Saturday, February 5, 2011

My new political affiliation (Or how the Kickstarter model can replace politics)

I hate that hippies are forced to pay for the War on Drugs. And I'm not a hippie.

I also hate that Mormons should have to pay for abortions, pacifists for wars, atheists for religious charities, or Catholics for condoms.

I fall into none of the aforementioned categories, but I just can't square with diverting the fruit of someone's labor to a cause that's abhorrent to them. It creates a situation in which a conscientious objector's only recourse is to completely withdraw from the system, and make no money so she will pay no taxes. Yeah yeah, I'm silly and naive, I know.

I used to think this made me a libertarian. (And by "used to", I mean up until last week, and by "a libertarian", I mean that I ran for statewide office last November on the Libertarian ticket and garnered 12% of the vote.)

I simply accepted the fact that the only way to stop using people as a means to ends in which they were not included was to vote "no" to everything and shut down virtually all taxes. This effectively meant parting with all kinds of noble causes which I truly loved. Sure, I would pay double, triple, or even quadruple my share for a robust and heroic space program that would establish colonies on every scrap of rock we could find, but I can't in good conscience spend the money of an objector on my dream, so it's got to be "no."

Then, yesterday, my eyes were opened.

I started to browse Kickstarter.

When Kickstarter launched, I thought it was about getting people to fund your sock puppet videos or experimental fiction. And that it is. But it is so much more. Yesterday, I discovered that the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU has been raising money on Kickstarter for a variety of things, including an open source lion tracking collar. I gasped.

Here is a project that screams "institutional funding." Lion collars? For real? Isn't the university supposed to apply for government grants for this kind of research?

It's a small thing really. Small like a uranium-235 atom in a fission bomb's core.

At the very least, this is a cool Kantian-ethics-friendly way of raising money. At the most, it could be the end of politics as we know it.

I want a Mars mission and you don't? No problem, because I'm committing 6X the minimum pledge. (I firmly believe NASA would be drowning in cash if they opened a Kickstarter account.)

You're some radical "unschooler" who doesn't believe in public education? Awesome. Most of the citizenry buys in and sends their kids to public schools anyways. In fact, given the choice, most people more than double the minimum pledge. We had less money when we had to compromise with you.

I suspect that the Kickstarter model can't be the answer to everything. I imagine that I'll still oppose certain wars on moral grounds, even if you're happy to fund them.

But I see enough potential in this to give me a weird feeling in my knees.

And in the next election, you can bet I'll be making a Gold Level pledge to the Kickstarter accounts of the candidates who can feel it too.

  Buy me a coffee to support posts like this.

  (Or, you know, a house. If you're just like a bored billionaire or something.)


  1. Sounds like we are on the same page sir -

  2. (Jason, psssst: I know, totally. In Catalonia, they called it "anarcho-syndicalism", but if I don't come at these things like a child and make the article about a website, then no one will read it. We should be friends.)

  3. I'd love to see public schools go this route. Along with your list at the top, I don't think families without children or who home school their children should be required to pay for public school. But allow me to donate, and I might. And I see kids having to go door to door selling candy/popcorn/whatever for band or choir or science class trips. But I don't think I've ever seen the sports teams having to do that... Hmm...

    As far as political views go, I also find myself leaning heavily towards the Libertarians, but I do have a few issues with them. But check out the Constitution Party. It's size makes Libertarians seem like the big dog, but I like what they have to say.

  4. OH! And I think Kickstarter is how the guys developing Diaspora got their funds.

  5. Saluton, Matt!

    I mixed my ballot between constitution and libertarian in the most recent presidential election.

    Mi kredas ke ni estas tre sama.