How would you change the U.S. Government?

A friend of mine recently posted the question on facebook "If you could change one thing about our government, what would it be?"

I think it's a wonderful question, and really enjoyed reading other peoples answers, as well as coming up with my own. I have more than one answer myself, and I also feel like the ways in which I agree and disagree with some other people's suggestions reveal some interesting principals about how I think.

Six 2019 Predictions

I rather enjoy the game of trying to guess what the year to come will hold. Usually I feel like a lot of other people are playing along with me, but this year has been oddly silent.

So let me start by making some guesses, followed by the likelihood I attach to them, and some explanation :

Leering at the "Opportunity Zone"

A Man having his OZone Touched

The most recent Republican revision of tax law, written for 2018, created a new legal-financial concept called an "Opportunity Zone" also referred to as an OZone. OZones are physical areas where different, looser financial rules apply. The idea behind opportunity zones is ostensibly to encourage development or redevelopment of blighted areas.

Advocating for Shades of Censorship

Facebook and Twitter, (as well as many many other online platforms) censor their content. The legality of this is pretty clear as they are private platforms, the ethics of this are interesting and sticky, touch on if they claim to be a common carrier. Even as a common carrier, we have president, legal and emotional, for censorship that applies to specific mediums like the restriction of Telemarketing.

Hard Problems In Homelessness

Assume for a minute, that there was unlimited free housing in rural Montana. Anyone who wanted could sign up, and get a very simple modest house in the middle of a rural area, power and water included. How many of the current homeless would go for it? My guess is not many, and quite rationally so: it's actually a pretty bad deal. By going out to the middle of nowhere you lose access to all sorts of other civil services (health, education, etc) the people you care about (friends and family), and any number of white/grey/black markets.

2018 Hugo Nomination Reviews

I usually try to read listen to audio books of all of the Hugo Nominees every year. This year it was slow going as I had some new and very attention grabbing people in my life, and as few of the books really grabbed me. Every single nominee is from an author I am well acquainted with, and 2 or 3 of them (depending on how you count) are sequels. None of them were really all that gripping, and none opened up a brand new perspective.

The Myth of the 7% Rate of Return

Let it be foretold: you wil receive 7% ROI annually

The commonly held myth of the middle class that an investment should return about 7% per year on average. This is the conventional wisdom, and largely based on the fact that the american stock market has averaged out to this number over a long period1.

Getting an affordable MRI (without a doctor's help)

How much should a shoulder MRI cost anyway?
For reasons that I'll talk about below, my wife needed an MRI quickly, and the orthopedic surgeon she saw was pretty much unwilling to write a referral for one.

I set out to see what I could do, and started by trying to figure out how much a shoulder MRI would cost in the united states if we just didn't use our insurance at all. My wife's initial guess was $7,000. My guess was $2,000 - $3,000 . Both of us think of medical pricing as quite opaque and somewhat random.

Buddhist Monk's Rules

I'm really interested in the classic philosophical question "how should we live". We all already have a set of answers to that implanted in our heads, though for most of us those answers are invisible, assumed to be "normal". Often the answers to these questions that we have, those given to us by our culture and our own conclusions are confused and at odds with themselves. Their relative invisibility makes them even harder to work with.

Aboriginal Dreamtime and Demographic Empowerment

demographic selection

The Australian aborigines refer to a specific state of altered consciousness as “the dreamtime”. The dreamtime has little to do with dreaming, it is a totally wakeful state of consciousness, where the person in the dreamtime becomes the archetype of all of their ancestors performing an action. For instance, if Fred the hunter were hunting, and entered the dreamtime, he would stop being “Fred” and become purely “the hunter”, a composite of spirit of all his ancestors and decedents hunting. A key thing here is that in the dreamtime he is not “a hunter”, but he is “the hunter”.


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