Saturday, July 30, 2016

The President has 6 Buttons

In this election, before we focus on whom to vote for, can we talk about what we want in the first place ?

--- In response to my above statement - the discussion kept going in a whatsapp group , and finally I had to get to a long-form article, and here we are on the blog. Hope to revise this draft soon, but you get the gist in the meanwhile. I will probably leave the casual language as it is .. to keep the original intent of convincing a friend.---

You made me think a little more on what I want.

It was long time pending, to pen this article..
I used to say every President has 6 buttons on their desk. They don't have time to play with all of them at any time. Sometimes, one-term is not even enough to press one button. And, what they press on - shapes us for ever.
I got home as fast as I could today from work - thanks to a button that Eisenhower pressed in the 50s.. more than 65 years ago !

Finally, put the detailed thought in categorization. Here is an easy way to remember. The six buttons are IBCDEF - Immigration, Benefits, Culture, Defense, Economy/Energy, and Future.

1) Immigration
Having started as a country of Immigrants, this is uniquely differentiating factor for this country. That is the reason I put this on the front. It is the DNA of the country. We can never afford to be anti-immigrant.

For more facts.. A few notable ones..
immigrants’ share of total output was about 14.7 percent over 2009–2011. Note that this is actually larger than immigrants’ 13 percent share of the population.
Unauthorized immigrants are a net positive for public budgets because they contribute more to the system than they take out. (Not saying this is a reason to keep unauth.. just the facts on their impact)

Inc. said .. The most entrepreneurial group in America wasn't born in America

2) Benefits

This is the safety net. Another way to look at it is.. this is the Cost of Progress or I would even say - Cost of Civilization.

In the Jungle or the animal world - there are only two choices - life or death.. The law of survival of the fittest dictates that the unfortunate and the attacked have no choice.

Even in the human world - in the game of life that we all play - everyone is NOT going to be a winner. And, since we have "progressed" through the civilization - we take care of the "losers". I don't intend to use the word "Loser" with a demeaning context at all. This includes all those who never had a chance, who are caught blindsided, who played a fair game and lost (because there will always be winners and losers in a game - as long as you play)

Social Security, Education, Health Care, Minimum Wage on labor - all these policy issues come here. As civilizations progress, the "risk" we take would be reduced through these safety nets.

If you lose a job - would you need easier access to health insurance ?
If you have been in an industry all your life that you lose a job after 30 years - would you need some help in re-tooling yourself ? That is also part of education.

3) Culture
This set defines who we are and how we want to conduct life. We tend to ignore this when there are bigger issues. This keeps re-surfacing generally when other problems are solved.

No Racial discrimination, Abortion, Legalization of Drugs, LGBT/Human Rights, Right to Privacy, Democratic Elections etc.
In another way - these are kind of "rich world problems" as some tend to think of. But again, these define who we are as put in the Constitution.

4) Defense
Regardless of what Aristotle said - Man is NOT a rational animal. We tend to do stupid things. When others do it, we have to stop them. We have to make sure we don't do stupid things.

Military spending, fighting the right wars are part of this category.
Sometimes, we even get crazy enough to shoot our own selves - That is where Guns become a problem too.

Similarly, Foreign Policy shapes who our friends and foes are.

5) Economy and Energy
This is what makes life possible in the modern world - Taxes and Trade on the "Revenue" Side. Energy on the "cost" side and Regulation as a "control valve".

Taxes - source of revenue - how much to collect, whom to collect from - Individual vs. Corporations ? Should rich pay more than those who are not ? Will taxing corporations screw up the creation of jobs?

Trade has been happening for years. This is where the "losers" we talked about earlier are impacted where there needs to be a safety net.

Energy - What sources, how much to depend on internal vs. external sources etc are part of this discussion.

Regulation is like a valve. You open too much and you make a mess with an overflow. You open too little and you constrain the flow. So, this tap needs to be "regulated" depending on market timing.

6) Future

Finally, this section is to think of Future - beyond the current generation that has elected the current government.

Environmental issues like Climate change, Carbon tax etc. and Investments on Infrastructure, Science and technology are a big part of shaping our future.

Tim Berners Lee was working at a government facility - CERN when he created the www. If the government hadn't funded institutions like DARPA - a Department of Defense initiative - I wouldn't be sending this article to you in less than a second after I finished typing. If NASA were not there - SpaceX would NOT be worth $12 Billion today.

This is an area where credit is not given for the government.
Government should have the deep pockets to make long term funding. That is how it is supposed to work. Some bets will be right, some will not.

Now, you decide how you want to press the six buttons and decide who is the best to get to the destination you want.

The buttons to press
1) Immigration - No Wall

2) Benefits - Keep ObamaCare, protect those that are dis-enfranchised by trade with support on education (as I said - not just limited to 4 yr colleges), Also AI/Machine age is coming soon. So, education all the more important.

3) Culture - Keep as is - Try to resolve issues like BlackLives matter amicably and without getting into "rich world problems" - Bathroom laws. The issues will be there, but not too much time to focus on now..

4) Defense - Fight ISIS only on global coalition including the Arabs.
As Bertrand Russell said - War does not determine who is right - only who is left !
More Americans are killed by guns since 1968 than ALL WARS in the HISTORY of AMERICA. Read that statement again. If you don't believe, check out
So, NRA has to be weakened. I am not talking about violating 2nd amendment.
Just that we got to have more common sense laws to take away guns from those who shouldn't be having it in the first place.

5) On Economy and Energy -
Keep it buzzing. Got to do financial transaction tax as source of revenue. Just remember that High Frequency trading is a game played by machines for which the humans pay the cost ! Check out here for more on this..
Nothing crazy on trade. Use the Regulatory Valve appropriately depending on the market !

6) And, as much as climate change is real, this is likely ignored again - at least in the short term. I think we will be busy solving the others that we need another term to get to this fight ! The earth will last another 4 years !

Now, remember - I did NOT talk about the candidates. I just talked about what my destination should be. Now, you tell me if you agree with my destination and who the driver should be !


  1. so you didn't vote for current president. ;-)

  2. This is what a non-politician would appear like. We want an outsider but then we want the outsider to 'behave'.