Who Is Better at Making Mountains Out Of Molehills (Or Molehills Out Of Mountains)?

Politics is obviously a very dirty sport, the idea seems to be that the one covered in the biggest pile of crap loses. And so politicians of every affiliation do whatever they can to dig up and throw as much shit as they can, hoping some of it sticks.

Sometimes they dig up stuff that is factual, and sometimes they just make stuff up, with little or no basis in reality. And sometimes the stories are relevant to the role they are aiming to fill and other times it’s irrelevant and just personal or humorous.

The hope is that with so much shit being thrown around, it will be possible to make the other person look unelectable. Truth, relevance and the issues at hand actually get lost.

If you like your candidate you want to believe everything they are saying, and if you hate the other candidate(s) you want to disbelieve everything they are saying.

The roll of an independent press is supposed to be to weigh the merits of all this, check the facts and present a simpler and cleaner view of the positions taken. But that ideal has disappeared in a cloud of money. Today’s press is poor, and will do anything to increase their revenue. The simplest way to get people to read/watch/listen is to use every technique possible to keep their audience long enough to increase the ad revenue. They do this my replacing journalists with opinion editorial. The stories today are nearly all interviews with pundits talking about their views on the latest view of another pundit.

There are some notable exceptions to this normal, but in world of millions of news sources, the few that actually investigate just seem slower and are often overwhelmed by opinion. And when they try and compete by moving faster they risk giving away their advantage of credibility.

A candidate (or their team) will say something directly (or indirectly) about their opponent, and all the pundits will report it, and then talk about it. They don’t go and check it, just “report” that it was said, and then ask as many people as they can find about their opinion. These people will be a mix, it’s possible one or two may actually have facts, but it’s impossible to spot facts in a fog of disparate opinions.

According to Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump is an entitled, misogynist, racist, fraudster and a bigot with fascist tendencies. And according to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is terminally ill, a liar and a murderer and should be in prison or hanged for treason.

If you support Hillary Clinton, you will be able to point to hundreds of comments that “The Donald” has said, that support your position about him, and if you are a Donald Trump supporter you can point to many articles written by publications and pundits you like that support his position. Neither group is likely to change their position, irrespective of any further stories about your opponent.

There are (in theory) a small group of people who have not made up their minds, and it is these people that can be swayed. I’m not sure if these people actually exist or are postulated by the poor media as a way of ensuring maximum spend takes place until the very last moment in the election cycle.

And while all this goes on there are issues that need to be solved, and each candidate has positions on each of these issues. Many of these positions are not going to be enacted whoever wins, due to the layers of checks and controls, money and influence designed to stop significant change. But each of these is terribly important.

I’ve read the proposals from each of the candidates (and filtered out what I believe to be hyperbole), and I have an opinion on which one makes most sense, and I will be voting based on that. Like most people I have a visceral dislike for one candidate and find the other candidate capable and acceptable and even likable.

I hope my candidate wins, and I will be unhappy if the other one wins. But whoever wins and whoever loses, the world will keep turning and I will live with and support the result. That’s the responsibility I have, in living in a democracy.

They say in a democracy you don’t get the government you need; you get the government you deserve.

 

(13)

It’s Complex

It seems like there are just a few big issues that need to be solved. And solving those issues should be simple, binary things, they are either fixed or they are not. At least that’s how it sounds when you listen to the talking heads, the flag waving, pin wearing politicians and their supporters. It doesn’t seem to matter which political party you listen to, the answer always seems to be simple and directly contrary to their opponent.

Gun advocates won’t consider any change in the law or funding model that doesn’t entirely resolve every gun related issue in a single sweep, while retaining every level of their hard fought for rights both written and interpreted. According to that group we don’t need new laws, we just need to be better as using the laws we already have, and do it with the same or less money every year. While their opponents to guns seem to say that we don’t just need new laws, we also need to dramatically change our whole approach to weapons. The views are so diametrically opposed, that in effect they feed off of each other to ensure that nothing can ever change.

The “issue” of race parity is treated the same way. We have laws and a culture that favors those of fair skin, and European descent. The process of creating an even playing field cannot be solved in days or weeks, but has to be measured in generations. If your great-grandparents owned a house and went to school then your grandparents had an advantage and were much more likely to support financially and socially the chance of your parents going to school or university, which would have dramatically improved your childhood and your chance of a solid and supportive upbringing. It takes generations before a complete extended family is in the position to fully embrace and support the social and economic needs to help a complete generation of children.

The school system in the US today is probably more segregated than at any point in any countries history. Why would a well-educated family want their children to be in the same class or even the same school of children who grow up in broken households, or have parents who are poorly educated and don’t value education? The answer is that a cycle has to be broken, and that means investing very heavily in providing accelerated high quality support to any group of people who are below a socially acceptable level. Today that often means people of color (every variety). Yes, it means actually spending more on those who need more, as opposed to spending more on those who already have most. And of course those who have most are in the best position to fight for ensuring they continue to get the most.

The US through a complex mix of drug laws, social and economic segregation, and a draconian legal and penal system have created an underclass in society that is demonstrably color-coded. An underclass that is identifiable partly by skin color, but also by a dramatic difference in clothing, wealth and accent. This underclass then gets treated poorly by employers, the government and its legal proxies, which ensures that it continues to be an underclass.

I don’t believe the police are institutionally racist, but I do believe that the markers of the aforementioned underclass are always going to be a specific target for the police.

As an officer of the law, if you were to see a youth dressed as a 1970’s punk with torn clothing, a disheveled look and a bag, you would be interested in the contents of that bag. In today’s world, a large proportion of the societally created underclass are of color, and I would expect that that means that like everyone else, the police have learned to spot these as potential trouble spots. Is this institutional racism or is this a human response to the effects of hundreds of years of race based culture and laws?

It takes incredible effort, and professionalism to change society, and that does not come easily or cheaply. But it does need to happen.

Better schools and a fairer penal system designed to rehabilitate and not institutionalize, are long term requirements.

Policing that takes into consideration the currently economic and socially disparities is a shorter term tactic. The idea that everyone stopped by the police should be treated with military level aggression seems counter-productive to me, but with so many illegal guns, and so much at stake for anyone arrested due to the draconian legal and penal system, what choice is there?

There can be no tolerance for violence, either people protesting against the government or the government exceeding its power. In fact the best place for people and officials to unite is in stopping violence.

This country needs to fix social disparity, it is possibly the most expensive , resource intensive and time consuming activity a country can undertake, but it has to happen.

Yes it is complex, but that doesn’t make it impossible.

(10)

Why is everyone so upset about Brexit?

Listening to the conversation on the radio, TV, newspapers etc. you would think that the UK decision to exit the European Union is a form of country wide suicide, which has the potential of becoming a global Armageddon. Frankly I don’t see it.

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There are arguments for both the UK staying in the EU and for leaving, the country voted, and the democratic decision is to leave. But it seems those who were hell bent on remaining are a little upset. I get it, but it really isn’t the end of anything.

Being in the EU had some value of course, and being out also has some value. There are different strategies that is all.

I’ve heard people opining that now they won’t be able to travel to Europe, and their kids dreams of living all over the world have been dashed. This is just not true. Before the UK joined the EU, large numbers of people chose to live in other countries including Europe and beyond, and nothing has changed. Let’s face it every English bank robber from the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s moved to Spain, and there was a lot of work for the Police and courts to deal with finding and extraditing them. Now I believe the ex-crooks choice of destination is a large estate just outside of the M25. Thousands of Brits live in the United States of America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Asia and everywhere else. Thousands more live in France, Germany, Spain, Italy etc. and from my experience I can confirm that moving to a country in the EU is no less bureaucratic than moving to one outside the EU. I’ve done both and frankly it’s just down to the friendliness of the people in the town you move to, and many European destinations are known for making life hard for foreigners. Try moving to France and you will see what I mean, some towns are wonderful, some are not.

There is this fear that businesses will move their jobs to Europe, now that the UK is out of the EU. Again this is just not true. Businesses will place their jobs where the business environment is friendliest to them, with the most beneficial taxation and employment laws. Having hired people in Italy, Germany and France, my experience is that the climate is not business friendly and the UK already has a massive advantage in its employment laws, and this is likely to get even better now that the UK government can make decisions that are UK economy focused. It’s one thing for companies to say they will move to be in Europe, but another to actually do it. Today many US and European companies have moved their European HQ’s to Switzerland, now they may choose the UK. There are some great places to do business in Europe, places with superb work forces with highly technical skill sets and language skills, and the UK is one of them, and can compete quite nicely.

There is this fear that the UK will become a closed country with no immigration. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. The UK has the strongest history of immigration from its empire days, and the incredible people that moved to the UK from India, Pakistan, Africa and the Caribbean are a testament to the power of immigration. The question will just be (like it is for the USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, China, etc), what are you going to contribute to the UK? People in need have always been able to come to the UK, and that will clearly continue, and people who bring value to the UK have always been able to come to the UK and that will also clearly continue. The only change will be that the UK will set the rules. I remember taking the train from Paris to London and having to go through 2 immigration checks at the Paris end, firstly by the France immigration and then again by the British Immigration at a desk no more that 10 feet behind the French. Why, because the French were allowing (pushing?) immigrants who they didn’t want to keep in France to go to the UK. It was a French way of not following the immigration rules that were setup by the EU. The UK of course always followed those rules. Now the UK can set the rules, and being British I believe they will be fair. So I don’t expect there will be any problems with NHS doctors or nurses, as they will still be encouraged to come to the UK. And I expect that the Polish plumbers (who may well be the best in the world and clearly have an amazing work ethic) will not be pushed out of the UK. Conversely, if you happen to have a skip in your garden while you renovate your house, you may now find it fills up a bit quicker, as I expect there will be less people rummaging through it for metal (this will only make sense to a UK resident).

The fact is that about a quarter of a TRILLION dollars of gold is stored in vaults under London. And London is in the best position of any country to continue to be the conduit for money transactions between continents. Actually being outside of the EU may well provide the UK with an even bigger advantage in this regard if the UK government and its regulatory authorities are smart.

The UK has some of the best universities in the world, some of the most innovative engineers, and some of the best employment laws anywhere for industry and businesses to grow. Since the 1980’s though the UK has focused on moving from building things to selling things, and this has had a terrible effect on manufacturing and raw material production. It’s quite possible for a UK outside of the EU to turn this trend around, and make the UK the leader in new industries that are only just emerging now. What is needed are leaders who truly can inspire the population, and I believe they do exist and the climate is ready for them to take the lead.

The UK is well known as being a green and pleasant land, and that means it’s a wonderful environment for agriculture, animals, fishing etc. Again government policies designed to stimulate agriculture and focused on the UK’s specific interests would be wonderful to see.

Rather than being depressed about leaving the EU, the UK should see this as a chance to lead.

Being in the EU was hard, and being out of the EU will be hard, it’s not the EU, hard is just a fact of life. A choice has been made, and now it’s everyone’s job to make it work.

 

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Ignorance Is No Substitute For Knowledge

I don’t see religion as the opposite of science, but as a mechanism for very complex ideas to be considered. Over the millennia religion has helped countless people deal with the pain of loss and created comradery to help people who need assistance.

Obviously I can also think of many terrible things that have been delivered under the guise of religion. We can see today how angry, disenfranchised or ignorant people can be deformed by hate, xenophobia or fear supported by the words and deeds from some who chose to use religion to further their own personal power desires.

I am always shocked when groups who consider themselves “religious”, actively deny knowledge because it contradicts what their religion states. Given that there are many thousands of versions of religion in play today, and probably many millions that have been in play throughout human history, it strikes me as ridiculous to believe that any one version is perfect. This does not mean that I wish to ridicule the idea of religion, I do not. I see theology as an extension of philosophy, and where it is applied with care it clearly can really offer comfort and meaning to many groups. But that does not give religion a special pass, like everyone else, religious followers must work to improve humanity and the universe, and not detract from happiness and health in any way.

From a purely observational point of view, I see the idea of evolution to be entirely consistent with what we observe every day. While the time it takes for random mutations to impact a species in material ways is far too long to observe easily, it is though clear that any number of mutations that take place within each organism are clearly observable. One of the basic skills in understanding disease is to understand mutations. Viruses mutate constantly, making treatment a continual fight to deal with resilience. Cancer is now known to be (generally) a kind of cellular mutation where the bodies own defenses don’t see the mutated cells as an invader. Nearly every mutated cell in the body is of course quickly dealt with by the immune system, and it’s only the ones that by chance continue to look enough like the body’s own healthy cells that are not attacked and hence cause issues.

Birth defects caused by environmental changes (drugs, chemicals, radiation etc.) are common enough that we can see them.

Today the human race is diverse to the point that a change in the environment or the emergence of a deadly pathogen is unlikely to eradicate all humanity. It could of course, but the more diverse we are the less likely this is.

Science though has the potential to standardize the human race, in effect removing the very deep level of diversity that actually may protect us from extinction.

We are today standardizing our food, with everyone eating similar plants and animals. Since we all use the same drugs, we are eradicating specific diseases and potentially the bacteria and viruses that could impact future diseases.

Science is not perfect, and the things we change at the macro level may come back and hurt us in generations to come. Or science may actually be the only way that the human race can survive. No one knows. Today’s quality and length of human life have never been better. There are more people alive today than ever before and they are living longer, putting a new level of strain on available resources, requiring new levels of food production, causing new levels of environmental change, requiring more food to be produced in a smaller area, in a cycle that shows no end.

It’s a deeply philosophical conundrum, and maybe using the concept of an outside influence to help understand the universe we find ourselves a part of is a good thought exercise to help frame the issue.

(14)

The Internet Of Objects – Ideal Or A Path To The End Of Everything

In the 1980’s and into the 1990’s there was a movement in technology towards objects. The idea was than any and all data, applications, devices etc. could be broken down into a series of discrete pieces of information, and the use of this information could be described in a consistent way. This would allow everything to work together harmoniously without complex pre-work to describe what everything was.

The issue (at that time) was that for most types of data the meta-data to describe it was actually much larger than the data itself, and this was a huge problem when networks were slower than the spoken word and data storage was more expensive than postage. So the idea slowly died and morphed, and we have been left with a really messy series of standards which make sharing data and devices complex and expensive.

Now I know that I am paraphrasing the whole issue here, but there is no doubt that where we are, is not where we want to be in terms of integrated systems.

Imagine if every piece of data was wrapped in a consistent set of metadata (data about the data).

Imagine if you were sent an email with a specific type of data attached to it, that the data would self-describe its value, keep a record of who created it, what application was needed to use it, and even where the code to use it resided.

Imagine if every internet connected device could provide details on its use, location and current state when asked. So when you enter a house and you could automatically be part of that houses network. Your environmental preferences would automatically be shared with the house, and your entertainment preferences would be available on each device in the house. Obviously assuming that you had the approval of the houses prioritized users.

Imagine that when you program your phones map app to take you to a specific place, your diary and the diaries of everyone you are meeting that day are automatically updated with travel times and arrival times. And the systems in the place you are going to are updated with your drink and food preferences and a desk is reserved for you automatically for when you arrive or the meeting room you are planning to use is automatically chosen based on the number of people who are meeting.

Imagine if in an emergency all the connected devices in a building on fire could be viewed by those trying to help. Every temperature sensor and video feed was automatically available to them, and any phone picked up would automatically connect to the on-site emergency teams without any buttons needing to be pressed. All water, gas and power would be selectively turned off or on by the emergency teams as needed.

Imagine if the sensors in every car, street light and road sign were shared amongst themselves, providing a mesh of knowledge available to every road user, and that journeys were planned with the knowledge about the current conditions, dynamically updated with the planned journeys of every other road user.

Imagine if a doctor was able to review the health data of a patient collected by the patients watch, phone, home and pharmacist building a profile of the patient’s history to help diagnose from subtle changes in their physical condition important early diagnosis of problems allowing for much better treatments.

If every piece of data and every internet connected device could describe itself in a consistent and meaningful way, the possibilities are endless.

There are of course risks associated with easier communication, risks that actually may be greater than the benefits.

It’s almost an evolutionary level risk.

Within a species a continual flow of random mutations creates the likelihood that some variants will survive in any type of changing environment or to put it another way diversity is good.

If all information systems were to follow a single standard, then the possibility would exist of total destruction of the entire system. We have already seen that computer viruses designed to attack windows systems can impact millions of systems at the same time. Smug mac users have always felt safer, but that safety only comes from the simple fact that they are a separate sub-species. It is very hard for an infection to spread across species (biological or technical), but in a world where all data and devices were unified behind one standard, that standard itself could become a risk.

The value of total interconnectivity is immense, but the implications of everything being compromised would be too terrible to consider.

Is it possible to create an interconnected would that is secure enough to be viable?

That is the cold war not just of this century but probably for the whole future of humanity.

(9)

Hate Breeds Hate

There will always be people who hate, it’s an unavoidable symptom of the human condition. Some people, who cannot get what they want, will always blame someone else. And some of that blame will become violent. Sometimes that violence will hurt people, sometimes, innocent people. And the friends and relatives of those innocent people will, in turn, hate the people who hurt those that they loved. And with this righteous justified hate focused on the ones who hurt their loved ones, they will create reciprocal hate, and quickly the idiocy of the original hate is lost in the mealy of revenge and a whirlwind of battles where everyone loses.

It’s almost impossible to forgive the killing of a wife, husband, son, daughter, father, mother, brother, sister, cousin or friend. So the hurting of one person can create an exponential number of new enemies’.

It takes incredible heroism, intellect and strength to break this cycle. Very few people have ever been able to do it.

Those that have ended conflict are the true heroes, and yet it’s much easier to remember those who won battles and wars, than those who stopped the next battle.

Honoring those who fought assuages some of the pain of loss, but it also galvanizes opinion in support of further conflict. Honoring those who fought, provides support for their fight, and continues the battle. This is why every government, army, politician, religious group and cause uses it.

Soldiers returning from war, more often than not, promote the value of peace and complain of the futility of the war they just fought. Those who never fought, scream for more battles.

Those who enter the armed services, and accept the orders of those who run those services, are heroes, end of story. They choose to put their lives on the line for their country and way of life. In return they expect their leaders and country to have their backs. To only send them into harms way when it is the only choice, and to provide them with the training, tools and support to do their job, and if they get hurt to do whatever it takes to care for them. Leaders have failed in the past, putting their personal wealth and that of their friends ahead of the people, and it is unacceptable! The lesson for the future is to carefully choose leadership that truly understands the critical nature of their role, and has the experience and temperament to do it well.

Many battles seem righteous in the moment, but in the cold hard light of history, the reasons for their inception seem crazy. The history of the British, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch empires is littered with battles fought to support commercial growth, to make the rich, richer. The Greek World, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire and the Holy Roman Empire were forged in battles, generally at the cost of many lives in exchange for wealth for their leaders.

Today’s Middle Eastern wars have removed carefully placed despots who through genocide and torture kept millennia old hatred’s in chains. These puppet rulers were monsters, but they were monsters created by the Western European powers in the last few hundred years to reshape countries who they had tried for millennia to subdue. It worked, but then we forgot why we put these horrible people in power, and we removed them. And the Middle East now has to find a new balance. It is taking time, but the most horrible elements of hate, will again be controlled, hopefully this time, by the people within their own borders. It will not be pretty, but it will happen.

While if happens we cannot allow the raw hate that these murderous fools transmit to infect us. We must resist the urge to lower our morals and our ethics. We cannot allow their hate to become our hate. While they behead, and commit suicide/murder we must continue to live by our code of ethics, and with strength and good judgment we will win.

(12)

Will there ever be another Republican Party POTUS?

Democracy is an unpleasant way of running a country, but it is the least unpleasant way ever invented.

Democracy requires that a process choose the leaders where the group with most votes get’s to win. With more than two parties it is possible for the winner to actually have less than half of the votes and still win. In the US for all practical purposes there are two main parties, and so the winner is nearly always the one who wins more votes than anyone else and actually more than half of the votes.

Of course there are nuances to the process, because the US is not a pure democracy but a system whereby each state effectively has a separate election, and the sum of those elections chooses the president. This means that a smaller state actually can have a greater influence on the result. So some weighting is placed on states to try and even out the relationship. It’s a good attempt, but it does mean that a vote in one state is not quite as valuable as a vote in another state. But it’s close enough.

The US is also a country populated with almost entirely an immigrant population. Obviously there was a native population in place hundreds of years ago, and even after centuries of genocide that population is still alive and a part of US. I think the total is just north of five million. The population of the US is now around 320 million. So the US population is around 98.5% based on immigrants. And the influx of immigrants continues today.

Today the US population is approximately 65% of western European (white) descent, 15% of Africa Descent (dark brown) and around 20% of Latin American (light brown) descent. Those are rounded up numbers from the 2010 cencus. And of all those people around 50% are men and 50% are Women. Personally I find the idea of skin color or sex being important factors in anything to be ridiculous, but they are important as they define groups who act and are treated differently.

So a representative government would be looking to understand and support the needs of all that population. And that is what one of the two parties is trying to do. But the other party seems to think it’s going to win by just supporting the needs of white men.

People its simple mathematics! If you need to win an election in a two party system you really need to aim to get over 50% of the people to support you. Well there are not enough white men in the US to make up a majority. You need to win the women vote and you really should be looking to win the brownish vote as well. Otherwise you will never win another election.

And yet instead of doing this, the grand ole party, is trying to find ways of stopping women and non-white men from voting. And the techniques are just incredible. Everything from religion, to education, to limiting womens health, to making areas where non white people live really hard to sign up for voting.

And lets just think about that, you have to register to vote! What for, you were born (or gained citizenship through a very long process,) you are registered to work (social security) why doesn’t that automatically provide the information needed to vote, it does it most sane countries. The only reason it doesn’t in the US, is a long term and persistent effort to stop young people (who tend to start off more left leaning), women(who rightly demand equality) and browner people from voting.

Slavery, Segregation and Suffragettes and not dim distant ideas. The issue for the GOP is that even though they have tried to stop it, education in the US is now good enough (despite efforts to damp it down), and communication is now good enough that most people actually can spot the self-serving bullshit.

The Republican Party is an important part of the US makeup. Society is very expensive, and sometimes you need to be tougher than any one party can be. We need the counter balance of a left and a right.

But there is absolutely no way that any of the current group of bigoted, racist, religion spouting, conspiracy theory believing children running for the GOP nomination can be seen as a viable president. Not one of them is even willing to agree that the world is more than six thousand years old, or that climate change is man influenced and potentially deadly. They believe in magic and would press the big read button to end the world if the voices in their heads said to do so. That is just not acceptable.

So the democratic candidate will win the general election. Are the choices for democrat perfect? Well of course not. But they are reasonable, and can explain a plan to help everyone do better, protect us all from disaster, and are willing to let the wheels of global democracy turn.

The GOP and their wealthy and armed supporters will continue to espouse that Hillary Clinton is the devil incarnate (as was her husband, as is the current president and as was the peanut farmer). And on the off-chance that Bernie Sanders were to win the democratic nomination, you would hear the Jew quotes, the too-old, and the communist-socialist Armageddon stories surface.

But none of it will matter.

If the choice is a bible-thumping, misogynistic xenophobe with a racial superiority complex against an extension of the non-birth-certificate/Kenyan-Muslim, balanced books, no-new wars, full employment, woman supporting, health system enabling policies of President Obama I believe that the vast majority will go with the saner choice.

And so yet again the GOP heads will explode, every effort will be taken to double down on killing everything, and a fraction of what could be achieved will be. But we will move foreword, onwards and upwards.

(7)

Somewhere

Somewhere in the world (and by the world, I mean the United States of America) there is a budding politician who believes in regulated capitalism. This person believes that there needs to be constraints on the capitalist system so that it’s preferential to hire people in America to do jobs, and that people should get a good level of education from good public schools. And low cost, high quality universities paid for by a mix of public funding, private partnership and very aggressively low cost loans.

This person believes that while we need the largest military in the world we should also be able to negotiate the best prices, and with this we can actually do a lot more with a lot less, if war profiteering was again seen as immoral and maybe even illegal.

This person believes that everyone has the same rights, and that skin color, sexual orientation or sex have absolutely no bearing on anything ever.

This person believes in free speech and doesn’t care if people disagree, their views can still be heard without restriction, and that all religious, irreligious or stupid views can be held and shared, but they cannot be used to stop anyone else living their lives as their see fit under any circumstances. Words are free, while actions cannot infringe anyone else rights.

This person believes in a baseline single payer healthcare system with private uplift insurance for those that can afford it.

This person believes that everyone has the right, and the responsibility to vote, and that every citizen would be automatically registered to vote and actively encouraged to vote. And it doesn’t matter if they have served a prison sentence, once their out they could vote.

This person believes that prisons are for violent offenders only, and the rehabilitation is more important that punishment.

This person believes that there are real long term reasons why sections of the population are trapped in low economic, social and educational ways, and that these should be addressed directly.

This person believes that the vast majority of people are decent but that there are some people who are racist and homicidal. If these happen to wear a uniform is shouldn’t change how they are dealt with. But this person also expects those who police to support each other unconditionally and respects this.

This person believes that those who join the armed forces and follow every order given are heroes. But you treat heroes with the respect they deserve, and only send them into harms was as an absolute last resort. But when they are deployed to do terrible things they must get total support from those who sent them, this includes treating them as heroes when they return with the best of support both medial and economic.

This person also believes that all drugs should be legal and controlled, alcohol, Tabaco, marijuana and even heroine. It’s the control bit that counts. Making all drug cartels, mules and dealers into a legal framework would change the world.

This person believes that all guns should be registered, insured, owned & used by licensed users (like a car).

This person believes that taxes should be lower, but to do this means taking subsidies away from the largest businesses and the richest people, and spending less but not taking from the poorest in society.

This person believes that regulated capitalism is the best known system and that businesses are the best way of generating an economy (not government spending).

This person believes in the short-term economic benefits and the long term myriad of benefits of infrastructure spending.

This person believes in spending less than you make.

This person believes that unions are a good thing, but like anything must be moderated (as must capitalism).

This person believes that while unwanted pregnancies are sad, the best way to stop them is through sex education and not laws banning abortion or contraceptives.

This person believes that the best way to deal with an enemy is through talking and economics. While the worst way is with bombs. And that the bits in-between these extremes, have to be very clever.

This person believes that immigration is a really good thing economically & socially and supports and protects aspiring immigrants.

This person believes that politicians should be paid a living wage for their work, but not for life, and not more than 3x the minimum wage.

This person believes that money should be capped in all political races.

This person believes in actions to curb future global warming.

This person believes that the minimum wage should be set as the wage needed to not receive any government subsidies (easy to calculate as an hourly rate per electoral zone).

This person has a mix of conservative and liberal views, and couldn’t get the nod from either major political party, so has no chance of every being elected in the current system. So this budding politician will be a failure.

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Putting it all in context

The human brain while amazing has some very significant limitations. The basic process of learning is to compare any piece of information to experience. Without a frame of reference we get very confused.

When we are born we get to compare the previous wet warmth to the newly discovered cold and dry. Then we open our eyes and get to experience images and it takes years to fully build up to a level of sentience.

And even then we have a real issue with existence, the toughest is often the end of someone else’s existence. When someone dies, it can be really hard to resolve the fact that they are gone, and so we often use our imagination to make up a place where dead people go. We have absolutely no evidence of these places, but it’s easier to imagine they (the dead) are still with us than to accept they their existence only now exists in our memory.

And if other people reinforce these ideas with stories of god’s and ethereal dream creatures then these other people’s imagination can become our evidence. We call it belief, but it’s actually denial. And the longer a story is retold then the stronger the evidence for its truth.

Since these stories and beliefs become so important, then it is critical for the believers to not question anything that the stories tell, as not believing any one part creates cracks that can cause the whole belief system to crumble. So it doesn’t matter how crazy an idea is, if it’s linked to the belief system it must be upheld as totally true, otherwise the whole of your life’s belief system will be exposed as a total fiction.

So people believe in wild and crazy ideas such as the moon being a source of light, as opposed to a reflector of the suns light. People believe that the earth was created in six days around six thousand years ago and that a talking snake in a park told a woman made of a mans rib to have her man (who was made of dust) eat an apple that was forbidden by a god. That the patterns of stars (as seen only from here) are the bodies of gods; and their positions foretell your personal destiny. That the son of a god (who was also the same god) was born of a virgin woman and died horribly to pay for the apple, but wasn’t really dead (for long) and allowed a bunch of the Romans who killed him horribly to kill people for thousands of years to repent for their killing of him. That each version of god hates each other version of the same god so much that it’s okay to kill and persecute every follower of every other version of that same god. But it’s all okay because if you tell a representative of a god that you are sorry, all will be forgiven and you’ll go where all those people you loved went when they died. And if you strap on a bomb and kill yourself with a bunch of other people (whom you don’t know) then you will end up with a thousand randy virgins in your version of the afterlife who were just waiting to service your every need. And if your version of god happens to have been an alien then you are going to his alien world when you drink that poison, his invisible spaceship is just waiting orbiting the moon for you to leave your Earthly body so he can “save” you. And it’s really lucky that Moses got those ten commandments while walking around that mountain, because otherwise we wouldn’t have realized that murder, theft, swearing at your parents and screwing your wife’s best friend were wrong. And you are still amazed at how awesome your god is that he told all this to people thousands of years ago, and through his inspiration hundreds of people have then selectively edited those aural stories in to written books which have then been selectively edited and translated to ensure that the views just happen to match the ideas of the most powerful and wealthy (and often brutal) leaders over the last couple of thousand years.

But all of this must be true otherwise the people who you have loved and have died no longer exist. And it’s much more important that grand mommy is in heaven than that the world can live in peace and prosperity.

There is a lot of comfort that can be felt from the sharing of good thoughts, but everyone is responsible for everything that happens in the name of every religion and every idea.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Solemn Ramadan, Enjoy Kwanza and have a great naked Yule dance everyone.

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The Minimum Wage Is Just A Distraction.

Politicians of both parties want to pander to their political bases. Republicans want to show that they are providing good value for their oligarch masters by ensuring that it’s legal to pay ridiculously low wages to employees and that there is a good supply of illegal (ie. Close to slave) labor.

While Democrats want to show their supporters that they are looking to help the working people by increasing wages. But they do very little to actually increase the living wage for anyone below the upper levels of society.

And they both use the minimum wage as a flag to fly to support their cases.

But let’s be really clear, no one is proposing a minimum wage that is high enough to actually be livable in the modern United States of America.

The amount of money it takes to live clearly varies depending on many factors, such as the cost of local housing, basic amenities (water, power, heating etc), consumables (food, clothes etc), healthcare, transport, and services. These costs vary depending on where you live. When you add all these basics costs up, it’s clear that a single person or family living on minimum wage incomes cannot possibly survive anywhere without additional support from government programs (either tax rebates, social services or other forms of grants).

The republican view is that these people just need to work harder; otherwise their employers will find it better to take their jobs offshore.

The democratic view is that these people just need more support from government, either in direct assistance or support programs to help them get a better job.

Neither of these approaches ever work as planned, and I don’t think they are really expected to, so long as the bases of each party believe that their politicians are doing their bidding, the politicians are happy to posture and actually achieve minimal change.

There are programs that can work, but these mean actually looking at the causes of a problem and not the symptoms, and it doesn’t seem that either major party is ready to do that, except maybe at the fringes with lefty loons and right wing nut jobs.

The basic issue is that we need people to be employed and we need these people to earn enough money to be able to live without having to be supplemented by government-collected money and hence re-distributed money. This can happen, and the simplest way to make it happen is to create a system whereby employers must pay employees at least enough such that the employees don’t qualify for any form of government assistance (excluding health and disability related help). If an employer pays an employee less than that minimum level then the employer should have a tax levied on them at a level greater than the cost incurred by the government in supporting that employee, and it can be calculated at an hourly rate to cover full-time and part-time employees. That’s actually a very simple calculation to perform.

If an employee works X hours per week for an employer and is paid $Y per hour, but they get $Z of total assistance from government organizations then the impact of underpayment from the employer per week is Z/40 * X (assuming we expect a worker to work 40 hours a week). If Y > than the threshold for receiving benefits then the employer is paying the true minimum wage and no benefits are being received from underpayment of wages. If not then a tax of (Z/40 * X) * 1.5 should be levied on the employer. So it is cheaper for an employer to pay the worker a living wage than to pay the increased tax, that would quickly encourage everyone to pay a living wage.

This formula calculates the impact of assistance per hour so works just as well for part time workers as full time workers.

And to balance that cost there must be a levy on all services and manufacturing that is provided out of the USA. So it becomes cost effective to employee in the USA.

If employers were paying a level to their lowest paid employees that reduced the need for government assistance, then the amount of money government needed for these services would go down, allowing taxes to go down.

Obviously like any idea, this only works if politicians actually had the aim of reducing taxation and increasing the quality of life of the working class, but it really is not clear that is the true aim of any of them today.

It would be beautiful if there was a politician who actually wanted to reduce the tax burden by actually fixing broken programs, rather than pandering to their personal masters, but I just don’t see it happening anytime soon.

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