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America’s Budget Solution

Premise that we wouldn’t have much of a government budget crisis if the government would just do its job.

So-called sequestration began yesterday. That turn of law entailed cutting the government’s discretionary budget across the board, and served as an alternative to the government deciding how to reduce the budget deficit.

For how boring the media painted it (as if the federal budget made runner-up for Carlin’s famous Seven Words (Wikipedia: Seven dirty words)), the sequestration grew from a laudable history in action films: the time bomb. They gave themselves months and months of fuse, but still could not defuse that sucker.

But did they really try? Sure, they tried to trace the red wire and green wire. Which one was the ground? Is that the primary charge? They tried a few specialist bomb squads, with the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (Wikipedia: National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, aka the Simpson-Bowles commission) and the Gang of Six, but the best they could decide was to take a weed-whacker to the bomb and hope for the best.

I think they even called up their friends at the Military-Industrial Complex, asking for a drone, a robot, some sort of sniffing dog, anything.

They never tried doing their job. That was the problem. If they would merely do their job, to legislate based on the facts, not based on the whims of special interests and lobbyists, we would be done with this sort of time-bomb nonsense.

How do I figure? You have this notion that the government is fine except it costs too much. Or in the case of the Republicans, it’s also too big and smells bad. But that’s not the truth. There are structural changes needed, both large and small, to a variety of programs and laws. The tax code, health care, retirement, prisons, financial regulation, welfare, environmental protection, agriculture, military contracting, immigration, communications, energy, infrastructure…

But they aren’t addressing them. They’re trying to put the cart so far before the horse, the horse hasn’t been born yet. Either they are naive enough to not know that major work is yet to be done in the ongoing mission to perfect our government, or they don’t plan on being the ones to do it. In either case, they show their ineptitude.

Worse, it’s highly likely that if they would begin to address these structural deficits instead of the mere fiscal one, the deficit they’re so enamored with would shrink enough to make it an easy fix.

Fix the tax code, for example, and the revenue picture changes drastically. Fix health care, the deficit picture changes too. Fix immigration, the economy improves.

The broken structures of our system are akin to inflammation in the body. In recent years more and more medical studies have shown the detrimental role of inflammation in overall health. The body expends energy to try to keep the chronic problems in check, which leaves other systems vulnerable.

It reminds me of the film Synecdoche, New York, the character Hazel purchases a house that’s on fire. If you lived in a house that was on fire, you would never get around to dusting or mopping, because you’d spend all your spare time keeping the fire under control. That’s the nature of our current system of government. That’s the attitude our government has taken: we can’t fix anything, we have to keep the fire in check. But they can’t put it out, because the disarray of the remainder of the house continuously stokes the fire.

The media, for their part, scarcely bother with tough, basic questions. Like, “why aren’t you guys governing anymore, but you haven’t resigned?” Or, “are you planning to retire anytime soon?”

Oh well. A fire can’t last forever. Either it will burn the whole mess down and we’ll just start over, or maybe they’ll eventually go back to governing and we can watch the fire die from lack of viewership.

America Lets Ohio Choose 2012

Brief musing on the upcoming 2012 elections.

The upcoming Ohio-elects-the-president election is upon us. But do not lose heart, there are plenty of predecided races in your area to choose from!

Take where I live, for example. I can vote for the known winner or known loser for congress! I can vote for the unopposed candidate in 21 races (of 39 total; more than half are unopposed, and the only race with more than two choices (excluding write-in) is for president).

Ain’t democracy grand! I can vote up or down on a total of 11 amendments to the state constitution, none of which will actually force it to be rewritten in whole.

For the presidential election, my prediction is either 303-235 or 290-248 with Barack Obama winning a second term.

For the senate, 54-46 for the Democrats (with Maine’s Angus King, running as an independent, caucusing with the Democrats).

For the house, between 234-201 and 230-205 for the Republicans.

How to: Run for the US Presidency and Win

How to run for president, if you aren’t a major candidate and want to make the most of it.

Should You Run?

Questions you should ask yourself before you decide to run include:

  1. Am I a natural born citizen, or a citizen of the United States at the time of the adoption of the Constitution?
  2. Have I attained the age of thirty five?
  3. Have I been fourteen years a resident within the United States?
  4. Did my relative (mother, grandfather, husband, etc.) run for president and win?

Run Unopposed

This is tricky. In fact, there’s not been a single campaign to pull it off.

Not even the [illeg.] Richard Nixon ran unopposed, and in 1972 he won in a landslide, only losing the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to George McGovern and a single Virginian electoral vote went to John Hospers thanks to a faithless elector. That was 40 years ago.

Ronald Reagan holds the world record for highest number of electoral votes; in 1984 (28 years ago) he won 525 electoral votes to Walter Mondale’s 13 (Minnesota narrowly went for Mondale). But Reagan was opposed.

The popular theory is that there are two political parties, so running unopposed cannot be done, but the unpopular fact is that no one has really tried.

So, consider running unopposed.

The Next Best Thing

Aerial Warfare

If running unopposed doesn’t pan out, do the next best thing. Don’t run against your opposition. In modern wars, the USA and allies have complete air dominance. They don’t have dogfights. Although the opposition shoots at the planes and helicopters, they mostly miss.

Fly above your opponents. That means inventing new media forms that your opponents can’t touch.

While your opponents are busy printing bumper stickers and running television advertisements, you should be building trebuchets to deliver buick-sized pleas to your potential voters. You should be building tiny robots that will crawl onto their shoes while they’re waiting for the bus and stitch “Vote for [Your Name]” onto their shoelaces.

No Partisanship

Your opponents will expect you to align yourself with canned views. Don’t fall into this trap. Instead, base your campaign around debating scientists and field experts on a variety of issues. They can be partisans or independents, but they should be experts. Don’t be afraid of being wrong. Give your best arguments, and if they convince you otherwise, admit it.

You should pick your running mate out of the pool of those you debate. Showing you’re willing to work with those you debate means you’ll be able to give opponents a fair shake in governing.

No “When I’m President”

Too often, candidates only propose legislative and regulatory changes that would be enacted if elected. Why they stop there is a mystery. If you have a truly good idea, it should be put to use as soon as possible. This applies not only to your platform, but your opponents’ platforms.

If an opponent has a good idea, call for it to be enacted without delay. The 26th Amendment (giving the vote to all over 18 years of age) was an idea that should have taken no thought or delay to enact, and an equally potent idea, wherever it arises, should be enacted.

True Economy

Don’t restrict your ideas to policy. Call for sane extra-political business activity. Call for open markets where they are closed. There are many, and they could be generating massive economic growth. There’s an overwhelming reluctance to be critical of business unless it means new regulation. That’s ridiculous.

We do need some regulations, including some new ones, repealing others. That doesn’t mean regulatory knobs can solve the problems. Calling for better management of private interests is perfectly acceptable.

As an aside, a recent interview with Valve Software’s Gabe Newell revealed that Valve is adding three meter support to its Steam client software so that others can include Steam support on their own platforms. This is a great, forward-thinking economic decision. It’s the kind of thing a presidential campaign can and should highlight.

Open Mics

Give average people a chance to speak, both for and against your candidacy. If a heckler has something they really want to say, let them say it. Schedule a nice block before and after any speech to give people open mic access.

If the heckler speaks out-of-turn, tell them to wait for the open mic. If they won’t relent and they have to be removed from the premises, give them the option to return to speak during that time.


The current methodology of presidential campaigning reflects the current methodology of business and government. That is, a somewhat broken semblance of the real deal. As I mentioned Valve Software, there’s a need to have government, business, and campaigns operate in more modern and enlightened ways, just as Valve does.

That’s not to say Valve is perfect, but they are entirely willing to depart from the norm if they believe it’s advantageous. Most companies, politicians, and governments are entirely unwilling. To their detriment. Most won’t even entertain the idea!

If you run for president, you should eschew the mainstream candidacy practices. You probably won’t win, but if you run an innovative, revelatory campaign, you may be defeated, but you will not lose.