Sunday, October 25, 2009

Antitoxins Resist Toxins of Power

A lot of people and states are "under water" in the United States and in the world as a result of the toxins of power which corrupt.

The human being in the photo gives new meaning to "being underwater" as a result of the carelessness of fellow human beings.

We have discussed the mystical properties of the notion that power corrupts, the difference between "power" as conceived by a physicist compared with "power" conceived by a political scientist, and finally, we have discussed the fact that money can also be considered to be a source of power and therefore potentially a corrupting influence.

But this post is about the statement made in another post:
Let's create an optimistic premise: "for every toxin there is an antitoxin".
(The Power That Corrupts). There is an ongoing struggle in Kuwait that illustrates both political and monetary toxins of power working to corrupt.

That struggle also happily reveals the relevant antitoxins that resist those corrupting influences or toxins:
Lawmakers in Kuwait, which is richer per capita than Germany, are demanding a government bailout of all consumer loans, reviving a power struggle that’s already shut down the assembly twice in 18 months.

At least half of the 50 elected lawmakers say they’ll back a plan for the government to buy all 6 billion dinars ($21 billion) of bank loans taken by Kuwaiti citizens to buy homes, cars, holidays and other purchases, write off interest payments and reschedule the rest. The government opposes the bailout. Parliament convenes on Oct. 27 after a four-month break.

“It’s my right as a citizen to enjoy the wealth and resources of my country,” said Essa al-Malki, a 32-year-old teacher of philosophy and psychology, who took out a 15-year 23,000 dinar loan in 2000 and supports the plan.
(Bloomberg). This is the opposite of the way the United States handled a similar bailout situation where the rich were bailed out but the middle class and poor were left underwater to handle their own fate, to sink or swim, like the man in the photo above.

Is the right wing faction's conclusion (abject cruelty and inhumanity is better than "socialism") a result of some kind of toxin of power?

Does the Kuwaiti situation show a result of some kind of antitoxin of power struggling against a toxin of power?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

What Is Corruption?

You have probably heard the saying "one person's garbage is another person's treasure".

"Corruption" could suffer a similar ambiguity.

However, if we limit its definition to the power that governments use, we can narrow the definition:
"Transparency International (TI) has chosen a clear and focused definition of the term: Corruption is operationally defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. TI further differentiates between "according to rule" corruption and "against the rule" corruption. Facilitation payments, where a bribe is paid to receive preferential treatment for something that the bribe receiver is required to do by law, constitute the former. The latter, on the other hand, is a bribe paid to obtain services the bribe receiver is prohibited from providing."
(Transparency International, emphasis added). Those type definitions are good, but they tend to describe the effects of corruption, if you think about it, instead of what corruption is.

While that is all fine and good, it is just that this blog wants to refine the definition a bit more. This blog, as one would surmise, defines corruption as:
The condition of having excessive effects of the toxins of power within oneself as a result of having been exposed to power.
(see Power That Corrupts). Thus, corruption is defined not as what it causes an infected person in power to do, but instead describes the condition of having an excessive amount of the effects of toxins of power within oneself.

This seems to be a better definition, because there are almost an unlimited number of corrupt things a person in power can do, once they have become corrupt; thus it becomes difficult to analyze politicians for corruption prior to them getting caught doing something corrupt.

Unless we use a microscope to look close, instead of using a telescope from afar, we could miss important factors and have to wait until politicians do something illegal to detect the levels of corruption within them.

Doctors tell us that we always have germs, viruses, and organisms ("toxins") in us that could corrupt us, that is, make us sick. However, they also point out that our immune system can handle a certain amount of toxins within us and we are still considered to be "well" or "healthy" at tolerable levels. In other words we all have various degrees of natural tolerance or immunity to toxins within us.

That is the way on this blog that we like to contemplate the toxins of power which corrupt.

Those in power can have a tolerable quantity of toxins in them, which is normal, because a certain amount of immunity is natural. The normal notions of resistance, the moral immune system if you will, can handle that degree of toxins, and the person in power can still be seen as not being corrupt.

It is when the toxins overwhelm the immune system that corruption, like disease, manifests and begins to grow.

What happens next is anyone's guess. The infected person in power generally surprises everyone because that person is seen as "not being themselves" it is sometimes said, when an illegal act is committed. That is the individual perspective.

But there is another concept to be contemplated, and that is group or collective corruption. This type of corruption is not based upon individual corruption per se, but instead is an observation of the cumulative effect toxins will have on a group or system.

This type of corruption can exist even though the individuals in the group or system do not manifest an individual corruption to an easily noticeable degree, such as illegal activity.

That is, they are not committing illegal acts individually, but the entire system is not acting according to its purpose as defined in our constitutional laws, so it can still be said to have become corrupt.

American government is designed to serve the betterment of the people, and when it is not doing that systematically, it can be said to be corrupt, even though the individuals within it are not doing anything illegal.

That is what this blog is about. Developing a standard system of analysis that can detect the effects of power toxins on the system itself, as well as being able to analyze individual politicians in power at any given time. Just like a toxin sniffer device does to biological or other toxins, we need a power toxin sniffer.

Consider the United States Civil War as a case for study. We can say that toxins built up in many people in government until the system became corrupt. It did not take individuals becoming corrupt to the point of committing crimes individually for the corruption to manifest. But individuals developed a toxin level, as a group or system, to the point it caused us to turn on ourselves and almost destroy the nation.

That systemic corruption can be compared to AIDS where the body turns on itself, because toxins can confuse and corrupt the immune system.

In the days, weeks, months, and years ahead we hope people will join in defining toxins and antitoxins which we can then use in the formulas to apply to individual problems politicians face, as well as the systemic corruption problems we face as a nation.

UPDATE: Recent discoveries may implicate aberrant microbes as originators of toxins of power. See Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Is "Power Corrupts" A Mystic Notion?

To a physicist the idea that power can corrupt does not make sense.

That scientist can and does use very precise formulas from within the realm of mathematics so as to show you all you want to know about power.

But none of what is shown will have any thing to do with corruption of the power we are in reference to.

There is a distinction between the power talked about by physics professors and the power talked about by the founders of our nation.

The way they drafted the U.S. Constitution shows that they had experienced the bad effects from concentrated power, and that they believed distribution of power was a better way.

The graphic shows three branches of government sharing various aspects of power, with the written Constitution being the supreme power of the nation.

That is all well and good, but the notion that there is something in power, a toxin if you will, that corrupts those who use the power is a mystical notion it seems to me.

We know that the notion "power corrupts" is true, but we do not really know how it corrupts, or what the toxins that do the corrupting are composed of, or where they exist and come from.

But neither do we really know what gravity is, but we can use formulas that describe what it does, and we can do so very precisely. Gravity is a mystical power that we can't see or feel, yet we know it exists, and we use it in many ways to our advantage.

Likewise, those toxins of power that can warp the mind, emotions, and heart of politicians who are not careful, will not do the same to those who discover and use the antidotes.

Like the formulas for working with gravity, we now have formulas to work with that mysterious something, "toxins in power", too.

The Constitution Is Quite A Medicine

How is a constitution like a medicine?

First, remember that the founders of the Constitutional form of government, which we have perpetuated as we try to improve upon it over the years, believed the statement of their time that:
"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great [people] are almost always bad [people]."
(About Toxins Of Power). They came up with a treatment for the problem.

That medicine is the United States Constitution, and it begins "We the people ...", and goes on to say they intended to form a more perfect nation with that constitution.

They limited the power to which anyone in government could be exposed to, by cutting it to 33 1/3%, making three branches of government into which power was distributed.

They had figured out that the king or ruler, who had been exposed to 100% power, had been driven crazy by that power in their view.

So they reasoned that they should limit the exposure, and should also do some other things, so as to limit the concentration of power an individual would experience who used power.

If you think about it a moment, you too may see this as a preventive measure in the sense that a vaccination, for instance, is an exposure to a small amount of a disease causing organism so the body can become immune to that organism by building antibodies to oppose it.

If you think about it, the framers of our constitution were making a macrocosm at a social level, which is in essence a vaccination to empower an immune system or an anti-body system, like our human bodies have for fighting things which could make us sick or kill us.

We call those things that could make us sick toxins, bugs, germs, viruses, and various other things, and medicine is used to prevent their toxic damage.

Dr. Judith Rich visited Dredd Blog and had some astute observations and made comments which inspired this post in some degree.

I want to be sure that readers know that I do not think power is a toxin itself, nor do I advance that notion.

Instead, I have framed a theoretical construct for discussion purposes, which says power has something in it that can corrupt, and I call that something "toxins", rather than saying power itself is inherently corrupt.

This is just a way of trying to form a cognitive construct for purposes of discussion and idea sharing, to be used like the language of mathematics.

We can't see power, gravity, or toxins anyway, but like gravity we can see the result of it being around us, and we can talk about it with mathematical symbols and ideas.

If we have a theoretical construct that deals with an entity which contains toxins like contaminated water does, and we conceive of antitoxins and the form of some medicine or other treatment, then we can formulate a social construct for dealing with those who become exposed.

We can fashion working diagnostic techniques and treatments at the micro or individual level like our forefathers and foremothers did at the macro or national level.

We have now set forth the theoretical construct, enhanced it, and then proposed an expansion of that theoretical construct to the notion of several forms of social power [the theoretical construct has been updated to include recent discoveries in the biological sciences: see Hypothesis: Microbes Generate Toxins of Power - 6].

Hey, isn't it worth a try to at least to figure out a way of talking about it, and eventually coming up with diagnosis and treatment at the individual level, just as the constitution deals with it at the national level?

Why Trial By Jury?

A legal historian once said in the late 19th century:
"It is remarkable that no History of Trial by Jury has ever yet appeared in this country."
(History of Trial by Jury). The US Constitution, our supreme law, provides us with three distinct juries.

One such jury is the criminal grand jury (5th Amendment), another is the criminal petite jury (6th Amendment), and the third is the civil petite jury (7th Amendment).

Without an adequate understanding of the experiences of our forefathers and foremothers who founded this country, we won't understand why all free people must have a robust trial-by-jury system.

Those Americans that went before us came to fundamentally believe that governmental power tends to corrupt and absolute governmental power tends to corrupt absolutely.

What that means is that the people must be protected from those who become immersed in governmental power. It does not mean that governmental power is wrong or to be eschewed.

That wisdom of the ages simply means that we know governmental power contains toxins within it, and those toxins must not be allowed to run amok and infect the people with oppression. The election cycle is a process of purging those who have been overcome with those toxins while in office.

But it was the desire to have day-to-day immunity from the effect of those toxins of power (based on their day-to-day experiences under tyrannical systems operated by tyrants) that led them to design a day-to-day immunity beyond the less frequent and not so day-to-day election cure. After all, federal and state-wide elections are not so day-to-day.

One of the fundamental oppressions tyrants used was the day-to-day event of false charges for crimes. An innocent person was charged because of dissent from the view of the tyrant, not because the accused had really committed a crime. Therefore, a day-to-day cure was wisely developed. Since justice is the absence of the use of tyranny, our American ancestors gave us the gift of the jury system which has the effect of a day-to-day remedy.

The grand jury was designed to prevent or resist government oppression by nipping it in the bud. A grand jury of 'a lot of folk' (more members than a petite jury) must be convinced that there is some reasonable degree of probability that a felony crime may have been committed before an American can even be charged. Not convicted, charged.

Once the grand jury returns an indictment, still another petite jury must be convinced unanimously and beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual who was charged is in fact to be held accountable for those charges. And the person charged need not say a single word. The prosecutor carries the entire burden to prove it. Is that fair? No. But it is safe.

Let us look at some abstract examples. In the courts during trials experts are used. In the typical case experts will give their opinions to the jury. Typically this means an opposite opinion for each side. The experts are sworn in, list their degrees, and the court makes a ruling that they are experts.

Afterwards those experts explain that they looked at the evidence, and then they tell the jury what their opinion is. The expert for the defense has one opinion, but the expert for the prosecutor typically has another and different opinion. On the exact same evidence I should add.

Finally, the everyday folk on the jury make the decision as to which expert was right and who was telling the truth! Yes, the person who left the farm after a 5:00 AM breakfast, and then drove the truck into town for that day's jury duty, decides which rocket scientist had it right.

If you are still wondering why this is so, remember that the foundation of jury theory is that the people can determine facts better or more accurately than those immersed in governmental power can. By “better or more accurately" I mean in the context of the impacts that governmental power has on individuals.

We have found that historically, by and large, the people tend not to oppress their fellow citizens like governmental agents have tended to do. The old saying that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely" is directed at governments. It is not directed at juries of the people.

Juries are the people's reaction to the oppression of tyrants who have inebriated themselves with the toxins active within governmental power.

Oh, to be sure juries make mistakes. But the mistakes of the people are much easier to live with over the long run than the mistakes of government.

So say the sages of the ages.

Lawyers at times will make the point that sometimes it is better to waive the right to a jury and have a judge decide a case.

That point highlights the need to distinguish the jury system and its purpose, from the jury panel in an individual case and its purpose.

The jury system is what is designed to protect the people in general from governmental oppression in general. While the individual jury panel applies only to a single case and has the single mission to decide if the government has proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt in that case.

The important lesson to this is that the jury system is wise and proper and is not a mistake even though the individual jury panel can and does make mistakes from time to time.

It comes down to the realization that we must not mistake the two different purposes and throw the baby out with the bath water, as some other nations have done.

Power Toxins Limited To Government?

The untimely death of Michael Jackson recently got me wondering about power again.

He came into money and celebrity at an early age, 11, through the efforts of his father, who established the talented and successful "The Jackson Five".

The burdens put on him must have been tremendous, as were the benefits of celebrity.

I have written about the toxins in power in the context of political energies, which can corrupt politicians, like Governor Sanford for example, if they are not careful.

But I have been wondering whether the power of money, celebrity, and other forms of social power contain toxins too?

Lord Acton indicated as much when he famously said "Popular power may be tainted with the same poison as personal power".

We can throw in the notion "Money is power" to boost the idea. A book by that name Money is power: a scientific, historic, and practical treatise", by R.W. Jones (1878), should bolster the idea.

It would be good for psychiatry to get a much better handle on the notion of toxins in power so that those who must experience power can deal effectively with those toxins.

They could live better lives in the sense of knowing how to deal more effectively with those toxins.

We will always have entertainers and people who have to work in government service, so we will always have the exposure to deal with, since both groups, politicians and celebrities, are most likely exposed to those toxins.

Thus, we could expect to benefit society as a whole when our health care system and our techniques for dealing with the reason "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely" are up to par with this challenge.

Tables For The Toxins In Power

I introduced a proposed formula for the toxins within power, being unaware of any such formula which may already exist.

In an even earlier article those toxins within power had been discussed, in the abstract, as one reason for the American tradition of trial by jury.

The formula set forth for calculating the effect that the toxins in power have at a given time is:
C = P ((T¹ .. Tº) - (A¹ .. Aº) + 1)
where P = O * Y ("O" is the office held, and "Y" is the time an individual has been in that office).

Therefore the full formula is:
C = (O * Y) * ((T¹ .. Tº) - (A¹ .. Aº) + 1)
When O * Y is simplified to P = O * Y; the formula fully simplifies into:
C = P ((T¹ .. Tº) - (A¹ .. Aº) + 1)
The (T¹ .. Tº) - (A¹ .. Aº) sections simply show that you add up the list of toxins, then add up the list of antitoxins, subtract the antitoxins sum from the toxins sum, to derive a value to then be multiplied by "P" which will deduce the corruption factor "C".

Since I feel that a working formula would go a long way toward a pragmatic technique for determining how corrupted or uncorrupted a particular individual working in government could be at any given time, I will provide some tables as an example of only a very few values that can be used to activate and use the formula.

A few examples should help to kick off more use of the formula in calculations involving local and other governments around the nation and the world.

The first thing we need to establish are the constants for the "office", symbol "O". Here are some constants for "O".

The "office" held is on the left side of the equal sign and the constant value is on the right side of the equal sign:
Office = Constant

President = 10
Vice President = 9
Speaker of the House = 8
President P.T. of Senate = 7
Cabinet Members = 6
Federal District Judge = 8
Federal Appeals Judge = 7
US Supreme Court Judge = 7
There, we have some constant values for "O" components. If we want to calculate for the Office of the President in the case of a president who has been in power for three years, we would then use:
C = (10 * 3) * ((T - A) + 1)
where "T" is the sum of (T¹ .. Tº), and "A" is the sum of (A¹ .. Aº).

Since in this case "O" = 10 ("10" is the "president constant value") for this example, and "Y" = 3 (three years in office when we calculate) for this example, we can simplify:
C = 30 * ((T - A) + 1)
Where "C" is the corruption factor to be derived, "T" is the toxins sum, and "A" is the antitoxins sum.

This formula shows that the exercise of any official is to resist corrupting toxins via antitoxins. The goal is to bring "T" and "A" to the same value, so that T - A sums to zero. Then 1 is added.

That is because P * 1 = P, which would mean there is no corruption in that office at that time. But the corruption factor, expressed as potential, remains.

Finally, we need to ask what, then, are toxins and what are their numeric values, and what are antitoxins and what are their numeric values.

To recognize some fundamental corrupting toxins, I turn to James Madison, 4th President, "Father of the Constitution", author of "The Bill of Rights", Cabinet Member, Congressman, and author of 30% of the Federalist Papers.

In his sage understanding, war is the number one toxin. Here is a table from his writings linked to above:
Toxin = Constant

War = 10
armies = 9
taxes = 8
dealing out offices, honors and emoluments = 7
ambition = 8
avarice = 8
vanity = 7
fame = 7
There, we have some constant values for "T" components.We can adapt his sage understanding for a table of antitoxins from his writings:
Antitoxin = Constant

Peace = 10
shrinking armies = 9
lowering taxes = 8
shrinking offices, honors and emoluments = 7
humility = 8
charity = 8
doing the people's work = 7
There, we have some constant values for "A" components. We have put our toes in the water and now we have some constants to work with.

We can now clearly show an example of their use in the formula.

Lets use C = (O * Y) * ((T¹ .. Tº) - (A¹ .. Aº) + 1) where: "O" = president, "Y" = 1 year, toxin = war, antitoxin = peace; so as to derive:

C = (Office * Years in office) * ((Toxin¹ .. Toxinº) - (Antitoxin¹ .. Antitoxinº) + 1)
C = (president * 1 year) * ((war constant - peace constant) + 1)
C = (10 * 1) * ((10 - 10) + 1)
C = 10 * 1
C = 10

Thus, a president who entered office in a time of war and brought peace that year fulfils the mission of zero corruption (C=10). The lowest the corruption factor can be is the office constant times the years in office. It does not equate to actual corruption unless the ((toxins - antitoxins) + 1) is a value greater than 1. What increases the longer an individual is exposed to power is the potential for corruption.

These formulas can or will be adjusted, added to, expanded, enhanced, and then used by students and teachers in many areas of politics.

It can be a quick tool for making ongoing appraisals that track how a politician is doing at any given point in time.

It is a simple tool of the people for keeping an eye on them, and officials are also free to use it to monitor themselves and avoid problems.

The Power That Corrupts

The About page of this blog points out Lord Action's statement about "power" being a source of corruption.

That page also points out some formulas for "pure" power which does not contain corruption, that is, the power of the type discussed in the science of physics.

If those physics formulas are accurate, and they are, all of a sudden it becomes clear that Lord Acton was talking about a "power" that relates directly to human behavior, rather than the power described by physics.

Yes, it is clear that there are multiple forms of power.

Guided by the mathematical formulas mentioned above, we know that some power is pure in the sense that it is not related to human behavior.

Therefore if one of the types of power is corrupting, but the other is not, the one that is corrupting must have an additional ingredient.

I call that ingredient "the toxins within power".

Let's create an optimistic premise: "for every toxin there is an antitoxin".

Now we can create a formula for human behavioral corruption caused by the toxins within the corrupting type of power:
C = P ((T - A) + 1)
C = P ((T¹ .. Tº) - (A¹ .. Aº) + 1)
(where "C" = degree of corruption, "P" = degree of corrupting power, "T" = toxins, and "A" = antitoxins).

"P" (intensity of exposure to power toxins) can be formulated as P = O * Y (where "O" is the office held, and "Y" is the time in office).

The expanded, or full expression of the basic formula would then be:
C = O * Y ((T - A) + 1)
(since P = O * Y) it simplifies to
C = P ((T - A) + 1)
The first simple formula ("C = P ((T - A) + 1)") is for a single toxin and antitoxin pair, while the second formula ("C = P ((T¹ .. Tº) - (A¹ .. Aº) + 1)") is for more complex situations where there are multiple toxins and multiple antitoxins that have to be added and subtracted as needed.

These formulas will give political scientists some of the tools of physics and mathematics.

Let the research begin that identifies both the toxins and the antitoxins associated with the corruption within the governmental type of power.

The "+ 1" was added to the formula. See the discussion in the tables for toxins post.

About Toxins Of Power

Lord Acton (Quotes)
We are familiar with the saying about power: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great [people] are almost always bad [people]." (Lord Acton, emphasis added).

That quote refers to a form of social, political, or governmental "power" that is different from the "power" physicists work with.

Consider two mathematical formulas physicists use that concern "power" of a non-social, non-political, and non-governmental sort: p = e / t and p = v * i (Formula I, Formula II, where p = power, v = voltage, i = current, e = energy, and t = time).

That type of power, of course, is not the power we are talking about when we talk about the "toxins of power" that are generated while an individual is holding political, social, religious, or similar power.

The formula for Toxins of Power this blog discusses is another type of power, social power and/or governmental power.

The basic notion is encapsulated in what is often called "Lord Acton's dictum" as follows:
"I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or certainty of corruption by full authority. There is no worse heresy than the fact that the office sanctifies the holder of it. "

Dalberg-Acton, John Emerich Edward (1949), Essays on Freedom and Power, Boston:The Becon Press, p. 364
(Wikipedia, emphasis added). Clearly the statement was made in specific reference to the controversial notion of papal infallibility, which is a function of church government, but it was conceptually linked to secular government as well ("the king can do no wrong").

The inescapable meaning of Lord Acton's theory is that power (because of toxins within it - Toxins of Power Blog would add) tends to have a negative effect on human thinking and doing:
Experience has shown that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.” – Thomas Jefferson

"Insanity in individuals is something rare - but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule." - Friedrich Nietzsche