Posts

On Stateless Societies 2021-12-27T07:28:42.315Z
Technocratic Plimsoll Line 2021-05-15T08:34:51.630Z
On Chesterton's Fence 2021-04-29T14:56:33.747Z
Jean Monnet: The Guerilla Bureaucrat 2021-03-20T10:37:27.466Z
Teaching to Compromise 2021-03-07T13:57:15.010Z
On the Nature of Reputation 2021-02-20T12:50:30.128Z
Democracy, Bureaucracy, Central Banking 2021-02-07T08:54:12.717Z
The Story of the Reichstag 2021-02-05T05:51:59.243Z
Political Lottery in Switzerland 2020-10-08T05:03:38.824Z
Split-a-Dollar Game 2020-08-24T04:54:22.313Z
The Human Condition 2020-08-16T05:23:15.027Z
Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (III.) 2020-08-11T05:09:00.368Z
Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) 2020-07-22T13:50:04.033Z
Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) 2020-07-19T01:11:54.756Z
Institutional Senescence 2020-06-26T04:40:02.644Z
In Search of Slack 2020-05-23T11:20:02.929Z
Partying over Internet: Technological Aspects 2020-04-05T06:20:01.067Z
The Missing Piece 2019-10-27T05:50:00.824Z
Happy Petrov Day! 2019-09-27T02:10:00.739Z
On Becoming Clueless 2019-09-24T04:20:00.672Z
Type-safeness in Shell 2019-05-12T11:30:00.680Z
Hull: An alternative to shell that I'll never have time to implement 2019-04-28T07:40:00.528Z
On the Nature of Programming Languages 2019-04-22T10:50:00.862Z
The Politics of Age (the Young vs. the Old) 2019-03-24T06:40:04.359Z
Muqaata'a by Fahad Himsi (I.) 2019-03-10T15:10:00.962Z
Programmatic Code Generation: Composability 2019-03-02T22:50:06.865Z
Lydian song 2019-02-25T20:50:01.088Z
Tiles: Report on Programmatic Code Generation 2019-02-22T00:10:04.593Z
Graceful Shutdown 2019-02-16T11:30:00.927Z
Structured Concurrency Cross-language Forum 2019-02-10T09:20:00.779Z
Confessions of an Abstraction Hater 2019-01-27T05:50:01.066Z
Announcement: A talk about structured concurrency at FOSDEM 2018-12-30T10:10:00.836Z
State Machines and the Strange Case of Mutating API 2018-12-24T05:50:00.599Z
Equivalence of State Machines and Coroutines 2018-12-18T04:40:00.750Z
On Rigorous Error Handling 2018-11-17T09:20:00.753Z
Two Approaches to Structured Concurrency 2018-10-31T16:20:01.467Z
Unikernels: No Longer an Academic Exercise 2018-10-23T11:40:00.926Z
Update on Structured Concurrency 2018-10-19T11:10:01.179Z
Coordination Problems in Evolution: The Rise of Eukaryotes 2018-10-15T06:18:47.576Z
Coordination Problems in Evolution: Eigen's Paradox 2018-10-12T12:40:10.675Z
One-person Universe 2018-10-09T20:10:00.997Z
Anti-social Punishment 2018-09-27T07:08:56.362Z
Inadequate Equilibria vs. Governance of the Commons 2018-05-25T13:17:21.981Z
Soviet-era Jokes, Common Knowledge, Irony 2018-05-12T10:52:31.293Z
Research: Rescuers during the Holocaust 2018-04-30T06:15:40.659Z

Comments

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Why do we need a NEW philosophy of progress? · 2022-01-27T05:41:57.726Z · LW · GW

If the above is true, an interesting consequence would be that social progress may slow down as the average length of life increases.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Why do we need a NEW philosophy of progress? · 2022-01-27T05:38:34.152Z · LW · GW

The thing you are missing, I think, is the nature of common knowedge which underpins the society. Thanks to how it works, people can't achieve moral/societal progress individually. If you live in a violent society you can't get less violent by yourself. If you do, you'd get killed. If you live in a corrupt society you can't get less corrupt all by yourself. If you do, you'd be in disadvantage to all the corrupt people. The society can progress only as a whole, thus the limit on the speed of progress is determined by the speed in which the majority is able to change their attitude (get less violent, corrupt etc.) And given how unlikely an average person is to change their attitude the social progress may move one funeral at a time.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Why do we need a NEW philosophy of progress? · 2022-01-27T05:15:29.939Z · LW · GW

I would say there were two distinct "progressive" worldwiews in the 19th century. The symbol of the bourgeois progressivism may be Exposition Universelle of 1889, the symbol of the proletarian progressivism the Paris Commune. Two events, same place, 18 years apart. The former with all the wonderful machines etc., the latter with the barricades and soldiers shooting the survivors. The two worldviews, being that distinct and held by different people, it's not clear to me whether the failures of the social progress school led to the souring towards the technical progress.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on On Stateless Societies · 2022-01-13T06:44:11.994Z · LW · GW

I haven't seen the latest book, but the older ones I've seen were written in the traditional anthropological way, mostly as collections of anecdata. That's not an objection specifically against Graeber. Anthropology was always done that way. But rigor-wise it doesn't compare to more modern stuff, like, say, Joe Henrich.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on On Stateless Societies · 2022-01-13T05:44:52.062Z · LW · GW

IIRC, the study was done on people living in a nearby big city, but originally coming from the respective region.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on On Stateless Societies · 2022-01-05T10:25:21.342Z · LW · GW

No idea. I was just speculating.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on On Stateless Societies · 2022-01-04T14:53:15.143Z · LW · GW

I don't know, frankly. But what I find fascinating is that one finds the tall poppy syndrome in any society. It almost feels like something inherent to human nature. Does it mean that there's something adaptive about it? And if so, are the societies like Tiv just those that that managed to take the full advantage of that potential?

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on On Stateless Societies · 2021-12-29T06:22:11.678Z · LW · GW

A different one. Tiv live in Nigeria, the study was conducted in DRC.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on On Stateless Societies · 2021-12-28T05:21:43.822Z · LW · GW

I think that's not the way how people instinctively think. Consider following statement: "Wall Street bankers should be stripped of their wealth/heavily taxed/prosecuted." Ignore whether it would be a good policy or not. Still, it's a human way to think and many do adopt that kind of stance. Now consider the opposite: "Wall Street bankers should be forced to share their methods so that everyone can prosper." That's quite an alien approach and one would be hard pressed to find many people who actually think that.

For the psychology behind it consider this article which describes how !Kung people of Kalahari were insulting an ox they were given, calling it a bag of bones and similar. When asked why, they've explained:

Yes, when a young man kills much meat he comes to think of himself as a chief or a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his servants or inferiors. We can’t accept this. We refuse one who boasts, for someday his pride will make him kill somebody. So we always speak of his meat as worthless. This way we cool his heart and make him gentle

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on On Stateless Societies · 2021-12-27T11:44:51.728Z · LW · GW

I believe the book is rather fresh, haven't read it yet. But reading Graeber was always fun and thought-provoking, I've even exchanged few emails with him back when it was still possible. On the rigor side though I am not that convinced :)

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on On Stateless Societies · 2021-12-27T08:37:26.490Z · LW · GW

Fixed. Thanks!

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2021-12-16T01:47:36.546Z · LW · GW
  1. "Alright, but the Swiss could do that because they didn't need to worry about any outside threat. They didn't have to deal with the same difficulties other countries had to deal with."

That's not historically true. Switzerland, being a country positioned in the middle of big European powers (France, Austria, HRE/Germany, Italy) has gone through all the shit that the rest of Europe did.

That being said, the things often played out differently than elsewhere. It's not clear how much of that is pure luck and how much is attributable to other factors, such as peculiarities of the local political system.

Consider, for example the very beginnings. The core of the weird political entity that will one day become Switzerland was formed around the access route to the Gotthard pass. There are different mountain passes in Alps, but only one did escape the rule by aristocrats and got to be rules be local communities instead. The reason may have to do with that fact that Gotthard pass did not exist until 1220's when the first bridge was built in Schollenen Gorge. (Devil was involved in the feat, they say.) That meant that until then, canton Uri was an economic backwater - and literally so, being only reachable by ship - and tightly controlling it wasn't really worth the effort. The communities were to a large extent left to self-govern themselves. At the same time, aristocracy was particularly weak in XIII. century which allowed the new entity based on treaties between communities to form and gather strength instead of being immediately crushed by a superior power.

Or take the 30 year war. In some parts of HRE as much as 70% of the population died. The future Switzerland seemed very much on the same trajectory. There was a deep split between Protestants and Catholics and the forces were balanced out so that fighting could go on for a long time. But it did not. It may be partly attributable to the fact that great powers haven't invaded the region, treating it as a source of mercenaries instead. But even then, it's strange that the Swiss haven't started cutting each other throats all by themselves. One may point to the fact that catholic and protestant cantons were jointly ruling over subjugated territories which required some minimal amount of cooperation. Or simply that centuries of being bound by many mutual treaties and undergoing small-scale internal clashes has resulted in enough political skill to escape the temptation to wage a full-scale war. Or maybe that cantons, not being ruled by a single person, managed to escape the worst excesses of personal ambitions. Hard to say.

The current political system formed in 1948. It was so radical for its time that great powers would gladly crush it. But in 1848 all of them were busy keeping fighting the revolutions at home. Swiss went through their civil war and the establishment of the new system so quickly that once the great powers took notice, it was already done. The speed of the process was result of the victorious radical forces turning out to be rather moderate after they've won, they did almost no cleansing of the conservatives etc. The defeated conservatives, in their turn, being willing to continue the fight within the framework of the new institutions. In 1891 they've even permanently joined the government. Again, it's not easy to say why it happened that way.

In 1918, the political situation was tumultous. Bavarian Soviet Republic was established etc. In Switzerland, there was a general strike and it didn't look good. Army was mobilized. Paramilitary units started forming. But then the leaders of the strike backed down. The government made moderate concessions. The fight continued by political means until 40 years later, social democrats have become integral part of the government.

During WWII, Germany was definitely planning to invade Switzerland. But Switzerland was cooperative, allowing transport to pass between Germany and Italy. In case of attack, on the other hand, the Swiss army planned to retreat to the area around the Gotthard pass and hold on there as long as possible, which would stop that traffic and tie valuable resources in a difficult war in the mountains. All in all, there was little to gain from attacking Switzerland as long as Axis powers were fighting wars elsewhere.

It's hard to find a common pattern in all of that, but in any case, it's not like there have been less difficulties in Switzerland than elsewhere.

  1. "Alright, that's all well and good, but this system hasn't led Switzerland to help in the holocaust, lots of residents aren't given citizenship... maybe the system isn't so great after all?"

That's the price of rule by consensus. Your preferences may be to give citizenship to all the residents. But there's also a lot of people who would like not to let any foreigners in in the first place. What you get in the end is a compromise solution: A lot of immigrants are allowed in, but gaining citizenship is made deliberately difficult.

As for the holocaust note that Switzerland managed to keep their Jewish population safe. There are very few countries in Europe that can make a similar claim. And all that while being surrounded by Axis powers on all sides.

All in all, to me it sound like a question of sacrificing ideological purity in favor of achieving practical results.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2021-12-13T05:32:41.115Z · LW · GW

Self-review: Looking at the essay year and a half later I am still reasonably happy about it.

In the meantime I've seen Swiss people recommending it as an introductory text for people asking about Swiss political system, so I am, of course, honored, but it also gives me some confidence in not being totally off.

If I had to write the essay again, I would probably give less prominence to direct democracy and more to the concordance and decentralization, which are less eye-catchy but in a way more interesting/important.

Also, I would probably pay some attention to the question of how the system - given how unique it is - even managed to evolve. Maybe also do some investigation into whether the uniqueness of the political system has something to do with the surprising long-term ability of Swiss economy to reinvent itself and become a leader in areas as varied as mercenary troops, cheese, silk, machinery, banking and pharmaceuticals.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on An Idea for a More Communal Petrov Day in 2022 · 2021-10-22T05:27:33.802Z · LW · GW

In red button game the players should be enemies (or at least unaligned) which doesn't play well with the in-community ritual. Adding EA forum this year was, IMO, a step in the right direction. What about getting some further off community involved? Maybe anti-nuclear activists like https://www.icanw.org ? One wouldn't, of course, expect anti-nuclear activists to press the button, but the community may be different enough (UN politics, anyone?) to make it interesting.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Apprenticeship Online · 2021-10-12T10:41:02.015Z · LW · GW

With age pyramid shifting is there really a dearth of available experts? If only a fraction of retired experts was involved in apprenticeship programmes, wouldn't that be enough to server the dwindling pool of young apprentices?

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on johnswentworth's Shortform · 2021-09-28T05:22:14.663Z · LW · GW

Those are some good points. I wonder whether similar happened (or could at all happen) in other nuclear countries, where we don't know about similar incidents - because the system haven't collapsed there, the archives were not made public etc.

Also, it makes actually celebrating Petrov's day as widely as possible important, because then the option for the lowest-ranked person would be: "Get demoted, but also get famous all around the world."

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Working With Monsters · 2021-07-28T06:10:31.407Z · LW · GW

I think it's not just that the old generation has died out. It's also that the conflict theorists shut up for a while after such a bloodshed and gave the people like Hugo Grotius a window of opportunity to create the international law.

Similar thing, by the way, happened in Europe after WWII. I've written about it here. I wonder whether this opening of the window of opportunity after a major catastrophe is a common occurrence. If so, working on possible courses of action in advance, so that they can be quickly applied once a catastrophe is over, may be a usful strategy.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Working With Monsters · 2021-07-27T08:49:39.373Z · LW · GW

Replace blue and green with protestant and catholic, 95% with 60% and what you get is the Thirty Years' War and the beginning of the modern world order.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Technocratic Plimsoll Line · 2021-05-17T17:11:56.356Z · LW · GW

Here it is (my translation): "You'll get money to distribute at the banks of Loire and three tobacconist shops as well. I even hope to get two postman offices. The finance minister haven't answered yet in this matter, but I'll let you know by telegraph. And moreover, you'll be able to depose almost anyone. You are clever and you will use these rights discreetly." (chapter XLIX)

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Technocratic Plimsoll Line · 2021-05-17T13:46:44.934Z · LW · GW

Correct. "Trafika" may have sold both tobacco and newspapers, but there was a state monopoly on tobacco, which then resulted in allocating those "offices" on political basis.

As for France, I remember there was a chapter in Stendhal's "Lucien Leuwen" where the protagonist was sent, as an election emissary, to the province with a list of offices that he could grant to the political supporters. Later on I'll have a look at what kind of offices those were.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Technocratic Plimsoll Line · 2021-05-16T05:55:44.335Z · LW · GW

No, it's just a random thought.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Technocratic Plimsoll Line · 2021-05-15T13:55:22.806Z · LW · GW

I think the real difference is in the incentives the person faces. If they need to compete for votes or for the favour of their superiors, they are, basically, in political business. The person may be an expert, yes, but the incentives force them to care less about technical superiority of the solution and more about whether it's palatable to the voters/benefactors.

If instead, you are hired to execute tasks that are handed to you by someone else, you can think: "Well, I can try to be cute and try to satisfy my boss' political preferences, at the expense of the solution, but, on the other hand, he's going to be replaced sooner or later and I'll better have a track record of successful execution so that the next person doesn't fire me."

The boundary is still blurry, but it at least answers the question about the people who rise as technocrats and are then politically selected: Once you are politically selected, your incentives change and you fall into the category of political appointees.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Jean Monnet: The Guerilla Bureaucrat · 2021-04-02T05:51:12.553Z · LW · GW

Looking back at the history of continental Europe, it looks to me we can either have bureaucracy or bureaucracy plus war. Pick one. That being said, it's not so clear to me what went wrong with the EU vaccination strategy. (Admittedly, I haven't been following it closely.) EU did pretty well in its own area, that is coordination. It managed to get the authority to act on behalf of the member states and prevent bidding wars that would otherwise end up with all the vaccines going to Germany and none to Bulgaria. It (as far as I understand) signed cheapskate contracts with the pharma companies and once it became clear that all the contracts cannot be fulfilled the companies have chosen to serve the more lucrative customers first. But on the other hand, I am not sure whether the countries that paid more did consider it a victory back then. It may as well be that they've got lucky just because they had lousy negotiators. Anyway, none of this is related to bureaucracy. The Astra-Zeneca blood clot hysteria, I believe, was a matter of local governments. The only related statements by EU I remember were those declaring the vaccine safe. The vaccination itself is managed by local governments and the problems can not be blamed on EU. The only obvious blunder that comes to mind was the one with threatening to block export of the vaccines to Norther Ireland, but they've backtracked pretty fast on that one.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Jean Monnet: The Guerilla Bureaucrat · 2021-03-21T22:10:41.228Z · LW · GW

Thanks for the feedback!

Unfortunately, the article is mess partly because the events back then were a mess and the entire topic seems to be under-researched. For example, I don't think there's any kind of official narrative for the early history of the EU. Popular understanding, I think, is that WWII was followed by the postwar boom. The entire dark period of 1945-1950 kind of went down the memory hole. (But I'm from the Ostblok, so maybe kids in the West were taught more about it.)

Anyway, I've added couple of links at the end of the article, but again, the events back then were complex and confusing, the resources are in multiple languages etc.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Jean Monnet: The Guerilla Bureaucrat · 2021-03-21T06:59:33.074Z · LW · GW

If I knew. Different international organizations exhibit different kind of failures. For example, for UN it may be the failure to agree, but for EU, as the recent vaccination story shows, agreement can be achieved, but execution may lack. The problem is compounded by the fact that institutions evolve in lockstep with the common knowledge (trust in the institutions and such) and thus exactly the same institutional design may produce vastly different results when applied to different countries or organizations. In the end, the only way to approach this, in my opinion, is to take a concrete organization, choose a specific malfunction and dive deep into nitty-gritty details to find out what's wrong and how it can be solved. Not very enlightening, I know.

All that being said, there's one thing in the article that seems to generalize, namely, the "two layer approach", that is agreeing on the solution to the coordination problem first (on political level), solving concrete issues afterwards (on technical level). The approach is so simple that it can be even expressed in game theoretical language. At the same time it nicely takes into account human psychology (the tendency to use everything at hand as a bargaining chip) and aligns with existing institutional designs (politicians are involved in step 1, bureaucrats in step 2). What's interesting to think about is whether this approach of solving inadequate eqilibria can be somehow built into our existing institutions.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on On the Nature of Reputation · 2021-02-20T17:02:25.495Z · LW · GW

Good point about extended names. Yet one more operation that can be done with reputation tokens.

As for the spelling, I've tried to fix what I could. Feel free to point out any remaining typos.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Democracy, Bureaucracy, Central Banking · 2021-02-07T15:44:58.570Z · LW · GW

I am not an economist, so it's hard to me to judge the quality of the paper. In fact, I was just trying to show the kind of argument made for bank independence at the time. Feel free to check the paper for yourself: https://debis.deu.edu.tr/userweb//yesim.kustepeli/dosyalar/alesinasummers1993.pdf Section 2. is about measuring the central bank independence.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Democracy, Bureaucracy, Central Banking · 2021-02-07T15:39:33.119Z · LW · GW

Wouldn't that create the same election-cycle-dependent behaviour seen with politically appointed boards?

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on The Story of the Reichstag · 2021-02-07T01:29:34.773Z · LW · GW

The reference comes from Prof. Wolfram Pyta from University of Stuttgart. However, given that Wikipedia disagrees and that the fact doesn't add any added value to the article anyway, I am removing it.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on The Story of the Reichstag · 2021-02-06T06:28:48.889Z · LW · GW

This is something I would like to study one day. There seems to have been a turn in German public attitude at some point. As far as I can say from what I've read, it haven't yet happened in early 50's. Denazification programme and Nurnberg trials were felt to be a farce a it's unclear whether they could have contributed to the change. Some public figures (e.g. Adenauer) may have lead by example, but frankly, I don't know.

If people here, especially Germans, have any insights on the topic, it would be great if they could share.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on The Story of the Reichstag · 2021-02-05T19:08:55.300Z · LW · GW

Fair enough. I've just wrote what I've been taught in school. I'll remove the sentence.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on The Story of the Reichstag · 2021-02-05T18:52:07.671Z · LW · GW

Point taken.

Still, it feels a bit different. The 9/11 memorial is honoring the good Americans killed by the bad terrorists. But the inscriptions in the Reichstag are definitely not honoring the good Germans killed by bad Soviets. They were, after all, whether willingly or not, fighting for the Nazis. But neither are they honoring the Soviets. They were fighting for Stalin, for the Stasi, for Berlin families being separated by the Wall. It's hardly a memorial at all. If there's any moral to be taken, then it is that history is, in the end, not about the good and the bad, but about Alexey from Pskov and Hans from Göttingen, maybe neither of them a particularly good person, but both of them being swept alike by the uncaring forces of history.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Technological stagnation: Why I came around · 2021-01-26T04:40:33.250Z · LW · GW

Yes, I am from Eastern Europe. That made me wonder whether the densification of the road system has slowed down in the west.

Here are statistics for the US:

In short, there's a slowdown, but it starts in '90.

Source

Air miles per capita seem to tell a different story though:

Source

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Technological stagnation: Why I came around · 2021-01-25T16:02:15.113Z · LW · GW

I was speaking from personal experience.

In 1980's it took 6 hrs to get to my grandmothers place. Today it is more like 3 hrs. All that not because of better cars but because there's a highway covering most of the distance.

In 1980 people rarely traveled by plane. A holiday by seaside meant a 12 hour ride by car to Yugoslavia. Today, everyone's flying to Turkey and Canary Islands.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Technological stagnation: Why I came around · 2021-01-25T05:11:37.527Z · LW · GW

As for transportation, I would say the average time to get to a place have dropped considerably in past 50 years, not because of any specific invention, but because airplanes has become less toys for the rich and more of buses with wings available to everyone. Similarly, densification of the motorway system made it faster to go places by car.

It's not clear, of course, whether that kind of thing counts as technological progress. But if not so, what kind of progress is it?

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-08-19T06:08:53.264Z · LW · GW

More laundry stories.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (III.) · 2020-08-12T16:27:04.130Z · LW · GW

Thanks! Fixed. (I think the party is actually called "FDP.The Liberals" without a space.)

As for the video, it's kind of funny. She's currently the president, he's the minister of home affairs.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (III.) · 2020-08-12T01:39:06.443Z · LW · GW

Fixed:

If FDP, CVP and SP each got two seats and SVP one seat - an arrangement that would later become known as Magic Formula - ...

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-07-26T06:18:32.272Z · LW · GW

But that would only push the upper limit on efficient governance downwards, no? So the limit would not be 100 people, but rather 30. Still, the question we are discussing is whether there's a limit somewhere between 8 million and 40 million, which is like five orders of magnitude difference.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-07-26T06:13:38.302Z · LW · GW

As far as I know, most people vote by mail. There have been some back and forth with respect to the online voting. The rules probably differ between the cantons.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-07-26T06:11:04.529Z · LW · GW

Portion of the budget paid by specific level of government. For example, if 100% of the "foreign relations" budget is paid by federal government, it means that cantonal and municipal levels pay no expenses related to foreign relations.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-07-25T07:26:28.363Z · LW · GW

The way I have seen this idea stated in the past (e.g. quadratic cost of all-to-all communication) was that the organization lacing a hierarchical structure would fall apart at quite a small size, maybe somewhere around ~100 people.

If one wants to use it to explain the different outcomes between Switzerland and California, they have to explain why something would work for 8 million people (which is not at all a negligible number) and 40 million. What exactly happens at, say, 20 million boundary that breaks the system?

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (II.) · 2020-07-25T05:16:20.713Z · LW · GW

The owner of the block may have been willing to change the house rules if most of the inhabitants asked for it. Our block, for example, is owned by a bank and run by a company dedicated house-managing company. The company seems to be rather flexible and willing to resolve issues. That's another thing that I found unexpected in Switzerland: If something doesn't work, be it a person's behavior or an administrative problem, do complain (locals certainly do) and it will eventually get fixed. It's certainly not what I've learned at home, namely, that complaining if futile.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-21T17:22:45.538Z · LW · GW

Legislative referendum happens if 50,000 signatures are collected within 100 days.

As for polarization, I want to address that in part III., but the gist of it is that opposition can almost block the normal political process by initiating referenda over and over again.

The governing parties can maybe live with it for some time but eventually it leads to a crisis. And once the crisis hits the solution is usually to give the opposition a seat in the government. But keep in mind that this is a really slow process, measured in decades.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-20T15:35:08.432Z · LW · GW

The thing about the cost is that it's already paid. Voting happens four times a year in any case and adding one more initiative doesn't change much. There's certainly a cost associated with government and parliament processing the initiative, but again, that's what they are expected to do, it can't be really thought of as an extra cost.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-20T03:31:26.855Z · LW · GW

fixed. thanks!

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-19T19:19:20.353Z · LW · GW

Here "approved" means that official proposal was accepted. "Rejected" means that it was canceled. I.e., there will be no Rosegarten tunnel.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-19T11:58:13.395Z · LW · GW

Yes, it's a leftover from the last year. Changed to 37.

Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Swiss Political System: More than You ever Wanted to Know (I.) · 2020-07-19T07:36:08.442Z · LW · GW

In this particular case the exact implementation of UBI was left to the government. Here's how the initiative proposed to change the constitution:

Art. 110a (new) Unconditional basic income:

  1. The Confederation ensures the introduction of an unconditional basic income.
  2. Basic income is intended to enable the entire population to have a decent existence and to participate in public life.
  3. The law regulates in particular the financing and the amount of the basic income.
Comment by Martin Sustrik (sustrik) on Institutional Senescence · 2020-07-01T12:30:41.688Z · LW · GW

Yes, it's a toy model. The idea is that equilibrium is only defined with a respect to the game being played. In this case the game is the set of rules (both formal and informal) used in the institution. If institution dies there are no rules. When a new one is crated a new set of rules is established, with different equilibria.

But whether the new rules will be better than the old ones, there's no guarantee. The protesters in arab spring in Syria hoped for better institutions, but they've got civil war instead. The crucial bit seems to be that it's controlled death. What exactly that means though is unclear.