Radical centrism

I have been thinking about politics a fair amount recently and I have been uninspired by what the parties are saying.  Most people are.  Some democrats argue that we need to protect jobs by limiting free trade, others talk about great social programs without concern for how to pay for them.  Social programs are thought of a sacred by some, even if they do no acheive their goals, of if they cost much more money than they need to.
Republicans talk about free trade (or not if they are trying to win votes in the mid west) without much concern for the environment of the poor.  They seem blind to the ideas that increased GDP could benefit a few privileged people wile leaving poor people behind, and damaging our planet for all of eternity to come.  It is time for some fresh ideas.
Here is my vision: take the best ideas of libertarians, socialists, green party members and any other political persuasion, radial or mainstream and combine it into one coherent political philosophy.  In one line here is the philosophy: we are all free but if you break it, you pay for it.  Here is how it works: Most health problems come from bad diets and everyone is now footing to bill for unhealthy life styles.  So all processed sugar comes with a tax.  Carbon is taxed.  Also income inequality is a problem that keeps may people from living full lives, but traditionally, We try to tax income.  This leads to all sorts of effort to avoid paying taxes. Why don’t we instead try to tax consumption?  You want a yacht?  that’s fine but you will need to pay a tax.  You want a fancy new sports car?  That’s fine but you will help a child good to college by paying a tax.  You want a fourth home?  That’s great that you have done so well for your self.  Now you will help a few homeless people get back on their feet by paying a good sized tax. maybe cable tv could be taxed to pay for fitness programs.  adult sports leagues could be subsidized and promoted by the government.
The other component of this philosophy is that everything needs to be measured to see if it works.  There should be randomized Double blind (if possible) experiments to see what actually helps people get out of poverty, become educated and live better lives.  Research should always be done on programs to see what is working and what is not working.    There should be a focus on innovation and new ideas, but always with evaluation to see if the new ideas are working or not.  universal basic income? lets see if it works.  housing vouchers?  Lets test it.  community mental health centers?  Lets give it a try.
also there should be an element of libertarian paternalism and conscious analysis of choice architecture.  We are all influenced by the world around us.  no choice is unbiased.  We are manipulated at every turn, why not choose to be manipulated in a direction that we would actually want to go?
grocery stores sell things that you might buy on an impulse when you are waiting in line, exhausted from choosing between thousands of products, and a little bored.  why not have a few lines that sell things in the line that would be good to buy on an impulse?  gym memberships? cooking classes?  well researched news magazines instead of fake news.
So here is the Utopian vision: you are fee to do as you want, don’t hurt anybody, if you cause harm, you help pay for the solution and things are set up so that it is easy for you to succeed financially and psychologically.
I have read a ton of interesting ideas:
  • choice architecture
  • learning from our paleolithic ancestors
  • learning from the taurahumara
  • the benefits of community
  • the psychological biases that affect all of us
  • how self control is an expendable resource
  • the role culture plays in shaping ourselves
  • benefits of exercise and walkable communities
  • the appeal of mixed use developments
  • the economic ideas that i have learned about
  • the science of well being.
I think that all of these ideas need to be connected into a coherent political and practical life philosophy that can be explained simply and has the possibility of having a political movement behind it.  There needs to be simple messages and even ideas that could fit into a chant.
the political right in our country has been dreaming about enacting policies promoted by hyack for years.  There is a philosophy that has been shaping the thinking of political leaders.  The left has not had a good enough response.  This could be the next wave of thought.  but it needs some work and some simplification. This is just idea vomit and It is not ready for prime time.
trying to summarize this philosophy in a sentence or two:
  • We are free to live like we want but we pay for harm that we cause and we are nudged to be better humans.
  • The world should be shaped so that it is easy to be a better human (less violent, less polluting, healthier, happier, more social etc) but we are not forced so that we don’t accidentally enter a distopian novel.
what might this look like? if your are born poor, your family will have the option to move to an affordable unit in a mixed income, mixed use neighborhood.  You will have contact with people from different economic groups, your school will have a variety of incomes and abilities.  If you mess your life up, thats ok, there will be tons of mental health options, free college and other resources that are needed.  You will not want for basic needs.
if you are an aspiring entrepreneur, it will be easy to start a business and find mentors.  if you are successful and want to buy nice things, taxes on those nice things will pay for the social programs listed above.
The government will constantly be trying out programs with double blind experiments to see what helps both of these groups.
If you want to drive a polluting car, there will be a big tax.  It you want a mcmansion, there will be a tax.
half the earth will be preserved

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