April 19th, 2010

liberal elite

Alternative voting

I was watching Bill Maher interview Jesse Ventura (insert disparaging joke here) when they brought up an interesting concept: alternative voting, or instant-runoff voting. Basically, say you wanted to vote for Ralph Nader in 2000. What you do is put down two picks, first Nader and then Al Gore, so that your vote doesn't go on to help out Bush. If Nader doesn't get enough votes then it goes to Gore.

I think one of the biggest problems in the US is our two party system. It's corrupt but hard to stop because of our all-or-nothing voting systems. We often don't vote for the person we REALLY want because we're afraid he can't win, and therefore our vote will be wasted.

I think we'd be better off if we had the GOP, the Dems, another conservative party (the Tea Party?), the Green Party, Libertarians, and others all a part of our national government. This way it's a more accurate representation of the views of the country, and it'll force them to compromise more often to get things done.

I think another thing that needs to be thrown out is our Electoral College system. The Presidency needs to be a straight up popular vote, having up to half of a state's votes not count seems to oppose the idea of a democracy.

So, do you think alternative voting could be a viable option? If not how else can we end our two-party system in America? Or do you think we even need to?

Natural Selection comes into play

A note of explanation. IMO the evolutionary model is appropriate here, because what groups have been doing is filling in what amounts to an ecological niche, preying upon that which we are weakest in defending. It is useful to think of it this way when allocating resources against potential threats.

So here is my proposition which BTW I am not going to fall on my sword over. I would like to hear opinions from people who know more about it than I do.

The US has invested oceans full of resources toward a standing military largely devoted to addressing armed conflict among nations. This is now to the point that we spend as much as the rest of the world keeping a standing military. There are very few now who would take us on in this fashion, so by virtue of natural (or one could argue artificial) selection, warfare has now evolved past the point of WWII style armed conflicts and more toward the terrorist model. If we can address the terrorist mode, then something else will likely take its place, so we have to be flexible and prepared for upcoming modes of attack.

Terrorism is really not so much warfare as it is unlawfulness. Terrorists commit crimes, they do not directly seek to destroy national infrastructure. So why not treat terrorism as crime, and the planning of terrorist acts as conspiracy to commit crime? I am therefore proposing that the US reduce our standing army to only that which is necessary to match our opponents, and redirect these resources into international policing and intelligence. This would involve more support for Interpol and international courts, negotiating international laws, training our troops in law enforcement, and strengthening diplomatic ties for the sharing of intel. We probably do not have the resources to have a standing military of current size and also do these things. We are doing some of this to some extent now, what I am proposing is a massive shifting of resources away from direct armed conflict and toward global monitoring and policing. I will admit has serious implications as to our national sovereignty. I just don't see how we are going to win this thing without it.
Sri Yantra

Weird....

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/8626041.stm 

A recent poll by the BBC indicates that the rest of the world has thawed somewhat towards the US in the wake of the Obama presidency.

The PDF file is here:

news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/160410bbcwspoll.pdf

Now, of course some think that this bounce in popularity should actually be down to reasons other than Obama, because he sure doesn't appear to be popular in America: but really, does it matter? The US doesn't need to be popular or take note of anything the rest of the world thinks, does it?

I think this increase in favourable opinion worldwide must actually be a hangover from the last administration....evidently they'd just turned the corner in the global popularity stakes, and it took until now to filter through.

But be that as it may, now folk have to work hard to stop Osama Obama from profiting from such scurrilous information collated by scheming foreigners to undermine US morale just at the moment when they are being attacked from within by a communo-fascist fifth column full of Muslim fundamentalists.

It's a nefarious plot, but I've seen through it, Holmes.

Godzilla, default

On the nature of Power:

I'm going to ask a simple question for the members of this community: what would be your ideal means of international power? A single hegemonic superpower? Two superpowers? Or a multi-polar world?

As I see it, each has its advantages and drawbacks. The single hegemonic superpower is the framework we have today, and its drawbacks and benefits are the most immediately obvious. On the one hand, due British military power and both US military and cultural power much of the world now speaks in a single English language, these days much more heavily influenced by American English than RP. But by the converse 90% of all languages spoken today are going to be extinct at the end of the century. Another strength of the present-day world order is that when a single world leader like the US President has the degree of strength and influence that he/she does, that figure can if led by somebody who's a Great Communicator like Obama or Reagan be quite the rallying figure.

By the converse, a sufficiently talented fool like George W. Bush can ruin everything. A single hegemonic power as well will have to have both a psychological and a military advantage over everyone else, however hegemony can induce complacency in the Hegemon such that 500 years hence historians and counterfactualists will wring hands about the missed opportunities. I do not feel a single hegemonic power is a necessarily stable setting.

The idea of two superpowers, as was the case during the Cold War, presents its own ambiguities. In that case both powers are to a degree checked by the other in terms of both their goodness and their douchebaggery. This is because both are competing for imperialistic hegemony and such competition does not stir the better angels of our nature but instead the mystic chords of memory about how easy it is to set up local despots in support of superpower X or Superpower Y. On the one hand, unlike with the hegemonic world, there are two relatively equal powers competing in a number of spheres, which can have incredible results: see the Apollo Program, launched to prevent a Soviet Moon Base. On the other hand, if one goes south.....you get option I.

I dislike this one because I consider the Great Economic Model Pissing ContestTM to have been a disaster mankind as a whole, let alone all other forms of life, just barely survived.

The last model is the one I favor, the multipolar world. This geopolitical setting has its own pitfalls, and requires a more careful balance of power. Yet that balance of power and its maintenance *still* screw over a massive number of people as much as the others do. Yet in a multi-polar world there is less room for any one individual power to go a-conquering and to conquer, and there is more room for peaceful co-existence. I favor the mutli-ethnic multi-cultural society because I believe that a homogeneous society becomes eventually a gigantic echo chamber and effectively walking on ever-thinner ice until it all goes south.

It is for the same reason on the scale of entire governments that I think that the Multi-polar world is best. A world where there are multiple distinct zones of power is less likely to engage in violence a'loutrance for the simple reason that pragmatism makes it implausible. Hence it is in the end the safer world than the hegemonic world or the bipolar one.

Your thoughts, O pompous blowhards-I mean thoughtful and well-read people of Talk_Politics? 
...I COULD MURDER A CURRY.

Weekly Topic

Yo, fellas! Here's what you voted for Topic of the Week (19.04 / 25.04)

"International conflicts & international relations"

Lets simply call it International Week. A vast topic which may include things from conflicts and terrorism to diplomacy and geopolitics, even history. So here are some points which could serve as guidelines on the subject:

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me in front.

All societies are unequal

But some, it seems,  are more unequal than others.

And yet it seems to be that where the masses are dirt poor and starving peasants, the rulers of these countries are not as well off as affluent people in countries where the differences between the rich and poor are not as widely seperate.
In real terms, the people who form the ' inner ring' around a dictator like Idi Amin or Saddam Hussain are not as wealthy as say, the average stockbroker in Surrey, or the top earners in industrialised democracies. And this is not hard to fathom. If you have gun toting goons around you, you might be able to steal everything the peasants have got - but the peasants won't have that much that you can steal.

A wealthy stockbroker , though, you can tax . Sure, they will moan , but they will always pay more than an illiterate peasant. So, even the rich get a payoff for closing the gap between the rich and the poor. In pre-war Germany, Krupps, the big steel magnate, made a point of payin the workers well, building homes for the workforce, and even installing showers that the steel workers could use in the workplace before they got changed  out of their overalls and went home.

When another wealthy friends questioned his generousity, Krupps remarked " it's a small price to pay to keep Communism and Socialism out of the workplace " Cynically, he bought the workforce off, undermining the sources of  discontent and greivances in order to keep the bulk of the profits for himself. Yet it was true that  his  workers were better off than many of their contemporaries.

Today, The Green party is not out to abolish capitalism, but rather to close the gap between rich and poor. a goal that some see as a sell out. " Why beg for a few more crumbs when we can seize control of the bakery?" they ask.

The SWP, years ago were preaching  revolution , and not reform. Rather than overhaul the system, they sought to sweep it away. And one day, a demonstration , up in the north, took a surprising turn. I know , because i was in the SWP at the time and I read all about it in the party newspaper, the Socialist Worker.

It turned out that a window got broken , and a small supermarket got looted. A lot of booze and cigerretes were  'liberated' and reurned to the control of the proletariat', it seemed . So, at the next big meeting that I went to, many speakers stood up to congratulate the workers who took part in the demo  for their tremendous victory over the capitalist classes and their quasi-fascist  police force. Then I got on the rostrum and asked a few questions.  Like -
" How many tins of baby food got liberated and turned over to a young working mother to feed her child?"
"Did any local OAPs enjoy enjoy a bit of beef that evening, or did as much as a single bottle of milk go missing and find its way to  someone in need?"
These questions were met with stunned silence.  I took that to mean a 'no' then. And i pointed out that if this was what happened when they siezed control of one small shop, then what could we expect of  them if they ever got control of something biigger?

Somehow, I got the feeling that we would not see a workers paradise come into being , but a selfish mad scramble as everyone stuffed as much as they could into their own pockets. Mark it well, all the booze and ciggies went - but no food. The rioters were not hungry I suppose. Even so, there was no thought for the poor who might have been. I remember it well, because I recall how dissappointed I felt at seeing these self styled revolutionaries in their true colours.
I also remeber it as the day I tore up my SWP party card.

Everyone who gets rich, or even stays rich, does so by being disciplined and well organised - or they don't stay rich for long.  If we allow the rich to keep the bulk of the wealth they create, we can still syphon off enough to keep the poorest in our society at a decent levelof comfort and well being. We can even see to it that they can create some wealth themselves, and bette the whole community as a result.

A cap on the excessive bonusses of bankers would impact so few, but save so much. Raising the level of the lowest paid in sociey would also close the gap - and societies with a more equal wealth distribution have lower crime rates, lower rates of teenage pregnancy, disease and other social ills. So, yes, we would bring back  in the 10% tax band, and the 22% basic rate, but also crack down on tax havens. why should the rich forid 'tax evasion ' when they simply call it ' tax avoidance' when they do it themselves.

More equal societies have fewer people in prison per capita, they also have less violent crime as well.
They even mange to recycle more! So, the Greens commit to making our society more equal, using a whole raft of measures.
For more info on Equality as an issue, go to the report by independant academics, found here at
http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/