Saturday, September 21, 2019

Today is Software Freedom Day. Thank you Richard Stallman

Saturday 21 September 2019 is Software Freedom Day.

I would like to thank Richard Stallman for his leadership in bringing Software Freedom from a simple logical idea to the reality Free Software is within the software ecosystem today.

I am saddened by his recent resignations.  In his words it was "over a series of misunderstandings and mischaracterizations".

RMS has characterized himself as "borderline autistic". I believe that while I am near that border, he exhibits far more traits.  My only hope is that we will eventually have a future where the celebration of diversity includes neurodiversity, and there will no longer be so much anger from some communities directed toward us.

The ages of adulthood

While the 18to8 campaign might be seen as humorous by some, there are reasons to be giving serious thought to the variety of ages that younger people are allowed to join adulthood.

A few examples:
  • On 1 May 2008, the age of consent in Canada was raised from 14 to 16.
  • In Ontario you can apply for a G drivers license at 16.
  • Voting age is 18
  • Drinking age is 19 in most of Canada, 18 in Alberta, Manitoba and Quebec

There is a huge benefit to society for young people to feel involved and responsible in decisions about their lives, so being involved in politics early seems obvious.  Of all these activities, the age one can vote should be lowest.

I don't understand the logic of increasing the age of consent from 14, and it seems quite arbitrary. At least there are some closeness in age exceptions, but this suggest there are predatory issues against younger people that should be made more general rather than this odd fixation some people have on genital sex. A 20+ year old person scamming a 14 year old out of money should also be considered a more serious offence.

The difference I find the least logical is having the drinking age be higher than the driving age.  While mistakes such as excessive drinking can be harmful to the health of the individual over the long term, mistakes during driving can be harmful (even immediately fatal) to far more people.  The idea that people have a drivers license when they are first learning how to limit themselves with alcohol seems like a very bad idea.  Logically these ages should be reversed.

Of all the ages the oldest should be for driving, so if 16 makes sense for driving then age of consent, voting and drinking age should all be lower (14 or below).  Of course, it is entirely possible that driving at 16 doesn't make sense.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Federal Election 2019: Right-wing parties and leadership

Personally I vote based on which person can best represent me in parliament.  While their party affiliation might make it harder for them to do that, my voting for them should never be misinterpreted as an endorsement of their party.  Having participated in and monitored committees and monitoring parliament over the years, I've observed that party affiliation is a poor indicator of where an MP stands on the policy proposals that I will be advocating around.

At the dissolution of the 42nd parliament, there were 6 parties which had at least 1 MP associated with them (The CCF is not a registered political party, so Erin Weir makes that 9 independents).  I'm going to divide the parties into pairs of parties on the right, middle, and left in the political spectrum.

Right-wing parties and leadership

Those of us who participated in the 2017 Conservative Leadership election will already have formed their opinion on Andrew Scheer who won that election, and Maxime Bernier who was in close second place.  We were asked to rank the candidates, and I researched all the candidates as I intended to rank the maximum 10 of the 14 candidates.  Andrew Sheer was 8th on my ballot, and Maxime Bernier was 9th.

Having received 49.05% on Round 13 of the Instant Runoff Voting system to Andrew Sheer's 50.95%, Mr. Bernier did the childish thing and (took his ball and went home.. err) formed his own party: The People's Party of Canada.  (I'm aware of there is a bit more that happened, but the narrow loss of the leadership race was the spark).

Neither of these candidates were people I was endorsing, or could stomach as Prime Minister.  I only believed there were still worse options in the 14 candidates.

While I'm a fiscal conservative, I'm also socially liberal and can't stomach socially conservative ideas. While I respected Andrew Sheer's work as Speaker of the House of Commons, a big part of his leadership campaign was to attempt to unite all forms of conservatism.  This was an explicit invitation for Conservatives who felt left out of the Canadian conservative movement under Stephen Harper who refused to allow social conservative issues to be brought forward by MPs.

Whether or not people feel that Andrew Sheer is himself socially conservative (pick your own *ist word) doesn't really matter, as he strongly wanted to bring social conservatives into the Conservative party.  I believe he has been successful, and we should expect the party to be quite different than it was under Harper -- which was also very different than the Progressive Conservative party before the Conservative party was formed.

I'm not convinced Andrew Sheer is a fiscal conservative.  One of the things that you will notice with a far-left fiscal liberal is the believe that the ability-to-pay should be the primary or only criteria for determining how taxes should be paid.  A more centrist or fiscal conservative will be more likely to use tax policy applied to specific goods or activities to be a mechanism to reduce government expenses or otherwise enact government policy.  Consumers purchasing less of these goods or carrying out those activities would in effect also be reducing their own taxes.

Andrew Scheer’s Climate Plan claims it is about technology and not taxes, but any subsidy either reduces fiscal capacity (at a time when the government will be called upon more to deal with the outcomes of the climate crisis), or have to be made up elsewhere: likely in income taxes which are focused on the ability-to-pay and don't help reduce government expenses.

The plan recognizes that the climate crisis is a global issue where we should be helping beyond our boarders, but then provides a so-called "green patent credit" which incentivizes patenting green technologies.  This will only make these technologies more expensive for those majority-world countries that will need cheap green technology the most.  A plan that actually wanted to have a positive global impact would fund patent-free research that could then be cheaply harnessed globally.

If I take Andrew Scheer at his word, his policies are only counterproductive to their intended goal making him an ineffectual leader.  If I am more cynical I could believe that Andrew Scheer disagrees with the vast majority of evidence of the impacts of the climate crisis, and human influence on it.

This could also only be only about jobs in strategic Conservative ridings, and that as leader he is willing to risk the Canadian economy and embarrass Canada on the international stage to theoretically protect a few jobs for partisan purposes.  If this sounds familiar, it should as this is the type of scandalous behavior the Conservatives are hypocritically using to attack the Justin Trudeau Liberals.

These are only a few examples of why I consider Andrew Sheer to be a social conservative, fiscal liberal - the opposite type of conservative than I am.

As much as I dislike Andrew Scheer, I ranked Maxime Bernier lower.  While I disagree with much of what Mr. Scheer believes in, I could at least tell where he stood.  Mr. Bernier seems to have no grounded political philosophy and will twist with the political winds around him (populist squeaky wheels and all).  He claims to be a libertarian, but when I was watching him closely as Minister of Industry I saw considerable evidence to the contrary -- and that he was willing to further perpetuate big-government manipulation of marketplaces, including in telecommunications.

Mr Bernier wishes to debate about what percentage of climate change is man-made.   While it might be legitimate for scientists to haggle over the exact percentage, there is no room for debating that the economy is 100% man-made.  It seems ludicrous to me that we would not make our economy more efficient and resilient, such as by reducing cost externalization and subsidies that benefit the energy sector,  regardless of the exact percentage of climate change that is man made.

Anyone that doesn't take the inevitable impacts of the climate crisis seriously, and isn't willing to make minor adjustments to the 100% man-made economy to minimize the harm to humanity (including to the economy), is not worth taking seriously.