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View Diary: RKBA: Iceland Edition (74 comments)

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  •  A foolish question (5+ / 0-)
    I wonder if we ought to do more things the way that Iceland does?
    When has one group of people ever looked at another and said (in admiration) "I wonder if we ought to do things the way they do"?

    How many people at the Department of Education have quit "racing to the top" so they can emulate the Finnish system?

    How many Americans look north across the border and think "yes, single payer is the way to go"?  Not nearly enough.

    Most people fit Einstein's definition of insane, blithely doing the same old thing, hoping for a different result.

    •  In most regards, IMHO the biggest thing America (3+ / 0-)

      needs to lose is paranoia. It kills you all in so many regards. Paranoia of government and centralization in particular. Our sort of computerized systems would never fly in America because of Big Brother fears from the left and right. But it means that here paying my taxes is a 5-minute online task because the government already has all the info it needs. It means when a doctor decides to give me a prescription, it's instantly available in every pharmacy in the country, no calling in needed by either the doctor or myself. It means that when you apply for a passport, it takes a few days, not a few weeks. It means that I can pay for a pizza with a bank money transfer with no fees using my smartphone (checks are all but nonexistent, it confuses bank tellers when you come in with one).

      It helps so much in every regard in everyday life, having all systems centralized and keyed to the same ID number (one's kennitala). Which, I should add, unlike a social security number, it's a public number and is not used as a password! What an idiotic concept the US does, having your national ID also be treated as a secret... you can't give it out and keep it a secret at the same time!  :Þ

      Not everything is perfect, mind you. I can think of a couple minor things that America does better, like it's easier to get prescription refills in America (here prescriptions never come with automatic refills and to get a refill you have to call in between a fairly narrow hour range in the morning). But overall I'd say the "lessons that should be learned" ratio is about 10:1 in the opposite direction.

      And I always fear the Icelandic politicians that want to emulate America more in general.

      Já þýðir já. Nei þýðir nei. Hvað er svona erfitt við það?

      by Rei on Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 07:29:05 AM PST

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      •  It should be noted... (3+ / 0-)

        for those who instantly think of Big Brother paranoia when I write that... the US intelligence agencies are already collecting all of that info about you, and a thousand times more.  The ones in the government you don't want to have info about you are the ones who know everything down to when you go to the corner bakery and how you like your coffee.  The ones in the government who actually need to have at least a modicum of information about you on a centralized system, don't have it.  Which is why you have to fill out absurdly long tax returns which the government takes forever to process, why pharmacies and doctors can't talk together (okay, that's private industry in the US, but it's government here), why all financial systems can't talk together, why it takes so bloody long to do anything with the government in the US, and on and on. It also means that when there's an error somewhere in the system it can take forever to root out - there's no central authority.

        It should also be noted that centralizing systems and keying to a single ID doesn't mean some inherent loss of data privacy because it can still be compartmentalized on a need-to-know basis. The tax department doesn't see your medical records. The pharmacy doesn't see your wage statements. Etc. It simply means that everyone has precisely the data that they need, and nothing more. Likewise, private companies also use one's kennitala to key you in, but it's only of use for their own systems, any public data about you (like your official public contact info), and anything that they're explicitly by-law granted on a need-to-know basis (which is usually "nothing").

        Já þýðir já. Nei þýðir nei. Hvað er svona erfitt við það?

        by Rei on Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 07:40:50 AM PST

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        •  You don't make a compelling case (0+ / 0-)

          against worrying about centralization of power when you state centralized power is already far more advanced than in dystopian fiction.

          •  I'm saying it's a bit silly to worry about (0+ / 0-)

            ... the IRS having automatic access to major financial transactions needed for filling out a tax form or whatnot instead of you having to give them to them, when the NSA knows which lamp post you'll be walking past at around 8:43 AM on a Tuesday. The latter is extreme overreach. The former is obvious.

            Já þýðir já. Nei þýðir nei. Hvað er svona erfitt við það?

            by Rei on Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 11:33:38 AM PST

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            •  good observations (0+ / 0-)

              Your government isn't prone to bombing the opposition via remotely controlled drone systems either.  Nor dispatching military-styled police to your door by mistake, or perhaps on purpose - yet in either circumstance, an issue resolved by a knock on the door or a phone call.

              Mr. RAI?  
              No, Rei.  
              RAI.  
              No actually, R-E-I, Rei. I believe the Rai family lives across town. Tall chap, missing two front teeth.
              Here, after being blasted with a stun grenade, Tazer® shocked, and shot with a submachine gun?

              Your widow could address the government excesses, after a lengthy smear campaign is waged against your good name.
              Welcome to America.

            •  The difference is... (0+ / 0-)

              in the U.S., if someone abuses your information, it's very hard to find them, remedy the problem, and punish the wrong-doer.

              In Iceland, it might take you an hour drive.....

              Vastly different social structure, merely on the value of populations size and scope.

              Your hate-mail will be graded.

              by PavePusher on Mon Dec 09, 2013 at 08:09:45 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

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