Friday, October 17, 2008

Dear Senator Obama (Oct 17)
Friday, October 17th, 2008
Dear Senator Obama,

When John McCain tries to scare people by saying you will take their hard-earned money and redistribute it for them (”spread it around”), one point that you should make is that in world where unrestrained excess and unregulated abuse of power and privilege has caused an unacceptable extreme. It is not really my worry that the rich get richer — I hope to be middle-class someday myself and make four million a year. It is that the poor are getting really much more poor and hopeless. The extremes show up in the general feeling that executives of failed financial institutions are (rightfully) prohibited from being awarded excessive separation bonuses and golden parachutes. Those excesses are visible and easy targets. The AIG executives with their luxury retreats even while taxpayers are bailing out their bankrupt company, are an obvious target.

Who remain invisible are the American citizens at the other end of the spectrum, the marginalized and unemployed, and increasingly desperate poor. Who was it that said, “judge a country by how its poorest citizens are treated” ? The rich can take care of themselves - they don’t need any more tax breaks. Joe the “plumber” didn’t have a valid plumber’s license - it’s ridiculous to drop regulations and standards, and let him run a plumbing business that he wants. Joe even had tax liens - he created his own tax breaks.

I believe that the trend of the poor getting poorer (and the rich getting richer, but that’s actually less important) is the real danger in this country. Poverty and hopelessness, and lack of education and opportunity, are the forces that will eventually cause the most damage to the future of this country, and to the lives of our children. Please speak to that, if you could. Pick out a real person or family, and describe how by “spreading the wealth” and giving them hope, education, and opportunity, and a slice of the American pie, we as Americans can stand proud because our society actually protects the poorest and least able to help themselves.

Even if you don’t take this to the public during the campaign, I hope you remember to consider this when you take office in 2009.

Thank you,

Sunday, October 12, 2008

completeness, consistency, and politics
Sunday, October 12th, 2008
Kurt Gödel at the beginning of the 20th century developed this idea about “completeness” - summarized by Douglas Hofstadter in his recent book “I am a strange loop“. I’ll continue to abuse Kurt’s ideas with this paraphrase:

1. If a system requires internal consistency there are things that cannot be proven.
2. If a system is required to be “complete”; that is, have proofs for everything, you have to live with internal inconsistencies.

I finally realized, that Obama is probably the candidate that is trying to be logical and consistent. He cannot bring himself to talk out both sides of his mouth at the same time. Obama is trapped in his logical, consistent universe, and he will have to grant you, some things just aren’t going to be provable. I think he would be OK with that, having confidence that when faced with such uncertainty, we can figure out what to do when the situations present themselves.

McCain, on the other hand, wants his certainty - completeness, and is not concerned with some internal inconsistencies, characteristic of his party - capital punishment is OK, sending US soldiers to death, killing Iraqis (hundreds of thousands) and Pakistanis (in cross border incursions into other sovereign nations) doesn’t seem to be a problem, but destroying four-celled clusters certain embryos is not. Biblical validation of definitions of marriage as between one man and one woman, don’t seem to have problems with polygamy - maybe we should bring that back, as are other things with which biblical references don’t raise objections, like slavery.

Deterministic answers appear to be desirable from GOP, while Dems ask the “what if” questions, and live with the unprovable nature of the universe. Donkeys seem to be more probabalistic.