country. It's not just that history is written by the winners, it's that it's continually rewritten by the winners.
But this isn't unique nor Western. The Persians invaded Greece. The Chinese invaded Tibet. Great Britain at the height of its power was screwing over China and India and that's maybe even more impressive from a power projection standpoint considering just how small England was and how much less technology they had.
I don't believe that you actually think that Americans are somehow different from the rest of humanity. Out of 300 million people there are a lot of Americans who don't agree with everything their country does.
There is good and bad, and to act like the US is some kind of extreme outlier is prejudiced and not honest about history. It was less than 100 years ago that every European power had colonies and it was less than 75 that the Japanese and Germans were murdering other peoples in the service of empire.
It's a human thing.
Unfortunately the world needs a police. The UN isn't effective. So the US takes a lot of heat for meddling in other country's affairs.
I'd personally like to see us move off a lot of bases, but when shit hits the fan and history repeats itself, a lot of the anti-US critics are going to jump on the wagon. Reminds me of Billy Madison - "Man, I'm glad I called that guy!".
Ah, it's so cute you think that would have any affect.
Of course. The British Empire, for one, did the finger pointing and "white man's burden" hypocrisy back in the day.
Brand making and propaganda comes and goes. Everyone of influence does what is most convenient and beneficial for them to do and leave the rest to the ad agencies. Every empire brands itself as a golden empire. Its nothing new.
Even the name "Founding Fathers" and the way it's thrown around seems quite bizarre for a democracy. It's the people, and the will of the people, that should be respected, not what some long gone luminaries said.
"those who may be unfamiliar: look into the passing of the USA P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act passed shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a bill of over 2000 pages which was rushed through congress in span of a few days from finalization to ratification under the prosumtion of necessity to provide the tools to combat terrorism. It stripped away many powers of the judicial branch to provide oversight, and provisions intended to be 'temporary' have been continually extended by presidents (executive branch) on both sides of the aisle since."
It's a writ small version of the situation that you see with, e.g. Bangladesh. The voting populace there is very conservative, and despite the constitution creating a secular republic, voters have Islamized the country since then. A few years ago, there was a touchy situation where there was concern an interim military caretaker government would not hand back power to the civilian government once elections were conducted. People like my parents (who immigrated to the U.S. from there) who think secular democracy is really important, kind of supported an undemocratic military intervention that might have the effect of protecting it.
I wasn't sure I'd heard him correctly and was about to cross the street so I did that and then looked at the piece of paper, expecting maybe some some religious admonition. Instead it was a fake legal document saying I'd been identified as a 'race traitor.'
Speech like this is arguably not constitutionally protected by the first amendment, despite popular misconceptions to the contrary. But breaches of the peace have to be enforced by the police; there is no private right of action. This leads to obvious problems where ethnic minorities or members of other protected classes are subject to abuse and local authorities are unsympathetic, a tension reflected in the state/federal legal divide.
>Approval of black-white marriage is higher among younger Americans, and lowest among those 65 and older
It's because to organize a huge number of people, one must create commonalities among them. Any society must have core beliefs, myths, touchstones, and practices, to keep it unified and keep people cooperating and trusting each other.
The founding fathers, their writings and ideals, form the civil religion that makes a rich black Texan Catholic have some reason to trust a poor white Washingtonian atheist. Even though they may be different in so many ways, they at least have this one thing in common, which separates them together from the wider world of Others.
To cooperate properly, humans need this kind of tribal identity correspondence, and an Other to separate themselves from. It's in-built tribal psychology.
Even if those texts prescribe practices are sometimes sub-optimal in outcome, without them the whole society falls apart pretty quickly due to infighting and unsolvable differences in values and identities.
So the value in the texts is not just policy wisdom - it is simply that they are the thing everyone believes in.
This is what's happening now, in fact - a fetish for destroying normative beliefs means people more and more have nothing in common. People just didn't understand the purpose those beliefs had in the first place. They threw them away and now here we are.
(None of this is to say that the content of the texts is totally irrelevant - a society organized around the writings of the founding fathers is obviously going to be different than a society organized around the writings of Confucius, or the texts of Islam. It just means the content isn't the only reason we hold onto these texts).
It's not the only law we interpret this way, considering the intent of the people who created it; courts do the same with laws passed by Congress.
Either 27 or 18, depending on whether you count the simultaneous ratification of the first 10 amendments as one use of the Amendment process or 10 separate, parallel uses.
The only way I can remotely see that gets to 17 is if you count 1-10 and 27 as one use of the Amendment process since they were submitted together, even though 27 was ratified 200 years and a few months after 1-10.
I had a funny feeling I was going to learn something when I posted my comment :)
But in public discourse, it's not treated as a mere law, something humans created, and they could toss if they like, but as some kind of holy scripture given by some wise old men.
His book, "On Constitutional Disobedience", is now available. I read it, but the piece captures the main idea.
I personally think the Republic is far overdue for a refounding, and strongly suspect that the founders of the existing one would have heartily agreed ;-)
My respect for these men is more about their arguably humanistic, Enlightenment-oriented thoughts, knowledge, and goals, which they set down with the seeming best of intents in the hope of crafting a land and a government better than any the world had seen up until then.
Was their dream perfect, or implemented perfectly? No, perhaps not - they were men of their age, and human - with all the faults and foibles that entails. However, even given these limitations, one can't deny that they did a remarkable job.
Personally, I feel that they did a better job than virtually any of our current politicians here in the US could (or would) do today. Hell, the fact that they argued and were at odds over many of the things in our Constitution, yet had the wisdom and humbleness to discuss, argue, compromise, and concede as adults to craft this document, puts them far ahead of most of our representatives today, IMHO.
> It's the people, and the will of the people, that should be respected, not what some long gone luminaries said.
These "long gone luminaries" would be appalled at our current situation. They expected that the populace would be educated - not to a base level, but to an "Enlightenment level" - each of us capable of rational discussion, discourse, and understanding of virtually all topics of our day. Where we were limited, we would have the temerity to defer to another with better understanding, in the hope of becoming more educated ourselves. We would not rely upon some mystical being who may not even be there (most of them were Deists), but instead rely upon ourselves and the guidance of history to correct our problems as best as we could. We would embrace and not eschew Science and its understandings, because in that knowledge we could find answers.
Instead, today, the majority of the populace is an apathetic mass on virtually everything; the remainder is mostly divided, angry, and poorly educated. Beyond that is a very small percentage of the people - still divided - making the decisions for the majority; the scary thing is, that even among this small percentage of the population, there is still a great amount who are uneducated, superstitious and bigoted (or worse - educated, machiavellian, and bigoted), and they seeming loathe - if not outright irrationally hate - societal and scientific progress.
This country will fall apart unless we get our act together. I just don't see this happening in a way that ultimately matters - whereby the uneducated and/or apathetic portions of our society understand the importance of bettering their minds and engaging (even if it is just having an informed opinion based on facts) in the governmental sphere of their lives, so that the discussions that need to happen do happen, and the divisions are made smaller.
Should the will of the people be respected? Certainly - when it is just and fair. Right now, for a lot of people, it seems like the will is "eye-for-an-eye" and "mob mentality" (and apparently, they are ok with decades long solitary confinement for people who are innocent, just because they look different or think differently). Such ideas, attitudes and wills I cannot respect.
Why would they have had these lovely expectations, given that they (the founders) constituted a small minority in the colonies and were constructing a government for a majority population that was basically uneducated? Free public education as a movement remained decades in the future. The founders were not stupid or delusional, and they knew their neighbors, and they had no expectation that "the populace would be educated".
After reading The Jaunt by Stephen King, I was on edge for a day or two afterwards.
The story has been optioned , will be interesting if it does come out as a feature film.
What would be really interesting is if it is used as a platform for different storytelling angles. Instead of coming out insane, someone comes out, Anathem-1,000-Apert-avout-like, with incanting-like powers from meditating for so long. The Buddhists would get a kick out of that; imagine being able to meditate without physical need for far longer than the 10,000 year increments so popular in Buddhist stories. Then put in savage plot twists: the venerated Buddhist sage is sent through and comes out blubbering insane, but an affable Cajun-drawling redneck scientist goes through and comes out with telekinetic and world tracking powers.
When I was a much younger human I took quite a lot of drugs like mushrooms and MDMA. Toward the end of one such session I found myself in my kitchen, staring into the dark space behind the window and was struck with a realisation of what Hell would be, should it exist. Not spewing fields of lava and endless pains of torture, rather unending consciousness with no inputs or outputs. I imagined black (although that would technically be an input - I am unable to imagine literally nothing!) but just as easily, an infinite field of white would be as horrifically terrifying.
God, that story. Such a simple plot, and yet the existential terror of what it describes is beyond comprehension.
It's something _everybody_ can learn and do, there is nothing mystical or religious or secret about it.
You usually start with samadhi (or concentration), where you simply observe your breath - either as air movement through your nostrils or as movements of the abdomen.
In the beginning you can count your breaths 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 1 again.
Most people lose track at 4 or 5 and get distracted by thoughts in the beginning. If that happens just start at 1. No blaming, just start again.
You can do this for a very long time without getting bored.
After a while you can stop counting, and naturally drift into the vipassana (insight/wisdom) part. Just observe your breath and start noticing whatever else is going on. Sounds, your thoughts, feelings, fears, joys, etc, etc.
Why leave out 9? :-)
Or do you fear having nothing to do, being forced into no action, for that time?
Every time I read someone talk about a SJW (social justice warrior) somewhere I cringe thinking about what my country will be like in 10 years if not sooner. People seriously think SJWs and political correctness are our actual problems as if things are fine otherwise.
There are a lot of good people here but there are a lot of people with no empathy and little knowledge and then about 200 million people who just do not care as long as the power and internet stay on and they are left alone.
But this requires some curiosity and interest in learning which biggest and racists might not have. And frankly it is hard to change people's mind when you are calling them names. People tend not to listen to people they don't like.
We also have to accept that racism goes both ways, it is just that white racism has much more severe consequences for black than the other way around. But I believe it helps maintain white racism to some degree.
I am not American, so I can comment on this as an outsider, and I can very clearly see that many American blacks have a big issue with whites. It is hard to win over whites if they only have bad experiences with blacks and also see no point in educating themselves on the issue.
I am not passing out blame. I am just saying, everybody can contribute to making racism a thing of the past. The ones who have to do the most are whites.
I'd also highly recommend everyone take an Implicit Bias test or two - https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/takeatest.html Your results might surprise you.
Wouldn't most minorities prefer to live in a world where people often say insensitive or prejudiced things, but the legal system does not enact violence against them based on their minority status?
Have we conclusively proved that altering speech patterns and day to day expressions of opinion changes the likelihood of state violence against a particular group?
I intuitively feel that a tremendous amount of consciousness raising has happened during my lifetime, but the vicious prison sentences haven't changed much. The massive inequity in legal outcomes continues to be a topic of discussion in the press, and I know people who work for The Innocence Project who feel things are better, but not nearly better enough.
I am concerned that we might be engaged in placebo-like or symptom treating behavior, while the underlying disease goes unaddressed.
Prisons systems and welfare programs exist the way they do in the US mostly because of racism. If we were a country that all looked similar, we wouldn't be able to see our fellow humans treated this way. But, when it's someone that doesn't look like me? Sure, they look dangerous. Lock them up. Or, sure, they look lazy. Don't give them 'free stuff.'
That we are powerless is bullshit.
Every kind of basic human right? I guess we're tied with North Korea, then? If that's the United States, who's worse?
You're going to have a hard time both learning and teaching if you can't reign in your language a little. No one around you is actually understanding you because your language doesn't represent your true thoughts. You are the only person hearing the arguments you think you're having.
The parent made a good point with this: "blatantly violate every kind of basic human right" which was a comment hailing from Italy of all places. Criticism is fine but these ridiculous & inaccurate anti-US statements are exhausting.
It's usually from a country that would be speaking German if it wasn't for the US. No country is perfect but damn, you'd think people would put forth sensible criticism from their glass house.
To the article at hand, and valid criticism - our prison system is seriously broken. It's corrupt. It's costly and ineffective. We're incarcerating way too many people that aren't a risk to society. Then we let out risky inmates because it's overcrowded. We haven't figured out how to provide punishment while at the same time preventing recidivism. Let's be honest - we don't have our brightest running this system.
Did you happen to see the original post I responded to....with the "and then they blatantly violate every kind of basic human right" nonsense?
My response was due to the hyperbolic nature of that statement. It was sarcasm, you know, thus the /s at the end. It is this breathless, over-the-top outrage that I object to, and so if somebody supports that position I'd like to know where exactly they draw the line: is the US truly a terrible country, the worst country ever, or just somewhere in the bottom 10%?
If we're going to be absurd, let's get a handle on where the boundary is.
You, on the other hand, appear to have missed the entire point here. But thanks for the sanctimonious lecture.
The United States: a human-rights-abusing farce of a country that is such a hellhole that over a million people from other countries legally immigrate to it every year, half that number are estimated to illegally immigrate to it annually, and the country's judicial system takes a stance to prevent its President from stemming the tide of inbound visitors and prospective residents.
It must be a horrible place.
If an immigrant thinks they can avoid the abuses, then it might make sense to come anyway. It also might make sense if they are facing worse abuses back home. But either of those things could be true while still having many U.S. citizens whose rights are being violated.
The truth remains that the U.S. only protects the rights of some groups of its citizens, not all of them, which is contradictory to the brand we project.
The kind of country I would like to think many of us would rebel against, if we found ourselves living there.
And it's only one of about 4-5 good reasons right now.
Let's do it.
I think the problem is that there are too many problems in the US and people focus on too many issues rather than focusing on the underlying issues.
Little can happen until the election system is changed. Hence one needs to vote in politicians who will change it. To make that happen more young people and minorities need to vote. That means whatever you think of prison systems, or anything else, getting more people to vote is number one priority.
What people don't get is that, by merely voting you can make a change even if the choices are shit. If politicians knew lots of young and minorities tended to vote, then the politicians would start attempting to take advantage of that and push issues these groups care about.
Reform and incrementalism are great when there's a broad institutional consensus, but when institutions are widely considered to be corrupt then a rewrite may be better than a refactor. The downsides of revolution are obvious: chaos, violence, unpredictability. But if one honestly accounts for the institutionalized versions in which those conditions are systemically imposed upon unwilling participants, the inevitable conclusion is that social upheaval and a reboot are a price that is sometimes worth paying.
Insofar as enough people feel they have nothing to lose, the economic incentives make it inevitable.
I suspect the French would disagree.
Also, we haven't exactly been paying tea tax to Britain for the last 230-odd years either, for that matter.
> I suspect the French would disagree.
France (and particularly the 1789 and 1848 revolutions) is pretty much the first example people making that claim point to. (Though I suppose you can make a case that the 1848 revolution worked, it just faced an extended counterrevolutionary setback in the form of the Second Empire.)
> Also, we haven't exactly been paying tea tax to Britain for the last 230-odd years either, for that matter.
Regional separatist movements are a different thing than revolutions, even if one of the latter gets named as if it were the former.
Wait, now we have tons of bugs and it doesn't work at all! How long is it going to take to get working again?