A Basic Take On Our Geopolitical Moment (appropriated / inappropriately hashed together from various sources)

A time in which humankind is experiencing repercussions, negative and positive, environmental and social, of the widespread adoption of advanced technology. (The forces that have driven us since the dawn of the industrial era have begun to push in palpable ways against hard boundaries.)

This is a challenge to the climate, most glaringly through greenhouse gas emissions, and a challenge to the Democracies of developed nations, through (a) globalization (and resultant creation of extreme economic winners and losers); (b) the balkanization of the news and information (and resultant tribalism); and (c) the emergence of serious low cost cyber and drone threats. [Question: how closely does the development of technology track that of Democracy. If one were to be slowed or stopped, the other would…?]

A path forward for the U.S. would involve: (i) raising taxes and increasing services (universal pre-K, “medicare for all”, infrastructure) and paying down debt (ii) massive investment in renewable energy, cyber-defense and drones (but not aircraft carriers or next generation jets.)

If I were to actually attempt to enact this agenda in a real political environment (as incoming president, for example), this would be my order of operations: Universal Pre-K (as my signature initiative); “medicare for all” (which would be a big name for a minor seeming but quite important tweak to Obamacare: the inclusion of a public option); infrastructure (because everyone loves infrastructure). With respect to climate, I would pursue an Obama-like all-of-above approach, doing two things to secure Republican support: (1) giving nuclear energy its due as our most reliable source of carbon-free energy (maybe even marketing my climate strategy as a nuclear strategy) (2) massively funding a manhattan-project-style initiative for a clean energy source through the D.O.D.

With respect to the debt, finally, I would like to be forward thinking and, while actually paying for the programs we implement that don’t qualify as investments through taxes, would really like to try and create a structure that will take as much out of the hands of future politicians as is possible with respect to it: have a commission of experts to determine what is a reasonable amount of debt for a country like the U.S. to take on, then have automatic cuts to expenditures and raising of taxes when that limit is reached… There’s clearly a problem with that as expressed (during the fiscal crisis, for example, our debt shot up, but government spending should have increased, not decreased) and I don’t know to what extent debt reduction can be automated like that, but at the very least it would be great to have a hard, informed national answer to the question of — how much debt is it reasonable for a nation like ours to have?


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