DAVID BRIN's political and economic essays

even more solutions (that might work!) to so many problems (we wish would go away!)

These viewpoints are not classically partisan; they are suggestions, seeking a broader perspective. After all, intractable problems often require multiple solutions from millions of minds, persistently applied.


measuring our beliefs

memes: the new weapon of war

Naturally, we needn't look at this struggle over human hearts and minds as a "war." When Brin called it that in a speech at Brigham Young University in 1989, few had heard about memetics. At the time, we were in the final phase of a Cold War waged mainly through propaganda. So warning about a coming meme war was intentionally a bit provocative. Subsequent events have established "Survival of the Fittest Ideas" as a predictive hit.

America's second Civil War

an all-too-real culture war

None of the observations Brin offers can be made to fit the most pervasive, misleading and mind-numbing political metaphor of all time: the left-right political axis, which trivializes complex issues, masking their inconsistencies and contradictions. Yet, we cling to obsolete oversimplifications because they have proved effective at just one thing: enforcing alliances between people who disagree deeply about everything excepting their hatred for a common enemy. This is how our quadrennial culture war was fought.

crowdsourcing politics

wage smarter politics

For those who want to fight for the Enlightenment, in order to keep those values alive, here are David Brin's suggestions. A few of these recommendations will be aimed at political parties, while the rest are for concerned citizens. We must find ideas that will work to end the culture war, and we will find them because Ideas R Us, and because we have got to get on with Civilization.

Gen. George Marshall at Harvard

a real 20th century miracle man!

In 1999 Time Magazine had crowds throng to its web site eagerly voting for who should be named "Person of the Century." Brin's pick was George Marshall, who — as he explains in "My Candidate for Person of the Century" — gave the world a few decades of respite from the slaughterhouse of ideologues like Hitler and Stalin.

Marshall was also the strategist behind a miraculous event that happened seventy years ago — when liberals and Democrats went through a wrenching, painful self-transformation to preserve that hard-won peace.

truth is truth even if no one believes it

truth and reconciliation

Should President Obama and the Congressional Democrats have pushed for truth and reconciliation investigations, as David Brin proposed in these essays, when the malfeasance and turpitude and skullduggery merely ruined our economy? Amid an atmosphere of rancorous culture war, we cannot expect the core rulers of the GOP to negotiate in good faith, as a loyal opposition, to punish the wicked and restore trust.

Guantanamo prisoners

our POW problem

What to do with the prisoners currently held in Guantanamo? Or others we might capture amid a war without borders or fronts? Calling the violent men in Guantanamo "POWs" does not mean they can be tortured. They must be treated according to Geneva protocols. But it does mean they can be held indefinitely, in a military facility on American soil, so long as hostilities continue in a plausible state of war

economics of opportunity and outcomes

will an emperor ever acknowledge his wardrobe malfunction?

Every election American taxpayers watch, wait, and hope for the candidate who will turn to the camera and say, "Of course the rich pay too little tax!" — and just like that Supply Side economics would end. In "The Fairness Divide: Intervention That Liberals and Conservatives Can Agree On," Brin looks what we could choose to replace it with. Do we prefer interventions that increase opportunity for all, or interventions that aim at fairness in outcomes?

tax forms

time to talk taxes

David Brin's blog post on how to improve our current tax system got picked up by both Pop Sci and io9. He expanded on it and turned it into an article here: "The 'No-Losers' Tax Simplification Proposal."

brass bulls

why stock trading is not positive-sum

What's a Transaction Fee, why do we need it, and how would it save us from the "Terminator"? The answers to these questions — and to a number of other economic conundrums — may surprise you! But those computerized parasitical systems will howl in agony! Thus, it will give you a better chance to gain from your own savvy and insight, when you log into your E-Trade account.

Afghan war

our 'forgotten' quagmire war

The principal goal that Osama bin Laden had in mind, in perpetrating the crimes of 9/11, was to lure America into an extended, interminable quagmire of attrition in the "land where empires go to die." If you were a foe of the United States, you would study which past errors almost destroyed America — the Civil War and Vietnam.

Lincoln at Gettysburg

can we resolve to maintain our Union?

One side of our national character hungers for change and tomorrow, treats the range of possible futures as ambition-attracting terra incognita, and prepares our children for a boundless future. It is our dedicated proposition, our mission. But there is an opposing passion — the temptation to wallow in nostalgia, romanticism, sanctimony, authority and the comforting rigidity-of-caste that dominated nearly every other civilization, across 6000 years. It was called feudalism and humanity's greatest heroes fought to liberate us from that beastly, limiting and dismal way of life.

Russian-Ukranian war

how democrats and republicans wage war

This essay's topic is war. I will concede that we are at least another generation away from abolishing the foul practice, at long last. Until then, wars will happen — as today's primitive nations and angry peoples jostle for advantage, as shortages of resources, even water, propel rising tensions, and as fierce cultural drivers that ignite the worst violence. Instead, let's focus on how our two U.S. political parties differ in the ways they wage war — their distinctions in doctrine, policy, professionalism, style and effectiveness.

gop iconography

the GOP is losing wars while winning battles

What makes the Republicans so successful at building unlikely coalitions? How are they able to bring together groups that — on the surface — have nothing to gain in becoming allies? Strictly in terms of practical realpolitik, that accomplishment merits respect and careful study, the kind of respect any foe ought to give, if grudgingly, to opponents who can reinvent themselves, adopt compelling new messages, recognize unlikely opportunities, and seize the slimmest advantages — the kind of respect that precedes an effective effort to fight back.

the 1/3 option

the case for a cheerful nonpartisan voter

Most third-party and non-partisan voters know — far better than others — that the hoary old left-right political spectrum is worse than useless. Alas, some of the "better alternatives" only serve to muddy the waters. This speech-transcript to the Libertarian convention offers a few insights into the paradoxical appeal of ideology that could be useful for any truly alternative party.

dem iconography

even failure can have positive effects

For the last three decades the American people — when polled in a neutral manner — tend to prefer Democratic positions on policies, like transparency, low-secrecy, accountability, energy research, moderate environmentalism, tolerance of individual eccentricities, and responsible attention to international affairs. BUT the Republican Party has proved incredibly adept at using politically innovative tactics to win despite these policy disadvantages: Democrats won the Presidency in 2008 and again in 2012, but succumbed again in 2016. In 2005 Brin wrote "How Progressives Can Win Back America", which proposed both strategic and concrete plans. Perhaps it's time for a re-read?

when you need a doctor

an unhealthy balancing act

What people tend to ignore is that all health care systems practice rationing. There is simply no way to avoid it, as we all would pay any price, for any chance of health. We’ll take our dying loved one to the best doctor, period, and screw the price and screw second best. The chief difference between the US and the rest of the civilized world is that we let profit-driven insurance companies do the rationing, and they do it based solely on profit considerations and whatever they can get away with.

ceo salaries are out of line

the cheating ceo cartel

Are we slipping into a putsch-coup by a conspiratorial oligarchy? The patron deity of capitalism, Adam Smith, declared that the very worst enemies of markets (far worse than socialism), are conniving aristocrats and top lords of finance. We cannot continue to ignore the cheat that brought us the Great Recession and provoked public wrath. This cheat goes deeper than any problem of excessive-leverage, or negligent mismanagement, or failures of regulation.

the new American aristocracy

end democracy and bring back lords?

Can we expect calm, measured and enlightened rule from the New Lords who are — even now — making their moves to restore the ancient social order, and replace the middle class and its diamond-shaped social order with a traditional pyramid of owner-lord privilege? Of course not. For every Lorenzo de Medici or Henry Plantagenet there were thousands of fools who let flatterers talk them into believing ego-stroking stories — that they were lords because of their own genius, or inherent superiority, or God-given right.

the Brown Bess

guns and the insurrection myth

The issue of guns in America seems intransigent. But polls show that most Americans don’t wish to eliminate personal gun ownership, they simply want more accountability. Here is a possible compromise, one of many. Moderate gun owners just might accept reforms that treat most personal weapons like motorcars — including registration, mandatory training, licensing and insurance — if they were also offered some surety against the dreaded slippery slope.

inspectors and investigators

we need inspectors & investigators!

Should we establish a new and important post, the office of Inspector General of the United States? Far from creating another vast new bureaucracy, this proposal would utilize current Inspectors General, already charged with examining operations and issuing warnings — or else stepping in more vigorously when things get out of hand. The problem? Nearly all of these inspectors owe their jobs and paychecks to the very same secretaries and directors who head the agencies they are charged to scrutinize. Often they are appointed pals, ensuring partiality and conflict of interest.

James Madison quote

what kind of wars do we wage?

We should distinguish between two kinds of foreign intervention — those that are like "emergency room" operations and others that more resemble "elective surgery." If the nation must sacrifice its warriors, its treasury, its international goodwill and peace of mind, then we should be called upon to mobilize, as our ancestors did, rich and poor, to willingly pay whatever must be paid. If convinced, millions would step up to enlist. And the rich would, as in times past, come forward to offer billions. Whether a projection of force is an emergency operation or an elective enforcement of national policy, truthful evaluation of short and long term costs is essential.

wall street

8 causes of the deficit, decoded

To many U.S. voters, one issue towers foremost — the Fiscal Cliff of rising public debt. Frightened by the much-worse debt crises in Greece, Spain etc, Americans fret about floods of red ink that reached more than a trillion dollars a year under George W. Bush, and that have gone down only slightly under Barack Obama. Want to invest some time into understanding the deficit and the debt? Brin lists and appraises the EIGHT major reasons that deficit so quickly grew. We need to understand these 8 factors — how they happened, and how the decisions were made — before we're lulled into another cliff-dive.

voters as change-makers, not pawns

other viewpoints, other voices

Politics is for Power, by Eitan Hersh

The Democracy Owners' Manual, by Jim Shultz

The Gardens of Democracy, by Eric Liu and Nick Hanauer

The Embattled Vote in America, by Allan J. Lichtman

Why They Marched, by Susan Ware

Democracy for Realists, by Christopher H. Achen and Larry M. Bartels

The Death of Expertise, by Tom Nichols

Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections), by Stephen Prothero

Confronting Political Intimidation and Public Bullying, by Roddey Reid

#AmazonCommissionsEarned

a brief intro to science fiction author DAVID BRIN

To learn more, visit his books page, or see his "about me" page or detailed biography.

DAVID BRIN author

novels

David Brin's science fiction novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!). Learn More


shorter fiction

Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form. Learn More


Contrary Brin blog

Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore. Learn More


social media influencer

Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages. Learn More

DAVID BRIN scientist

scientist

David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research. Learn More


transparency expert

Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Learn More


speaker & consultant

Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 300 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings. Learn More


future/tech advisor

Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More

Contacting BRIN

All the Ways in the World to Reach David Brin

an ornery, contrary BLOG, and other insightful wormholes!

Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's incendiary posts on science, sci-fi and politics and its engaged, opinionated community poke at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate — and infuriate. See for yourself, and if you like — subscribe for more.

Questions? Concerns? Email DAVID BRIN at mail@davidbrin.com


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