The election is over, thank goodness. I had a lot of apprehension about the whole thing; I was also concerned about my reaction to it. I wondered if my feelings about politics would vanish in victory. Thankfully, at this point, I still have my Henry Rollins angry MF attitude towards the matter. Soon I hope to write about my Election Day and aftermath, because it’s been a bit of fun, fear and loathing, but that’s another post. For now, I wish to follow the lead of my favorite TV and Radio personality: Rachel Maddow. Seriously watch her show. She is the most thoughtful, respectful, energetic, and funny dork on television- at least until I get a show (GO DORKS).This week she encouraged people to post their todo list for president-elect Obama. For all the progressives (of which I teeter towards) whom fear a center right administration this was a call out to you. Yes when Obama is encouraging post-partisanism I believe it means we must go out there and respectfully voice our opinion. We should get out there, and try to show the dissenting opinion how our position truly benefits them, and if we cannot, then we must find a position that does with their help. THAT is post-partisan. Winning doesn’t mean everything we say is right, I’m certain, that my ideas have flaws, but refining them to benefit the world means working and learning from differing perspectives. All that being said here are the things that I want out of santa-uh the Obama administration.
Obviously there is the laundry list of things that most people voted on changing: Ending the wars, fixing the economy, dealing with the energy crisis, and the environmental crisis, fixing health care, and unemployment, and rebuilding America’s infrastructure. These are all things I care about but they are big and vague and as a result a minor change can be waved as successfully addressing the issue. I’m not satisfied with that, so I’m going to attempt to drill, baby, drill down into specific ways to effect change that have the potential to have ripple like effects.
Evolve the FCC
Over the past 12 years I’ve watched as time and time again the FCC make boneheaded decisions that have had monumental impact on the futures of tech. We went from creating the Internet to ranking 15th in broadband penetration. Right now, Comcast has implemented usage limits (with no way of gauging your actually usage mind you) and there is still debate over net neutrality/tiered internet. Truth be told, I don’t know the internals of the companies business models, and it may be true that these are the only ways these companies can achieve a profit with our exploding need. The problem is there is no way to tell whether it is exploding need or poor business models because they’re the only ones allowed to play. It wasn’t always like this I remember back at the beginning of broadband everyone was allowed to use the lines ala AT&T had to let MCI compete on their phone network. I don’t like the notion of infrastructure in the hands of a few corporations. The internet is infrastructure and needs to be addressed as such. Make it better.
Yet that was only half of the buffoonery the FCC has been responsible for. It also decimated the news industry. How can I say that in a world of 24 hour news? The FCC seems to be the king of unintended consequences. By making it legal for these markets to be dominated by a few behemoths it allowed these Jurassic entities to become complacent. Enter the asteroid that is craigslist and the lumbering giants can do little but choke on the caustic air. Without a dramatic change there will be very few news organizations left and that will lead to a poorly informed society-er poorerly informed.
The Farm Bill
The farm bill is one of those bills that are like Godiva chocolate with an Ebola center. It’s literally and figuratively the pork bill. Okay enough repartee. The farm bill is designed to help farmers, which I think is a good thing, but often it’s used to help corporate farmers. Fixing that aspect of the farm bill would really reduce government excess. I think though, this bill could more effect in reducing the cost of healthy foods. Enter a supermarket, and you’ll see that the healthiest foods are the most expensive, and that is not including the organic stuff. Process foods cost less on the frontend but we pay the heavy cost in health care. We need to make it easier for local farmers to get their wares on the shelves of supermarkets. This would reduce transportation costs, and put healthier foods on the shelf. In addition we could use this bill to lower food costs for families, making it easier for them to pay their bills and have enough money to stimulate the economy.
By far this is probably one of the stickiest wickets in the bundle, but Intellectual Property has to be reformed. Everyone thinks this is strictly and entertainment industry problem- it’s not. Are you upset about the high cost of prescription drugs, say hi to IP. There is no simple solution to this, at least I don’t know of one. However, it is apparent to me that it favors too much the creators. In my opinion the split right now is 90/10, that is if you can afford to fight. If you’re Viacom, or Pfizer you have a private army ready to black bag “thieves.” If though you are the creator of the intermittent windshield wiper better bring and umbrella. I’m in no way suggesting that things should be a 50/50 split. I think creators should have a fair deal of say how things they create are used, and should be rewarded heavily for their efforts. There are two sides to this though. Once you put an idea out into the world as much as it is your baby, like your baby you don’t own it. It lives grows and changes and over time you lose influence. Which leads to a great model for IP ownership and royalties; during the early years it should split 90/10 creator/society, you can and should have ample time to recoup for your effort. As time goes on it could slide to about 65/35, until the death of the creator, after which it should drop like a stone to 10/90. This brings up ownership, since corporations force employees to sign off all their rights of ownership, I feel that in turn upon separation ownership rights should be re-apportioned, something along the lines of 75/25, corporation/creator. The idea here is to add value to the employee. It rewards innovation and gives companies pause before downsizing 25 percent of their workforce. It could also create a de facto pension system.
The Rail System
There is a lot of talk about building up infrastructure. I think this starts at the rail industry. We need a national rail system. This is something big, REAL BIG, we’re talking something on the scale of the interstate system. Transportation in this country cost us too much. Trucks zipping back and forth across the country hurts our energy concerns, inflate cost, increases pollution, congestion, and take too much time. A rehabilitation getting us out of the 19th century and into the 21st would increase speeds and reconnect Americana.
These are just a few more ideas I feel should be added to the pile. I think they are effective because they all attack multiple problems at once. A new president signals a new ear, and fresh eyes to see and hear things differently. We should all try to make our voice heard.