!! Goertzel in '04 !!

 Ben Goertzel

Ben Goertzel for US President in 2004

Yes, I'm serious.

I am not a politician, and I don't think I would particularly enjoy being President, but I think I would do a vastly better job than any of the current crop of so-called "leaders."

Besides, I could use the $250,000 a year.

I have even invented a buzzword for myself: I am a twenty-first century liberal.

I am pacifist, hi-tech-oriented, decentralizationist, civil-libertarian, and non-fanatically environmentalist.

I would like to run in the Year 2000 elections, but I won't be old enough until I turn 35 on December 8, 2001.

My platform is simple. I want to promote technological advancement, to reduce violence, and to eliminate poverty. I believe that we should preserve what is left of our natural environment; and that government should allow the maximal possible personal freedom for everyone, insofar as is consistent with reasonable progress toward these other goals.

Technology, peace, compassion, nature and freedom -- these things, taken together, will transform the US into a much happier and more productive place.

Furthermore, I believe that government is quite capable of achieving these objectives. The trick is to re-organize government so that it works in a more intelligent and adaptive way.

On Decentralization

The current US government has a serious problem. Its problem is not that it is "too big," but rather that it is too centralized and inflexible. Management consultants, over the past decade, have come to realize that the modern, technological world calls for a decentralized, adaptive approach to administration. It is time to apply these principles to government.

Privatizing government functions is not a solution to the problems of over-centralization and inflexibility. Corporate monopolies and oligopolies are no more flexible and intelligent than big government. Rather, what we need is a government which institutionalizes flexibility and creative experimentation. By decentralizing its functions, and giving independence and control to local organizations, the US government will be able to draw on the full creative power and enthusiastic energy of the American people.

"Decentralization" is not an empty slogan. What it means is breaking down government bureaucracies into small units, which function with substantial independence, and which are judged on results (usually over a period of years) rather than methods. Unsuccessful units are liquidated and their resources used to form new units, which vary creatively on the techniques of previously successful units.

Evolution; creativity; productive chaos -- government with minimal bureaucracy. Is it possible? Why not? We'll never know unless we try.

Instead of complaining about government, let us re-mold it into something exciting, productive, and responsive.


My preliminary platform is as follows. Serious campaigning will begin in 2001.
  • Replace the National Anthem with the Jimi Hendrix version -- My lawyer has informed me that this would involve no change in laws, as the song itself is not being changed. But no, I'm largely kidding on this one -- the anthem is tuneless and militaristic, but there are more important problems to deal with.
  • Gradual international disarmament, supervised by the United Nations. We have displayed leadership in war, now let us display leadership in peace. With international violence out of the picture, we can focus on the health, education and progress of our own people.
  • Drastic decentralization of all government bureaucracies. Diversity and freedom at the local level is necessary in order for effective solutions to social problems to evolve.
  • Referendum-based decision-making. The Internet gives us the ability to decide local and national issues by referendum rather than by votes within legislative bodies. It is foolish not to make use of this ability to implement direct rather than merely representative democracy.
  • Serious education reform, driven not by privatization, but by government funding of innovative schools, made possible by decentralized education administration.
  • A nationwide high technology initiative, driven by increased, decentralized government investment in pure research, and government provision of venture capital for hi-tech start-up firms. Investment in science and technology always provides higher quality of life, in the long term.
  • Independence of cyberspace: the Internet, and whatever it turns into in the future, should not be regulated by any nation's laws.
  • Free food, housing and basic education for all. The state of shelters and soup kitchens in our cities is deplorable. If we treat the poor with respect, they will be far more likely to develop the self-respect needed to end their own poverty. Australia, New Zealand and Canada are models in this regard.
  • Free university education for good students. It works in Europe and Asia.
  • A complete overhaul of the national drug policy. Most drug use is bad, but it is not as bad as mass imprisonment and constant violence on the streets. All natural plant substances should be legalized. Legalization of refined drug substances should be considered as well; and perhaps experimented with on the local level.
  • Private handgun ownership should be outlawed. There is absolutely no need for the US to be such a violent place.
  • Simplify the tax code. Tax deductions may have been a good idea at first, but they have gotten way out of hand, so much that they are currently counterproductive.
  • National, decentralized health care. The current health care system benefits only insurance companies and dehumanizing health care conglomerates. The Australian system is state-funded but decentralized and emphasizes individual choice. A move in this direction is long overdue.
  • Balance the national budget. To have the government paying interest is to have the average person paying the banks and their wealthy shareholders. In effect, this is a regressive tax.
  • Stop destroying the few remaining wild areas of the USA. We are smart enough to develop technologies that produce wealth without destroying so many animals and plants.

You may find this campaign difficult to take seriously.

"Is it a joke masquerading as politics, or politics masquerading as a joke?", you may ask

But think about it -- can't the same question be asked of the whole damn political system???

From a certain perspective of thought, nothing is serious anyway. The world is just virtual.

But life goes on, virtual or not. Decisions are made. The course of human evolution is determined.

We wilfully entrust our future to the greedy, self-centred and shortsighted.

We accept that individual intelligence gives rise to collective stupidity.

It does not have to be so.

Does it?

- Family -