New to Win-Win Democracy? Start Here!
Several people have asked for advice on how to catch up if they’re just starting now with the newsletter. That’s the purpose of this little guide.
If you subscribe (free) to Win-Win Democracy you’ll receive each new issue in your email.
Often, I write several issues on a topic and they flow one to another, almost like they’re chapters in part of a book. This creates two problems for new readers:
You might start subscribing when I’m already underway on a topic and you might want to start from the beginning of the topic. If only you knew where that was.
You might be interested in previous topics. If only you knew what they are.
So, I’ll give you a sort of table of contents, with buttons you can use to go directly to issues on the topic. Before that, I’ll give some advice about mechanics that have tripped up some folks.
How do I read the newsletter on the web?
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Yes, there is a nice app:
How do I get to the next issue?
There is a “Next” button at the bottom of each issue. It looks like this:
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The first time you try to access the newsletter you’ll see this:
Substack, the platform I use to host the newsletter, really wants you to subscribe. I’d like that, too. But, it’s fine if you want to read some of it first: Click on the “Let me read it first” link below the email field and you’ll go straight to the good stuff. On the computer and browser from which you do this, it will remember your choice. If you decide later that you want to subscribe (free) use the subscribe button that appears in every issue.
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Table of Contents
Topic 1: Voting
We’ve been fighting about voting since America’s founding. Most recently, the big fights are about fraud, voter suppression, and gerrymandering of district maps. State legislatures, the US Congress, and courts at many levels are embroiled in the battle.
Topic 2: Taking Stock
Our democracy is at a turning point. We are at great risk of our country turning into an authoritarian oligarchy. In other words, it could become controlled by an authoritarian government, working in service of wealthy individuals and large corporations. This issue paints the big picture and the plan for discussing it.
Topic 3: How Our System Helps Create Oligarchs and Redistributes Wealth Upwards
Our tax system helps create American oligarchs. Want to understand how people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos manage to have so much money? Yes, they earn it, but our tax system lets them keep way more of it than it lets most people keep of what they earn.
Some politicians are fond of talking about “wealth redistribution,” conjuring up an image of wealth being confiscated from hard-working, deserving people like “us” and given it to lazy, undeserving people like “them.” But, in fact, tax breaks deliver large benefits to the highest earners among us in ways that don’t appear in any federal budget and are poorly understood by the public.
Topic 4: Corporations are Doing Great. Why?
Despite a lot of belly-aching, corporations are doing great. They’re earning more and keeping more of what they earn than the have in a long time. Understand why.
Topic 5: Turning Money Into Power
We have a lot of extremely wealthy individuals and large, wealthy corporations. Our campaign finance system lets them turn that money into power without being accountable to anyone. After discussing the problem, I propose some possible solutions that don’t require a Constitutional amendment.
Topic 6: Fixing the Capital Gains Tax Loophole
The special treatment our tax system gives capital gains is the major factor in helping create American oligarchs (see Topic 3). Here’s how to fix it.
Topic 7: Anger and Inequality
Growing economic anger and resentment is a threat to our democracy. As many people struggle economically in a land of plenty, they have become angry and resentful, willing to follow populist, authoritarian political leaders who blame others and subvert democratic institutions to consolidate power.
The data show that most people are struggling more than ever, most Americans earn shockingly little, most Americans have essentially no wealth, and the American dream of upward mobility is dying for many. Yet, Americans in the top 10% of income and wealth are doing better than ever.
We look at what’s happening and why, as well as how inequality reduces our economy’s overall growth.
Topic 8: Understand the Misleading GOP Response to the Inflation Reduction Act
I analyze the masterpiece of propaganda that is Senator Thom Tillis’ response to a letter I wrote asking him to support the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). He takes every possible opportunity to emphasize GOP talking points with innuendo, misleading statements, hypocrisy, and, I’m sorry to say, lies.
Topic 9: Simplifying Taxes to Sustain Democracy
We’ve all been taught by the media that we have a progressive tax system, in which high earners pay a larger percentage of their income than do low earners. But that’s false: After looking at all the taxes to which we’re subject, almost everyone pays roughly the same percentage of their income in taxes, except for the very highest earners, who pay a lower percentage of their income.
How can this be? Our current tax system is complicated and opaque, the better to hide many gifts to high earners.
Radical simplification would be a first step to a tax system that sustains democracy by being perceived as fair. We might still want to subsidize certain people or activities. This can be done in a transparent manner on top of a radically simplified tax system.
Topic 10: Religious Freedom
Some national political leaders and many state and local political leaders are pushing for religion to play a bigger role in America. Whose religion? Well, they don’t usually say it out loud. But you can bet it is not my religion and probably not yours.
These same people are part of a well-funded, systematic effort to reframe religious freedom into a weapon used to impose beliefs on others instead of the shield that the framers intended. Think overturning Roe v. Wade, threatening to overturn access to contraception, etc.
We’ll look at the background and explore some of the seminal Supreme Court cases that are impinging on true religious freedom. We’ll also look at the people and organizations behind this effort to weaponize religious freedom to control others.
Topic 11: Reforming the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has become an instrument of minority rule. We look at the evidence that this is the case in the first newsletter on this topic. In the second newsletter on this topic we look at possible solutions.
Topic 12: Hostage-Taking Using the Debt Ceiling
The debt ceiling is used to take the country hostage demanding spending cuts as ransom. Cutting through the noise, we discuss how it works and possible solutions.
Topic 13: American and Fascism
Creeping Fascism is a serious threat to the future of American Democracy. Too many of us are ignoring the warning signs.
Is Donald Trump a fascist? Could we possibly be electing a fascist as our next president?
Topic 14: Thinking About Artificial Intelligence
Here’s my the roadmap for this topic:
Discuss some examples using ChatGPT and new Bing to get a sense of what they can do and how well they work. These are all the rage right now and it is easy to get sucked in by a lot of hype in the popular press.
Review the history of AI. AI began moving beyond science fiction in the mid-1950s and has progressed in fits and starts ever since. There are many lessons to learn from the history of AI efforts that will inform our understanding today. The landscape is strewn with over-promise and under-deliver, yet we are all benefiting from some impressive and useful successes.
Learn about today’s AI technology. The technology behind ChatGPT is in some sense both extremely sophisticated and extremely simple. The simple aspect is that a relatively few fundamental concepts applied at large scale can produce amazing capabilities that are hard to fathom, so much so, that if you ask the question how did — name your AI — do that, the answer might be we don’t know.
Speculate about how AI could evolve, how it could be useful, and what dangers could lie ahead.
Connect our understanding of AI to the issues of economics and democracy that we’ve discussed previously. Explore possible solutions to controlling the impact of AI.
Should we regulate AI?
Last updated on Saturday, May 20, 2023