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William G. Bray

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William G. Bray
William G. Bray.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th district
In office
January 3, 1967 – January 3, 1975
Preceded byRichard L. Roudebush
Succeeded byDavid W. Evans
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 7th district
In office
January 3, 1951 – January 3, 1967
Preceded byJames E. Noland
Succeeded byJohn T. Myers
Personal details
BornJune 17, 1903
Mooresville, Indiana, U.S.
DiedJune 4, 1979(1979-06-04) (aged 75)
Martinsville, Indiana, U.S.
Alma materIndiana University Law School (Juris doctor, 1927)
OccupationAttorney
AwardsSilver Star
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Army Reserve
Years of service1941–1945
Rankcaptain

William Gilmer Bray (June 17, 1903 – June 4, 1979) was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Indiana.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Why China's Social Credit System Is Worse Than You Think

Transcription

This exploration was made possible by CuriosityStream, The year is 2084. A Chinese citizen with an authentic Chinese name, Winston Smith, has decided to venture from his apartment to a seedier part of the city. But he isn’t looking for a typical dark alley product or service. No. He’s purchasing a forbidden blank paper book, a journal to write down his true thoughts on his life, on the party. He’s going to commit ‘thought crime’ against the state on the privacy of a page. Many of you may have recognized this as a reference to George Orwell’s 1984, when the main character Winston Smith goes and buys a book to write in, and begins his journey of questioning society, away from the spying telescreens of the state, away from the stare of Big Brother. Fortunately for that Winston Smith in 1984, he doesn't live in a world of digital surveillance. Unfortunately for our Winston Smith in the year 2084, as soon as he searched for blank books on China’s largest shopping site, Alibaba, the system flagged him. The same happened when he searched China’s largest search engine, Baidu, for nearby bookstores. His phone tracked his GPS movements on his way to the store. And the state made note of the bank transaction when he finally purchased the book. So he’s immediately arrested and taken to prison room 101 for reeducation. The point is that even George Orwell only imagined a world where your TV spied on you, not our world of all-encompassing digital surveillance. Ok, that was an over exaggerated example. Let’s look at something that actually happens today. You’re in China, and you’ve been working without a day off for the past few months, and decide that you want to take a vacation. You go to an airline’s website, enter your personal and financial details. You’ve been approved a few days off work, your credit card is paid off, and you’re looking forward to visiting friends in another city. But when you hit the purchase button, the online system rejects you, referring to the Supreme Court as the reason why you are unable to purchase a ticket. Evidently, you’re blacklisted. Now this scenario has actually happened in China. 23 million people have been barred from purchasing domestic flights due to their low social credit scores, according to official government statistics. (“Once discredited, limited everywhere”) (2). Now what is social credit? What distinguishes social credit from say, just a credit score, like we’re accustomed to in the West? In the West a credit score, at its most basic, is a number representing how worthy you are of a loan, how much debt you can take on and pay off. It’s financial. Social credit includes the financial stuff, but also much more than that. Imagine if your credit score was also affected by the people you chose to associate with, your political affiliation, how many kids you had, how many hours a day you gamed or browsed social media, your volunteer work (or lack thereof), your faith. All your spending habits, all your day to day behaviors amalgamated into a single number that not just some company can see, not just the government can see, but all your friends and family, all your nosy neighbors. Imagine the pressure and the consequences something that could have. That’s what we’re going to explore today. China’s infant, yet developing social credit system. Because the social credit system is not what Orwell imagined, at least not yet. Part of that is because the system is not fully operational, and probably won’t be for another few years. In fact, the current system is not unified at all; it's several different regional and private pilot projects working independently from one another. (3) To understand the rationale behind the social credit system, we have to take a look at the various ways that the Communist Party of China has sought to control its citizens since it took control of the country in 1949. This branch of digital social credit may be new, but it’s roots are old. The collectivization of farms under Chairman Mao meant that individuals were measured as part of a group- members who did not pull their weight were penalized and pressured by others in the commune to do more, and to do better. (4) The Danwei, or “Work Unit” system provided a similar structure but for urban workers. Individual danwei were basically work communes, and became the central organizing unit in urban Chinese society beginning in the 1950s. Danwei were ranked by the Party based on their political standing, and the ranking of a danwei would determine the amount of publicly rationed goods that the group would receive. (5) Each danwei maintained a personnel file on their members, which included things like work history, social background, and political attitudes. Promotions and other rewards were tied to these files, and each danwei was expected to work in concert with national security organizations in policing the activity of their members. Those who held the wrong political beliefs or did not pull their weight at work could be kicked out of the danwei and blacklisted from joining another, preventing access to public goods and to other work. (5) The danwei system evolved into the hukou, or housing registration system in the 1980s following the death of Mao and the slow transition to a capitalist economy. The hukou system tracked where people lived, worked, or went to school, but broke down as urbanization rapidly increased. (5) The range of methods that the Party has employed to try and control its citizens is best viewed through the lens of the cultural revolution, which lasted ten years from 1966 until 1976, and turned Chinese society completely on its head. The goal was to reinforce the presence of the state in citizen’s private lives. Newspaper, radio, and bulletin boards were used to broadcast the messages of the party, mobilizing thousands to wave Mao’s book of quotations and reeducate so-called ‘reactionary elements’ of the party. Thousands were prosecuted- tortured, from developed urban centers to remote, rural areas, and armed conflict broke out between the Red Guards, other organizations, and regular army units. The impact of such intense state-sanctioned civil violence on Chinese society is hard to measure. What can be safely said is that the scars of the cultural revolution are still present, and that has manifested itself in a general distrust of authority, particularly distrust in the Party. (7;8) During the 1990s, the Party sought to extend control over the newest frontier, the internet, through the Golden Shield – or Great Firewall – that blocks sites, filters results, and censors certain topics, all the while monitoring the online activities of Chinese citizens. (6) Check out my video “How China Controls the Internet” to learn more about that. And now comes the social credit system, the “Big Brother”-esque monitoring network that will track all sorts of data, from the items you purchase to the hobbies you dedicate your time to, all to determine how good of a citizen you are. The Chinese government argues that the social credit system will be a way to increase trust and accountability within Chinese society- (9) to “make trustworthy people benefit everywhere and untrustworthy people restricted everywhere” The system will work to enforce laws and court decisions, and encourage good behavior. Officials say it’s a necessary step because of China’s rapidly developing economy; government monitoring is required to prevent crime and ensure a smoother transition to an urban, developed population. (10) The Party has outlined its plans for a finished system, which will be divided into four separate categories, the performance and good behavior of local governments, commercial enterprises, local judicial systems, and finally, citizens themselves. (9) In 2014, the Chinese government authorized eight tech companies, including well-known names like Alibaba and Tencent, to begin creating their own commercial pilot programs. Many regional governments have done the same. The government is analyzing the data from these pilots as it plans it own integrated system for the future. Alibaba’s program is called Sesame Credit, which analyzes all activity across Alibaba’s platforms – shopping, entertainment, internet use and messaging- financial and online payment programs – to develop a single numerical score. Doing things like playing video games constantly or not paying your bills on time will drop your score, whereas making “responsible” purchases, like diapers, or donating to charities will raise it. (11) A high enough score allows access to discounted tickets, deposit waivers on hotel rooms and car rentals, and even a priority visa application process. (12) Baihe, the largest dating site in China, has linked its service to Sesame Credit, giving those with better scores more prominent placement within its network. Many people are choosing to publicly disclose their Sesame Credit score to potential lovers as an indication of their good standing within society. (13) The end goal of these pilot programs is to create a centralized database that encourages trust. The party argues that this is necessary because while the Chinese Central Bank has financial data on most of its citizens, the majority lack a traditional credit history. (3) The government’s official narrative also highlights fraud and crime reduction, since people will no longer be able to take advantage of China’s size and large economy to move from region to region peddling fraudulent activity. (14) And to a certain extent, the government’s narrative is true. Regional governments have set up these pilot social credit systems, and have had moderate success in encouraging the kind of behaviors they want. Like the pilot programs tech companies set up, these regional governments measure a range of different activities. Getting a traffic ticket will lower your score, while a drunk driving case will cause it to plummet. Volunteering and charitable donations will raise your score by a set amount, and doing truly exemplary things in your personal life, like caring for your elders, can greatly increase your standing. Every aspect of your life is monitored, and will affect your score. (10) And as you may have noticed, this is mostly a rewards-based system, at least for now. High scoring residents in some towns have their pictures shown in public places, and rewards are handed out to those with the highest ratings – including discounts on heating bills and better terms on bank loans. It is the threat of losing points, and thus access to these rewards, which encourages people to change their behavior. And so part of the efficacy of the program so far is in linking rewards to this giant monitoring system – it’s governance with the carrot, and not the stick. And yet that really doesn’t tell the whole story because the government definitely still has a big stick to hit people with, even if they’re not trying to flaunt it. The ambiguity of the social credit program gives party officials a great deal of unilateral power in deciding who has behaved in an undesirable way, and then punishing them for it. So as you would expect, some arbitrary decisions have already been made, serving as a canary in the coalmine, warning of the initial abuse within the social credit system. For example, Li Xiaolin, a lawyer, was blacklisted in 2016. A written apology he had submitted to a court the previous year was deemed insincere. The court found his apology insincere partly because it was dated April 1st, as in ‘April Fools’, and the court didn’t even notify Mr. Li of this peculiar conclusion. (16) A similar decision was handed down to an investigative journalist, who was fined by a court. Though he sent the payment, it was not received, and he was not notified until he tried to purchase plane tickets, and was unable to do so. He couldn’t remove his name from the blacklist, and has found no recourse in appealing to the court. (16) Further, according to Human Rights Watch, while some regional governments name their best citizens in order to hold up good role models, they also post the complete personal information of those with the lowest ratings – including pictures and addresses – in order to place social pressure on them to alter their behavior. Over 7 million citizens were “named and shamed” in this way by the end of 2017. The Supreme People’s Court of China has also blacklisted over 170,000 people from holding senior positions in private companies because they have defaulted on their debts. These people are also prohibited from purchasing plane and train tickets until their debt has been repaid. (18) An app developed in a province in Northern China maps, in real time, the location of debtors. Users are encouraged to follow debtors around and determine if they are living “outside their means” and are able to repay their debts, providing an avenue for users to blow the whistle on complete strangers. (17) As China’s State Council explained, "the new system will reward those who report acts of breach of trust". You can imagine by now how this could all slowly get out of control, or rather, into full state control. So, yes, maybe by linking rewards and positive outcomes to a monitoring system, the social credit system can seem benevolent at first- rewarded persons with high enough scores, it may have a positive impact on their lives. But the mass data collection, and the arbitrary nature in which punishments can be meted out, represent a very real threat to citizens’ financial security, privacy, and overall well being. The government can bar political opponents from being able to travel, access housing, financial or employment resources. The potential for abuse is readily apparent. Now, some Western experts and journalists have said that concerns about the social credit system this early in its development are overblown and premature. It's not a unified system. There are some abuses, but they’re not that bad, yet. And other people are down in the comments, you may have already seen them. saying, “What about US privacy violations and big data mining?!” to which I say, “Yes. Good example”. Social media companies, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook- they're trying to change your behavior. They’re trying to keep you on their platforms for as long as possible, even if it means addiction. The longer you're there, the more ads they serve for clothes and gadgets, and the more data they can mine from you to sell to other companies, so they can sell you more clothes and gadgets. All the while, you see beautiful people and friends with clothes and gadgets, so you're even more primed when the top google result is for a camera you just happened to email your coworker about. You're being nudged. China's social credit system is also decentralized nudging at this point, but the goal isn’t just to distract or to increase stock prices, it's a holistic attempt to influence all aspects of behavior in a way that reinforces the centrifugality of the party. The social credit system is not a jackbooted crackdown on citizens like the Cultural Revolution. Instead, it is designed to give wide lateral to companies, cities, and neighborhoods implementing the pilots- space to develop both punishments and incentives to push conformity- to change both the actions and thoughts of the Chinese population, not through violence or force but through the process of gradual normative behavioral change. The primary purpose of the social credit system is not to punish those who have committed crimes: it is to alter the way that individuals think, so they would never even consider committing a crime in the first place. “We are not interested in those stupid crimes that you have committed. The Party is not interested in the overt act: the thought is all we care about. We do not merely destroy our enemies, we change them.” (1) Of course, if Big Brother were to come out of 1984 and into China, he would tell all citizens to spend time educating themselves. He even might tell them to watch a documentary on CuriosityStream. CuriosityStream is a streaming service that offers over 2,000 documentaries and nonfiction titles from some of the world's best filmmakers, including exclusive originals. Originally founded by John Hendricks, founder of the Discovery Channel, it’s packed full of content about science, nature, technology, society, and lots of history. If you want to keep learning about modern china, I can recommend a series called, “Curious Minds: China” a 7 episode deep-dive into China’s past, present, and future. After that, take a look through CuriosityStream’s history section, which has ancient history, biographies, prehistory, even niche history like megastructures and aviation. Unlimited access starts at $2.99 a month, but for this community the first 30 days are free if you follow the link in the description and use promo code theexploration at sign-up. So head on over to curiositystream.com/theexploration and use promo code theexploration for 30 days free access to the world’s top documentaries and nonfiction series. Later guys.

Biography

Born on a farm near Mooresville, Indiana, Bray attended the public schools of Mooresville, Indiana. He was graduated from Indiana University Law School at Bloomington in 1927 and was admitted to the bar the same year.

He served as prosecuting attorney of the fifteenth judicial district of Indiana, Martinsville, Indiana from 1926 to 1930. He commenced the private practice of law in Martinsville, Indiana, in 1930.

Called to active duty from the US Army Reserve June 21, 1941, with the rank of captain and served with a tank company throughout the Pacific campaign, receiving the Silver Star. After the war, he was transferred to Military Government and served nine months in Korea as deputy property custodian. Bray was released from active duty in November 1946 with the rank of colonel. He returned to private law practice in Martinsville, Indiana.

Bray was elected as a Republican to the Eighty-second and to the eleven succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1951 – January 3, 1975). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1974 to the Ninety-fourth Congress. He resumed the practice of law.

Named to be a commissioner to the American Battle Monuments Commission by President Gerald Ford from 1975 to 1978.

Representative Bray and other members of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics visit the Marshall Space Flight Center on March 9, 1962 to gather first-hand information of the nation's space exploration program.
Representative Bray and other members of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics visit the Marshall Space Flight Center on March 9, 1962 to gather first-hand information of the nation's space exploration program.

Resided in Martinsville, Indiana, where he died June 4, 1979. He was interred in White Lick Cemetery, Mooresville, Indiana.

Bray was an Indiana Freemason, and in 1993, William G. Bray Commandery No. 65 of the Masonic-related Knights Templar of Indiana was chartered in Mooresville in his honor and memory.[1]

References

  • United States Congress. "William G. Bray (id: B000778)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
Specific
  1. ^ "Commanderies". www.indianaknightstemplar.com. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
James E. Noland
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 7th congressional district

1951-1967
Succeeded by
John T. Myers
Preceded by
Richard L. Roudebush
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 6th congressional district

1967-1975
Succeeded by
David W. Evans

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.

This page was last edited on 16 May 2019, at 08:27
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