But they all stink.
Let's face it - we have left the ages of stone and bronze far behind and are now well into the age of silicon. (No, Hollywood, I said silicon - that stuff that makes your hackable phone work, not silicone - that stuff with which you are probably more familiar.) We are living in the age of technology, but are being led by people who just don't get it and are throwing away opportunity after opportunity not only to score a victory for themselves but to actually do this nation some good for once.
It has now been about 10 years since I cornered then-governor John Engler at Cobo Hall and pitched my idea for bringing Michigan into the modern age. At the time most people were still on dial-up internet, and many if not most people thought that AOL was "the internet". Michigan's economy was starting to look a little tired but hadn't yet descended into freefall, the state attorney general held the opinion that spam was protected by the first amendment and people could get cheap internet through K Mart's blue light network. My idea was simple: turn Michigan into the state with the best broadband penetration in the country bar none. Make bandwidth so cheap and universal that companies would flock to the state to provide any and all of the wonderful promised services a reality. Not only would telecommuting be devilishly simple but companies that wanted to do biological research or high-precision engineering would have nice, fat pipes almost anywhere they wanted to be for even the most demanding data needs. I pitched the idea that broadband be treated as any other utility: passing the simple rule that you weren't allowed to sprawl yet another subdivision into existence without gas, electric, water, sewer - and broadband - would have ensured that every neighborhood in the state would be within 1/4 - 1/2 mile of a fiber backbone. Instead, Governor Engler came out with some pathetic broadband initiative that spent a lot of money and did absolutely nothing.
How many people are in office today that just don't have a clue? They didn't grow up using technology and think that the DMCA is just what is needed to ensure that next week's 45 single is going to come out on vinyl or that the westerns are still available in the talking picture show for a nickel - and I hear they even have air conditioning these days! Let's face it - people like Orrin Hatch and Dianne Feinstein just don't belong in politics these days. Too much has changed and they have refused to change along with, and we are all paying the price. Seriously - the generation filled with people who have their secretaries print out their emails because they can't figure out how to use a mouse is supposed to overhaul the patent system?
I have been an informal campaign advisor for a couple of campaigns. Most recently I sent a little unsolicited advice to Reposition Romney pointing out that if he was the first presidential candidate to try and connect to the slashdot (and other sites) crowd he could enjoy some serious positive buzz - as much as I disliked Clinton I have to admit that his going after the MTV set was a masterful stroke of genius. Like all of the other candidates, Reposition Romney wasn't interested. Technology to these people is still the domain of the geeks - the geeks who exist only to be exploited to turn a buck.
Out of the 435 US Rep seats up for grabs, can't we get even 20 people elected who know what an HTML tag is? Somebody in office who has even a token grasp of what the DMCA is actually being used for? Aren't we living in a day and age where candidates should think of editing text when they see the letters 'vi' and not Roman Numerals?
Please. It's the only hope we have. Whoever your elected officials are, just vote them out in favor of somebody who understands that not every website has to have www. to start the URL. And if none of your candidates fit the bill then run for yourself. We can't continue in the dark ages - we need new leaders who grasp the world as it is today. More importantly, we need new leaders who can see how the world should be but isn't - all due to lack of leadership.
For better or worse, here is a little bit of information about me, my thoughts, philosophies and political leanings. I've never blogged before so there is a learning curve, but if there is ever a point in my life where there isn't a curve in some aspect then I'll know it is time to move on.
First and foremost I believe that there exists a deity. On this point - that deity exists in some form - I will never waiver, never compromise, never deny. My thoughts on the nature, activity and deigns of said deity are always in flux and subject to review, modification, and evaluation, but I believe that the deity exists. Why is this important? Because I want people to know two things:
1. Some of my thoughts are based on my personal belief that there exists a moral yardstick in the universe.
2. Because to understand me it is essential to understand that I hold that my relationship with deity is my problem and I fervently hold that your relationship with your deity (or lack thereof) if your problem. I do not seek to convert anybody, to change their minds about god, the universe and everything. You believe whatever it is that you want to believe and never apologize: if I get bent out of shape because you hold other beliefs this is entirely my problem to deal with. Not yours. I hold that nobody should ever be forced to believe anything.
In all things I will present my ideas without shame or hesitation: all are subject to review and scrutiny. If my ideas can't hold up to challenge then they are ideas that I want to replace.
Above all, I want to live a harmless life as I see fit and expect you to do the same. If you ever feel that I express anything to the contrary please give me the benefit of the doubt and hold my expressions as other than intended and I will try to clarify.
Politcally I loosely associate with the GOP but I hold leanings far more libertarian than the body general. I believe in a weak federal government (a la Jefferson and his anti-federalist thoughts), minimal government intrusion and a generally free market society. I believe in a restricted rule of law defined by strict readings of a rigid, inflexible constitution that is subject to political review and modification: if the Constitution says X then it means X and all judges must make rulings based on X. No authority creep, no "what they really meant" and absolutely "well, the Constitution says this but we really need to do this instead". If you don't like the way the Constitution reads and governs then change it.
I believe that laws should restrict the government as much - if not more - than the citizenry. The government should be given a clear line and any who push the limit should be removed from authority.
I believe that a government should be perfectly ready, willing and able to let you fail. I am not opposed to charity, safety nets, handouts or giveaways. I am opposed to public charity, safety nets, handouts and giveaways. The private sector can meet needs far more efficiently and effectively than the public sector ever could. This also applies to corporate welfare. If you can become rich then good for you: but don't demand that my tax dollars be used to keep you in business. There is nothing wrong with being rich: I wouldn't mind being rich myself. But pull your own weight on the way up and don't demand that I give you a boost with my collected-at-gunpoint tax dollars.
When you are in your house with other consenting adults I don't care what you do. If you want to blare loud music with offensive lyrics the only demand I present is for you to apply adequate soundproofing to your walls to ensure that your freedoms from waking me up in the middle of the night. If you want to screen violent movies or play violent video games, go for it. As long as your activities don't spill over into my yard you don't need my approval - the fact that there are many activities for which you would never get my approval, that's my problem and not yours. As long as you aren't bothering me and not hurting anybody (who doesn't agree to being hurt if that's your thing) I'll bite my tongue.
Someday I'd like to host a libertarian-based talk radio show. Before that, I wouldn't mind a regularly posted and (more important) regularly read blog, but I don't know if enough people would actually want to read the random spewings that I cast into the maelstrom.
First, however, my belief is that God exists in some form. There are other beliefs kicking around, all of which are subject to change without notice. I hold involate my right to form, hold, reject and/or discard any belief as I see fit without notice. My existance - whatever that happens to be or mean - and my relationship with god. No debate.
HOWEVER, I also hold inviolate your right to believe or not believe anything you feel like. YOUR relationship with god, the universe or the redhead down the street is yours, none of my business, and quite frankly outside of my circle of concern.
I claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of my own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. Or not. Not my problem or concern.
So where, exactly, is my beef? I object to a fundamental misapplication of the 1st amendment of the Constitution of the United States, specifically the part which reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof". Even though the same restrictions are clearly applied to to speech and the press the courts and various others have consistently held the free exercise of religion to a a different standard than the others.
Most recently a judge declared the recitiation of the Pledge in schools to be unconstitutional. In protecting one group of people FROM religion an unreasonable and burdensome restriction is slapped on the freedom of speech of others. If Johnny wants to stand up in front of class and demonstrate his memory skills by reciting the pledge then he should be allowed to. FORCING children to recite the pledge is wrong. Punishing them for failing to do so is wrong. Preventing all children from reciting the pledge is equally wrong.
There are many classical works of music which reference god in some fashion. It is an unjustifiable restriction against free speech to ban these songs from school choirs. I am not Jewish, but in my mastersingers ensemble back in high school we sang jewish songs at the winter festival. We also sang Handel's Messiah, and some old southern spirituals. We also sang a ditty about kiwi fruit, some song about coffee, a Beach Boys medley, a showtune or two and a song in Latin with the only lyrics being "vanitas vanitas, tum et omni vanitas". I did not feel uncomfortable singing any of them, even if the cultures those songs represent are foreign to me. Parents who teach their children to resent even -hearing- songs representing other cultures are as intolerant as anybody I ever encounter.
In art class students wish to create a work reflecting something that is important to them. There is nothing wrong with allowing a 15 year old to paint an angel and hang it in the hall - no reasonable person could ever find any sort of endorsement in this, yet one's freedom of speech is clearly limited to protect somebody else's freedom from religion.
And so I state it again: if you have a constitutional right to be protected FROM religion then you are claiming that you must be protected FROM the free speech of another person. If you believe that you have a right to be protected FROM the free speech of another then I have a right to be protected FROM your free speech.
Some time ago I got tired of paying $45/month for a dialtone when nobody ever called me so I ditched the landline and went cellular only - one less thing to deal with during the move is always an added bonus.
In the new digs I have the following options for internet access:
There is exactly one option for cable access. There are two choices for DSL, both of which require an active phone line. There are no options for wireless (except for satellite) and no fiber anywhere near the new neighborhood.
To make things better, the state's utility commissioner recently removed any and all price oversight from the state claiming that the competition of the marketplace would keep things under control. While I am a staunch advocate of the free market, I can't help but be annoyed that there is only one cable option because the city signed an exclusive service agreement explicitly prohibiting competition and the telephone company lobbied the government into allowing competing DSL companies to be banned from public subsidized wiring located on public land.
My needs are modest: 2Mb down and 256kb up would make me perfectly content. I surf a handful of websites. I
But my options are clear: At least $720/year or nothing at all.
I'm a little annoyed.
In the past week the US Government has authorized $62,000,000,000 in relief efforts. All of the sources I checked placed the population of New Orleans at around 500,000.
The cheapest solution _by far_ would be to take that $62,000,000,000 and divide it up among the 500,000 residents of New Orleans. Every man, woman and child could be given a trust fund seeded with almost $125,000. Allowing them to withdraw $2,000/month would give them an acceptable standard of living (certainly one better than many of them had in New Orleans) almost anywhere in the country for five years (assuming no interest) - ample time to get them back on their feet: most people don't start out into the world with even a sliver of this kind of head start. And many of those people were minors who wouldn't need to touch the money for years to come. The vast majority would certainly be set for life and a few hundred thousand would be forever removed from the welfare rolls.
And this $62,000,000,000 doesn't include any of the millions/billions of private donations.
Then just abandon the land as far as the government is concerned. Invest no more public funds into the area. If people/companies think they can make it work let them invest private dollars to rebuild the area at their own dime with their own incentives to make the area safe.
This would be a much more efficient way of showing compassion for the displaced, prevents the taxpayers from being ripped off by contractors who will absolutely and unquestionably overcharge the government for rebuilding efforts, cuts the welfare rolls, puts most of the money in the hands of those who need it right here, right now, instead of paying for administrators and bueaurocrats for years of explaining why they don't have enough money to provide aid...
Best of all, it leaves the decision of rebuilding New Orleans up to the free market: if the city has value then it will attract growth and repair by those who can pay for said growth and repair. And if the city is rebuilt by people who put their -own- money into the system then again (and this is the most important part) they will have the incentive to protect their investment without looking to a dispassionate government that would rather build freeways in the middle of nowhere to name after themselves than prevent a city from being wiped off the map.
And the taxpayers aren't burdened with almost a quarter of a trillion dollars that will never be paid off.
If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.