PeopleCount has been an Adventure

PeopleCount has failed, so far. But it has been an adventure.

The Adventure Began

In truth, what I’m most proud of is my fortitude. It has been incredibly difficult to change who I am, to step into bigger shoes when no one’s help.

In jobs, when I tackled a bigger project or a bigger responsibility, such as building a needed tool, designing a new feature, or even managing or group, I did it in an organization that defined the role, accepted my new status and was there to support me. They were also there to judge me and give me feedback. It was like stepping up to a new level.

In PeopleCount, there was no one else. I had a few people encouraging me, and once in a while I had someone willing to help with a specific bit of work. But no one else was willing to shoulder any responsibility.

I had to define every new role and declare what the goals needed to be and what was doable and good enough.

I had been an engineer, adding to an established product. And I was an engineer with little or no artistic sense. I left the look of the products to others. I almost never gave a technical talk or designed a presentation- and when I did, it was with others’ feedback and appreciation. I certainly never designed a marketing brochure much less did any sales.

Bigger roles, expanded character

Suddenly, I needed to be a visionary, an entrepreneur, plus a web designer and a marketer. I had to guide article creation and decide “what I wanted”. My strength is analyzing, not deciding. I’m much better at deciding things when I work with others. But there was no one else. I approached lots of friends and acquaintances, but most begged off – they didn’t have the time and certainly not the expertise.

I designed a brochure and tackled several presentations. So far, I’ve given just 3  presentations, but that’s far more than I had ever done before, especially since I was talking to a completely ignorant audience about something they couldn’t even imagine.

Plus, I needed to do sales. Contacting people was very, very difficult. I tried all sorts of ways. When they didn’t answer, should I give up on them, hide in shame, or try again? And if I tried again, should I repeat the email or phone message?  Should it be longer? Or shorter? I’ve tried to contact a couple thousand people and most never reply. For most of them, I grappled with how to try again- should I say more? Should I say much less? Of the dozen ways to approach it, which should I take? Or should I come up with a new way?

Breaking through limits

Another huge step was spending money on it. Quitting my job was scary. I hadn’t been without a job since the downturn at the turn of the millennium. It had ravaged our savings and was a time of endless worry and struggle. How could I voluntarily quit my job?  But I had to- I wasn’t making progress on it while working.

It’s been endless trying and failing and struggling with new things, and learning. I’ve even had deep bouts of depression where what got me through was the commitment to reality instead of believing the mirage given by depression. I’ve learned a ton…

And in two days, I’ll be 60 years old. The adventure continues.

Support Accountability and PeopleCount

This is your chance to say you want members of Congress to be accountable

I’m putting together a confidential list of voters who believe they would use PeopleCount once it’s completed. This list will be shown to a few potential sponsors. Please send me a short letter saying that you plan to use PeopleCount, and optionally a few words about who you are, a short bio. Please start with your name and the city in which you live. If you want to just have your initials show, just list them.  So, something like:

R Strauss, Mountain View, CA, computer software engineer, I would love to use PeopleCount.

Please send your email to

Reminder: What’s PeopleCount?

On PeopleCount, you’ll hold them accountable, with others. You’ll:

  • Vote on issues
  • See how others in your district, state and the country vote (the vote counts)
  • Say on which issues you want short monthly reports from your representatives
  • Grade the reports on how well they’re doing their job representing their voters
  • See their average grades

This will let you, easily and quickly:

  • Get the information you want from your politicians
  • Quickly tell them what you want
  • Know what you can expect from them
  • Let politicians connect to voters at low cost, making money less important in politics
  • Allow good people to run effective campaigns without becoming professional politicians
  • Make Congress accountable to voters

Thanks much,

America- We Ignore our Central Problem and Fail

(Note: This article is very obtuse unless you know me and PeopleCount. If you don’t, start with this 2-article piece about the nuts and bolts of PeopleCount, or the site’s How it Works page. For more background, see the piece about how America has been blind to political accountability. A Guide to the Blog is also available.)

Obama failed. The Democrats failed. The Republicans failed. Bush failed. Before that, Clinton failed. Bush Sr failed. They all left us with a more dismal, less workable future. Why?

Ignore the central problem, it gets worse

They failed because they ignored the most central problem in America. When you ignore the most central problem, it gets worse.

What IS the most central problem in America today? It’s not climate change or pollution. It’s not income disparity. It’s not poverty or education or racial or sexual prejudice. It’s not economic at all.

Our leaders ignore, or skirt it

Google and Facebook and Twitter and Musk are not working on it. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings ignored it, and still do (though Jobs now has an excuse.) Peter Thiel and Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and George Soros skirted it. The Pope’s were concerned about it, but none of them tackled it. Nor the Dalai Lama.

The central problem is not lack of knowledge. It’s not nuclear war, or any of our weaponized conflicts.

There’s one solution that is touted as being the most promising for reversing climate change, ending wars, improving prosperity worldwide. It’s taken seriously by world leaders, but isn’t yet valued in many parts of the world. But it also skirts America’s, and humanity’s central problem.

The solution isn’t enlightenment (though it would certainly help). The solution isn’t education, though that’s a side-effect.


A little over a year ago, Obama pointed in the problem’s general direction. He admitted it had gotten worse and he regretted it. Yet in his entire tenure, he failed to use the considerable power of his office or his persona to bring resources to bear on the problem. Never mind that he had no solution. He, and all of Congress failed to focus on it. Bush, Carson, Christie, Cruz, Fiorina, Gilmore, Graham, Jindal, Kasich, Pataki, Paul, Perry, Rubio, and Walker, and Chafee, Lessig, O’Malley, Sanders, and Webb all failed to focus on it. Many mentioned its edges.

The amazing thing is, most of the people above have the resources to actually FIX the problem, worldwide. But they’re not listening. They’re not aware. Many think it’s too hard. They think it’s part of the fabric of humanity.

Blind to our failure

Do you know what it was like before we knew about bacteria and germs? Most people were positive there were good and bad demons. They thought that sickness could be cured by blessing.

Humanity is walking around believing its mythology. You are going about your everyday life, ignoring our central problem. Yet, it could easily be solved.


There are a few small groups working on it, and one quick and effective solution is available. Larger groups are working on its edges, committed to unworkable approaches. But the media wants to ignore them until after they’re successful.

Gandhi and King and Mandela were on the right track, but their goals were too small. They addressed applied pieces of the problem, not the problem itself. And that was great. We can now stand atop their work.

Pride keeps it hidden

What keeps the problem in place is pride. You actually think that if there were a “most important” problem that you’d know about it. And you actually believe that if you learned about a simple solution, you’d recognize it quickly. You forget that we’re human. We’re really the same beings that thought diseases were caused by spirits.

If you want to learn about a solution, it’ll take about a week of spending time with me, if you’re bright. Building it would take six months and having it change our world for the better would take a year.

So far, people with resources that I’ve reached have not taken the time or effort to understand it, yet wrote it off as unworkable. Others have had their people filter out the contacts. Most simply aren’t reachable. And I am very, very frustrated…

PS: This is by far the most obtuse piece I’ve written (I think). Some are very straightforward.

PeopleCount’s Launch Schedule

PeopleCount at this point, is an idea, plans, a blog, and some unfinished software. There’s no target launch schedule.

I believe a team of 3 could finish the software in 3 months, and complete an alpha and beta in 2-4 more months. We could powerfully begin to transform politics in 2017.

Since I’m the only one working on it, and I have a day job, and don’t have the front-end skills needed, the 9 person-months could take 3-6 years.

It’s depressing to think about. So much potential, wasting away.

I’ll keep looking for possibilities, ways to move forward…

Poignancy, below the surface

I started getting emotional a half hour ago. I can rise above it, but it remains a poignancy, just below the surface. 

Annual retreat?

My wife asked me if I wanted to go to “our” synagogue’s annual retreat. She said they just decided that the topic will be politics. I could feel frustration swelling in the back of my brain, and said, “If they ask me to speak for an hour, I’d be happy to go. But I’m not going to spend money and a whole weekend just to try to interject a few comments or questions and feel frustrated all weekend.” She said “Okay, okay, I got it” and walked away.

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Strategically, Is Political Fighting the Only Option?

Strategically, is fighting the only option?

They have a party, we have a party. They have some wealthy donors plus grass-roots support, so do we. They have a powerful propaganda machine and no ethics constraining their statements. Our communication… well, it’s pretty random. To my thinking, there’s little.

Is communication another option?

What would a communication system look like that supported all Democrats, or better, everyone who’s not supporting Trump, communicating? Maybe even everyone?
Corporations have lots of power and money. How many hours per day do we have to spend with these inefficient campaigns to balance it? We’re not even sure we can beat it- so far, they’re winning most state-houses plus the national balance of power.
Why has almost no one designed a communication system to remedy this? It’s great that so many are willing to fight. We need that. But are we so committed to fighting that we ignore a new strategy that can outflank the corrupt?

Should a portion of our resources go into a new strategy?

Put another way, what percent of our resources should go toward an effort to change the political system?

I’m biased in this. I’ve seen a real solution. But from the trenches, it looks too far-fetched. We have a “culture.” It’s built of truisms that we traffic in daily that are not true. They’re convincing because we believe them, retell them, and our behaviors are synced with them. Those truths keep our vision inside-the-box. Yet with less than a percent of our political resources, we could change the paradigm of politics.

The current allocation isn’t working

Lots of people are certainly doing lots of different things. I’ve seen 4 types of efforts.

  1. Traditional political support for candidates
  2. Traditional political action and organizations
  3. Future thinkers
  4. Individuals trying to launch new ideas

The first two groups are the mainstay of our fight for a better future and a better-run America. We have some wins, but in the balance of power so far, we’re losing.

The future-thinkers seem to be doing nothing that can help. They’re too far in the future and working on small aspects of futuristic systems or problems we don’t have yet. They’re fine, and I hope someday what they’ve learned will be useful, but today it’s not.

The fourth group are trying to try new things, and are largely unsupported. Many that I’ve met even have a mindset that they’ll continue to be unsupported. I wish them luck.

We’re not supporting an new option

To me, it looks like we’re not supporting a real alternative. We’re stuck in the current paradigm, fighting a losing battle. Even if we win and gain some ground in the next election, we’ll still have the exact same dysfunctional system that put Obama in office and then lost control of both houses and lost even more ground in states.

Is that what you want? I’m offering a real alternative.  From what I’ve seen, it’s the only other option that’s realistic. The few people who’ve studied it started out thinking it wouldn’t work. After a lot of effort, they began to see a new possibility. It takes work to understand it. It takes work to unearth the cultural myths that cloud our view. On the other hand, we know how to divert a small percentage of our resources.