December 28, 2008

Logical Constitutional Reform - Universal Suffrage

Many countries claim to have granted universal suffrage, but none have. Even in the United States, there are three ways in which the right to vote can and should be extended.

1) Allow those in jail to vote. This improves oversight by politicians of the treatment of prisoners. It helps with the reintegration of convicts into society, rather than further separating them. And it removes the ability of politically-minded judges to disenfranchise the poor by jailing them.

2) Allow anyone living in the country to vote. New Zealand, for example, allows all permanent residents to vote in all elections. Some other countries or individual provinces or states allow non-citizen residents to vote in municipal and other subnational elections. The slogan "No taxation without representation" sounds stupid to anyone who has legally lived and worked and built a business for decades in the United States, paying property taxes and municipal taxes and school taxes and state taxes and federal taxes and employment taxes, and yet is not allowed to vote at any level. (And I speak as someone who is in that position, and unable to get a Green Card, let alone citizenship.)

3) Abolish the minimum voting age. It isn't "universal" if 17-year-olds can't vote. Why not open registration up to any child that is interested in voting and able to register and vote unassisted? They will tend to vote the same as their parents, but they will be able to vent teenage dissatisfactions and frustrations, implement cultural shifts, and make politicians more responsive to issues of education and poverty.

Universal suffrage. Everyone says how wonderful it is. It would be nice if someone actually tried it.

December 26, 2008

Logical Constitutional Reform - Judges

What if dentists were accredited, not through studying and passing exams, but through popular elections based on their promise to be painless?

What if engineers were accredited to design and build bridges, not after assessment of their competence by experts in the engineering profession, but through popular election based on their party affiliation?

Then why on earth should judges be elected? And if elected, why by people who know and care nothing about the legal system, and are merely voting a straight party ticket?

Judges could be subject to a recall process if they prove to be flawed, but they should appointed or elected by their Bar Association.

December 24, 2008

Logical Constitutional Reform - Pardons

If the President orders Administration officials to perform an illegal act, and the Court convicts and sentences the officials, is it reasonable that the President should be able to pardon them?

This situation creates a de facto process for the President to operate illegally without facing any penalties if caught.

At the very least, the President's ability to pardon should be restricted to offenses that occurred before he became President... or four years before that, to cover illegal acts in election campaigns.

December 16, 2008

Throwing Shoes at Bush

Muntadar al-Zaidi is a hero who speaks for millions of us in the United States, as well as millions in Iraq.

The 28-year-old journalist has previously been held for questioning twice by US forces, and was kidnapped and questioned by unknown persons who beat him unconscious. He knew what he was risking by throwing shoes at Bush.

Since being taken into custody this time he has apparently suffered a broken arm, broken ribs and internal bleeding.

Unconfirmed stories have Adnan Hamad, former coach of the Iraqi soccer team, offering $100,000 for the shoes, and a Saudi citizen offering $10 million.

Zaidi is a hero. Reward him.

December 10, 2008

Memory and DNA

The New Scientist in November 2008 suggested that long-term memory may be stored in the DNA.

Although the study that they reference was done on the brains of mice, I think it also raises the question of whether "junk DNA" throughout the entire body might not have some memory storage capacity. How vast our memory might be!

Depending on when this memory-storage trick was developed, elephants and whales (with enormous brains and enormous bodies) might well have even vaster memories.

If the whole body is used for storing memory, then cryonics organizations should review their policies on whole-body versus head-only preservation techniques.

December 8, 2008

Bringing Haitian Democracy to Canada

Sure, it's cute for Canada to have appointed a Governor-General who is a black female immigrant. But you know man, there is actually a serious function to the mostly ceremonial position, and that function requires a person who understands the concept of a sovereign parliament.

Canada, unlike Haiti, does not elect or need a President. The Prime Minister is simply that individual who is best able to command the support of a majority of the Members of Parliament. Mr Harper seems to believe that he has been elected President. Governor-General Michaëlle Jean seems to agree, and is allowing him to avoid facing a vote of No Confidence. That action of hers is contrary to the functioning of a parliamentary democracy.

The Liberals and the New Democrats together won both more votes and more seats than the Conservatives in the October 2008 election. If the Liberals and NDP can form a coalition, they are the rightful government.

But perhaps only a person imbued from birth with the cultural values of a parliamentary system, rather than a presidency, can appreciate this.