Why Is A Politician Doing Exactly What They Promised So Terrible?

Democracy is not a perfect political system; it is just the best political system of all those that are known.

America is not a pure democracy, but a fragile psedo-democracy model that relies of the goodness of people to adhere to the spirit of a constitution written hundreds of years ago by a group of amazing people whose shared experiences lead them to a stunning series of ideals around freedom, equality and happiness (happiness, was never a political consideration before 1776, Anywhere in the world, what a truly amazing ideal!).

The process in the US is one of sharing aspirations aimed at like-minded voters during the primary cycle, which is then attenuated during the election cycle to try and draw more votes and then the winner again attenuates their ideas with those of all sides during their time in a role. The result is that everyone is mildly dissatisfied with government, but most people are not furious. It’s not a perfect system, just one that balances experience and power with need and desire.

What happens when a candidate points out that it’s a stupid system, sticks a finger in the air and decides to go all in to win and then do exactly what they said they would do?

What happens is the balance changes, the fragility of the conventions that allow for happiness, equality and freedom are put to the test.

It’s quite amazing that no one thought of it before. It’s a very high risk strategy, “all or nothing”. And we are living it today.

Global history indicates that it’s a bad idea, that the balance shifting in such dramatic ways will lead to hyper-changes to security, economics, the environment and society; not just in the USA but globally.

The security of the world is finely balanced. With borders maintained by a mix of weapons, physical barriers and most importantly economic interests.

The global economy is not based on natural resources, but promises. Currencies are no longer underwritten by gold and silver, but by a mesh of interconnected promises, treaties and subtle winks between national banks. If the largest economy decides to change these rules, every single nation will be looking to garner an advantage from the change, and it’s not clear who would win that battle.

Saying “fuck you” to the world may feel good (really good), but when you play a strategic game, it’s important to know how players will respond to your moves, and it’s not clear that’s the way it’s currently working.

The good thing is, that since no one thought the presidential election would go the way it went, it’s likely that no one built the brain trust to plan a response. So, it’s not just the USA running with scissors, the world is now doing it.

Donald Trump is either the smartest president that every existed in the history of history itself, or he is starting something he will quickly lose control of.

I’m rooting for the Donald to be everything he says he is, but as a scientist I like to see evidence, peer reviewed before agreeing with such a situation. I have seen the evidence of the last two weeks, I’ve listened to the peer reviews, and I’m beyond worried.

As a very smart comic character once said “with great power comes great responsibility”

Lower regulation doesn’t naturally translate to “better”, it can, but why would a business freed from a regulation do the right thing. It takes something else.

Lowering federal taxes, just increases state, local and hidden taxes.

Things that are likely to happen (not guaranteed, but more likely every day)

  • Hyper debt
  • Hyper inflation
  • Hyper unemployment
  • Less human rights
  • War
  • Shorter life span, and a lowering of the quality of life overall
  • A worse environment (air quality, water quality, farm land quality)
  • Less equality
  • Less government oversight
  • Less investment in happiness (the arts)
  • A greater gap between rich and poor
  • Higher overall taxes for the average person (fed, state, local, privatization and deregulation costs*)
  • Less global trade
  • Higher fuel prices and dirtier fuel processes
  • Lower wages
  • A less educated population

*Privatization and deregulation costs

  • Higher Healthcare costs
  • Higher drug costs
  • Higher food costs
  • Higher Road tolls
  • Higher safe water costs
  • Higher heating and cooling energy costs
  • Higher internet costs
  • Import taxes
  • Higher school costs
  • Higher local policing and fire safety costs
  • Uplifts of travel to pay for private security
  • Higher fuel prices
  • Higher train travel costs
  • Higher banking costs

We have become used to all politicians lying, and we know it is wrong.

But maybe a politician telling the truth may be a hell of a lot worse.

 

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The real lesson to take away from the US Presidential Election and the UK Brexit Vote.

I’ve worked in the marketing “industry” for several decades, and have been on the “buy-side” all that time. To those not in the industry that means I buy marketing services (creative and media) from companies who sell it. Those companies use very similar techniques as are used in politics to advise on the right message and mix of media, and I’ve found that the accuracy of those “techniques” has always been biased towards the exact services that those “sell-side” marketers are pushing.

During the election cycle we saw every single media outlet doing whatever they could to keep their revenue streams happy. On TV and radio this means keeping consumers watching/listening across ad-breaks, while in print and online it was to maximize their viewership by offering views that would be attractive to as wide an audience as possible.

So every issue was represented from both sides, every fact was questioned without facts and every bullshit idea was presented as equal to any fact. There was absolutely no interest in what any candidate actually was going to do, what was important was presenting every position as equal, allowing every party to just talk and talk.

Stolen information from emails, and candidly recorded audio was presented without any interest in its integrity and was presented as being as valid as formally recorded statements, creating a level of uncertainty around every piece of knowledge, facts and non-facts were melded, and it became hard to distinguish rumor from fact, so hard that most people gave up even trying to, “her lies” and “his misogyny, bigotry and bluster” was seen as equal, which I suspect in the cold hard light of history will be seen to not be so.

And then to support all of this, highly nuanced surveys and polls were continually captured and presented. I say highly nuanced, because polls and surveys always end up speaking to a small group of people who actually are willing to spend the time to answer questions. And when you pay someone to run a survey they quickly learn who they can rely on, and will go to the same people again and again, despite the clear data issue this generated, because that’s how they get paid.

The goal is to create content in support of revenue. Cheap content, presented as valuable beyond it’s true value. Low cost product generating high profit revenue is the dream of any business, including the media.

Polls, surveys, snippets of information then discussed by talking heads and bloggers, who then become the news source for more talking heads to discuss (just look at Foxnews, MSNBC, CNN, NBC, BBC News, Huffington post etc). The actual validity of the core data quickly gets lost in the process of generating “content”

In business the sell-side marketers are always pushing “facts” in support of the “buy-side” marketers case to spend more money. “buy-side” marketers are always under pressure to justify their budgets, and once they start to rely on the “sell-side facts” they are hooked into an addictive cycle that requires them to just double down on their committed plan, spending more and more.

This is exactly what the media do in every election cycle. The biggest measure of a campaign is seen as how much are they spending on ad’s. When in fact these adverts have almost no impact on the election, and yet every campaign buys into the bullshit. Every talking head, newspaper and blogger is writing about who has a bigger war chest, and who is spending more in this month’s cycle of ad’s. Every Ad is presented as a powerful new tool to swing the result, a tool that never produced the promised results, EVER!

The pain that businesses feel when they cannot see a direct relationship between their marketing investment and their business performance is EXACTLY the same as the pain that the electorate feel when the polls prove to be entirely devoid of reality.

The people who are marching up and down outside Trump buildings, should maybe think about marching up and down outside the “free presses” offices.

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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.

 

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Anti-Science Is Incredibly Dangerous

The GOP nominee for president has been talking about the burden of regulations on business, and screamed about the four thousand plus drugs that are currently undergoing the regulatory mandated clinical trial process. He has a simplistic view that if these drugs were sped through a simpler process this would in some way save lives. How does he know?

How does he know that these drugs are going to do what is hoped? How can he know that a new cancer drug won’t actually have some dramatic unexpected effect that could make the situation worse? How does he know that fixing one symptom won’t create other deadly symptoms for the patient, or worse for other people?

Does he understand the historical record of drugs that created unexpected (unintended) consequences, some of which were horrific?

Does he understand the historical record of drugs that had absolutely no effect, but were marketed as cures for everything, causing people to die earlier or less comfortably than they otherwise would have?

The answer (of course) is that he doesn’t know these things, but does know that people desperate for new drugs to help terminal or painful conditions may vote for a candidate who creates fear of regulations.

He also knows that drug companies looking to reduce their costs of development (and their costs of indemnification) would in some cases love to see the time required to meet regulations reduced.

Reducing costs is a good idea, but not by removing scientific rigor.

There are no simple answers to complex questions, history has shown that people who promote simple one dimensional answers are always dangerously wrong.

The science being done today in the fields of medicine and food creation are incredible. The knowledge that scientists have curated on how the mechanisms of life work has opened up entirely new avenues of research that is leading to incredibly complex solutions to previously untreatable conditions. But there is always a “but”. How do we know for sure that one change, or a series of changes that a treatment makes won’t create a situation that will be dangerous in other ways. The answer is we need to be very careful. Being careful means agreeing on a rigorous scientific process to confirm the validity of an idea through careful peer reviewable testing that always errs on the side of doubt. That is exactly what todays regulations aim to do.

The regulatory bodies in existence are always looking to improve their processes, but improving the rigor, efficiency or effectiveness of a scientific process, does not mean reducing regulations.

The scientific process may seem frustrating, but a non-scientific process is not just dangerous it’s would also be vastly less effective.

(1)

People of America, Your Attention Please

BRICKINTHEWALL

 

When you look at the UK decision to exit the European Union, please look very carefully; This is not the same as voting for Trump.

The UK has a democratically elected parliamentary system (A little bit like the president, house and senate, just a bit more pomp and ceremony, but about as dysfunctional), and it is currently also part of the European Union (a complex series of interconnections between 28 countries with a sometimes stated goal of becoming the United States of Europe, with some amazingly good social ideas and some really scary social and political ideas that seem to harken back to times of people with funny mustaches and no knees).

Having two overlapping political systems should seem very normal to every US Citizen, what with state and federal organizations.

But then the UK also is a United Kingdom consisting of England, Wales, Scotland and (a chunk of the Northern part of an island mostly made up of the country of Eire), called Northern Ireland, along with a smattering of other islands around it’s coasts and a couple of places that are just there for sport (yes Gibraltar I’m thinking of you). Some of these areas also have their own parliaments, which may seem confusing to you (because it is).

Scotland is really poor most of the time, well it’s not actually poor, but it costs more to run than the gross domestic product it produces. This means it needs a sugar daddy to buy it a nice apartment in exchange for a few castles and access to its ample supply of sheep and whiskey. It seems that under the auspices of the EU, Scotland was just one of many areas in this situation, and so a good supply of readies was always available with more always promised (but never quite delivered), and the Europeans were more interested in using it for holidays than f&*ing the sheep, which made them easier to deal with than the politicians in Westminster (England).

Wales on the other hand is really full of sheep, and men with good singing voices, and generally they like to be left alone (to sing to their sheep we all assume), so being part of Europe was not generally seen as anything of value, but it’s very expensive, so with a few exceptions most of Wales wanted to be left out of Europe and left alone as usual.

Northern Island on the other hand is full of people who shout all the time, and really like drinking. This is exactly the same as the people in Eire (Ireland to you), and they can walk there for a pint and a good argument and then walk home again. While going to drink in the rest of the UK requires a boat, which is actually harder than walking. So the Northern Ireland folks mostly want to be part of Europe, specifically with those in Ireland. Except some don’t and they have in the past made that really clear, by fighting amongst themselves in quite serious ways and blowing lots of things and people up. Since those who want to be part of Europe mostly don’t use contraceptives while those who want to be part of the UK do, time will be the great decider, as one group has massive families (of voters) while the other doesn’t. At some point in the next couple of generations the vote will go to those who want to become part of Eire, and the hope is the shouting and drinking will be enough until that happens.

The English on the other hand are more complex, anyone old enough to have a parent or grandparent who fought in WWII wants to leave Europe (remember what we fought for in the war etc.), while everyone who is younger wants to move to Spain and party while collecting government handouts. In fact, it seems most of the largest city (London) wanted to remain in Europe, but it rained quite hard in London on the day of the election so a lot of younger people it seems stayed at home. I wonder if this lack of a focus on actually winning comes from their schooling where sports are not about winning but about spending an afternoon in the sun in a Lacoste shirt and shiny new white trainers and receiving a medal for just being alive.

Anyway now that the UK (Britain is its other name) has voted to exit Europe (Brexit, get it now), and everyones heads have exploded, because up to now no one really thought this would happen, it was supposed to be a moaning vote (a way of expressing a complaint that could be ignored) and like all moaning votes was never supposed to lead anywhere. But it has and now everyone is realizing they really should have worked out a plan of what to do next.

But being British means that they are used to making stupid mistakes and then turning each mistake into something unexpected and brilliant.

Anyway people of America please look very carefully at the Brexit vote, it is not like voting for Trump, the UK still has a democratically elected parliament not run by a raving sexist, bigoted, xenophobic bull-shitter (of course that also could happen in the UK, there is one or two waiting for their chance, but it has not happened yet).

(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.

(8)

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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Why there is no easy answer on guns.

Weapons of all kinds can serve one of four purposes.

1. Defense
2. Offence
3. Hobby
4. Fantasy

In America the right for people to keep and bear arms is not limited to the government and it’s affiliates, and while the second amendment is written as a partially formed paragraph it’s almost impossible to argue with any interpretation that clever lawyers can push.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I find it hard to see how some fat bloke living in a mobile home, who didn’t finish school and has more firepower that Pol Pot on the Khmer Rouge’s most pissed off day can be considered well regulated, but it seems that’s how that amendment to the US constitution is now interpreted.

I get freedom, and if I was living fifty miles from the nearest police station, I could see how having a weapon for protection makes sense.

What I don’t understand is why it’s acceptable that weapons are not licensed, insured and well regulated, in a similar way to cars.

In America you need to meet more regulation to cut hair than you do to own a semi-automatic assault rifle.

In the same way that someone with bad eyes or a brain injury will need to meet extra stringent test before they are allowed to drive, I think it’s not unreasonable to make gun ownership a seriously controlled act.

Anyone can own and drive a car as long as they meet the rules, why not the same with weapons?

I think we need to separate the loony idea of rising up against a tyrannical government from the idea of sensible gun ownership, if gun ownership is to continue to be a right.

I know that America has been incrementally militarized through multiple generations serving extended times in military services. And the excess of government spending on military equipment has filtered down to domestic security , and the police now have incredible levels of military hardware.

Culturally large parts of the American culture are now heavily influenced by military ideas. From camouflage clothing and backpacks being street ware to companies selling supplies to allow those with bunkers to survive a planned zombie government agent uprising.

There are a lot of weaponized citizens and most of them seem to love their guns. I know that in just about any armed confrontation, the person who has planned it has a huge advantage. If you plan to attack someone you have control of your adrenaline production, you would only attack when you are ready. If on the other hand you are attacked and are not expecting it, your adrenaline will start flowing and you will be in the worst position to respond effectively. The best course of action in just about any situation where you are attacked unexpectedly is to retreat to a defensive position and make a plan. And the best plan is to wait for reinforcements. That’s why a good guy with a gun is unlikely to defeat a bad guy with a gun.

The best situation is that bad guys don’t have guns. And the best way to stop bad guys having guns is to use a mix of limiting gun ownership (for bad guys) with technical and physical methods of stopping bad guys being able to use guns and acquire ammunition.

I don’t think the semantic political games about what is an assault weapon and sizes of magazines can ever do anything useful. But over time if it’s harder for a thief to steal a gun or for a mental patient to buy a gun on the secondhand market, then the volume of weapons held illegally will drop (as has been seen in many other places in the world)

There is no quick fix, and there is no perfect answer. But a start would be the gun special interest groups taking a position that licensing gun ownership, insuring guns and gun users and providing technology to limit gun use to the registered owner and limiting ammo sales to only those who have registered weapons that need it would be very helpful.

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