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China to bar people with bad 'social credit' from planes, trains (reuters.com)
827 points by samaysharma 4 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 562 comments



I am deeply disgusted by false equivalency used in many posts this thread. Whatever you think the West is doing is not even close to this. The Chinese government owns and runs more than 50% of the economy and 100% of the industries they deem essential. They can not only cut your off completely from planes and trains, but also your electricity, driver license, internet, telephone, banks, ability to get any travel document, ability to stay at any hotel, etc. Let that sink for a bit, before you claim that Google or even NSA can do something similar.

I am a Chinese expat, but I don't have a National ID. I have a Chinese passport, but I cannot even buy train tickets online (yet i can ride the train) with it and I cannot open a bank account in my own country. Things will get worse with 'social credit' as another barrier because I won't have a credit history with them.

[edit] removed claim that Chinese expat won't be able to fly in China without National ID because some say the viral news is a rumor. Honestly i cannot tell any more.


> I am a Chinese expat, and thanks to this policy, I cannot fly in China because I don't have a National ID. A Chinese passport won't do.

This is patently not true. There are plenty of Chinese in the previous generation that gave up their hukou/ID card as required when they gained permanent residency in another country, and use their passport internally (when returning to work in China) like us foreigners must (it seems like these days it isn't necessary to turn in your hukou, but it was in the 90s). A previous colleague at MSRA was in this boat. It was troublesome for sure, but he could fly (even a Chinese can fly internally with a passport, as my wife did when we went from BJ to GZ), open bank accounts (like foreigners can), and so on. The only thing I know he had trouble with was permission to visit Taiwan, they couldn't handle a Chinese citizen without hukou, but that was it.

I'm as critical of the Chinese government as anyone, but bad information really doesn't help.


> This is patently not true. There are plenty of Chinese in the previous generation that gave up their hukou/ID card as required when they gained permanent residency in another country

Do you have a cite for this? I know you lose PRC citizenship when gaining another citizenship (and thus a foreign passport), but I was not under the impression that was true for "permanent residents" of other countries. You can be an Chinese expat while still being a Chinese citizen.

Also, Chinese National IDs cannot be renewed overseas, while passports can. I think the law was pretty explicit that Chinese citizens can't fly under their passport (though they can jump through hoops to get a temporary national ID to fly). I know people who were in a bit of a pickle when this law came into effect because they were overseas when their National ID expired. It's certainly another hassle and bother for expats.


> the law was pretty explicit that Chinese citizens can't fly under their passport

This is false. There were rumors in May 2017 that some airports in China started to reject passports for Chinese citizens per some new internal regulations, so that is probably what was initially reported. As is always, the follow-up was never reported again: top aviation administration and public security department later clarified the law still allows using passports. The real reason for the few occasions of passport bans was because those few airports didn't have networked passports readers to verify it.


> There were rumors in May 2017 that some airports in China started to reject passports for Chinese citizens per some new internal regulations, so that is probably what was initially reported.

That explains it, that's about the time my friend was trying to figure out their document situation for a trip back to China. They ended up opting not to fly domestically because of the uncertainty.


Some people forget or lose their IDs. They can always get temp IDs at train stations or airports.


I don’t have a citation, just personal experience of knowing people who were exactly in this situation. You don’t lose PRC citizenship when losing your hukou, you still qualify for a chinese passport. The policy in the 90s was that you had to turn in your ID card/hukou when going abroad to study and work, and there was no easy way to get it back. I don’t think that is true today, but it’s a reason why many older Chinese in the tech industry have citizenship but no hukou.

You can fly internally on a chinese passport. Again, because not all chinese citizens have or qualify for ID cards.


> I think the law was pretty explicit that Chinese citizens can't fly under their passport

Please stop spreading misleading info. Chinese citizens are allowed to fly domestically using passport, I did that dozens of times. It is also explicitly listed on Civil Aviation Administration of China's web site, link provided below, it is explicitly mentioned on the first line.

http://www.caac.gov.cn/INDEX/HLFW/HLZN/CJ/


Have your extensive comments about the CCP on HN caused you any hassles?

The fact that comments cannot be deleted is increasingly unethical as ML makes privacy easier and easier to pierce. People who made rational decisions about the risks of sharing various opinions on a small site in 2010 are now locked into the consequences a decade later when both technology and political landscapes have changed.

It would be truly surprising if HN history doesn't eventually play a key role in someone being imprisoned or executed due to having expressed views that a country, religion or other organization finds objectionable.


> Have your extensive comments about the CCP on HN caused you any hassles?

CCP currently cannot monitoring all foreign websites, so (currently) I don't think people will be hassled because of few archived comments on HM. But who knows, that may change in the future, and somebody may report you just like what people did during Cultural Revolution[0]. So, keep yourself anonymous under another name is always important.

In China, domestic websites are required by law to verify you and record your true personal identity (Phone number for example) when you trying to post anything on it, so you can't be anonymous. When I using that kind of website, I never do anything sensitive (Or even post anything useful).

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_Revolution


Just because it doesn't happen now, doesn't mean that will always be true. Even anonymous accounts are unsafe. ML with writing analysis and known writing samples could very likely allow attribution of even anonymous writings. May we never live in that world!


You dont need drag net fishing all the time.

You can just mine data of a person when they are of interest.


> The fact that comments cannot be deleted is increasingly unethical ...

Just assume that a few seconds after you post a comment Google, Bing, Facebook and a few other major Internet sites have scrapped your comment and are analyzing it.

And there a few aggregators that repeat the HN content and alternative UI for HN.

And some users make a local copy to run some statistics or detect dupes or just for curiosity. Some moron even made a Chrome extension to show the deleted and edited comments in HN.

And assume that the spy agencies of the major countries are making a nice backup of all your comments.

So after pressing the send button, just assume that there are 30 copies of your comment floating around.

A delete button only deletes one of them. The idea of Tweeter that you can delete a tweet and everybody really delete it is hilarious. Just assume the there is no "delete" button, it's just a "hide" button.

"Deleting" a comment is useful against a clueless neighbor that hates you because your dog barks too much. If a country with nukes hates you, they probably have the technology to save a copy of the "deleted" comment.


What you write is a reasonable precaution in 2018. Many, many HN posts and accounts were created before the Snowden revelations, before Xi came to power and before the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Many comments will be and have been mined years after their original posting. It's truly doubtful any country was logging every HN comment in the year you opened your account, for example.


"Deleting" a comment is useful against a clueless neighbor that hates you because your dog barks too much.

Probably a more common problem than spy agencies, just saying.


What if someone pretends to be you and posts incriminating posts?


I sometimes censor myself online by deciding not to comment or reply to things - both here and on other places for precisely this reason. Not fear of imprisonment or execution, just a concern that the comments might cause me hassle or grief at some point.


I might be rejected for a chinese visa someday, but that will just be a canary in the coal mine, I guess.


Totally agree with you on this point. Most westerners don't have knowledge about Chinese "hukou" system and easily mislead by false information.


Most "Chinese" online seem to be paid trolls who deliberately feed misleading and false information. Either that or they have a switch in the brain where any critisism of China leads to a nationalistic brain freeze where they regurgitate silly propoganda.

The Hukou system is broken and inconsistent. Getting mine revoked was the biggest pain the ass. I'm sure there are anecdotal evidence to support your view, but the reality is the law is very differently applied depending on where you are in China. I know from first had experience the the original poster is correct.


Most Chinese abroad (that I meet, might be biased of course) seem to be students on a sort of foreign scholarship from the Chinese state. And they are terrified of the consequences of discussing this. Probably for exactly that reason.


Or could it be because they have benefited from the system, they think it's a good thing?

For example, I rarely see expats in Asia complain about why there are so many Hollywood movies in Asia.


I'm not saying the original poster the "Chinese expat" make up a story. But he gives misleading information. Claim it's fake maybe not accurate.

1.The national ID is revoked only under some special case that the citizen is believed to be leave the country and give up the citizenship.Not for short term stay like visit/travel. For those whose Chinese national ID being revoked, they are not the equivalent of expat in Western country although technically you can insist it's expat. Again as you said the policies in China varied from place to place and even from time to time. Many emigrant such as aged family reunion emigrant can even keep their national IDs

2.China becomes a business orientated society. There's no reason to exclude passport owners to buying a train ticket online if there's a way to do it. The difficulty here is the cost of passport reader which is monopolized by only few US and European manufactures that only border control agencies can afford, while resident ID readers can be purchased from multiple domestic providers competing for quality and price. It's pure technical and economical reason, not because a regime want to do sth against its own people.

Your thoughts about somebody being paid (maybe with wu mao) is interesting and also a quite common belief


It is not difficult to make a passport reader, and the Chinese are definitely capable of that.

You can read the contents of the RFID chip using $100 off-the-shelf hardware, and the decryption key is the OCR string on the “main” page of the passport.

The piece of glass where you lay the passport, the OCR, and the case itself I’m sure any Chinese contractor could easily do as well.


This isn’t true or fair. Your comment doesn’t even follow through with the shillness claim.

Hukou is broke for sure, but airports are under control of the federal government and have no problem in letting hukou-free individuals travel on passports. My colleague was able to go mostly where I went, except Taiwan as stated above, and our work travelled to a lot of weird airports in the middle of nowheres.


That is simply not true. Maybe your friend lived in a different Hukou area. Either way, just because your friend can, does not mean every can.

This is the problem with China. Just because the system works for Jack Ma, and Xi Jinping's family, doesn't mean it works for everyone


Again, the airport doesn’t care where you got your hukou when they look at your passport.


I would say this also applies to many "non-Chinese" online. They either fall for racist stereotypes, or they have a similar switch in their brain where any mention of China means they are doing something nefarious and evil.


I'd have thought the Chinese passport and National ID would be linked into a single system: given a passport they could find the corresponding National ID (or lack or) or vice versa. Then why would they care whether you use one or the other in any particular situation?


For what it's worth I doubt many of those commented have ever lived (or even visited) China. It's easy to create a false equivalency when you have no real experience of the situation.

This is a different situation, and it's sadly Orwellian.


I think this is an important point.

I had a coworker who grew up in Romania under Ceausescu and the stories he told! He talked about neighbors just disappearing one day and someone new living in the home. People didn't bat an eye since if you started asking questions, you might be next.

He mentioned how there was an election for president and it was a write in ballot. Someone wrote "Mickey Mouse". Despite voting in a booth in private, they figured out who he was and he had to report for "reeducation" every weekend. This involved sitting in the police station watching propaganda all day Saturday and Sunday.

I don't think people in the West can even fathom what it's like to live under an authoritarian system like that.


I can second this. I moved from western Europe to Romania. I've been here for more than two years now and I've heard some pretty insane stories. Most of the people I know are young and were children or teenagers towards the end of communism, but their parents lived through it all.


I've browsed this site for years now, and I do see this pattern in many posts that critique China.

A large number of replies turn the conversation towards how the West is equally bad or worse. Another set of replies talks about how China may inevitably come out ahead.

You can check yourself by Googling 10 HN threads that critique China, versus say, Japan or Poland.

Is China running some indirect social public relations in the style of Russian Facebook ads for Trump? Or is it simply China hawks / nationalists or other casual supporters? My personal conclusion is that there's a decent chance it's a bit of both. And the likelihood of the first may be concerning.

But seriously, check out the pattern and come to your own conclusion.

P.S. If it matters, I'm ethnically Chinese as well, and think well of the Chinese people in general.


The fact that you think you need to create a throwaway account speaks to how much the climate has changed for us. There is a real fear considering how totalitarian and intrusive the government has become, that they will target anyone who disagrees even on a benign forum like this.

I'm sure one of the many pro-china robots will cite something liek "THE NSA IS JUST AS BAD" but the reality is China is 1000000 times worse.

Just mention how Taiwan is in reality an independent country and they go full retard.


Absolutely. Many years ago, a family friend hosted a blog on his home server that had an anti-CPC article. A few weeks after the publication of that article, he found his router flashed and the blog content defaced.

I'm a normal person with a normal life, hence the throwaway to reduce even the small chance of getting hit back, something that China seems to like to do (not coincidentally the exact topic of the original link).

I'm not into conspiracy theories, but we know what Russia has likely already done on social media. China is just as clever and resourceful, if not more, and they want to save face. This makes indirect social media influence a temptation that is difficult for the CPC to resist at best.


>Is China running some indirect social public relations in the style of Russian Facebook ads for Trump?

One possible answer to your question:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/50_Cent_Party


You're right I hold the US government to a higher standard.

When I or many others say "China's doing this but look what the NSA is doing", I am not trying to be a CPC apologist by pointing at the NSA. I am being pro civil liberties by using the CPC as an example of what happens when you don't hold your government to account.

America gets to enjoy its relatively high degree of civil liberties precisely because its population is so often critical of and suspicious of its government. Even when the criticism is laughable in comparison to other countries.


I have no problems with criticizing US government agencies for shady or illegal things they did, but there are plenty of posts about those topics already. Doing so in a Chinese related thread comes across as whataboutism, especially because whatever good intention you may have, it is indistinguishable from those that attempt to direct the discussion away from China's issues.


Refusing to engage in whataboutism makes you vulnerable to propaganda from your own country - it allows your government to redirect negative attention towards it's own behaviour to other countries by influencing media organisations to publish certain articles. Of course, some people inevitably says "what about our own government", and this behaviour can be countered by labelling it as "whataboutism".


It's been fashionable for a while to bash the top dog. No, the US isn't perfect, but how can you equate it to the shit china does day in and out.


It's become fashionable to ignore China's misdeeds because of the money and hype.


It will be interesting to see what the US resembles when its numbers exceed 1 billion people. China in many ways is simply setting the precedent now, how the US follows remains to be seen.



The U.S., like Canada, Australia, Brazil, and many Spanish-speaking countries in America, along with the former colonizing countries of Western Europe (e.g. England, Holland, France), is an immigration-based country, and so birth rate is only one factor. Given the number of people from China, India, and elsewhere who would immigrate to the U.S. if they could, it's not inconceivable that one day the U.S. will welcome them and their money so Americans can profit from another residential property Ponzi scheme.


Though note that it really is long-term.. it takes a couple generations for the population to stop increasing after birth rates drop, since the previous generation still contained more children.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_fertility_rate#Populatio...



It'd be great if these optimistic projections are what happens, but today's american culture and economy is still very growth centric - I don't see it happening.


Toys R Us just said yesterday that one of the major causes of their bankruptcy was a decline in birth rates.


their bankruptcy is 100% due to their leveraged buyout


I'm not sure I would take them at their word -- any kind of circumstance beyond their control flatters them.


Yes, but my concern, personally, is that we're just getting a sneak-preview of a system that will eventually end up implemented here. We don't have a social credit system, but we do have a do-not-fly list and, if you get put on it, you don't have any way of finding out why. Your "regular" credit score can shut you out of not just loans but jobs, apartments, and other basic services. How much of a leap is it, really?


> but I cannot even buy train tickets online (yet i can ride the train) with it and I cannot open a bank account in my own country

Side point but generally speaking you don't need a national ID to open a bank account or buy train tickets online. Banks do require a +86 mobile number, which you can get with your passport alone. You can then use your +86 mobile number, passport, and hotel address to open a bank account. You can then add your bank account to WeChat and buy train tickets there. You will have to line up to pick up your electronically-purchased tickets as paper tickets, using your confirmation code on WeChat and your passport, which is a huge inconvenience compared to those swiping their national IDs to get into the trains (they built the entire train system basically only for locals), but there are separate lines for ticket pickup that move quickly, so it's not as annoying as getting in line to buy tickets and the finding out that seats are sold out. At least your WeChat purchase guarantees you your journey and seat.

You can also use Alipay instead of WeChat if you prefer.

That said I'm not sure if there are additional restrictions on Chinese passports, but a non-Chinese passport can use the above procedure.

Of course it's a massive pain in the ass because of all the stupid SMS confirmations and things involved in the process. Easily the worst UI/UX I've seen of a ticketing system. The trains themselves are fantastic though.

Also, yes, everything is tracked to your passport number, so even if you have no national ID you do still become part of the same "credit" system.


Until your passport number changes on renewal. My bank and job freaked out when I renewed my passport, and it became common for them to ask for my old passport also when needing to do anything official.


Whatever you think the West is doing is not even close to this. The Chinese government owns and runs more than 50% of the economy and 100% of the industries they deem essential.

Thank goodness. However, what you're pointing out is that the difference is not because the principles are different. The difference is primarily that in the west, the people who would do this, don't yet have 100% coverage over society.


>However, what you're pointing out is that the difference is not because the principles are different.

Yes, they are. The reason "the people who would do this don't yet have 100% coverage over society" is precisely because, at least for now, principles in the West find this sort of authoritarianism repugnant. This is exactly the kind of false equivalency the parent is talking about.


Yes, they are. The reason "the people who would do this don't yet have 100% coverage over society" is precisely because, at least for now, principles in the West find this sort of authoritarianism repugnant.

I'd agree that there are a lot of people who find that kind of authoritarianism repugnant. Then, you have lots of people who work at various tech companies who basically engage in censorship. There are also a lot of people who will wield institutional power to engage in censorship. There are entire academic fields where professors and researchers are fearful of discussing their findings in the mainstream, because they can be castigated for doing so. There are large numbers of people who will use physical violence as a means of political coercion, and there are many, many people who will give their tacit approval of this.

A lot of people in the West find that kind of authoritarianism repugnant. A lot of people in the West find satisfaction in exercising repugnant authoritarianism.


>A lot of people in the West find that kind of authoritarianism repugnant. A lot of people in the West find satisfaction in exercising repugnant authoritarianism.

"A lot of" is a conveniently vague quantity. However you quantify it, it's absolutely nothing near the scale of institutional and cultural support for authoritarianism in China.


However you quantify it, it's absolutely nothing near the scale of institutional and cultural support for authoritarianism in China.

However you quantify it, there's far, far too much of it here in the United States and in the Western world.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9mkA1GBY2k


This kind of anti-nuance approach is problematic for two reasons. For one, it serves the propagandistic purpose of sheltering China from criticism by falsely equating them to the US. For another, if you're constantly equivocating between completely different scales of moral error, you're not going to understand when one set of practices is better than another and you're not going to be able grasp what moral progress looks in a complicated world.


Criticism is not the same as censorship.


Criticism is not the same as censorship.

Forceful de-platforming isn't criticism. Criticism is argument. Force isn't argument. De-monetizing videos for unstated political motivations isn't criticism, it's censorship. Making irrational noise, intimidating, pounding on windows, lighting shops on fire, throwing things through windows -- those things aren't criticism. That is force, and many of those are examples of criminal acts. It's non-governmental censorship.

So many of the things which the Extreme Left use as a means of "convincing" people are the exact same things which bigots of the past did to black people and gay people:

    - exclusion from clubs and professional organizations
    - public rudeness, yelling
    - refusal to serve
    - not renting homes and apartments
    - getting them fired
You can tell the good people from the bad people this way: When the bad people win, it's time for them to unleash their acrimony and to do unto others. When the good people win, they hew to their principles and exercise forbearance and generosity.


I'd argue that's not entirely true. Consider, for example, the fact that corporate prisons exist in America. I would say there is a difference in governance, but I hesitate to speculate about cultural differences.


Not an excuse at all.

I believe the negative sentiment towards the NSA, Facebook, Amazon and Google have to do with the fact that activities like collecting and storing sensitive information on individuals brings Western society one step closer to the situation in China. The capability now exists and a historic record about an individuals behaviour can be summoned easily.

What scares me is the idea of laws you're breaking which don't even exist yet, scary stuff.


It's fashionable among certain segments of the population to bash America whenever they can. It's almost pathological. Any time something negative is mentioned about something happening outside the US, there is an inevitable deluge of "well yeah but really bad stuff happens in America too!" comments.

I feel that most people doing this subconsciously feel like they're acting as a counterweight to the ultra patriotism of other segments of the population, but in acting as such a counterweight they appear as absurd as their ideological opponents.

Both sides annoy me for the same reason: they are blind to reality.


To your point, this exact thing happened in the last major thread on China, where commenters were defending the Tiananmen Square massacre:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15993956


> Whatever you think the West is doing is not even close to this.

But I worry the West will be watching this closely to see how they might implement something similar.


How could they? Americans are too paranoid to allow an ID card, much less a centrally tracked loyalty-points number to use at party-owned shopping, transit, utility, housing....


I think if you saw a similar system implemented in the US it would happen mostly with private companies doing it. The obvious place to start is some combination of social media and your credit card records. Crawling through your e-mails, search history, and Internet activity is another likely avenue.


In the US there are mandatory Social Security numbers; one needs photo ID to do much of anything; and there certainly are credit scores.


The large population of undocumented immigrants begs to differ.


This population has a shit life of pariahs, getting ripped off at the work place, avoiding check points on the road, worrying of being Anne Franked by ICE, never leaving the country, and generally avoiding airports and train stations.


Ok, as a regular citizen, in order to go to school, university, hold a regular job, etc. the things I mentioned are unavoidable.


And homeless people who have lost IDs etc yet fail to promptly die and find ways to even get online.


How many have a bank account?


I'm worried that paranoia is a thing of the past. I somewhat concerned that a (free) national ID scheme will be the result of the "Voter ID" push from the GOP in recent years.


Are we not getting a national ID card soon? (State drivers' licenses that meet certain requirements.)


You're thinking of the REAL ID. It's controversial if it counts as "national ID" or not but it's mostly linking state databases and settings a standard for security.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/REAL_ID_Act


Heard of the no fly list?


> I am deeply disgusted by false equivalency used in many posts this thread. Whatever you think the West is doing is not even close to this.

It's terrible, it's even happening directly in the replies do you. This whole post has been almost totally derailed by whataboutism, and a lot of it is literally textbook:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism

> The Guardian deemed whataboutism, as used in Russia, "practically a national ideology". Journalist Julia Ioffe wrote that "Anyone who has ever studied the Soviet Union" was aware of the technique, citing the Soviet rejoinder to criticism, ["]And you are lynching Negroes,["] as a "classic" example of the tactic. Writing for Bloomberg News, Leonid Bershidsky called whataboutism a "Russian tradition", while The New Yorker described the technique as "a strategy of false moral equivalences". Jill Dougherty called whataboutism a "sacred Russian tactic", and compared it to the pot calling the kettle black.


False equivalency is a tool that's deployed often on HN these days to steer (or derail) threads. I assume it's due in part to PR/propaganda teams working to manage/manipulate sentiment.


It certainly feels like that, but I doubt this is the direct result of modern propaganda teams. What I think is more likely is the propagandists were so successful decades ago that their whataboutist memes got so integrated into the American/English discourse that many people repeat them unthinkingly.


I agree that it's done by people without realizing they are doing it, or without appreciating the significance of the problem. I would cite the internet impulse for "Actually..."-style comments, and the desire for contrarianism as significant cultural factors as well.



Whether they are "hired guns" or not, there are usual suspects that invariably whataboutism on these stories. Anybody can figure out who they are on their own.


I think that, in any given interaction, the odds you are interacting with a paid government agent are exceptionally low. I personally have been accused of being an agent of so many governments in online discussion that I think the hit rate is extremely low.


Exactly. I agree with others who have suggested that the false equivalency problem probably isn't due to government agents. It's just something that has become baked into internet culture without people appreciating that they are doing it or grasping the type of problem it poses.


I don't make that assumption now that I personally know Westerners (work colleagues and such) who are apparently quite happy to make these arguments in in-person discussions.


Perhaps double-replying is bad form but this is still bothering me. Soviets may have deployed the issue cynically, but black people really were being lynched, it really did compromise America's moral leadership on human rights, and embarrassment over the issue was a significant part of what spurred the federal government to begin to intervene. To the extent that you, as I do, view the creation of a relatively pluralistic and multicultural society as one of America's crowning achievements, perhaps we owe the Soviet "what-aboutists" a debt of gratitude.

The idea that the Russians invented rejecting someone's argument on the grounds that the person making the argument is a hypocrite strikes me as rather unlikely. I also see problems with the idea that we can simply dismiss complaints about racism as textbook Russian propaganda.


> The idea that the Russians invented rejecting someone's argument on the grounds that the person making the argument is a hypocrite strikes me as rather unlikely.

That is definitely exactly what happened. We would say something about them invading Afghanistan or forcibly making satellite states in the Warsaw pact, and they would instantly come back with "Well, we're not the ones lynching black people." It's remarkably persuasive if you don't think it through.


I do not claim that that did not happen; rather, what I claim is that there is nothing uniquely Russian about saying "what right do you have to criticize us by a standard which you yourself do not uphold?"


It’s not uniquely Russian, it’s just that it was systematically used by Russia far back into Soviet days making them a very strong example of using it to change the subject and avoid dealing with an issue.


Well, there sort of is.

The term you're speaking of "whataboutism" is not refuting the argument on logical priciples, it's an ad hominem attack.

Just because the person accusing you of doing something wrong is doing the same thing does not make it right for you to do it. What is the argument here to justify your behaviours or the judgment of others for your sins, even if they're guilty of the same? If I kill somebody, am I wrong for calling out somebody else out for killing somebody?

The Russians raised this into an art form. They justified Afghanistan by using Vietnam.


Can someone explain to me why it seems like in the past month or so everybody and their mother has re-discovered "whataboutism" and insists on explaining the concept to me?



OK, but I first read the Wikipedia article linked a long time ago. Probably like ten years ago.


>whataboutism a "sacred Russian tactic"

It's not a tactic, it's rooted in traditional Russian law and stems from belief that you can't judge others while breaking exact same principle, or generally being immoral yourself. So pointing out that other party is lynching negroes is legit defense from some accusations from that party.


Today I learned that the Russians invented criticizing someone for hypocrisy.


Except of course there wasn’t actually any direct equivalency. The Russian, or Chinese state explicitly and systematically oppressing people as official state policy is not equivalent to illegal oppression by a minority of a minority in another country that it’s government is slowly but successfully fighting.

Were the people trying to hold Russia to account for its knowing, deliberate policies themselves personally oppressing black people? Accusations of double standards were completely unwarranted, which is the whole point of whataboutism. Now we’re talking about America’s largely successful, if incomplete struggle against racism instead of the systematic oppression of people in other countries as official state policy. Thanks for that.


I get your sentiment, but being an expat does not automatically put you on the ban list unless you committed crime or previously had beef with the Chinese government.


Could you share the source for these claims?

I could not find anything that backs what you are saying.

https://www.quora.com/What-percentage-of-the-Chinese-economy...


You can indeed open a bank account in China with Chinese passport or even with a foreign passport. There are lots of limitations without the National ID, but do not spread false information if you are not well informed.


Fair: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2017-05/24/content_294696...

It looks like their is a lot of miscommunication on the issue.

Having seen authoritarian regimes behave on a smaller scale, I would not be terribly surprised if the miscommunication was intentional to see how the desired (very negative) policy was received, before backing down with a retraction to something less onerous.


You forgot to mention they can use facial recognition to ID and publicize pedestrians who don't wait for green light.

The sheer amount of resource and power they can wield against an individual citizen is unparalleled in the entire human history. The only thing stopping them from utilizing it is only its own bureaucratic inefficiency.


> I have a Chinese passport, but I cannot even buy train tickets online

you can. Just select passport and fill the passport number. I did it multiple times.


Welcome to HN where hyperbole is the order of the day.


One could argue that this is hyperbole.


If the US Treasury lists you on the OFAC SDN list, it becomes illegal for most of the vendors of those services to do business with you.


> Whatever you think the West is doing is not even close to this.

That is indeed true. But then, cultures of China and the West are very different. Judging either by the standards of the other is bound to be contentious.

Also, there's arguably some observer bias in the West's pride. Changes in the US after 9/11 were dramatic! What if radical Islamic fundamentalists had done a better job? More waves of attacks, soon after the first?


This person is a chinese expat, with a chinese passport. I think he knows the difference. And you only have to look to the rest of asia to see in this case, it's not a difference of 'culture'.


I'm not disagreeing that there's a difference. I'm saying that it'd be odd if there weren't a difference. Also, it's not useful to lump China with Asia overall.


China is, historically speaking, the most influential country in East and Southeast Asia, as evidenced by the fact that Korea, Japan, and Vietnam all use or used a script derived from Chinese characters and that there is a large Chinese diaspora in even more countries in the region. On what basis would we consider China an outlier? Just the post-war era? Despite ambitions to do so the CCP did not exactly sweep away Chinese culture as it existed prior to the ascendance of Mao.


I'm not sure why we're arguing. China clearly is different from the West. And so are other Asian nations. Not as different as China is, however. Maybe more or less proportionally vs relative cultural influence from China and the West.


I disagree with the idea that it "isn't useful to lump in China with Asia overall" because, in fact, there is a lot of commonality between Chinese culture and other Asian cultures.


Well, there are lumpers and splitters, and I tend to be a splitter.

But anyway, should one judge China based on Western principles and values. If so, what would be the basis for that?

And if not, should one judge China based on principles and values of <some other Asian nation>? I don't see the basis for that, either.

However, it is of course valid for Chinese to judge their own country, based on whatever principles and values they might hold. And to work for change. But that's a very different thing from random Westerners judging China.

Personally, I can't imagine living in China. I have a hard enough time tolerating the US. But it's for sure better than where I came from. Although, I must admit, far from what I had imagined. But so it goes.


>But anyway, should one judge China based on Western principles and values. If so, what would be the basis for that?

I would say that justifying authoritarianism is a perfect example of how appeals to cultural relativism can be dangerous.


There's a distinction that I've been failing horribly to make clearly. I don't like the current Chinese regime. I wouldn't want to live there. And I support projects to help Chinese dissidents.

However, I do my best to avoid judging. Labeling. Appealing to illusory fundamental ideals and standards.

Sure, but maybe "authoritarianism" is just an abstract concept, and there's a lot more to the current Chinese situation th


Also there are counter examples of singapore, hong kong, macau and taiwan to show, no, chinese people are not culturally prone to creating a '1984' dystopia.

You can split hairs saying 'it used to be more authoritarian', 'one party has been in power for a long time', or 'it used to be under the nominal control of a western state' since no place is 1:1, but in the end it shows typical chinese people do not want it either.


Without getting into the weeds of what exactly we should say they are, I would argue there is such a thing as a set of universal principles that anyone should be held to (to take the trite, obvious example, we shouldn't excuse the Holocaust on the basis of some distinct German values).


No, there's no excusing the Holocaust. But it is useful to understand how the Nazis got to that point. Wars make people crazy. WWI was a horrorshow. And just a couple decades later, WWII. Germany felt beaten and cornered, and the Nazis offered hope. And then things got totally out of hand.


But if you want to understand it, I think appeals to German essentialism would be among the worst ways.


13th Amendment:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

----------------

Slavery is ALLOWED if guilty of a crime. So go on ahead and keep espousing "rah rah USA". We're still in a slave country.


I don't understand the point you're trying to make. eddieplan9 didn't claim that the US is a flawless, perfect nation. They're saying that despite the issues with the US (and I do agree that there are a lot), drawing conclusions between the US and China is a false equivalency and that things in China re: social freedom is much worse than here. Pointing out flaws with the US doesn't take away from his point.


Does the United States actually practice slavery in the prison system in any fashion? My understanding is that work is optional, comes with a very small amount of compensation as incentive, but is otherwise non-compulsory.

Is any US State or Federal prison running cotton plantations in Georgia with forced, uncompensated labor?


> Does the United States actually practice slavery in the prison system in any fashion?

Yes, and it is precisely the reason the US is one of the few eligible countries not to have ratified the main current treaty against slavery, the ILO Forced Labor Convention.

> My understanding is that work is optional

Prison labor is generally mandatory for able-bodied prisoners in the federal system, and this is true in some state systems as well.

> Is any US State or Federal prison running cotton plantations in Georgia with forced, uncompensated labor?

Historically, slavery has often had compensation, and, yes, there are literally forced labor prison farms in the USA, such as the Mississippi State Penitentiary, aka “Parchman Farm”.

There have been some reforms since the origins of the penal slavery system in the US, in which the government involved literally rented convicted out to private businesses, but it remains a system of slavery, often involving a public/private partnership for profit.


Note: this topic is a horrible derail from the OP.

>> Does the United States actually practice slavery in the prison system in any fashion?

>Yes, and it is precisely the reason the US is one of the few eligible countries not to have ratified the main current treaty against slavery, the ILO Forced Labor Convention.

That's false. Involuntary servitude is not slavery. Here's the definition of slave:

> a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another;

To be a slave, you have to be someone's property, as in able to be bought and sold as chattle.

> the main current treaty against slavery, the ILO Forced Labor Convention.

That treaty clearly prohibits a much broader class of things than just slavery, it purports to ban forced labor of almost any kind (for anyone who isn't "an adult able-bodied male", apparently):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_Labour_Convention

> Its object and purpose is to suppress the use of forced labour in all its forms irrespective of the nature of the work or the sector of activity in which it may be performed. The Convention defines forced labour as "all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily", with few exceptions like compulsorly military service. The convention excludes "adult able-bodied males", to whom legal imposition of forced labour is allowed.


Chattle slavery, though one of the most recent forms of slavery, and the most heinous to date, is not the only type of slavery.

Able bodied inmates have no choice whether or not to work when ordered to. Companies routinely rent prison labor to avoid having to pay employee wages for work. Private prisons routinely sell non-able bodied inmates to state run prisons. An inmate can neither purchase their freedom nor purchase out of servitude.

That there is a time limit on inmate ownership does not mean there is no ownership.


OK, so they're not slaves, they're just people who enjoy no freedom, can be sent to and from facilities at the state's whim, and who are subject to forced labor. I feel like this is a distinction without a difference.


The difference is that you committed a crime, landed yourself in jail, are not the property of the state, and have a finite term to serve. Sounds like a big difference to me.


Explicit slavery as punishment for a crime and/or for a fixed term is not uncommon; clearly the slaves in US prisons aren't fee simple property of the state, but fee simple isn't the only kind of property relationship.

None of the elements you mention distinguish US penal slavery from historical institutions hmthst were unambiguously recognized as slavery.


Historically, that was at times abused by simply creating a lot of laws you could wantonly charge black people with breaking. But even setting that aside, we are simply calling slavery (or, at best, indentured servitude) an appropriate punishment for crime, not describing some phenomenon wholly different in kind.

Consider the text of the Thirteenth Amendment. It specifically exempts prison labor from its prohibition on slavery.


You mean you have been convicted of a crime. Very important distinction


Does not seem any different to me, if the only difference is the jail, you can just create a bullshit law to put those people in jail (see the war on drugs).


Yes, and there are plenty of articles about it. For example:

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/09/prison-...

It is also apparently mentioned in Hillary Clinton's memoirs that they had unpaid prison labor at the governor's mansion to save money.


>> Does the United States actually practice slavery in the prison system in any fashion?

> Yes, and there are plenty of articles about it. For example:

Let's look up the definition of "slave":

> a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another;

Prison labor is not slavery, this is clearly shown by the fact that you can't buy or sell prisoners on the open market. Prison labor is involuntary servitude. It's still shitty and in need of reform, but hyperbole does no one any good.


Let's imagine an alternate history where, before the Civil War, they made a law that said you could no longer buy and sell your slaves, but you could still keep them on your property and make them labor for you. Has slavery been abolished? I'd say no, not in any meaningful sense.


Chattel slavery is not the only form of slavery.


Distinction without a difference.


>My understanding is that work is optional

Its officially optional on paper, but in practice it can be held against you and result in worse treatment and longer prison time (such as being used against you in parole hearings). Also, slavery doesn't require being used for labor. While most slavery is for some economic gain to the slave holder, it isn't a required component.


> Its officially optional on paper

Except in that in the federal system and many state systems, it's officially required of all able-bodied prisoners and refusal gets extra punishment, such as solitary confinement.


"solitary confinement" which is properly recognized as a form of torture. So you CAN opt to be tortured instead. Clearly optional


Some states (for instance, Texas) require (with medical exceptions) inmates to work, with no compensation


> Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.


[flagged]


> https://mic.com/articles/88461/a-modern-day-slave-plantation...

Mic.com's business model is to deliberately present things in the most inflammatory way possible to make people outraged and profit from the resulting clicks:

https://theoutline.com/post/2156/mic-com-and-the-cynicism-of...:

> During these experiments, Mic continued to bait Facebook readers into getting worked up over everything: Mark Zuckerberg’s hoodie, a high school teacher in Oregon who doesn’t believe in rape culture, people with bad opinions on Thought Catalog, people using bad hashtags, and Zazzle.com. “Mic trafficked in outrage culture,” a former staffer who left in 2017 said. “A lot of the videos that we would publish would be like, ‘Here is this racist person doing a racist thing in this nondescript southern city somewhere.’ There wouldn’t be any reporting or story around it, just, ‘Look at this person being racist, wow what a terrible racist.’” Mic had already exhausted its outrage vocabulary by the time Trump’s election supercharged civil rights violations.


To save the curious reader some Googling since the article doesn't seem to explain beyond "forced labor", one can be compelled to work under threat of solitary confinement at Angola so long as they are deemed medically able. Not quite full-on Chattel Slavery, it still is compensated and there is an "out," but that does seem borderline.


borderline? what more than psychological torture do they have to do to be over the line?


If someone is found guilty and is given "community service" of a given specification as their retribution to society, is that not technically slavery (involuntary servitude)?


Slavery and involuntary servitude aren't the same thing.

This is clearly shown by the fact that the state can't sell your person as chattel to someone else when you're sentenced to prison or community service.


People can select an institution to do community service. Call in sick. Opt to change their mind and do said service at a different place. Although they owe x number of hours of service their labor is their own and cannot be sold by a third party nor are they held against their will.


This isn't addressing what was said.

You posted this in response to someone else's comment, and made clear that you are trying to argue with something else.

You were arguing with "rah rah USA," and that just ain't what was said.

Come on, brother, let's grow up for the sake of us all.


The comment you're referring to is exactly what the parent was talking about. The usual pattern is something along the lines of:

"[OTHER COUNTRY] is doing something bad."

"WHAT ABOUT AMERICA?!"

"It's not equivalent."

"Oh, so America is perfect, then?"


To me the principle of “once untrustworthy, always restricted” sounds like the beginning of a new caste system.

Everyone's children are going to make mistakes. The wealthy are going to be able to cover up their children's mistakes, the poor are going to be put on 'the list' and become 'restricted.'

The restrictions will grow, and eventually you'll have a new group of 'untouchables'


Consider the restrictions that US law places on convicted felons. Millions of Americans have been stripped of constitutional rights, often for infractions as minor as stealing a coat or possessing half an ounce of marijuana. Felons often face considerable difficulties in finding employment and housing. "Once untrustworthy, always restricted" is a practical reality in the US.


Not to imply that the American system is good, but at least here the things that can get you into that status are discrete, well-defined actions. With the "social credit system" things are much more fluid and subjective, so there's going to be a much greater culture of fear surrounding it. Granted, we have the same problems with our own credit system, but at least ours only applies to and is affected by finances. There's a boundary to keep both the fear and the effects from leaking into all corners of life.


> at least here the things that can get you into that status are discrete, well-defined actions

You would think that, but research shows systemic biases in the justice system throughout the entire funnel: from who gets more police attention, arrests, charges, plea deals and how heavy the sentences are. This is a sign the actions are not well-defined, and quite subjective.


>from who gets more police attention, arrests, charges, plea deals and how heavy the sentences are

None of this detracts from the fact that these laws are ultimately relatively clear in their restrictions, compared to China's social score.

Theft is theft. Drug possession is drug possession. Had these "unfairly" targeted individuals followed the law, they would not be subject to its penalties.

Sure, I recognize that very few of us are perfectly law abiding citizens. But I have trouble with the notion that heavier police presence, and heavier sentencing for repeat offenders, are somehow unfair phenomena, and these alleged transgressions far too often are lumped together with actual institutional inequity.

In other words, one must not conflate subjectivity in sentencing and policing with some kind of ingrained, institutional caste system, so long as laws are followed as written. If you wish to stay out of the felon caste, do not break obvious laws, like those regarding drug possession. If you do not agree with such laws, work to change them.


I think the Chinese “social credit” system described here is pretty horrible. But your support of the American system drastically misses the mark.

A good summary is the ACLU’s position paper on Race & the War on Drugs. https://www.aclu.org/other/race-war-drugs

You also are repeating a common misconception when you state that “If you want to stay out of the felon caste, do not break obvious laws, like those regarding drug possession.” It has been shown time and time again that black Americans are disproportionately arrested and sentenced. And your trite remark about how “If you do not agree with such laws, work to change them” is puerile. The GP was expressing their opinion; in our democracy that is a critical component of working to change the law.


>You also are repeating a common misconception when

It's a misconception that you could avoid being in the felon caste by not breaking laws? That's what he said. He didn't say "if you want to gamble with not joining the felon caste, you have fair odds". Lots of soapboxing ITT, threads should decapitate at the first post with 'systemic' in.


>It's a misconception that you could avoid being in the felon caste by not breaking laws?

With the number of overturned sentences coming out of the courts lately, yes, it seems you can go to jail without ever having actually committed a crime.


Your use of the term “soapboxing” to describe what was reasonable argument until your appearance and the bizarre thought-terminating cliché that is your fear of the word “systemic” don’t inspire confidence in me that you are here in good faith. I notice your account is also relatively new.

Nonetheless, consider this after rereading the GP’s comment. If a doctor told two patients that they could avoid getting cancer by not exposing themselves to carcinogens, knowing that one somehow unknowingly lives on a Superfund site, but deciding to purposefully neglect to mention the risk this entails, would you say the doctor was presenting one patient an incorrect understanding of the issue at hand?

Likewise, if a car manufacturer found a problem with one of their models and decided to notify the US about this by saying “you can avoid harm from the problem by not driving cars,” I would say that thinking that this is not “somehow unfair,” as the GP writes, would be a misconception, as I wrote.

The sort of juvenile discussion you are attempting to bring to this conversation is not really appropriate for HN.


>Your use of the term “soapboxing” to describe what was reasonable argument

You conspicuously failed to substantiate his "misconception".

>It has been shown time and time again black Americans are disproportionately arrested and sentenced.

I could not in all charitability/good faith (all your efforts to troll noted btw) extract a relevant point here. If they are disproportionately arrested having committed a crime, that has nothing to do with allthenew's whole post. If one charitably adds the context that in america you can also be arrested for committing no crime at all, then you've switched a basic premise of his post in 'arguing' it.


You equate driving cars and living on superfund sites with consuming illicit substances and wilfully committing violent acts, and then have the audacity to call someone else's contribution juvenile?

Does personal responsibility exist in your ivory tower?

What sort of convoluted logic could possibly drive you to equate necessities of life, or constraints of circumstance, with such antisocial choices? We're talking about smoking marijuana and stealing expensive clothing, after all, not theft of food for subsistence.

Why is it that any time race is brought up, any argument that even has the potential to cast minorities in negative light is immediately shouted down with any sort of logic or reason thrown out the window? What about objectivity?

We cannot shout down potential truths simply because they have unpleasant implications.


> What sort of convoluted logic could possibly drive you to equate necessities of life, or constraints of circumstance, with such antisocial choices?

That you consider all drug use “antisocial” is revealing; that you think the need to use a car would exert more pressure on the average person than an environment which encourages drug use from a young age is telling.

Your use of the term “ivory tower” is ironic when your assumptions are based on a kind of life that many Americans do not inhabit.

There is such a thing as personal responsibility. I would argue that most drug use is not a good idea. I think environments that encourage people to make bad decisions should be repaired. But to argue that “just one drop” of bad decision making justifies massively unfair treatment is an argument that is as intellectually demeaning as it is dangerously naive.

Would you argue in favor of a law that puts people in jail for doing something “antisocial” like using bad language, and that is predominately enforced against people of a particular race? No one needs to use foul language, but having done so does not give us carte blanche to hate.

As my final comment, your unprompted use of the term “ivory tower” and your ominous reference to “unpleasant implications” regarding race suspect that you are trying to bring another argument into this discussion in which I have no interest. This is my final reply.


The united states prison system is designed to systematically incarcerate and disempower black americans. It has nothing to do with "breaking laws". Incarceration is not correlated with crime rate, and nearly everyone breaks laws, but a small segment of the population is incarcerated to a large degree (black men).


>It has been shown time and time again that black Americans are disproportionately arrested and sentenced.

And you also conveniently ignore that blacks disproportionately commit crimes, especially violent crimes.

Such discussions cannot be productive until we are willing to admit to both sides of the problem.

I do not deny that there are inequities in our justice system. However, disproportionate police presence in low income communities is not a symptom of racist targeting. The blackness of these individuals is incidental to the fact that low income communities have higher rates of all types of crime, especially violent offenses, and in any other context it would be obviously prudent to assign additional police forces to target high crime areas.

But this discussion has far surpassed the boundaries of what is acceptable on HN, and I will not comment in this thread further.


>blacks disproportionately commit crimes, especially violent crimes.

This is a racist lie. If you control for socioeconomic factors, the difference totally vanishes.


If a correlation is completely explained by controlling for a third factor, that doesn't make the original correlation a lie. If black people are poorer than average and poor people commit disproportionately more crimes, blacks committing disproportionately more crimes is just what you'd expect.

What knowing the controlling variable does is give you additional information about what interventions are likely to change the situation. If you thought the reason for more crimes committed by blacks were their skin color, you might think that vitamin D deficiency is the culprit and attempt to provide them with supplements. Knowing the influence of economic factors makes that suggestion appear silly, and crime-prevention efforts would be better focused on improving the economic standing of blacks.


>If a correlation is completely explained by controlling for a third factor, that doesn't make the original correlation a lie.

The implication of "black people commit more crimes" is that there is something about being black that involves a degree of criminality. It is a very poor way of describing the issue. A much better framing is "black people in the US are disempowered socially, politically and economically and black communities are ignored by US social policy." Another, far more useful framing of the issue, that I hardly ever hear is that black people are more often the victims of crimes.


>The implication of "black people commit more crimes" is that there is something about being black that involves a degree of criminality

It sounds like you are the racist here.


It looks like you've been using HN primarily for ideological battle. That's against the site rules and we ban accounts that do it; we have to, or this place will go up in flames.

Could you please read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and abide by the rules when commenting here?


If you make enough laws that everyone is breaking some every day, and only go after what the people you want to punish, that is no different than having less laws and a secret police that have hidden criteria for punishing people.

The end result is still members of the executive branches of the government deciding who gets punished based on their whims.

Your point saying "...so long as laws are followed as written" cannot apply as long as you ignore when the government chooses not to apply those laws to everyone, even if everyone that's gets charged has violated the law


What a bunch of bigoted hogwash.

How many times must the particulars of the system be documented and disseminated before these arguments go away completely?

If you are white and wealthy, then drug possession is against the law only in vague terms on paper. It is not your practical reality. That's how the drug war has been made into the new jim crow. It's astonishingly simple, and very real.

> If you wish to stay out of the felon caste, do not break obvious laws, like those regarding drug possession.

Yeah, except that most humans don't consider the government a legitimate arbiter of their diet. I'm not going to decide not to consume cannabis because some person in Washington (or my state capital) overstepped his bounds. And yet, because I'm white and not poor, I suffer no consequences of this.

> so long as laws are followed as written

You can't be serious. The whole point is that laws aren't followed as written. If every person driving 56MPH in a 55 zone, if every person possessing cannabis, if every person violations "intellectual property" laws is suddenly subject to enforcement of those laws, they'll change real quick. But instead, only the "lower castes" are subject to enforcement, and they haven't the power to change the laws.

Just please stop spreading this nonsense. There are possibly young people reading these threads whose understanding of basic sociopolitical principles isn't developed yet, and we need to stop poisoning the well of discussion with this, "follow the law and you'll be fine" nonsense.

The world you describe is a world to work toward, but not the one that black and brown people live in today.


>If you are white and wealthy, then drug possession is against the law only in vague terms on paper.

Not to discount your other points, but this is exactly how the Chinese system will work as well. (and already does in other respects from what I have heard and read)

>What a bunch of bigoted hogwash.

What did he say that was bigoted? (I am serious, by the actual definition [0], not the pejorative commonly thrown around to silence dissent) As a side note, my brother has a felony on his record, so I have some knowledge of the cause and effects.

[0] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/bigoted

Edit: This turned sour fast... not sure it's worth replying to comments.


Black people are 12% of the population but over half those imprisoned for drug offenses, and GP's advice is, "If you wish to stay out of the felon caste, do not break obvious laws, like those regarding drug possession."

I mean, that's bigotry. That's something I expect to read on the_donald.


I know we all have biases, but I reread the comment, and I didn't see any references to race. Is it really fair to apply a blanket percentage generically to any statement and equate it to race?

Bigotry [0], are you sure you are using this word correctly?

[0] http://www.dictionary.com/browse/bigotry


If two groups of people commit the same crimes at similar rates, and individuals in one of those groups are imprisoned more frequently than those in the other group, that's unfair on a systematic level. Nobody here said otherwise.

What aspect of this situation makes the GP's advice untrue? For any individual in either group, the best way to avoid becoming a felon is to avoid committing felonies.


> For any individual in either group, the best way to avoid becoming a felon is to avoid committing felonies.

I think you're missing the forest for the trees here.

For a white, wealthy person, the healthiest life choices are to select a diet based only on the effects of the ingested materials in question, independent of their legal status.

For a black person, the healthiest life choice is instead to make very different dietary choices in order to avoid becoming a felon.

It is simply not the case that individuals in the two groups have the same dynamic re: life choices.


>For a white, wealthy person [...] For a black person

I don't think it's likely that a purely scientific and non-emotional discussion about race related subjects can be had these days online. Primarily because too many people frame their arguments in such a way to automatically make the other person wrong.


But race is not the primary difference between the two groups you're talking about. The biggest difference is socio-economic and that drives everything else - health, education, opportunity, world view, etc. You could, of course, make the argument that the underlying cause of the socio-economic discrepancy is rooted in racism and bigotry.


I think you're doing more to poison the well of this conversation with the attitude and tone of this post. While I happen to agree more with your position than gp's, there is room for a discussion here. The accusations of bigotry and attempts to wish away different perspectives are counter-productive here. You did not make the point so much better than gp that you get to command them to exit the conversation.

GP says: 1) laws are clearly defined, 2) increased attention/punishment for repeat offenders != institutional inequity

You say: 1) laws are subjectively enforced, 2) white and/or rich people don't suffer the same consequences

Note that neither of your points are necessarily responsive to or mutually exclusive with gp's.

But your appeal to the youth who might be reading this was just over the top.


> Note that neither of your points are necessarily responsive to or mutually exclusive with gp's.

I think you're ignoring the more serious point, though. GP literally advised disadvantaged people to more judiciously follow the stupid laws that were designed in the first place to disadvantage them.

> But your appeal to the youth who might be reading this was just over the top.

Listen, I usually find any sort of "protect the children" narrative nauseating. But in the specific case of racism, I do think it's reckless to spout this stuff on this forum. You and I have perhaps read The New Jim Crow or exposed ourselves to the statistics of the drug war, but a lot of people (sure, young and old) come here from other fora where they're more likely to have followed the breadcrumbs of technological development and might need a little more help before being able to pick apart these basic, bedrock examples of institutional discrimination.


How about those people going to prison for carrying a "gravity knife" in New York city? People who just bought a pocket knife for work, or an old knife wore out and became loose enough to open with one hand - hence illegal. The law in America is pretty arbitrary too.


> Theft is theft. Drug possession is drug possession. Had these "unfairly" targeted individuals followed the law, they would not be subject to its penalties.

Not all laws are that simple. Are you aware that not even the US Federal Government is aware of how many laws apply at any given time in a given place[1]? While I'm not going to justify people breaking laws, there are many federal laws that you can see might cause problems for people that could not reasonable have known that a law was being broken. For instance 16 U.S.C 3372[2] (the Lacey Act):

> It is unlawful for any person [...] to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any fish or wildlife or plant taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States or in violation of any Indian tribal law

So if you have ever bought or been gifted a fish or plant that at any point broke Indian tribal law (even if you didn't know about it, even if it wasn't the law where you received it, even if the plant or fish is legally farmed and sold in another area) you have broken a federal law and you're now a criminal.

Does it make sense to not allow someone to have their constitutional rights if they were given a fish that was caught in an area where that is prohibited by Indian tribal law, and they weren't aware of that? Not all criminals have been convicted under such strange laws, but having such a black-and-white view of criminals stops being as obvious when you look at cases like this.

[1]: https://youtu.be/d-7o9xYp7eE?t=279 [2]: http://codes.findlaw.com/us/title-16-conservation/16-usc-sec...


> at least here the things that can get you into that status are discrete, well-defined actions.

According to the article, the actions described seem like discrete and well-defined like giving false information about terrorism, and not paying fines.


> According to the article, the actions described seem like discrete and well-defined like giving false information about terrorism, and not paying fines.

That's just the sales pitch to make it seem reasonable and positive to the average person. It's naive to think that this social credit system won't have a political component. Here are some descriptions of some current pilot programs that make that much clearer:

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/chinese-government-social-cr...:

> But the fourth category, behaviour and preference, is where it gets interesting.

> Under this system, something as innocuous as a person's shopping habits become a measure of character. Alibaba admits it judges people by the types of products they buy. "Someone who plays video games for ten hours a day, for example, would be considered an idle person," says Li Yingyun, Sesame's Technology Director. "Someone who frequently buys diapers would be considered as probably a parent, who on balance is more likely to have a sense of responsibility." So the system not only investigates behaviour - it shapes it. It "nudges" citizens away from purchases and behaviours the government does not like.

> Friends matter, too. The fifth category is interpersonal relationships. What does their choice of online friends and their interactions say about the person being assessed? Sharing what Sesame Credit refers to as "positive energy" online, nice messages about the government or how well the country's economy is doing, will make your score go up.

If they're slurping up your purchases and social media for your credit score, it's going to be a lot more than about if you lie or fail to pay fines.

Also what might "false information about terrorism" really mean in practice? Vouching for your friend when the government thinks he's a dissident?


>Sharing what Sesame Credit refers to as "positive energy" online, nice messages about the government or how well the country's economy is doing, will make your score go up.

Sounds like a propaganda botnet that uses gamification to spread influence evenly. By incentivizing many intermittent points of influence the propaganda cannot easily be filtered from the rest of the data.


Sure it can just filter out anything that obviously comes from China or seems similar to content coming from that direction. Oh you meant in China? Have fun with that.


Sesame Credit is fairly extreme, but it's completely separate from China's social credit system (which doesn't exist yet). Sesame Credit is run by Alibaba, a private company, and there's no way China wants them to have that much power.


> Sesame Credit is run by Alibaba, a private company, and there's no way China wants them to have that much power.

That's true, but I see no reason for the government system to take a more moderate approach.

I don't really buy that Alibaba would have too much power, either. I'm pretty sure the CCP could swat it down pretty easily if it gets too uppity.

> China's social credit system (which doesn't exist yet)

My understanding is that things like Sesame credit are much like pilot projects -- if their ideas work to the CCP's liking, they'll make it into the government system.


"not paying fines" is about as open and fluid as it gets.


How is that open and fluid? Did you verify it by reading the law or did you just assume Big Scary China will do bad things? Lots of states in the US will suspend your driver's license for failing to pay non-traffic-related fines.


It's not inconceivable for China to make all people part of a particular province required to pay a fee/fine for something arbitrary and take away their privileges to travel if they don't. They already don't even need that much to take away passports of Uyghur people in the northwest of China.


I once got 15 speed camera tickets on purpose, they are civil tickets, and the goal was to force them to serve me. It worked, and I successfully wasted their time until the server(s) stopped trying. Try that in China:)

Later we voted the cameras out >2 to 1. Try that in China too.

Second, you just made the argument for me, as you implied, fines are easy to define and redefine.


There's a discrete outcome that gets you into that status. The actions and the way they are judged seem just as fluid and subjective to me.


> Consider the restrictions that US law places on convicted felons. Millions of Americans have been stripped of constitutional rights, often for infractions as minor as stealing a coat or possessing half an ounce of marijuana. Felons often face considerable difficulties in finding employment and housing. "Once untrustworthy, always restricted" is a practical reality in the US.

I understand the US isn't perfect, but I feel the real effects of comments such as yours do as much to excuse China's brand new system as they do to bring light to flaws in the US's system.

I think it must be emphasized that "once untrustworthy, always restricted" is a new policy in China that's being implemented, while in the US it is a historical principle that's coming under increased skepticism and criticism.


Stealing a coat or possessing 1/2 and ounce of marijuana are generally not felonies. Stealing would be larceny and there are cost thresholds associated with that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felony


Virginia and New Jersey have felony larceny thresholds of $200; Massachusetts draws the line at $250. Arizona, Oklahoma and Tennessee all class possession of half an ounce of marijuana as a felony. Several states make possession of any amount within proximity of a school, church or park a felony. There are countless examples of misdemeanour possession being trumped-up to felony possession with intent based on very flimsy grounds.

This is all nitpicky and arbitrary, which is largely my point. The line between misdemeanour and felony is thin, but the consequences of crossing it are severe. In one state, you might get a $50 fine; in the next, you might be barred from voting or lose your green card.


I think you're missing the overall point. It doesn't matter whether the demarcation is $200, $250, or $3000 between a misdemeanor and a felony. It is more important that a person has trafficked in stolen goods. For that reason, lowering the limit of a misdemeanor is far more likely than raising it.

Besides, different states have different laws. This isn't arbitrary but how our country was designed to work.


In Virginia, felony larceny starts at $200, easily within coat range. I once had jury duty and was faced with the prospect of sentencing the defendant to up to 20 years in prison for the crime of receiving stolen goods valued at least $200. I got rejected from the jury, probably because I said I couldn’t possibly consider 20 years in prison for that.


Jury nullification is still definitely a thing. The trick is actually getting on the jury.


Yep the fastest way to get the kick off a jury is to mention your support for jury nullification. Sometime it's the judge that will dismissed you insted if one of the lawyers.


I feel like at that point, it'd be morally correct to lie to get into the jury...


My English might fail me here, but if you think about a 20 year sentence and find it not adequate to the crime, wouldn't you have "considered" it?

I can understand why the question is asked though. The jury is there to find facts, i.e. define what has happened. The judge will then find the "correct" sentence if found guilty. The jury should not be swayed to a not guilty finding if they believe a guilty would be correct, just because the possible maximum sentence is too long, even if it would not be imposed in the case at hand anyway.


Virginia is unique here. Juries perform sentencing, not just finding of guilt. That’s why they asked the question.


Interesting. It certainly brings the risk of vengeful sentencing. But that brings me back to my original question: Would they have lied if they would have said "I would consider 20 years", already having made up their mind about it?


I may not be quoting the lawyer exactly, and there’s probably specialized legal meaning as well. The net result, at least as I understood it, was that they were asking if we would be able to consider the full range of sentences after having seen all the evidence and heard all the testimony. Basically, trying to screen out people who have already made up their minds, like they might try to screen out people who have already decided that the accused is guilty.


I was hoping that my discussion of how absurd that sentence was might influence the jurors who actually made it on.


A state employee in Texas was charged with a felony for making a $0.25 personal call on a state owned telephone.


What about 3 strikes in many States?


I understand your point. But I think the problem actually arises long before strike number three. In most cases, it's ONE strike and you're out as far as "bad social credit score" goes. It's just going to be VERY difficult for you to secure employment, or even decent housing, with that conviction on your record.

Just one of the hard realities of the legal system.


Originally, the 3 strikes laws were to be used only against violent felonies. I'm not sure how they were able to include non violent offenses to the list.


Easy. Find one example of someone who stole something three times, then later murdered someone. Scare people with this fact. Make up a theory about how larceny is a gateway to violence.

This is, exactly, how the immigration debate is being held in DC. One undocumented shot and killed a citizen by accident, and now we're supposed to kick all immigrants out. Visceral emotion is a great tool to optimize society for corner cases.


Sympathy for habitual criminals?


I am not sure I follow your question as it is very open ended. Are you asking if I am in favor of incarcerating criminals who continually commit violent felonies?


The threshold was $100 in Louisiana in 1996 for the case referenced: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16607471


That is a terrible comparison. Social credit is more like a credit report or score than something criminal.


Yeah if your credit report restricted you from flying...


> Felons often face considerable difficulties in finding employment and housing.

This is the marketplace at work. It's not a government-imposed ban on access to public services.


The only way the marketplace can do this is with the support of the government. The government provides felony records after all.


So you think what, the courts should be secret?


Criminal background checks should be limited with regards to this criteria considered for employment.


I feel like "violent murderer and/or rapist" is something Id like to know about when considering hiring someone.


Except criminal background checks don't just aim at murderers and rapists. Felonies are often a drug-related, and often in states with stricter laws. And no, it's not your business if a job candidate got caught with a joint or even something worse years ago, on his own leisure time, or got a DUI in college a decade ago. Why should that continue to be allowed to be your business, if you hire (for instance) a programmer? Finally, what about time served? A person should be punished forever?


No, I don't think someone should be punished forever. I think most people agree that our criminal justice system needs a major overhaul. Unfortunately "justice" seems to focus more on punishment rather than rehabilitation. As a cause of this, recidivism is rather high. I don't care about personal narcotics use, but a felony regarding minor possession is very different then a violent felony. Also I know a people can change and one mistake doesn't define a person.

Reading back I suppose my previous statement came off as callous. That wasn't my intention. But let's take a quick peek at felony recidivism rates [0] Spoiler alert: it's quite high and depends on what they were convicted for.

  > Property offenders were the most likely to be rearrested, with 82.1 percent of released property offenders arrested for a new crime compared with 76.9 percent of drug offenders, 73.6 percent of public order offenders and 71.3 percent of violent offenders.
The system is really terrible and not particularly effective as evidenced by those statistics. I'm sure as hell glad I don't have a felony. But I'd also like to know if I were electing to employ someone that might significantly negatively impact my business. I won't write someone off because they have an asterisk, but the circumstances of a conviction would absolutely matter to me.

[0]https://www.nij.gov/topics/corrections/recidivism/Pages/welc...


I'm glad you raised the objection with regards to recidivism. Let me offer two things:

First, what about the 30% some-odd folks who aren't recidivist? The individual should be smothered over the statistic of the many, because he's in a set of individuals (felons) and there's 70% of this set that repeats? How fair is that.

Secondly, if you're barred from professional or high-paying work because everywhere you go, you fail a criminal background check... Doesn't that mean you're MORE likely to return to crime? I don't know what it's like to have been a street criminal, but I can imagine I'd be a lot more likely to steal if no one hired me because of a past thing I did (like stealing). I'd say, the system is against me, it's corrupt and so forth, so screw it.

That last sentiment I described ("the system is corrupt anyway, it's stacked against me so screw it") is an attitude I see a lot in the (very large) US city where I live, and I know a number of people with criminal histories. They'll never end up in a cubicle farm making 180K writing code, that's for sure.


I'm really not trying to argue with you. I'm not making any broad sweeping statements like "I WILL NOT HIRE A FELON". Someone could have a criminal record and be a decent person, just as someone without a criminal record could be a terrible person. Hiring good employees is hard enough. It's not just about raw skill or ability or determination, when hiring you have to make a judgement call about that person. Can you work with this person? Is this a good investment on behalf of the business? Like I take someone's employment history into consideration, I don't think criminal history is irrelevant.

I'm 100% sure this negatively impacts the ability for those with records to get jobs. That really, really sucks for them. And like you mentioned, of course that would contribute to recidivism. Who's going to hire a thief to work unsupervised where they could just steal stuff again? That might be an unfair characterization, but I'd like to talk to the candidate about that and see if _I_ believed they were not going to steal my shit. If someone has a litany of drug convictions, I'd probably be hesitant to assume they were totally trustworthy to show up to work every day. But I'd like to talk to them about it. I guess your position is "it's none of your business", and you could be right about that.


I want to know many things, but I believe that if the punishment a court ordered is over you have paid your dues to society and that should be the end of it.


There's a huge difference between secrecy and privacy.

A court that doesn't publish felony records is not a secret court. In fact, non-secret courts have been around for centuries even though easily accessible felony records are an extremely recent phenomenon (post-internet).


Absolutely correct, and one of the reasons why I'm suspicious of attempts to grant private companies too much leeway with regards to people's livelihoods. Barring someone from working for life in professional roles - what difference is there practically, not philosophically between that and the old Soviet practice of ruining people's careers if they weren't in good standing in the Party?

The average Joe won't experience any difference. The armchair political scientist will argue it endlessly (I put myself in that category, by the way).


It's certainly government-enabled as others have said. We have this principle of "innocent-until-proven-guilty" (although certainly in the media and in some more practical aspects of our judicial system that seems to get forgotten), but I think we need to consider more this idea of how someone gets innocent again. Do all felonies justify having someone labelled as a felon for life, knowing that it hinders their ability to productively participate in society again? Absolutely not. Especially if we really believe our "correctional" facilities correct people instead of just inflicting suffering, we ought to be trying harder to let go of people's pasts once it's behind him. Would I hire a white-collar criminal to handle sensitive business records? Probably not. But would I hire a guy who beat up an attacker and took it too far to fix my car? No reason no to. Yet we don't have enough nuance in our system to handle stuff like that, and no reason for businesses to do anything but discriminate indiscriminately. If one doesn't hire felons, one doesn't hire felons. And unless you can get things expunged, you're kinda screwed with a sort of life sentence.


What's the difference if the effect is the same?


There are landlords who will rent to felons and employers who will hire them. It's not a blanket ban.


People with felony convictions are barred by law from many professions in many states, including surprisingly innocuous ones like dentistry and massage therapy.


It's the same as the difference between societal discrimination and government legislated discrimination. Both terrible, the latter seems more so.


The country you're countering about, China, executes people in stadiums before cheering crowds instead of going the felony route when it comes to drug policy.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/18/thousands-chin...

Meanwhile, back in the US, we've actually begun to recognize our mistake as a culture. Thus eight states have legalized marijuana, and another dozen will go that way soon. Decriminalization of drug offenses is a common point of discussion in every state. Nearly every state that puts pot legalization on the ballot sees it go through. We've begun recognizing the mistake of how we fail to treat addicts.

Over a decade ago the US recognized the huge mistake of mass incarceration, as such the US prison population has peaked and has begun to decline, with both sides of the political aisle now openly discussing how to correct that broken system.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/grover-norquist/republicans-a...

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/12/prison...

http://thehill.com/opinion/criminal-justice/354288-we-must-p...

And there's China, going the other direction full speed.


>Over a decade ago the US recognized the huge mistake of mass incarceration, as such the US prison population has peaked and has begun to decline, with both sides of the political aisle now openly discussing how to correct that broken system.

Until the US has a share equal to its percentage of the global population of incarcerated people (instead of 4-5 times that), and has abolished the death penalty, the shame that are private prisons, and improved the third-world conditions of its prisons, it has nowhere near "recognized its mistake as a culture".

It just has a few fewer prisoners than a decade ago, because of several factors -- including the legalization of marijuana. It's still as Old Testament and punishing to its inmates, and especially to the black population, as ever otherwise.

Btw, regarding China, let's cut it some slack.

For historical reasons not all countries develop at the same speed or are at the same stage. 40 years ago the US still had aggregation. 80 years ago it still lynched blacks.

And China 50 years ago had mass political executions and a full on political slash civil war -- compared to that, sentencing 10 people on a stadium with a crowd present (not executing them with a crowd) is BS.

(Especially since the US also has non-judicial citizens and even relatives of victims attend executions, to enjoy their revenge on the person dying...).


> Btw, regarding China, let's cut it some slack.

No, let's not "cut it some slack" on human rights abuses in the making.


If the cure is the usual "bomb them to democracy", I'll take the abuses...


> If the cure is the usual "bomb them to democracy", I'll take the abuses...

That's a pretty flippant statement to make.

China is an authoritarian country that's moving closer to an autocracy, let's not "cut them any slack" and "take [their human rights] abuses" based on some cartoonish caricature of US actions. China is developing new forms of totalitarian social control may superficially resemble certain western practices (e.g. credit scores and background checks) but there are important differences. If you don't find that troubling, I can't really take your views seriously.

>>> For historical reasons not all countries develop at the same speed or are at the same stage.

This belies some fallacious thinking that countries develop along the same track. This is a common foolish mistake when it comes to thinking about China, which is becoming harder to entertain in light of recent events.


I think GPs point was that one should „clean up his own front porch“ (fix serious problems in their own country) before discussing others. I don’t agree with that though, I think China serves as an example as to where a turn to authoritarianism with heavy focus on economy can go wirh current technology, let alone tomorrow’s. We should be extremely careful to not end up in a dystopia with all the tools that are becoming available. This also shines another light on EU‘s approach to privacy that I think should be highly respected.


From the first link, China sentenced 10 people in front of a crowd but they were executed out of sight. Not that this fully detracts from your point but I appreciate the clarity.


The interesting thing, is that it's a return to the execution parades that used to be very common in decades past:

[2013] "China executes 4 foreigners, televises death march" ... "China has mostly abandoned the once-common practice of parading condemned criminals before crowds in stadiums and through city streets on the way to execution grounds on the edge of cities."

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/china-executes-4-foreigners-tel...


First sentence of the Stadium article:

> A court in China has sentenced 10 people to death, mostly for drug-related crimes, in front of thousands of onlookers before taking them away for execution.

Did you mean sentencing in instead of executing? Based on the article you linked, the executions seem to have occurred elsewhere.


I didn't mean to imply they were shot in the stadium. That's my mistake if it was taken that way.


Yes, it was clearly implied. There are indeed countries, like Saudi Arabia, where this sort of thing happens.


Unfortunately, the wording you had "executed in stadiums" is categorically false regardless of original intent. Why not edit it?


> The country you're countering about, China, executes people in stadiums before cheering crowds instead of going the felony route when it comes to drug policy.

No, you read it wrong. The crowd watched felons to be sentenced and then they were taken to the place for execution (private location not open to public display) immediately afterwards. So no public execution like what it was like in the ancient China. I know this because I read similar Chinese news in past.


> have been stripped of constitutional rights, often for infractions as minor as stealing a coat

For some context in case anyone was curious, please see the page numbered 116 (but 118 of 240 of the PDF) from this report from the ACLU: https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/111213a-lwop-complete-repo...


both suck and both should change, and China is worse, is the conclusion here, I think you'll agree


(edit: oy, this is a controversial comment? karma score is swinging wildly. I don't mean to suggest that China's social credit system is a good idea or that it has an equivalent in the USA. It's just worth pointing out that China's own characterization of the system is pretty similar to how things work in the US...)

From the article:

> People who would be put on the restricted lists included those found to have committed acts like spreading false information about terrorism and causing trouble on flights, as well as those who used expired tickets or smoked on trains, according to two statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website on Friday.

The US may ban you from flying if you are politically controversial [1]+, get kicked off a flight [2, edit: 4], or sneak onto planes without a ticket [3].

Likewise, people who trespass on public transit are often barred from its use. And of course people who break traffic laws are (eventually) kicked off the roads.

I won't comment on whether the Chinese government's characterization of its laws is accurate or not (I don't speak any relevant language and don't know much about the culture, so all I have to go off of is western media). But at least according to the Chinese government, these rules are mostly in-line with how things often work in the US.

[1] https://theintercept.com/document/2014/07/23/march-2013-watc... (edit: changed from http://mentalfloss.com/article/68073/8-ways-you-can-end-no-f...)

[2] https://thepointsguy.com/2017/07/getting-banned-from-an-airl...

[3] e.g., http://wqad.com/2018/02/21/illinois-stowaway-woman-pleads-no...

[4] http://www.nbcnews.com/id/39919229/ns/travel-news/t/can-bad-...

+ The "predictive assessments" (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/10/us-no-fly-li...) used for putting people on the no-fly list are not very transparent and, IMO, reminiscent of a social credit system. It's extremely hard to imagine such a system that doesn't harshly penalize certain constitutionally protected speech (e.g., about Islam and US foreign policy in the ME).


> The US will ban you from flying if you are politically controversial [1]

The provided source doesn't support this claim. The only part which could even remotely be constructed as support for this claim would be 3 and the anecdata there include "He suspects" and "He thinks" - on the other, that you can end on such a list without knowing the reason (and often without recourse afair) is a real problem, but that's not what you claimed.


So I suppose it's possible that a professor with controversial opinions ended up on a no-fly list for some reason completely unrelated to his politics. Occam's razor, though...

There are other abuses that we have concrete evidence of. E.g., refusing the cooperate with the FBI. (https://ccrjustice.org/home/press-center/press-releases/laws...).

Hell, up until 2005, the TSA used CREDIT SCORES as a component in deciding who should be on no-fly lists...


Yes, Occam's razor. Professors tend to hold controversial opinions. Random people will end up on the no-fly list. Sooner or later, that random person will be a professor with controversial opinions.


https://theintercept.com/document/2014/07/23/march-2013-watc...

DHS does not use social media posts alone to place someone on watch lists, but they are incorporated into predictive assessments. Given two people who are otherwise equivalent, the one with public stated controvsial opinions IS more likely to end up on a no-fly list. By the govt's own admission.


If you break traffic laws too many times you aren't allowed to drive, but you aren't banned from riding in a car.


I was about to say the same, they are copying US because US did some great work in suppressing dissent.


You can extend this metaphor to employment and job performance as well, as explored by Marshall Brain in his short story "Manna" [0]:

> You can imagine what would happen. Manna fires you because you don't show up for work a couple times. Now you try to go get a job somewhere else. No other Manna system is going to hire you. There had always been an implicit threat in the American economy -- "if you do not have a job, you cannot make any money and you will therefore become homeless." Manna simply took that threat and turned the screws. If you did not do what Manna told you to, it would fire you. Then you would not be able to get a job anywhere else.

As we get better at collecting and analyzing data on employees (a hot topic whenever tech interviews are discussed on HN), we should remember to exercise a certain amount of "social forgiveness."

[0] http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm


My life history shows this isn’t hypothetical. Rising star from midwest now on a life raft in SF, rent 6+ wk overdue, most accounts closed, no cash and bank account frozen/thawed if I can get funds, and most everyone’s abandoned me. Can’t even afford a bus ride/parking meter to get to a meetup/friends’ game demo.

Simple conversation with old friends from home show I am a good guy but it’s invisible. Instead we see InstantCheckMate telling the world I was arrested for something. They don’t talk about the nuance of the situation, people only see the Red Bang (!) and stop. Add to that two frivolous firings possibly derived from that image, followed by some shit rung jobs I quit because they were the only ones who’d hire me and hold my lack of options over my head.

Now working like a mad man to do something somebody will pay me for. I like to say it always works out in the end. The good part about being choked nearly to death is I fear nothing anymore, including the latter. So this body is a vessel to show the dangers of this type of system via Internet Archive. Block chain terrifies me in this regard.

I now feel why people run around in fear like I used to. I go to the beach every day and the universe seems to bring me exactly what I need. I feel better than ever.


Such a legal environment existed in the US between the Civil War and WWII.[1]

> On March 30, 1908, Green Cottenham was arrested by the sheriff of Shelby County, Alabama, and charged with "vagrancy." Cottenham had committed no true crime. Vagrancy, the offense of a person not being able to prove at a given moment that he or she is employed [...] capriciously enforced by local sheriffs and constables [...] and, most tellingly in a time of massive unemployment among all southern men, was reserved almost exclusively for black men. Cottenham's offense was blackness.

> After three days behind bars, twenty-two-year-old Cottenham was found guilty in a swift appearance before the county judge and immediately sentenced to a thirty-day term of hard labor. Unable to pay the array of fees assessed on every prisoner—fees to the sheriff, the deputy, the court clerk, the witnesses—Cottenham's sentence was extended to nearly a year of hard labor.

The description goes on to describe how his hard labor was sold to US Steel, and he was sent down into a mine. There he was subject to whipping for not delivering a required 8 tons of coal per day, and threatened with torture for disobedience. More than a thousand other black men were subjected to the same slavery at "Slope 12", 45 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

[1] https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=890511...


I'm unsure Manna is the best anti-social-credit parable, given that one of the prerequisites for being a member of its utopia is having the government AIs surveil you 24/7 through a brainstem implant. (http://marshallbrain.com/manna7.htm, search for "They watch everything?")


Thanks for that link. Manna was an amazing read.


Here are the original NDRC documents being reported here:

http://www.ndrc.gov.cn/gzdt/201803/t20180316_879653.html for air travel

http://www.ndrc.gov.cn/gzdt/201803/t20180316_879654.html for train travel

and Chinese news summary: http://www.ce.cn/xwzx/gnsz/gdxw/201803/16/t20180316_28505546...

Use Google translate to check if this is being misreported.

In China you are "bad credit" if you refuse to pay despite a court order. In the US you could be jailed for contempt of court.


So this is really just like communal imprisonment vs jail in other societies


Air travel has been considered luxury until recently and may still be for most. China has a very developed passenger train network and road network. The train ban for non-safety-related cases only bans travelling in first class/sleeper cars and G trains (high speed trains). You can still travel in regular train cars. So the spirit is more like: if you refuse to pay or claim you can't afford to pay, you shouldn't be able to travel with too much comfort.


This is the case in North Korea (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songbun), and it's terrifying to see it spread to other, less-totalitarian states


Is this a Black Mirror episode?



It's probably time we started describing these types of situations Brookerian rather than Orwellian.


It's the "Majority Rule" episode of The Orville:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Orville#Episodes


It's Community's "App Developments and Condiments"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/App_Development_and_Condiments


Does anyone have have the actual context of where “once untrustworthy, always restricted” is applied? It sounds like the author cherry picked the most provocative quote out of context and applied the most nefarious translation, especially since the punishments seem to be temporary according to the article.


Already happened with Wells Fargo, who fired and blacklisted employees that refused to create extra (illegal) accounts for their customers. Those employees couldn't get a job in finance again.


> Already happened with Wells Fargo, who fired and blacklisted employees that refused to create extra (illegal) accounts for their customers. Those employees couldn't get a job in finance again.

It's worth noting that Wells Fargo ironically did that by abusing a fraud reporting system:

> The blacklist is called "U5," and it's maintained by the finance institutions as a way of alerting each other to fraudsters who are fired for breaking finance rules. The list was designed to protect banks from fraud, but it has no defenses against fraudulent banks.

https://boingboing.net/2016/10/31/wells-fargo-blackballed-em...


It isn't the beginning of a new caste system.

It is more like a modern iteration of very old Confucian ideals. (Not that I agree with Confucian philosophy)

Confucian philosophy had influenced Chinese culture for several millennial, and the oral tradition was that Confucius (Kong Tzu) himself distilled what went into the Analects from much older rites and cultures.

The basic idea here is that humans don't start out as humans, and require socialization to uplift them and refine their spirit to that of "human". To accomplish this as a society, there is an emphasis on education and behavioral control.

This has permeated many levels of the Chinese culture. What is novel here is the use of Big Data and AI to enforce these.

Confucious's philosophy and its descendent philosophies, though pervasive, are not the only streams that have influenced Chinese culture. If you are looking for echoes of classical liberalism, you'd find it more at home with the Lao-tzu, and the ethos of "let's improve our society with technology" would find an echo with Mo-tzu.

> Everyone's children are going to make mistakes. The wealthy are going to be able to cover up their children's mistakes, the poor are going to be put on 'the list' and become 'restricted.'

This already happens before Big Data, both in China and in Taiwan. It happened with other cultures that were influenced by ancient Chinese Confucian thought -- Korea and Japan.


> It is more like a modern iteration of very old Confucian ideals

Confucious also said "those who cannot forgive others break the bridge over which they themselves must pass.”


as long as the score can go back up, that Confucian requirement would be met.


This is analogous to saying:

"Jesus teaches us to be moral, so the inquisition is just letting the government teach us to be more moral."


I think this relates more to Chinese Legalism than Confucian ideals.

This social credit is just what the "men of methods" would prescribe replace aristocracy with a bureaucracy. You get automatic four year ban for certain services if social credit drops below certain level.


Hmmm. I think you are right. Thanks for clarifying.


In other words, fascism, that is, the belief that a society needs very strict moral guides and leadership to thrive.


I think there's more to fascism than that.


Having your nosy neighborly aunties edumacating you is one thing. Having some bureaucrat or AI far away instilling virtues with no reciprocal responsibilities is something only a pompous madman can dream of, and not Confucian at all.


My very vague and armchair-esque fear is that sophisticated technology is actually the missing gap of truly and seamlessly centralizing control and power. Communism is awkward because it's actually quite hard to understand, much less control a human being in all his or her subtleties and motivations. It's easy to point to terrible, heavy-handed actions, but with an increasingly pervasive and subtle system, can we even tell if we're being gently guided to act for it?


Because 'nudging' is trivially tested, has been repeatedly tried, and does not work.


A caste system dressed up in pretty philosophies is still a caste system.

If this is a modern iteration of confucianism, then confucianism is equivalent to a caste system.


> A caste system dressed up in pretty philosophies is still a caste system.

Isn't every caste system.dressed up like that?


Right. To me, the idea is bad in general, however, if they are going to be doing it, at least be fair and allow for someone to rebuild their social credit just like financial credit.


If you think the financial credit system in the US is working smoothly, you might be mistaken! Post-FACTA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_and_Accurate_Credit_Trans...) it's a lot better, but just ask the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau how much ...

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-overs...


I feel like I will get Mick Mulvaney and he will tell me that everything was great in the 1950's and that is where he wants to take the CFPB.


Mulvaney openly has advocated for the abolition of the CFPB.


I would like to see if there exist any societal examples of self-regulation in social status, beyond rehabilitation and re-education centers.

A healthy human body releases sweat as one form of regulating body temperature. If it fails to do this, you can reason that the person is unhealthy or has an illness. A cause of a systemic failure. If such feedback loops exist in a society that cause the worst in reputation to fall in even deeper, then there is also a systemic failure here. It promotes the idea that anything broken should just be discarded rather than fixed. It is a very passive way to run a society.


Resisting the Chinese Communist Party is not a mistake IT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MISSION ON THE PLANET TODAY. Even the pope has given up his right to name bishops to the CCP. The pope is no longer Catholic and has become Communist just a few decades after JP2 gave us such hope. Now communist propaganda has Americans disarming themselves and praising the CCP as the best government in the world. Humanity is doomed and when AI takes over there will be nothing left of humanity worth saving.


These problems also exist with debt and I think similar solutions are also possible. Muslim law banned interest. Jewish custom create Jubilee where debt was forgiven every seven years. America has a fairly forgiving bankruptcy system. I think the world of personal data scores is coming whether we like it or not, the only question is how is society going to codify it into law. Privacy laws may also apply to this where you are only allowed to keep these kinds of records for a few years and then they have to be expunged. At the government level, maybe your childhood mistakes phase out over time by law.


The first sentence in the article states the restrictions are "for up to a year".

Where does your "always restricted" come from? Not to be rude, but did you read the article or just the headline?


Interesting way to look at how inequality grows and IMO totally logical. It's scary as fuck, especially since China is on the verge of becoming very powerful on an international level.


Caste systems will never go away until the asymmetric advantage they endow to a majority is honestly weighed against the hidden costs of society manifesting self-fulfilling prophecies in the minority. Which way should the slippery slope slide? Should an individual’s means to succeed be the rule or an exception. That’s freedom, thats’s bravery in my eyes.


I think we are assuming that once you have a low score it becomes impossible to raise the score back to an acceptable level. Caste does not work like that. If you are born into the wrong caste you can't be promoted to a higher one.


Quite.

Beware creating a cohort with nothing left to lose.

https://suntzusaid.com/book/8/2


The original announcement all included ways that these restrictions are lifted. Most of them are automatically lifted in 180 days or 1 year.


Thank God that doesn't sound the like the US at all.


[flagged]


Why highlight “black people”? Do white people convicted of crimes not carry a stigma? Hispanics?

Notwithstanding the qualifier, I think the difference between criminal records and social credit is the system itself. While flawed at least the (US) court system provide certain safeguards: due process, equal protection, right to remain silent, right to confront accusers, right to a lawyer even if you can’t afford one, ect...

What safeguards are in place for a system of social credit?


Because people treat black and Hispanic people with criminal records more harshly than white people.

From: https://csgjusticecenter.org/reentry/posts/researchers-exami...

> Key findings include:

> * Both black and Hispanic men were less likely to receive a positive response from employers—including a call back or email for an interview or a job offer—compared with white men.

> * Men with criminal records were more likely than women with criminal records to receive a negative response from employers.

> * White men with a criminal record had more positive responses than black men with no criminal record.


Even if we safeguards worked 100% perfectly do they matter if we craft laws that convict a certain group of people?

I can't remember the quote exactly, but there's one about the law, in all it's equality, prevents the poor and rich alike from sleeping outside or begging for food.

I don't really see a practical difference between the two systems


You can’t have it both ways...

Safeguards that work 100% and laws that convict a certain group. Moreover, one of the safe guards is “equal protection” (14th Amendment) and if a Law on its face or in application is designed to convict a certain group that law would be declared unconstitutional.

If a Law is being challenged under the 14th Amendment, there are 3 levels of scrutiny:

1. Strict: race, national origin, religion, alienage

2. Middle tier: gender, illegitimacy

3. Minimum scrutiny: all other classes

As to your quote, I for one would love to see a class created based on socio-economic status which receives the highest level of scruitiny.

Nevertheless there are significant differences between our exisiting system of US law and the a unproven/untested social credit system. Maybe in time as it plays out one of us will change our mind.


because if black people get accused of a crime, most people believe they actually committed it.

If an upper-middle class blonde hair, blue eyed woman gets accused of a crime, a higher degree of people would at least give her the benefit of the doubt


> If an upper-middle class blonde hair, blue eyed woman gets accused of a crime, a higher degree of people would at least give her the benefit of the doubt

Which would make sense, no? They're playing the odds. It's exceedingly rare for any upper-middle class woman to commit a crime. So to be surprised by that is understandable. Take color and class out of it, you need only compare "man accused of crime" vs "woman accused of crime". More will give the woman benefit of the doubt, and they're more likely to be correct than giving the man the benefit of the doubt.

But to be clear, of course anyone accused of a crime should go through the exact same legal process as anyone else. Justice should be blind and operate on the facts of the case. You can't just make assumptions or play the odds in court, obviously.


> Which would make sense, no? They're playing the odds. It's exceedingly rare for any upper-middle class woman to commit a crime.

Our “knowledge” of who commitd crimes is distorted by societal biases that influence the ascription of blame; there is no set of crime statistics that is immune from that.

So, when you justify those biases on the bases of the understanding that they distort, you make a circular argument, where the bias is its own justification.


Women commit very few crimes compared to men. That's not bias, it's a fact. I wasn't talking about how it should be used in court (it shouldn't).


> Women commit very few crimes compared to men. That's not bias, it's a fact.

All methods of assessing who commits crime are subject to societal biases (and largely the same set of biases, so you can't negate them by combining multiple sources). There's no unbiased oracle to consult for true criminal guilt.

And that is even leaving aside that many crimes are defined in ways that, while they are “objective” in the sense that term is used in legal jargon, actual guilt or innocence is itself fundamentally not an objective fact.


White people use drugs at higher rates than black people, but black people are convicted at higher rates for drug possession.

Additionally, it's easier for someone in the upper middle class to legally have the same behavior that would give a lower class person a felony. Case in point, nearly all of the stay at home moms in the upper class neighborhood I grew up in were barred out on Xanax all day. They just all knew the doctor that'd write scripts no questions asked but didn't take insurance, only cash. Lower class can't access that 'doctor'.


> It's exceedingly rare for any upper-middle class woman to commit a crime.

You're confusing "commit" and "get caught and receive significant consequences".


Certainly a lot of truth in that. But it is uncommon for women to engage in criminal behavior compared to men.


This is the very definition of prejudice. If a person is black, or from lower income classes, it doesn't make them fundamentally different from other people. White people can be murderers as much as any other group. Your "common sense" is just a recipe for institutionalized racism.


No. That's pure prejudice. There are lots of upper class criminals. Maybe you have heard of Elizabeth Holmes, the blonde woman in charge of Theranos? Major fraud case.


you only prove my point further because you've forgotten that Theranos raised $700 million and her board of directors was a list of very respected researchers, physicians, and businesspeople.

If she was a black women, it would never have gotten to that point ever without a legit product.

Holmes was the perfect posterface for Silicon Valley's version of "progressiveness" that caters upperclass white folks, without care for people of color. Google "white feminism"


Ever heard of Aileen Wuornos? Major serial killer case.

Aileen and Elizabeth are outliers. It makes sense to be surprised by it.

If there's a woman and a man and someone asks you to guess the criminal, which one are you going to choose? Flipping a coin would not be a wise strategy.


"Playing the odds" is often code for justifying sexism, racism, etc. And it helps entrench it.

"Black people are often criminals and white people are not. It isn't racism. It is just playing the odds."

I find that statement pretty sickening. We have a system that often sets up certain classes of people for failure and makes it hard for them to avoid being charged, then use their inevitable failure as further justification for heaping on more mistreatment.

http://micheleincalifornia.blogspot.com/2015/04/what-fool-be...


Isn't the American credit score more like “once untrustworthy, always restricted”? Most the restrictions announced by China are removed automatically in just one year.


No it isn't. While it can inconvenience you for a few years you can get it back up by simply paying your bills on time and paying down debts.

Now that being the case I still don't like credit scores. You can work years, have lots of savings, pay all your bills on time, pay off cars and mortgages and have a rocking credit score. The if one medical vendor sends your $90 bill to the wrong address, you never see it, then they send you to collections you will watch your score crater. This is sadly what happened to me, it is rage inducing!


The US credit scoring system has begun aggressively devaluing medical claims against your credit:

https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/07/11/5365018...

https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/medical-debt-and...

You can also easily dispute that $90 bill, and easily get it removed from your record. You'll find there's almost zero chance they're going to tangle with you over $90.

If it's a $5,000 medical bill, then they will fight you over that dispute claim.


Interesting. I had the same experience (doctor->collections; trivial amount of money) and it didn't impact my score at all. In fact, I laughed at the collections agent and told her they would never see a penny from me, as it hasn't impacted my score. That was several months ago and still no change in my score and I certainly haven't paid them.


Good then. Most of the restrictions mentioned in the article are automatically removed in 1 year.


so it's the same then.


I am not sure I follow this. I have gotten back up by simply doing the things I was doing before.


Every bad mark expires after 7 years generally.

Many times, you can contact the company who you owe and set up a plan where they'll remove the bad mark if you pay the debt in full.


The time limit for negative information is 7 years.


The world goes around in circles. Some always want to be on top of others, enslaving them until they get overthrown.


This isn't a permanent thing, it's 'up to one year'. Not much different than what we have in Ohio...any drug charge and your driver's license is suspended for a minimum of 6 months. It's ridiculous, yes, but it's hardly the level of totalitarianism you're describing.


Yeah but losing your driver's license for a DUI or drug charge is a specific defined consequence for a specific behavior. It's not something that happens because you have crossed a line on some nebulous "social credit" scale.


A DUI is a much more serious crime. It's pretty ridiculous to have a mandatory license suspension for any quantity of marijuana possession. Regardless, what's described in this article is closer to this policy than it is to what OP described in my opinion.


There's a gigantic difference between losing your driver's license and not being allowed to take any kind of long-distance transportation.


Most of Ohio doesn't really have a good transportation alternative to driving, so it's actually pretty similar.


The guiding principle however appears to be "Once untrustworthy, always forbidden". That is an issue.


That seems like what happens once you have a felony in U.S.

I mean that a felony removes your right to vote, makes employment much more difficult.


How does whataboutism about bad US policy improve the nature or standing of China's bad policy?


"muh whataboutism"

You're not even using this term correctly. Not that hardly anyone is since it's become popular...but still. Whataboutism is a very specific thing, and every time someone draws a comparison it doesn't automatically become whataboutism.


I merely bring it up because it's something we can improve in the U.S. It does not excuse China, which seems to go two steps further down a bad road.


> I merely bring it up because it's something we can improve in the U.S. It does not excuse China, which seems to go two steps further down a bad road.

However, the actual effect of bring that up is to:

1) Blunt criticism of this newly implemented Chinese policy.

2) Distract everyone from it with a debate about US policy.

No one's talking about improving the US OR China here. Because of the whataboutism, we're derailing on if the two are morally comparable or not, which suits the Chinese authoritarians just fine.


The caste system to me means to put people in the position of a caste on purpose. Just like the younger brothers in feudal europe were second class ... so a prince might just kill his older brother. Or literally enslaving countries wholesale as untouchables (the name being an improvement over beatables, I guess). I have a hunch that caste is cognate with castrate, but it's inexplicably "uncertain" as many such terrible topics are, and indeed it's more nuanced: e.g. castrum is linked in the wiki (think casa). It makes sense via separate<enclosure<cover<layer ... it's much more complicated then that though :/


It comes from "chaste" (Latin castus) through an intermediate form meaning pure/non-mixed


The intermediate form "castus" does go back to the same root as "castrate", according to wiktionary! Although the entries for the french and english homophones differ.

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