political reform

First-past-the-post party?

Brexit is a nice distraction from the real UK politicial reform needed – replacing first past the post with proportional representation. Even with a Brexit result that is broadly acceptable to all parties, the real issue is still unfinished business.

Qu: should someone start a single-issue political party to simply campaign for proportional representation, every time there is a general election?

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UK austerity

In the current debate about UK austerity, what’s missing from the choice (not the fake choice between austerity and no austerity, but the hard choice between Social and Economic austerity) are two important other options (Productivity improvements and Philanthropy).

To elaborate, the current debate about austerity should be about the mix of four things:

(1) Social austerity – realisable tax rises for some or all current UK tax payers). Of course, history shows us that raising taxes encourages tax avoidance and discourages incentive to work harder.

(2) Economic austerity – alleviating current austerity through borrowing to burden future citizens with greater austerity.

(3) Productivity improvements – workers choosing (through a combination of after-hours study and after-hours volunteering?) to up-skill, to raise their productivity to ultimately alleviate austerity. When we change our expectations, build on small successes to boost our confidence and reframe current problems in a different way using personal flexibility, then there is every chance to better ourselves. If the future is about portfolio careers, and in the age of smart machines, ‘keeping our skin in the game’ through clever design, then up-skilling starts today. After all, process automation and machine learning won’t wait for us, but proceeds at its own pace. A final question about labour productivity at the national level. Which is better – fewer people employed but them generating higher average labour productivity (the French model, relative to the UK model) or, more people employed but with lower average labour productivity (the UK model, relative to the French model).

(4) Philanthropy – particularly high-net-worth individuals forming consortiums, to alleviate UK social deprivation through charitable foundation activity.

The best solution will probably come from a better combination of all four things.

One great opportunity with philanthropy is developing ‘hospital charities’ to build city hospitals that are entirely charity-funded and can take some ongoing pressure off the NHS, care homes and private hospitals. Such hospitals could offer a more selective range of treatments (target elective-surgeries with long waiting lists?), than the NHS.

Food for thought?

The coming decade…

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Education and Work

Students stay at school longer, then graduate to do what? Make better and more informed decisions. Decisions on the things that AI can’t or won’t yet do.

People concede that they need the extra education to understand analysis. Year 14 Maths is compulsory.

Jobs open up reconciling and debugging AI systems, until such time as they merge. Counselling, drug rehab and mental health jobs prosper.

Politics and governance

Politics between 2020 and 2030 becomes largely concerned with social wealth distribution. Taxation and investment decisions are reformed.

Political referendums become more prevalent as the technology to host them becomes more cost-effective, but then disappear as governance identifies that issues can’t be resolved piecemeal, but that wholesale ecosystem policy reform is needed.

Hedge fund AI resources are harnessed to government policy making? How? Indirectly via consulting firms and higher education computer resources. Governments commission most complex policy problems to be solved using AI. AI resources are rented as needed to deliver the output.

The serious and super-complex problems become resolved by groups of AI’s acting together. Monitoring systems progressively merge.

International trade

Trade becomes less physical movement and more trade credits for the IP on items exported and imported between countries.

AI performs increasingly more of the services that currently occur between people.

Most financial currencies consolidate to align with the half a dozen large trading blocs that emerge.

Entertainment

Celebration of human endeavour is highlighted, tapping the human need to cheer the underdog. e.g. music contests, the Olympics and sports leagues, even as AI controls more of our functioning World.

Healthcare

Basic healthcare receives priority attention. People are actively counselling about healthy lifestyle choices.

Junk food and confectionery companies sponsor medical research into fat cell inhibiting medications and finally succeed, making their profits soar.

Mental health counselling aided by AI diagnostics achieves a quiet revolution, creating a happier but more aware society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If people were smart…

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We’d plan tax reform BEFORE income distribution undergoes the full onslaught of machine automation.

The UN would fund and deploy aerial nano-bots that fly around the World destroying unregistered guns.

Religious opinion leaders would MODERNISE religious doctrine to accommodate future technological change.

We’d REFORM things in society before the flat part of the (technology) exponential curve turns into the steep part of the exponential curve.

Government social services would MANAGE people’s expectations in a honest way upfront, not make excuses in a patronising way afterwards. Prevention is usually cheaper that cure.

We’d APPOINT lobby groups to represent the animal kingdom and not pretend that humans and corporates have all the votes and all the freedom to act.

We’d ENCOURAGE people to self-learn to cope with global changes in progress.

Examples of political common sense and emphasis running in opposite directions…

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Major union strike activity in the UK before Jeremy Corbyn’s leftist Labour party has a chance to be elected in 2020 will probably frustrate UK voters to vote Tory in protest. Do the unions backing Mr Corbyn realise this?

Personally, I don’t think any political party genuinely enjoys invoking austerity measures on the voters. Most politicians aren’t ogres. Governments everywhere tend to enforce austerity measures for a very important reason. Because something serious has gone wrong with the economy. Households living beyond their household means eventually have to face the facts. So why should they expect their government to not lead by example on this?

Many children hate their parents for cutting off their privileges. But equally, don’t respect them when they’re inconsistent, refuse to set boundaries, or lack the courage to follow through on what they say. But that’s because they’re children. If adults were more rational, they’d probably have nothing but contempt for politicians (on all sides) who try to bribe them, just so the politician can win power in the short term. Instead of the Tory’s highlighting this, they’re focussing off austerity and onto ISIS bombing and the forthcoming EU in/out referendum.

A UK Labour party with self-awareness, courage and integrity would formally split into two distinct parties – a centre party and a leftist party. The leftist party could form a useful working coalition with the Socialist Unity Party, retain labour-union backing, reject Trident and UK membership of the EU. The centre party could form a useful coalition with the Liberal Democrats and embrace EU membership. Instead we have UK Labour Party identity drift.

Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party must be worried that are the leftist SMP voters (traditional Scottish Labour voters) who rejected Labour at the last general election, who will now shun SMP for the new leftist Labour party (that also wants to cancel Trident, end Tory austerity and wants independence, albeit from the EU). With the market value of North Sea oil continuing to drift downwards thanks to Middle East over-production, a viable independent Scotland is fading by the day. So what are the SMP doing? Trying to arrange a second independence referendum! Go figure.

Division of Labour

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A general question – would countries have more efficient & effective governments, if elected politicians had to spend their time doing the ‘greatest good for the greatest number’, whilst government agencies, charities and for profit organisations dealt with cases on an individual* level?

This would mean more emphasis by politicians on prevention rather than cure. It would also eliminate time spent by politicians listening to an individual (or a small lobby group) from their constituency complaining to them personally. Accountability would still be preserved at the ballot box. And by the political parties in opposition, as well as the critical media, providing a ‘blow by blow’ comentary on the shortcomings of government various policies.

In the case of multi-nationals lobbying individual politicians, the mechanism needs to become one of only allowing powerful companies or sector bodies to lobby a government working committee (via an ‘interested party’ consultation process) , not an individual politician, to promote transparency, minimise corruption and generate more balanced decision-making.

With the growing impacts of globalisation and technology on entire populations of a country, perhaps the time has passed for politicians to represent their own electorate in unique ways. After all, unless they are a minority political party representing just one electorate, politicians must conform to a wider political party policy and manifesto.

For example, the political solutions to a problem such as the housing crisis in London, at least impact a large number of boroughs within the city, if not areas within the commuter belt into the city as well. Politicians representing those boroughs typically face similar problems – rental housing supply, demand for social housing, the need to fast-track planning applications to develop brownfield sites within their electorates. And the need to improve air quality and transport links relating to the location of housing in their electorates.

Since a group of politicians within a large city face a similar group of social (political) problems, governance will become more efficient and effective if they spend their time looking for solutions that deliver broadly the greatest good for the greatest number. They can then argue about the trade-offs e.g. how much to increase taxes to improve supply (of transport infrastructure and social housing say) at the expense of reduced incentive to wealth creators.

*This doesn’t stop agencies and charities also moving up the aid-support-empowerment-advocacy hierarchy to improve their impact, as well as providing basic aid services to people on a ‘means tested’ needs basis.

 

Lost in Translation

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The Tory’s ‘Big Society’ dream – society volunteers to fill the vacuum of Local Government funding cuts.

The London Underground transport union’s dream – to reward and protect jobs. In an age of; DLR driverless trains, overground trains, black and Uber cabs, river taxi services, Santander rental bikes, commuter cycle routes, bike taxis, cars, Emirates Air Line cable car services, buses and walking on foot…