Friday, December 30, 2016

Where do we go from here?

America is currently in the worst political position we have ever found ourselves in. The current President-elect is not supported by the majority of Americans before he even sets foot in the White House, which hasn't happened for the past three Presidencies. This could help us succeed if he moves forward to destroy our civil rights policies and our economy, which is what he as talked about doing since he started his campaign.

My biggest concern for next month is that there are currently 107 vacancies in our Federal Court System.

  • 1 Supreme Court justice
  • 2 on the Court of International Trade
  • 3 on the DC circuit court (the most prestigious of all the Appellatte Courts, the source of more Supreme Court nominees than any other court)
  • 6 on the Court of Federal Claims
  • 95 from district courts across the country.
When Donald Trump appoints people to fill these vacancies, you can be sure they will not be moderate and be less willing to approve civil rights legislation. They are going to stay on these courts until they hit retirement age (with the exception of the Supreme Court), so you can expect that they will be younger judges in their 40s which will give him a guaranteed 20 years of influence when he enters the Presidency. No other President in history has walked into so many court appointments. This is due to Congress refusing to give Obama any appointees for over a year, and the American People did not punish them for violating the Constitution. In my own district court for the Western District of Washington, Obama was supposed to have three appointtees which were denied from him by Congress. We are going to have a 100% conservative court here in one of the most liberal parts of the country. This concerns me as much as the elimination of civil rights laws in this country, gerrymandering, and the terrible economic proposals by Trump, because these court appointments are going to make it much more difficult to get progressive policy passed after he leaves office.

The gerrymandering which currently exists is going to continue to be a massive barrier to getting progress done. Most of the gerrymandering has been done in states which do not have initiative laws. We can definitely make progress in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington, on eliminating gerrymandering and implementing ranked voting at the state level. In Illinois, we could implement ranked voting as a constitutional amendment via the initiative process. Implementing ranked voting in these states and putting in laws which eliminate gerrymandering, such as single-split line method, multiple members per district, eliminate voter discrimination, and of course Ranked Voting will make it much harder for Republicans to steal future elections. The states which are the mosdt important to get these passed in are Michigan, Ohio, and Florida given how their elections have been stolen through gerrymandering and voter discrimination will be a significant barrier against Trump getting a second term and eliminate a lot of his support in Congress. Making those legislatures competitive as well will be an important step forward in ensuring democracy lasts in our country. If we get just a few more states we will be on track to matching the progress we made with gay marriage a few years ago and protect our country from more foreign electoral attacks.

This is the first and easiest thing we can do in order to get back our freedoms and improve America for the future.

State governments are vital to getting influence on the national stage. The Democratic Party needs to work hard on locating and raising strong liberal leaders across the country who are ready to be strong leaders of our country at the state and local level. Huffington Post ran an article which listed every Governor from most to least liberal. We should work on replacing the most conservative governors in the country, in Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Nebraska. These are not swing states, but if we put forward more centrist candidates from these states who will give them better government we could turn the country around quickly. Indiana and Wisconsin are swing states, so it could be possible to flip them. Kansas is bleeding economically and we could put a strong Democrat in office. If these are highly qualified governors who will focus on building strong economies and reducing corruption in these states the Republican Party could be weakened potentially. Social policies can be worked on at the federal level and work on more significant progress in states where citizens already support American values. We have easy gubernatorial pickups in Nevada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Florida in the next cycle. We already picked up North Carolina and if everything goes as I expect, we could make North Carolina a solid blue state in 2020 which will be vital in defeating Trump.

2017 we will pick up New Jersey for a total of 17 governorships
2018 we will pick up 14 governorships in Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Vermont, and Wisconsin for a total or 31 governorships and a majority.
2019 we might be able to pick up Kentucky (economy willing) and will need to retain Louisiana for 32 governorships.

Finally, state legislatures are extremely important for being able to test out policy and train strong leaders for Congress. There is a lot of work to be done here, which is where fighting gerrymandering and making elections fair is going to make the biggest impact, even more than getting a Congress which represents all Americans. There are a lot of state legislatures Democrats should have control of. Democrats only control 12 state governorships right now. Here are the legislatures we can gain:

  1. Washington, a majority of both houses are held by Democrats, but a power sharing agreement prevents Democratic control.
  2. Wisconsin
  3. Michigan
  4. Ohio
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. Virginia
  7. North Carolina
  8. Florida
  9. Colorado
  10. New Mexico
  11. Minnesota
  12. Iowa
  13. New York
  14. Maine
  15. New Hampshire
This will give Democrats 27 state legislatures for a majority. This can be done by 2018. If we succeed in making elections fair it will be easy to give Americans the government we want.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

The issue with joining Canada

Once again The Confederate States of America has elected a horrible human being to the presidency of my country. This time it could be worse than we have ever had before. We have survived Andrew Jackson, we have survived Richard Nixon, we have survived Ronald Reagan, and survived George W Bush. Now these backwards racists have elected a self obsessed mediocre reality TV star who talks about illegally deporting millions of people,  mocks people with disabilities, and brags about assaulting women. He lost by over 2 million votes and won three formerly solid democratic leaning states by a hair, winning the Electoral College. His economic policies are ludicrous and social policies are right out of the works of Nietzsche and Hitler. He is working hard to destroy our relationships with other countries, and had the support of Vladimir Putin. The cabinet he is assembling is the richest cabinet in American history, he promises to eliminate the EPA, cut back on social programs and give himself more tax breaks. We don't even know what his investments are, meaning we cannot know where his conflicts of interests lie. This is hell on earth and will take decades to recover from.

As a response, many liberals are talking about the west and northeast joining Canada. To be realistic, this would not happen because most Canadians will oppose it.

I am in Vancouver right now, routinely ranked as the most liveable city in North America, and I agree with Mercer's assessment. While Seattle, a city of 3.7 million people has only one light rail line which goes from the university which is close to downtown to the airport, Vancouver just finished the line to Coquitlam, which is over a half hour drive from downtown. The Seattle equivalent would be like building a line up to Lynnwood which will not happen for over 10 years. Portland, Oregon is in similar shape to Seattle with the MAX, lauded by Americans as the most European like city in the country, doesn't have the MAX running consistently from 6 am to midnight from the whole metro area, and in New York City crossing the Hudson from Manhatten to New Jersey is far from convenient. There is a reason the city is dominated by taxis. These are also some of the most progressive cities in America and their infrastructure is shit, have horrible vetting programs to keep white supremacists (read terrorists) out of their police force, the roads have literal potholes, and have traffic like no first world city. Quantitative quality of life surveys are dominated by German, Japanese, and Canadian cities at the top of the list. At the state level my home state of Washington has the most regressive tax code in the country, refuses to fund basic education, and can't pass a carbon tax because our media is so biased. We are next to Oregon the least corrupt state in the country as well. It would have cost less for me to go to UBC as a foreigner than my own university as an in state student.

The only people we have to blame are ourselves. The Democratic party's unwillingness to go to court over voting rights has hurt our country, and have not brought the Electoral College to National debates. The party is only as good or bad as its members. So why should Canadians want us to join their country? Even many liberal Americans tend to be uncommitted to no brainer policies like mass transit and carbon taxation. Our most progressive politicians frequently oppose such policies and our best and brightest refuse to run for president. Why should Canadians want us gumming up their election system?

On the other side Canadian politics is not as good as most Americans think. Stephen Harper successfully turned Canada into a petrostate and their currency is struggling as a result, increasing the prices of imports. It is going to take a long time to get out of this rut they are in. Justin Trudeau just approved multiple large pipelines as Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline and Trudeau is making it unnecessarily harder for tourists from Europe to visit. Their election system is so bad that despite never winning a majority in an election Stephen Harper survived as PM for three. No party has won a majority of the vote up here in decades. Canada is wonderful, and I love it so much, but is not the utopia many Americans think it is. If they had an influx of more moderate Americans from California and New York electing members of parliament Canada would probably lose many of the programs like Medicare progressives in America yearn for. Never forget the Public Option was killed when Democrats had a filibuster proof majority and all but one Democrat in the Senate voted for the Patriot Act. Russ Feingold was defeated in his next election, when he should have been a presidential candidate in 2004. Why would Canadians want us to join?

Instead of crying about leaving the United States let's clean our own house first. Call our politicians to build infrastructure and fund education. Fix our election systems and cut carbon pollution. Make a more progressive tax code and call for an open border with Canada. Make it easier for European and Japanese tourists to visit the United States. When our politicians break their promises, kick the bastards out. Turn off cable news and read newspapers written by scientists, not public relations/journalism majors. Call for people to speak reality and end this culture where everyone is entitled to their own facts. When our districts are gerrymandered, use the Voting Rights Act and the courts to make our elections fair. Make us a country which would not pull Canada backwards but push them forward.

Once we do this joining Canada would be possible. Once we do this, we won't have to.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Washington State Taxes

Governor Inslee anounced on Tuesday a plan to finally fully fund our K-12 schools here in Washington State. This is years overdue, and it has been unacceptable for our government to not do their job for so long. Washington currently has the most regressive tax structure in the United States, since we rely so heavily on our sales tax. The B&O is barely any better in its progressivity. We also leave capital gains untouched.

Inslee's plan as the Seattle Times announced will do the following:

  1. Increase the B&O Tax on select professions, accountants, attorneys, real estate agents,and others from 1.5% to 2.5%. This will raise $2.3 billion.
  2. A Carbon Tax of $25 per metric ton raising $2 billion.
  3. A 7.9% tax on capital gains above $25,000 for single filers and $50,000 for joint filers. Retirement plans, homes, farms, and forestry are exempt. It will only raise $821 million.
  4. Several other tax exemptions will be repealed, on water bottles and oil manufacturers.
I personally think the Carbon Tax and repealing exemptions for environmentally destructive activities makes a lot of sense and I wouldn't change them from Inslee's proposal.

The B&O tax is regressive towards small businesses and we are one of only 3 states in the country to tax gross receipts. This is a very regressive tax, and will hurt people starting out in these fields significantly. These are already professions which are heavily regulated and have to pay thousands of dollars to get licensed in order to practice in Washington State which can be prohibitive, as I have learned from experience.

A capital gains tax is a good idea, but this proposal like most capital gains taxes is a flat tax. It also ignores retirement plans which leaves a huge source of income untapped. It would be done better by treating all income equally and then taxing each individual's sum at a progressive rate.

Washington State's Tax Code is so backwards we need to redo a lot of it. I would propose the following:
  1. Income Taxes are done at a progressive rate with a range determined by a formula which I originally saw on Daily Kos and then modified. Taxes go as low as -4% (where you get 4% of your income back at the end of the year) and then go as high as 12% progressively. All income is treated the same under this income tax plan. The point where you switch from receiving money to paying money is at $100,000 per year. This will raise $15 billion per year.
  2. A Carbon Tax as proposed by Carbon Washington and Jay Inslee of $30/metric ton which will increase by $1/metric ton every year until it hits $50/metric ton. This will be scaled to inflation. Increasing the Carbon Tax will keep it from reducing revenue and help end carbon emissions sooner.
  3. Current property taxes raise $10 billion per year.
  4. Fund the Working Families Tax Credit.
  5. An Estate Tax of 10% on all inheritances above $1,000,000 per year per recipient.
  6. Other existing state taxes, (smoking, alcohol, etc.) currently raise $15 billion per year.
The B&O and general sales taxes are repealed in full.

This will balance the budget immediately. Eliminating the sales tax and B&O taxes will be a progressive shift in our tax structure which we desperately need and funding our schools is essential for our economic survival and human rights.

Inslee is on the right step here and this discussion needs to continue to happen. I hope he will succeed at funding our schools and taxing carbon emissions. I hope we will then continue the civic debate to look at our tax code and make it so that poor families stop shouldering the burden of funding our state's programs. Our current system is bad economics which must be fixed. This here is one full plan to do just that. is the spreadsheet including data for my proposals including the federal plan.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Moderation and justice

While sitting in church today, my minister talked about social justice which has been a theme at both UU churches I visit (the one closest to me and the closest one with a functioning young adult group which I need). He talked about calling for justice and moderation (in a nutshell) and how the two are intertwined.

My personal opinion/experience is that these two are irreconcilable. There has never been a social justice movement in history which has been both successful and has not made enemies. Systems of oppression exist because some people benefit in the short run from keeping other people down. This is usually from discrimination and societal illness which poisons the mind of people. This makes them think that helping another group is hurting the dominant group, so-called "reverse racism" which is impossible. Moderation would encompass actions like the three fifths compromise, the Missouri Compromise, and the section of the 13th amendment allowing prison slavery. While in the short run they keep the peace, they merely pass the ball of progress down to future generations who have to deal with the problems of yesterday instead of moving forward.

Science and reason are the only methods I have ever observed which have actually worked to open people's minds in ways which benefit humanity. Calling for moderation and detachment which is popular in many religions I believe leads people to not work on self-improvement, or working on themselves without the tools to use their deeper understanding they get from introspection. When people follow philosophies of self-impoverishment this usually ends up with the king/priest/God Emperor of the country being the only one with any real power. It is a massive conflict of interest when the religious organization which calls for the letting go of physical goods is also the political organization which locks up people who speak out against the state. One must ask questions about why ideologies ask their followers to give up their tools of resistance. Places where these values are followed most frequently end up undergoing massive campaigns of religious persecution against anybody who preaches differently from that of the God Emperor. The list of people victimized by such is almost endless, Jesus, Al Wei Wei, Michael Severtus, the Burning of Books and burying of scholars, among so many other losses for humanity. Wikipedia has many lists of martyrs, EnglishUnitarian, and other groups.

Science and reason do not have moderation under a clear understanding of the word. Seeking common ground from where you start is not the same thing as seeking out reality. Societies based on science and reason are the only ones I have observed which consistently avoid episodes of mass martyrdom when science and reason are dominant. Sometimes a group is simply in the wrong. With a debate between the Nazis and SPD in the 1920s in Germany, the Republic of China and PRC over the last 80 years, and now between Trumpists and the rest of America the differences are so vast and detachment from reality so clear, trying to find middle ground with such ideologies is ultimately destructive. You are led to a situation where you have to choose between defending human rights and trying to negotiate with dictators who do not care about human life. By trying to negotiate with dictators by giving them leeway and try to give ground to people following purely evil ideologies which destroy the lives of millions of people you give them more power and by doing so further damage the lives of the people they oppress. The actions of Neville Chamberlain only deepened the horrors of the Third Reich and made the inevitable World War II longer than necessary. The sending of Jews from New York Harbor back to the meat grinder of the Third Reich was a great loss to the world. The same goes for other dictators in history. I cannot see any middle ground. History is very clear on this topic.

Science and reason demand an introspective life. Constantly questioning our current beliefs and actions. They demand us to not take anything for granted, understand why we have the beliefs we hold, understand their roots and consequences, and change our opinions when we are proven wrong. This is not a moderate viewpoint, this is a quest for understanding the world around us. When people try to hold on to old ideas which have no grounding they are committing an act of self-deception which then eliminates their ability to make the world a better place. If you deny global warming is real (IT IS REAL) then you are not going to be able to tackle the problem. If you do not go study how something works or at least seek out the scientists who have dedicated their lives you will not be able to understand the underlying roots to a problem.

I think of gardening for a day to day experience of this solution. When you pull most plants you can't just break the plant from the ground. You have to take out the roots otherwise the plant will grow back with bigger roots than before. I have yet to find a problem this analogy does not work for. Fighting global warming has to be done by transitioning off of fossil fuels, the root of the problem. Fighting for racial justice to a point where everybody has equality of opportunity demands us to understand 1. What race is from a sociological/political/economic point of view, 2. why some countries have race while others don't, 3. intensely study diverse nations which have different nations living together in peace, and then once you understand those three things 4. how do you move from a society with incredible racial inequality to a place of coexistence. This cannot be done overnight, this takes years of studying and learning to understand, but it does not require a college degree either.

This is not a moderate path. This is not a 3/5 compromise. This is not a path of self-sacrifice. This is an intensive, challenging journey of studying the world and building a picture of what is happening which changes with new information and allows you to then manipulate with predictions of what your actions will actually do. It is a path of personal intellectual/spiritual growth which when practiced and channeled properly has the ability to change the world.

This also does not mean that you will get everything you want in one go. That has never happened before in history. You push for the best thing you can do and always do the right thing to the best of your knowledge. You focus your energies into the highest impact activity you can do in order to maximize your impact. This strategy has worked in the past with the Underground Railroad, Suffragist movement, Civil Rights Movement, and I believe it accurately describes the push from Black Lives Matter for police accountability among other demands. The modern push for civil rights by great people in history has a long history stretching back to the resurrection of Western Philosophy by Cosimo de Medici stretching to the present day and I hope it will last for the rest of humanity.

So, push for the best methods you can, use your time and money efficiently. Do not waste and be impactful in the world around you for a better future. If someone says you are wrong, inquire why you are wrong to gain insight they may be able to give you, and change your mind if they give you a more accurate picture of the world with better evidence than you have. When a good plan is on the ballot, if it will create more good than harm, vote for it.

The main goal I believe that we must work on is to work for justice around the world so that people are free. Stand up to dictators and always seek and tell the truth to the best of your ability. Engage in discussion for people to understand what is around the world. Build your complete viewpoint with the pieces to be accurate. A house built of paint would not work, but it is generally all you can see with your eyes. Behind the paint are wires, pipes, trusses, and details which hold the house together, even though all you can really see is the paint on the edge. An architect must start with the structure and understand how it all fits together to be resistant to weather, and general wear and tear, even though almost all the work will be hidden behind the paint. Accurate models of the world are similar in that even if you see the surface level equations there is always a deeper level of understanding to the world and what drives the moving parts which are necessary to fully understand what is happening.

The final question which must be answered is what justice is. Justice has many ways of being defined in history, Hammurabi, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, and Adolf Hitler all had very different ideas of what justice is. Everybody in the world has an interpretation of the concept of justice, even if they do not call it justice themselves. I personally believe as a strong liberal that 1. each and every person is important, no exceptions, 2. people have the rights to freedom of thought, speech, and life, 3. Nations and class do not need to divide us and everybody deserves these rights no matter where they live, 4. People have the right to opportunity and respect from others. 5. Building up a system which is sustainble for the future. These are my core values on how we need to treat one another. They are not uniquely Western, there are records of people who believed these ideas around the world for thousands of years. I do not always succeed in these high ideals but I always do my best in the situation to the best of my knowledge and as soon as I realize I failed I try to fix the  given situation. A just system would then maximize human welfare and give everyone the opportunity to be their best and fullest on a material and spiritual level. This goal is probably unreachable in full, but we can and should get as close as we can to making a good world. It is not a quest for moderation but is a quest for universal human dignity.

In current politics these ideals lead me to the following actions: As in my last post, write an accurate obituary of the tyranny Fidel Castro created in Cuba. Oppose Donald Trump's plan for my country to the best of my ability. Fight climate change to the point where I will quit my job if an opportunity arises. Lobby my state legislature for legislation which supports education, builds infrastructure, increases economic opportunity, and fights climate change using the best science we have today. Most importantly, make people think about their current stances to the point where new information can broaden their understanding of the consequences of their actions. Seek out new allies on all of these causes and talk with people on how to achieve our goals in the least amount of time for the smallest amount of money.

This is how I interpret the principles of a free and responsible search for truth and meaning combined with the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all. To not stand up to oppression and give into the temptation to make everybody equally unhappy is to drop that honorable goal of world community, and to not test your beliefs is to drop the responsible part of the free and responsible search, after which you will be victim to fraud, deceit, and lies. Combining the two principles fully however gives anyone the ability to change the world.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fidel Castro

With the passage of yet another undemocratic communist dictator, do not make him out to be better than he was. Castro was a monster who restricted freedom of the press and religion in his totalitarian state which until 2013 was the only country in the Americas which limited the ability of its citizens to leave. He also persecuted gays and admitted it willingly. When it comes to his policies, he was far more like Kim Jong Un than Willi Brandt which a lot of right wingers are going to make him out to be today (if they only knew who Willi was). Merely having public health care does not make a country free. Praising Castro is pissing on the people of Cuba. I hope the monster had a painful death for his crimes against humanity. 

Burn in hell you monster.

If you consider yourself left-wing than you have to consider yourself a liberal (communist thought and practice has not respect for human rights, and the largest body count of any ideology in history), then remember him for who he was and his multiple atrocities against the people of Cuba. Cuba has the worst Freedom of the Press in the Americas, bans gay marriage, their government regularly tortures prisoners, and has no freedom of assembly. Granted, the United States is not perfect either, and also has large problems with prisons and the current attacks on Standing Rock are a massive violation of the rights of the Sioux, both under treaty and the Bill of Rights. This is why we, like every other country in the world, do not have a perfect score on any broad freedom metric. But when political scientists analyze both Cuba and the United States there is no doubt that Cuba is far less democratic and free than the United States. This is a system which Fidel Castro built, and it is a monstrosity against the people.

If you want a hero to idolize, than there are good people who are worth remembering and living up to. German Chancellors Konrad Adenauer, Helmut Schmidt, and Willi Brandt built the system of Germany based on liberal thought and Germany is now beats the United States on every freedom metric except gay rights where the USA beats Germany. Willi dissented from the Nazis during the Third Reich at great personal risk before being our greatest Chancellor. Pierre Trudeau built Canada's respect for Quebecois culture and Medicare and was a great man. Clement Attlee built the British Welfare State and was the greatest Prime Minister they ever had, reversing Labour's indefensible policy of appeasement and led decolonization. Lyndon Baines Johnson signed most of our civil rights laws and worked hard to try to get us out of Vietnam while leading a booming economy. Bob Hawke led Australia's economy through the turbulent 80s with skill which no other leader in the world had at the time, introduced medicare, and made their social policy more liberal. Nelson Mandela led South Africa to freedom.

There are great people in history who stood against dictatorship and built freedom and prosperity. Remember them for who they are and remember that Fidel Castro was a man who all of them actively opposed for that reason.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Open letter to President Obama about Standing Rock

The current attacks on Standing Rock Protests are being shot at by the Army Corps of Engineers right now. This is a violation of the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux and allies. The construction of the pipeline across native land which was illegally stolen from the Standing Rock is a violation of their treaty rights and our constitution. Treaties signed under the United States are laws under our constitution Article 1, and the Army Corps of Engineers is being improper in their current action. Our constitution and the courts exist for a reason, to prevent massacres which are happening right now. Please use your action to block the Dakota Access pipeline to the best of your ability right now and save the lands of these people. I know that you were raised UU like me and I frequently see you refer to the values your mother raised you with. What would she and your grandmother say today if they saw you stand idle as the rights of Native People are being infringed by the Army Corps of Engineers. I know that our church has come out in opposition to the current actions against Standing Rock protesters and that you know better. You have the power to stop them. Do it.

Friday, November 11, 2016

2016 Recap and 2020 cycle

That was a terrible election. This is the second time in my life where the electoral college has not selected the winner of the popular vote, and this time the consequences could be dire. I have already talked about the Orange Bag and how he is a despicable human being, and I fear for my country's future. His economic policies are going to ruin us if they are implemented and his social policies will destroy our soul.

Locally, Washington State was a mixed bag. Washington wasn't very good defeating the carbon tax (which I poured my heart, mind, and soul into) and the state finance initiative, but we did get paid sick leave, and most importantly the Governorship and both houses of the Legislature will be held by Democrats. Kim Wyman won reelection after rigging the election against the carbon tax however, she has disgraced the office of the Secretary of State with the inaccurate information she has published in the voter's pamphlet. The rest of State executive positions (except treasurer which had a massive spoiler effect in the primary) have gone to the Democrats. We hopefully will be able to keep many of the protections the Orange Bag is about to eliminate here in Washington, but there are some things, like marijuana, which are going to become illegal again very soon.

When we look at the Rust Belt however, we see a fascinating trend in the exit polls. Comparing the results in 2016 and 2012 in Michigan we see a 6% boost for the Orange Bag from white men, and interestingly a 4% boost for the Orange Bag among black men. This boost was enough to give him the Presidency, and the only theory I have on how the Orange Bag had been able to get more votes from African American men than Mitt Romney did in 2012 is through deliberate voter discrimination. Providing more places to vote per capita in white conservative areas as opposed to minority liberal areas is vote rigging. There is no other word for it. Among white voters, their voting for third parties was enough to tip Michigan over the edge. The majority of white voters (regardless of gender, as always) voted for the Republican both times.

In Pennsylvania we see a decreases in the diversity of voters this year. White voters jumped 3%, which was enough to swing the election. We also saw the same number of Orange Bag voters but a reduction of 2% of white voters due to third parties. People with only a high school education switched from 60% in favor to Obama to only 43% in favor of Clinton. Whites with no degree were the only demographic the Orange Bag won when you consider both education and race together. This election was swung a great deal due to a decrease in diversity of voters.

In Wisconsin the number of white vs. non-white voters stayed the same as it was in 2012 with 86% of the electorate being white. White support for the Orange Bag was 2% higher than it was for Mitt Romney and Clinton was 6% lower than Obama (4% increase for third parties) which is way more than enough to swing the election. Minorities voted about the same as they did in 2012. We see the swing in support from education where people with only high school degrees shifted their support from Obama (with 55% of the demographic) to Orange Bag who won 54% of the demographic.

If just half of Jill Stein voters had voted for Hillary Clinton in swing states Tuesday would have been a very different day. Their ideological purity has hurt our country far more than a vote for Clinton. This is the the simplest way to explain the gap between the number of votes Clinton won as opposed to Obama. The reach by third parties also significantly hurt Clinton this year, while the Orange Bag is winning about the same number of voters Romney won in 2012, but Clinton saw a significant decrease. The latest count on Google with 99% of precincts reporting is that 126,061,003 people voted in this Presidential election versus 129,085,410 people voting in 2012. this predicts about a 2% decrease in the number of people of voting, way more than the margin between the two candidates. A 6 million person decrease in the vote for Clinton vs. Obama, in a country which has grown by 4 million people is a gigantic amount in such a close election. Also, Michigan and Pennsylvania haven't voted Republican since 1988, and Wisconsin has been a reliable Democratic state since 1984. With such a record it can be understood why Clinton did not spend so much time there, preferring Ohio and Florida to these other states. This demonstrates that every vote counts. Other states which have voted for the Democrat since 1988 and voted for Bush in that year include Vermont, New Jersey, Maine, Maryland, Illinois, Connecticut, Delaware, and even California. The only states which could have been considered safer than Wisconsin are DC (which has always voted Democrat) and Minnesota (which is extremely similar to Wisconsin in demographics). These were about as safe states as you can get! The Orange Bag campaigned heavily in these states which was extremely intelligent of him and by doing so won the Electoral College. These three states also had enough third party votes to spoil the election for Clinton which is a two pronged attack on Hillary Clinton which has doomed us.

Another way the election could have been different was for Democrats to reach out to White people with less than a college degree who overwhelmingly supported the Orange Bag this year. That is where this election swung. In 2018 and 2020 we are going to have to see Democrats supporting policies which maintains their hold on highly educated individuals (like myself) and also appeal to people without a lot of education. Hard decisions are going to have to be made. Another path to victory which will be more difficult is to have more access to voting which would  boost turnout of minorities, who are only going to grow in importance over the next few years. If Democrats have policies which appeal to Hispanics more than the lead can grow from 66% to 70% which is enough to win nationwide in these key states. The appeal to younger voters is going to help Democrats naturally over the next few years as our demographic ages. The key is for people in their 20s to not despair given how hard the next 4 years are going to be and vote in 2018 and 2020 so that we can rebuild what is about to be destroyed once we regain the Presidency in 2021.

The other big issues is Millenials didn't turn out to vote. I am ashamed of my generation and our apathy has hurt us more than any other generation. We need to start investing over the next 4 years and if our economy does as well as is likely to do under the Orange Bag as with other Republicans over the last 50 years then we just royally screwed ourselves and will suffer the effects for the rest of our lives. Clinton had all the policies that we wanted, maybe not exactly as Bernie Sanders proposed, but the same outcomes as his policies would do. People in my generation not voting was immature, stupid, mean, and shameful. We will need to turnout in the midterms up and down the ballot and in 2020 to kick out this racist shit bag.

So, the plan for the next four years is to run candidates in every congressional and legislative district in 2018 to try to take back as many legislatures and seats in the House as we can. If the Orange Bag does what he says he is going to do and our economy tanks as a result it will be easier to do so despite the gerrymandering. Democrats need to do some soul searching and admit that moving to the center has not worked as they planned. By becoming more solidly socially liberal and expanding the coalition to include as many Hispanic voters as possible the party will be unstoppable. The issue that will work best is having a strong education plan, working to expand access to jobs, and access to health care will help Hispanic voters significantly and attract them to the party. These are the issues they care about. It will also make Millenial voters even more solidly Democratic. Working to expand access to retirement options and cracking down on abuse as opposed to making it hard for people to enter to the financial advising industry will help attract working class people. The current approach to punishing newcomers to finance has not worked well and people still are locked into plans which give terrible returns. These can be stopped by making it illegal to be locked into a retirement plan and giving people the option to switch plans when their portfolio is not working for them. This type of a platform with these four major planks will attract people back to the Democratic Party. We will need a candidate who has a record of fighting for these issues.

Bernie Sanders is currently the most popular politician in America and he would be an excellent choice for getting the Presidency back. He has already promised to not sacrifice American values to the Orange Bag which will be extremely popular with a majority of Americans and get people out to vote. Elizabeth Warren is another candidate who I have written about for years who would be a fantastic president. Electing a moderate did not work, though electing a progressive in 2008 did. It is clear to me the Democratic Party needs to move to the left in order to embolden my generation and have a future. These are the candidates currently with the most potential and national stage presence. Jay Inslee of my home state (Washington) is currently the most liberal governor in the country, is strong on race relations, education, and women's rights, and would make a fine President. Governor Kate Brown of Oregon is another fantastic choice for President.

Over the next 4 years more governors will appear, and hopefully a gubernatorial landslide in 2018 (when most governors will elected) will give us a large batch of excellent candidates to choose from. If the Orange Bag does particularly badly this will be easy to do. Recruiting local leaders to run for public office at the city, county, and state level needs to be the top priority of the Democratic Party and it needs to embrace its progressive wing as soon as it can in order to survive.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016


The Economist wrote another excellent article this week about how water is used across the world. It makes the case very clear that water management is a vital issue which is not getting nearly enough attention, and water reclamation strategies and other methods to maintain our global water supply are needed.

There are numerous ways we can fight water waste. The first thing I think we can do right now is price water appropriately. There are the concerns of spiking water bills which could hurt poor people (if we do it wrong), and there is merit to such concerns. I personally see this as like other important environmental issues, like how to manage global warming, and figuring out how to manage our resources best. When water is too cheap people have fewer incentives to save water, which means we deplete our aquifers faster than we should. People are less likely to fix breaks in their line when it is less expensive, and will take longer to fix the problem. People are also less likely to purchase low-water use toilets. Not having these policies in place creates waste and depletes our aquifers. The EPA has excellent information on water conservation and how to save money at home. The increase in price can easily be offset and more through a universal basic income to raise people out of poverty and the combination of these policies will make it so people can make better decisions about how we consume resources.

The second way we can reduce waste stems from the increased price of my first point. Having water be more expensive will force heavy water users, in the agriculture and electric power industries, to implement methods to reduce their consumption. Catching runoff from farms is an efficient method to preserve our water supply. This will help our aquifers last in the long run.

Third, reducing our use of coal powered plants and other dirty fuels will help reduce water consumption. 41.5% of American water consumption is currently for such uses. There is literally no reason to keep using coal plants in the United States. They are destroying our air quality, heating our planet, and squandering our water supplies. We can fight both global warming and preserve waterat the same time by shutting these plants down. We need to switch to a fully renewable economy as soon as possible.

Fourth, we currently waste a gigantic amount of water by letting our sewage run off into the ocean. Sewage can be recycled to the point where it is safe to drink by people again. The water after being sanitized is as safe as coming from an aquifer and creates a more closed loop to reduce water consumption. New York alone dumps 1.3 billion gallons of treated wastewater into the ocean per day. (Finding a total amount for the entire US or even the world is challenging.) This should be reused to maintain our aquifers.

Fifth, catching rainwater in cities (I live in Seattle, so this is a huge amount for us) and recycling it into our pipes is an efficient way to gather water which does not deplete our aquifer. Houses can do this as well, using the water from the rain to fill their hot water tanks, further reducing demand on aquifers. For people who live in the country where water is from private wells this is a significant amount.

The last big way I can think of reducing water consumption is at home. Homes use 8.5% of water taken from aquifers, the third largest source after agriculture and fossil fuel power plants. First of all, heating homes can be done more efficiently through heated floors which are more comfortable and keep houses at a constant temperature throughout the day. Heated Floors which are heated from wastewater from sinks and tubs. It will be a closed system which keeps using the same water until some is used for toilets. Toilet water will be from the water which is used from the heated floors. Water would leave the system at the toilet. Such a system would drastically reduce water consumption.

The United States has made an incredible amount of progress over the last 50 years with treating sewage before dumping it into the ocean, and this must be recognized. There is however still a lot of work to do in order to protect our environment. Fighting the consumption of fossil fuels is of course a top priority, but reducing consumption of water is also extremely important. With good policy and public pressure on our governments from the city to federal level, and across the world, we can preserve our water use for future generations and keep our planet habitable.

Monday, November 7, 2016

2016 watchlist

Election day is tomorrow, and in preparation here is a shortcut for the most interesting, important, potentially important, and unique races in the country. This is important because there are over 100 ballot initiatives in the country right now, and many of them are on the same topics. They also are continuing a trend which have already been passed in other states. They are still important, but they will not be earth shattering and be continuing established political trends in the United States. These initiatives are about marijuana, minimum wage, gun control, and certain types of tax legislation. These can be important, but there are a few races right now that will get less attention but could quickly become trend setters. There are also a number of important races which could be more earth shattering than others. Albeit, every election is important and voters should read their local alternative newspaper to understand the issues. From a national standpoint, here are the ones which I am most interested in:

Presidential election. Established former senator vs. a fascist misogynistic pig. Go Clinton!

Senate elections: Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire are potential Democratic pick ups for control of the Senate.

Several gubernatorial elections, probably no switching party this year. Nothing earth shattering.

State legislatures: Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, and Washington are all split. Possible pickups in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

Ballot initiatives: Focusing on the ones which are not part of continuing trends.

  • Washington: Initiative 732 to replace part of the state tax code with a Carbon Tax is the first of its type in America, modeled after a successful policy in British Columbia, I am working on the campaign and am obsessed with it. It must pass.
  • Maine: Ranked Choice Voting Initiative, Question 5, the first of its type in the United States. I am obsessed with IRV and hopefully once Maine implements this reform it will move around the country.
  • Death Penalty repeal in Nebraska and California, Oklahoma to set it in the constitution. Literally a life and death issue.
  • Maine: makes their tax code more progressive in order to fund education, Question 2
  • Colorado: Prohibit slavery in prisons.
  • California Prop 58: Non-English in Schools

This is where we stand today. There are also thousands of local elections for local government, cities and counties (and equivalents) across the country. These are currently dominated by Republicans and we will see how many Democrats vote down the ballot this year.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Solution to the Retirement Crisis

The New York Times ran an excellent article today talking about how teachers have been boondoggled into retirement plans which end up giving little to no gain. With easily over a million dollars in retirement savings stolen per teacher (if we account for the full opportunity cost) state governments and school districts have done a terrible service to teachers.

My home state of Washington is no exception. The Department of Retirement Systems has three types of plans which teachers can buy into. They are all defined benefit plans. Using this calculator I find that they require a certain amount of your paycheck to be donated to the pension plan in order to get any return. When I compare this to a very simple 8% return with the S&P 500 there is absolutely no situation where the defined benefit plan outperforms the index fund. It is always better to go with the defined contribution index fund plan than a defined benefit plan. If not just that, then because with the defined contribution plan you have a balance which on death you can pull the money out of and pass on to your children and grandchildren. With a defined benefit plan that money might go to your descendants or to the fat cats on Wall Street depending what your plan says. This is a no-brainer.

The solution to the retirement crisis for people currently enrolled in these schemes is to outlaw fees which dissuade people from moving their money to a different type of plan. This will force Wall Street to provide better products. If the product is working well, there is no reason to change. This will give millions of teachers the ability to switch their money to plans which actually give them a return on their money and hopefully bankrupt these corrupt banksters. Done.

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Climate Debate

In the current climate debate, we have two vital initiatives right now in Washington State. Carbon Washington or I-732, which I have written about multiple times, and ST3 for Sound Transit are going to make our state a better place to live. Carbon Washington make our tax code a bell shaped curve as opposed to a simple regressive code, tax carbon, and fund the earning families income tax credit. These are all good things which we need to do right now. ST3 is going to fix the Greater Seattle mass transit mess which threatens our quality of life.

There are several arguments here which have been talked about and I see which are arguing against these propositions.

The first one are signs saying "No on ST3, fund education first". This is a red herring argument. It doesn't have anything to do with the content of ST3 and seeks to get people to vote against the progressive initiative we have right now and focus instead on another important issue. If there is an actual problem with ST3 then the opposition needs to state exactly what is wrong. There are major issues with ST3, primarily that the timeline for construction extends for 40 years. Most of the construction will be done within 20 years, but it still leaves some vital projects off for a long period of time. This however is not a valid reason to vote against ST3. It will set us in motion to get our mass transit funded and then in 3 years or so we can put forward another proposition to speed up the time frame. Voting against ST3 will not cause mass transit to move forward, but it will mean that we will get no additional progress until another proposition on the ballot. A net loss for climate activists.

The arguments against Carbon Washington on the other hand suffers from attacks which are both Red Herrings and Straw Men. The first common argument I see is they complain it is not funding our education. I lobbied for education in college and understand it is a vital issue. This however is a bill focused on three main issues, and three issues only. Inequality, the regressive nature of our tax code, and climate change. Education is not on the list. We need to fund our education system, and we do need to get additional funding for our state, but these are not what Carbon Washington does. Carbon Washington does about as much as one piece of legislation could possibly do and it does the three major issues through one major policy change, which is tax replacement with a more progressive tax than what we have.

The most common straw man argument against Carbon Washington I have heard from people who do not understand economics is that it will not reduce emissions. This is moose shit. Taxes reduce consumption of the good which is taxed, which is one of the most proven theories in all of economics. By taxing carbon it will increase the advantage of renewables making it so more people will move to renewable technology and consume less oil. This is one of the most widely agreed upon issues by economists around the world, and all of the evidence in the field points to this is true.

The other major argument against Carbon Washington is that it will hurt poor people. This is another big truck load of moose shit. When economists have graphed the impact of Carbon Washington on Washington State families vs. the current tax code we find the following results:

The graph speaks for itself. The opposition is lying.

This bill has shown very clearly that a lot of environmental organizations in Washington state are poorly run by people who do not understand climate science. Actual experts in related fields at universities across the state have endorsed I 732, while the people opposing it are not experts and do not do actual research to back up their claims. Their weak arguments only make me want I 732 to pass it even more to fight idiocracy as much as climate change. Good luck finding a professional with a degree in a related field who opposes Carbon Washington. This fight has turned into scientists vs. absolutists who have in their mind that there is only one way to fix a certain problem. Anyone who has ever studied economics knows that this is completely not true, and is what makes economics fun. There are multiple ways to fix economic problems, and often times the differences between solutions, such as carbon taxes vs cap and trade, comes down to small efficiency gains.

When it comes down to it, Carbon Washington is here now. People who only want other solutions have not filed their initiatives. Global warming is an imminent threat to humanity and we need to do what we can now. If there is an improvement to the carbon tax in the future (which will probably be a small technocratic tweak), a bill that funds our education, and possibly an income tax I will support that. Given how those are years away at a bare minimum we need to do what we can today. Not voting for Carbon Washington would have been like voting against gay marriage in 2012 because it didn't include hate crime legislation. Such actions are a fool's endeavor. Carbon Washington is a net gain for working class families, and a net gain for our climate here in Washington State. ST3 is far from perfect but it is better than nothing.

This is why the only pro-climate action this election is to vote YES on 732 and YES on ST3.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Democratic Strategy

I am currently working for Washington CAN, the oldest progressive non-profit in Washington State. We are getting out the vote in two districts currently, Washington State Legislative districts 30 and 44. If we succeed in flipping these two districts we could flip the entire Washington State House of Representatives which would is an essential step forward in getting progress in our state on important issues such as education, health care, and infrastructure which we all rely on.

The current state of United States legislatures is very poor. Democrats control only 7 state governments in full. Republicans control 23. 4 states have Democratic legislatures with a Republican governor, 11 states have democratic governors without control of the state legislatures. This means that Democrats are missing a pipeline of new talent for leading our country, will be unable to get constitutional amendments passed, and the Republicans have 31 out of the currently required 34 state legislatures to get through constitutional amendments. Given the shifting demographics of the United States, there is a lot of work that we can do right now to regain state legislatures to the point where major goals, such as Medicaid expansion, high quality infrastructure and other vital issues can be achieved. We will not get these issues passed however until our legislatures are made of people who actually care about the well being of the people, and given the state of the Republican party, that means they have to be Democrats.

A big cause of why state legislatures are overwhelmingly Republican is because of gerrymandering. State legislatures draw the boundaries for themselves in most states, and for Congress. The Democratic party needs to bring forward state initiatives in states across the country where gerrymandering has taken hold to use the single-split line method, and ideally ranked voting with multiple winners per race in order to make it so state legislatures more accurately represent the wishes of the American people. This will make it so Republicans will lose control across the country.

In order to make this happen, we have 4 easy pick ups this year with split legislatures. Democrats could easily pick up the state legislatures in Washington, Maine, Colorado, Kentucky, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, and New Mexico. Washington and Colorado only need the Democrats to pick up two seats in order to control the state. In New Mexico Democrats only need 4 more out of 70 seats. This would bring them to fully control 10 state governments, and then in 2018 pick up 4 more governorships to control 14 state governments around the country, with the Republicans still at 23 state governments and 31 legislatures.

Once we end the split governments, the states which need to be targeted next are Nevada, Montana, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. All of these states have less than a 20% split Democratic to Republican, and are good targets for Democrats to reclaim more governments. This will put Democrats at controlling 18 state governments, bringing Republicans down to 21 state governments and 27 state legislatures. Given their closeness to tipping, we cannot let them slip.

We also need to reclaim 6 governorships where Democrats control the state legislature, Maine, New Mexico, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

Status (states) States (seats needed)
Hold governorship, hold legislature (7) Hawaii, Rhode Island, California, Delaware, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut
Pick up governorship, hold legislature (4) Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts
Pick up one house, retain governor (4) New York (9), Colorado (2), Washington (1), Minnesota (7)
Pick up one house, pick up governor (4) New Mexico (2), Maine (6), Iowa (8), Kentucky (9)
Pick up legislature, retain governor (3) Montana (7), Pennsylvania (25), New Hampshire (42),
Pick up legislature and governor (2) Nevada (7), Arizona (11)
This will give democrats control of 24 state governments by picking up 10 governorships and 142 seats in state legislatures (out of 7383 in total). This is doable.

Once Democrats focus and get out the vote in these 24 state governments, the remaining states we will need to focus on are Michigan, Virginia, Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio. These 5 Republican controlled governments frequently vote for the Democratic President and elect Democratic Senators. This will give Democrats a majority of state governments. What this will mean for working families is more mass transit, better infrastructure, improved schools, and expanded access to Medicaid. If the Progressive wing of the party gains influence it will hopefully mean a more progressive tax code and more efficient government programs.

The 5 remaining stretch states which will give Democrats the 34 governments needed to approve constitutional amendments and dominate the country are Missouri, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisiana because they have Democratic governors which will give Democrats 33 state governments. The one final state which Democrats would have the ability to gain will probably be Texas given massive demographic shifts over the next decade which will bring Texas into play by 2020. Georgia as well could be in play within a decade from demographic changes which is an extra bonus for the Democrats. Given the stubbornness of people who support Donald Trump, I expect at least another ten years of the alt-right having a significant impact on the Republican party. This is the opportunity of a generation for the Democrats to dominate the US and make significant changes beyond Obamacare to improve equality and opportunity for everybody.

Picking up another 27 state governments will be a monumental shift in American history. Of course state and county parties are going to need to be well organized to get great leaders running at all levels of government, but the national party should spend its resources to get real gains as soon as possible. Here is a rough schedule on how the National Democratic Party should focus on regaining state governments.

In 2016-2018 we need to focus on the states where we already control at least one house while retaining the 7 states we control. We could gain 12 state governments in the next two years, bringing us to 19 state governments by the time we get to the 2020 election.

In 2020-2022 we need to focus on the three states where we control the governorships (on top of the State Parties working hard over the next 4 years) which will bring us up to controlling 22 state governments in total.

In 2024-2026 we need to start to pick up the next 5 states I mentioned (if we haven't gotten them already) and whatever states in the preceding two lists we haven't managed to get.

Finally in 2028-2030 we could pick up the remaining 5 states to gain control of a supermajority of state governments across the country.

A lot can happen in 14 years of course, and it is possible Democrats could make these gains before 2030. I do believe however we should focus as much energy as possible on these local races to gain state governments. This is the only way we are going to be able to get progress on issues which improve the lives of all Americans which the Republicans have blocked for decades.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Race and gender

Nate Silver, who I deeply respect and read frequently released a picture earlier this week showing how the election would look if only men or only women voted this year, to a difference that set off the internet, at least the part of the internet made super liberal people, who tend to be most of my friends.

However, as is so often the case in news, there is a much deeper level to this than meets the eye.

Looking at exit poll data from 2012 we can see that the "gender gap" is very different from what most people imagine it as.

First, Nate Silver is correct about how women voted in 2012, here is the map for reference:

In 2012 (for states which data is available) women voted like so:

This does show some significant swing states in the women vote for Clinton. Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Arizona, and potentially a few other states which CNN did not conduct exit polls in 2012.

Nate Silver also demonstrates in the male vote that they are overwhelmingly voting for Trump.

In 2012 however, the male vote regardless of race would have looked like this:
So, according to the latest projections, Trump is projected to pick up the male vote Michigan and Colorado and retain the men in all the other states which Romney won the male vote in 2012.

This gender divide picture changes however when you take into account both race and gender.

White men voted like so:
This shows a large number of massive swing states for Republicans if only white men were allowed to vote. Romney would have won every state (for which I can tell given data limitations) except Washington, Oregon, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Every other state for which I could find data would have voted for Romney in 2012. This would be approximately 494 electoral college votes for Romeney, leaving only 44 for Obama.

Is the gender divide what changes American politics? Well, white women voted like so:
This would have given Romney many important states, including Florida, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. Romney would have won 349 electoral college votes if only white women were eligible to vote. More than enough votes to carry the nomination if voting were limited to white voters only.
With Obama carrying only the northwest and New England given a white only vote, Romney would have won 479 electoral college votes. A landslide victory without question.

The only reason Democrats can win nowadays is with minority voters who form a voter bloc. For every state with data, I find Democrats easily winning the majority of Latino and Black voters, both men and women. The Democrats have become a massive coalition of minorities and white allies since President Johnson, and that is their ticket to winning. This is why Republicans work for voter ID laws, which limit minority turnout. With their opposition to programs which raise people out of poverty, who tend to be disproportionately minority due to centuries of discrimination, there is no wonder why minorities have flocked to Democrats with their support of education, health care, and other essential services that prevent people from falling down completely. 

This is why it is important when studying gender or race to check to see if there is not a lurking variable behind what seems like an easy correlation. The real reason we see more women voting for Democrats is not simply from significant numbers of women flocking to the Democratic party, but from a higher voter turnout among minority women versus minority men. The gender divide is small, but the difference in turnout between minority men and women is large enough to tilt national elections. With millions of African American men incarcerated for minor crimes across the country they are ineligible to vote which does not give the male demographic the Democratic boost needed to also side slightly to the Democratic Party.

For the future this has major consequences for American politics. Hispanic/Latino Americans are growing as a percentage of the population, partly through immigration, and also through a higher birth rate than white Americans. It is now impossible for Republicans to win the Presidency without being accepting and open to these Americans, and they are likely to lose important states such as Arizona and Texas, and Florida is going to be out of reach within 10 years as the demographics shift.

The Republican Party right now is a reactionary party, and Donald Trump represents this reaction from the far right of American politics to a new America which is more diverse than at any other point since independence. With Nate Silver currently giving Clinton an 81.9% chance of winning the election with 322 electoral college votes under their Polls Plus Forecast, this strategy is clearly not working and if Democrats vote down the ballot this year it could be a total catastrophe for the Republican party.

Until the Republican Party becomes less racist the Democrats will retain the Presidency. It is time to focus down the ballot, end gerrymandering and kick the Republicans out of state legislatures as soon as we can. That will probably be in 2022 assuming that there are ballot initiatives in 2018 and 2020 to reform or end gerrymandering. The current initiative in Maine for IRV has the potential to spread across the country like how gay marriage in Maine and Washington spread across the country in the blink of an eye. With ranked voting and multiple members per district in more states, the Democrats and major third parties (eg The Progressive Party) will gain power, forming coalitions and increasing opportunity for everybody. Hopefully these efforts will spread like wildfire, we can change the law to allow (or even require) members of congress to be elected using ranked voting and then we will have governments which reflect the wishes of the people.

This is the foreseeable future of American politics. The racial divide is real and the biggest determinant of which party wins.

CNN Exit Polls 2012

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Affordable Housing Crisis

So often in politics, politicians look for easy answers as opposed to searching for real answers to the problem. We are seeing this right now with the Affordable Housing Crisis

I look around my city of Seattle, and except in downtown there is a very obvious height limit of about 5 stories. We are on a narrow isthmus, and if you go too far east you run into mountains. We have built out all the way to the foothills of the Cascades, but this city is booming so much people still come here from around the Pacific Northwest and the entire nation looking for work. This creates a huge surge of demand for housing, which raises the price of housing. There is an apartment building being built right now in West Seattle at the corner of Fauntleroy and Alaska Street, and its height is modest given the amount of housing Seattle needs right now. I am confident that if Seattle allowed taller buildings that new apartment building would be much taller to fit more people inside.

In our basic supply and demand model we know that if you have an inelastic supply curve your price is going to change rapidly but your quantity of the good is not going to change as rapidly. Like many large cities, Seattle has harsh building codes which make it difficult to build tall buildings outside of downtown. They claim this is to preserve the "character" of the city. The issue with this thought process is it has the cost of reducing the supply of housing in the city. Seattle grew by over 15,000 people in 2014 and 2015, and 2016 will be similarly large. This means that demand for housing is growing rapidly. Ads on Craigslist come down as fast as they go up.

Airbnb is a lifeline for millions of families across the country. When I look at places to stay in other cities, Airbnb is the least expensive place for a comfortable and safe place to stay. Before Airbnb traveling was much more expensive making traveling a true luxury. Also, Airbnb provides income to people across the world so that they can pay their bills, many of whom would not be homeowners without the ability to rent out a room. The irony of all of this is that Airbnb helps the same people people like Senator Warren claims it is hurting. 81% of Airbnb rentals are people sharing their homes with other people, many of whom would be renters if they couldn't voluntarily rent their homes. Seattle's vacancy rate has not changed with the introduction of Airbnb, and it has been a lifeline for millions of Americans.

We need to build high occupancy housing. I don't care if it is designed for low income people or not, because it doesn't matter at the end of the day. Building nicer high quality units will see everyone move up into nicer locations as the price of housing drops. If I have a choice between building good quality units or units designed to be as inexpensive as possible I would rather increase the quantity of good quality units. The microeconomic model does not have an input of quality in determining price, only quantity. I would like new units to be as nice as possible and fit as many people as is reasonable for the space, so that they have a longer lifespan of being relatively up to date, which reduces the costs of upgrading and repairs.

Sure, some people will get rich off of increasing the amount of housing in an area, and this is something that will happen because not everyone will go into the industry. I'm not sure if this is an issue first of all, and find the possibility of having sufficient housing for everyone as one of the three top priorities for our city planners, along with mass transit and basic utilities. This is the real issue at stake, and most cities are failing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Future of Flight

Flying is often seen by environmental activists as a major cause for Global Warming. Many environmentalists get anxious about flying because of the visibility of the greenhouse gases coming out of the plane, and also because it is not something most people do very often. This is why I believe we need to invest in renewable energy for flying to alleviate these fears.

First, some statistics:
The average distance of flights in the United States is currently about 1100 km (700 miles) or about the distance from New York to Chicago.

Out of the most traveled routes in the world, most of them are under 1000 km. The United States is the country with the most passenger miles with 798 million passenger miles flown in 2015. The majority of the passenger miles of these flights were located east of the Mississippi river, like most of the population. A flight with a range of 1000 km would cover most of these routes. A flight with a range of 2000 km would cover every east coast flight.

China has the second largest amount of passenger miles in the world. The Beijing-Shanghai route is the longest and would require a plane with a range of 1500 km to safely make it.  Beijing - Hong Kong is 2000 km which would be sufficient to cover almost every flight in China.

The United Kingdom and Germany are next on the list. 2000 km would be more than sufficient for the vast majority of flights flying from these countries to other European countries and themselves.

Japan’s flights are dominated between its major cities. 1060 km between Sapporo and Osaka is the longest distance between two major cities, so a 1200 km renewable energy airplane would cover almost every domestic flight in Japan.

Brazil’s flights are dominated in the southeast where most of its major cities are. A 2000 km distance would cover most Brazilian domestic routes.

In the United States, transportation was the second leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions (second to electricity generation) composing 26% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Transportation emissions are dominated by light duty passenger vehicles, generating 60% of transportation emissions for around 15% of total emissions. Aircraft generated 8% of transportation emissions, for a total of 2% of total US greenhouse gas emissions. While airplanes are incredibly visible, the biggest causes of emissions in the US are from our cars and electricity generation.

I believe we need to invest in renewable energy for flying, and this would make a proportionally small dent in our total carbon emissions. But stopping flying alone will not do enough. We need to divest from coal now, and invest in clean renewable energy for electricity generation to knock out over a third of America’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is the most effective use of our time, which is increasingly limited. We need to have the Federal government stop issuing permits for coal and gas powered power plants immediately and invest heavily into solarizing every other roof in the United States. We need to build geothermal plants and nuclear across the country to reduce our carbon footprint.

We need to invest in fuel cell and electric cars immediately to eliminate another 26% of our greenhouse gas emissions and build the infrastructure we need to develop this technology as soon as possible. We need to push and make it so that there is a date by which we will ban the sale of gasoline in the United States as soon as we feasibly can. Combined between these two tactics will eliminate over 50% of America’s greenhouse gas emissions. Another 21% can be eliminated by focusing on American industry and reducing the emissions from our factories. Using renewable energy to power our factories instead of the way we do it today. This three pronged approach will eliminate 78% of America’s greenhouse gas emissions as opposed to 2% by not flying.

We don't have a choice if we are serious about combating Global Warming. We must divest from coal now.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Time to work down the ballot

Trump with his latest move has made his final mistake. He has alienated people of every minority over the last year, Hispanics, Muslims, African Americans, and with his latest train of disgusting degrading remarks he is now losing the support of the Republican Party, with some calling for him to withdraw from the race.

What is striking about this is how none of these types of comments are new for Trump to say on cable news. What is different this time is how he is not targeting a racial group but all women in the world. The modern Republican Party endorsed Trump through all of his racist comments and openness to his bigotry over the last year. They have shown they do not care about Black Lives, Muslims, Hispanics, Native Americans, or anyone who is not white to be honest. Their unwillingness to stand for all Americans and support of a blatantly racist candidate makes them the most despicable party in this country over the last 150 years.

Trump is going to lose. He is a racist rapist who doesn't deserve any time on the news. Only the Democratic Party has shown that it is willing to at the bare minimum to oppose people like Donald Trump and vote for things like the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Granted, the Democratic Party has a lot of room to improve and need to be better about passing legislation with their important pieces intact, in cases including the Affordable Care Act, and voting against legislation which is opposed to American principles, including the PATRIOT ACT. But these are small issues compared to the amount that Donald Trump has already destroyed our civil discourse and wants to move our country backwards. The Republican Party supports him so I must assume this means they support his policies as well.

We need to vote down the ballot and kick out as many Republicans as possible. We need to elect strong progressives in local, state, and Federal offices this year if we are to move our country forward. The President gets all of the headlines, but Congress as a body is just as powerful as she is. Most Presidents in history are former Senators or Governors (Clinton, Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, Truman, and Roosevelt all were either a Senator or Governor before becoming President) meaning the 46th President is already in office somewhere. Senators and Governors usually are State Legislators when they are elected to Federal Office for the first time, and those individuals grow their campaigns originally through being leaders in their local communities years before they run for office.

The President who will be elected in 2028 is currently in their 30s right now somewhere in the country. This individual is possibly running for a state legislature seat right now in some state in this country. This individual is starting their political career which will catapult them to the Presidency this year only if people get out to vote. Elections down the ballot matter because a future President is running for a legislative seat this year and the only way they are going to lead the United States as President is if they get elected in a month. Do you want that individual to be a progressive fighting for the Bill of Rights and opportunity, or yet another corporate tool who believes that unlimited money in elections is a good thing and that internet surveillance works? (hint: Generals in the military say it doesn't) The only way we are going to be able to secure our future is if we vote for our local races this year all the way down to that boring county commissioner position, which is actually a very important role for determining land use and many other services we rely on everyday. Great leaders in American history start at the bottom, as community organizers gathering petition signatures as they move up the food chain. We get the leaders we deserve by who we elect into those positions.

Please fill out your ballot. Your county needs you.