|There are more worthwhile flavors than two.|
19 September 2014
05 September 2014
22 August 2014
My grandmother died last week. My mother called me last week to inform me of this. I wish I had more opportunities to get to know her. We had pretty significant geographic, linguistic, and cultural barriers between us. But I'm always at least curious as to what amount of wisdom might have been gained if only I had taken more opportunity to see her. It certainly bumps up the necessity for me to arrange for a Taiwan trip to see my family. Hopefully, one will occur this coming February (2015).
14 June 2014
The US continues to scale back its conventional foreign policy might from various parts of the world in order to turn its resources and focus back onto its own people and infrastructure. As the most powerful military power in the world, the presence of US troops throughout the world has had the stabilizing effect of deterring territorial encroachments by large powers vying for expansion for land and resources. Now that austerity measures have combined with the fatigue of the American public for entering more remote wars throughout the world, a vacuum has opened up in various parts of the world that had become accustomed to the stability provided by the presence of the US military.
President Obama faces the delicate task of withdrawing US commitments abroad in order to rein back its financial commitments and refocus on domestic issues of infrastructure, healthcare, energy/environmental policy. As this occurs, the extent of how nations have relied upon the US to effectively subsidize the West's own security blanket is becoming clearer. Other nations will need to step up in order to protect not only their strategic interests throughout the world but even their own territorial integrity, as has been recently experienced in Ukraine. The security apparatus required to sustain a stable global economy is not free. The march to globalization that occurred during the late 20th Century had always occurred under the security blanket of US military domination. As our global regime shifts towards a multi-polar world, nations will have to rely on each other for military commitments, rather than simply look to the United States, as they’ve become so accustomed to doing. A multi-polar world would likely change the topology of economic interconnection from a single global economy to a network of regional economies under various smaller spheres of influence. How the markets will respond to the fracturing of the global economy into pieces has yet to be determined. One can expect large transfers of wealth towards regions that are deemed “safe” for investment. The appearance of safety and stability will become a more pronounced issue when it comes to defining winners and losers for a militarily divided global economy.
The US has been long chastised for its imperialistic tendencies. Recent developments in domestic energy production and the slow return of domestic manufacturing capabilities allow the US to rely less and less on the rest of the world to sustain its domestic economy. It’s become too costly and unpredictable to police the world. As the US pulls out of the rest of the world, the question we should be asking is who is going to step up in the absence of US military might.
11 June 2014
Another “political earthquake,” they say about this latest kooky primary we’ve seen. The pundits of the two-party media state are once again baffled.
As we see more primaries like this, in which low overall voter turnout, combined with intense fringe groups with access to super-PAC funding, it’s becoming clear, the strain of American politics on the traditional two-party system that has dominated the United States for most of recent memory. Modern trends in campaign finance law have liberated vast amounts of wealth into American politics that have flowed to candidates increasingly outside of the conventional funnels of the two dominant parties. In addition, the complex nature of problems facing the country as a whole (e.g. climate change mitigation, global economic interconnection) demand a palette of solutions a bit more diverse than, say, two. Plus, these solutions need to be large-scale and comprehensive, not the incremental policy compromises are our tit-for-tat two-party system is so typical of producing.
Even more frustrating are the numerous “low-hanging-fruit” issues that are not being addressed by our government, despite widespread bipartisan public support, e.g. marijuana legalization, SOME degree of gun control legislation, curtailment of government surveillance programs. It seems that our two-party system has reached such a rigid point of deadlock that it can’t even manage to tackle the easy issues that exist today, out of fear that the next minute’s polling will suffer and their coffers will dry up. Perhaps it’s related to the lack of animated “politicos” that will yell loudly enough on live television for the network to muster up decent ratings for itself from the lowest common denominator of our nation’s viewers.
And you might recall how much of a struggle it was just for our two-party Congress to pay our nation’s bills.
It’s time for our country to have a serious discussion about the limitations of our two-party system. Rather than perpetuate the partisanship and the division that corporate news/entertainment media empires feed on, it’s time to come together to think about the contributing factors to why our great democratic system has managed to degrade to a staged two-sided shouting match.
What is it that impedes minor parties from thriving, even while public support for our two-party government is at nearly an all-time low?
It is to be acknowledged that yes, minor parties don’t have quite the vast amounts of resources, organization, and connections that today’s 24-hour-cable-news driven political environment requires for viability. However, one must also account for the impediments faced by minor parties in an electoral system that places significant disadvantage and burden upon “upstart” political parties, especially when you have secretaries of state with a vested interest in one of the two major parties. Despite these challenges, one can’t say there’s a shortage of ill will out there towards both of our governing parties. We yearn for something different.
With those things in mind, I would like to propose three steps to addressing the problems with our perpetual two-party media state.
- Automate the drawing of electoral district boundaries.
- Establish instant runoff voting as a means to foster third-party development and to give people more choice.
- End the Electoral College.
In today’s data-driven age, when it’s easier than ever to compile data from devices and social networks to pinpoint who lives where within a few meters, why haven’t we figured out a way to institutionalize an automated process for drawing electoral district boundaries? Thanks to institutionalized gerrymandering, our democracy has devolved to the point in which voters no longer select their politicians; rather, politicians select their voters. In the meantime, optimization software has already been developed that will draw district boundaries, even while respecting as best as it can local boundaries defined by townships, cities, counties, etc. (think of it as a “snap- to-grid” function for the electoral map). It does this through an algorithm whose logic can be made accessible to the public, so as to prevent any attempt at quietly hijacking the procedural steps for any one entity’s benefit. I propose we banish all factors that have traditionally been used to administer electoral district boundaries (yes, this does include minority and other demographically defined districts), and replace it with a computer process that is simple to understand. It will save lots of money, and it will eliminate the human and special interest element altogether from this mapmaking equation. Plus, the maps will be prettier.
Because an instant runoff ballot would allow individual voters to vote for multiple candidates, it does not require the voter to choose “the lesser of two evils” in their candidate choice. In many cases, especially in a close general election under the present-day two-party system, voters might be compelled to vote for their preferred mainstream candidate instead of a candidate from a similar minor party, with whom they may share more views in common. This happened in the 2000 election, when many Green Party voters faced the choice of whether to vote for Ralph Nader or to vote for Al Gore out of fear of a George Bush win under the “spoiler effect.” In fact, it’s still unclear as to the extent of this effect on the razor-thin margins between Gore and Bush.
Wouldn’t it be nice if the Tea Party didn’t have to fight with the Republicans, but could actually work alongside each other, as one would expect with folks with similar philosophies? Similarly, wouldn’t it be nice if similar conflicts didn’t have to exist between environmental progressives and labor unions within the Democratic party? A few simple but fundamental electoral reforms, like those outlined above, could make this reality. And if we could eliminate issues related to primaries that are skewed by low overall voter turnout, then hey, we can save some more money by eliminating primaries altogether, since minor party candidates can now be represented in a big-tent general election with ranked ballot choices.
Ending the Electoral College is kind of an obvious choice, based on the sentiments I’ve discussed above. Enough folks have already debated this point that I'm too lazy to repeat those points here.
We live in an age now where vast amounts of data are collected about our population and used in order to produce optimized solutions, whether it’s Google Maps collecting traffic data to refine directions for individuals avoiding traffic, advertisements tailored for our shopping and social-networking trends, etc. Isn’t it time that we, as a country, leverage these tools and capabilities in order to refine the way our democracy represents us?
If it’s true that our antiquated two-party system is indeed facing “political earthquakes” that increasingly take the two-sided pundit class by surprise, perhaps it’s time to improve the fundamental integrity of the structures that support our democracy.
29 April 2014
For those of you who have been left waiting in desperate anxiety for another post, here I am again, world! ^_^
Life is stable. Stable is good for now.
Work has been fantastic. The job continues to be a really fun adventure every day. I could do better at it, and not be as behind as I'm getting, but things are going smoothly overall. I've been exercising more, especially since joining the Ohio Splash swim team, which has helped establish a more solid workout routine.
I need to be more socially engaging. I'm hosting a cookout this weekend in an attempt to do just that. Hopefully, the weather will be nice, and the meat will be plentiful. Hehe!
Blah, I suck at divulging my thoughts nowadays. I need to drink more before writing blog posts.
A Saturday night of toked productivity.
12 February 2014
I miss mindless, pointless writing. I mean, there's enough of it from my old, adolescent LiveJournal days to fill up a decent-sized fraction of the rest of the mindless, pointless writing out there throughout the internet.
In a world of oversharing, I've placed more value lately on the privacy of my thoughts.
15 January 2014
It's that time of year again.
Rather, it's that time when all my friends around me start entering serious-ish relationships. This inevitably leads to a dread of single-ness and loneliness while everyone around me basks in the latest iteration of their newfound soulmate. Which then leads to silly thoughts like, "Hmmmmm, if they're cool enough to date someone, why not me?"
In my romantic imagination, the thoughts of cuddling next to a fireplace (or space heater, that will do) or drinking hot cocoa and snuggling with a significant other over a hilariously cliche' romantic flick are peachy. And what better of a way to survive the cold winter than having a boyfriend to cling onto and to keep you warm.