January 1, 2009
It seems customary for blogs to mark the new year in some fashion. Rather than bore you with yet another year in review, I’m going to throw out a few predictions for what Jan 01 2010 will look like. Feel free to chime in with your own.
- Israel and the Palestinians will have the appearance of an unsteady truce, still will not recognize each others right to exist, and will generally look just like they have.
- Tensions will be higher with Iran, China, and Russia as they strengthen ties and threaten their neighbors.
- Iraq will turn from a military problem to a political one.
- Afghanistan will look much like it does today.
- Relations will improve with Cuba, Venezuela, and North Korea.
- Barack Obama will find that his biggest obstacles lie within his own party. Congress will grow less cooperative by the day.
- California will strike down gay marriage ban again.
- The Internet will see a notable reduction in liberal bias.
- Gitmo is gone.
- Surveillance programs will be overhauled.
- Economic slowdown will continue through the first quarter.
- Several more large, household name companies will fall.
- April will see a chaotic turnaround in the market.
- Gold will hit $1200.
- $5 gas in September.
- Talk of food crisis will cause a food crisis.
- Inflation will be the worry again and will end the year at 11%.
- Interest rates will remain low.
December 28, 2008
“The fellow who says he’ll meet you halfway usually thinks he’s standing on the dividing line.” -Orlando Battista
When you hear the top political candidates speak, one of the more common qualifications you hear them push is their ability to get compromise between democrats and republicans. What does a bipartisan compromise mean in America? There are a few ways we break the deadlock.
- One is when individual representatives decide to sacrifice their convictions on the current issue in exchange for pushing through their own pet project they know would never fly otherwise. We call this pork.
- Another is to remove all the parts of the bill that are offensive to anyone, usually removing the taxes that will pay for the project, or the regulations on how it will be used.
- Or they can just spread panic and try to push it through under public pressure before realization and regret set in.
- Or they can just reallocate the money from something vital and force the other side to re-fund that (as seen with the Iraq surge, and California budget under Schwarzenegger)
None of these are helpful. The second example, splitting the difference, is what most often appeals to the public. This is like having each party with a hand on the steering wheel. The Democrats wanting to turn left, the republicans right; meanwhile the media is in the back seat rooting for the underdog. We will hit the center divider every time.
There are ways to affect compromise that aren’t dirty. An example would be this plan put forth by Bob Ingles. He proposes starting up a carbon tax (democrats want), but offsetting the tax by reducing taxes elsewhere, such as income taxes (republican opposition evaporates). I’m a fan of taxing problems to fund solutions. Pollution is a much bigger problem than income. If we give the free market incentive to clean up, they will do so. Since this is as much a behavioral issue as a technological one, I would consider it progress. Imperfect progress (for much the same reason as traffic cameras), but still far better than the business as usual methods of compromise.
April 11, 2008
I’m convinced that the single best use of our resources at present would be energy research and infrastructure. Imagine how our world could be different right now if we had a plentiful, cheap, clean source of energy. Oil rich countries would lose their sway over other nations. Energy can be used to obtain fresh water and make light. heat, and cold, thus making habitable and farmable nearly any place on the planet. Those places currently struggling for survival would be able to live comfortably and focus on things like education and society, rather than scrounging for food and making war. Educated people rend to have fewer children, further reducing the problems of overpopulaton and the problems that come with it.
April 6, 2008
Some of the deepest foundations of my ideal political framework are based on the concept that incentives are far more effective than legislation or subsidies. I was a huge fan of the X-prize, and some of the recent crowdsourcing methods recently employed by DARPA. Never has the saying, “If you’re not a part of the solution, there’s good money to be made In prolonging the problem” been more relevant than it is with today’s medical research and oil companies. If even a fraction of the money we spend on medication and gasoline were to go into prizes to be awarded to those who meet benchmarks for disease eradication and clean energy, the prize would be too enormous to ignore in very short order.