I’m just this guy you know? I have been going by stidmatt for well over 15 years now, since I was in middle school, and given where my life is going, I figured I should own my name.
I am a progressive political activist, focusing mostly on where climate change, economics, and political science intersect. I work by day for several companies where I am a data scientist and a web developer. I am a raised Unitarian Universalist who is actively involved in my faith. I believe deeply in all 7 principals of my faith and actively use all 6 sources. I am active with Carbon Washington as my primary outlet for my climate justice activities. I am getting more active with Fairvote as well for my activities to improve our system of government.
I do a variety of web development and data science for all three of my activities.
I used to run a couple Blogger websites, Stidmatt, and Stidmatt Views. I created Stidmatt Views to put my political economy work where as Stidmatt is more of a journal. My website here takes over for both of those going forward. I also ran a Medium blog as well which I used to showcase my data science skills. I have no reason to use any of those now since with WordPress I can have all of my writings on one domain, and accurately segregate the three realms when necessary.
Statement of Belief
I follow the scientific method, study as many religions and philosophies as I can, and try to keep an open mind. I believe strongly in habeas corpus, democracy, freedom of speech, and justice. Many of my ancestors were Quaker, and I strive every day to continue their work. I usually succeed, and like everyone, I sometimes fail to meet my values.
I like Winston Churchill’s quote, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried”. I like it because he recognizes you can get decisions like Brexit which are harmful, but even though sometimes you get very stupid decisions in democratic ways, it is still better than the alternatives. If I learned anything in my political science classes I learned this:
- Democracy and democratization is not an absolute, but a sliding scale. The scale runs from the rule of one to the rule of everybody, where everyone has an equal voice. Every country fits somewhere along this scale. No country is perfectly at either extreme. Democracy is also an admirable goal with an ever moving target. I am not talking about any particular party in this most important point. Democracy is from two Greek words, “demos” or people, and “cracy” or government. Democracy literally means government of the people.
- Corruption is important. Quality of government effects everything in our lives. Corruption should be reduced however possible. The decisions of government should take into account the good of society, not the benefit of the few.
- Knowledge, media, and education matter a lot. Where we get our information has a huge impact on society, our politics, our economies, and our lives. You can have the best voting system in the world, but if people are not aware of what is going on, you won’t have democracy. Case in point: Brexit.
- Voting systems matter. You can have the most educated population in the world, with the freest press in history, but if your voting system is corrupt, sometimes you will have bad outcomes to your elections which hurt people, and you won’t have democracy. Case in point: The Electoral College.
- Habeus corpus is essential to having a democracy.
- There is no good defense for the death penalty. There are many reasons it should be abolished.
- Language matters. How we describe our political beliefs includes the history of our society. Etymology hides meaning which impacts how we respond to different words. If we let powerful forces steal our language, they will also steal our thoughts by making it impossible to describe what we think.
- Social trust is essential to building a democracy.
If I have learned anything from studying economics I learned this:
- Moral hazard needs to be avoided.
- Externality theory is fundamental. Pigouvian taxes work. We must cut the amount we pollute as a society.
- Sunk costs can be good or bad. Depends if you are talking about a good or a bad.
- Taxes are not inherently good or evil.
- Government spending is not inherently good or evil.
- Supply and demand is a useful model for many problems.
- Supply and demand is not the be all and end all of all models.
- Inequality matters and is the root to many evils in society.
- Inequality is not the root to every evil in society.
- The world is complicated. Science helps us make sense of it to make more ethical decisions.
- People (on average) are inherently good, and trying to do the best for the world.
- Ease of Doing Business matters. It should be easy for people to trade in ways which do not produce externalities or moral hazard.
- Slavery is both inherently evil and if that wasn’t bad enough, it is counterproductive to an economy. It includes every evil in the world in its practice. Slavery BY DEFINITION includes no payment of wages, and its victims have no choice to leave their bondage.
- Economic growth comes from the bottom.
- Social trust is essential to building an economy which is both productive and egalitarian.
- Private monopolies always overcharge and under-perform.
- Competitive markets provide more access to a higher level of service for a lower cost than a private monopoly or oligopoly.
- Competitive markets can only exist under good rule of law.
- Natural monopolies should be publicly controlled.
From my religious education (which includes leadership positions):
- Each and every person is important. This means EVERYBODY. Respect their wishes to the best of your ability.
- Everyone deserves to be listened to.
- Reason, judgement, and science are important.
- Ancient stories, direct experience, and parables are also important.
- Direct experience can be biased.
- Improperly done science can be biased.
- It is impossible to build beloved community without assuming good intentions. Start by assuming trespasses are unintentional until proven otherwise.
I have been most inspired that the world can be made a better place by the following people:
- John Stuart Mill
- Hannah Arendt
- Jeremy Bentham
- Susan B. Anthony
- Adam Smith
- Lucy Mott
- Benjamin Franklin
- Elizabeth Warren
- Iqbal Masih
- Countless names of my personal ancestors and cousins (beyond the few on this list) who have fought for justice to the present day, whose shoes I strive to fill every day to continue our work.