Politics: Talking to Others



Table of Contents

1. Personal Context

Having spent a lifetime studying a variety of topics, and having spent 2000-2006 specifically learning about politically significant issues, I figured I was ready to speak up. First step was to meet with and talk with like-minded activists. It turned out those tended to be Green, Libertarian, and Democratic/Progressive activists. However, this is a small portion of the population. Next step was to talk with non-activists and with the activists with other points of view.

2. Gun Rights

As noted elsewhere (Bill_Of_Rights), the 2nd Amendment is a pretty reasonable thing to have if you want an honest democracy. Many of my Democratic friends (life-long peace activists) were horrified when I first spoke up, but came around when presented with the historical context.

I belong to a couple of hunting/gun-owner groups, and I had a long chat with the chief state-level lobbiest. We agreed to disagree on some political issues, but agreed to work together on gun rights. Since then I have asked candidates about their positions on gun rights, and I have reminded various activist groups of the importance of an informed and prepared citizenry.

Of course, you only fall back to the 2nd Amendment when all else fails, so the real effort goes into normal electoral politics. That is, if you can trust the voting process...

3. Electronic Voting

As noted elsehwere (Evoting), I do not trust computing anywhere in the process. I got into a discussion with a self-proclaimed Libertarian who wanted electronic fingerprints attached to ballots, so he could find his ballot later.

Huh? As an EE he should know how easy it is to tamper with any computing system. Even if his scheme was provably flawless, if he can find his ballot by fingerprint, so can anyone controlling government fingerprint records. Which just might include people who don't want to relinquish power. It utterly destroys the meaning of secret ballot. "Mr. X, it has come to our attention that you voted for the wrong candidate yesterday. Report immediately to Gitmo."

Voting is so important (and so attractive for fraud) because it controls the destiny of the Earth, including little things like who owns the oil...

4. Peak Oil

As noted elsewhere (History, Statecraft, Chemistry), and in materials I have yet to post, I find compelling evidence that the scientists specializing in oil reserves, and the people who invest billions based on those scientists' findings, really do believe there is a problem. Some of the involved parties are quite willing to kill (including global war) to gain/maintain control of the remaining available reserves.

Sure, there can be more production with more drilling, pumping water into failing fields, shale oil, "hydrogen economy", and massive wind/solar farms. But the practical reality is that there will be a serious dislocation, and people not prepared will be hurt.

Yet I recently talked with an otherwise well-informed person who rattled off shale oil, oil sands, coal synfuel, and hydrogen as magic solutions. Can we get synfuel from coal? Yes. Do we want (and can we survive) what happens when mountains are shoved into river valleys to get the coal? What happens to the inevitable effluent of the "clean" processes (e.g., zeolites which cannot be recharged)? Where do decomissioned nuclear reactors go to die? It isn't a simple problem, and people who study this for a living are not happy campers.

Further, I can't imagine why a Libertarian would want yet more centralized power production. Distributed power production and a lot less consumption might be the path to environmentally safe and politically safe energy.

5. Media

As noted elsewhere (Alternative_Media) I have reservations about any mass media, no matter what its nominal bias might be. I mentioned this in discusion, and someone jumped with "You don't mean NBC and CBS", implying only Fox was a problem. Yes I do mean NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, and the NY Times. Each can be a valuable resource when taken in context, but their track records are poor overall.

In general, TV is too time-constrained to be much use even if it is totally honest. Talk radio (with whatever bias) is similarly incapable of extended discussion. Newspapers today have the same short-attention-span problem. On-line blogs are no better, since they are mostly snippets out of context.

If the news media doesn't educate, what is happening instead? Competing sound bytes. When the discussion above devolved into a rapid fire parroting of standard sound bytes, someone noted that this is what happens on TV, spokesmodels shouting at each other.

No, it wasn't the same. I just stopped talking, and the other guy went on at high speed. I'm no good at the sound byte game, and I refuse to play.

On the other hand, if people want to participate in building an informed electorate, count me in...

6. An open invitation

For several years, I've offered to meet people with diverse backgrounds and opinions on neutral turf. That means in part it must be off-hours and off-site from our respective work worlds.

All I ask is that participants bring the intellectual stamina needed to see an argument to its conclusion. With that groundrule, I'm happy to start whereever the other parties want to start. We will take the opening position, research the facts-and-data, and obtain a range of expert opinions on yet-to-be-solved issues. It may take weeks or months to reach a conclusion. We wil all be the better for it.

In fact that is the whole point of this website -- to provide citations for the texts needed to build an informed electorate. Start here.

Creator: Harry George
Updated/Created: 2006-09-30