Middle Way Presidential Platform — 4 November 2019

By the fjords in Norway

Now, exactly one year before the next presidential and congressional election, the following 9 pages are an attempt to give some plain talk about what I would suggest as a political platform if I were running for president. Having looked at other ideas out there, I think these are more sensible and more likely to be adopted by a majority of Congress, which is a prerequisite for almost any idea to become a reality, which is why most ideas that are being touted by candidates will never happen. I’m covering about 25 issues, which is not everything, but plenty to start with. I call it the Middle Way Platform – I know there is no room for a third party because the system is rigged to only allow for two, but neither the Democrats nor Republicans are saying the things I want to hear, so my platform is called the Middle Way, which is in truth an attempt to find common ground between the extremes and probably represents a return to middle of the road policies that made sense a generation ago.

Taxes – This is intended to be revenue neutral. Lower rates to top rate of 30%; except a 5% surcharge only on income over $5 million a year. Get rid of the AMT and the marriage penalty; there should be no difference if spouses or civil couples file separately or jointly and I don’t understand why Republicans who keep talking about family values have kept the marriage penalty intact. Introduce national VAT of 5% and cap state and local sales taxes at 7.5% and pass a law that states that exceed the cap will get less federal money to make up for it. Capital gains preferred rate of 22% limited to $1m per year for stock sales except up to $10 million on the sale of a business or property; the excess gets charged at ordinary rates. Certain types of favoritism such as carried interest rule should be cut back to make things more equal. Charity deduction capped at $1 million or 25% of annual income, whichever is higher except for people over the age of 75. Donor advised funds which are essentially an end-run around the rules forcing foundations to actually distribute charity should be cut down to size. Donations to colleges if you have kids over 12 years old should not be deductible but viewed for what they really are. State and local tax deduction capped at $100,000 if you make over $2 million a year. No deduction for mortgage interest. Home owners should not be favored by the treasury over renters.

Immigration – If you have been here 7 years without a criminal record no matter how you got here, you can apply for citizenship for yourself and those members of your family that are already here. You cannot bring anyone else in except a spouse who has been married to you for at least the past 7 years and any of your children of that wife who are at least 7 years old, provided they are in good health. Going forward, the period will be 10 years instead of 7 unless you enter legally. If you enter legally, you can bring parents with you after 10 years of being a citizen provided that you can show means of support. The idea is to get rid of the abuse of people bringing in a ton of people and calling them family. I agree that the reason for a lot of this immigration is that conditions in Central America are gang-ridden and impossible for a normal life. Previous programs to improve conditions in those countries have worked and should be reinstated. Immigrants with skills create inventions, start companies and ultimately employ many more Americans. They are predisposed to work hard and they bring new fresh blood to our society. We should value them and stop trying to keep them out.

Guns – People who want guns for protection and recreation have rights, but guns should not be available for irresponsible people to get ahold of them or to be able to kill masses of people. The idea of private renegade militias is not what was intended by the second amendment. However, as stated below, gun control is a tricky wicket that probably won’t work. Better to focus on preventing accidents which is where you can make a significant difference. Gun owners must be responsible to reasonably secure their guns or be strictly liable for accidents involving children and third parties who use them. Gun manufacturers need to install safety features so that guns can only be used by their rightful owners (ie: biometrics; combinations, keys). Guns or appliances that are not for recreational or protective use (ie: machine guns that mow down crowds of people) should be banned — even if you can’t ultimately control it, why the heck should people be able to buy them? Reasonable controls as to who should be licensed to carry a weapon should be legislated on a nationally consistent basis. Weapons buybacks would be ridiculous; we have a huge border and it would just create a wonderful living for criminals. The recent attack in Germany with a gun produced by a 3-D printer shows that gun control to prevent terrorist attacks is not going to work; even though the production of the gun was illegal, the person did it anyway. The technology was poor so the gun didn’t work well, but no matter. As technology improves, the human criminal mind will always stay ahead of the law. That means you have to be practical, but it doesn’t mean you have to hide in the sand either.

Rib-boating in Norway

Abortion—Religiously affiliated healthcare institutions that are against abortions should not be forced by government to provide abortion services even if they receive government money. Half this country feels its taxpayer dollars are committing murder and we have to respect that 50%. However, if you want an abortion, you can have one and you can pay for it with your own money or through insurance. In the last trimester, you can have one as long as it is medically necessary. I discuss this subject more below in the section on Poverty.

Working spouses with children should get a tax break to make it worth their while to work and should not be penalized for educational financial aid because they are working. The first $40,000 of wages of working women with a child under the age of 6 should be tax free. This will help keep women in the work force and will eventually result in more taxes being paid if they stay employed. We should stop driving people crazy who employ illegal nannies; it allows those women to work and ultimately helps our economy.

Social security and Retirement — Retirement age should be raised to 70 except for people who had careers in classes of work where the mortality rate is at a lower age. The benefit should not be taxed or means tested. The person was already taxed in order to pay the money into the fund. One of the best ways to ensure the fund is solvent is to encourage immigration. We have a pay-as-you-go system and without new blood to populate the work force, as America is graying, the system will not have enough people paying in to pay out and America will look more like Europe, Asia and Russia with graying populations and slowing economies. The population replacement rate in the US is now 1.7 and it needs to be at least 2.1 to replace people as they die. The tax deferral amounts on pensions are really small and if you have an IRA and are only allowed to put away roughly five thousand dollars a year in it, after 20-30 years you won’t have saved very much especially after inflation. If people are really expected to save for retirement, the government should give tax deductions for savings account that allow people to put enough money in there to actually provide for them later.

Stop on the Flam Express train ride, Norway

Health insurance – I advocate a return to the indemnity form of health insurance where people negotiate directly with health care providers and pay bills and get reimbursement from their insurers. Health insurance should not be involved in the day to day care of individuals but should be reserved for catastrophic situations or the kinds of medical treatments that are beyond the individual’s ability to shell out money, such as for orthodontic treatments, surgeries, MRI’s, and emergency room visits. There should be a deductible of about $2,500 per person or $5,0000 per family, and people should be able to use pre-tax money to pay those deductibles. That amount could be figured into calculation of the standard deduction. Patients should have more rights governing the processing of claims and the ability to file and check the status of them electronically.

Transportation and Infrastructure – I advocate a major capital investment in infrastructure to carry people, goods and data around the country. Agencies such as the FAA, NTSB should be bolstered and given what they need to modernize things such as air traffic control. The government needs to resume its role as regulator of safety that is respected by the rest of the world; having the FAA lose that trust raises transaction costs for American companies who now have to answer to every global regional regulator. Airlines should be more regulated in terms of the charges and terms and conditions that they apply to passengers, which are basically contracts of adhesion and whose charges (ie: change and cancel fees) do not come close to covering the actual costs of providing the services being charged. Amtrak should either be privatized or bolstered but it is currently a national embarrassment, compared to the rest of the developed world. If I were going to be president, I would be satisfied being known as the trains, planes and automobiles president that brought the country up to standard for the next generation of movement. Those that are against regulations should also realize that there is a law of diminishing returns and this will be discussed below.

Supreme Court – the court has become too politicized to be respected as a neutral arbiter. Terms should be for 20 years, and a vote of 2/3 of the senate should be required to ratify a nomination. This will encourage more moderates to be nominated who can command across the board support which is what a supreme court ought to have and used to have until the past 10-20 years.

Church in Balestrand, Norway which was the model for Frozen

Electoral College – Electoral votes should either go to candidates in proportion to the votes of a state or ranked choice voting should be used to determine the winner of elections. It is unacceptable in 2019 that winners of the popular vote do not win elections and it negates the idea of one person, one vote. it happens too often. Everybody’s vote should count equally if a person has the right to vote. It is the essence of democracy. Why should my vote in Florida be crucial and my vote in New York count for nothing? We’ve reached a point where presidential campaigns center around about a dozen states and nobody else matters. Another reform that I think is more appropriate to this age is that money spent in Congress should more fairly go to the states as they proportionally contribute to the national tax base. Small states with powerful congressman should not benefit with roads to nowhere at the expense of big states that cannot get the money they need to fix real problems, such as New York/ New Jersey tunnel that must be fixed soon to avoid dire consequences to commuters and trade.

Poverty and Education – It appears from expert research (ie: see recent Economist survey) that the key to reducing poverty in America is to focus on children. New York City’s methodology espoused by Mayor De Blasio (forced integration of merit schools with quotas for minorities no matter the merit of the situation) is a disaster, according to school principals who are stuck with kids that don’t belong there and are diluting the experience for the other kids and teachers who have to sit in the same classroom with them. I would put significantly more investment into schools in poorer districts and provide more afterschool programming for those kids with working parents and try to create better conditions for fathers to remain in the loop as parents (ie: reduce incarceration and promote family continuity). One good thing De Blasio did was commit heavily to the idea of universal pre-school education, which is a proven success. The idea of universal pre-K ought to go nationwide; the Head Start program has also been a success and this might build upon that. Parents should have the right to spend pre-tax money for school or university education up to $25,000 per year per child or 20% of their AGI, whichever is lower. I’m in favor of charter schools and private schools and what I’ve seen of public education generally is not worth what people are paying for it through their taxes. Teacher unions are a real hindrance to education in the US; many top level people have been frustrated dealing with this problem. A lot of political capital will be needed to work at solving this problem and the best people have tried and failed to make a dent in the system which is entrenched and hopelessly corrupt and inefficient.

Kviknes hotel, Balestrand

Basically, you can’t solve the entire problem of poverty but if you decide that you want to focus on the next generation, you have at least a shot of planting seeds that might well produce dividends 10-20 years from now. The American population is graying and we have not been taking in immigrants. The next generation had better be productively employed at decent wages or else nobody is going to be putting into the system the money that the elderly will be taking out of it. To get there, they need education and skills and to stay out of trouble. History shows that teenagers making trouble become the weak point for society and that birth rates also matter – that’s why I’m not an opponent of abortion – if you’re not prepared to deal with those kids, don’t have them. When abortion became legal in the 1970’s and the birth rates went down, so did the crime rates. I am not swayed by the argument that abortion is murder – I think it is worse than murder to give birth to a kid that is not cared for as it lives and grows. It is a lifetime of torture to do that to a person who was born out of a “mistake.” That said, my program above takes into account the deep feelings that 50% of this country has about abortion and agrees that federal funds should not be used to provide abortion services. I do think that family planning is important for the national interest and that simply calling for abstinence is not realistic nor is it economically feasible. Contraception should be available with federal funding. Contraception itself is not sinful. A lack of contraception is itself a promotion of a religious idea favoring one ideology over another. To me it’s not a matter of a woman’s choice but of a national interest in making sure that babies born will be cared for by a loving parent and not be dumped to become society’s burden. It may be a matter of semantics but I think that is a better way to frame the issue in a way that makes sense in a middle way platform.

Bergen, Norway

International Aid – The focus on aid should be on providing educational opportunities within countries and within the US for young people. This has been a proven economically efficient winner for the US over years, and good education abroad will help young people be more employable. A root cause of instability in the world is young people without opportunities or access to good education who then get brainwashed and recruited by radicals. I would hesitate to advocate using US aid for the building of infrastructure abroad; the money seems to get wasted and diverted. A pain point will be that educational systems abroad are largely corrupt and will require not just money but oversight, and the powers that be may resist that aid in return for continuing to line their pockets and employing teachers who don’t show up or can’t teach. But money invested in schools in Pakistan would be a lot cheaper than fighting wars in this region when those teenagers grow up without any education. All those kids in Gaza without education because of years of intifadas and religious fanaticism have no future so what else do you expect them to do? The best investment in the future is to create a future for today’s kids. It also buys goodwill from parents and creates an incentive for stability. Creating more opportunity for mobility for graduates to get work experience (and not just university education) would be good for the US. Kicking graduates out without giving them a chance to work is counter-productive and makes the US degree less competitive with other educational opportunities around the world. The percentage of future leaders who have studied or worked in the US is large enough that this opportunity to influence them should not be missed. The US, in discouraging the above over the past 10-20 years, has been making a huge mistake in my opinion. As I wrote earlier, international aid can also create stability in Central America and lessen the desperation that drives people to risk coming to America illegally.

Climate Change and Government Regulation – Traveling around the world, I have no doubt that climate change is real and profound. There is a palpable sense that glaciers and coral reefs and other natural wonders are disappearing. Younger people in the Midwest USA are also beginning to notice that their farms and river beds are being affected and the Republican party will at some point have to get with the program and deal with this issue realistically or else insurance companies will and the economy will get hit as investments will be lost. Government should stop offering insurance to coastal areas where development is being regularly wiped out by disasters unless investment is made to better protect these areas or simply stop development. I saw this year the lack of investment in New Orleans even after hurricane Katrina ought to have made people learn their lessons; the corruption was so bad that the local FBI director resigned when he saw he had no chance to change anything.

Overlooking Bergen

I don’t know what kinds of solutions are the ones that make the most sense. Attention is given to airplanes and cars, but cruise ships are huge polluters, and nobody really does anything about them. Development of electrical engines for airplanes and cars might make a big difference. China appears to be at the forefront of dealing with this issue but their benchmarks date from the 1980’s so it is not clear if they are really making any progress or remain one of the world’s worst polluters. Auto emission standards and EPA regulation rollbacks from the Trump Administration should be reviewed and probably reinstated but someone needs to really see if these regulations make sense or are just regulations for the sake of regulations. Some of the stuff Obama did such as creating tons of paper work with 1099’s and health insurance reports were just nuisances without any real value. There is some truth to the Republican argument that the government is over-regulating in certain areas for no good cause and just harassing business. On the other hand, the FAA let loose on airline safety and 737’s starting crashing and the rest of the world lost faith that the Americans could be counted on to regulate industry safety. The billions that Boeing has lost and will continue to lose and the costs that will result in having to answer to many more regulators now that don’t trust the FAA will be much more than Boeing thought it would save by cutting corners and co-opting the US government to lay low on it. Cutting corners is just not the way to go because you always pay in the end and having a referee in the game is a good thing because industry needs trust to survive and prosper. Think of those baby food scandals in China or what happens when rides in amusement parks are not inspected. So there is truth on both sides and attention is needed to try to find a middle ground as to regulation on climate change as well as other issues requiring government regulation. Circling back to climate change, this problem is only going to be solved on a worldwide basis because each country is affected by what others do. It will not be solved by each country going its own way and it is a mistake for the US to withdraw from the Paris agreement. Here’s an example of why everyone has a stake in this issue: Russia benefits from global warming by having more arctic shipping lanes; on the other hand, it has more disasters and instability as to its crops, so it also has an interest in dealing with this problem. Russia crosses 12 time zones. It cannot escape this issue even if has its own interests that might diverge from its neighbors.

Center city, Oslo

The Balance of Powers – the legislative branch of government has forced the executive branch to take more power for itself because it has been stymied by infighting so much that it simply doesn’t do anything, such as approve presidential appointments, treaties or regulations. The Supreme Court has been more active because Congress is not passing laws or is simply holding up the executive branch. Unless we want to change the system of government we have, Congress has to get its act together and do its job or we will continue to see the Executive and Judicial branches step into the void. It would probably help if Fox News were to be told that it needs to stop fomenting such toxicity into the political atmosphere making it impossible for congressional leaders to compromise. Anyone who doesn’t toe their line gets tarred and feathered and becomes scared to death to do anything. Until recently, Congress approved supreme court justice nominees of the opposing party by supermajorities. What you have now is ridiculous and divisive although more moderate nominees on both sides would help. As president, I would nominate qualified middle of the road people to courts that would command respect as jurists from moderates on both sides of the aisle. It used to be that people nominating justices did not have any real idea what kinds of rulings they would make and I think that unpredictability is what is needed to restore the integrity of the court. Congress is also spending more time raising money to stay in office than doing anything else and of course the most vocal supporters of special interests are the ones feeding the most money and noise, and this is not helping moderates get anything done. I’m totally in favor of reducing the amount of special interest money in politics, controls on social media as to blatantly false information, and policing information technology to make sure that foreign and other hackers are not trying to manipulate the voting. So far investment in this area is pathetic. I don’t view these restrictions as a first amendment issue; I view it as a leveling of the playing field, allowing elected officials more time to do their jobs that they are supposed to be doing, and attracting more qualified people to public service because the whole system is so awful that good people don’t want to go out for these positions anymore. Gerrymandering is also a big problem – reform is required, because incumbents know that no matter how bad they are, good gerrymandering ensures their incumbency. I would also be more active on the issue of voter suppression – the Republicans are trying to forestall the changing of the political demographic landscape by suppressing votes and this is bad. As a recent NY Times op-ed piece says, they are playing dirty in order to prolong their survival.

Foreign Policies and Ethics – I’ll try to cover a lot of ground briefly. NAFTA and World Trade– We need good relations with Canada and Mexico. Some of NAFTA was not good, some of it was. Make sure we have a decent deal and go for it. Remember that sometimes you give something away and what you get in return is not always parallel to the giveaway. Foreign relations are complicated and Trump seems to have forgotten that and his fixation on transactional relations is short-sighted. I’m in favor of international trade agreements and one of the problems is that Congress holds up a lot of them. This is what I meant by my criticism of Congress above. Maybe leaders of Congress need to be more involved in treaty negotiation and the US Executive needs to take more notice of them, but in return it should be expected that if the US executive agrees to a treaty, there is a reasonable expectation that Congress will ratify it. We need multilateral agreements on things such as trade, climate change, military alliance expenditures, etc. The world generally wants the US to lead because nobody else really has the means to deliver, but the US cannot deliver by itself and a president has no leverage with other countries if agreements won’t be ratified by Congress.

What America can do is bring together coalitions in a way that others cannot. China and Russia are powers but they have few friends. America has squandered its friends but could easily regain its goodwill. I don’t think that Obama was a bad president but he was not good at dealing with Congress and there wasn’t a real strategy for foreign affairs so that he’d have a secretary of state out there talking to a country but they wouldn’t take that person seriously because they didn’t know if Obama really stood behind that person or not and they knew that a Republican dominated Congress wouldn’t pass anything. I think a strong secretary of state and the treasury are essential, otherwise everyone wants to talk only to the president. China, Iran, North Korea and Syria are problems that require negotiation and the balancing of many countries with interests such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Russia, and the Stans in Central Asia. Right now, I now that Trump has decimated the State Department and there are major countries in which we have no ambassadors or anyone to speak authoritatively as to what US policy is. It is more than embarrassing when people I know in the US have to call foreign diplomats to find out what US policy is because they have nobody in our own government to ask. A president needs to restock government departments with professionals and restore morale in the public service. Congress needs to get more serious about approving presidential appointments and perhaps we need not to go overboard vetting people for public service making it impossible for anyone but Mother Theresa to get past a vetting process. Nobody is an angel and it is ridiculous that if you ever hired an illegal nanny you can’t a job but you could have been a lobbyist for a major industrial polluter and wind up as the head of the EPA. It is also very disturbing to see all these former government officials go into industry and wonder if the judgments they made while in office were not in anticipation of that future employment. The whole idea of how people are vetted for office and what they do after they leave office needs to be reviewed. I really am wondering how much Trump or his family expect to get from Saudi Arabia in return for what he has been willing to overlook for them as president and whether or not any of that remuneration will be deemed to be illegal. I’ve watched and seen what the Bushes and Clintons got from foreign countries after they left office and I really wonder how much their policies were affected by what they expected to receive.

Turning to various issues – Israel/Palestine – the US has to return to its status as honest broker. Putting the embassy in West Jerusalem makes sense because that is the nation’s capital, but not in contested areas along East Jerusalem. Frankly, I don’t think anyone in Israel really cares if the US puts it back in Tel Aviv. The Palestinians should be urged to get rid of Abbas and put in a leader that can unite Gaza and the West Bank and the Israelis should be urged to deal with them and create some sort of viable Palestinian entity so they can stay out of each other’s internal affairs and so that the Palestinians can breathe. Iran needs to be negotiated – they will be a nuclear power with inspections and restrictions, but they have to stop messing around the region causing trouble and spend their fortune improving the lot of Iranians. If they don’t, eventually their government will fall if they have no bogeyman to blame for their misfortune and as it is Iranians resent seeing the government send so much money out of the country to foment instability abroad while corruption abounds at home. The president’s brother just got sent to jail for 5 years for corruption. North Korea can get the same deal, but China has to take some more ownership over that country and make sure that they do not cause trouble. China is a perfect example of how foreign policy can be complicated and America needs a strong person to manage the China relationship where the give and take in the various arenas can be kept in context. China needs to know that there is an address in the US to deal with that is steady and strong otherwise they will play off all sides such as carefully directing tariffs to punish electoral districts that voted for Trump. They are not stupid and they want advantage but they are clever enough to deal smartly with a strong but steady adversary and they know that it would be more advantageous to work for mutual benefit than simply to fight a cold war where both sides lose. I don’t think America should be trying to prevent China from rising as a world economic power; there is enough wealth to go around. I am nervous about Chinese military moves and I’m in favor of standing by Taiwan as a reliable ally especially as China makes its moves in Hong Kong and shows all those people that they have no future to look forward to as Chinese citizens. We have no rights in Hong Kong but we can offer moral support and support calls for the democratic rights valued by its citizens who have enjoyed those liberties and do not want to lose them. So I would be cooperative with China to the extent that we can have a rivalry that is based on mutuality and respect, and tough on issues that involve external moves that threaten stability in the region. So for instance, instead of standing by while China intimidates American companies to toe their line politically and kowtow to them or risk being boycotted, I would say that if you are going to intimidate our airlines we’ll stop your airlines from flying into our country. If China wants to threaten our allies militarily, we’ll put more missiles into Taiwan. We have leverage too and tariffs are not really the best way to be trying to use it.

America could help South Korea and Japan get over their differences; they are arguing because the US is not in there as a big brother helping them work things out and this is going to be trouble because the Japanese can’t properly monitor South Korean missiles while the South Koreans can; both are threatened, and the military cooperation agreement between the two countries is to expire this year. Turkey and Egypt could use some tough love from the US – I’m not against either of their rulers but both of their rulers are just too full of themselves and are causing long-term instability because they are creating misery for too many people.

Fredericksburg Castle, Denmark

Russia and the US are another example of a complicated relationship with ramifications across the globe, from Venezuela and Cuba all the way through Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Iran, China, Korea, Israel and India, just to mention a few. Again, we need someone really hands-on to manage this relationship who has a world view and the cooperation of many departments across the land. Russia also wants advantage but is also smart enough to work for mutual benefit. Ukraine should be a solvable issue, especially with its new president who seems eager to solve the problem and to consider Russia’s position of interest. Russia probably doesn’t care if Assad runs Syria as long as their interests are respected. What I don’t see till now is the desire of the US to seriously deal with these problems, but there are probably solutions if the will and the ability is there.

Venezuela — This might be a good place for the US to intervene. The country is going to pot and I don’t like the Russians sticking seeds in the place looking to see if they can plant trees. The situation there is awful, people are starving and the US could put a win on the board and show the world that it’s back in business and certainly going to defend its interests in its backyard.

Terrorism – I would just close Guantanamo. It’s 20 years. Just let them go already if you can’t find a place to put them or haven’t found grounds by now to convict them of something. I have a hard time understanding why this is such a hellhole after 20 years and why it is costing us $1.5 million a year per prisoner to keep them there. Tell them that you are going to keep an eye on these 40 people and if they make trouble, we’ll just kill them next time. I still don’t even know if all those people really even belong there. Some of it just looks like Catch-22. Afghanistan has befuddled every president for 20 years. We are not going to beat the Taliban and we are not going to affect what goes on in that country. Nor should we. The only thing that we cared about was when Afghanistan became a lawless place and a launching pad for attacks inside the US. I think they get it by now. We could pull out of there and basically let them know that if it happens again, we freakin nuke the place and forget about the nation building stuff. I’m open to other ideas on this but I feel Trump’s pain on this one.

ANTITRUST – The major tech companies got too big and they are wiping out any opportunity for upstarts to create new companies, let alone competitors. They are quashing their own customers and competing against them. People can’t start new companies without the fear that the big companies will either buy them too cheaply or just copy them. This lack of competition is hurting the overall US economy even though in certain ways it lowers prices for people. But Walmart also knocked out tons of mom and pop companies, just like Amazon is doing today. Even shopping malls are dying and a generation ago they killed Main Street. Some controls are needed. I’m not sure what they should be but Facebook is another example of a very large company that was repeatedly warned to be more careful with its data and kept ignoring the warning signs. Juul is an example of a new generation of a large tobacco company that lied about its products’ addictive qualities except that the results – death and illness – are showing up faster and too obvious to ignore. You can lump this into the section about Climate Change and Government Regulation but it’s all there because even though people say that they want small government, sometimes government is the only protection people have against people and companies who want to take advantage of them. When you click on that OK button on a website, you know that you have no power to negotiate anything and wouldn’t understand what you are signing even if you did read all 50 pages of any company’s privacy policy even though you are giving them the license to track your every move, sell information about yourself that you don’t even know yourself, and have no idea who they might be selling it to. You have no choice when you buy a plane ticket. Just try to get Google or Facebook to correct something erroneous about you that they’ve posted. Somebody has to inspect the chickens to realize they are bad before people get sick and die. Somebody has to make sure the airline is not cutting corners with its planes. Drugs, products claiming to cure ailments and packaging representing weights and contents need to be monitored to verify that they are what they claim to be. The UK has lots of vaping going on but fewer deaths because they are carefully inspecting what is in the products and the US is not doing nearly as much. Somebody has to police the borders. Somebody has to represent the US abroad in a foreign country and be there for its citizens when they get taken hostage by guerillas or used as bargaining chips by hostile governments. Yes, we need government and it needs to work.

CRIME and PRIVACY – I think too much of a big deal has been made of privacy rights. If you are doing something wrong such as sneaking into a subway system, you have a right to be discovered by a public camera. If you are posting stuff online, you have a right for public officials to read it and discover that it is inconsistent with stuff you are otherwise stating to be true such as if you are claiming you are disabled but posting videos of you running in a marathon. What you do in your house is your own business, but if you are in the public eye or are giving away your data online in return for benefits, you don’t have an expectation of privacy. I’m in favor of more use of facial recognition technology, DNA testing and artificial intelligence to solve and prevent crimes. In fact, it might be that Artificial Intelligence might at some point provide more empathetic customer service than humans because they would be programmed to produce a certain result consistently under certain conditions. I’d be happy not to have to keep repeating myself to some guy in an Indian call center reading a script without any discretion to actually make a decision on my matter who talks to me in a way that makes no sense and that shows that he has no idea what I am talking about. I don’t want to talk to a computer and feel bad every time I talk to a US-based person who says their company is trying to give away their job to a computer. But I know that US-based telephone-based customer support is expensive, so at least allow people to pay the cost of providing it.

CONCLUSIONS

In the cockpit of a Boeing Dreamliner

I’ve looked at websites from people running for office and frankly I think that what I’ve outlined to you is more definitive and more likely to garner broad congressional support than the wacky stuff I’ve been otherwise exposed to. The country needs fewer crazy sexy ideas and more back to basics that reflect our core values and essential requirements. We need roads, ways to get places, consumer rights, more qualified people pursuing public SERVICE and not just looking at public involvement as a stepping stone for lining their pockets, and we need to remember what we stand for – we are committed to the ideas that humans have certain rights, that we value the idea that people have a real voice in choosing their government, that people deserve a fair shot to make something of themselves if they work hard and not just because of who they know and not be harassed by corruption and prosecutors lacking evidence ilegally collected, that merit should count for something, that people are entitled to know what is really going on as to matters that affect them and to be able to fairly make informed choices about what they buy and use and important decisions that they make, that leaders of countries are there to benefit their countries and not just themselves, and that the US will inspire people around the world to see the US as advancing those ideas around the world, and that the US welcomes immigrants who will work hard and add value to our country. All I’ve seen from the Democratic candidates is the politics of resentment as they fall all over themselves to denigrate their privilege and extol some kind of identity that is outside the mainstream such as anything with the word “trans” in it, the desire to redistribute wealth and the sense that people are entitled to things that they should get for free and that some god will provide all of the money. The Republicans just breed fear and tell us that if we lock ourselves from the inside out, we’ll be great again. Neither of these programs are going to get us anywhere, they have all failed in the past, and they will surely lead to the continued decline of America.

I’ve addressed over 20 issues in these 9 pages and I can’t pretend to address every single one of them, but it’s certainly a start. I can tell you that there are plenty of people I know that I’d happily vote for president more so than any of the people currently running. I guess that I and all the people I know are not stupid enough to try and run for that office in this current climate. I know that someone would find some kind of dirt on me and if they couldn’t, they would just make it up and today you can make up a video showing anyone saying or doing anything and if you repeat it enough times, you’ll convince people that it’s true. It worked for the Nazis and it helps explain how Hitler got to power. I have no doubt it could happen again, especially with a guy like Trump who will say anything and a network like Fox that will give him a respectable modicum of a mouthpiece to do it. Just look at how they are now saying that the head of Ukraine for the national security council in the White House, a Lieutenant Colonel and Iraqi War Purple Heart veteran, might actually be a spy because he had the audacity to blow the whistle on Trump’s desire to link military aid to the Ukraine fighting off Russian invaders to having them get dirt on his domestic political opponent. Anything goes and it’s really not the way to a brighter future. Each side wants to obliterate the other and cram down its own vision if it can only get a majority in Congress; when the control flips, the other side undoes everything. The world watches this see-saw and sees America as a country that works in 4 year spurts and doesn’t know what to do with it because everything is only for now and to do great things you have to make long-term commitments and stick to them. We have to work together and find common ground; only with common ground can major decisions be made and can the country stop a generation of gridlock and move forward to do great things. A Hoover Dam could never be built today; China is building Hoover Dams all over the place and laughing at us. We need to have the last laugh. America is better than what it seems but it needs leaders to tell people what they want and to reach across the aisle and work in a constructive way to get it done.

Please let me know if you have any feelings about what I’ve posted here and if you think I’m missing anything that you want me to write about. I’ll include it in my next posting.

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