May 14, 2012
Recently President Obama announced that he supports gay marriage. But he also said that if states want to continue discriminating against gays, it’s their decision. I assume the President also believes Abe Lincoln should have stayed out of the slavery issue under the theory that the states should decide which rights they grant their minority populations. (Someone clever said that before I did. I forget who.)
Meanwhile, President Obama is using scarce federal funds to shut down marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized medical marijuana. On this issue, the President is opposed to states’ rights.
The interesting thing about the dual issues of gay marriage and medical marijuana is that both have a track record that can be evaluated. Why not use science, or at least economics, to figure out what works?
In places where gay marriage has been legal for some time, what has been the cost to society? Has the social structure crumbled? Did taxes go up? Did any hetero Christians turn gay from peer pressure? Was there an outbreak of bestiality? Did it rain toads?
Medical marijuana has also been practiced long enough in some places to have a track record. Did the states that legalized medical marijuana experience an uptick in traffic deaths? Or did all of the stoners driving home from the dispensaries slow commute traffic and make things safer? Did residents eat too many munchies and become obese? Did cancer patients start robbing convenience stores to pay for their habit?
One could argue that the minimum requirement to be called a leader is that you don’t wait for your Vice President to become so embarrassed by your position on a prominent national issue (gay marriage) that he takes control, forcing you to meekly follow. President Obama glibly said that Vice President Biden “got over his skis” when he came out in support of gay marriage. Actually, Biden displayed leadership. I understand why the President didn’t recognize it.
On the Republican side, Romney is like a bag that’s half snakes and half candy. When you put your hand in, you never know what you’re getting. Romney might be awesome. I like the general idea of putting a turnaround expert in the oval office at a time when we need one. But the reality is that we don’t know what we’re getting with Romney. He is, after all, a robot that professes a deep belief in magic. Good luck predicting how that would shake out.
President Obama is getting a lot of credit for killing Bin Laden. But how much credit should we give to luck? It was lucky timing that our intelligence people located Bin Laden during Obama’s term. And if no one knew for sure that Bin Laden was at the compound before the attack was launched, the President was guessing. He guessed right, but guessing isn’t a repeatable skill. And realistically, you and I would have made the same decision to launch a strike.
In theory, the United States is protected from revolution because we have the option of voting out the bums we don’t like. The reality, which is sinking in, is that our only option is to replace bums with bums. As long as no candidate feels the need to be philosophically consistent, or to base decisions on data, we don’t have a functional government.
That’s why I favor starting an emergency backup government using social media. I think we need an insurance policy against the total breakdown of civilization. We need a backup government that’s ready to go in case our existing form of government loses its last shred of credibility and citizens start ignoring it.
Other countries have an emergency backup government in place. It’s called the army. When the civilian government loses credibility with the people, the army can step in and maintain order while a new government is formed. That’s roughly the case in Egypt and Pakistan, for example. But that sort of system has a high cost. The citizens of the United States wouldn’t want a military government as an emergency backup. I think this country would prefer some sort of government-in-a-box backup solution that is organized over the Internet.
I think the major problem with our current form of government is that although the major parties are competing with each other, the system itself is a monopoly. There’s no competition for the federal government as a whole. I think it would be useful to form a shadow government on the Internet, complete with chosen leaders and policies. That would create a sort of competition for the existing government. The media could keep tabs on how many citizens have a preference for the shadow government over the existing one. If the shadow government gets too much support, the existing government is likely to evolve to avoid relegation.
Competition is good. We need some competition for our entire system of government, not just competition within it. We also need an insurance policy in case citizens decide to revolt. Admittedly, that’s a small risk, but that’s the point of insurance – to protect against small risks with catastrophic potential.
If you think competition is good, insurance is prudent, and fact-based leadership is better than naked politics and superstition, you should be in favor of forming an emergency backup government on the Internet.