The Trabant model of Science


What's wrong with science and how to change it

   The Trabant model of Science

Remember the Trabant? It was the national automobile of East-Germany. After World War II, the existing factories of car manufacturers were forced to make Trabants. In line with communist ideology, the car had to be cheap and not too extravagant, so it came equipped with a two-stroke engine. Moreover, as a showcase of futuristic design and ingenuity, its light weight allowed it to come with a plastic body! Eventually, the engine was replaced with a four-stroke 1.1 VW Polo, but it remained the epitome of what's wrong with socialism: poor performance; simplistic design that has contempt for any style, beauty, quality or class; fabricated with wasteful, inflexible, inefficient and polluting production methods; not responding to customer demand; etc, etc. Production finally stopped after over three million Trabants had been produced. Demand collapsed when Germany's reunification finally allowed people to buy other cars.

Science, in the way it is controlled by government, has many similarities with the Trabant. Government directly controls what students are taught under the subject "science" in public schools. Government, through its control over funding, decides what kind of scientific research and education gets financial support. Government controls a huge military budget, deciding which scientific research and development projects get priority. Most scientists will end up working either in education or on military projects, either directly or indirectly under this government control.

Between World War II and Germany's reunification, people who worked in the car industry in East Germany had no choice but to work on the Trabant project. Not walking in line with the communist doctrine not only meant risking one's job, political dissidents were deported all the way to Siberia.

In the US, freedom of speech and religion are supposed to be rights that are cherished. Yet, few scientists seem to have the courage to speak out against the fact that science seems to follow the Trabant model. Instead, in an effort to impress those who control funding for science, scientists glorify the Trabant model, rushing to attack someone who points at the facts. Moreover, in an epistemology forum, where one would expect these kind of issues to be discussed, those who call themselves scientists appear to resort to personal attacks, offensive language and brutal twisting of the truth, all to prevent someone to speak out on these matters.

But the truth is that science is knowingly and deliberately structured in the same mould as the Trabant. The most important epistemological question therefore is whether this was the best model. Just like we cherish things like competition between manufacturers and suppliers of cars, and choice for people who are considering buying a car, shouldn't we cherish those same values in regard to science?

Was the Trabant just a symptom of communism?

The Trabant is an example of a government policy that aims to give a single supplier monopoly control over a sector of society or to put a cartel of selected suppliers in control. This policy is symptomatic for many types of government, ranging from Soviet-style communism to fascist Germany. For more background on the similarities between such regimes and their impact on the car industry, have a look at this study by historian Dr. Rex Curry


What's wrong with Science? 

What's wrong with the way science is currently organized? 

The question I raised is whether it's healthy for science to be funded by one single source. It looks like the Trabant model and thus raises the question whether bias is built into this model. After all, some things do get funding and other things don't. Does the way funding takes place favor any specific views? Does that influence the way science is given at school? [source]

Government funds science and in the process imposes the Trabant model upon science. This model is subsequently imposed by military might and sustained by indoctrinating children from an impressionable age at school with this doctrine. [source]

Is this some kind of conspiracy theory?

Using the term conspiracy gave the false impression that I had said that some small and obscure group was planning illegal acts under the cloak of secrecy, to achieve some sinister goals. What I said instead is that science in the current system is intertwined with a military-industrial complex that operates on a monopoly basis. There's no secret about this, it takes place quite openly and it occurs with the support of our current legal system. [source]

Of all US scientific and engineering graduates, about half find work in education, while a large
part of the other half end up working for the military-industrial complex. Of the $130 billion Federal R&D budget, more than half is spent on Defense. A substantial amount of that money goes to Universities and Colleges. Of the nondefense part, a substantial part is spent on Space projects, while there is an increasing reliance on 'commercial off the shelf' technology in new defense systems. There is a dramatic increase in funding for health and bio-medical research projects since 9/11, partly caused by fear for anthrax and biological weapons. Apart from taking part in R&D, educational institutions are instrumental in preaching the doctrine that scientists should be indemnified and that government should operate on a monopoly basis, without these dogmas ever to be questioned.

It's no secret at all that the military has a huge budget. It's no secret at all that government controls public school. And it's not illegal at all. That's the very problem! This situation is imposed upon us with the full force of the law. [source]

What further links do you see between science and the military?

Governments around the world operate like a cartel. In each territory on earth a single
government is in control. Each such government operates on a monopoly basis. Governments jointly collude to sustain this situation, seeking to remove possible challenges to that monopoly position. One government may differ slightly from another, but no government has yet seriously contemplated competition in areas like military forces.

The similarities between governments are many, not just in the way military forces are organized, but also in the way science is organized and in the links between science and the military-industrial complex. Governments typically take money from people and business by means of tax and use this to fund scientists, the military, etc.

Science and the military are both organized along the same lines of the monopoly model in each part of the world, i.e. in each country security services and science are to a large extent shaped, organized and funded by government. Science is described as a collection of "discoveries", as if there were universal and absolute laws of nature that were somehow "discovered" by scientists. This is only one of the ways scientists are indemnified if things turn out to go wrong and people get harmed. Scientists habitually hide behind a cloak of objectivity, seeking indemnity for whatever they work on and ducking responsibility in many ways.

Universities further claim academic and research independence from government, in other words regarding the way they decide to spend money, while professors seek tenure (i.e. they cannot be sacked) and advocate peer review instead of allocation of money on the basis of political principles, on the basis of commercial realities and in compliance with standards that are common elsewhere in society. Within this framework, the individual scientist bears little or no responsibility for their work. Universities (as well as other instituitions within the education system) further indoctrinate students with the idea that scientists were objective, enforcing this notion of indemnity and rejecting any notion of liability or accountibility for whatever they were working on.

This framework is subsequently extended into a scientific-military-industrial complex where many scientists work and which is the dominant target for spending of the federal government's R&D budget. This complex further adds contractual non-disclosure provisions, official secrecy, armed guards and further tools to prevent litigation against those who inflict harm within this complex. Government actively colludes in this scheme, which has resulted in a monstrosity that indeed holds the world at large at ransom, demanding ever more funding from the people it takes hostage and holds captive. In the US, indemnity is further extended in that the military cannot be held accountible before the International Court (in the Hague).  [source]

What made you think that science followed the Trabant model? Isn't private education and research funded privately? Isn't science independent from government?

The independence of science is a myth in many ways. This military-industrial complex operates as a cartel, forcing private suppliers to work along the lines of the Trabant model. Private schools and educational institutions comply, through standard curriculum subjects and testing, through accreditation schemes and mutual recognition of qualifications, through selection processes and reference requirements for students seeking to work in specific professions. Private enterprise is to a large extent economically dependent on government's huge budgets for R&D and education and its grants, subsidies, etc. Furthermore, institutions are tied to government through tax and regulatory privileges. Many private education institutes and research labs also have ties with the military and are therefore restricted in their dealings with other parties. [source: new]

Science as it's currently structured, fits into the monopoly model, whether you seek to close your eyes for that or not. Science is funded largely by an organization that operates on a monopoly basis: government. Government controls huge budgets for education and the military, where mosts scientists work. Government controls many private institutions, such as schools and colleges, through accreditation, and many private suppliers of military technology. [source]

Science is funded largely by government. Most scientists are employed in education or are funded through the military budget. Government controls the education system to a large extent and runs the military on a monopoly basis. That's part of how society is currently organized. [source]

The conclusion that science is organized along the lines of the Tabant model is obvious if we look at the facts: Government spends huge amounts on the education system, where science is given a high profile. Government controls a huge military budget, where - again - science has a high profile. Most scientists are employed either directly or indirectly by the government. If it looks like a Trabant, if it sounds like a Trabant and if it feels like a Trabant, then the obvious conclusion is that it is a Trabant.

The conclusion that science is organized along the lines of the Tabant model is obvious if we look at the facts: Government spends huge amounts on the education system, where science is given a high profile. Government controls a huge military budget, where - again - science has a high profile. Most scientists are employed either directly or indirectly by the government. If it looks like a Trabant, if it sounds like a Trabant and if it feels like a Trabant, then the obvious conclusion is that it is a Trabant.

This conclusion is obvious. The question raised by this is why. Why are there so few scientists who admit that science as it's currently structured, follows the Trabant model? Narrow-mindedness? Naivity? Self-interest? Politics? [source]

Shouldn't scientists be free to study, teach and research what they want? Shouldn't educational institutions decide who to employ and train, and what to focus on? What about academic and entrepreneurial freedom? Isn't creativity and innovation of the essence for science?

Indeed, that is the problem, the Trabant model restricts freedom, creativity and innovation. You cannot force children into a classroom and expect them to be more creative, innovative and independent thinkers as a result of such indoctrination. You cannot buy people and demand them to make discoveries on command. The command and control approach is an inferior approach. That's why the Trabant model is inappropriate. Yet, few scientists seem to object against the huge amounts of government control over their activities and against the way science is organized along the lines of the Trabant model. [source]

Government determines what kind of funding goes where and will fund projects that are in line with what the politicians want. Funding isn't the only thing, there's more. Professional qualifications are recognized only if they are granted by certain institutions, so to enter certain professions, you have to speak a certain political language. It's hard to escape all this, given the compulsory nature of the education system as it's designed and enforced by government to indoctrinate children from a young impressionable age with certain ideas about politics, education, research and science. [source]

Aren't scientists objective and politically-neutral? Does politics have anything to do with science?

It has everything to do with science. Scientists work hand in hand with government, typically supporting its every move and getting a nice paycheck in the process (talking about monetary interests), which makes it even harder if not impossible for other organizations to offer security services in competition with the military. It's time that we recognize the political view behind this for what it is. And it's time for scientists to speak out when they're being used as a mouthpiece for this kind of politics. It's time for scientists to respect the importance of this issue. [source]

The education system and the industrial-military complex form a cartel that hides behind scientific independence, commercial and military secrecy to escape public accountibility. Scientists have a key role in all three areas, playing the same card all the time, i.e. that their supposed access to "secrets" of nature justified their taking of decisions without public scrutiny. It's just like the old religious elite who claimed exclusive access to god's word to justify their sole rule over society. These scientists hold the world to ransom in order to increase their power and increase the share of public funding going to education and the military without allowing people to look into what happens with this money, even worse, while claiming indemnity for the terror these weapons they develop are intended to impose on society. [source]

What's wrong with the military? And does this have anything to do with science?

The term military-industrial complex is usually attributed to former President Eisenhower who coined the phrase back in 1961. [source]

Fact is that the bulk of the funding for science comes from government, much of it veiled in secrecy in military projects. Combine the call for independence by academics with the secrecy of the military and with the bureaucracy that comes with government funding, and how accountible is the result? [source]

scientists' claim of political-neutrality, objectivity, independence, etc, is compromised by the fact that they are employed in large numbers at scientific research labs that are part of an industrial-military complex, holding the world at ransom. [source]

One problem is that there can be an accumulation of secrecy, as the University calls for independence in deciding how to conduct research, the military and homesecurity classify their research as top secret for reasons of national security, while business may want to keep trade secrets for commercial reasons. Combine the three where they overlap and there are vast amounts of government money disappearing from the public eye. And this is paricularly the case of science labs. Another worrying aspect of this is that it concerns weapons that may be of a nuclear, biological or chemical kind wiyth devastating impact. [source]

The military uses its magic word "secrecy" to avoid scrutiny. Industrialists use "trade secrets", "comercially sensitive" and "privacy" classifications to hide what they're doing. It is no secret that this military-industrial complex cloaks much of their activities in secrecy, but what is less known is that it is only one part of a larger picture that makes things even more threatening.

Scientists use their magic word "independence" to similarly avoid scrutiny. Ask courts to do something about it and they'll similarly claim "independence" from political "interference".

Scientists and judges are to a large extent educated, paid and controlled by government. So, who will stand up against anything that goes wrong? Who will even try and find out if something may go wrong?

This military-industrial complex controls a huge military budget that gets approved with in a yes or no vote by politicians who cannot humanly go through all the details. Add to this the possibility to classify things under "military secrets" in order to avoid closer scrutiny by the media. Add the possibility of this huge apparatus to bury details in its bureaucracy. The way it's set up makes it prone to abuse, waste, cronyism and favoratism.

Due to the fact that so many scientists get funded, either directly or indirectly, through this military budget, science itself becomes the playball of greed, politics and pet-projects. The calls by universities for greater independence do not help, they make that what happens in universities simply adds another layer of activities where scientists cannot be scrutinized and be held accountible.

In the process, science gets a bad name. The cliche way scientists are presented in the media is as white-coated fools who are playing with dangerous weapons that could cause destruction at massive scale. [source]

Practical experience in many areas has shown that free markets provide increasingly better services at ever more affordable prices. By contrast, central control in services that are controlled by government and run on a monopoly-basis (or through cartels) causes economic stagnation and waste without much innovation and growth. A monopoly exploits a captive market and drives up prices, while getting away with lower quality services, resulting in inevitably more government control and bureaucracy, as people start complaining about it. The proven solution is to let such services be provided in free markets. I see no reasons why the same wouldn't apply to security services. [source] 

Why add education to the military-industrial complex? Why not focus instead on the dominant position of, say, the Federal Reserve Bank? Huge government funding also goes into the legislature and judiciary...

The military operate on a monopoly basis as a conglomorate. The police, coast guards, customs and border control officers operate in the same way. There's no competition between service providers, which means security services are provided less efficiently and with less innovation that what people are entitled to. [source]

Yes, lots of money is also involved in financial and legal services and there should also be more competition in the provision of many of such services. For more details, see the page on Finance.

Fact is that billions of dollars go into education and government raises taxes to fund a huge educational budget. So, it does make sense to look into the way that tax and providers of educational services are organized from time to time, to see whether reform is appropriate. [source]

I added education because most scientists end up working in either education or the military-industrial complex. Thus, the way education and the military-industry complex are intertwined is an interesting issue from an epistemological perspective. From a political perspective, the complex could indeed be widened to a legislature-judiciary-education-military-industrial complex. That would of course raise even more protests that discussions here were too political, so it's better to start with bringing up the link between education and the military-industrial complex. [source]


Proposed Reform 

So, what do you propose should be done?

I propose a Pledge for Scientists. I also propose the military to be split up into numerous parts, so that each of them competes for security services provided to and paid for directly by customers. This way, customers can choose directly what security services they want, without putting this huge political bureaucracy in the middle to patronizingly decide for people what kind of security was best for them. [source]

My proposal is structural separation. That's a method that has proven to work where unhealthy monopolies abuse their dominant position. [source]

The proposal is to split up the military into multiple pieces, say seven organizations, each of them competing in all areas for customers. This kind of reform should be introduced gradually, e.g. by first restructuring the military into, say, seven different organizations on paper only. Then, tax deductions could be granted to those who pay for services from one of these organizations directly. [source]

If two high profile security services were to face each other on a particular issue, it's quite likely that some agreement will be worked out that everyone feels most comfortable with. In some cases, disputes can take a long time to be resolved. Generally, it's good business practice to try and avoid disputes, whereas it seems common to dictatorial government to start wars in an effort to turn the attention away from their own incompetence. [source]

As discussed, I propose a split-up, which will lead to differentiation, rather than one standard service that was provided to everyone universally. I propose such a split-up not merely for the military, but also for police forces. I advocate anti-trust and cartel legislation to be extended to the pieces that result from the split-up of the military, to avoid collusion between these pieces. Similarly, I advocate that collusion be avoided between the pieces that result from split-up of the police. I do foresee co-operation (perhaps mergers) between one piece of the military with one piece of the police as well as with many other organizations currently active in security services. In the big picture, competition should be encouraged both locally and (inter-)nationally. The availability of a number of different organizations from which customers can choose will lead to better quality services, lower prices, more innovation and efficiency, etc. It's also more in line with our rights. Additionally, when choice is applied to schools, that will in itself lead to better security. As parents get more choice as to the school they want their children to attend, schools will have to provide better security for the children. If a school doesn't act on, say, a bullying problem, children will leave and go to a school that better tackles bullying. [source]

What I propose is a split-up, combined with tax reform to allow people to make tax deductions for the cost of their security, resulting in security services being paid directly by the customers, instead of through a wasteful, bureaucratic monopoly. Furthemore, I propose that the poor get vouchers to enable them the security services they want. [source]

Instead of following the Trabant-model, it makes more sense to introduce vouchers to encourage differentiation in education in physical sciences at both primary and higher education levels. We have to also look at other ways to reform the system, such as integrating education in work, leisure and day-to-day activities. The current model gives a lot of funding to classroom teaching, whereas other types of learning are as much effective, if not more effective. Examples are homeschooling, tutoring, self-study, online learning, apprenticeships and on the job training. [source]

Eventually, prices of services will come down to such an extent that no vouchers may be necessary, but it's hard to predict how things will eventuate. That's the very essence of NOT prescribing how the education system should operate in detail, but instead leaving room for competition and customer choice to sort things out. Alternatively to prices becoming so low that good schools will be affordable (even to the poor) without vouchers, the poor may be less interested in classroom teaching and instead prefer apprenticeships, trainee programs, online self-learning or self-employment combined with on-the-job learning. Initially, the key is to create differentiation, so that people will be able to choose those alternatives that work best, while competition will ensure that services improve in quality and decrease in price. [source]

Another issue is whether families should be able to deduct money spent on the education of their children form tax. At the moment, many homeschoolers do an excellent job educating their own children, without getting any funding from government and without being able to deduct the cost of homeschooling from tax. By contrast, the cost of a computer can be fully deducted from the parents' income, if that computer is NOT used by the children. That is an absurd situation and shows that there is something fundamentally wrong with the education is structured within the educational-military-industrial complex that is supported by the current tax and legal systems. We need to change things across the board, tackling issues such as taxation, education and security in a fundamental way. [source]

The system needs to be shaken up more fundamentally and the financial aspects should be looked at in great detail (considering vouchers, tax deducations, etc). Furthermore, alternatives to classroom learning should be considered more seriously, e.g. homeschooling, self-learning, online learning, tutoring, etc. Finally, there should be more integration of education with real life, specifically work environments as students get older, offering more trainees and apprenticeships, on-the-job learning, participation in research, etc.

How much has our education system improved over the years? Has anyone who completed high school today, learned more than students did 110 years ago? Is there any evidence that the large public schools of today were more effective than smaller schools that were more common in the past?

Families should be able to choose the education they want for their children more directly. Large public schools should be split up into multiple smaller ones and poor families should receive vouchers to allow them to make that choice more directly. Similarly, people should be able to choose the security services they want more directly. A split-up of the military will create that choice and the poor could receive vouchers to allow them to make that choice. Taxpayers should be able to deduct direct payments to such providers of security services from tax. That is how I have suggested such a split-up should be (gradually) implemented [source]

[There are specific] laws (RICO anti-racketeering laws and anti-trust and cartel legislation) that need to be extended to the current educational-military-industrial complex. [source]

Do you want to privatize everything? Isn't commercial pressure inappropriate in education and military matters? How can we keep the system honest?

Private versus public ownership is another discussion. This here is a discussion about a split-up and more direct choice. That is inherently more in line with our rights. Furthermore, there's plenty of indications in economics that a monopoly is not the best way to go. [source]

The military is currently owned by government, so if it's split up, the resulting pieces will still remain government-owned. Whether government should continue to such ownership is another discussion and I'm happy to debate that as well, but I never proposed to privatize the military and then to split things up. The fact that the military is government-owned makes it easier to split things up, compared to the scenario in which the military was privatized in its current shape.

As said, I oppose the military to be privatized in its current shape. Instead, I propose a split-up. Whether the resulting pieces should remain entirely owned by government is another discussion. Perhaps some or all shares of some or all of these pieces could be sold, perhaps new shares could be issued that could be bought by investors, there are many different scenarios, but that's another discussion. [source]

Ownership is not the main issue of this debate. The military could be split up and each of those pieces could still remain government-owned. Similarly, large public schools could be split up into multiple smaller ones, each remaining in the hands of the goverment. The debate is which is the best way to go. Two arguments in favor of a split up are that, when there are multiple organizations, people have choice, which is more in line with our rights, while economics also tells us this works better. Initially, tax deductions could be given to those who directly pay for the services they want, while the poor can make choices by means of vouchers. But that's a matter of implementation - right now we're discussing the virtues of the proposal in general. [source]

A corporation can be either publicly or privately owned. Incorporation means that it becomes a separate entity with its own accountancy. Splitting up the military into multiple corporations provides better accountancy and accountibility. If a corporation behaves badly, it will go broke. If a corporation does a good job, rewards will come its way.

Nobody was suggesting that government should NOT keep full ownership of the military before a split-up was completed. Let me repeat again, I am NOT proposing for the military in its present state to be sold off to the highest bidder. Instead, I clearly stated that the fact that the military is government-owned makes it easier to implement such a split-up. My proposal is for the military to be split up into multiple corporations that are to compete with each other for customers in all areas. Whether such corporations should issue stock and offer such shares for sale to the public, that is another discussion.

A split-up of the educational-military-industrial complex could start with a simple majority vote in Congress to go ahead with a restructure of existing government-owned entities into a multitude of corporations, in such a way that they can start competing for customers in all areas. Initially, government (at various levels) will continue to be the sole customer, but these corporations should gradually be allowed to offer their services to new customers, i.e. taxpayers who want to pay for their security services directly and families who want to pay for the education of their children directly. In such cases, they can deduct such costs from tax, since government no longer needs to collect taxes and pass on payments to the respective service providers - this effectively cuts out the middle-man. The poor could be given vouchers to ensure that they can also benefit from choice in the provision of such services. Anti-racketeering laws and anti-trust and cartel legislation will need to be extended to those new service providers. All this reform can take place without necessarily privatizing any of these corporations. [source]

A pledge for scientists has been discussed in another thread here, but it part of the greater need for accountibility of service providers. The above legislative reform is one part of this, a second part is that indemnity provisions against liability and litigation will need to be removed (and possibly replaced by insurance coverage). Thirdly, scientists could be working on projects where weapons are developed that have as yet unknown impact (and are therefore harder to cover with insurance and prohibitive legislation), which warrents a Pledge for Scientists. [source]

Tell us more about this Pledge for Scientists...

Should there be something like an Oath of Hippocrates for scientists? Something like: "I will work for the greater good of people, without intentionally causing harm where this can be avoided." [source]

I see the Pledge for Scientists as merely a step in the right direction, since it may help scientists speak out more openly. But more fundamentally, we should look at the way science is intertwined with the way the military is currently structured. My proposal is to split up the military, so that security services are offered on a more competitive basis, with providers of security services negotiating more directly with their customers as to the services their customers want. If others see other alternatives, then at least let put them on the table and let's discuss things.

BTW, here's another thing to contemplate in regard to a Pledge for Scientists. To what extent should openness be a motto of scientists? When should scientists comply with their employer's demands for secrecy, and when should they speak out? Are scientists in a special position, given that they may work on projects that could result in yet unforseen dangers to society?

Personally, I think that scientists have a duty to speak out. It may be difficult to speak out for scientists who are closely involved in a specific case, as they may face heavy litigation, loss of career prospects, etc. But this is the more reason for scientists as a group to jointly speak out, against a specific political choice being made without proper discussion, under the pretence that there was scientific backing for that particular choice when in fact there isn't. The way the military is currently structured is such a choice. Scientists shouldn't act as if it wasn't.

Employers must become aware in advance that scientists cannot be expected to keep something secret that violated the Pledge for Scientists. If all scientists were known to abide by a certain pledge, then employers will not be able to force them to sign secrecy oaths in violation with such a pledge. [source]

The pledge is one little step in the right direction and we do have a long way to go. Indeed, we need structural reform across all sectors of society. Most urgently, the military needs to be split up into multiple pieces, each of which is to compete in all areas for clients seeking security services. Clients should choose and pay for the security services they want directly. Security firms that seek to develop weapons in secrecy should be exposed by the media and by whistleblowers, which is where the pledge comes in.

It's a step in the right direction, because it makes scientists think about what they're doing. The system currently selects the nerds, those who have been deprived of social contact. The system deliberately keeps children occupied from a young age with maths exercizes, to prevent them from developing social and ethical conscience.

[ For more discussions, see the thread: A Pledge for Scientists ]

[ and
Biggest issues in epistemology? ]

[ For more discussions on education, see also this thread on
Independent Thinking


Dealing with Public Concerns 

Wouldn't this turn the military into mercenaries selected by popular vote?

I did NOT propose for the US to tender out its defence. I did NOT propose for people to select any winner of such tendering process by vote. I DO propose a split-up of the military, resulting in structurally separate corporations to offer security services, competing for customers in all areas. Initially, government will be the main customer of these corporations. Government should spread out its need for security services over a wide range of corporations, to ensure the viability of this plurality of service providers. Progressively, tax deductions and vouchers will enable more direct provision of security services by such corporations to a variety of customers. Government as a customer will thus gradually decrease in importance, as other customers (including companies, non-profit organizations, families and individuals) proportionally take an ever-larger share of the market in security services. [source]

Is an army based on compulsory conscription better than security services provided by professionals who get paid what they deserve? There's no evidence that a conscription army was superior or that compulsory conscription was beneficial. Instead, this merely seems to be a political position. Some people may prefer things one way or the other, depending on their political orientation, but that just means it could be an argument on both sides of the debate. If so, then the fact that professionalism in security services is more in line with our rights tips the balance and makes it an argument in favor of a split up. [source]

Customers should decide the security services they want. My proposal is for gradual reform of the existing military, rather than instantly replacing them by mercenaries. People should decide what security services they want. If they have doubts, then they should indeed question their current service provider and consider switching to a better one. [source]

What if a provider of security services started becoming dictatorial and robbed all its customers? What if a security guard or a contractor started shooting people because that was just what he wanted?

We have anti-trust and cartel legislation to ensure that this contractor doesn't engage in unfair trade practices. We have anti-racketeering laws and more legislation like that to prevent that the contractor just did what he wanted. Shouldn't we wonder why such principles of fair trade are not applied to science and to security services? After all, we the people are the ones who provide the funding, thus in line with your reasoning, we should decide whether we wanted the Trabant model. Researchers and the education system in general don't even ask that question, they simply take it for granted that the Trabant model is the way to go. This makes it even more important for epistemologists to ask that question. [source]

Competition will ensure that providers of services will have less opportunity to deceive customers. When there's more competition, customers can and will demand that suppliers make their offers on clear terms. [source]

I don't see any company getting away with killing people under the pretence that their dislike for the person justified that. Such a company would go broke under the litigation against them, before they had even come into action, while the threat of going broke will make all existing custmers leave and ask their money back. [source]

A well regulated military does not kill people arbitrarily, as this would violate the most basic civil rights. Also, well regulated means that what applies to a civil society should also apply to the military, i.e. accountibility, RICO anti-racketeering laws, anti-trust and cartel legislation, etc. [source]

I propose the opposite of dictatorship. I propose the opposite of arbitray law. What I propose is a well regulated militia. Well regulated implies good accountancy and accountibility. That will ensure that bad corporations won't get away with killing people under the pretence that their dislike for the person justified that. Such a company would go broke under the litigation against them, before they had even come into action, while the threat of going broke will make all existing custmers leave and ask their money back. I don't propose the introduction of such companies. So, I propose the opposite of arbitrary law, instead I propose a well regulated militia. Well regulated implies that fair trading laws apply and that anti-racketeering laws are imposed, as well as anti-trust and cartel legislation. Dictators may apply arbitrary law, but my proposal is in the opposite direction, i.e. to let people choose the services they want. More direct choice is principally more in line with our rights, independently of what services people decide to choose. If families are given a choice - through vouchers - as to the kind of school they want for their children, then that is principally more in line with our rights. If people can choose the car they want, or the groceries, that is principally more in line with out rights compared to having some political committee chairman, dictator, wizzard or charlatan making that choice. [source]

Wouldn't such reform be an invitation for an invasion from abroad?

An Invasion? Again, if one such organization is prone to fail in regard to the security services customers want, then those customers will switch to another organization. That is the best guarantee against inferior services. [source]

The US itself faces little or no threat of invasion. Even if there was such a threat (which is a very unlikely scenario), there's no reason to believe it wouldn't be countered more effectively by a number of separate organizations, each working in the interest of their customers. A monopoly is typically less capable of responding in a timely manner, compared to organizations who are keen to show what they're worth, in an effort to gain further trust and respect of their (prospective) customers. [source]

[Individually, each of these] different forces can effectively defeat a single opponent. In the very unlikely case of an invasion of the US mainland by a foreign force, a single small force (in most cases, a few airplanes and guided missiles) will suffice. [source]

The revenues of some of the larger US companies dwarf the combined revenues of many nations. Any such company on its own is technically capable of putting together an army that could wipe out the military forces of smaller nations in a matter of weeks. An individual like Bill Gates has sufficient funds to, on his own, put together a military operation that could successfully take out the military forces of many countries, without the need for any national army. [source]

The defense of even larger nations can be taken out in a matter of weeks, as shown twice in the case of Iraq, without any need for nuclear missiles and with minimal human casualties. While Saddam Hussein was able to put up some missile threat in the first Iraq war, all missiles were intercepted and destroyed in the air during the second Iraq war. [source]

There are only two nations with the stamina to withstand a war with the US for more than a few weeks, i.e. Russia and China, and neither of them have any interest in invading the US mainland. [source]

What about the risk of a foreign take-over of the military?

A foreign take-over is an unlikely scenario. It's like a foreign government buying up Microsoft and forcing all Microsoft staff to suddenly sell strawberries instead of software, with the unlikely agenda of subsequently jumping into the gap and capturing the US software market with their own inferior products. Would existing Microsoft customers play along with such an unlikely scheme? Most likely, they would instantly switch to another company for their software. [source]

What is most likely to happen? Will there be some kind of 007-scenario, where some sinister bad guy builds an island fortress with numerous paid guards and missiles he threatens to launch against US cities, unless he gets a ransom of.., yes, one million dollars (sic) from the president? To some extent, we already have such scenarios right now. The question is how best to tackle such situations.

Economics suggest that when a monopoly is split up, the entire industry grows, people get better services at lower prices, service levels, quality, innovation and overall customer satisfaction increases. In other words, security services will be provided more accurately and effectively and a split-up is the best way to go.

What's the risk of civil unrest, street gangs and dictatorship, and generals contemplating a coup-d'etat and taking over control?

Civil unrest? That's why these organizations should negotiate more directly with their customers. Who would want to pay their security service for instigating "civil unrest"? That's not in line with how people would want such an organization to act. [source]

The situation we have now is that there is a single organisation with sufficient military control to prohibit other organizations to offer security services in competition. If that's your concern and if you associate that with civil unrest, then the more reason to support my proposal for structural separation. [source]

What if one of these corporations became so successful that it gained a monopoly position? What if the most successful corporation merged with one or more of the largest companies? How could we prevent such a company from holding the world at ransom?

The key is indeed to prevent monopolies and cartels, hence the urgency in splitting up the military. There's no need to use force to implement such a split-up, because the military is fully owned by government. Once the military is split up and competition is established, the majority of people and organizations will acknowledge the benefits and support it, so even in the unlikely case that one company went astray and desired a monopoly position, public condemnation would suffice to make such a company go broke. It's an unlikely scenario, because a company is controlled by shareholders who will typically be convinced that, rather than exploiting a monopoly, it makes more sense to split up the company into structurally-separated pieces, resulting in a combined growth of their wealth. [source]

Rumors of a merger will push up the price of shares, which initially may make it look as if the merger itself was a success. But long-term, a number of competing companies will result in more growth, compared to an industry monopolized by a single company. Informed shareholders are aware of this and will favor a split-up of a company, long before it evolved into a monopoly.

Companies seek growth. A monopoly stagnates an entire industry. If a company gains so much market share that it reaches a dominant position in that market, it makes economic sense to split up that company into competing pieces, which will result in more growth of the industry in total. Overall, shareholders will support such a split-up, on economic arguments alone. The argument that it's more in line with our rights will lead to public condemnation of a monopoly, which is another argument for such a company to split up. [source]

As I said, monopolies are typically creations of government. From the perspective of private enterprise, monopolies do not make sense. From the perspective of customers and the public in general, monopolies don't make sense either.

Initially, regulatory pressure will assist the establishment of more competition. Once established, there will be few people who will want to go back. Those who do will typically go broke or lose in other respects. Defending a monopoly is a loser's strategy. If an industry stagnates, a company dominating a market will stagnate as well. Shareholders will therefore support a split-up, which will make the industry grow as a whole, as well as the combined value of their shares. [source]

Won't the only ones better off be those who are rich and can live in a nice gated community with an expensive private school and hand-picked neighbours?

How can one measure whether one provider of security services is better than another one? One such measure will be the amount of compensation they offer to someone they let down. When security services are provided on a contractual basis, those who provided bad services had to pay huge amounts of money in compensation - they will eventually go broke. Other measures will be their track record, the quality and amount of equipment and staff, their presence in your area, their preparedness, the financial back-up they can count on, etc.

In many respects, it's much like buying a car. You look at the price, features, technical specifications, the support, the name and reputation of the supplier, etc. If you become aware that there is something wrong with the car you own, you demand your money back and switch to another car, hopefully before you get involved in an accident yourself. A supplier of faulty cars will not survive very long; with the ability to switch to another supplier, those who provide good services will be rewarded.

Perhaps this will lead to "nice gated communities with hand-picked neighbours". More likely, there will be less need for gates and fences, because people will have better security. This is more in line with our rights, specifically with the second amendment which calls for a well regulated militia - a militia that operates above the law or outside the law in disrespect of civil rights isn't well regulated, is it?

A well regulated militia, i.e. with competition without collusion, will result in ever better and cheaper services. The same with education services. Over time, we all benefit from that and as services become both better and more affordable. Your suggestion that the rich benefitted at the cost of the poor is wrong. It's a win-win situation for both! The best quality service will be offered to both the rich and the poor, while bad-quality service will disappear. [source]

I disagree with government funding the education of kids from rich families. If that money was used instead to fund vouchers, public schools would benefit. As said before, large public schools should be split up into multiple smaller ones, so that they become more responsive to the educational needs of their students. Then, poor families should be given vouchers. Initially, vouchers could be made applicable only to public schools, in which case private schools wouldn't benefit at all. Vouchers can be used in many ways, they do not inherently benefit public or private schools. Ownership is not the issue. The quality of education is and our rights are! [source]


Why Bother

If this was such a big issue, why then haven't scientists spoken out about this yet? Why not leave politics up to politicians and let scientists sort out what was the objective reality? What has reform of this educational-military-industrial complex to do with science?

It has everything to do with science. Scientists work hand in hand with government, typically supporting its every move and getting a nice paycheck in the process (talking about monetary interests), which makes it even harder if not impossible for other organizations to offer security services in competition with the military. It's time that we recognize the political view behind this for what it is. And it's time for scientists to speak out when they're being used as a mouthpiece for this kind of politics. It's time for scientists to respect the importance of this issue. [source] 

Indeed, few scientists seem to be bothered that science is organized along the lines of the Trabant model. It's amazing that scientists who strive to ban political influence, personal bias and wishful thinking from their observations, suddenly abandon all rationality and objectivity when it concerns the way science itself is structured. [source]

Apparently, few scientists want to bite the hand that feeds them. Also, being indoctrinated themselves by the education system to such an extent, it's hard for scientists to remain objective on the question whether the Trabant model was the best model for science. [source]

Vouchers would bring some much-needed differentiation to the way science is being taught in the education system. The problem is that so many scientists take a very political position in this matter and refuse to even consider alternatives to the Trabant-model. Instead, they prefer to work along with and stay within the Trabant-model. They have become embedded in the system with vested interests in preservation of the Trabant-model. They are unwilling and unable to contemplate radical change. [source]

The issue has been brought up before, but scientists themselves seem harder to to convince than other people. Perhaps scientists have too many vested interests in the status quo. Have a look at how the idea was attacked in this thread

The picture that emerges from this is a pattern of abuse by persons pretending to be scientists, seeking to sabotage interesting epistemological discussions here by following a clear pattern. The moment someone comes up with an interesting epistemological question, they launch vulgar attacks, presumably in the hope that this will discourage any serious discussion of the topic and silence anyone who seeks to seriously discuss epistemological issues.

What they achieve, of course, is the direct opposite. They do not succeed in silencing my views. They prove my very point. Scientists cannot be expected to admit the fact that science follows the Trabant model, with government control leading us down one specific road. It's up to epistemologists to point out there is a problem with science in the way it's currently structured and controlled by government to follow one specific path.

What is the objective reality? Fact is that science gets funding to a large extent through government and most scientists are working for the military or in education, which are areas that are controlled to a large extent by government. Most scientists are either directly or indirectly on the government payroll. So, fact is that science is driving around in a Trabant. Now that's the objective reality!

You may close your eyes for this. You may choose to follow a fabricated model that makes distinctions between physics on the one hand and social and political science on the other hand. But that model is in itself a specific political and socio-economic model and, yes, I am questioning the validity of this model, because it's part of the Trabant framework, it's part of the way things are classified in the Trabant model with the purpose of avoiding that the Trabant model itself will be questioned.

If scientists are so objective, decent, talented and multi-skilled, as you claim, why then are there so few scientists who admit that science as it's currently structured, follows the Trabant model?

Isn't this pure politics? What's the epistemological relevance? Doesn't science look at facts only?

The facts are hard to deny. In both cases, there's a large amount of government control, specifically regarding funding. Government spends huge amounts on the education system and controls a huge military budget, while most scientists are employed either directly or indirectly by the government. This government control applies both to the way the car industry was organized in East-Germany and to the way science is currently organized. The similarities are so striking that the observation that science follows the Trabant-model is not only warrented, but that anyone who studies knowledge, its nature, presuppositions, foundations, extent and validity should take interest. Does all this government control have only superficial impact on science and knowledge in general? Or, is it part of one specific political agenda? Is all this government control the best way to go? Those are the epistemological questions before us! [source]

Epistemologically, the question is why scientists appear to condone the current system, instead of speaking out in favor of reform. I advocate reform and, as said, there are at least two arguments in favor of such reform. Firstly, the economic argument that services are better provided by a number of suppliers operating in competition, than by a monopoly. Secondly, that it is in line with our rights to select the security servies we want more directly. I have yet to see any valid arguments against such reform. One would expect scientists to be able to counter suspicions of bias. Is the active collaboration of scientists with this system the result of specific political bias, of greed, self-interest or lust for power? Why are scientists so reluctant to speak out? Does the way in which scientists are trained perhaps precondition them to favor a military monopoly? [source]

Epistemologically, we can question what a split-up of the educational-military-industrial complex will mean for science. Will science continue to be taught in the same way as it is now at public schools? Will science and knowledge change their shapes as a result of more competition? Will science continue to exist at all? [source]

So, will science itself change? Will such reform change what's science?

The question is whether science will change once society is structured differently. Some believed the Trabant was the perfect car and that no other cars needed to be sold. Would "science" stand any chance if funding patterns changed? Would there still be "science", or would its fate be similar to the Trabant? [source]

That's the question before us. Is science merely a product of the Trabant model? What will happen if things were organized along better lines? Just like the Trabant itself disappeared from the German roads after the Trabant model of manufacturing and controlling the car industry was abandoned, science itself might await a similar fate. But while the Trabant disappeared, sales of cars flourished and the East-German roads were populated by many types of great cars. There's no question in my mind that people will continue to be involved in research and development of new products, wonder how they could make improvements. Also, there's no question in my mind that they will achieve more and better results. [source]

If there was no "science" as we know it today, i.e. with funding dominated by government, what would society look like. There are of course many different scenarios. For reasons of simplicity (i.e. the scientists' pet), I'll divide them into three categories:

  1. Inferior: In one such scenario, control was exercized over society by one single organization - called the Church - ensuring that all ideas being contemplated were compatible with its doctrine. The dark ages, as you will agree. Similar scenarios result from control by a single person, i.e. dictatorship.

  2. Today: In some respects, the above scenario is actually quite close to the situation we have today, in which a single organization - called government - dominates control over the funding of science and over what is taught at school.

  3. Superior: And then, there are scenarios that are much superior, because they do not put control over science into the hands of a single organization. Instead, there would be multiple organizations each competing with each other for excellence in all areas. Such competition ensures that none of them can get away with using obscure or misleading rhetoric. Fierce competition itself will unmask those who are out to use deceptive ways of indoctrination, specifically those who pretended there was a need for an overall arbitor (such as a Pope or a President) to assess who deserved funding.

Shouldn't we wait with such reform until we're sure it will work? What's the urgency? Why change things now?

Never before in history has there been a better time to restructure the military in the US. There's no immediate threat of an invasion, yet the military budget is huge. If we split up the military into, say, seven different organizations, each of these organizations would on their own be capable to protect people against possible invasions. There's little risk that any foreign country could raise sufficient funding to buy the services of even one of such seven organizations, and even if such offers were made, none of the organizations would be so stupid to consider that. [source]

Simply stating that a split-up will not work doesn't constitute an argument. It's similar to the view that the earth was flat [despite] indications that earth was round, such as shadows on the moon. Similarly, there now are many economic indicators that constitute arguments in favor of a split-up. But some people will stick to their political position as long as this appears to benefit them, so the proof of the pudding was in eating it and circumnavigation of the globe successfully showed it to be round. Similarly, introducing more competition in security services will show that people will indeed have more and better security in the end. [source]

There are at least two arguments for a split-up: Economics and our rights. In economics, it's commonly agreed that increased competition results in more innovation, efficiency and less waste, lower prices and better-quality services. A split-up is also more in line with our rights, as it allows people to more directly choose the security services they want. In this way, it also increases accountability. [source]

There is growing urgency for us to act. The problem is that people may not become aware of the fact that it is a dead-end-street until we hit our head against the wall. In this respect, the situation is much like the East German society where people all drove around in Trabants as if this was the only way to go. It's time we recognize the truth and ditch the Trabant model of science. Such a move cannot take place in isolation - instead, reform needs to be introduced across the board. [source]

[But] reform is most urgently needed in the military. Once competition is established successfully in the military, the rest will follow. [source]