A Virtual President

A virtual president isn’t a politician, doesn’t belong to a political party, doesn’t grow old, doesn’t have donors and would never become a tyrant. A virtual president is dedicated to certain ideals that would be newly-written in the constitution. Then we could become a republic.

Of course, you would need to have an actual person represent this ideal president. The parliament would appoint a real person, a highly-regarded citizen, to represent the virtual president. We could give this person a novel title such as “Governor-General.”

The Governor-General would conduct his executive powers in line with the current constitution, i.e. on the advice of the Prime Minister, only in-so-far as they did not contradict the ideals and principles that are set out in the constitution regarding the virtual president.

So, what would be the ideals and principles that form the virtual president? I would like any reader to contribute any ideas in the comments box below and send a link to their friends who might also want to contribute.

My initial view is that these principles should not be too prescriptive, not too narrow or encumbering. I think ideals like freedom of speech, freedom of belief or non-belief, free press and the rights of individuals would get in there somehow. The virtual president would treat all people equally and work for the good of all, working for the powerless against the powerful.

The words would be important. Please contribute.

Players, spectators or commentators?

At a football game you have players on the field, spectators in the stands and commentators writing and talking about the game. It seems to me the Australian government doesn’t realise it should be on the field playing. Often, its seems they are just spectators, watching what’s happening, or commentators, just talking about it.

Take energy policy. The country needs one; business needs one; consumers need one. But the government is still just talking about it, floating ideas, commentating and as Josh Frydenberg said on tonight’s news, “we haven’t made any decisions yet.” I think almost four years is long enough.

Thinking about something …

Thinking is underrated. It’s amazing what can come into your mind when you think about something for long enough. You see a problem and then think about it. Then think about it again. Turn the problem over. Think again. Use the completely illogical to develop the sensible, the rational and the meaningful. Then think again. Soon patterns appear and understanding develops.

In my maths classes at school the teacher taught us one method, so I would try to find another method. Just for fun.

I have done this many times with issues that I see. One of my proudest thinking efforts was to design a simple way for people to make and receive payments between different banks in near real-time. I took my idea to many banks but no one adopted it. Next year, in Australia there will be such a payment system (government-mandated), almost as good ; almost identical as my design in the way it works, but not as good as my vision.

More recently, I came up with a way to reduce the income taxation and welfare system complexity to a minimum and increase fairness. Just by thinking about a problem and thinking about it again and again. A couple of wild ideas thrown together produced the best possible result.

I am not a genius (I have proof of that) but I do like to think problems through. In most cases good thinking reduces problems by finding their underlying simplicity. Most people aren’t into simplicity. They make their money creating complexity. You often hear these people using the ultimate retort of “simplistic” solutions being useless.  But it is simplicity that leads to great advances. I would like to retort that those who have “complextic” solutions need to do more thinking.

Recently I have been thinking about the best way for Australia to become a republic without ending up with the circus we just witnessed in America. I have some ideas developing on this whereby we do away with any person as president and have a virtual president, an ideal president, a president of ideals. More on that later.

Problem solving

Housing affordability crisis. Must do something! Must appear to do something! Must achieve nothing.

I have a job where things often go wrong. I have to make them right again. I’ve learnt that rushing about trying random solutions rarely works. There are some rules to follow.

1. Define the problem precisely. 2. Isolate potential causes taking account of when and where the problem is manifest and when and where the problem does not occur. 3. Test potential root causes against other available information. 4. When you are sure what the causes are then you can derive a solution that you know will work.

Recently, we have had a lot of debate, once again, about how to solve the housing affordability crisis. As far as I know, no one has actually defined the problem, let alone specific root causes. They will achieve nothing.

Trump’s speech displays a classic fallacy

When you read the text of Trump’s speech, http://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/trump-inaugural-address/index.html you can see his technique. Firstly, he creates the straw man and then he knocks it down. He paints a picture of government (Obama?) only concerned with its own comfort while the country has fallen into misery. Like the last days of Louis XVI? Is that really true?  He will come and restore true democracy. (Because of his amazing compassion and empathy?) Only the weak of mind would be fooled.

None of what he proposes is likely to be achievable. He paints a picture where Mad Max gets his gang together and says he is going to build a new airport or build a new wall to keep the evil guys out.

He correctly identifies a root problem of poverty in old cities, but does not address the absurd inequality that lies at the root of poverty and crime.

You have to admire his ambitious goals, but a goal is not a policy. Everybody wants what he says he wants, but his only stated policy is protectionism and every high school student studying economics can tell you that is not the path to wealth.

His other implicit policy is for America to be united by patriotism, but he is somewhat delusional since for most people what he says is often quite divisive.

Another grating aspect of his speech is the banal and trite metaphors, “we all bleed the same red blood”, “I will fight for you with every breath in my body.” Not exactly poetry except in his own mind.