20 July 2007

Thank god for you tube

there are some hilarious clips out there:

15 March 2007

damn I've been neglecting the hell out of this blog

But fear not, there is more to come. There is just too much stuff happening all the time, nome sane

The funny thing is I'm pretty sure nobody will ever read this thing, so I'm basically just typing to myself right now, which I guess is a grade above talking to myself

05 June 2006

Campaign Finance Reform

I don't think that the precarious state we find ourselves in America today can be specifically blamed on any individual or group. I think what it really boils down to is the way we run our political system. I wrote about net neutrality in the previous post, and the truly frightening thing to me is that if some powerful corporations (like Microsoft, which stands to lose money to internet providers without net neutrality) did not support net neutrality, then the public would have no chance at all against companies like AT&T and other major network providers. These corporations seem to run our country, our government, and the rest of the world, without much restraint. So plenty of people ask the obvious question - why doesn't anybody in politics stand up to them? Is it because we just happened to elect politicians who are collectively spineless?

Consider what it is that you need to win an election. Money. A lot of money. You need a shitload of money to buy political advertisements, TV ads, pay your staff, and coordinate logistics for your campaign. If your opponent has a lot more money than you - s/he will win the election regardless of the issues, because s/he will have resources to shape public opinion in his/her favor, which is easily accomplished in the information age of our 21st century. And corporations are the ones that will provide you with the money to win, and they will certainly need something in return for all that money they have spent. So every time politicians run a campaign, they have to make those backroom deals in order to win. Now I don't think that people go into politics with desire to be corrupt puppets of big business. But what choice do they have - either lose the election, or compromise to special interests like big business (and yes, big business is the special interest much more than leftwing environmentalists or feminists). After a while they compromise and compromise in order to win so much, they eventually forget why they got into politics in the first place.

I wonder if there is actually anybody out there who trusts politicians anymore. Politician is a dirty word, more like a curse. Politicians are assumed to be corrupt and despicable liars by the public. But these are the very same people that govern us, that we are supposed to look up to; people that decide on the rules the rest of us abide by. This is not a healthy situation by any means. And I am not saying that just to put down USA - most of the countries in the world are much more corrupt than us; what I am saying is that we could be doing so much better than this, since according to our President we are supposed to be setting an example for the rest of the world.

What we really need is some way to take big money out of politics. I really don't think we will be able to change a damn thing unless we do that first. All these wars, laws, and privacy and labor rights - they will change, they will come and go; but until we have a government that represents and listens to its people, as opposed to corporations, it is all pretty much meaningless.

And it is not such unattainable goal either. The American public is fed up with corruption and will support any effort to make the government more ethical. McCain campaign finance law was the primary reason for the rise of Howard Dean, because that law limited private donation to $2000 per person, as well as banning soft money donations, which allowed Howard Dean to out raise all of his democratic political opponents by capitalizing on the avalanche of $10-$20 donations from numerous people who were anti Iraq war. And of course there are loopholes - right now corporations take advantage of the fact that most people can't afford to spend $2000 on politics, so they collect tons of $2000 checks from their top managers, and then present that bundle of checks to a politician saying - this is to you from our corporation. But it is much harder for them to do that now, because of the McCain law. That law was never supposed to exist at all in the first place, since conservatives assumed it would be overturned in the Supreme Court, and that is why they bowed to public pressure and let it get passed through Congress.

So I think we are on the right path here, we just need to keep going in the right direction, plugging those loopholes. There are plenty of ways to accomplish campaign finance reform - we can make all donation anonymous, which means that politicians will not be able to check on where their money is coming from, and for the first time in their lives will actually be able to focus on governing and legislating as opposed to to being on the phone begging people for campaign donation. We can also make sure that all candidates get equal exposure and equal amount of commercials on TV, since television is the primary and most powerful source of information for our citizens right now.

And this would not automatically mean victory for liberals either. What conservatives have to realize is that corporations play them for fools, and use their issues in order to further their own private economic agenda. When Newt Ginritch conservatives took over congress in the 90s, it was primarily because Americans were so opposed to Clinton's idea of having gays openly in the military (which was a part of his major campaign promise). So I think liberals will stand to lose on many social issues if we were to have an open and honest discussion. Americans do not want gay marriage, as was shown through passage of anti gay marriage ballots during the 2004 presidential campaign in many states. Most Americans identify themselves as religious christians and regard America as a christian nation. We might even lose on the abortion issue as well. But if we take the money out of politics we certainly stand to win on many economic issues. We could make corporations share their enormous profits that they get from pillaging the world with the rest of us: give our fellow Americans health insurance, job, health and environmental security.

That is why I do not particularly blame our democratic party for the failure to offer an alternative way to the current situation. First we have to change the system in order to make that possible. And if there is a third party that comes to power in light of the current events - the first thing they have to do is make sure they they will implement a campaign finance change which will allow them to compete on the issues - not on how much money they can get from special interests. That is why I am very interested to find out if there is a strong support/activism for some kind of finance reform. I am fairly interested in politics - I watch TV news, read newspapers, browse internet - yet I haven't really seen that much discussion regarding this issue, and that is troubling to me. If there is a strong campaign finance reform movement somewhere I would certainly appreciate if somebody could point me in the right direction, because I want to be a part of that movement.

30 May 2006

Internet Freedom

If there is one issue that demands a truly urgent action, it is the Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality is a government regulation that says that internet providers can not discriminate against website content they are distributing. The Congress is currently debating a proposed measure of allowing internet providers to charge web sites for the level of access - basically regulating access to a website based on how much that website would be willing to pay them. What that means for the alternative news sources is that only those with funds would be able to get their message out, basically turning internet into cable TV. The future of the Internet is at stake, and we must do everything we can to raise the temperature on this issue. I don't think I even need to explain what such action would mean for political grassroots organizations and the future of citizen advocacy in our country. If there ever was a time to write or call your senator and congressman, that time is now, or just send them an email which can be easily done just by clicking on this link. If the Internet Neutrality is overturned, then further online political organizing on any issue will become increasingly difficult. That is why this is such an encompassing issue that can not be compromised.

Furthermore, I think this clearly illustrates why we should take great care every time corporate lobbyists start talking about "deregulation" and the beautiful freedom that such deregulation would ensure. After all, the current corporate campaign to overturn Internet Neutrality has been construed and marketed as an effort to "democratize" internet and free it from government constraints. The truth is it would only be free for those with money. It is the same logic that they used to deregulate radio and television markets, which of course led to our current situation where over 90% mainstream news (TV/Radio/Newspaper) is controlled by just five gigantic corporations. This is what inevitably happens when you have “Free” Market work its magic. In fact I would go as far as to say that the term Free Market itself is what’s called ‘a fucking oxymoron’. Market is a system of rules which allows us to exchange goods and services in orderly fashion, so it can not be free by definition. A corporation complaining that their rights are violated because they are unable to exclude certain websites from internet or that they can not dump dangerous chemicals in the vicinity of my backyard; is in the same vein as me saying that I should be able to break into a store, take a bunch of music cds, and sell them out of the trunk of my car because it is my god-given right to participate in the free market. The only time a particular corporation cares about free market is when deregulation benefits that corporation.

If we talk about deregulation, why don’t we start with pharmaceutical companies. Corporations that make medicine enjoy enormous protection from government regulation in terms of patents. Once a medicine or a medical treatment is invented, virtually everybody can replicate that and make money. The problem is it takes enormous amounts of money to conduct medical research, it is not cost effective and not something that free market could bear on its own. So pharmaceutical companies are allowed by law to sell their medicine for extremely high price once they invent it, and everybody else is forbidden from replicating it. But what if we deregulate that market and loosen restrictions on medical patents: that way our senior citizens could enjoy dirt cheap generic medicine right away, which they would certainly appreciate and vote for in droves if such option is put on the table. Even Bush was forced to admit during his presidential debate with Kerry that he wants to make generic medicine more available. Of course that didn’t translate into any meaningful action, but if he didn’t say that - he would lose the senior citizen vote. True, our medical research would come to a crawl, but that would solve the health care crisis, wouldn’t it? What is the point of making all of us pay for inventing medical treatments that fewer and fewer of us can afford?

I am not actually advocating such a stark change, but it just goes to show that every market situation was artificially created with certain goals in mind, there is no magical space with labor and capital in free flow. The government is supposed to protect its citizens from corporate entities and from each other, and it does that through regulation (law). There are many situations when a particular corporation would seek to limit my freedom of speech in some way, or destroy the environment that I live in, in order to make more money. The only way to prevent that is to remind our legislative and executive representatives in the government who they represent and who they work for – namely you and me.

Now there is a big difference between government regulating business, and the government actually running business. Conservatives like to scare with the image of “big” government taking over, and in a sense they are right, since a robust business community that is able to challenge totalitarian-leaning government is a necessary requirement for healthy democracy. Government should not be running any business, except for most essential public services. Rather the government, or more accurately, we the people, should be restraining business from infringing on public good, even while that business is innovating technologies and providing us with goods and services. If government takes over business in the command-style economy, that leads to the Soviet Union style of communism. However the opposite is just as true. If business entities grow too large and too powerful, they will take over the government, which will lead to economic fascism in the style of nazi Germany. Essentially both end up in the same place, just having taken different paths to the same point on the circle. That is why it is highly troubling to watch continuous erosion of our anti-trust laws, and growth of mega sized corporations that seem at times to be practically running our country. It doesn’t seem we have capitalism anymore, but some kind of corporate monopolism.

29 May 2006


I guess everybody has got to get a blog nowadays. Me and my friends bullshit about politics all the time, and one of my buddies told me I should start putting some of it in writing. Primarily so that it would not be lost to the future generations because that would be a tragedy. Basically this is a place for me and my friends to record, organize, and may be refine some ideas, but if people want to read and comment on this you are more than welcome. I am certainly not an expert on any of these issues and, unlike our current president, don't mind being proven wrong, since it is ultimately to my own benefit.

P.S. If you have a political blog and would like to exchange links, please don't be shy.