05 March 2012

Get Elected To Congress, Get Rich

Funny how that happens...

Houston Chronicle: Many Texas congressional leaders got richer during the recession
Even in a flailing economy, many Texans in Congress have seen their personal net worth swell - and 17 of the state's 34 representatives on Capitol Hill have emerged from the recession with money in the millions.

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, a Democrat representing a downtown Houston district, boosted her estimated net worth over the four years from $175,505 to $935,005, with investments shifting from insurance to commercial banking.

02 March 2012

The Canary In The Coal Mine

Washington Post: Olympia Snowe: Why I’m leaving the Senate
The Senate of today routinely jettisons regular order, as evidenced by the body’s failure to pass a budget for more than 1,000 days; serially legislates by political brinkmanship, as demonstrated by the debt-ceiling debacle of August that should have been addressed the previous January; and habitually eschews full debate and an open amendment process in favor of competing, up-or-down, take-it-or-leave-it proposals.

The great challenge is to create a system that gives our elected officials reasons to look past their differences and find common ground if their initial party positions fail to garner sufficient support. In a politically diverse nation, only by finding that common ground can we achieve results for the common good. That is not happening today and, frankly, I do not see it happening in the near future.

For change to occur, our leaders must understand that there is not only strength in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building — but also a political reward for following these tenets. That reward will be real only if the people demonstrate their desire for politicians to come together after the planks in their respective party platforms do not prevail.

I certainly don’t have all the answers, and reversing the corrosive trend of winner-take-all politics will take time. But as I enter a new chapter in my life, I see a critical need to engender public support for the political center, for our democracy to flourish and to find solutions that unite rather than divide us.

You read about other politicians with the same concerns. Why has our politics become so divided? Is it a generational thing, and because of some mind-set of the baby-boom generation? It is the rise of cable television channels? A shift in our culture?

It is because of the increased centralization of power in the federal government. The federal government has too much power, too much money, too much control. Issues, decisions, and money that used to be distributed to the states and localities has now all been concentrated in Washington. The result is toxic.

With just 545 people (435+100+9+1) lording it over the activities and income of some 300 million plus Americans, gaining access to - or a sense of obligation from - one of these precious empowered few is poisoning our entire political and economic culture. The stakes for those involved are just too high. So every decision point, every angle, every advantage, has to be fought over in a herculean life or death struggle.

As long as decision making is increasingly concentration in the federal government, as long as the federal government intrudes into personal life, and long as business are dependent on federal regulatory whims, then politics will grow ever more fraught with corruption, manufactured partisanship and vitriol. The question is, will the trend towards centralization reverse itself before the system irrevocably breaks down?

A Penny For Space Exploration Is Worth It. We Shouldn't Leave Space Exploration To The Chinese.

A few excerpts from Foreign Affairs: The Case for Space: Why We Should Keep Reaching for the Stars. (It's behind a pay wall, but you should be a subscriber, anyway. It's a great magazine.) A good article, which makes compelling arguments for our continued involvement in space exploration. A few salient points:

If the United States commits to the goal of reaching Mars, it will almost certainly do so in reaction to the progress of other nations -- as was the case with NASA, the Apollo program, and the project that became the International Space Station.

Last December, China released an official strategy paper describing an ambitious five-year plan to advance its space capabilities.

When it comes to its space programs, China is not in the habit of proffering grand but empty visions. Far from it: the country has an excellent track record of matching promises with achievements.

The partisanship surrounding space exploration and the retrenching of U.S. space policy are part of a more general trend: the decline of science in the United States. As its interest in science wanes, the country loses ground to the rest of the industrialized world in every measure of technological proficiency.

Clearly defined, goal-oriented support for specific outcomes in specific fields may yield evolutionary advances, but cross-pollination involving a diversity of sciences much more readily encourages revolutionary discoveries. And nothing spurs cross-pollination like space exploration, which draws from the ranks of astrophysicists, biologists, chemists, engineers, planetary geologists, and subspecialists in those fields. Without healthy federal support for the space program, ambitions calcify, and the economy that once thrived on a culture of innovation retreats from the world stage.

Many will ask, “Why are we spending billion of dollars up there in space when we have pressing problems down here on Earth?” That question should be replaced by a more illuminating one: “As a fraction of one of my tax dollars today, what is the total cost of all U.S. spaceborne telescopes and planetary probes, the rovers on Mars, the International Space Station, the recently terminated space shuttle, telescopes yet to orbit, and missions yet to fly?” The answer is one-half of one penny. During the storied Apollo era, peak NASA spending (in 1965–66) amounted to a bit more than four cents on the tax dollar. If the United States restored funding for NASA to even a quarter of that level -- a penny on the tax dollar -- the country could reclaim its preeminence in a field that shaped its twentieth-century ascendancy.

Video: Why The Economy Growing So Slowly?

Despite the media happy talk, the economy is sluggish.

So what do our political and media elites want to talk about? Contraception!

Grow, Little Political Start Up

I have long been a believer in political moderation and centrism. I was one of the early signers-on to the Modern Whig Party, an effort by returning Iraqi War Veterans to start a centrist new political party.

Although, for personal and work-related reasons, I had to reduce my involvement in that effort, my time spent with that group introduced me to some of the most decent, patriotic, and concerned citizens I have ever met in my life. It gave me real hope for our country to meet other people with a lot of common sense. If only such deep concern and goodwill would pervade our everyday politics, and media reporting, out nation would be in better shape.

One thing we did not have much of, though, was money. And to play with the big boys, you need of lot it. I mean a lot. Think of a lot of money. Then multiply that by 100. OK, got it? Well, you still don't have enough. So that was the one thing that was limiting, and very frustrating. How to get money? Contributions, of course. But the kind of people who give the big bucks do so because they expect something in return. And being a start-up, you don't have anything to give. And you won't, unless you get some money. So you have the familiar what-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg kind of problem.

Three solutions can easily be imagined for a political start-up. First, overwhelming public enthusiasm will help you bootstrap your way into office, and into getting some contributors. An example of this would be the Tea Party surge that we saw in 2009-10. Big, big, big public interest creates rapidly growing credibility. However, the powers-that-be will strive mightily to divert you insurgency in to established political channels. As we saw with the Tea Party, where the anti-establishment ethos of its early days was diverted safely by the moneyed political elites into the Republican Party. If the Occupy Wall Street protests had picked up more momentum, the Democrats were certainly prepared, if not eager, to divert them into another Democratic Party interest group.

Secondly, a significant donor can step up and back the start-up effort. While sure to be welcomed at first, one can never forget that money brings control, and unless your deep-pocketed donor is truly benevolent, you risk becoming a political tool of one person's interests (or the interests of a small, wealthy group).

Thirdly, established political figures can break away from established politics and back the start-up. This is what has happened in our distant past, and what happens in other countries. It has not happened here in a long, long time. I suspect it is due to both sheer inertia and the legally entreated positions of the two parties. But it was this possibility that always intrigued me the most. Surely, I thought, there must be some established political figures that were deeply unhappy, and would be willing to make a leap if the time looked right.

Which is why I am intrigued most by articles like this one:

NY Times: Prominent Democrat Endorses Third-Party Group
Even as Republicans wage a bitter, intra-party feud for the right to challenge President Obama a group called Americans Elect is steadily building support — and a 50-state infrastructure — for a bipartisan ticket that could challenge both parties for the White House.

That effort will get a fresh push on Tuesday from David Boren, a former Democratic senator and governor from Oklahoma who backed Mr. Obama in 2008 but says he is now looking for a way to provide “electric shock therapy” to the political system.“The country is going to really be in deep trouble if we don’t act soon,” Mr. Boren, who is now president of the University of Oklahoma, said in an interview with The Caucus. “I think this is really a cry from many of us who are really concerned for the future of the country.”

Mr. Boren is part of a small, but growing cadre of politicians from both sides of the aisle who are expressing displeasure with the political system — and the political gridlock it is producing. Just last week, Jon M. Huntsman Jr., the former governor of Utah and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, voiced support for a third party, saying that the two-party system was broken.
Now, I will admit, that this kind of news may not seem all that exciting. Also involved in this type of general disgruntlement are former Louisiana Governor Buddy Roemer, and N.Y. Mayor Bloomberg. No individual may seem particularly inspiring. But taken together, their general disgruntlement hopefully represents a larger trend. And then you also have the Americans Elect effort.

Among average Americans there is a lot of unhappiness with the way our politics is (not) working. More unhappiness than the media would ever reveal, in bed as they are with the political establishment. The number of those who say they are political independents increases every year. Something will have to eventually give. I may not think Americans Elect is ideal. I still pine away for my beloved Modern Whig Party. But perfection is rarely encountered in politics. We cannot not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Maybe a combination of methods two and three, mentioned above, will work. Taken together, maybe some break away politicians together with the Americans Elect effort could grow, and start a crack in the deadening concrete overlay of the two party system.

01 March 2012

Democracy or Secularism?

If you are in the Middle East, take your pick, because it appears you can't have both. Or they won't allow themselves both.

It reminds me a bit of the early '90s, when our State Department said that we supported a "unified, democratic Yugoslavia." As a friend of mine at the time observed, they needed to pick one, because they sue as hell weren't getting both.

Ah, the Arab world. As if their lives were not complicated enough. So what do you value most?Democracy? or Secularism?

It's a false choice, to be sure. But, tragically, in some parts of the world, it's not. Even more tragically, they may very well end up with neither.

28 February 2012

"The path to the future now looks more like a series of very hard engineering problems rather than an uphill fight against physics."

I really like that quote from the article below.

Of all the events that have happened recently, the politics, the economy, Greek debt crisis, what have you, this is the kind of quiet background technological development that is more important than any of that other stuff we discuss.

In my lifetime, I have seen incredible advances in computing. Get quantum computing figured out, then progress will really accelerate.

N.Y Times: I.B.M. Researchers Inch Toward Quantum Computer
“In the past, people have said, maybe it’s 50 years away, it’s a dream, maybe it’ll happen sometime,” said Mark B. Ketchen, manager of the physics of information group at I.B.M.’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. “I used to think it was 50. Now I’m thinking like it’s 15 or a little more. It’s within reach. It’s within our lifetime. It’s going to happen.”

These days, the path to the future now looks more like a series of very hard engineering problems rather than an uphill fight against physics.

For certain problems like searching databases or factoring very large numbers — the basis of today’s encryption techniques — quantum computers could produce an answer in days or maybe even seconds, whereas the fastest conventional computer would take longer than 13.7 billion years.

Time To Get Busy

Foreign Policy: Go Forth and Multiply

Want to stop the slide in U.S. dominance? Make more Americans.

27 February 2012

Limited Time Offer

One Good Thing The Internet Is For

When I was a kid, they would give out the Academy award for animated shorts, and of course, there was no way to ever see them.

Score one for the Internet, I suppose. Above is the winner of the 2011 Academy Award for best animated short.

Ad Astra

The Atlantic: Project Icarus: Laying the Plans for Interstellar Travel
To be sure, the bundle of technologies that could conceivably send a spacecraft to another star won't be here within the decade, or even within several, but neither are those technologies mere magical realism -- indeed, planning for their development has begun in earnest.
More about Project Icarus can be found here: Icarus Interstellar

I Always Suspected ...

The Atlantic: How Your Cat Is Making You Crazy
Could tiny organisms carried by house cats be creeping into our brains, causing everything from car wrecks to schizophrenia?

But if Flegr is right, the “latent” parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents.

And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.”

Issues With The CFPB

So as I'm getting back up to speed, I've been poking around the interwebs looking from posts by Whigs. Here is one I found, from last month, that discusses Obama's recess appointment for Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Although this issue has dropped from the news, the aggression of this action in asserting the executive over the legislative continues to bother me. A brief excerpt is below. Go read the whole thing, I think you will find it is a very thoughtful analysis.

Matt Glassman: In Which A Whig Thinks About Recess Appointments
The first question was resolved in the 19th century after numerous court decisions: it does not matter when the vacancy itself was created. The latter question — what constitutes a recess?— is still of much dispute, and is one of the reasons that today’s action by the President is controversial.

President Obama is making an appointment during a three-day intra-session recess of the Senate; if allowed to stand, such a precedent would go beyond even the most expansive current reading of the clause, one offered by the Justice Department on behalf of the executive in the past — that the Senate must be in recess for at least three days before a valid intra-session recess appointment can be made. (The President is also apparently arguing that the Senate is not even really in session — insert Whig head explosion here — but we’ll get to that in a minute.)

What we don’t want to end up in is a situation in which it has become the norm for the President to use recess appointments as the primary mechanism of filling the judiciary or the Executive Branch with judges/officers.
The other issue that bothers this Whig is the policy that is being immediately pursued, that is looking into overdraft protection fees. Once again, the government is pursuing regulations and policies that seek to protect individuals from their own irresponsible behavior, while placing a burden on those who behave responsibly.

Look, banks are going to charge fees to cover the costs of providing banking services. If you don't bounce checks, and aren't planning to, then you have little to worry from overdraft fees. The fees charged to those who would otherwise bounce checks reduce the fees for the rest of us.

But the proposed regulations will protect those who bounce checks, while inevitably causing fee increases on those who don't bounce checks, once again punishing those who follow the rules.

25 February 2012

I Just Hope He Doesn't Start Talking About Precious Bodily Fluids

The Hill: Santorum: US would lose its 'very essence' if Obama reelected
It's incredibly obvious, isn't it? A foreign substance is introduced into our precious bodily fluids without the knowledge of the individual, and certainly without any choice.
That's the way your hard-core Commie works. I first became aware of it, Mandrake, during the physical act of love... Yes, a profound sense of fatigue, a feeling of emptiness followed. Luckily I — I was able to interpret these feelings correctly.
Loss of essence. I can assure you it has not recurred, Mandrake. Women, er, women sense my power, and they seek the life essence. I do not avoid women, Mandrake...but I do deny them my essence.

Links To Two Sci-Fi Short Stories

I've always been a fan of science fiction, and lately, I've become more interested in sci fi short stories.

Stories where humans are the more aggressive, clever, and warlike than the aliens are always amusing. I guess they are a form of self-flattery. Of course, if we ever do discover life in the universe, I doubt that humans would be the most anything. I suppose reality would be more like that envisioned by Stanislaw Lem. In his stories, alien life is so truly alien, that it is difficult to even understand if it is alive, and is usually impossible to communicate with, or nearly impossible.

Here are two oldies but goodies that I enjoy, and hope you find entertaining.

The first, is an older short story called Rescue Party by Arthur C. Clark. From 1946, it is a classic. If you've never read it before, check it out.

The second is The Road Not Taken by Harry Turtledove. From 1983, the story is one of Mr. Turtledove's earlier works, and is a bit rough around the edges, particularly some of the dialogue. But the concept is so absurd and surprising that this early work, from an author that has become one of the great writers of alternative history, is worth reading.

24 February 2012

Corruption Inherent in the System

I am not so naive as to believe that politics has ever been free of corruption and self enrichment. No belief exists within me that the "good old days" were a halcyon period of upright public servants. Even the most casual student of history quickly realizes that governance has always lent itself to corruption.

But I did used to believe that at least some political actors were honest. Perhaps I am naive. But now, after Citizens United, and the rise of the super-PACs, is it possible that there is anyone -- anyone at all -- who can remain clean? Just the sheer numbers alone would indicate that any successful politician must be enormously compromised.

My great frustration when I was working with the Modern Whig Party was the immediate need of money. No matter the level of involvement, no matter the enthusiasm, without money, and lots of it, the powers-that-be will simply not allow admission to the political process.

Even the Tea Party was not taken seriously until money started being raised and spent. And then of course that effort was quickly co-opted by the entrenched money interests and directed into already established channels.

NY Times: Donors With Agendas
Just two dozen or so individuals, couples and companies have given more than 80 percent of the money collected by super PACs, or $54 million, according to disclosure forms released on Monday.
Many are involved in businesses or ideological causes that have clear policy agendas with the federal government. Their huge influence on individual candidates demonstrates the potential for corruption inherent in the super PAC era.
Until a few weeks ago, the president might have credibly campaigned against the undue influence of special interests on his Republican rivals. He can no longer make the case because, after his PAC received only $58,816 last month, Mr. Obama invited donors to give without limits.
And all but the most privileged Americans will pay the price if the nation’s wealthiest can buy elections.

In This Economy, Not Even Debt Collectors Are Thriving

You can't get blood from a stone, as they say.

But just as with most businesses in the U.S., debt collectors have been hit with declining margins since 2008 and have been forced to make cuts in their workforce.

Bureaucrats and Politicians Not So Good At Picking Economic Winners and Losers

The American: Government Is a Lousy Venture Capitalist
While government has a legitimate and valuable role in basic science, technology, engineering, and mathematics research, it is a lousy venture capitalist and is largely incapable of picking winning technologies in the market.
My favorite quote from this piece:
Government, like a really bad surgeon, sings the praises of patients it heals and buries those it mangles, quietly when it can, and loudly blaming others when it can’t.

Complexity Favors the Establishment

From Reason: Distorting the Economy Is the Whole Point
Distorting the economy is not ... an unwanted side effect of Obama's proposals; it is his avowed aim, because he thinks he knows how resources should be distributed better than the market does.
As long as we have leaders with this kind of overblown faith in their own knowledge, wisdom, and competence, we will have "a tax system that's a complex, inefficient, and loophole-riddled mess."

Chart: U.S. Heading to Debt Disaster

From Zero Hedge. Click to enlarge.

23 February 2012

Turnabout Is Fair Play

An Australian woman scammed some Nigerian scammers.

Courier Mail: Aussie woman scammed Nigerians: court
A Brisbane woman fleeced Nigerian scam artists by stealing more than $30,000 from their internet car sales racket, a court has been told.

A Reorientation Towards Start-ups Needed

From The Atlantic: The Entrepreneur State: Safety Nets for Startups, Capitalism for Corporations
What if the law were biased, not toward the oil and gas industry or the cotton farmers, but to the creative, the self-employed, and the entrepreneurs?

This isn't industrial planning. It's not about picking winners. It's making rules that increase the odds that entrepreneurs play the game in the hope that many of them will win.

[W]hat if the law were biased, not toward the oil and gas industry or the cotton farmers, but toward the creative, the self-employed, and the entrepreneurs? What if we combined a liberal approach toward mitigating risk for startups with a conservative approach toward taxing and regulating established corporations?

The result might be more people playing the entrepreneur's game, more entrepreneurs winning the game and ramping up their companies, and more companies to hire more workers.
But since such an approach might threaten a vested interest that has, at great expense, captured the system, it's probably not a good idea to get our hopes up.

Don't Let 'Em Blow Sunshine Up Your Skirt

Investor's Business Daily: High Real Unemployment Data Reflect Poorly On Obama
The media machine that desperately wants Barack Obama re-elected has turned its focus on what it says are good unemployment numbers. The truth, though, is the job climate in America is miserable. While the media and the administration portray the most recent jobs number — 8.3% unemployment — as good economic news, more sober minds understand what's really going on.

Even worse for an administration straining to make the case that it deserves to be around for another four years is the real unemployment rate. It's not 8.3%, but closer to 15%, a figure that reflects those who "would like to work but have not searched for a job in the past four weeks as well as those who are working part time but would prefer full-time work," says the CBO.

Another White House problem comes from this in the CBO report: "The share of unemployed people looking for work for more than six months — referred to as the long-term unemployed — topped 40% in December 2009 for the first time since 1948, when such data began to be collected; it has remained above that level ever since."

The CBO data aren't isolated. Gallup reports that its unemployment rate based on weekly surveys stands at 9%, while underemployment is at a hefty 19%.

Also threatening Obama's re-election offensive is the nation's shrinking labor force (see chart). Many laid-off workers, frustrated by grim prospects, have stopped looking for jobs and are no longer in the labor pool.

That makes the jobless rate look better, as that number is a percentage of the labor force, not the overall national population. But those jobless Americans are real people who will cast real votes in November.

The trouble is fixing these facts in voters' minds. They need to know the full truth, not the half-truth the media and the White House feed them.

So how can anyone support another term? Two reasons. First, the Republican candidates are pathetic. Just pathetic. Yet another illustration of the desperate need for additional political parties. But that's another post.

The other would be increased dependency on the government, and a desire to get even more benefits. The trend of recent government policies is to reward the irresponsible while punishing the productive and responsible. If we haven't already reached a "tipping point" we are well on our way.

Two trends worth noting:

From the Social Security Administration: Trends in the Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Disability Programs
The total cost of cash benefits for the Social Security disability program has increased dramatically since its inception. Since 1990 the total cost of disability has risen 93 percent in real terms (160 percent in nominal terms).

Much of the increase in costs for Social Security disability benefits is due to increases in the number of beneficiaries.

Since 1990, the number of disabled-worker beneficiaries has increased 84 percent; disabled 105 percent; and disabled adult children, 24 percent.
Mail Online: HALF of Americans don't pay income tax despite crippling government debt
Only half of U.S. citizens pay federal income tax, according to the latest available figures.

Another finding by the Heritage Foundation shows that 21.8 per cent of U.S. citizens receive financial assistance from the federal government.

This means that 67.3million people - a record high - are 'dependent on the federal government', excluding government employees who rely on the public sector for their salaries.

The conjunction of fewer taxpayers with higher welfare payments has led to intense pressure on the public purse, with the national deficit running at $1.3trillion per year.

The Heritage Foundation argues that the reduction in the number of taxpayers will create an electorate dominated by non-taxpayers, who will always support higher taxes and spending because their own money is not at stake.

Is Attacking Iran The Least Bad Option?

Interesting discussion at Foreign Affairs magazine. While starting a war with Iran is something that no one really wants, it might be the best option in a difficult situation:

Time to Attack Iran: Why a Strike Is the Least Bad Option
Fearing the costs of a bombing campaign, most critics maintain that if these other tactics fail to impede Tehran’s progress, the United States should simply learn to live with a nuclear Iran.

But skeptics of military action fail to appreciate the true danger that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to U.S. interests in the Middle East and beyond. And their grim forecasts assume that the cure would be worse than the disease -- that is, that the consequences of a U.S. assault on Iran would be as bad as or worse than those of Iran achieving its nuclear ambitions. But that is a faulty assumption.

The truth is that a military strike intended to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, if managed carefully, could spare the region and the world a very real threat and dramatically improve the long-term national security of the United States.

The article linked to above prompted a response, also worth reading, The Case For Regime Change in Iran: Go Big -- Then Go Home
[A] limited military strike would only be a temporary fix, and it could actually do the opposite of what it intends -- drive the program further underground and allow Iran to retain the ability to threaten the United States and its allies.

If the United States seriously considers military action, it would be better to plan an operation that not only strikes the nuclear program but aims to destabilize the regime, potentially resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis once and for all.

Wow. So the argument against hitting Iran nuclear sites is that it doesn't go far enough? Maybe. At the link are other articles arguing we shouldn't strike at all, and that sanctions will change the Iranian regime's course. The problem is that time and time again, brutal regimes are capable of inflicting much misery and suffering on the people, and still stay in power for prolonged periods. There just doesn't seem to be any good options in dealing with Iran.

22 February 2012

As Much Fun As You Can Have With The Greek Debt Crisis

I thought, and maybe you will too, that the following was not only educational but probably the only chance to have a (small) bit of fun resolving the Greek Debt Crisis.

I kept ending up recommending "The Full Argentina", ending up on page 52 repeatedly. My thirteen year old daughter kept ending up (most of the time) on page 5, doing at least as well as actual Eurocrats in charge.

From the blog, Crooked Timber:

So, what would your plan for Greece be?
Because the whole issue is a twisty turny maze which at times seems to consist of nothing but false moves, I am presenting it in the form of a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book.

Time For An Upgrade

Here's an article that I came across that is worth reading, from The American Interest. It's a long article, and worth checking out. We need to get our act together to preserve our classical liberal heritage.
The core institutions, ideas and expectations that shaped American life for the sixty years after the New Deal don’t work anymore. The gaps between the social system we inhabit and the one we now need are becoming so wide that we can no longer paper over them. But even as the failures of the old system become more inescapable and more damaging, our national discourse remains stuck in a bygone age.
The end is here, but we can’t quite take it in.
Millions of Americans are conservatives and even reactionaries but think of themselves as “liberals”; at the same time, millions of genuine liberals and even radicals call themselves conservative. It’s an unholy mess that calls desperately for a language intervention.
Liberalism insists that an open, dynamic society will lead to a better life for all, and that promoting ordered liberty is the morally obligatory as well as the pragmatically desirable thing to do.
Nobody has a real answer for the restructuring of manufacturing and the loss of jobs to automation and outsourcing. As long as we are stuck with the current structures, nobody can provide the growing levels of medical and educational services we want without bankrupting the country.
Neither “liberals” nor “conservatives” can end the generation-long stagnation in the wage level of ordinary American families. Neither can stop the accelerating erosion of the fiscal strength of our governments at all levels without disastrous reductions in the benefits and services on which many Americans depend.

This should be a time of adventure, innovation and creativity in the building of liberalism 5.0. America is ready for an upgrade to a new and higher level; indeed, we are overdue for a project that can capture the best energies of our rising generations, those who will lead the United States and the world to new and richer ways of living that will make the “advanced” societies of the 20th century look primitive, backward and unfulfilled.

We’ve wasted too many years arguing over how to retrieve the irretrievable; can we please now get on with the actual business of this great, liberal, unapologetically forward-looking nation?

Time to Dust Off The Old Blog

Let out a big yawn and a stretch and let's get going again.