political platform

“The best is the enemy of the good.”

These are jumbled (and very repetitive) notes on my idealizations of politics and how to organize our society. 

Presentation style:

  • Grievances
    • tl;dr
    • Summary
    • Exposition
    • Sources
    • Experts
    • Dissent

Patterns of failure:

  1. industry becomes powerful
  2. government tries to appease industry
  3. industry becomes unwieldly
  4. industry collapses
  5. government forces industry correction

For healthcare:

  1. original attempt was 1945, universal healthcare, under Truman, failed due to AMA opposition & fears of integrated hospitals; 75% approval rating, according to "One Nation, Uninsured" by Jill Quadagno. (According to June 13th 2005 op ed by Paul Krugman.)
  2. by 90s, Clinton's attempted reform tried to be accommodating to industry, but was still opposed by industry.
  3. by 2009, Obama could finally get industry on his side, but only through deep concessions (mandate, and no public option). This concession upset a lot of democrats, unsurprisingly.
  4. now, republican inciting of opposition to the ACA is only making things harder for the industry, and I feel like it could (ironically) lead to some kind of single payer system soon. (Because repealing & interfering with the ACA is poised to make things so much worse that there will be a great deal of support for more drastic measures.)

The most incredible plot twist to all this would be if republicans went ahead and passed a single payer/medicare for all, universal coverage, system, which I think would in time become among the most popular things the government does. But they can't, because success of such a system would itself be a blow to their ideology (which is weird cause their behavior implies a "do as I say, not as I do" relationship to their ideology anyway).

When things work well people stop noticing them and then they dismantle the safeguards put in place to keep things working well, not realizing the value & importance of those safeguards. Paul Krugman once wrote of a term "generational forgetting", which he said came from the drug rehab world, where a drug would scourge a society, and then people would begin warning & preventing the drug abuse effectively, but after a generation passes & the living memory of the scourge was lost, the whole process would be replayed. He brought it up in the context of financial regulation, much of which was implemented in the 30s & 40s following the Great Depression, but which was increasingly undone in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, arguably enabling the financial collapse of 2008. Other examples include vaccinations, environmental regulations—and a similar issue exists in the visual effects industry. The goal of visual effects is to look real, indistinguishable from reality. So when an artist does a really good job they're more likely to go unnoticed. Their ideal is to be mistaken for reality.

 

Commonly divisive non-negotiable positions:

  • Pro-choice, pro quality of life not pro quantity
  • Drugs - decriminalization & healthcare pivot
  • Health insurance - a government/public option; medicaid for all
  • Social Security - taking care of the elderly is a moral obligation
    • Many “social safety nets”—SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.—are important. People mistakenly think the goal is to “raise people out of poverty” but the actual intention is to prevent people from falling into poverty. It's not meant to make them successful, but to keep their head above water.
  • Religion—O.K. if it's privately held; work towards doctrine of hell = child abuse
  • Education—testing-based higher eduation, more STEAM funding, less standardized tests
  • Genetically Modified Organisms—a crucial technology for the future of human civilization (like vaccines & climate change requires well-informed people making the case).
  • Vaccines—a crucial technology for the future of humanity (but require educated people making educated arguments; climate change requires this too)
  • Simplify & streamline bueracracy
  • Taxation - yeah, we should probably try to make it simpler, maybe redistribute against the wealthy
    • Though I think it's important to realize that wealth and income inequality could be exacerbated by, for instance, a guaranteed basic income, and that the issues of wealth/income inequality is distinct from— and approximate for—the issue of poverty.
    • We should use Piketty's work to argue for some kind of logarithmic tax, where the more money you make, the large the percentage that goes to the government. I should really work out the details of how this should work, and find a way to explain it simply
      • People like a flat tax because it appeals to their sense of fairness, but it's actually incredibly unfair. And same with consumption taxes. Anyone who wants either of those is either a very wealthy (and unpatriotic) person that wants to keep more of their money, or someone who doesn't really understand revenue, or taxation. (Or they could be outright anti-government.)
  • Other voting schemes, term limits, transparency, checks and balances, voting on issues rather than candidates, compulsory voting, demarchy, pay (raise or lower?)
  • Take age into account when sentencing younger offenders (remember that the car rental industry doesn't rent to people under 25 because they've realized that our brains are still developing and below that age there's a big increase in the liability). We sentence teenagers to life for their really bad decisions,
  • We must make a better effort to stop destroying random people's lives because our fear encourages us to adopt a "better safe than sorry" approach to crime. End money bail. End the use of drug test kits. End the drug war. ("I loved when Bush came out and said, 'We are losing the war against drugs.' You know what that implies? There's a war being fought, and the people on drugs are winning it." ~Bill Hicks) Treat people who abuse drugs as having a problem. It might not even be addiction, maybe stress should be included in the issues we address. (Like rat park might suggest.)

Could Bernie Sanders have won? Sure. Last August a very small meteoroid could have fallen and conked Trump on the head—not enough to kill him, but perhaps just enough to impede his speech, such that many of the homophobes who supported him would think perhaps he had caught "the gays" and stayed home in November. Something else would've had to caused Hillary to lose the primary too—but, before you scoff, is it really any less likely that what actually happened? A conman, openly bragging of sexual assault, plainly stating he could shoot someone and not lose supporters. If the word deplorable weren't appropriate, when would it be?

Maybe Bernie could have won under less extraordinary circumstances, no one can know, it's a counterfactual. Some people really liked Hillary, some really liked Bernie. Some liked both, some liked neither. Some who supported one loathed the other, on both sides. I'm not aware of any formal studies of the relative proportions of any of these groups, if we wanted to proportion blame, which would be pointless, since we'd surly disagree on which stance is wrong. (Both? Neither? Where are the Naders & Steins?)

If you still think Trump & Hillary are indistinguishable, you must consider the possibility that you are not as in touch with reality as you believe you are.

Topics that seems have broader support

  • sentencing reform — greater judicial discretion, eliminate mandatory sentencing, stop incarcerating non-violent drug offenses, save prisons for actually violent people
  • end mass incarceration — stop imprisoning non-violent drug offenders
  • decriminalize marijuana
  • simplify tax law (except progressive tax is hard to get support for)
  • simplify everything — government forms should avoid paper, everything should be electronic
    • but that arxiv paper suggested an IT project would eventually bankrupt a major corporation, so we should really study how to go about updating systems in discrete chunks, in a way that keeps costs down, doesn't get behind schedule, doesn't over promise, is achievable, etc.

Other thoughts.

I don't need your money, I need your enthusiasm, I need you to persuade everyone around you. We don't need any money, we have better ideas, and better ideas are more valuable than anything.

People object that voting isn't effective; that politics is messy so corruption is inevitable; that a two party system is a scam; that personal-scale acts are more effective at producing positive changes. But every one of these is heavily flawed: just because an act is less effective than some other not-mutually-exclusive acts is no reason not to partcipate. Politics is the process of gathering people with a diverse range of opinions to decide how to balance their opinions about how to behave collectively — if we each had our own political party able to perfectly align with our personal views it would defeat the purpose of politics in the first place. Plus the hermits would rule totally. 

Duverger's law must be popularized.

Libertarians are fond of saying they're "forced" at "gun point" to pay taxes, but it turns out you can't go to jail for simply not paying your taxes. You can go to jail for cheating on your taxes, or committing fraud. The IRS can't seize refunds, and wages, and property, and other assets, if you owe taxes, but they can't show up with guns and take you to jail. (Granted, why should we expect libertarians to actually know what they're talking about?)

(Original notes)

-Manhattan/Apollo project style approach to artificial intelligence & robotics
-100% unemployment (perhaps a multi-decade transition via reduced hours defining a work week and increasingly strong government support for universal necessities; possibly a guaranteed basic income)
-drop smartphones on North Korea
or maybe we make a list of areas of the world we’re concerned about and we hold a contest for people to submit new alternative ideas for foreign policy issues and then we get a panel of diverse experts to match some new alternative ideas with good problem areas, including experts on those areas and then we experiment! and we learn from our mistakes and adapt our future foreign policy behavior to best achieve our goals
I’ve been thinking today about the revolutionary war, and how european warfare at the time had soldiers lining up and firing guns at one another and how absurd and unbelievably stupid that was. Well our job should be to convey to every single person on the planet that all warfare is equally absurd and stupid, and a waste of resources and their precious lives and limited time. That all wars, and violence more generally, merely increase the total amount of work our species must perform. It merely cancels out the hard work of others [Read In Praise of Idleness].

We ought to make the case that 21st century warfare is to be fought through currency and economic negotiation, rather than with bullets and bombs.

-decriminalize drugs, use science to establish best correctional methods
whether rehab or hallucinogens + psychotherapy or whatever

-from birth to age 18 (at least, maybe 25? or their whole life?), every child has every (basic) need met by the state (by the parents is fine too, but the state is there if the parents are not) healthcare, education, food, shelter, social support (friends, counselors, etc.) (ideally this would be true for every person eventually — that would be the goal; first nationally, then globally)

-tax the churches (or maybe to start, tax churches that wish to make political statements)
-strong financial regulation ensuring banks cannot take risks that endanger the rest of us
-atheism — bronze age superstitions have no place in 21st century governing
-equality — global equality; disassemble the American empire,
-creationism and intelligent design are not science
-evolution and anthropogenic climate change are not hotly debated within the scientific communities that study those phenomena,

they are well-verified scientific facts of reality, which have already had their day battling alternative hypotheses, and the evidence has spoken, there is no longer sufficient doubt to excuse inaction.

The bad news is we have rapidly approached and surpassed one dire “point of no return” after another, with very little hope of doing much about it in the foreseeable future — not only is carbon dioxide pollution not being reduced, not only is it growing, but the rate of growth continues to increase rapidly. And repeatedly we find our predictions being revised upwards, we keep finding our worst-case predictions exceeded, becoming average-case outcomes.

At this point many of the more destructive consequences are unavoidable — the seas are going to rise significantly, it will displace an unprecedented number of people all around the globe and disrupt a lot of things in ways we won’t even expect. Which brings us to the bright side; The good news is that we are also rapidly expanding our collective brain power, global access to education and the resources to solve complex problems are growing so quickly one can hardly even keep up with what is going on. We must remember just how quickly humans can change their collective behavior when motivated. The Allied war effort (and really the Axis war effort too), illustrate how massively our capacity to produce exceeds our basic needs, and this excess has grown exponentially since that time. The World Wars, the space race, the arms race, and the Manhattan project all illustrate how quickly we can solve unbelievably complex problems when we really dedicate ourselves to the task.

The Manhattan project in particular might as well have been straight out of a hollywood move:
a massive war breaks out, spreading across continents, scientists write a letter to the President about the possibility of a new kind of weapon, orders of magnitude more powerful than any previous weapon, but it’s purely theoretical, and requires incredibly difficult tasks, roughly similar to taking a thoroughly mixed combination of one teaspoon powdered sugar evenly distributed throughout a quart of flour, (only really much much more difficult, because U-235 is more similar to U-238 than powdered sugar is to flour, which is essentially a different kind of powdered sugar); or in the case of plutonium, it’s essentially the old dream of the alchemists to transmute lead into gold — all the plutonium on the planet was created by humans in nuclear reactions. This is why so few nations have developed nuclear weapons in the years since, it turns out it’s just an incredibly difficult task, I’ve only described a tiny bit of the difficulties of procuring the raw materials, the details of shaping those materials into useful parts, and getting those parts to work predictably, carry a huge number of other challenges, which is really lucky of us that we live in a universe where such weapons are so difficult to construct. But all that just makes it that much more impressive that we did it in that time period, and as swiftly as we did.

-nature is brutal and we are alone, but we have each other and together we have a great capacity for alleviating the brutality of nature, we ought not allow naysaying to interfere with using our capacity to improve our lives, specifically in the areas of economics, and firearm safety, where ignorant people frequently proclaim “there is nothing we could have done,” when the reality is that there is plenty we could do.

-drastic cut to the military, we use the money we save to buy our enemies’ armies.

-scientocracy — use the scientific method to make policy decisions that can be evaluated objectively.

-new holiday, October 13th, in celebration of the day free markets died, as evidenced by Hank Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, essentially nationalizing the banks, temporarily, by spending $125 billion on preferred stock for the nine largest investment banks in the country.

While the nationalization of those banks did

If this isn’t evidence of the failures of the free markets, what could be?
-rivers on fire
-fertilizer plant exploding
-oil spills
-coal mine collapse
-poisoned drinking water
-healthcare and insurance costs
-higher education costs
-vehicle safety (think Ralph Nader)
-“Yes, I found a flaw,” Alan Greenspan said of his free-market ideology in October 2008, ten days after Paulson nationalized the banks (recall that Greenspan is a disciple of Ayn Rand)
-2008 was a failure of both government and the markets, but insofar as it was a failure of government it was a failure of insufficient oversight, or insufficient regulation or policing, whereas the failure of the market was in terms of morality, of risk management, of decision making, of foresight. The government did save us from much much more severe consequences, as is clearly illustrated by how much worse the aftermath of the Great Depression was, with bread and soup lines for more than a decade afterward. But it never should have been in the position of having to bail out the financial sector (or the auto sector, or the housing sector…) because it never should have allowed for businesses to take on so much risk.

-we all have electricity because we decided, as a society (through our government), that electricity ought to be available to everyone equally irrespective of one’s location — we ought to do the same with internet access
-if we could develop solar panel production to the point where we could give solar panels to everyone on the planet, that would go a very long way in improving the world
-we must declare ourselves citizens of the world, members of humanity, and the animal kingdom, and life itself.

-IMPORTANT NEW IDEA

there should be no stock market
studies have shown that randomized strategies out perform all other investment strategies over the long term
so we form a new investment firm centered around completely transparent, randomized investment of the fund gains and losses are distributed proportionally to each participants contribution — so no one can ever lose everything no gets paid for doing this, though some fraction needs to go to overhead. this investment strategy I believe has also been shown to have a stabilizing effect on the overall markets, thus the larger it gets, the more stable the markets become, and the more interest it raises in this strategy itself actually, maybe instead of gains and  losses distributed proportional to the investment, maybe we bias the gains towards the smaller investors, and the losses towards the larger investors this way we encourage investors with less money to join us, and  discourage the sort of greedy shitheads everywhere else

-Lawrence Lessig, Elizabeth Warren, Brooksley Born, Robert Reich, Ralph Nader; these people all have a record of standing up for important issues that impact the average American, and the less fortunate among us, against many opponents, from politicians to corporations to just plain bad ideas and damaging artifacts of our social, political, or economic evolution (E.g. Lessig’s work on election reforms.) critics have commented on my endorsement of Warren that she is merely pandering to her electorate, in which case I ought to ask them what about her activities as a senator indicate to me her supporter that she is merely giving me lip service?

I ought to take a serious interest in critic’s claims. At least give them the benefit of the doubt. But if they prove to be wrong, or worse maliciously so, then they must be dismissed and disregarded in the future along with the plethora of other worthless voices.

-every citizen gets a smart phone, which are used for a large variety of tasks, from environmental warnings to tax filing, renewing your license.

we’ll need new technologies for security

citizens use their phones to elect representatives, with apps that help users exert their preferences on individual issues through their representatives

and complete transparency, so we call all see exactly what our representatives are doing and how they vote on each bill.

-any nation which allows it’s citizens to go bankrupt on a chance illness has no business claiming it is the greatest nation on earth.

Same for any nation which allows it’s employers to pay employees too little to feed and house themselves.

Same for any nation which allows absolutely anyone to purchase unlimited firearms and ammo without any sort of sanity check.

-no more voting age, voting eligibility should be based on comprehending the basic structure of our political system;

passing a simple civics test ought to be the only requirement — if a 12-year-old understands the checks and balances, three branches, and the basics of our government, they ought to be allowed to participate in choosing their representation. (Child rights.)-what the transparency (lack of privacy) and permanence of the internet (and social networking) should bring, are an increased understanding that all people have good and bad moments, make embarrassing choices at times, and deserve to be given a chance to explain themselves

-do people realize we are currently living in the turmoil of what is likely the largest and most radical technological and social changes in the history of civilization?

-everyone will believe things that aren’t true. But each of us should also strive to recognize, weed out, and discard anything that we believe without supporting evidence. And we should also strive to reconsider old beliefs in light of new information. This is the ideal of the scientific process. Applied to the nature of life, it very strongly rules out essentially all organized religions that make any claims about existence whatsoever.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Bill_of_Rights

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “economic bill of rights”:
which would guarantee:
Employment, with a living wage
Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
Housing
Medical care
Education
Social security

I think we should start a political platform with the goal of making 100% of people unemployed by 2030. Liberals & progressives have been accused of this as a goal for a long time, so I say we embrace it, and actively pursue it. Besides, 100% unemployment is an inevitable conclusion to capitalism anyway.

If you want to know how the universe is, you must look at it. You can’t just think about it, or deduce a priori how the universe is, or should be, with logic or insight alone — you have to actually observe things, record their behavior. Mathematics and logic in contrast do not really require observation of reality to expand across new frontiers.

Quote

BROOKE: Mark Leibovich wrote last year that, quote, "Skilled politicians have a proud tradition of conveying utter contempt for their profession, especially when they're running to keep their job."

(As recounted by Brooke Gladstone on the On The Media podcast.)

“If you never miss a plane, you're spending too much time at the airport.”
~George Stigler (economist)

“We must all do what we must do, for if we do not, then what we must do does not get done.”
~Chung Mee

According to an anthropologist interviewed on Hidden Brain Episode 13: Terrorism, Margaret Mead taught him anthropology is basically a response to Terrance's dictum, “Nothing Human is Alien to Me.”

“I like paying taxes. With them, I buy civilization.”
~Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. 

Bumper sticker idea: Support the troops, pay your taxes.

Three Ideas to Revolutionize Warfare for the 21st Century

  1. First and foremost: use well funded, accomplished, scientific investigators to figure out how to quantify the efficacy of each approach. (Most importantly would be figuring out how to best de-escalate radicalism, how to guide people to secularism and atheism.)
  2. Drop smartphones, pre-loaded with entertainment — art, music, movies, poetry; with information — science, technology, history, civics, world religions. Drop these smartphones in any area where there is poverty and ignorance. 
  3. Aggressively pursue arms & ammo manufacturers, and offer them really great incentives to leave their current businesses in favor of subsidized farming (or other productive rather than destructive industries). Guarantees on buying their crops or farm animals. Monitor how closely they keep their end of the deal.

I'm watching the show Mindhunter on Netflix, about the FBI learning about serial killers. I'm only on episode 3. In episode 2 there was this really interesting conflict between the more traditional attitudes of the FBI, I think they say something like, "our job is to electrocute them, not excuse their behavior". The counter argument was something like, "how do we hunt crazy unless we know how crazy thinks?" 

But I'm getting excited because over the last few years I began to think about capital punishment in what I think is a new and novel way. I might have written about it elsewhere, possibly on this page. Wait I should look for that before I continue.

List of Complaints (problem areas)

Healthcare costs
Minimum wage (should be living wage)
Prisoner treatment (should focus on rehabilitation & education not punishment)
Mandatory sentencing (more broadly the criminalization of drug abuse)
Eyewitness testimony

Costs of higher education
Police accountability
Banking regulation
Environmental regulation

Critical thinking skills (and challenging religion, tradition, and authority)
Basic science comprehension

Simplify ALL regulations, streamline all application processes.
— we can improve these systems both in terms of their efficacy and comprehensibility, simultaneously. (The answer to thick bureaucracy & burdensome regulation is *not* to eliminate regulation but to review & optimize it.)

Leverage the internet & technology to accomplish these goals.

Important design principles:
—checks & balances (create multiple branches with competing interests & powers, see nontransitive dice)
—scientific method (test information, reward people for proving claims wrong, do your damnedest to disprove claims)

(Tidying up the original notes)

-Manhattan/Apollo project style approach to artificial intelligence & robotics
-100% unemployment (perhaps a multi-decade transition via reduced hours defining a work week and increasingly strong government support for universal necessities; possibly a guaranteed basic income)
-drop smartphones on North Korea
or maybe we make a list of areas of the world we’re concerned about and we hold a contest for people to submit new alternative ideas for foreign policy issues and then we get a panel of diverse experts to match some new alternative ideas with good problem areas, including experts on those areas and then we experiment! and we learn from our mistakes and adapt our future foreign policy behavior to best achieve our goals
I’ve been thinking today about the revolutionary war, and how european warfare at the time had soldiers lining up and firing guns at one another and how absurd and unbelievably stupid that was. Well our job should be to convey to every single person on the planet that all warfare is equally absurd and stupid, and a waste of resources and their precious lives and limited time. That all wars, and violence more generally, merely increase the total amount of work our species must perform. It merely cancels out the hard work of others [Read In Praise of Idleness].

We ought to make the case that 21st century warfare is to be fought through currency and economic negotiation, rather than with bullets and bombs.

-decriminalize drugs, use science to establish best correctional methods
whether rehab or hallucinogens + psychotherapy or whatever

-from birth to age 18 (at least, maybe 25? or their whole life?), every child has every (basic) need met by the state (by the parents is fine too, but the state is there if the parents are not) healthcare, education, food, shelter, social support (friends, counselors, etc.) (ideally this would be true for every person eventually — that would be the goal; first nationally, then globally)

-tax the churches (or maybe to start, tax churches that wish to make political statements)
-strong financial regulation ensuring banks cannot take risks that endanger the rest of us
-atheism — bronze age superstitions have no place in 21st century governing
-equality — global equality; dismantle the American empire,
-creationism and intelligent design are not science
-evolution and anthropogenic climate change are not hotly debated within the scientific communities that study those phenomena,

they are well-verified scientific facts of reality, which have already had their day battling alternative hypotheses, and the evidence has spoken, there is no longer sufficient doubt to excuse inaction. (But education is required to convince people of the outcome of these historical debates.)

The bad news is we have rapidly approached and surpassed one dire “point of no return” after another, with very little hope of doing much about it in the foreseeable future — not only is carbon dioxide pollution not being reduced, not only is it growing, but the rate of growth continues to increase rapidly. And repeatedly we find our predictions being revised upwards, we keep finding our worst-case predictions exceeded, becoming average-case outcomes.

At this point many of the more destructive consequences are unavoidable — the seas are going to rise significantly, it will displace an unprecedented number of people all around the globe and disrupt a lot of things in ways we won’t even expect. Which brings us to the bright side; The good news is that we are also rapidly expanding our collective brain power, global access to education and the resources to solve complex problems are growing so quickly one can hardly even keep up with what is going on. We must remember just how quickly humans can change their collective behavior when motivated. The Allied war effort (and really the Axis war effort too), illustrate how massively our capacity to produce exceeds our basic needs, and this excess has grown exponentially since that time. The World Wars, the space race, the arms race, and the Manhattan project all illustrate how quickly we can solve unbelievably complex problems when we really dedicate ourselves to the task.

The Manhattan project in particular might as well have been straight out of a hollywood movie:
a massive war breaks out, spreading across continents, scientists write a letter to the President about the possibility of a new kind of weapon, orders of magnitude more powerful than any previous weapon, but it’s purely theoretical, and requires incredibly difficult tasks, roughly similar to taking a thoroughly mixed combination of one teaspoon powdered sugar evenly distributed throughout a quart of flour, (only really much much more difficult, because U-235 is more similar to U-238 than powdered sugar is to flour, which is essentially a different kind of powdered sugar); or in the case of plutonium, it's essentially the old dream of the alchemists to transmute lead into gold — all the plutonium on the planet was created by humans in nuclear reactions. This is why so few nations have developed nuclear weapons in the years since, it turns out it’s just an incredibly difficult task, I’ve only described a tiny bit of the difficulties of procuring the raw materials, the details of shaping those materials into useful parts, and getting those parts to work predictably, carry a huge number of other challenges, which is really lucky of us that we live in a universe where such weapons are so difficult to construct. But all that just makes it that much more impressive that we did it in that time period, and as swiftly as we did.

-nature is brutal and we are alone, but we have each other and together we have a great capacity for alleviating the brutality of nature, we ought not allow naysaying to interfere with using our capacity to improve our lives, specifically in the areas of economics, and firearm safety, where ignorant people frequently proclaim “there is nothing we could have done,” when the reality is that there is plenty we could do.

-drastic cut to the military, we use the money we save to buy our enemies' armies.

-scientocracy — use the scientific method to make policy decisions that can be evaluated objectively.

-new holiday, October 13th, in celebration of the day free markets died, as evidenced by Hank Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, essentially nationalizing the banks, temporarily, by spending $125 billion on preferred stock for the nine largest investment banks in the country.

While the nationalization of those banks did

If this isn't evidence of the failures of the free markets, what could be?
-rivers on fire
-fertilizer plant exploding
-oil spills
-coal mine collapse
-poisoned drinking water
-healthcare and insurance costs
-higher education costs
-vehicle safety (think Ralph Nader)
-“Yes, I found a flaw,” Alan Greenspan said of his free-market ideology in October 2008, ten days after Paulson nationalized the banks (recall that Greenspan is a disciple of Ayn Rand)
-2008 was a failure of both government and the markets, but insofar as it was a failure of government it was a failure of insufficient oversight, or insufficient regulation or policing, whereas the failure of the market was in terms of morality, of risk management, of decision making, of foresight. The government did save us from much much more severe consequences, as is clearly illustrated by how much worse the aftermath of the Great Depression was, with bread and soup lines for more than a decade afterward. But it never should have been in the position of having to bail out the financial sector (or the auto sector, or the housing sector…) because it never should have allowed for businesses to take on so much risk.

-we all have electricity because we decided, as a society (through our government), that electricity ought to be available to everyone equally irrespective of one's location — we ought to do the same with internet access
-if we could develop solar panel production to the point where we could give solar panels to everyone on the planet, that would go a very long way in improving the world
-we must declare ourselves citizens of the world, members of humanity, and the animal kingdom, and life itself.

-IMPORTANT NEW IDEA

there should be no stock market
studies have shown that randomized strategies out perform all other investment strategies over the long term
so we form a new investment firm centered around completely transparent, randomized investment of the fund gains and losses are distributed proportionally to each participants contribution — so no one can ever lose everything no gets paid for doing this, though some fraction needs to go to overhead. this investment strategy I believe has also been shown to have a stabilizing effect on the overall markets, thus the larger it gets, the more stable the markets become, and the more interest it raises in this strategy itself actually, maybe instead of gains and  losses distributed proportional to the investment, maybe we bias the gains towards the smaller investors, and the losses towards the larger investors this way we encourage investors with less money to join us, and  discourage the sort of greedy shitheads everywhere else

-Lawrence Lessig, Elizabeth Warren, Brooksley Born, Robert Reich, Ralph Nader; these people all have a record of standing up for important issues that impact the average American, and the less fortunate among us, against many opponents, from politicians to corporations to just plain bad ideas and damaging artifacts of our social, political, or economic evolution (E.g. Lessig’s work on election reforms.) critics have commented on my endorsement of Warren that she is merely pandering to her electorate, in which case I ought to ask them what about her activities as a senator indicate to me her supporter that she is merely giving me lip service?

I ought to take a serious interest in critic’s claims. At least give them the benefit of the doubt. But if they prove to be wrong, or worse maliciously so, then they must be dismissed and disregarded in the future along with the plethora of other worthless voices.

-every citizen gets a smart phone, which are used for a large variety of tasks, from environmental warnings to tax filing, renewing your license.

we’ll need new technologies for security

citizens use their phones to elect representatives, with apps that help users exert their preferences on individual issues through their representatives

and complete transparency, so we call all see exactly what our representatives are doing and how they vote on each bill.

-any nation which allows it’s citizens to go bankrupt on a chance illness has no business claiming it is the greatest nation on earth.

Same for any nation which allows it’s employers to pay employees too little to feed and house themselves.

Same for any nation which allows absolutely anyone to purchase unlimited firearms and ammo without any sort of sanity check.

-no more voting age, voting eligibility should be based on comprehending the basic structure of our political system;

passing a simple civics test ought to be the only requirement — if a 12-year-old understands the checks and balances, three branches, and the basics of our government, they ought to be allowed to participate in choosing their representation. (Child rights.)

-what the transparency (lack of privacy) and permanence of the internet (and social networking) should bring, are an increased understanding that all people have good and bad moments, make embarrassing choices at times, and deserve to be given a chance to explain themselves

-do people realize we are currently living in the turmoil of what is likely the largest and most radical technological and social changes in the history of civilization?

-everyone will believe things that aren’t true. But each of us should also strive to recognize, weed out, and discard anything that we believe without supporting evidence. And we should also strive to reconsider old beliefs in light of new information. This is the ideal of the scientific process. Applied to the nature of life, it very strongly rules out essentially all organized religions that make any claims about existence whatsoever.

Franklin D. Roosevelt's Second Bill of Rights:
which would guarantee:
Employment, with a living wage
Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
Housing
Medical care
Education
Social security

I think we should start a political platform with the goal of making 100% of people unemployed by 2030. Liberals & progressives have been accused of this as a goal for a long time, so I say we embrace it, and actively pursue it. Besides, 100% unemployment is an inevitable conclusion to capitalism anyway. To anyone who objects to this conclusion, consider the claims, “machines will never weld car frames better than humans” or “machines will never inspect those aforementioned welds better than humans” and then ask yourself why the statement “machines will never replace general human ingenuity” should be any different than the previous statements.

If you want to know how the universe is, you must look at it. You can't just think about it, or deduce a priori how the universe is, or should be, with logic or insight alone — you have to actually observe things, record their behavior. Mathematics and logic in contrast do not really require observation of reality to expand across new frontiers.

Political Superpositions

Superpositions are a concept from quantum mechanics, in which an atomic object (or small collection of atomic or subatomic objects), occupies multiple mutually exclusive states simultaneously. For example, a photon which passes through a polarizing filter angled at 45° will be then be in a superposition of the horizontal and vertical states, meaning that it has a 50% chance of passing through either a vertical or horizontal polarizing filter. Due to entanglement, the notion of superpositions on the atomic scale has no analogous phenomena in our everyday macroscopic lives.

However we're all familiar with terms like “mixed emotions” and uncertainty in decision making and other forms of undecidedness.

I think this notion of indeterminateness has value applied in some areas of politics, in particular in the areas of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), capital punishment, and the Pacific Trade Partnership (as well as controversial trade agreements of the past, like NAFTA).

In the case of healthcare, I wasn't for the ACA specifically, as it fell far short of the most preferable options, like a single payer system, or a single payer system for basic care and an optional private insurance for more complex or expensive care. But I was for the passage of the ACA because it was better than nothing. Unfortunately the only politically viable option is to include the existing industry in the reform, and that excludes any sort of single-payer-only reform.

In the case of capital punishment, I'm not *necessarily* against the idea, but I don't think the state should kill anyone until we can first determine it is the most humane option. That means first we must determine whether or not some people are unable to be rehabilitated, then we must determine whether or not those people can be kept locked away with other people safely or not, and if not, whether its more humane to keep them in life in prison for ever.

Before executing anyone we should also determine whether we can learn anything more about what created them, what signals they gave off before making the decisions that lead to their dangerous acts, what sorts of interventions may have helped, how to have picked up on them as early as possible, etc.. That information is paramount to improving our civilization's relationship to violent crime and dangerous people.

In the case of trade deals, yes, it's completely undemocratic to keep it private, and it's concerning that they want fast track authority, though reviewing the congressional exclamations following the Iranian negotiations one can imagine why fast track authority was such a demand.

I expect that trade deals typically benefit corporations far more than the working citizens of any nation, but overall I think working citizens, in particular the poorest of them, benefit from trade deals as well. The money that has flowed from the United States into Mexico has rapidly brought Mexico's economy up the ladder.

Firearms

Do the extreme proponents of the Second Amendment ever wonder if they're hurting their own cause in the long run? By delaying marginal efforts to reduce the problem of gun violence, they're prolonging the general public's exposure to massive violence, allowing for more opportunities to convince people that guns are themselves the problem. From another angle, they're also embodying everything concerning about gun ownership — they're constantly paranoid that every proposed measure is just a flimsy pretext for a complete ban (ironically such paranoia could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy). (Though support for a total ban has actually been declining for decades, further supporting the labeling of their views as paranoid.)

Chart the number of firearms per capita over time versus the number of shootings per capita over time (in America).

(Are these links duplicated in the resources section?)