Reinventing Democracy

Promoting electoral reform and sound government.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Reforming American Democracy

Second round of the French presidential electi...Image via Wikipedia

I think what we need is electoral reform. We need to be able select who represents our interests in the legislature. And taxpayers need to have the final say on how their money is spent and on how much is borrowed.

Our winner-take-all elections give all the power to whichever candidate convinces the most people that he or she is the best candidate to represent their interests.

For most people, the candidate they select rarely shares most of their view, but is just the least worst of the two choices they typically have.

If people could vote for candidates from smaller parties that closely matched their views and these parties could get a proportion of the possible representation, it is far more likely that candidates will be well known to those that vote for them, will speak their minds and will not need or be able to misrepresent their plans once in office.

When a candidate must convince everyone in an area that he is the best candidate, he necessarily must lie a lot or at least misrepresent his views. We are simply going to get a better quality of person running if we change to proportional representation.

And its going to be a lot less expensive and with much less need for money from special interests to run such campaigns. People with a given perspective can tell who truly shares their views. Its just a much easier thing to do than to try to guess which liar will act the way you want the most if elected.

Finally, we must give taxpayers more voice than they currently have over what is spent and borrowed, in proportion to how much tax they have to pay.

It is is simply ridiculous that the village idiot has as much say on spending as Bill Gates. We need to balance the tendency of democracies to always soak the rich and ever expand the masses who don't work for a living.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How About Proportional Representation According to Taxation?

My feeling is that there should be 2 houses of the legislature, both of which must approve measures resulting in expense for the treasury.

One should be proportional representation and should set the tax policy. Representation in the other house should be how much tax you paid last year. So if you pay .004% of the taxes, that's how much representation you get. If you paid 10% of the taxes, you get 10% of the vote.

No taxation without representation and no representation in the second house without corresponding taxation.

Under our current system, the average homeless person has the exact amount of influence that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet do on policy.

Proportional representation will make it easier for the people to get their way, but they should not have it so easy spending other people's money.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Really Good Analysis of Who Caused the Financial Crisis

FactCheck home page as of July 2007.Image via put together a comprehensive analysis of who did what with regard to the financial crisis. This goes beyond unintended consequences to a massive interaction of unintended consequences.

Virtually everyone in government choose to look away. One notable exception was Ron Paul of course.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Falling Home Prices and Deflation

The components of the US money supply, express...Image via WikipediaWhat did the housing bubble do to the money supply? Well, we don't know: the Federal Reserve decided to stop calculating the broadest measure of the money supply known as M3. Just too darn expensive they said. Or it was hurting their efforts to get the ostrich head deeply into the sand.

In any case, the perceived wealth of homeowners that enjoyed swelled home values, as well as the actual supply of dollars soared during the boom. All assets, real and paper can be traded interchangeably, so together there is a total amount of value or wealth in the system.

Now, what happens when the value of assets suddenly erodes, as they have with the mortgage crisis? The total amount of wealth declines. This manifests itself as deflation.

The Federal Reserve hasn't actually removed dollars from the world. But the effect is the same. It doesn't matter whether the breeze you're feeling is caused by a fan or vacuum cleaner.

It is only when money or assets participate in the economy, where one is traded for another, that impacts things. If you build a house and hang on to it for hundred years or bury all your money in the back yard for decades, neither is creating demand or supply for assets. Likewise, when everyone rushes into the market at once, perceived value plummets.

The most stabilizing thing the Fed can do is to support the dollar, that is, keep its value stable with respect to stable commodities. The great increase in the money supply (see the graph) made the housing bubble possible (its not the only cause, of course), but that inflation is in the system and will run its course. The Fed must act in this moment not with respect to things as they used to be.

Unfortunately, the Fed just stares at the CPI when deciding whether there is inflation. As if a statistic created by the government is providing an accurate picture. As if assets don't matter.
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Monday, October 06, 2008

Canadian scientist creates atmosphere-saving CO2 scrubbing machine

This figure shows the history of atmospheric c...Image via WikipediaUniversity of Calgary climate change scientist who’s developed a machine capable of removing CO2 from the air.

Awesome. If this approach can be scaled economically, its the answer to the climate crisis.

Scientists and engineers pull our bacon from the fire (ok, they helped start the fire, but still :-)
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Saturday, October 04, 2008

Another Sane Perspective on the Bailout

Another rational perspective on what the government is doing from the CEO of a healthy bank.

Please consider and share this with other intelligent people. Perhaps together we can turn things back towards sanity.

The 7 Destructive Ideas at the Root of Washington's Failure

7 destructive ideas that created and are sustaining the mortgage debt mess, courtesy of Rich Toscano at the Voice of San Diego.
  1. Financial market prices are always right
  2. Debt doesn't matter
  3. Consumer spending is the basis of our economy
  4. A rise in home prices is the same as saving
  5. High asset prices are good for the economy
  6. Inflation isn't inflation unless it shows up in the CPI
  7. Money supply growth does not matter.
Read the article. We need to end this denial of economic reality.

Obama or McCain please hire this guy! Whoever does gets my vote, assuming they listen to him.

Monday, September 29, 2008

What the Fed Should be Doing

Take a look at the 10 year chart for gold. You can see the inflation and the recent instability and deflation. The very last upswing took place when the 700 billion bailout was announced last week.

The dollar has been deflating recently. The Federal Reserve should stabilize the value of a dollar. Only recently it has become concerned with inflation because consumer prices are moving up.

But the Fed looking at the wrong number. Inflation has been happening for years, but its been happening mostly in housing, fuel prices and other commodities, while finished goods have been cheaper due to globalization.

The so-called core rate of inflation does not tell the complete story. It is not a leading indicator of inflation, but a trailing one.

It is not enough for the Fed to change interest rates based upon its feeling about the future direction of the economy. The Fed has got to change its strategy and work consistently to stabilize the dollar.

What the Fed is currently doing is like looking at how much water is entering the storm drains to predict hurricanes. It can't possibly work!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ah, So Markets Do Work After All

Licenses to catch fish enable fish populations to rebound, according to this article in the NY Times. The tragedy of the commons is avoided when the right to catch can be bought and sold. Prices go up, which restricts demand, which is exactly whats needed to save these populations.

We really need this, especially with robotic fishing almost certainly on the way. Drones that operate completely underwater may not be detectable, though. But legal supplies can be tracked and illegal sources show up after legitimate sources are subtracted from the picture. Licenses also give legal fishermen incentives to find poachers too.

Robotic fishing will greatly reduce bycatch, though, which is other creatures not being fished that are killed by fishing. And fish can be kept in the ocean until a port is reached, meaning less trauma and healthier food.

Monday, September 15, 2008

McCain and Obama Fail to Acknowledge Their Responsibility for the Current Economic Crisis

Both these guys are senators and have been looking the other way as private interests have used and abused the taxpayer. Bloomberg reports both are promising to clean up Wall Street:

The last eight years ``have brought us to the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression,'' said Obama, the Democratic nominee, in a statement that also called for ``modernizing'' the rules governing financial institutions.

``We will never put America in this position again,'' McCain, the Republican nominee, told supporters in Jacksonville, Florida. He vowed to ``clean up Wall Street'' and ``replace the outdated, patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight.''

The reality is that the government allows business to write its legislation and profits flow to private interests while risk goes to the taxpayer. Its the same old story over and over again.

Congress does not pursue the interests; it pursues the interests of whoever is giving them campaign contributions.

We simply must reform our electoral system so that all the voters have their interests represented. If we don't take action, expect more of the same stupidity.

Killed by text message

Distractions caused by text messaging can be dangerous, as evidenced by this Google search.

What can be done about this, especially for charged with driving trains or buses? Does it make sense to give such operators special cell phones that cannot text or make calls (except to others working for the same transportation agency or 911) while in motion?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Truth About Mass Transit has a post that uses this photo from China.

The ironic thing is that it shows you some truth about buses too, as the gridlock depicted is clearly caused by buses blocking exits from the traffic circle. Where there are no buses, there's traffic flow. The buses form bigger barriers on traffic circles.

The solution to this particular problem is not getting rid of buses, of course. Its installing signals to stop traffic from coming on to the circle when things get blocked.

I like traffic circles, but there a bit tough for pedestrians, especially handicapped people, to navigate. Signals can help there too, of course. The so-called modern roundabout has this and other features. Wikipedia has an interesting article about them.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

McClellan Blasts W

Scott McClellan reveals in his new book how screwy the Bush Whitehouse is and how they deceived the country about the Iraq War.

Stay tuned, especially if the Democrats get in. People will be coming out of the woodwork talking about all the arm twisting, data dumping and fabrication committed during this shameful period.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

'Sicko': Heavily Doctored, By Kurt Loder - Movie News Story | MTV Movie News

Kurt Loder reviews 'Sicko' and exposes some of the distortions Michael Moore presents as fact. The massive waiting lists for care in Canada and the UK are good to keep in mind when comparing the US system with others.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

You can watch Milton Friedman's Free to Choose series online

Friedman is one of the good guys to be sure. I don't agree with everything he says, but most of it is excellent. Check it out!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Iraq War Leadership Needs Shuffling

Bush is replacing all of the worn out blood charged with executing his Iraq war policy. The failures do dictate a change. But the change needs to be made a little higher up. A quick resignation by Bush and Cheney would work better.

Of course, that would leave Nancy Pelosi in the White House. As bad as Bush and Cheney are, I don't think she is up to the job.

The Left Finally Takes a Stand on Freedom of Speech

Turns out they are against it.

I guess the whole idea of having a border is politically incorrect now, as is the notion that you even have the right to lock your own front door to whoever happens to want to enter.

Have we learned nothing from the past? Wasn't the lack of a defensible border what caused the previous owners of America to lose control? Ok, just kidding there, but really, now, a border is a must have and controlling who crosses it is just part of your right to exist on a piece of land unmolested by others. Previous crimes of this nature notwithstanding.

All that aside, a stronger border is not the solution. Getting rid of the distortions in our labor markets will decrease the cost of US labor and removing the citizenship-by-birth carrot will decrease immigrant willingness to put up with low wages.

But, even if we do nothing about this issue, is the situation all that bad? Getting across the border is dangerous to be sure, but otherwise I think everybody benefits. Even those that are getting more competition benefit, as we all do from competition.

White House visitor records closed

Who says the Bush League can't solve a problem? Too many embarassing visitors at the White House? Problem solved! Hide the records!