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unAmerican

The Political Now

Today I started to outline some of the problems I have with the so-called GOP (hereafter RP).  As I did so, I was also interested in highlighting the opposition’s problems (hereafter DP).  Then I decided, on reflection, that it would be a criticism of both parties.  But that still failed to emphasize the solutions.  So this is now less of a pure criticism and more about providing the alternative too.

Taxation

The RP position is that taxation is a form of theft.  They do not see it as funding the scaffolding of society and fail to recognize the role that the government plays in their own personal success.  Taxes should be minimal, as should the size of government.  The DP position is that taxes are there to provide for the minority cases of poverty and illness, and taxes should be expanded to fulfill those needs and others we deem necessary.

My position is that taxes should be seen as an investment in our collective future, and that our government’s parameters should be targeted to the development of our social fabric.  That means I favor taxes for things like scientific development and open source software, anything which can be leveraged by the private sector to improve work there, and anything that can be leveraged by private citizens to improve their day-to-day.

Justice

For both the DP and RP, justice is mostly a matter of punishing the individuals that break the law.  The outlook on the law differs slightly for both.  Treatment of convicted individuals is slightly harsher for the RP, while the DP tends to give a bit more recognition to the role that economics plays in crime, but the general outlook is identical.

My position is that the vast majority of crime has economic origins, and the proper development of society requires economic intervention in the forms of education and rehabilitation.

I also maintain that key reforms in the justice system are needed, including overhauling the current advocacy system of courts and the manner of interactions between law enforcement and private citizens.  These are things the RP and DP both ignore completely.

Gun Control

Long a contentious issue, the RP believes gun rights are untouchable while the DP believes that the state should have the right to restrict weapon access as much as it pleases.

My position is that guns don’t kill people, but people with guns do.  Proper stitching of the social and economic fabric eliminates the motivations for gun control, though it probably does tend to diminish the ownership, it does not urge people to disarm.

Foreign Policy

The RP position favors military intervention, while the DP position is slightly warmer toward diplomatic solutions.

My own position is that, again, economic development precludes the need to intervene militarily and minimizes the need for diplomatic intervention.  The use of foreign aid as a carrot to complement the military stick is fraught with peril, for it avoids the real, needed economic development of the areas being targeted for improved governance.

The Trend

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a trend here.  The RP position is usually one based on the idea that the individual is an island capable of behaving properly ex nihilo.  The DP position is that people need some help and are products of their environment up to the point where they are bad enough to be beyond redemption, at which point their position diminishes into the RP position.

And my position is that people are basically machines that could be functional provided the correct environmental factors (usually economic in nature).

You can extrapolate the positions from the above for welfare, immigration, corporate regulation, etc.

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unAmerican

Inertia: Chains You Can Believe In

President Obama recently said, in discussing the alleged leaking of marked-protected documents by Pfc. Bradley Manning:

People can have philosophical views about [these things].  But look, I can’t conduct diplomacy on an Open Source [basis].  That’s not how, you know, the world works.

He went on to discuss more directly the law with regard to such disclosures.  But I’m not writing today about the law or the allegations against Manning or his treatment while in detention.

This post is about the inertia that Barack Obama has chained himself to in the time since he took office.  It hasn’t been wholesale.  Progress has been made on some fronts.  But on major fronts, the status quo keeps on pulling us down.

The biggest areas are the following:

  1. Foreign policy
  2. Energy policy
  3. Fiscal policy
  4. Social Health policy

In these four key areas (though there are others that are less obvious, and all of these have overlap too) we haven’t seen the change that’s needed.  In these areas there are entrenched interests that preclude the change that’s needed.

Obama says, rightly, that diplomacy isn’t conducted in the light of day.  But he gets it wrong saying that he can’t change that.  He can’t change it by not changing it, but if he moves to change it, it will change.

All systems seek equilibrium, and by changing any aspect of any system you introduce further changes toward that equilibrium.  If you can’t swim, and you’re alone in deep water, you’ll drown.  But if you introduce a floatation device, like a life preserver, then the equilibrium shifts, and you won’t drown.

What should happen in this situation, if Obama does want change, is to speak up about that.  “I would like to have a higher burden of the health care system be carried by Registered Nurses, Nurse Practitioners, and the like, to lower costs and increase access, but the current system’s inertia makes that hard to enact.”  And then he would have those classes of workers (RNs and NPs) on his side to help push for the change.  He would have patients that want better care and better pricing saying, “Yes, I know a few nurses and they could handle more responsibility.”

Open Source Diplomacy would mean that everyone has the same information, and therefore, there’s no strategic advantage to lying or subterfuge.  It would mean that if a Middle East leader can’t stomach telling his people what he’s doing, he shouldn’t be doing it.  It would mean that we wouldn’t find ourselves in wars without a cause.  If the world can’t work that way, then I don’t see why the hell we’d bother at all.  But of course it can work that way.

It works that way all the time.  Just not in the circles that Presidents and Congresscritters run in.  Every day the software that powers the internet is developed in that way.  The stack that the likes of Obama and all of these other chained leaders are depending on to improve their productivity isn’t created in secret, behind closed doors.  Their own computers may be running the equivalent of a closed door, but the servers are overwhelmingly running software that anyone in the world can download, compile, and hack on.

People that go to school aren’t told, “you aren’t allowed to apply this knowledge without prior written permission,” and then forced to get their Algebra teacher to sign off when they need to do a calculation.  Learning in such an environment would be impossible.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a right and wrong way to handle the open sourcing of diplomacy, and as I’ve indicated with the nursing example, there’s a good way to mitigate inertial effects when seeking change.  Things don’t need to change overnight.  But we do need change, not chains, and if Obama wants to be that leader, he needs to start standing up for the cause and be honest about it, not just spit another can’t in the face of the world.