Thursday, January 24, 2019

Why The Wall Is Stupid, Cruel And Dumb

Let's start with stupid.

That is like saying, I am against the death penalty, but if you are going to do it anyway, let me explain to you why giving someone an electric shock at 150 volts for two hours is a really, really bad idea. They will still be alive at the end of those two hours. And, in the meantime, you just engaged in torture. Which is inhuman.

The Wall idea is stupid. It will not stop people. It will not stop drugs. It will not stop criminals. The only thing it will do is give legitimacy to racist demonizations of people from the South. Or maybe that is precisely the idea. The Wall is but a hate project.

The cruel part is explained by the lady standing in the New York harbor. That lady in green is beckoning the persecuted of the world to come hither, come now. America is supposed to take people who have nowhere else to go to. It is the oldest modern democracy of some size. The cruelty is not just towards those who seek asylum. It is also towards the very idea of America. Trump wants to be the new Founding Father to America. Guess what, democracy did not work. Let's now switch to fascism.

Dumb, as opposed to stupid?

Japan suffered for decades, then it realized it really needs to open up to immigration if it wants a vibrant economy. And it has been opening up. Immigration is not America doing favors. Large scale immigration is the only solution to America's Social Security crisis. It is the only way to keep the American economy vibrant.

But then Hitler needed to torch the parliament building. Trump needs to push America into a Great Depression to realize his dream of becoming president for life.

The stand to not fund the Wall must be taken. The longer Trump slugs it out, greater the chances Trump will lose both the Senate and the White House in 2020, if America is still a democracy. He might lose the White House well before that. Which means, when he has lost the Senate, he gets impeached. Taking the stand against the Wall is the right thing to do. It is also the right political thing to do.

Friday, January 11, 2019

A New Cold War?

"The philosophical divide between the American and Chinese systems is becoming as great as the gap between American democracy and Soviet communism. ....... in this new era of precision-guided weaponry and potentially massive cyberattacks, the scope of nonnuclear warfare has widened considerably. Great-power war is now thinkable in a way that it wasn’t during the first Cold War...... It is precisely the fusion of military, trade, economic, and ideological tensions, combined with the destabilization wrought by the digital age—with its collapse of physical distance—that has created an unvirtuous cycle for relations between the United States and China."

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Can AOC Get Young People To Vote?

Could AOC inspire the 18-28 crowd to vote in the same ratio as the 60-80 crowd? That is the question. Could AOC inspire that crowd to run for office in similar proportions? There are all kinds of offices to run for. There are numerous offices at the local level that do not ask you to quit your day time job.

AOC's challenge is not what committee assignment she can get herself in Congress. It is what she can inspire at the grassroots level nationally and globally. The digital natives have to come out in full force. The generation for whom climate change is existential has to take the lead on doing something about it.

I believe AOC has the option to take the Green New Deal idea to the Netroots Nation, and I don't mean the organization. I mean the digital native crowd who have never not known the Internet. Done right the Green New Deal becomes centerpiece legislation no matter which Democrat gets elected president in 2020. Senator Elizabeth Sanders has already endorsed it. And many say she is the frontrunner. She also leans towards the same end of the political spectrum as AOC.

AOC represents a paradigm shift in politics. America saw its greatest phase of prosperity when the top tax rate was indeed in the 70% range. And America was still called capitalism then. And back then, in the heat of the Cold War, pun intended, capitalism was not just an economic system, it was also a political ideology. It was life or death on the nuclear tip.

The Green New Deal will not get enacted over the next two years. So fighting for some kind of a congressional committee is a losing proposition. But that fight can be used to go to the netroots nation. See, the Congress is not responding, not at scale, not at speed. Get involved. Shape the 2020 agenda.

The Green New Deal is not one thing you do. Just like the New Deal after which it is named, it is sweeping. It is a fundamental realignment.

This is not about let's create a Facebook group. This is not about, can we get more Twitter followers. New digital tools are needed. This is about building an actual organization with local chapters, and locally elected leadership. This is about a political organization that raises funds. Somebody is going to have to pay for AOC's travels. Let a PAC do that. This is about crowdsourcing the drafting of actual legislation. How do you get a million people (at least) to take part in the drafting of legislation? And it has to feel meaningful. I myself am not clear how. The Green New Deal will not be drafted by a committee Speaker Pelosi agrees to. The Green New Deal rough draft will be crafted by a million members of the netroots nation.

Building an organization .... I am thinking, how about Green New Deal Nation for a name? GNDN. The short form sounds right on the lips. It will have to create its own software. That is not a big challenge. Anyone can sign up. You sign up with your email address, phone number, name, and zip code. Basic stuff. It is both a website and a mobile app. Then the software organizes you by zip code, 10 people to a group. The 10 closest people to each other, geographically speaking, form the basic group. Anything larger and people run the danger of not getting heard. You insert your address, and that finds you the group closest to you. The group is a monthly house party. But even on the website and in the app, each individual has the option to start solo. There is a form you fill out where you say what are the political and economic goals that are most important to you. As that moves from one person to a 10 person group, the leader of the group brings it all together. It starts with a list of all that team members want. Then the team votes, so there is a priority list as a second step. And it keeps going up. 10-10-10-10 could keep happening. As a second step, 10 team leaders come together, if not in person, then virtually. And so on. That is a bottom-up thing that must happen.

And then there is a shopping mall concept. The top thinkers in the Green New Deal camp (and many might be academics) make the best case they can make to throw out ideas. The netroots goes shopping among those ideas. These are ideas that have been thought through in terms of technology, in terms of budget numbers, and so on.

You don't need 10 years to build a think tank. You need a split second.

The thing is, this is a cost-effective path. Most people might not have to go any further than their nearby house party. Let the average donation be a glorious $5. Skip the coffee. Donate instead.

This done for a year will make the Green New Deal the centerpiece legislation for any Democrat who might end up in the White House in 2020.

Once Green New Deal 1.0 has been drafted, going back and forth between the netroots and the leadership and the shopping mall of thought leaders, then the leadership has to take it back to the netroots. You participated in the crafting of it, now sell it to the population at large. Canvass. Vote.

And there you have it. Momentum.

That conversation is the democracy. Google is not just some small town library gone digital. People ask Google questions that were never even asked. And on any given day, one third of search queries on Google are new.

This digital conversation will be unprecedented. It just has not been done before.

When you yourself are drafting legislation, that leaves little room for apathy.

AOC is the natural leader of the GNDN.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

The Geometry Of The Green Deal

The term Green New Deal might have a long tail, but the credit of finally putting it on the political map goes to AOC. She is politically gifted. No doubt this honeymoon period will come to an end, and she will face her eventual backlash. But she is no flash in the pan. She is potential presidential material.

It is Green Deal or bust. Climate change is for real. The consequences of not doing anything are dire. There is a cliff ahead. There is a point of no return. Global warming is not just all is same, it is just a little bit warmer. Wouldn't that be nice? Global warming is meteorological chaos. It is the monsoon deciding to leave the Indian subcontinent and popping up at some random landmass every year. Agriculture as we know it requires predictable weather. Global warming in its extreme messes up the predictability.

It's not AOC. It's the planet. The planet needs it. Bad.

The Civil War made Lincoln. The Great Depression and World War II made FDR. Global Warming will make AOC.

The 13 figures that get thrown into any talk of a Green Deal are surprisingly good economics. Post Green Deal America will see prosperity that will make the 2018 prosperity feel like America had been Haiti.

And it will be just prosperity. If you think about it, Social Security was outlandish considering it was preceded by, well, nothing like it. The post-Green Deal similarly will have a floor for all called the Universal Basic Income.

People go wow about the Internet. There are 10 Internet size technologies right around the corner. If you do the Green Deal right, you take the world into an Age Of Abundance. The productivity gains projected by the technologies right round the corner will make the idea of a Universal Basic Income as a matter of fact as minimum wage is today. Can't do without it. The wheels of the economy will not budge without it.

The projected gains in clean energy efficiencies over the coming decade are such that dirty energy sources stand no chance. But the political arm has to do its part. That's where the Green Deal comes in.

The America of tomorrow is young and browning. AOC represents that America.

The worst possible thing AOC could do politically is to try to climb the ladders of the US House. She needs to go national, and possibly global, digitally. And this is not just about having more Twitter and Instagram followers, impressive as her numbers are. This is about an actual organization, only it is primarily digital. It will have donors, it will have local chapters, it will self-elect its local leaders, it will host house parties. It will crowdcraft the writing of the actual legislation. And, no, it's not mobocracy. The academics who have done their work will get their say.

That way even if it is a Warren-Harris White House in 2020, the Green Deal still goes through, and AOC still plays the decisive role, and perhaps she gets to do Green Deal 2.0 when she gets into the White House in 2028. Just like Obamacare is in dire need of a 2.0 because 1.0 still left too many uninsured.

Saturday, January 05, 2019

The US Political Gridlock Can Be Fixed

The narrative often peddled is that Americans have in recent times become bad people. They just no longer see eye to eye. The country is so divided. That may well be.

But there is a more concrete reason for the gridlock. And there are concrete solutions available. Fix the political structure.

Fix the Senate. California deserves 12 Senators. The arguments are compelling. Fix the House. Bring the gerrymandering to an end. It is the people who should elect their representatives, not the other way round. Fix the presidency. Let the president be directly elected.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Elizabeth Warren Has To Present Her Big Policies In Market Terms

My 30-30-30-10 formula, to be clear, has not been inspired by Senator Warren. It has been formulated after years of studying tech startups. For me, the tech sector and the public policy sectors have flowed parallel to each other. I have seen many intersection points over the years.

Much of what Senator Warren is saying just makes market sense to me.

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking capital means financial capital. Well, that is about one third of it, the other two pieces of the pie are human capital and technology. It can be argued financial capital is the least important of the three. By now technology outweighs the others. We are about to see tremendous rises in productivity. To the point Universal Basic Income will be forced upon us if we do not ourselves embrace it.

Some of what Senator Warren is proposing can be tweaked, of course. For example, why 40%? Why should labor get 40% of the vote on a Board? Why so rigid a number? It can not be a rigid number. It has to be the principle of meaningful representation. A rigid number is also harder sailing politically.

Most of what Senator Warren is proposing should be presented as market solutions to current problems.

For example, it is unconscionable that while America was experiencing a near Great Depression close to two trillion dollars were simply idling in the banks. The super rich were going to simply sit it out.

Breaking monopolies are about getting rid of distortions in the market so innovation can happen. It is pro-market.

Human capital has to be given its rightful place in capitalism. That is where universal education, mostly free, and lifelong, and universal health care, come into play, as well as Board representation for labor.

Formulating bold policy is not enough. It also has to be sold. It is not about fighting the good fight and going down in flames. It is about starting bold and being strategic and tactical along the way to ultimately make it happen, with the perfect not being allowed to be the enemy of the very good.

Senator Warren should not be a Knight In Shining Armor who has already thought it through. She should lay out broad outlines and then crowdsource the details. Deep engagement of the people in the process is as important as the outcome itself. The conversation has to be broad.

Not only a new policy but a new political culture itself has to be attempted. And, yes, you also have got to listen to the conservatives. They often times make fiscal sense when the far left can feel like a fiscal policy on a forest fire. In the new political culture, people owe each other face to face decent conversations where the listening is as if not more important than speaking. Decency has to be brought back into fashion.

Also, I want a two women ticket. Men have been occupying the mantle for like ever. How about always? Let's have some fresh air. Warren and Harris might attempt a East Coast West Coast thing. People like Beto and Gillum can have spots in the cabinet. Why not?

“If I could characterize Warren’s ideology, it’s that we should select the tool appropriate to each economic problem we face and not decide ahead of time that the same solution is appropriate,” said Marshall Steinbaum, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a left-leaning think tank. ........ “Today, in market after market, competition is dying as a handful of giant companies gain more and more market share.” ........ Warren unveiled a housing bill that would aim to reward local governments for relaxing strict zoning laws that have prevented developers from expanding the supply of housing. The plan also calls for investing billions more in government spending in affordable-housing projects, as well as helping black families historically hurt by federal housing practices. ....... a bill that would create a permanent law enforcement unit to investigate crimes at banks and large financial institutions, ending what she has called “too big to jail.” The law would also require senior executives at banks with more than $10 billion in assets to annually certify they have “found no criminal conduct or civil fraud within the financial institution.” ......a bill requiring a national $15-an-hour minimum wage, as well as a plan that would make it easier for workers to form and join unions.