by: Dan Genduso
It is becoming harder and harder to support political candidates who run for office promising band-aid solutions to issues that are so large they cannot be solved, while constantly neglecting the root problems that have led to this badly broken operating system. Candidates constantly focus our attention on downstream impacts, like student loan debt, while insisting on maintaining a broken infrastructure — a broken foundation — that will continually re-route us to the same problems, time and time again. These aren’t solutions. They are temporary fixes that become endless money pits. All the money we spend to fix the issues will continue to compound without any problem ever being solved.
While the quote, “if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” which is famously attributed to Henry Ford, is largely wrong in its assumption that people don’t know what they want or need, it does bring up an important point around innovation and a need to shift our vision beyond a pre-established baseline for operating. Just because we — a collective people — have always done something one way dating back to our ancestors doesn’t mean we need to continue doing it that way. We shouldn’t assume that the people before us could have accurately predicted what our needs of today would be. We need to continue iterating and evolving with this system or else our democracy will die.
We aren’t forcibly locked into this exact operating model, but rather, we choose to lock ourselves into it. We choose not to evolve. We choose to keep driving the Titanic head on into what remains of a glacier (if it doesn’t get stuck in a sea of trash first).
In the case of government, we don’t need to try and make a faster horse. We need to unlock ourselves, break free, and change vehicles. We need a completely new ship — one built to operate on technology — to replace this 200+ year old vessel. Once we change our mode of transportation — our foundation for operating — we need to work together as an open source community to continually improve that ship to make it faster and more efficient.
I propose a platform that focuses on four key areas, three of which align with Sam Altman’s principles for his United Slate:
Prosperity from Technology: We need to focus our attention on building the technology to automate community operations, while scaling to be inclusive of other parts of the world. This will allow us to drastically cut overhead costs, maximize lifetime earnings for community members, and cast a wider net for revenue generation. This will enable us to work as a global, collaborative community, solving large issues while ensuring everyone’s basic needs are met. This doesn’t mean there is a cap on the top. It just means that we need to leverage technology to lift the bottom. There is no reason why everyone shouldn’t be able to reach the top quadrant.
Economic Fairness: Through technology, we need to create an infrastructure that enables the future of education and work. This will address access and opportunity issues, while providing pathways to work that create upward economic mobility. Furthermore, we need to realign incentives in our economic environment, as the current model falsely indicates a healthy economy when only corporations and their shareholders are increasing in value. This leads to companies extracting all the value from people in the name of shareholder profits, while the average person has been stripped of their true earning potential. We need a new system where the value of the corporation or community increases as the value of each person increases.
Personal Liberty: We need to move away from a surveillance state where people’s every move is being tracked, while shifting our focus towards personal needs, as opposed to focusing on what other people should do with their own bodies or lives. Our country was founded on principles of liberty and freedom, yet we continually find ourselves trying to restrict freedoms. When people are free to be themselves, they bring the most value to the community. When we try and restrict people or confine them to a box, we limit the amount of value they create, while heightening risk of mental health problems (among other things). By limiting the value an individual can provide, we are limiting the overall value of our community. Our focus should be on enabling people, rather than disabling them.
Communal Effort: We cannot continue to operate in silos, and we cannot rely on others to do this work for us. Everyone is a guru who has something to provide — some value to create. We must all take an active role in changing the community and environment where we live. It should be our civic duty to participate and fix our democracy, and we must be inclusive of everyone in this process. This change will require an open source effort in every sense of the word(s), where participants are fairly compensated for their role in building a better future, safeguarding our environment, and preserving our democracy.
This foundational shift needs to address several huge issues, which include, but are not limited to:
- Ineffective methods and channels for constituent engagement so people can tell representatives what they want or need.
- A badly damaged voting process where money is a vote multiplier for the wealthy and corporate interests outweigh the interests of people.
- Inefficient identity management systems that inhibit people from moving freely and actively participating in democracy. People should be able to realize the American Dream remotely without any need for relocation.
- Limited technology infrastructure that can activate community members and support the future of education, work, and healthcare.
- An inability to break down issues into manageable pieces, which leads to a focus on large, unsolvable issues that suck up all our tax dollars in overhead with no visible results over seemingly endless periods of time.
- Absence of compensation to constituents for their work in the community, ranging from community to service to data mining and licensing that can be used to automate community operations.
- An economic system built on misaligned incentives, which leads to a near-complete value extraction from the average person and/or worker with a sole purpose of driving profits for companies and shareholders.
- Lack of transparency into where investments, tax dollars, and donations are going to solve community problems, which is inclusive of governments, charities, and personal foundations with donor-advised funds.
- A complete breakdown of trust, which is inclusive of the people or companies we interact with, the content or news we read, the money or products that we receive, or the things that we learn.
- Ineffective approaches to solving mental health problems that have risen to the level of national crisis.
- Implementation of mass surveillance coupled with degradation of privacy and data security, which has put our entire democracy at risk. Without privacy, you cannot vote or speak freely. Freedom is the bedrock of prosperity. It is the foundation of America.
In my next post, I’ll document what I feel the proper solution is to these issues, along with the benefits provided by that solution.