Saturday, March 12, 2016

Had Hillary been Herman - The heartbreaking truth about American feminism

In response to Lauren Besser's article Had Bernie been Bernadette — The heartbreaking truth about American patriarchy and the many other articles I've seen on social media posted by my feminist friends.

I have never to my knowledge received a legitimate death threat that warranted FBI involvement. I don’t really know truly and personally what it feels like to treated as a second-class person. However, I have for my entire adult life known and supported female friends, who have struggled with body image issues, eating disorders, and wage gaps. I have seen the aftermath of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. I have on occasion called out male friends for making derogatory comments. I have made amateurish attempts to coach these female friends out of depression or in less severe cases through the anxiety induced by unnecessary social pressures at school and work.

I am, as best as I understand the word, a male feminist. I want a world where women don’t need to wake up an hour earlier in the morning get their hair and make up just right before going to work. I want a world where sexual violence is never blamed on the victim, or better yet it isn’t a default concern of half the population. I want to live in a country where a politician’s credentials, record, and character are their key to success – not their race, gender (identity), sex(-ual orientation), or other physical features.

In order to achieve this in my lifetime (or at least in the lifetime of my unborn grandchildren), we need to truly and fundamentally shift how society approaches these issues. We need not just one change agent, but many of them operating in earnest at all levels of society, business, and government.

It is with this understanding that I am growing continually frustrated with my many female/feminist friends, who are continually posting/sharing articles supporting Hillary as a true change agent, based on her credentials as a woman. (Or conversely, that Bernie is not the right choice for feminists - or any of the other many gender-related permutations of this conversation.) If Hillary had been born as Herman (and chose to remain as Herman as a gender identity), would you still admire her (or in this case his) credentials?

In one of the many articles considering where a feminist should stand on the Bernie or Hillary question, Lauren Besser poses/answers the questions:

“Are the sins of our institutions so terrible? Yes. Are those sins more terrible when committed by a woman? Seems so.”

I think she and other feminists (of any gender) would be better off asking themselves, “Do you want to change the system? Or do you want to have merely appeared to change the system?”

I would also suggest that these questions could also apply to many other issues, not the least of which being climate change, which all things being status quo means women should expect to be disproportionately impacted for generations to come.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

A Call for Universal Human Dignity


As we stand on the shoulders of giants and the progress of human innovation steadily ratchets up the ceiling on the realm of possibility, human society must vigilantly attend to the foundation on which that innovation was permitted to thrive, lest both crumble. As we continue to accrue the technological capital to allow a few in our society to approach a power that our ancestors would have considered god-like, we have the responsibility to ensure that even the lowest among us are able to live beyond the means of the kings of those same ancestors. It is with these sentiments that a call is issued for society to pursue and preserve a universal dignity for all of its members.

Tenets of Universal Human Survival

While nature abhors permanence and no individual being will live forever, the threshold of dignity cannot be bestowed upon someone who is unable to survive. Therefore, to support human dignity, these tenets of Universal Human Survival should be sought first and foremost for current and future generations.
1.          Clean Water, Air, and Food
2.         Basic Healthcare and Exercise
3.          Personal Safety and Shelter
4.         Reproductive Agency

Tenets of Universal Human Dignity

To ensure that no person is subjected to mere subsistence or servitude and that each person is able to experience as dignified an existence as nature will allow, a mutual bond between humans living in a free and modern society must concede the following tenets of human dignity to each individual member of society so long as it does not preclude the survival or dignity of another or put an undue burden on the society as a whole or the environment that supports it.
1.          Information and Education
2.         Communication and Expression
3.          Organization and Identification
4.         Mobility and Exploration
5.         Creation and Productivity

The Call

Similar to the physical laws of the universe, human society must counter entropy with work to prolong the values that we hold most dear. It is only through persistence of innovation and quality of character that human greatness can forestall the perils of time. By asking to ensure the rights of current and future generations, these Tenets do not leave room for waste, sloth, or pollution. However, where and whenever circumstances and technology permit, society should endeavor to cleave the tenuousness of human survival and dignity from unstable economic pressures, leaving only as much linkage as is necessary to perpetuate the institutions and systems that support Universal Human Dignity.

This is the first section of a longer document I wrote, originally published on the Revolutionary Peace Blog.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Climate Change Pledge

Hello Readers,

I would like to propose a simple climate change pledge that all politicians seeking elected office should be willing to take. Over the past several years, a number of members of congress and other public officials have made wild pledges, which have entrenched their political positions, such as the now infamous Grover Norquist pledge to never raise taxes. However, pledges to never or always do something are absurdly rigid in the face of an ever changing society and economy. Instead, I would like to propose the following pledge:
I acknowledge that the overwhelming scientific evidence indicates that human society and technology have the ability to influence and change the Earth's climate on a global scale, and I will consider the potential impacts of climate change, among other factors, when executing the duties of my office.
I believe that any elected official, who is not able or willing to make such a basic claim, is not fit to serve in office in the 21st century. If you agree with this sentiment, please contact to your elected officials and candidates, to kindly request that they take this pledge.


Sean Diamond

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Data Privacy & Decoupling Communications Utilities

Hello Readers,

I will start by acknowledging that this is the topic is a little outside of the sphere of my normal sustainability discussions. However, as more and more communications and data privacy issues have come to light over the past year, I have become increasingly concerned about the social and political ramifications of what governments and certain corporations are doing on the Internet. Because of the prevalence of these issues in the news, I will limit my preambulatory commentary.

The Internet is a technology and a concept that is so far beyond the wildest imagination of people in the 18th and 19th centuries that we need to explicitly address it in the US constitution, so that societal expectations for the Internet are clear. Therefore, I propose that we amend the US constitution to address and protect the inherent, unwritten freedoms that have thus far been the hallmark of the public Internet. While I will not attempt to offer specific wording for such an amendment, I suggest the following tenets of an amendment:
  • Decoupling Communications Utilities: There should be a clear distinction between media content providers and communications infrastructure providers. In the same way that many states have now 'deregulated' electricity markets by drawing a line between owners of electric generators and grid operators to ensure that monopolies are as limited as possible, the Internet should be similarly segregated. It should be illegal for owners of communications infrastructure (e.g. broadband networks, cable providers, telephone lines, cellular networks) to create, provide, and develop the data or media content that is transmitted across its own infrastructure. Similarly, communications infrastructure owners should not be allowed to offer preference to content providers or charge variable rates based on the type of content that is transmitted.
  • Data Privacy from the Government: The United States Federal government should pass and enforce laws that promote the active protection of the data, content, and information that is created, held, and transmitted by its people. As a matter of the Rule of Law, this protection requires the US government to provide a transparent judicial mechanism for reviewing attempts by US government agents to acquire citizens' data (as though data were physical property) as provided for by the 4th Amendment of the constitution.
  • Data Privacy from Corporations: The US government should pass and enforce laws that protect its citizens' data from foreign and domestic corporate interests. The invasive and often secretive nature through which data is collected and redistributed over the Internet is unacceptable. Recognizing that some citizens may be interested in risking the trade-offs related to disclosing their data to reap the potential benefits of 'big data', it might be fair enough to create an opt-in 'tracking allowed' list. Such a list could allow people to be tracked when corporations explicitly notify them that they (and their data) are being tracked and where their data is being sent. Furthermore, corporations should be required to regularly provide their users access to a record of all the data that has been collected about themselves. Finally, people should be able to opt-out of such a list at any time for any reason without the possibility of legal action.
I'm sure their are many other possible issues to address with regard to the Internet. However, I have found the above issues the most troubling with the greatest possible 'slippery slope' consequences.


Sean Diamond

Saturday, February 22, 2014

A Sustainable Minimum Wage

Hello Readers,

In President Obama's 2014 State of the Union, the issue of moving the minimum wage closer to a living wage was deemed a top priority by the administration. I have had a few ideas for ensuring a more sustainable minimum wage by tying it to other monetary values. Here are two options:
  • Political Contribution Limits: I propose that annual political contribution limits should be legally tied to the Federal minimum wage. Specifically, individuals and corporations should not be allowed to give annual political contributions that exceed the weekly salary of someone earning the minimum wage and working full-time. To be clear, the limit to political contributions for individuals and corporations should be the limit for the total amount of contributions to all PAC's, candidates, parties, etc. This would serve a dual purpose of limiting the money in politics and provide an incentive to keep the minimum wage at a reasonable level.
  • Congressional Salaries: I propose to set the minimum wage as 12% of the standard Congressional salary. In 2014, the annual Congressional salary is $174,000, which would mean that someone working full-time and earning the minimum wage would earn $20,880 annually. In other words, the hourly minimum wage would be $10.04! This would also ensure that the minimum wage would be regularly adjusted (unless members of Congress turn down their own annual raises).
Just some thoughts on how to make the US economy more sustainable.