December 16, 2017

"In Estonia, we don’t have Big Brother; we have Little Brother. You can tell him what to do and maybe also beat him up."

Says "a local" to Nathan Heller, author of "Estonia, the Digital Republic/Its government is virtual, borderless, blockchained, and secure. Has this tiny post-Soviet nation found the way of the future?" by Nathan Heller (in The New Yorker).

Also:
Today, in Estonia, the weekly e-residency application rate exceeds the birth rate. “We tried to make more babies, but it’s not that easy,” [Siim Sikkut, Estonia’s current C.I.O.] explained.
And:
Polling-place intimidation is a non-issue if people can vote—and then change their votes, up to the deadline—at home, online.
Vote and change your vote... That's an interesting innovation. We assume that early voters are locked in and therefore unaffected by late-breaking news.

Please read the whole article. I kept puzzling over whether this is the approach to life and government would spread all over the world and whether I should think it's very cool or how we ruin everything and can never get back out again.

In Estonia, we don’t have Big Brother; we have Little Brother....

If you want a picture of the future, imagine a fluffy slipper smooshing a human face — forever.

48 comments:

J. Farmer said...

Estonia has always been a poster child for the Reason/Cato Institute libertarian right similar to how countries like Sweden and their high development are often pointed to by progressives who favor a much larger welfare and regulatory state. Estonia also has general social welfare benefits. It has about the population of New Hampshire and is a fairly ethnically homogenous country, given that most non-Estonians are Russian who live in very geographically limited areas. So, in other words, I think it is very unlikely that Estonia will prove a "model" capable of being copied by other countries on a large scale. Sure, they might have some innovative policy ideas other countries can adopt, but Estonia's government likely runs as well as it does because of the society.

Anonymous said...

What difference between Estonia and Latvia?

Latvia have joke. But joke have worm.

EDH said...

In Estonia, we don’t have Big Brother; we have Little Brother....

And, as you know, Little Brothers can be such noodges! [Noodge: to annoy with persistent complaints, criticisms, or pleas; nag.]

Maybe that's what Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein meant when they wrote Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness"?

The book draws on research in psychology and behavioral economics to defend libertarian paternalism and active engineering of choice architecture.

Inga said...

Online voting, if not subject to hacking would be a very cool thing, certainly.

buwaya said...

Thats the secret. Its a little place.
The problem with empires is they like to turn into super-states with massive centralized institutions.

Thats the problem with the US, once a collection of little places. Its given tremendous power to the center.

Thats the problem with the EU. It wants to crush all the little places.

Thats the historical problem with China.

Big Mike said...

“We tried to make more babies, but it’s not that easy”

Well, it does take nine months.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Solzhenitsyn wrote that he'd never met a bad Estonian. Having dated one, I buy that.

EDH said...

Here's Beaver Cleaver on the changing roles of women.

A nice seque into what has since become an even more "must see" Matt Lauer interview of Jerry Mathers and Tony Dow on the 60th anniversary of "Leave It to Beaver", October 25, 2017.

Tony Dow: "He's still a 'squirt'."

Bad Lieutenant said...

“We tried to make more babies, but it’s not that easy”

Too much Russian porn.

Darrell said...

Polling-place intimidation is a non-issue if people can vote—and then change their votes, up to the deadline—at home, online.

Yeah. I vote and I am happy with my vote. Then the Democrat in the county election office changes my vote online, at the last second. Great!

Darrell said...

Ward, weren't you a little hard on the Beaver last night?

EDH said...

(Notice how Matt Lauer is airbrushed out from the printed copy at the NBC link.)

tcrosse said...

“We tried to make more babies, but it’s not that easy”

Too many Stoners in Estonia.

JaimeRoberto said...

Some things are unsaid in the article. For example, someone was quoted that it felt like the US bureaucracy was in the 50s because he had to present an electric bill to prove his residence. If Estonia is like much of Europe, you have to register your residence with the police, so of course the government knows where you are. How do you think that would go over here?

E-residence is interesting, but how does that translate to physical residence? A friend of mine was deported from Estonia for overstaying her visa, which she overstayed because she was having a hard time getting a work visa.

As for the ease of calculating your taxes online, Estonia has a flat tax, so of course it's easy. I'd love to see a flat tax here too, but politically that's pretty unlikely.

KK Kraska said...

Most of the world can't handle democracy in any form at all, or at least not for long. The usual practice world-wide is one man, one vote, one time, followed by decades of tyranny. America can't handle democracy much longer itself from the look of things today. This Estonia thing is just another ludicrous pipe-dream from the techorati. If the franchise was limited to tax-payers, producers, property-owners, veterans, and other proven responsible stakeholders, then maybe...but not the mobocracy we have now.

Ryan said...

Lars Von Trier's little brother...

https://youtu.be/IJSULjfycXo


Rob McLean said...

“We tried to make more babies, but it’s not that easy”

You're doing it wrong.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

I kept puzzling over whether this is the approach to life and government would spread all over the world and whether I should think it's very cool or how we ruin everything...

Ruin everything? What makes you think things are so great as they stand? Democracies are becoming a mess. The ones that work best are those that DO allow for the most choice... and revision. Just look at ranked voting, overhang seats, mixed-member proportional representation. There are answers and alternatives and this conservative attitude of hating improvement just sucks and isn't getting anywhere. Conservatives seem to love defending past innovations, which is hilarious given their nihilistic pessimism about every single decent idea and newer practice today that would similarly improve things. They seem to think that humankind lost the ability to productively innovate after the Reagan Administration. Interesting coincidence. Stop leaving us frozen in time like fucking Han Solo in carbonite.

Rob McLean said...

(W)e have Little Brother. You can tell him what to do and maybe also beat him up."

Have two older brothers; can confirm.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Yeah. I vote and I am happy with my vote. Then the Democrat in the county election office changes my vote online, at the last second. Great!

Right. Especially now in the Republican era of net partiality. It might also change the settings on your tinfoil hat receiver without your knowing it. Best to leave things to big corporations with Republican ties like Diebold instead.

KK Kraska said...

Toothless, the more so-called innovations and other complexities just make the whole damn thing even more unworkable. Look at history. Stakeholders, esp. the ones that make it all work, don't need this shit. Which is more important; the twenty people arguing about what kind of kool-ade to make, the two guys that go to the store to buy it, or the one guy that fetches the water? That's western-style liberal democracy today. The howling mob who want their gibs versus the handful that actually make it all happen.

Darrell said...

Hey, Shitmo--

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hpPSowmry4

buwaya said...

Innovations in human social systems are never a good thing.
Burke defined the proper conservative attitude - organic change.

Nothing imposed has ever worked, or has been worth the cost.
Its interesting how things tend to revert, in fact, to local preference once the central states stop leaning on the locals.

Spain is a really good example. In the 19th century reformers (liberals) tried to modernize the place by centralizing administration and standardizing laws. This led to much bloody conflict from the regions that wanted to hold on to their lical rights (the fueros) and autonomy.

But since the end of the dictatorship (which was, really, more than a bit a successor to the Isabeline liberals - yes, Franco was a "liberal" in Spanish 19th century terms) the regions have re-acquired about as much autonomy as they had during the Habsburg era.

Empires can persist if they rule with a light hand. But Imperial politics rarely allows this.

Take the boot off their neck and natural human tendencies reassert, all to the best.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Toothless, the more so-called innovations and other complexities just make the whole damn thing even more unworkable. Look at history.

Fuck you. Look at modern-day REALITY. I already fucking told you that there are multiple ways of going about this and the ones that have allowed for the more innovative voting practices ARE working better. If you want to just ignore that whole point then go ahead and stick your block-headed cassava melon in the sand like every other ostrich and don't bother pretending that your worthless comment was in any way an actual response to what I said.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

That's western-style liberal democracy today.

A guy with the initials "KKK" basically bitches about democracy but its more innovative practices today without an alternative so that basically lets you know that this guy is likely just another fascist dictatorship simp and can be disregarded as with all the others. There are always about 20% or so authoritarian fascist dictatorship simps in any society and the job is to marginalize them as much as possible by getting the system to work better enough for the 80% of humanity who are not destructive twats. The 20% have no role in the discussion and only get involved once it's broken down badly enough that spoilers and worms and other bottom-feeders and vultures like them start circling and squirming around at the chance to eat the spoils and pick meat off the bones. Keep the system alive instead. Authoritarians are only itching at the chance to bring on either tyranny or anarchy and are congenitally incapable of fixing a system that actually works.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

“Right. Especially now in the Republican era of net partiality. It might also change the settings on your tinfoil hat receiver without your knowing it. Best to leave things to big corporations with Republican ties like Diebold instead.”

I always enjoy reading a screed claiming the laughably outdated trope that corporations are run by conservative plutocrats rather than the obvious reality of statist ratfuckers in gluttonous collusion with bloated government, to the enrichment of both and the impoverishment of those on the economic margins.

Half-wit Leftists will eagerly grab their ankles for...well, virtually nothing. They just want to be seen grabbing their ankles.

KK Kraska said...

We had preferential voting in Ann Arbor before. It didn't work that well. Three left parties split the majority vote and so the Reps won the mayor and council offices most of the time 8-3 or 7-4. PV was abolished a few years later and now we have 100% Dems who represent the SJWs, local business interests, and the University of Michigan. An uneasy, mixed coalition but things get done and it works.
Toothless: You're unhinged and I won't respond to that shit. Please FOAD.

Rusty said...

Sure. It's all digital this and world of warcraft that until the grid goes down. Then everbody is scambling for pencils.

buwaya said...

Modern day reality (check with the world as it is, indeed) shows that the voting system doesnt matter much. More, the political system doesnt matter much. These sorts of fixes were the obsession of the development economics crowd thirty-forty years ago. That is, you can make a poor country into a rich one by engineering institutions and laws just so ...
I was mixed up in this for years while consulting with the Asian Development Bank.

But it turns out that reality has different dynamics. It seems, today, that the big deal is culture (if not, indeed, population biology; its a fact that no development model is anywhere close to Lynn's "IQ and the Wealth of Nations").

And then of course there is the chicken-and-egg problem, in that "modernized" institutions tend to follow, not lead, economic development. And the effect of fashion, in that societies with sufficient wealth tend to acquire institutions that are luxury goods in effect, that are status markers only, with no positive social effects. Education is in large part exactly this.

Howard said...

Exactly Rusty. It reminds me of the story about the US vs USSR space program: the US spends millions developing a pen that writes upside down, the Soviets use pencils.

Also, Estonia ain't exactly a target rich environment for hackers that want infest shit to turn the world upside down. The problem with intellectual ninnies is they have absolutely no sense of scale, proportion and perspective.

Mark said...

So no mention of Yakov Smirnoff yet?

Will Cate said...

Americans don't even trust the voting system they have now... imagine the rage and fury if we tried to go to a 100% computerized system.

John said...

Howarf,

But pencils flake off graphite. No gravity means it goes everywhere and plays Hell with electronics.

All voting systems need to require physical and identified presence.

On election day. Few to no absentee ballots, no early voting at all

And paper ballots.

You never hear jokes about rigging elections in Puerto Rico, do you? That's because it is basically impossible.

John Henry

Jupiter said...

Blogger J. Farmer said...

"Sure, they might have some innovative policy ideas other countries can adopt, but Estonia's government likely runs as well as it does because of the society."

Hmmmmm.... I thought you needed Diversity to make things work right.

Jupiter said...

"Has this tiny post-Soviet nation found the way of the future?"

That "post-Soviet" sounds just a little presumptuous to me. Has the Fat Lady really sung her last song?

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

I always enjoy reading a screed claiming the laughably outdated trope that corporations are run by conservative plutocrats rather than the obvious reality of statist ratfuckers in gluttonous collusion with bloated government, to the enrichment of both and the impoverishment of those on the economic margins.

Ahhh the irony of being accused of writing a "screed" by someone who doesn't mention a single fact about CU, lobbying-power breakdown by party, or how many pro-corporatist and plutocrat policies were pushed through by the billionaire-dominated Trump pseudo-administration (and its many polarized VP-assisted 51-50 votes in Congress) - all while again using the same old evocative and meaningless rhetoric designed solely to rally the kind of vague emotionalism that appeals to fuzzy-thinking conservatives: "trope," "plutocrat", "statist," "ratfuckers," "gluttonous," "bloated," and other obfuscatory language designed simply to hide and run from the facts of any rational analysis.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

Please FOAD.

Hey! Well, everyone dies eventually. As for "fucking", whether "off," "in," "out," or in accordance with any given preposition or direction, that's all good, too. At least for the non-sexless.

...things get done and it works.

More undefined assertions. Define "things." Define "works."

I never thought the latest and greatest innovations in voting were needed at the municipal level, anyway.

Howard said...

Thanks John H
http://mentalfloss.com/article/13103/russians-didnt-just-use-pencils-space

Rabel said...

We urgently recommend that Estonia discontinue use of the system.

Rabel said...

As instructed I read the whole thing. Needed more metaphor. The 20 or 30 the author used left me craving more, like a...

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

“Rational analysis” is not something the Golden Shower Left is ever going to be able to claim. The notion is absurd.

The Toothless Revolutionary said...

“Rational analysis” is not something the Golden Shower Left is ever going to be able to claim. The notion is absurd.

A statement without any rational analysis in it. Let alone facts.

J. Farmer said...

@Jupiter:

Hmmmmm.... I thought you needed Diversity to make things work right.

Just the opposite in fact. Diversity is a source of tension for societies.

That "post-Soviet" sounds just a little presumptuous to me. Has the Fat Lady really sung her last song?

Yes, she has.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Russia was playing the Great Game before there were commies, they're playing it now, and they will play it in future.

dwick said...

LOL-
Gotta love how Toothless calls 'em @ 12/16/17, 1:32 PM:

"Republican VP-assisted 51-50 votes" = 'polarized'
but
"Democrat VP-assisted 51-50 votes" = 'mandates'

rehajm said...

Toomas' Twitter feed is still fun even though he is no longer president

David said...

For Estonia, Big Brother is across the border, to the east.

Bad Lieutenant said...


John said...
Howard,

But pencils flake off graphite. No gravity means it goes everywhere and plays Hell with electronics.

Graphite is highly conductive, and also massively flammable; suspended in zero gravity, graphite dust, flakes, shavings (can you imagine better tinder than the leavings of a pencil sharpener?) might pose unprecedented fire hazards.

Cosmonauts don't like the idea of dying screaming choking in clouds of toxic singeing black smoke any more than astronauts do.

Plus, Fisher patriotically conceived and developed the pressurized Space Pen on his own initiative.

But I see you found the demythologization on this already.

However, if you like a story in this vein, the Americans spent millions of dollars deciding that 16 was the optimum number of missile tubes for the Polaris submarine, and Soviets on their first SSBN used 16 because the Americans used 16.