The naivety of youth

There is a common perception that young people are naive and that’s why they are so vocal about politics, social injustice, etc…

But as I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that it’s not because the youth are naive, it’s because as you grow older, you realize people just don’t care. So you stop voicing your opinions.

I think this is a problem. Political apathy should not be a badge of honor. We should engage and challenge each other.

My letter to my congressman regarding the Syrian refugee bill

I have never written to any politician before, but I saw this an as opportunity to speak up.

From what I know, my congressman, John Garamendi, is a pretty cool guy. He seems very progressive, and focused on serving his district. However, his support of HR 4038, the Syrian Refugee Bill, is very disappointing.

Here is what he wrote about it:

http://garamendi.house.gov/press-release/my-vote-syrian-refugee-bill

Here is my response:

Message Subject: H.R. 4038
Message Text:
Dear Congressman Garamendi,

I once met you at the airport and I crassly told you that you “haven’t done anything to piss me off”. I apologize for my rudeness on that day, but today I am writing to let you know that I am very unhappy with your support of H.R. 4038. I read your statement about it, and I think your reasons are completely bogus.

You know for damn sure that the Republicans put on this vote to play on the fears of their constituents, and their actions are motivated by deceit. You supporting this resolution is an affirmation of their deceit, and giving in to their fear mongering. If you really wanted “an opportunity to assure the American public that we are thoroughly vetting refugees”, then you should stand up and shout down those spreading misinformation and lies, not give them an endorsement for their deviousness.

As an immigrant/refugee, from Vietnam, myself, I know that I would be very hurt if politicians used my struggle for a better life as a hateful political gesture.

Sincerely…

I do want to add that my objection to Congressman’s Garamendi vote is not because I think I know how to better handle the refugee crisis, or that I have any special understanding of how to mitigate security threats.

I simply object to the fact that he is participating in political theatre with the Republican Party.

The CoveredCA website sucks

It’s one thing to hear about the government wasting money on something you know little about, but it’s doubly painful when it’s something you are very familiar with.

Today I learned that the state of California paid Accenture $359 million to build coveredca.com – California’s online health exchange.

http://newsroom.accenture.com/news/accenture-chosen-to-implement-california-health-insurance-exchange.htm

The site did not work at all for the first day I tried using it, and it was down about two weeks after, when I tried to use it again.

This is complete bullshit, considering that they only had

987,440 unique visitors
16,311 applications completed
27,305 applications partially completed

http://blogs.kqed.org/stateofhealth/2013/10/08/week-1-for-covered-california-16000-applications-complete/

I looked at some of the front-end HTML of the site and judging by how bad it is, I can only assume that the back-end is equally terrible.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/10/08/230424841/health-exchange-tech-problems-point-to-a-thornier-issue

Why Did The Government Shut Down?

Why Did The Government Shut Down? The government shut down because Republicans in the House of Congress refused to pass a budget unless President Obama stop ObamaCare. Without a budget, people who are paid by the federal government, such as national parks employees, some members of the military, government workers responsible for processing passport applications, etc., will not be paid to work. Which means they will be forced to stay home without pay.

The Government Shut Down is a threat the Republican party uses to force President Obama to remove laws that they do not like. It is similar to an arsonist threatening to set a house on fire if we don’t give him exactly what he wants.

Why did this happen? This happened because the Republican members of our government do not want people to have cheap health care. They do not want people with current health problems like asthma and cancer to get the help they need. They believe people should find money to pay for their own health care otherwise they don’t deserve it.

Even though the cost of medicine will continue to go up, the Republicans do not care. They still think you should somehow find money to pay for it because they don’t care about your illness.

President Reagan and the Environment

Saw an interesting documentary today on American Experiences about the environmental movement in America.

One thing I learned from it was how Reagan basically ruined the forward momentum we were making  with environmental issues in America.

http://www.thedailygreen.com/print-this/presidents-worst-environmental-records-460808?page=all

http://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/02/us/reagan-and-environment-to-many-a-stalemate.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

 

Because of his legacy, lawmakers can’t even talk about environmentalism in this country without being called names, chastised for being anti-business, or ridiculed as being impractical.

If we had someone in the white house who embraced the progress Carter was making, and encouraged people to educate themselves, who knows what kind of world we could live in today.

I am running for Congress

Watching all these political ads and debates made me realize that the only way we’re going to fix our political system is if I run for Congress and try to fix it myself. Of course there is a chance I would fail spectacularly, but I can almost guarantee you I can not be any worse than the clowns we have representing us now.

For example, in the Republican party, we have people like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock making asinine statements about rape. Then in the Democratic Party, we have people like Jesse Jackson Jr, who has been absent without notice for months. (Honestly, these are not even the worse problems, I am just giving these as examples because they are easy to cite. Trust me, there is a mountain of worst things to discuss if we really wanted to go there.)

But getting to Washington would not be easy for me:

1) The very first people to oppose my congressional run would probably be my friends and most certainly my wife. They would say that I lack empathy, is extremely partisan, and unapologetically condescending.

2) My blog — yup. I have written way too many controversial things here and else where. A congressional race against me would mean negative ads galore.

But despite all that, if I had enough money to not have to work anymore, I would definitely run for two reasons:

1) People smarter and more diplomatic than me are not participating in politics. I don’t know why they are not. Perhaps they are intimidated by all the yelling, been tricked into believing that their ideas are not as good, or they have simply given up.

2) Yes I have crazy ideas, and is generally condescending, but there is ONE issue that is important to us all, and goes beyond any disagreements that you may have with my politic: Campaign Finance Reform. I would spend my entire tenure in Congress doing everything I possibly can to bring awareness to this issue and help write laws to get money of our politics. If I am successful, someone more qualified and more diplomatic than me can come in and worry about all the other crap.

How to stimulate the economy

I was reading this thread on Hacker News today and it brought me to a great revelation:

http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4671530

So the basic idea is this.

A lot of Republicans believe reducing taxes on businesses will stimulate the economy and promote growth.

But as a self-employed “business owner” myself, there is really only two things that makes me want to go back to a regular job: Health Care and Retirement.

In fact, the only time my wife and I seriously discuss me leaving my business venture behind is when we argue about how to provide healthcare for us, and any future kids we may have.

We also stress a lot about how to save for retirement.

As Jon Stewart suggested, in my case, if there were better safety nets, it would definitely allow me to extend my business desires.

What about cutting taxes? Honestly, the huge tax bill I pay has never bothered me or hindered my entrepreneurial spirit. Besides, a tax cut would only benefit me if my business was making a ton of money. But if I was making a ton of money, that’s a good thing, why would I worry about my tax bill?

However, if the opposite happens, and my business fails. Not having healthcare would surely hurt. That’s why I worry about it a lot more.

Bad Calls: Sports and Politics

I’ve been watching a lot of sports lately because I am part of a fantasy football league, the Giants are in the championship, and Jeremy Lin.

The similarities that I notice between sports and politics is that even when we have the tools and technology necessary to prevent bad officiating, the governing bodies refuse to use it.

In sports, cameras can fly across the football field on wires, capture in slow motion a 100mph pitch, and zoom into the sweat rolling down a basketball player’s face. Yet, even as viewers at home can clearly see a missed call, the rules in sports is to allow the officials, who are mere mortals, have the last say.

This makes watching sports almost unbearable. The integrity of a game is compromised, and the outcome is a joke.

The same happens in politics.

While we have footages, audio recordings, and databases of information to easily prove without a doubt when a politician lies — we never use it to any real capacity.

What’s even worse is when politicians write laws and make policies that directly violate known facts, we still allow it.

Too lazy to complete my thought. But there.

Sin Taxes: Cigarettes Tax and Soda Tax

It seems that nothing unites people of differing political views more than when local city governments tries to ban or impose a tax on consumer goods.

Two recent examples:

– Bloomberg’s New York ban on oversized soda
– California’s proposed tax on cigarettes

What bothers me about these situations is that people always argue that personal freedom is at stake. But in my opinion, in these scenarios, personal freedom is already at stake.

Companies who make these products, through their marketing, spend billions of dollars every year attacking your personal freedom. They figure out what makes you tick psychologically. They know what color makes you hungry. They know what time you came home from work. They know what you eat for dinner. They know what you watch on TV. And they use all of that to advertise to you.

Sure.. go ahead… you can pretend like you are better than everyone else and delude yourself into believing that it does not affect you. Or you can even cling to the false notion that “you” still make your own choices.

But beyond you, in society as a whole, we are all victims. Think about it. When was the last time you went to a restaurant and your choices weren’t “Coke” or “Pepsi”. Starbucks Coffee anyone?

I am not saying it’s a terrible life. I am not even arguing that there is a better alternative. Honestly I love starbucks, for their restrooms and convenience.

But please, don’t bullshit me and pretend like a “soda tax” or a ban on large sodas would be the first time someone infringe on your personal freedom. We’re all so far up corporate America’s ass, I don’t think many of us know what personal freedom is.

Case and point. When California first proposed the tax on cigarrettes, a majority of Californian supported the measure. Then tabacco companies spent millions of dollars on TV ads. Guess what? The measure lost.

So what happened there? Did people exercised their personal freedom to watch and believe TV ads? Is that what personal freedom is… the freedom to be persuaded by whoever spends the most money on ads? Really?

Healthy Food vs Overweight Kids

The other day, the local news channel, Fox40 (I hate it, but it’s the ONLY local news channel in Sacramento) had this segment on how “sooo many” school districts are burdened by the new healthy school lunch rules.

They say that kids are filling garbage cans with healthy food, and not getting enough nutrients to keep them alert and active all day.

While I believe that there may be some problems with the program, and there could be a lot of improvements because it is a relatively new movement, I am willing to bet a lot of the complaints are unwarranted and most likely related to partisan politics. But that’s a topic for another blog post.

Today I read an article on NPR: http://www.npr.org/2012/09/23/161584477/at-school-overweight-children-carry-a-heavy-burden

It basically reports that overweight children incur a cost to schools because they require more health care, special accommodations, counseling, and academic help.

So there you have it. Either we work together to provide a healthier meal plan for kids, or we pay for it when they become unhealthy.

The choice here is pretty obvious.