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The Politics of Compassion, Part Two

2017-08-27

[I have no idea why this post was only a draft until today… it is at least two months old already.  Read it and weep or cheer, your choice.]

Democrats have a lot of problems.  One of them is their inability to unify to achieve electoral victory.  Unification depends, first, upon the leadership presenting a platform, that is a short document that indicates their preferences for an ideal society and proposed ways to go about achieving that society.  Working toward an ideal society would include minimizing violence, maximizing freedom, and of course, choosing the greatest good for the greatest number.

The second component needed for victory is voter turnout.  Ideally, all eligible voters should be turned out, by providing transportation and an escort, if necessary.  Again, specific implementation of this vital component should involve such measures as chartering buses to drive through neighborhoods picking up voters of all stripes.  It is much harder for Republicans to object to this measure if the bus picks up Republican voters as readily as it does Democratic voters and preference-blind pickup policy will still favor Democrats ten to one.

The third component needed for victory is propaganda.  There is much to say about propaganda but suffice it to say here that the truth is the best propaganda.

Those three components, if implemented with vigor, will ensure victory if our cause is just.  There is no need to stoop to infiltration of the enemy camp or consulting Sun Tzu or anything like that.  Leave that to the military– they are above politics.

First, to the platform.  The slogan might be, “The Politics of Compassion.”  Our subject is politics, specifically political power, and there is a need in the consolidation of political power to define an US vs. THEM.  This is, unfortunately, not an optional plank in our platform.  I say unfortunately because fascism and other undesirable forms of government define US very narrowly and this limits compassion severely.  Therefore, the US should be everyone on the planet as well as everyone FROM our planet who might reside, say, on Mars.  This would maximize compassion.

Since I have brought it up, the reason I use the word “Compassion” is because it comes from the Buddhist term.  And one can immediately divide US from THEM by saying that those who have compassion are with us and those who do not are with the Republicans.  Everything else on the platform follows from that.

Having compassion for our fellow man means that we consider all human beings as equal, regardless of specific factors which include, but are not limited to, race, gender, sexual preference, quantity of money in the bank, and political preferences.  Having compassion also means that we believe all humans have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Having compassion finally means that we believe women have the right to choose whether and when they will have children (although response to climate change may dictate that we ration births in case of extreme environmental emergency.)

The purposes of government can be readily divided by the Preamble to the the Constitution.  Most of it is readily acceptable to the Republicans but the part about “Provide for the General Welfare” is controversial.  Those who have compassion are apt to interpret this clause broadly, and the Democratic platform should include the following aspects of the “General Welfare”: free schooling at schools, not in the home (because home-schooling is inherently unfair, see below), to the point where a person is qualified to do work according to his innate abilities and serve the general welfare by performing useful work for pay; free health care; food sufficient to hold body and mind together; and housing adequate to protect people from their environment so that they have a safe place to eat, sleep, and recreate.  To address the point most at controversy right now in Congress, we will say that the government should set up a two-tier health care system: a basic one that is free, and an optional form that depends on one’s ability to pay.  The system in the UK resembles the specific system we should adopt: a National Health and private institutions that are accessed by optional private insurance.

This is not the ideal system, but it most closely resembles one– single payer– which will give the best health care to the greatest number and allow for continuation of the for-profit system which already exists in the United States.

The problem with the current system is that, simply, it is unfair.  It is unfair because only an immensely wealthy person would be able to pay for potentially needed care in the worst possible case– that of an inborn genetic illness that is extremely rare and requires cutting-edge research to develop a remedy.  Even a person who is relatively well-off would be bankrupted by attempting to research and produce a remedy for a unique illness like that.  Most people would agree, however, that a person with a unique genetic disease still deserves care– although cutting-edge research may be rationed.

The only way to have a fair system is to provide for a tax– which has already been shown to be Constitutional– which is progressive, like income tax, and pays for “insurance” for everyone, sick and healthy.

To change the subject– the more important planks of the platform address economic issues.  The first is one which is dear to Don the Con’s heart: GDP growth.  Current growth is inadequate to address the deficit and our $20 trillion debt.  Growth must be increased from 2% to 3%, and specific measures must be taken by the government to achieve at least 3% growth.  The reason we need 3% GDP growth is the very reason that Don the Con’s budget assumes that we will have it: to create his fantasy of paying off the national debt in his proposed budget and other documents.  He says that only rapid growth can make payments on or pay off our national debt and keep deficits down.  The only way Don the Con’s numbers work is if there is sustained 3% growth, but he has not supplied any concrete proposals to achieve that goal.  He simply assumes that his tax cuts and deregulation will provide that number.  This is absurd.  Specific measures must be taken, and they do not involve tax cuts or significant deregulation.

To increase GDP growth, it is necessary to have both full employment and continually increasing productivity.  We are nearing full employment, although it is still necessary to get government organized to provide work for those who are unable for whatever reason to find work of their own.  This need not be particularly pleasant but must create the minimum needed, again, to keep body and soul together.

 

The advent of automation and artificial intelligence in manufacturing and providing services will vastly increase productivity and this is essential to create the 3% growth.  The problem is that people will have to adjust to the changing job market that will be a result of improving AI– again, government is the only entity capable of moving people to other jobs when their jobs are replaced by AI.  The reason is that private interests cannot provide the breadth of programs needed to retrain everyone affected– in fact, private interests will be responsible mainly for throwing people out of work by replacing them with machines.

Another thing needed for growth is investment in research.  This aspect is completely ignored in Don the Con’s budget.  It is essential for government to organize and pay for a significant amount of research in all fields.  The reason for this is that research done by private interests is biased to serve those interests and the best research only comes from completely disinterested investment.  The products of pure and applied research will benefit everyone and stimulate growth, but only if research is financed and regulated.

The final thing that can be affected to increase growth is to make the population of workers younger.  This can only be done by recruiting new workers from immigrants, who are by nature much younger than the average citizen.  This is because Social Security pensions are a reverse Ponzi scheme: the pension takes from the active workers to pay off retired workers.  In a normal Ponzi scheme, the benefits mostly flow to the one person who is running the scam; in a reverse Ponzi scheme, the benefits flow to everyone who contributes to the system.  If the mix of workers is too old on average, then the pension payments become onerous.

 

The importance of new economic schemes to maximize growth is even greater when we consider another imperative: the survival of our species when confronted with climate change.  To minimize climate change, it is essential to end population growth– at least Zero Population Growth should be our goal.  However, when limiting population growth, we come up against an inevitable aging of the existing population.  Societies which stop growing become older on the average, and as life expectancy increases, aging is further enhanced.  When the population ages, however, economic growth is stymied.  Our current low economic growth is a symptom of the aging of our population, and Japan’s major economic problems are in part caused by their aging population, due to zero population growth and increasing life expectancy.  Therefore, to counter this tendency, the organized schemes mentioned to stimulate economic growth must be pursued with utmost vigor.

Fortunately, the technological advances associated with our response to climate change and pollution directly stimulate the economy, particularly if they are pursued with subsidized research and additional measures to subsidize conversion of older, polluting energy sources to newer less polluting sources as they become available.  This is an aspect of growth stimulation that deserves considerable government support as the response in economic growth will more than pay for the investment.

 

Another imperative for the survival of our species in the long run is our response to the newly appreciated risk of asteroid impact.  It has only been a hundred or so years since the Tunguska Incident in which a 130 foot wide meteoroid exploded over Siberia and obliterated 800 square miles of forest.  Advances in technology now make it possible to first, observe telescopically all potential Earth-impacting asteroids, and second, develop a means of avoiding impacts which might wipe out our species.  Government support for the development of this technology is a natural, as NASA already runs programs of this sort and the Defense Department has a lot of nuclear weapons lying around that could be used as a last resort.

 

A word about wealth inequality: this is only a problem when those at the bottom of the scale do not have the necessaries of life… the oppression of a great majority is the cause of wealth inequality, not the result.  Therefore, in theory, inequality is well-tolerated as long as those at the bottom are well-treated.

 

Home schooling is inherently unfair because wealthy individuals are apt to provide better home schooling for their children (which they are privileged to do), while poor people will have major impediments to home schooling such as lack of resources, lack of expertise, lack of time, and so on.  However, it is plain from the American frontier experience that at-school schooling provides a superior, more egalitarian education.  Children are socialized in school, and the purpose of home schooling for most parents is to inculcate views that are in the extreme minority, such as authoritarian religiosity and denial of science, and are highly detrimental to society in general.

This post is intended for further expansion in the near future.

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