20051029

Wisconsin Campaign Reform

A few brief proposals.

Limit campaign spending to one dollar per capita for the political unit of local government being contested. An indexed version could be to limit the per capita spending to one dollar or the current rate for sending three US Postal Service regular size postcards; whichever is higher.

Modernize the redistricting process through the use of an open source computer algorithm rather than relying on the political judgment of the state legislature or courts.

Allow IRV in all state and local races.

Do also look at my prior posting on voter ID. I think that that the current proposal to force voters to go to the DMV for state IDs is equivalent to a poll tax. Any poll tax is a violation of the Twenty-fourth Ammendment to the Unted States Constitution.

Let us see one of the proposing state legislators try and get an ID by taking a bus from 10th and Wright to the DMV office, and think about doing so without taking time off from a low paying job. Time is a critical commodity for working poor single parent families. Any state ID proposal should be done in a way that does not "tax" the voters.

Other pages:

Wisconsin Campaign Finance Reform

American Scientist Online - Machine Politics

20051021

Let us build the best network for Milwaukee

Perhaps my prior post about WiFi was somewhat judgemental. Doubt and self analysis are thought of as a weaknesses in todays political environment, but they are the hallmark of rational thinking and scientific analysis.

Therefore I shall reserve further judgment on this WiFi proposal for Milwaukee until I have seen the details.

I shall keep you posted.

20051017

Milwaukee WiFi - an open letter

We are completely confused as to the what, where, and how of the current proposal. We are, quite frankly, concerned because this announcement comes out a few weeks before we have an October 31st meeting set up with the Mayor on the same subject. We have been treated disdainfully by DPW in our efforts to get information on the city owned infrastructure and/or network. City Hall employees apparently believe that contractors and companies have more rights than citizens in access to government controlled information.

While Presidents from Washington to Truman have held the citizen as true ruler of the Republic; modern political systems seem to believe that the corporation has true right of rule. The corporate owner and operators have become for American governance what the lords and ladies of old Europe where to that continent in its pre democratic era.

One of the great hopes of the Internet is that it can be an enabling technology for class mobility. Politically, it is an enabler of open political discourse. Economically, it lowers the bar for new and small businesses to aggressively compete against entrenched incumbents.

America's strength is that it has traditionally supported a strong middle class, be it the yeoman farmer, the small shop keeper, the unionized factory worker or the young entrepreneur. Ours is the nation built on the economic and political power of the middle class.

We fear the old order is using lobbyist and inside influence to tilt the playing field that has been leveled by Internet technology. SBC and Time Warner Cable threaten to stifle any efforts at opening the city to a true open market system. They use heavy handed lobbyist tactics to maintain their respective market monopolies.

We can see the Midwest Fiber Networks' WiFi proposal as a distracting derivation of a "middle of the road" system that can offer true open access to multiple providers. We are leery of making Midwest Fiber Networks one of three entrenched gatekeepers to the Internet.

Midwest Fiber Networks has entrenched itself firmly into DPW and used inside access to leverage itself into its current position. A open review of the company's historic financial records will underscore the contention that it is highly leveraged. This is not to say that we favor large established corporations over startups, our criticism is derived from the discriminatory attitude expressed against our own efforts to act as an independent advocates for using the City of Milwaukee's DPW assets for economic development.

The truly valuable asset here is the DPW controlled right of way and conduit. We want equal access to DPW information. If security is the issue, then the city should perform a background check for any and all requesting entities rather than arbitrarily restricting access.

Please join us in our October 31st meeting with the Mayor and the November 1st meeting of the Public Works committee. Please support our effort to open the process to public scrutiny. We should insure that the City of Milwaukee's assets are used to preserve and extend open market competition rather than create conditions that allow further consolidation and control of our media and information networks.

Tue, November 1 9:00 AM PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE City Hall Room 301-B

20051006

I don't think you have to be hit on the head twice to know who hit you the first time.

The Republicans are proving that they are the party of fiscal irresponsibility. The Wisconsin Republicans keep hitting us on the head and talk about fiscal responsibility. They prove themselves as hypocrites when they continue to support the national Republican party's reckless cut and spend policy.

Excessive debt endangers the United States. We are dependent on nations like China to absorb our debt. Anyone who thinks that our behavior is not affected by our relationship with our lender is a fool. China remains today the largest Communist power on earth. While they have developed a hybrid capitalism, the fact remains that a third of China's industries are controlled by the Peoples Liberation Army and the state, and the political structure is controlled by the Communist Party. China has a poor record with human rights and its regime oppresses effort to organize the labor force or establish institutions based on democratic principals.

We borrow the money from China to pay for tax cuts for the rich and a war without a budget.

The Republican Party is hitting you on the head.

Our current federal polices undermine the future economic vitality of our nation. Republicans have become the mouthpiece for large corporate interest that seek to exploit cheap Chinese and Indian labor while undermining middle class American capability to have and sustain family supporting jobs.

The Republic bandwagon is being driven off a cliff. It is driven by a party dominated by large corporate interests. It is not the party of growth nor is it the party of the middle class. It is a party that is selling a false dream of riches for all in a time when the American Dream is becoming harder to obtain. Recent data indicates that if you are born into poverty in the US, you are actually more likely to remain in poverty than in other countries in Europe.

Republic policies have been disastrous for everyone but the ultra rich.

To quote Harry S. Truman:

"I don't think you have to be hit on the head twice to know who hit you the first time."

20051004

Scott Walker called you a pig!

In referring to the Milwaukee area economy Scott Walker said “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig,”.

Scott Walker apparently knows pigs when he sees them; his budgets have always been a pig in a poke.

Cut taxes and eventually economic growth will give us more revenue ... yeah right.

How about growing the Milwaukee economy, so each can pay less in taxes.

Having been unwilling to tackle the issue of local economic growth, he has blamed poor economic growth for lack of tax revenue growth.

He blames organized labor for the high cost of doing business in Milwaukee. Yet organized labor is only minor part of the modern work force.

He blames health care costs for driving away business. Yet he initiates policies that increase the cost of health care.

Lots of blame and no solutions.

You who live in Milwaukee County, parse the words carefully. Walker wants you to work more, for less. He want to take away your parks and your bus ride to work.

His concept of economic development is to make Milwaukee into Mississippi. Low wages, no health care, no unions and minimal government services.

Where does it stop? Do we need to work for the same average per capita income in Mississippi? ($24,650) Mexico? ($9,600) India? ($3,100)

If the cheap labor and low taxes trick works so well why does Mississippi have higher unemployment than Vermont or Hawaii?

Walker is an advocate for the slide down, not the climb up.

What we need is capital, education, and infrastructure.

... and hope.

Lacking the vision required to build our future, he sees instead a lipstick adorned pig.

You live in the Milwaukee area, you are the Milwaukee economy! Scott Walker called you a pig!

Big business, big government and the big lie

While contemplating my place on the political compass, it occurs to me that my philosophy tends to support diversity and liberty. To me the fundamental superiority of a society, economic system, defence system or ecological system based on diversity is self evident.

To me, monopoly, duopoly, and oligopoly are bad things to have. I prefer cooperatives in place of "natural monopolies" and democratically controlled, government owned system, when market diversity and cooperatives are not possible. If diversity does exists, then I am all for the competitive free market. I am also for government intervention when markets become controlled by oligopolies, duopolies and monopolies.

Big businesses evolve into lumbering dinosaurs. Systems that become highly specialized tend to develop flaws that only become apparent in times of change. Change can often result in a fatal blow to systems that lack diversity.

For example ...

In 1900 Milwaukee american elm trees became the preferred tree to shade streets, and by the mid 20th century the elm lined street looked like green cathedrals. Without the protection of diversity, the City of Milwaukee lost its magnificent foliage as dutch elm disease ravaged the human planned elm mono-culture. A few american elms survive to this day in corners of the city, on streets where the elms where mixed with maples and oaks.

A diverse system of commerce ...

The Internet is based on a technology that creates networks based on peer-to-peer communications. On a very simplistic level, general purpose computers can used to build all the element of Internet technology. The software used by a router or a server is essentially the same. Information on the Internet is routed by software through a system that is designed to have a distributed knowledge of itself. It is the core concept of inter-domain routing that differentiates the Internet from traditional centrally switched systems. Distributed intelligence allows the system to operate when damaged to a far greater existent than possible with systems based on centralized switching. The traditional telephone system is based on dumb devises attached to a central office switch. Internet systems need no central office switch. The Internet is the antithesis of centralization unless controlled by big business or big government.

The Internet standards as defined by the IETF are limited to communication protocols. The diversity is in the implementations. Because the IETF uses a public peer review process the protocol standards tend to be far more robust and resistant to fatal flaws than proprietary standards developed within large corporations.

Centralized communications systems breakdown during crises. The Achilles heel being the central office. We would be far better off in a world with multiple overlaid Internet based systems in times of emergency than the traditional central office telephone system. The only thing the old telephone system has going for it is a -48 volt power supply and the fixed knowledge of where the wire is. The power and the fixed nature makes operation when the power company has a failure and 911 more predictable, yet the same technical enhancement can be integrated into Internet based systems using power over Ethernet and LOC combinded with TXT records in DNS to identify the location and address. The telephone companies use the dedicated power and 911 features as weapons against competition, while they design new systems based on the competitor's offerings.

Fortunately for utilities (and unfortunately for our society,) in our economic-political system the dinosaurs have an opportunity to escape extinction through the use of political action committees and lobbyists.

At the core of our utilities problem is the creation of vertically integrated monopolies or duopolies. When one or a few own the production, distribution and delivery, the consumer pays. We have the technology to interface many producers of information to a common delivery system. We also have the technology to safely and reliably deliver power from many producers to a common power grid. The common network and the common power grid should be viewed in the same way as the town market. These should not be controlled by a single producer. If I could, I would replace city power grids with an open cooperative of power producers; as in turn I would replace the telephone and cable local loop with an open cooperative of service providers using Internet based technology.

This is a model of true free markets.

Where I agree with Milton Freedman is that monopolies are a product of government policies. What we have created in America is an alliance between big government and big business that supports the creation of and perpetuation of monopolies, duopolies, and oligopolies rather than true open markets.

Large business and large government create social stratification and hurt the middle class. This enforces the segregated society. Lack of opportunity make the poor feel helpless which leads to a downward cycle of crime and poverty. These large corporation use money to influence the media and the political system so as to perpetuate the accumulation of power and money by few at great cost to economic and social mobilty A.K.A The American Dream.

Many businesses working in a mixed cooperative and competitive market leads to a strong middle class. This leads to opportunity. Lower the bar for small business, open the networks and power grids to any and all producers and providers. Open telecommunications and power systems combined can create a new wave of entrepreneurship and economic diversity for America.

Is this not a self evident path to a new information economy and energy independence?

Add Monopoly is Competition to the Orwellian list of War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, Freedom is Slavery; for Monopoly is Competition is the current FCC and Wisconsin PSC policy.

All part of big business, big government and the big lie.

20051003

My political compass

FYI - Here is the result of my test on the political compass. So please call me a lefty libertarian when you pigeon-hole me.

I am under the influence of Thomas Paine and these other writers.

Currently I am reading America's Constitution : A Biography.

Doing voter ID the fair way.

I happen to agree, that as currently proposed by the republican state legislature, voter ID is a bad idea. IDs should not be an impediment to voting, rather the ID process should be integrated into the voting process. Here is my suggestion.

Each voter should provide a picture and a valid address. This does not need to be done at the Department of Motor Vehicles, because we have the technology to do this at the polls. Why pictures? Unlike ID cards ... faces are harder to forge. Put into a central database, no cards to carry, no forgeries. Suspect fraud ... check the pictures.

All we need is a digital camera and an Internet connection at each polling place with a connection to a centralized database. Do the whole thing using public domain, open source software and we can kick Accenture out of the voting process.

My view is that this can be done as a University Wisconsin gradute student project.

What do we need?

Internet connectivity - Avalible at most every tradition polling location given that polls tend to be at school and fire houses.

DVDs - No Internet ... no problem ... use DVD ROMs for lookups and use paper (recoring the image number from our digital camera snapshot) for input. A ward's worth of data should fit on a DVD without a problem.

A large scalable database - check out Postgresql - it is scalable, supports replication and it is free.

An easy to use interface - It’s called web pages.

Hardware - Yahoo! and Google have been built using cheap Intel systems, running FreeBSD or Linux - sounds like a workable model to me.

No cushy contracts for big political donors.

Build an open sources system based on open systems architecture and the Internet, and in the process save thee taxpayers millions.

See also

http://www.oreillynet.com/pub/a/policy/2004/04/26/ovc.html
http://openacs.org/forums/message-view?message_id=18195
http://www.linuxdevcenter.com/pub/a/linux/2002/07/16/drake.html?page=2