Monday, March 18, 2013

Cross Post - Politics and Change

This is a cross post from http://fairviewkatie.blogspot.ca/2013/03/politics-and-passion.html


I am writing this post as a follow up to my decision to withdraw from the nomination contest in Fairview-Clayton Park. The decision came upon review of the eligible voter list for the nomination vote, scheduled for March 26, 2013.

The eligible voter list I received showed no discernible support for my campaign effort, and indicated an almost exclusive list of supporters for my opponent in the campaign. I am not great at math, but that one was easy. I was disappointed, but not sad. I had chosen, quite some time back, to go with a digital campaign, try for a broad outreach and to invite people to sign up online. The invitation was also there to call to arrange a sign up in person.

To my great delight, I received over 9,000 hits on my website (www.fairviewclaytonpark.ca) and was very encouraged by this activity. So, let me say right now, I thank everyone for their interest and for taking time to visit. I consider this a great success.

On the other hand, the traffic did not translate into a viable sign up list for me to continue the race. I have requested some information from the Nova Scotia Liberal Party Headquarters regarding online sign-ups over the past two years, the time I have been actively seeking the nomination. I would like to figure out how to create a better result, should I want to do something similar in the future.

The nomination process is the starting point for people to feel engaged in the political process. I feel that it is not well understood or a particularly inviting part of the electoral process, and I felt that by going online I would be able to reach out very broadly into the community to generate interest and participation. I believe it is about more than just signing up friends and family and that being a nominee is about being more than a shill for the machine.

I think there is a great need for change in Nova Scotia, on many levels, and that it requires people who are interested in introducing new ideas on how to proceed. This is not necessarily a popular idea for people who are invested in the status quo, but it is an interesting idea for people who are living in the dead end of work and opportunity. So, the need for change is not static, it is imperative.

There are a number of places to start with change, and one of them is in how we generate and use public funds. Another is how we position ourselves socially and fiscally as technology becomes even more prevalent in the area of work and fun. And what I champion the most, is the opportunity we have with Internet.

I will talk about these three ideas briefly, and hopefully it will start conversations that will lead to a shift in thinking.

I will begin with Internet. This is a subject that ranges from the idea that an open internet provides a platform for a true, global, democracy, the worry of Big Brother, to the prospect of Internet Wars the possibility of a new society based on freedom and equal access - to education, information, government, work/business, art, love. There is a lot to consider, and sometimes it feels good to think about just pulling the plug and living in the Disconnect. Anything you choose is correct, but will require your participation to frame expectations in the coming years because there are issues to resolve in terms of how we will live and enjoy life, for us, and for the generations to come. And this is why I believe we need to begin to talk about and position ourselves as a society in the face of change.

Internet has given us alternate ways to learn, love, communicate, make money. It has changed the base of understanding and social exchange in very fundamental ways: we can now get a degree online, or complete elementary schooling online, or research ideas of interest or concern: we can meet people online and find love, we can do business online in creative and innovative ways, families can keep in touch online with video communications, banking is evolving away from a central control, transparency in government and big business is being teased out through access to information. It continues, but the point is that while the changes are wonderful, it begs for an update in terms of understanding the Social Contract, that is, how we will agree to live, confirm safety nets and be governed in this new era of openness and freedom.

Traditional understanding and agreements on power structures and governance are under stress, and this is nothing new in the context of history, the Gutenberg Press is a great analogy for this scenario. Until the advent of the printing press, books and information were scarce, the ability to read was not widely required or suggested. It was a small group of people who had these skills, and iformation was carefully funneled down to the masses, who were unable to refute or debate these exchanges for lack of information or education. That is, until the printing press made information widely available, and reading and education became a social tool for change and progress. I see the internet as the vehicle for change, where once it was the Gutenberg Press.

Nothing tells a story of change and progress like the advances in technology, particularly the past twenty years. As a key component to Internet success, we have devices that are efficient and continue to evolve. We have amazing evolution in robot design and ability, 3-D printing that is astounding on an almost weekly basis in the introduction of new production possibilities, revolutionary medical advances that improve treatment options, and in some cases begin to side-step the need for human consultation, nanotechnology is changing communication, energy, product design and human longevity in astounding ways.

What does all this technology mean, how do we begin to understand the changes and the requirements to meet those changes?  I think one of the big changes will be the impact on available jobs at all skill levels, and this is one of the things that will drive the most change socially and economically.

I believe we will need to address the meaning and value of work in a technologically advanced society. If we do not have the numbers of available jobs to support our current understanding of success socially and economically, how do we address this problem without disenfranchising people. 

I believe the answer is in holistic social reform. A plan to guarantee everyone access to a home, food, water, work, art, education and spiritual growth - in the context of a greatly altered work definition and economic framework. 

And this brings me to the subject of Public Funds and the business model in the social framework. We currently, here in Canada, enjoy a mix of public/private enterprise. There are many who would say that we have a problem with publicly funding health and social enterprises, and that may be so. But I caution that now is the time, more than ever, that we must protect and improve these services, and advance them greatly to meet the coming social changes. 

As traditional work opportunities diminish, and the demand for opportunity increases in relative pace, we will need to re-define our notions of success. Do you imagine that as the workplace gets crowded, we will return to the old model of the nuclear family, with Father at work, working, and Mother at home doing her household chores? Do you see children at home for forty years until there is finally an opening at an office somewhere? Do you imagine we educate people only to work in low wage, dead end jobs? Do you think there is no other alternative to have and have not? 

Cutting and tightening programs like Employment Insurance demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the circumstances we are now living. There are lots of opportunities to develop new economies - in different streams than we currently operate, like outer space development, like individual and tailored education plans, like 3D printing of almost everything. But we have a transition, and we have a change to manage in terms of sharing the wealth. 

It is my opinion that much of what we think of as 'economy' today, is nothing more than repackaging old business and presenting it as new, and that public funds are being diverted away from important projects to fund this nonsense. How many times must we divert public funds into failed business models at the expense of our social security? We have a case here now where the argument is made that public jobs should go to private contracting to save money. But truly, pay and benefits will decrease, a good portion of the money formerly available in the local marketplace will now go to foreign shareholders, and there will be less to go around - in the form of spending, taxes and happiness. Nothing new was created, but public funds were diverted in the interest of some uninformed bottom line. 

Without a new arrangement, there will be no social progress or success for the general population. There is great lament about taxation, at any level, but I do not see any solution offered at any quarter other than revolution or domination. There is no end of the upward spiral of costs when there is no give in terms of expected return, the great privilege of being in business. What is the reasonable solution? 

This is what we have to achieve. The reasonable solution. And we have the tools and ability to do it. I am the same good person, whether I have a 'job' or not - we have a good society, technology, and the empathy to build a better world, where hunger and housing are not basic fears and not having a job is cause for shame.

Let's find those voices, and start to build and position to be in the right place as circumstances and demands change. 

Join me on Reddit on March 20 at 7pm for an 'Ask Me Anything (AMA) event.