One of history’s greatest writers said that “the abuse of greatness is when it disjoins remorse from power.” With this, I can not agree more. I take greatness to be both the result of power and the cause of power; and the act of disjoining that dual cause and effect from the empathy (remorse) needed to wield it properly causes it to spiral out of control. There is no worse an abuse of power as when a government uses its greatness, its power, without care.
A recent episode of Extra Credits described and analyzed (as well as the writers understand it) a new social network developed in partnership with the Chinese government to act in a similar way as credit scores in America.
This social network measures how much you agree with the government; and as many people seem to think, agreeing with the Chinese government is a generally bad thing. I’m not saying it is or is not, but I am pointing out the generally accepted view of China – this idea that they are somehow inherently different.
My credit is pretty damn good, if I do say so myself. I’ve jumped through hoops to maintain it as well as I can because without credit, I’m unlikely to ever be able to get a loan for a house or a car, a small business or have any access to borrowing money. Credit in America is a frightening thing because we live on credit; from buying that swank jacket you just have to have to borrowing $50000 for school, we can’t help but live on other people’s money.
Imagine if your government put such a system in place that figured out how much you agree with the government stance on subjects and published that score for all to see. How horrified would you be? Would you cry injustice and demand your rights? What if for all your bluster, all it did was make you unable to borrow more than $50 dollars against your Visa or MasterCard.
Now realize that’s exactly what it seems China is doing, and realize that the Chinese are not the foreign bumpkins you might imagine, but modern people living on credit just as much as you are. I find the thought humbling and eye-opening.
Is this system as terrible as I imagine it to be on this one piece of information? I can’t say for sure. Could it be a useful tool for the government to determine who is of the most use to them? Maybe, cold as that thought is. Is it a good idea? I’ll leave that up to you; I am only an egg, to keep with my litany of references to Robert Heinlein, and not qualified to judge; only ask.
Until next time,