Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Unhappiness and Progress

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You may be aware that several Wall Street millionaire's are serving prison time for insider trading.  One who didn't was pretty outrageous.  He bet heavily against his own company and then sent out (false) information about his big railroad co. that drove the stock down so he made a killing when the stock rebounded.  Instead of going to jail he was actually celebrated for his cleverness.  Of course, that was in the 1800's when it was all perfectly legal.  There has been progress on our thinking about what is ethical. 

Some may feel like Ogden Nash that "Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long".  P
rogress doesn't just happen in technology, it also happens in our approach to government.  All of human progress depends on people looking around them and saying - this is bad, really bad.  And the most effective are usually the angriest that things are not as good as they could be.  Very upsetting if all you want is anodyne comments to the effect of how wonderful everything is.  Thomas Paine was a pain and criticized everyone for not living up too his standards, and the founders of the constitution just took a mild suggestion to talk and wrote the constitution because they were massively unhappy with the Confederation of States.  Steve Jobs was notoriously difficult to please, arrogant, and hypersensitive if things weren't right.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man." (George Bernard Shaw)

I am writing this because I saw my name used in vain.  It was a back-handed compliment saying I "usually" stayed close to facts.  Thanks.

Of course, that was a warm up to criticizing my attempt to make sense (to myself, at least) of the kerfuffle about Pat Meyering by attributing it to partisanship.  Otherwise I can't make senses of it.  To me, it seems much ado about nothing.  If the rest of the City Council just let him have his say he'd be done in a few minutes and no-one would particularly note what he said.  Instead they make as much noise as possible to ensure the entire South Bay is aware of his (and several other's) contention that Sunnyvale risks looking like a "pay-to-play" city.  All in an election year so they make sure that he becomes a polarizing figure during what would otherwise be an unexceptional election. (Summary here:)

The claim was further made that I ignored a "fact" that a several hundred dollars campaign contribution isn't a conflict of interest.  A fact is something like "Sacramento is the capital of California".  Whether campaign contributions produce a conflict of interest is a matter of opinion and law.  With all the reporting requirements of state agency the FPPC (Fair Political Practices Commission) it would appear that the state does consider the possibility of an appearance of conflict of interest.  Otherwise, why require the publication of campaign contribution information?  And why does the Federal Election Commission publish a book of over 170 pages on election laws relating to campaign contributions - some forbidden?

Another thing I feel compelled to comment on.  Someone said Meyering probably has campaign contributors whom he serves.  This appears to be an attempt to make CM Meyering seem equivalent to the others on the City Council to make him look hypocritical.  Meyering had two (2) contributors.  Himself ($10,950) and W. Donnelly ($100).  If Mr. Donnelly comes before the City Council I hope and expect Mr. Meyering will recuse himself.

On the other end of the spectrum, Mayor Spitaleri received over $117K from too many campaign contributors for me to count.

Sorry - no equivalence.

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