Capital return on politics

I’ve been thinking about capital and currency off and on for a while. Most recently I ran across this thoughtful commentary on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. Unfortunately, however, I can tell from the article that while billionaires like to buy politicians, reporters, and academics, it seems that Labor (or maybe I should say organized labor) likes to buy ink as well.

This is unfortunate, because, as the article points out, if Piketty is wrong, we really need to know why. We do a great disservice both to workers AND to billionaires by repeating the trope that politics is something we can control. We do not control it, it controls us.

What we control, is what we spend our time on, and how we account for it. Do you track hours in hourdollars, or does the search book of face track and monetize you as the commodity? Do you trade in the really really free market, or trade your time for the almighty dollar?

I once said if I’m going to survive as a farmer I’d have to buy a politician. This is the route many billionaires have chosen. But politics is expensive, and the only way I can afford that is to become a politician and do some campaign fundraising. Sounds to me like it’s the Capital controlling the politics, and the politics control us.

Or maybe there’s another way. Vote with your choice of currency. Grant yourself a new economy with Grantcoin. Demand to pay your urban property taxes with local vegetables grown in garden spots not parking spots.

Open (source) video records

We are the metro region that is home to many world-renowned technology companies, including Seagate, Micron, and Cray, the Supercomputer company.

So instead of having our police department looking like something out of 1984 when it comes to open video records, how about we do something like Seattle and hire some of the people that make public records requests.

You might even find out that there are a few amateur politicians who raised the issue in the last mayoral election. In fact, you might even find someone who’s built a few supercomputers. Let’s engage our technology industry and hacker community to enable public review and accountability for video footage recorded on behalf of the public good. This is a growth industry for the world, and we can follow Seattle, or lead the world, and create a lot of good high paying jobs in the process.

Derailments and fires, oh my

So let’s compare some things. First, an ethanol train derails, catches fire.

Ethanol spill (oh, and fire)

Next, less than a month and 50 miles away, we have a Bakken Bomb

Oil ‘boom’ train

Which of these would you rather have in your gas tank?

Here’s the other problem. The guys shipping the oil know it’s not going to last, so there is little interest in long-term sustainability, it’s just a matter of get it out of the ground as fast as you can before Tesla, carbon taxes, and on-farm ethanol production make their business irrelevant. Actually doing something to remove the volatile components from the oil just costs money, and when you know your shell company isn’t going to exist in 5 or 10 years, why bother?

It’s a matter of pick your poison and if I have to pick a poison, I’d at least like to pick on that might taste good to drink from a mason jar.

— edit —

To be fair to oil, ethanol derailments can also be quite bad. Anything storing sufficient energy to provide the transportation we use can be quite deadly if released all at once.

The problem with GMO labeling

Is that right on schedule, as soon as there appears to be some political support to give customers the right to know what’s in their food, the opposition moved the goalposts. So sure, we might label genetically modified organisms, but eh, the genetically edited crops are just fine, since it’s just a copy & paste of genes from one grass to another right?

What could possibly go wrong?

The farmer says we need farm-of-origin labeling, and traceability all the way to the consumer of exactly what the label on the seed bag the farmer planted says. This is the only way to know what’s in your food, is to know what the farmer planted, and (please excuse the advertising) the only place I know of you can get this right now are the soybeans I grew.

I cannot in good conscience support GMO labeling when things like clearfield wheat get away with claiming it’s ‘not a genetically modified product’, because it was produced with good-old-fashioned ‘natural’ selection, where ‘natural’ means spray a toxic chemical on the seeds until you find one that has a mutation that allows it to survive the toxic chemical.

But I’ll bet you a bag of soybeans that if I grew that wheat, and then saved the seeds, Oregon State and BASF would be looking for their IP extortion (I mean royalty) payments.

If you want to do something good for the food system, don’t label GMOs.  Instead put a list of every organization that claims to own the right to limit the seed, or any other kind of IP or trade secret in the food.

Legalize hacking

If the great state of Colorado can be known for legalizing weed, (which, you know, kinda fits I think), then we need to go for the next great issue in states rights. Legalize hacking, so our great state of Minnesota can protect itself from the cyber police state.

There are a couple of obscure companies called Cray and IBM here that might benefit from such a thing, because this might be the only place in the world it will be safe to actually figure out how to make computers more secure

One does not simply apply for healthcare

So, my gentle readers, your not-the-mayor Troy has been on a dark and dangerous journey today, fraught with the dreaded 403, 15 minute page loads, and unauthorization to access resource. I am walking the valley of the shadow of the uninsured, though yet by the power of the soil I farm, shall fear no evil. (Okay, there is one evil I fear, and that is another shutdown from big-government republicans)

So, in english, I tried to apply for Minnesota’s health care portal. And now it’s time for a rant. (engage righteous indignation captain)

It seems like if I want anything to work right I have to be able to audit, test, and debug the code myself.

So once in your life you need doctor, lawyer, policeman, and a preacher, but you need a farmer 3 times a day.

This farmer needs some PR, marketing, and political organizing for a blockchain-like platform to provide guaranteed universal healthy food, and I need to know what legal actions or political parties I have to start in Iowa and Minnesota to allow me the freedom to farm, and the freedom to give people food to keep them healthy. What I see today is a kafka-nightmare of government health care portals that get DOSed by the tea party, and pharmaceutical companies that make money selling cancer drugs to treat the disease caused by farm chemicals the exact same companies tell me are FDA, EPA, and USDA approved and generally recognized as safe.

I have 400 bags of healthy soybeans, who wants some, and who’s going to help me occupy the legislature when the FDA says only my chemical suppliers are allowed to make health claims?

(DISCLAIMER: This post and the codes that support it are constitutionally protected political speech, and although it’s quite reasonable for me to document the expenditures on such things, any prior restraint of cryptographic accounting software tokens that may be exchangeable for services that someone might consider health care, or healthy food, is, in this farmers opinion, immoral. Limiting such things by regulatory fiat is an unconstitutional prior restraint and chilling effect on free speech, AND on the right of a well regulated code-militia to keep and bear cryptographic arms. I’m perfectly happy documenting where all the tokens go. Transparency is a first-class feature of this system. But to require FINCEN or SEC registration, FDA approval, or USDA organic certification of such things is, at least, immoral, regardless of what the supreme court may eventually decide)