Sunday, June 16, 2013

10 Elements to Better Governance

Government.  Those of you that know me know that I fall under the category of mostly libertarian.  What does that mean?  It means that I'm not a fan of strong federal government and a big fan of individual rights and responsibility.  Now this is all fine and well.  I don't do much with my political beliefs, in fact about all I do is vote.  So I started to think.  What would make government better and better serve the people?  Well...

10. Who doesn't like to party?! - The 2 party system (You know, the Red Republicans and the Blue Democrats) seems to be really counter productive.  Every 4 years, the nation engages in the world's largest team sport called the national election.  You get 2 teams, we'll call them parties.  Each party then proceeds to play a game of miniscule examination of candidates. This game is silly because we have to assume that any individual is going to be human and therefore always susceptible to bad press.  At the same time, the citizenry plays an equally silly game where they point at the faults and even more laughable, sit and claim that they are 'undecided'  right up to the last minute.  In the end, after all the votes have been counted and new leadership has been installed the same things happen in government.  Excuses for what promises won't be fulfilled, and more money spent in an effort to expand government oversight into everything.  Many other countries have multiple parties that run for election.  What this gives them is a more diverse selection of political philosophies instead of 2 philosophies that have become so intermingled in practice that it doesn't really matter who you vote for.  What it takes away is a clear majority.  Usually an election with many parties ends with a plurality instead of a clear majority.  At this point, that's a price I'm willing to pay.

9. Easy Information - I've always said that the weight of communication is 80% on the side of the person that wants to convey an idea.  It's not only important to have the forum for communication, but to also have the expertise to use that communication.  That being said, the other 20% is every bit as important.  The receivers of that information need to be able to listen and understand the information.  The difference between the sender and the receiver of a given message has been increased by a few things.  First, those that communicate have changed the nature of the communication from one of earnest ideas to that of semi-honest sound bites.  Human nature is such that these small sound bites are easier to digest and therefore have a greater impact.  Unfortunately this poisons most that listen because that is all they will hear.  All of the truth of a candidate could be exposed in a non biased form on the internet and yet most people will not even try to look much less overcome their own bias in order to see who they actually agree with the most.  While this is very important unfortunately I find that there is no good answer.  This is a case of trying to force the horse to drink.

8. Independent Currency - Currently, every currency is dictated by it's country of origin.  The exception to this is the Euro which is a currency based on several governments that all agree in principal to the economic direction and trade agreements of the group.  I have mentioned Bitcoin in the past and I believe that it is an important example of how future currency should be executed.  The important part of independent currency is that government can not simply print more money when they want to spend more.  Governments in charge of their own currency that decide to print more, devalue the money in citizen's savings as well as build a culture of financial irresponsibility.  This is a much more complicated question than what I have presented, but I would like you to read the rest of this blog so I will stop here.  I discuss Bitcoin more in a separate blog post.

7. Single Timezone Voting - We have idiotic rules about each state trying to be the FIRST state to vote and when they will vote.  This was probably important when communication was largely transmitted by birds and horses.  Now we have the power to execute all votes at the same time.  Lets just allow the vote to occur for the same time frame across the country and end at the same time UTC.  I understand that in some places that will be really late and in other places that will be really early, but that's ok because it won't allow the NEWS to start reporting returns until EVERYONE is done voting.  Poor Hawaii...poor poor Hawaii.

6. Automatic legal sundown - This is more about the laws that govern our land.  It seems we make more and more and depend on the legacy of those judicial decisions to determine the legal standing of a current ruling.  This is all fine and well, except technology in many cases has outstripped our legal systems ability to keep up with the rulings.  Lawyers make a lot of money in researching ancient legal precedent to continue our legal system.  If we determine that laws must have an automatic expiration date, we would force legislators to both  keep an idea of what laws are still worthwhile and what laws are better left dead.  Laws that are allowed to exist unchecked give us eventual legal mutations that are hard to comprehend.

5. Vote alteration -  Allow the electorate to change their mind over time.  This will require internet voting.  NO! you say.  The Internet is too insecure!  There is too much potential for voter fraud!  This is an OUTRAGE!.  To this I say, poppycock and falderal.   The voting system should be engineered through an open source project that will allow for public oversight.  Then voting can be executed any time during the year that campaigning is allowed.  The question of voting booths are as simple as internet access, and votes can be changed right up to the deadline outlined in number 7.  Those of you that think the internet is too insecure and too easily hacked have been watching too much CSI.  If the internet is SO horrible at security, why do we trust our financial commerce with it?  What about regular voter fraud?  You know, like where dead people vote?  Allowing us to change our vote over time allows us to vote ahead of time and not worry about losing out.  We save money on the whole absentee voter nonsense.  We have a chance to think about what we are voting for and pay attention to our second thoughts.

4. Powerful Local Government - This is more about moving the overbearing power of the Fed back to the states.  Yes yes, Shay's rebellion and all that are important, I'm not saying that we remove federal power all together.  But I AM saying that federal power has LONG overstepped it's bounds.  The more powerful local government is, the more each states decisions tend to stand out.  If you live in a state you don't agree with, you could move to one that does things a different way.  At this point every state more or less tastes the same and there is very little diversity in governance.

3. Complete Transparency - All of this talk about spying on the US citizens is running in the wrong direction. Individual citizens don't have much power as it is.  Being afraid of citizens seems to be the characteristic of an entity that realizes that it has too much power and is afraid that it will lose it.  Since we talk about the powers that the NSA/CIA/FBI has, lets bring those powers to bear on our elected officials.  Every elected official would agree to give up ALL privacy.  Everything they say and do is available for scrutiny by the public.  We certainly have the means to look at all of their emails and cell phone transmissions.  All elected officials would be required to carry two enabled smart phones and every conversation they have should be recorded.  This would solve the problem of PACs as well as bad corporate influence.  I suspect that once you do this, you eliminate the need for term limits because everyone would agree that if a politician is doing what the public wants and still wants to serve...let em!

2. 16th Amendment needs to go - The ability for a government to take your money and force you to work on their behalf is not patriotic, it's slavery.  The IRS has already been seen to be at least a little corrupt in practice if not in concept.  The latest revelations not withstanding the IRS has been a sharp toothed Pit Bull on the leash of government for a long time.  This corruption goes back to Nixon and likely beyond.  Really, the TSA and the HSA could also take a hike as they are VERY expensive for what we are getting.

1.  No Electoral College - What in the WORLD is this here for?  Like time zones for the vote this was a good idea when you couldn't really count all the votes up and get everything together.  The electoral college gives disproportionate power to states with low populations.  This allows the President to be elected based on the state instead of popular consensus.  This is probably wrong these days.  If we put into place my other ideas, the Electoral College is an anachronism and needs to be buried.

If the IRS/CIA/NSA/FBI/HSA stops me from publishing this blog and I become mysteriously missing...Tell my story.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

10 things that might happen in the afterlife.

Heaven and Hell.  These are the original black and white of life.  One is the ultimate reward and the other is the ultimate punishment.  Has anyone ever been there?  Not as far as we know.  There are of course no end of people that are willing to tell us what it is like, so I figure what the hell...umm, I mean heck, I'll try to divine the nature of both areas.  Better yet, I'll just tell you some of the possibilities that may await us on the other side.

10.  A LOT of surprised people - Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and all of their sister cities are places for people that are mostly good or mostly bad, or mostly undecided.  Assuming you go to Heaven, there will be a lot of people there that you were certain would not belong there.  Conversely Hell will have a lot of inhabitants that are surprised that they are there.  The difference is of course the realizations of Heaven are usually extrospective and realizations in Hell are mostly introspective.

9.  Nothing - Sure you believe in an afterlife full of one thing or another, but there IS the possibility that once the lights go out, that's it, nothing else.  Yes, I know, there are lots of near death experiences and ghostly EVP's that would point to our spirit going on to ethereal greatness after we shuffle off this mortal coil, but how about the big void.  You won't be there to be bored so it won't be THAT big a deal.

8.  Haunting something - So instead of an ACTUAL afterlife, maybe there is just a bunch of ghost friendly haunting sites.  Possible haunting areas do NOT include rickety old homes, abandoned schools, or defunct mental institutions.  Who wants to hang around there forever?  How about the Haunted house at Disneyland?  They would LOVE to see some actual haunting mixed into those 999 happy haunts.  How about an airport frequent fliers club?  That would be pretty swank.  You could mess with their free wireless internet access.

7.  Field Trips! - In order to make heaven and hell what they are supposed to be; supremely enjoyable and supremely miserable.  You really have to have a break from your misery or your rapture in order to fully appreciate the state you are in.  So every so often the people from heaven have an exchange program with the people from hell so they can experience each others state of being.  After a while they return to their regularly scheduled afterlife and they can think alternatively 'Wow, this heavenly stuff is gosh darn great!'  or 'Crap I hate this place.  I forgot how much I hated it here.'.  Of course this may not be true at all if dying changes our basic nature such that we can only feel misery or joy.  If that's the case then we can all live through eternity right next to each other.

6.  Compare ends - Assuming you get to talk to other people that have passed on, I imagine the conversation at the post life cafeteria would sound something like this:
Dead guy 1: 'So how did you end know...'.
Dead guy 2: 'Dying?  Oh, I died of consumption.  Long and slow, but it got the job done'
Dead guy 1: 'Oh, Tuberculosis?  Yeah, they all but wiped that out later'
Dead guy 2: 'Yeah, I know, but if it isn't one thing...'
Dead guy 1: 'Sure'
Dead guy 2: 'So how was yours?'
Dead guy 1: 'Oh, I was stung to death by giant Japanese wasps'
Dead guy 2: 'WHAT?!?  Really?  That's horrible'
Dead guy 1: 'Tell me about it...Anyway, pretty glad that's over with.'

5.  No pain mostly - Since the mortal human body is designed to feel pain as a protective measure against self destruction, I'm not sure what reason an immortal body would have to feel pain, other than punitive punishment.  I assume there would be no pain like we know it.   Since Hell is a pretty varied place depending on what you believe I couldn't say if you feel pain or not.  Most religions seem to think it's either a place where you will suffer the punishment which I assume means pain.  But will your back keep bothering you?  How about that bad knee?  That one tooth that never really felt right?  I guess if you are continually being consumed in a lake of brimstone you won't have to worry about those things anymore either.   Heaven of course converts the pain of those suffering in hell to pleasant mists and refreshing beverages for you to consume in your righteousness.  I just made that part up.  But I think it sounds good.

4.  No Church! - One way or another, Hell or Heaven.  You are already there so no more church!  No more listening to someone drone on about something they really don't know any more than you do because now you all know the same thing!  Doesn't matter how it ends.  Of course that's one less thing for the pious to look down their noses at you for, but that's ok, they'll have lots of other stuff.

3.  No food - Depending on the state of the afterlife, it seems that we won't be taking our mortal baggage along with us.  Assuming that is the case, It seems that there won't be any food because you won't be hungry.  Kind of a disappointment really because I really like food.  Of course the only reason I like food is because I'm mortal and my body employs mechanisms that make me hungry and then enjoy food so I will stay alive.  Once I'm dead.  I suspect that food will just look disgusting to me.

2.  No Holidays - I assume that since Heaven doesn't revolve around anything and nothing revolves around it, I suspect that there will be no holidays in the afterlife.  Unless of course we end up on Planet Heaven and Planet Hell.  Some theologies suggest that heaven is actually right here on earth.  In which case, there will be holidays.  But instead you will probably celebrate your death day.  Happy Death Day!  How long have you been dead?  Who cares, because that number can get really high.

1.  Everyone is roughly the same age - Let's assume for a moment that when you die, you maintain some kind of human form.  Ok.  Well if you are going to heaven, or you are arriving there in the same state that you left earth?  Not bloody likely.  You'll probably arrive somewhere in your late 20's.  That means everyone that gets there is there in their late 20's.  You will NEVER recognize your grandma and a lot of other people you left back on earth.  It will be a lot like a high school reunion in reverse.

Just some thoughts.  of course they aren't verifiable.  But I've never claimed this to be a 100% factual blog.  For that you need to go to Wikipedia...wait a minute...

See you in 15 days.