Red Cliffs Of Dawlish

Red Cliffs Of Dawlish
Red Cliffs Of Dawlish

Saturday, 10 September 2016

The Political Nexus: Turning Governance Into Garbage

The Political Nexus: 'How governance turns into garbage', stemming from people to politicians (also some regulation symbols on wheelie bins usage).

Worth a read are two recent blogs over at Pete North's Political Blog:-

A model of inefficiency

The politics we deserve


Both are worth a read. I especially agreed with this sentence in "A Model Of Inefficiency":-
"Eventually systems become so ossified that departments use the main system as a secondary administration task while using guerilla tools to perform the primary function. That's where I come in and that's how I make my living. In the corporate world I am a black marketeer peddling unofficial merchandise."
I tapped out a brief comment in reply to this illuminating observation from Pete's direct personal experience, but it became a little larger than a comment and it was my initial response to the posed process above:-


"[START] I remember Dr. RAE North made a very telling comment some years ago recalling,back in the early 1970's (iirc), apparently The Treaty of Rome was published in a little booklet/pamphlet and he picked up and bought a copy (in London). Reading this document, some of the first words, as everyone fully knows today: "Ever Closer Union". From reading that, that was enough to vote against joining the EEC or "Common Market".

Strictly adhering to the EU structure or system this would be the quintessential definition of it's:-
To clarify: The use case definition aims for stringent definition of the user (actor), system (anything built is built only towards what it's supposed to assist doing specifically) and outcomes (goals).

To revisit: the "better deal" fallacy and connect:
"Eventually systems become so ossified that departments use the main system as a secondary administration task while using guerilla tools to perform the primary function."

Finally, the detractors of the above EU phrase "Ever Closer Union" have used a couple of methods:-

1. Dismissal: It's merely a phrase of good intent and hence insignificant.
2. Side-Tracking: Cherry-picking such a phrase is proof of an anti-agenda only.

But I think both detractions can be disproved if you consider that phrase leads to:-

1. A use-case that is wide enough for many additional and unlimited use-cases
2. If 1 then 2 follows: A bloated use-case effectively

History validates 1. with no question as per The Great Deception. What then happens with 2? I think Pete's blog here discusses this point very well. I'd like to add something to this. Inevitably when we correctly identity the Use Case of the EU we see one half of the problem:-

1. Legacy Logic:-

A) Original Design (DNA, Kernal, Constitution egs of: Once in place conservatism of these fundamentals is entrenched)
B) Self Maintenance (countless examples in the above 2 categories, see Dr. North's blog Fallacy of The "better deal" for examples and primary research of this effect in institutions: An equally powerful aid to understanding is Philip Selznick's theory of bureaucracy, in which he developed (if not actually coined) the principle of "self-maintenance" as a determinant of institutional behaviour.) This itself is a great driver of the Conservatives "wrong deal" on the EEC excuses.

C) With emphasis on B) subsuming A) comes greater demand for growth for more use cases and hence more support.
D) Visible and increasing mismatch of Inefficiency of the system/institution or organization with the original design to the current and changing conditions.

2. Conflict Logic:-

A) Because there is a mismatch between the function and the legacy support support there is conflict inherent.
B) Reporting of this conflict is either amplified or dampened in the Legacy News-Media depending.

C) Avoiding Blame is reaction to B)
D) Visible and increasing mismatch in the actual subject in question to the nature of the debate being conducted. See wide-spread confusion and poor quality democracy.

The second most important parameter is:-
In fact, looking at the EU Referendum it was dominated by these two considerations:- "What's the use of the EU and is it worth it?" [END]" This is particularly pertinent in today's circumstances with "austerity" and Government debt and deficit clearly out of control and of course I'm referring to Pete North's first blog "A model of inefficiency" here.


The cartoon I've modified above looks at this question:-
"What little information is enough for a few people, so much information is not enough for so many people concerning such a political vote as the UK's membership to the EU."
Well I think Pete North answers that question very effectively in his second blog post "the politics we deserve":-
"The problem for politicians is that they are playing a game they cannot win. Take the NHS. Everybody wants first rate high quality personalised care. Nobody though wants to pay for it and thinks that someone else should regardless of the fact that what they want actually costs more than they have ever paid in taxes. The people themselves are hypocrites. The middle classes want the welfare system reformed and benefits reduced. Until they themselves have need of it. And of course you cannot expect top be elected or retain a position in high office if you do not pander to this basic hypocrisy.
This same dynamic underscores a good deal of popular euroscepticism. People say they want democracy but when given the chance to exert their own power they take no interest whatsoever. By abdicating politics to politicians there is a punchbag and someone to blame and the people are then absolved of all responsibility for what is done in their name. This is what we call representative democracy. 

So really our politics in a way is representative in that the hypocrisy and dishonesty of our politicians is only really a mirror image of ourselves.

Worse still the public persist in demanding simple solutions to complex problems while making zero effort to familiarise themselves with the issues.

Here we are in the middle of an information revolution with absolutely all the opinion, fact and data you could possibly want at your fingertips and people sit there gormlessly pleading for their government to spoonfeed them with the answers. This notion that politicians should do as we say instantly falls apart when the public are so hopelessly dependent on politicians and government.
Not for nothing is it said that people get the government they deserve. If we have lazy, facile and shallow politics it is again a reflection of ourselves."

Coming back to what Pete was saying about System Inefficiency, a simple and useful graph of this problem:-

Going Pro in Data Science by Jerry Overton O'reilly media: Volume and variety of data increases, statistical correlation (garbage or noise) increases compared to use-ful or meaningful data (signal)

Perhaps, for a lot of people, the inductive common sense of "What's the use of the EU and is it worth it?" probably swayed their perception of it's merits and it's faults. Intuitively the conception that there's a gap between what is said and what is actually done is felt or inferred. By the way, that blue line? I think might well explain the excessive use of the legacy news-media's narrative device of "X Could Happen?" in conjunction with "Negativity Bias": Namely "Uncertainty" from the exponential increase in statistical correlations possible no matter that they serve no useful specified Use Case. I really dislike those words thanks to the legacy news-media reporting for so many years on the EU.

But what of the people on the inside of such a system? How do they feel? This question probably takes a number of different and compatible forms:-
  • The Bubble Effect derived from Prestige (a form of social rent-seeking?) where the legacy of the system itself selects the people who "run" it accordingly or what is are known as,
  • "Political Dynasties" or "The Political Class" emergence in society where fewer and fewer are from "Working Class Backgrounds" and more and more from the "Diplobrat" upbringing of the likes of say a Nick Clegg or Daniel Hannan

And hence on the other hand, with the identity formation of such politicians layers above the other classes in society, a free shot of discontent (see financial ruin wreaked across the Western World), why wouldn't you vote "Leave" to give these people (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat) a kick in the teeth for the first time in living memory for many?

In my reply above which was going to be a comment, to flesh it out some more, looking at the above "gap" it may need more description and hence direct application to what is discussed above. In the "Legacy News-Media", one of the dominant drivers is "Conflict Narration", again this itself takes on other forms or names such as
  • "Negativity Bias" and itself is an enormously important cog in the engine driving governance into garbage. But what this adds is part of the political system's survival or self-maintenance is driven by establishing the ruling narrative that acts positive or avoids acting negatively in it's favour, our old friend
  • "The Status Quo Effect" or what we'll see as the features fuelling a crisis: Inflexibility, opacity, post-hoc blaming and so on.

A side-note, the above is summarized in Dr. RAE North's most recent blog posts here for further context ie immediacy that feedback of the above is actually operating presently ie it's very real and observable:-

Brexit: nothing to report 06/09/2016
Brexit: a dose of reality?05/09/2016
Brexit: the hacking of Redwood04/09/2016
Brexit: a sterile debate03/09/2016
Brexit: Liechtenstein reprised02/09/2016
Brexit: muddy waters01/09/2016
Brexit: parallel negotiations31/08/2016
Brexit: the power of prestige30/08/2016
Brexit: the failure of feedback29/08/2016

 What the above are all describing in such detail is that policy is driven as much by a certain kind of narrative building or world view such that these are possibly popular in appearance or avert hostile reception AS OPPOSED TO taking the lead of policy driven by data and it's fidelity (veracity). Hence the emergence of this gap in form (call it noise, presentation/spin or inefficiencies) to function (use case, policy, efficiency). In fact in any operating system a feedback-system involves both positive feedback and negative feedback on processing data into information to then use for various functions for executing decision-making.

And decision-making has consequences depending on how well made those decisions were by whom: To take an example from The Financial Industry. In the banking industry, there's been some very serious "catastrophic system errors"
"The Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 (Pub.L. 107–204, 116 Stat. 745, enacted July 30, 2002), also known as the "Public Company Accounting Reform and Investor Protection Act" (in the Senate) and "Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act" (in the House) and more commonly called Sarbanes–Oxley, Sarbox or SOX, is a United States federal law that set new or expanded requirements for all U.S. public company boards, management and public accounting firms. There are also a number of provisions of the Act that also apply to privately held companies, for example the willful destruction of evidence to impede a Federal investigation.

The bill, which contains eleven sections, was enacted as a reaction to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals, including Enron and Worldcom. The sections of the bill cover responsibilities of a public corporation’s board of directors, adds criminal penalties for certain misconduct, and required the Securities and Exchange Commission to create regulations to define how public corporations are to comply with the law."
"The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into federal law by President Barack Obama on July 21, 2010. Passed as a response to the Great Recession, it brought the most significant changes to financial regulation in the United States since the regulatory reform that followed the Great Depression. It made changes in the American financial regulatory environment that affect all federal financial regulatory agencies and almost every part of the nation's financial services industry."
"Basel III (or the Third Basel Accord) is a global, voluntary regulatory framework on bank capital adequacy, stress testing, and market liquidity risk. It was agreed upon by the members of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in 2010–11, and was scheduled to be introduced from 2013 until 2015; however, changes from 1 April 2013 extended implementation until 31 March 2018 and again extended to 31 March 2019. The third installment of the Basel Accords (see Basel I, Basel II) was developed in response to the deficiencies in financial regulation revealed by the financial crisis of 2007–08. Basel III is intended to strengthen bank capital requirements by increasing bank liquidity and decreasing bank leverage."
All the above are reactions/responses to what is easy to understand: The values and numbers traded in the financial world ended up becoming a huge data set of garbage with unreal values attached to various instruments or concoctions or "financial bubble". Here's a small exercpt from Basel III challenges (given this is the current period of attempting to regulate finance more effectively):-

BASEL III (2015): Progress in adopting the  principles for effective  risk data aggregation  and risk reporting
"In terms of the challenges that banks face in attempting to comply with the Principles, the industry panel indicated that the completion of large-scale IT infrastructure projects will aid in complying with the Principles. However, large scale IT projects are dependent on many smaller dependent IT projects, which increases execution risk. Also contributing to execution risk is the lack of subject matter experts to improve RDARR processes. Moreover they indicated the changing regulatory landscape, and consequent required reporting, further complicates the execution of IT projects. Industry members noted that the completion of these projects will improve business-as-usual RDARR, which will improve, but not completely resolve, challenges in risk reporting during periods of stress. Among the greatest challenges in risk reporting during periods of stress is the over-reliance of manually-created reports and developing processes and procedures for developing such reports when automated reports cannot be developed."
You can just imagine the sort of work Pete North mentions concerning databases from this report and the "clusterF!" involved! Not finance, but politics, a similar complexity issue probably dominates the effective delivery of Brexit with a minimizing of risk at such a large scale involving so much background noise? I'm not entirely sure how effective Basel III "can be" even with more effective regulatory requirements at global level without the actual finance industry restructuring entirely using data with more fidelity with a closer match to that data's USE CASE. The more bloated these systems become the more the motivation of the finance workers is "Get Rich Quick Before The Shit Hits The Fan!":-

'Lost' Financial System Needs Some Straight and Narrow Discipline (2014)
"In 2010, the bank launched Stride, the Strategic Reporting and Information Delivering System, which was designed to consolidate more than 1,000 information technology systems into one — an attempt to enhance the reliability of its financial reporting.
Despite this effort, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has concluded Deutsche Bank’s operations management systems remain unsatisfactory, and the goals of Stride have not adequately addressed the issues of concern, including oversight, auditing, reporting, and technology.

Echoing this financial dysfunction is a recent two year prison sentence and $1.75 million fine received by Jesse Litvak, a former Jeffries Group LLC senior trader on 15 counts, including 10 related to securities fraud. In essence, he misled clients regarding the prices he paid for bonds tied to the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, which was designed to bail out the banks during the 2008 financial crisis.

This case is another microcosm of the dysfunctional financial system. One of his lawyers believes his client has demonstrated typical Wall Street behaviour and seems to be treated in a selective and disparate manner."
 Here's a report with all the features we've been discussing so far, a "microcosm of the macrocosm" of financial garbage data.

Now looking at both Westminster government and Civil Service and their apparent inadequacy concerning Brexit planning and dissemination of information in the event of a Leave Referendum result as well as the general pattern of governments who win election for five years and "pass the buck on" or "kick the can down the road". This becomes more explainable knowing there's inevitably a mismatch in the institutions stated functions and it's actual behaviour leading to perverse results such as apparently not planning for a "leave" vote! When all these people are carrying responsibilities that they cannot contend with, their behaviour is less effective policy and more about self-maintenance within a system dominated by self-maintenance and a very effective method to achieve this is self-assertion through either money (financial industry) or prestige (political industry):-

The Blame Game: Spin, Bureaucracy, and Self-Preservation in Government ~ Christopher Hood

 What we see here: Divorcing Responsibility From Identity through (1) Perception (2) Time and (3) System complexity = Representative Democracy: The growth of "Blame Risk" driven institutions of Government
"What we are dealing with here is a type of risk that seems curiously unmentionable in the offi cial corporate lexicon of risk management — namely the risk of blame."

"But most of it is officially concerned with risks to society or to corporate organizations. In contrast, this book puts the spotlight on the risk of personal blame faced by public office holders, including politicians, managers, professionals, and front-line bureaucrats. That is a type of risk and risk management that is rather less commonly identified on the management-seminar circuit. And curiously—or tellingly—it does not have any conventional term-of-art label.
"So we shall simply call it “blame risk” for the purposes of this book."
 "... start to find answers to some of those puzzles that we began with, about disjunctures between officially stated claims and observed behaviour. That is because the management of blame risk — perhaps contrary to intention and usually in an unacknowledged way — so often shapes the organization and operation of modern executive government, producing its own curious logic of administrative architecture and policy operation."
"negativity bias is the reef on which international trade talks often falter, even if, as is claimed there, there might be more winners than losers from liberalizing world trade."
"Indeed, the blame-avoidance perspective cuts across three different strands of political science that are normally separated— namely the analysis of (1) institutional architectonics (why institutions are designed the way that they are), the analysis of (2) policy processes (how policies play out at all stages from their emergence onto the decision agenda down to the way they operate on the ground), and the analysis of the (3) working of electoral processes and public opinion. In fact, all of those different analytic strands are needed to explore the questions we posed at the outset, about =>"why organizations often don’t connect" in policy delivery, why rigidity often trumps flexibility and proportionality in organizational functioning, and why opacity tends to trump clarity in accountability after policy fiascos."
The author cites three categorical "Blame Risk" strategies to avoid blame:-
  • Presentational Strategies
  • Agency Strategies
  • Policy Strategies
And they're well worth reading along with the accompanying diagram. However, for brevity, to put this into the context of this blog, if you do read these strategies they are in fact overwhelmingly familiar and you can very easily recall dozens and dozens of such examples you may have heard of in the media hundreds of times printed and distributed in multiples of Legacy News-Media sources: TV, Web, Print, Radio and of course Forums and Comments Sections.

Coming to the last section, often you see people making contributions to improve governance after disaster strikesand the legacy news-media full of hypocracy in it's own role in this entire systemic failure, comes out with the usual outpourings of "an unjust and class-ridden society" (self-flagellation) grows the divides between people ever deeper" and the usual nonsense along these emotional narrative lines. This my personal experience is to assert that such attempts to add a contribution by ordinary people within these limits imposed all around are doomed to fail: The whole system or

  • "Political Nexus" from the people to the legacy news-media to the political institutions work as a complex system which is inevitably going to grind along in a particular direction and chew up anything for it's own internal working's logic.
What we have according to Christopher Hood's work:-
  1. Naming
  2. Blame (avoidance) Or Credit (seeking)
  3. Claiming
According to "Negativity Bias" we see that this leads to Blame being x2 or x4 times higher weighted to avoid than seeking credit. Similarly, the inbuilt bias in "Conflict Narration" built off the top of "Legacy Systems" drives peoples' reactions and legacy news-media practices. The author also noties that in complex systems, it's impossible to perform "police patrols" ie stopping a problem happening before it happens, so the emphasis is on "fire-alarms" namely setting up systems that report when problems happen. Unfortunately this design appears to reinforce "Blame Risk" driven behaviours.

What is a better way to design systems? I think the USE CASE in politics should start with the principles of minimalism and simplicity in their design and limited scope. How could such a system become more applied?

  1. Direct Data Driven
  2. Local Execution with Responsibility
  3. Clear Use Case Definition
  4. People are their own best Use Case or Self-Learning
  5. Direct Cost Controls grounds the above in Reality
  6. Limits on Parliament's acquired Use Case (see it's extension into the EU)
The facts seem clear: Politicians can never fully take responsibility away from people who in the first place should never be so careless to assume other people will solve their problems for them without their own self-interest interfering and eventually corrupting the process (of politics).