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Hi Mr. Say,

Thank-you for your prompt response.

I agree that we should not cut funding from other programs in order to pay for fair elections. Since so many wealthy individuals and corporations are already spending so much money on political campaigns, I would propose that we tax every individual and corporation above a certain threshold. I have heard estimate as low as $7 per person to fully fund elections publicly. Now I don’t have to be as rich as the next guy to have as much influence in the political process.

Since this would actually save people and corporations the millions of dollars they would have spent on politicians and campaigns, the net overall effect to our economy will be positive and create jobs. Not to mention the democratizing effects of having our politicians free from having to constantly fundraise.

Best,

Brian Bell


From: Calvin Sa
Sent: Thu, October 14, 2010 8:24:54 AM
Subject: RE: Please Support Fair Elections

Dear Mr. Bell:

Please find below my response to the Voter Owned Hawaii candidate pledge request.  The response was e-mailed to Voter Owned Hawaii on October 11th.

I’m sorry that I could not agree to the pledge at this time.  My response provides the reasons.  When the budgetary situation improves in the future, I will re-consider my position.

Sincerely,
Calvin K.Y. Say


MY RESPONSE TO THE VOTER OWNED HAWAII CANDIDATE PLEDGE REQUEST:

From: calvinsay
To: kory
Subject: RE: Sign the Fair Elections Pledge for the Economy & Environment
Date: Mon, 11 Oct 2010 17:48:38 -1000

Dear Mr. Payne:

I’m sorry, but at this time I cannot sign your pledge on public funded campaigns.

Because of the Great Recession, the State of Hawaii has many higher priorities needing state funding than campaigns.  During the past two years, the Legislature has had to make difficult decisions allocating scarce state funds among many worthy programs.  At this time, I prefer funding services and programs that are essential to public health, safety, and education or promote job growth.

When the budgetary situation improves, and if I am still in office, I will re-consider your pledge.

Calvin K.Y. Say


Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2010 17:29:43 -0700
From: Brian Bell
Subject: Please Support Fair Elections
To: calvinsay

Aloha Mr. Say,

I tried to reach you by phone, but could not get through so I thought I would email you.

According to Voter Owned Hawaii’s candidate pledge website you have not pledged to support a law to create a comprehensive public funding system for Hawaii’s elections. As you know, it is imperative that we get money out of politics so people vote with their voices and not with their pockets. One person = one vote, this is the foundation of a functional democracy.

As your constituent I hope that you will support Voter Owned Hawaii and Common Cause’s efforts in this matter.

Best,
Brian Bell
Honolulu, HI 96816

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Came across this and thought it added nicely to the conversation.

http://www.alternativeright.com/main/the-magazine/the-myth-of-technological-progress/

First problem with this article: “To predict a predictable future, you need to look at the past. What was technological life like 50 years ago? 50 years ago was 1959.” Gee wiz, all we need to do to figure out the future is look at the linear progress of the past and extrapolate forward. The pace of technological progress is quickening – you can pull any Kurzweil graph from the previous post to check this. Humans are notoriously bad at predicting exponential trends even when the graphs are staring them in the face. The rapid and wide adoption of new technologies is breathtaking and it’s only getting faster. There are indeed exponential trends within exponential trends.

Where do you even find articles like this? How about at an online magazine touting good ole conservative values. We don’t need a smart toaster, thank-you very much.

Has nothing really changed and is everything slowing down as the author argues? Could you make a free phone call anywhere in the world in 1959? How about a video call? Could you access all of human knowledge on a device that fits in your shirt pocket? Did computers fly and land aircraft in 1959? How big where computers anyway? The list of technological achievements goes on, but why bother listing them out? Anyone who was alive in 1959 is blown away by the changes. It’s as if the author says: “You haven’t achieve the Jetsonian vision of the 50s so none if this gobbledygook will ever happen.”

Dator talks about the lack of technological innovation concerning economics, politics, and transportation over the decades, but this piece questions the progress of communication tech, which seems untouchable (unless you have a touch screen).

You can’t think of any technological innovation in these areas?

I wonder if highly paid writers can’t predict the future in movies, what makes a bunch of academics think they can do any better? 🙂

This is the best I could find about the state of renewables today. Let’s all hope for a hail mary on this one!

http://awesome.good.is/transparency/web/1004/alternative-energy/flash.html

What do you mean by hail mary? This flash site doesn’t tell the exponential growth story of renewables. Here’s some : http://www.4ecotips.com/eco/article_show.php?aid=2014&id=286 See how that red line comes out of nowhere? That’s the power of exponential growth. Renewable energy installed capacity is doubling every two to three years and is only 7 doublings away from providing all of our energy needs. (Try counting from 2 to 7, then try doubling 2 seven times and you’ll see why people don’t get this). I think it’s time to start worrying about other problems in society. The growth trends at this point are unstoppable because of economies of scale. We would need a concerted effort to stop renewable energy from taking over the vast majority of our power production over the next 20 years. Wind power is already cheaper than coal in most cases. Case closed!

And finally, I offer some Zizek to really drive the point, assuming of course there is one, home.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727751.100-slavoj-zizek-wake-up-and-smell-the-apocalypse.html

Great thinker and he raises important issues, but none that haven’t already been raised before by the same people that share my techno-optimistic viewpoint of the future(s).

In our current post-climate change world (yes, it’s already happening), we need to embrace the absurdity that for all that we’ve done over millennia as a species, we’re just as susceptible to our hubris…just ask the Greeks…and the Romans…and the…

Is hoping for us to pull through hubris? I don’t believe it is. I do believe that technology is the next stage of our evolution whether that is hubris or not.

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Should we have a high-speed rail network? Just like everything else lately, it’s becoming political: Political Opposition to High Speed Rail is Beyond Stupidity | Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit.

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The Impossible Brief

Resolving the Palestinian/Israeli conflict will take the best ideas we have. To that effect, Saatchi & Saatchi have come up with a way to harness the power of our collective wisdom: The Impossible Brief

Here’s my entry:

The institution of mandatory cultural exchanges for students, government officials, business and religious leaders could help to bridge the divide. Although the cultures and religions are different, that difference is only slight. The Israelis would study in the Mosques and the Palestinians would study in the synagogues. They would start to find common ground and a common message amongst both of their religions. Through working on solutions to problems of their shared environment they could start to see their codependency. Together they would tackle the issues that both of their societies are facing: rising sea levels, a more arid climate, access to water, food security, and clean energy.

Instead of trying to live separate, but equal, we need to focus on increasing the diversity and integration of the people in that region.

We need a “fall of the Berlin Wall” uprising where the leaders and youth from the two sides choose to live in harmony no matter what those in power want. The very foundation of this will be mutual understanding and shared responsibility arising from this program.

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Op-Ed Columnist – We’re Gonna Be Sorry – NYTimes.com.

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This disaster has happened in a very visible way and allows us to make some connections to the larger industrial system that created it. In a way, this is just the event we needed to kick start more environmentally sound policies. With at least 6 million gallons of oil spilled or leaked so far, this is shaping up to be the worst oil spill in US history. However dreadful this is, we should remember that each day our current socioeconomic system wrecks far more damage to the vital ecosystems that support us.

Since babies are on my mind I’ll give you just one example of our overly wasteful system. In an earlier post, I noted it takes over 7 billion gallons of oil each year just to make disposable diapers. Our use of these environmentally destructive diapers ever year is at least 1,000 times worse than this spill, yet it’s not making the headlines The fact that Americans throw away 18 billion diapers per year (570 per second) that last for another 300 years, is a travesty, but yet just one example of a myriad of environmental shockers. Where do we think these diapers go? Worse yet, some waste facilities incinerate them and put all of their chemicals and toxins into the air, which find their way back into our food chain. Ahhh….!

As oil becomes scarcer, we are going to ever greater lengths to get our hands on it. This is because our entire industrial system relies on this cheap and abundant source of prehistoric sunlight. A crisis like this can be an opportunity to make connections that people otherwise would not have though about. Most of the time, our impact is obscured and not visible enough for anyone to care. The environmental movement of the 1970s succeeded in part because we were fighting against pollution that we could all see and agree was bad. However, the movement now underway is much more difficult to see and act on because the toxins, pollutants, greenhouse gases, and piles of trash are not seen or felt on a daily basis. This makes it tough for people to understand why things are so dire.

We need to take this opportunity to rally the changes that must happen at all levels of society: we need new laws and business models to create a sustainable future. Do we really think we can keep consuming at this rate? Do we really think the entire planet can munch through resources the way Americans do? We need to rethink our society and this is as good of an event as any to do so.

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Paul Hawken argues yes in his newest book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming

“No country advocates trade liberalization more ardently than the USA as a means to improve any country’s social welfare, a policy known as the Washington Consensus. The irony of America’s overheated emphasis on free-market ideology is how miserably it has failed its most ardent proponent. The United States has the worst social record of any developed country in the world, and it is the worse than that of many developing countries. By almost any measure of well-being, the US brings up the rear: It is number one in prison population (726 per 100,000 people vs. 91 in France and 58 in Japan); first in teen pregnancies, drug use, child hunger, poverty, illiteracy, obesity, diabetes, use of antidepressants, income disparity, violence, firearms death, military spending, hazardous waste producation, recorded rapes, and the poor quality of its schools. (The US is the only country in the the world besides Iraq where schools need metal detectors.) It has the highest trade budget deficit as a proportion of national income and has seen more than 30 million workers laid off by corporations since 1984, most of whom were permanently consigned to lower-wage jobs. As a uniform trade system sweeps over the world, the monetary gain are called GDP, but the losses that suffered, even in the industrialized West, much less in the Third World, are not tallied, as if one were recording sales at the cash register but ignoring thefts at the back of the warehouse.

The theory behind market liberalization is beguiling and, on the face of it, inarguable: If poor countries had more money and freedom, everyone would be better off; the great flow of material goods would eventually improve everyone’s life. To those who carp about low wages and poor working conditions in developing countries free-market advocates argue that freedom and prosperity require time and sacrifice. But whose time and whose sacrifice? Critics see the further concentration of wealth and power, not the spread of freedom. The world’s top two hundred companies have twice the assets of 80 percent of the world’s people, and that asset base is growing fifty times faster than the income of the world’s majority. Wealth flow uphill from the poor to the rich.”

I don’t usually like to quote so extensively, but I don’t believe I could have said it better. The message is clear – we (Americans) are not the example for the world. If anything, we’re the example of what not to do. We need to get our collective head out of the sand. The question is, are we willing to take the hard look at ourselves that it is going to require for us to make the improvements to the world we need to survive and thrive? I would guess not. As long as corporate interests are overrepresented in our capitol we can be assured of more of the same.

The problem is huge and this blog entry doesn’t have the room to explore the question let along the answer in detail. Start by reading this book and all his others. Get involved. Stand up and demand change. Find an issue you care about and work towards a solution. I promise it won’t take up too much of your time and you’ll feel great doing it.

We’re at a turning point in our history and have the technological tools available to collaborate in ways never before seen. Now our previously faint voices can have a parallel effect to become a vociferous demand for change. Let’s start now!

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