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[DRAFT #1] You Have The Right To Lose Control

A place to spoil daily issues for those who haven't had them yet, snigger at typos, and discuss ideas for new ones.
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Tinhampton
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Posts: 10374
Founded: Oct 05, 2016
Anarchy

[DRAFT #1] You Have The Right To Lose Control

Postby Tinhampton » Sun May 22, 2022 6:51 am

The title is stolen from En Vogue's More Than Friends - and the tacky 2017 remix which I almost hate - but the issue has nothing to do with the song. About two years ago, I was sent this article by a colleague, which alludes to a report from the Institute for Employment Rights accusing the UK of breaking its obligations under international labour laws. I visited the IER website, somewhat intrigued - and perhaps seeking fodder for a GA draft... - only to find that you have to pay £8 to read it (or £4 plus trade union dues). What kind of self-proclaimed "think tank" puts its articles under a paywall? (Even the hypercapitalist think tanks - such as the Cato Institute, Adam Smith Institute, Institute of Economic Affairs and Heritage Foundation - provide their reports for free.)

To be clear: #494 "Whipping Up A Controversy" is what happens when your government gets a report accusing it of violating human rights. This draft is what happens when your government literally can't get it.
[title]You Have The Right To Lose Control
[desc]@@RANDOMNAME_1@@, your Minister for Respectful Governance, recently requested what @@HE_1@@ understood to be a damning, well-publicised dossier from a renowned human rights observatory, accusing @@NAME@@ of breaking multiple international conventions on human rights and highlighting steps it could take to rectify its violations. In response, today's cabinet meeting was supposed to be dedicated to discussing its allegations and how the government could respond to them - but when the time comes, @@RANDOMLASTNAME_1@@ arrives empty-handed, save for a single, open envelope warning "THIS IS NOT A CIRCULAR - IMPORTANT PAYMENT INFORMATION INSIDE".
[validity]low civil rights, low economic efficiency

[option]"...zero... zero... zero! Count it - that's how much you'll have to fork out!" complains the Minister, as @@HE_1@@ whips out the letter from its envelope. "At this rate, there is no way we are going to pay multiple times our annual GDP - never mind our budget - just to find out what we're doing wrong and why it's wrong! But if the cost of doing better, looking better and just keeping much-needed foreign investment flowing is printing away a few billion @@CURRENCYPLURAL@@ for the express purpose of getting our mitts on these positively horrific accusations, so be it. It's not like the costs of endangering our finances outweigh the costs of endangering our finances, surely?"
[effect]the @@CURRENCY@@ is never more than one generation away from extinction

[option]"I'm sorry, @@RANDOMFIRSTNAME_1@@, but we don't have to choose between destroying the economy or destroying our reputation," exhorts your Director of Fairer International Trade. "If we really want to act on these supposedly unaffordable recommendations, perhaps we could ask a few of our allies to redistribute some funds for the cause. I'm extremely confident that our comrades in Dàguó and Núi Và Sông, to name just two countries that sound like they could be on good terms with us, will be more than happy to see to it that we can become a better, more pro-worker nation - as long as we promise to pay them back in kind when they're in need."
[effect]@@NAME@@ is regularly on the hook for foreign politicians' abstract art collections
[validity]must have the Socialism policy

[option]"I'm sorry, @@RANDOMFIRSTNAME_1@@, but we don't have to choose between destroying the economy or destroying our reputation," exhorts your Director of Freer International Trade. "If we really want to act on these supposedly unaffordable recommendations, perhaps we could ask a few of our allies to chip in some funds for the cause. I'm extremely confident that our friends in Althaniq and the United Federation, to name just two countries that sound like they could be on good terms with us, will be more than happy to see to it that we can become a better, more prosperous nation - as long as we promise to pay them back in kind when they have cash flow problems."
[effect]@@NAME@@ is regularly on the hook for foreign politicians' abstract art collections
[validity]must not have the Socialism policy

[option]"Forget about it; nobody will think we aren't taking their advice on board if you just check out anything that looks similar from the local library and do whatever that says," quips your Vice-Secretary for Access to Information, wafting about what appears to be a tattered copy of Policy Recommendations for Post-Independence @@NAME@@.
[effect]the government usually takes years on end to respond to complaints
Last edited by Tinhampton on Sun May 22, 2022 6:57 am, edited 4 times in total.
The Self-Administrative City of TINHAMPTON (pop. 319,372): Saffron Howard, Mayor (UCP); Alexander Smith, WA Delegate-Ambassador

Authorships & co-authorships: SC#250, SC#251, Issue #1115, SC#267, GA#484, GA#491, GA#533, GA#540, GA#549, SC#356, GA#559, GA#562, GA#567, GA#578, SC#374, GA#582, SC#375, GA#589, GA#590, SC#382, SC#385*, GA#597, GA#607
Other achievements: Cup of Harmony 73 champions; Philosopher-Queen of Sophia; possibly very controversial; *author of the most popular WA resolution ever
Who am I, really? 46yo Tory woman w/Asperger's; Cambridge graduate; currently reading nothing much

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Verdant Haven
Issues Editor
 
Posts: 1111
Founded: Feb 26, 2013
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Verdant Haven » Mon May 23, 2022 10:45 am

I'm well acquainted with the idea of paywalls for scholarly output, which are sadly quite common these days, but this seems to be suggesting that there is a paywall for a human rights report that is so tremendous, it threatens the economic wellbeing of an entire country. I think the difference between a few pounds/dollars/euros, or even a few hundred, and "multiple times our annual GDP" or "a few billion" isn't bridgeable in this context – that just isn't a believable starting point.

Following on that, how is this considered "a well-publicised dossier" if its contents are so secret and expensive that nobody knows what they are? If the price is that high, it would not be well-regarded, well-known, or relevant to basically anyone. The idea that a nation is so ignorant of international norms that it literally doesn't know what human rights are without being handed a checklist, and that there aren't thousands of people who'd be more than willing to point out the obvious starting points, is stretching credulity.

Issue #494 is related, as you say, but is also extremely specific in that it is targeted 100% at corporal punishment. I think you could quite readily write an issue that looks at the economic challenges of improving human rights without excessive overlap with that previous issue, and wouldn't need to rely on the concept of a nation unable to afford the cost of a single article, much less a report specifically created for that nation.

Alternately, if you want to go after the idea of academic paywalls, there should be a fair amount of information out there about the institutions that have been boycotting Elsevier – the world's largest academic journal publisher. Places like the University of California System and MIT have cut off their contracts, as have hundreds of others. You could probably get a pretty good issue out of this on the basis of educational institutions (possibly funded by taxpayer money) generating content that they then don't have access to without paying exorbitant amounts.

At any rate, I think both the topic of the costs of human rights compliance and the topic of academic paywalls are very reasonable ones. I would just look for a more believable route to it.
- Verdant Haven


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