Author Archives: Fred McNulty

About Fred McNulty

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Uber and Airbnb are convenient, but at what cost?

Remember Napster? In the late 1990s, Napster was the go-to place to download free MP3s. I have fond memories of downloading *NSYNC and Blink 182 songs before Napster was shut down by a court injunction. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine why someone thought they would get away with so blatantly ripping off the music industry, but the reality is that institutions not keeping up with technology allowed for tech-savvy folks to exploit the slow-moving legal system to provide people with a cheaper alternative.

It may seem like this happened eons ago, but we’re going through the same thing today. Only instead of free MP3s, we’re experiencing that same dynamic with Uber, Airbnb, and similar applications–but with much worse consequences. Continue reading

Why you should already care about privacy

After seeing the title of this post, many readers have already judged what I am about to say. Perhaps after rolling their eyes, these readers imagine me wearing a tin foil hat, muttering to myself about “them” watching my every move, and writing this article on an internet-less computer running only MS-DOS. But in reality, I’m not a conspiracy theory-peddling recluse, and I use the same technology and apps that many people do. I haven’t even deleted my Facebook account in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal! But, recently I’ve been increasingly concerned about my privacy rights–and there’s a good reason why everyone should. Continue reading

Reforming U.S. elections won’t happen overnight – but let’s start the discussion

In part one of what has become a series of postings, I wrote about what the Democrats can do to improve their party structure. In part two, I wrote about how the Democrats can improve their politicking. While these two articles touched on how the Democrats can improve their own party, this coverage avoided any focus on the structure of the political system, and how that affects Democrats’ ability to campaign and govern. Gerrymandering, money in politics, and voting procedures are key institutional factors that prevent good candidates from winning and enacting decent policies.  Continue reading

Democrats still have a lot to learn from Bernie Sanders – even if some don’t like him

In my previous article, I touched on some broad ideas that could help the Democratic Party. In short, I argued for fighting corruption, strong messaging, and restoring trust. However, shortly after publishing the piece, I felt that something was missing from my suggestions: actual politics. If the Democrats are unable to deliver strong policies and political strength, then what’s the point? Continue reading

The unsexy truth: three structural reforms the Democratic Party needs to survive

Before reading this article, please do me a quick favor. Don’t worry, it will only take a second. Go to your calendar app and check the date. If it says 2016, then your device is likely malfunctioning. The year 2016 has come and gone! I say this because too many people in the Democratic Party have not moved beyond their squabbles from the 2016 primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

It is hard to avoid seeing this bitter divide playing out online, and with Sanders looking into a 2020 run, these feuds will only intensify. But all this fruitless bickering could not come at a worse time: the Democrats control no branch of government and the 2018 midterm election is only 273 days away. If the Democratic Party wants to have a fighting chance in the future, people need to move beyond the 2016 primary and implement real reforms to the party apparatus. Continue reading

Trump’s assault on science and technology

On September 13, 2012, Donald Trump sent out a provocative tweet: “Wake Up America!  See article: ‘Israeli Science: Obama Birth Certificate is a Fake.’” Trump’s assertion that President Obama was not born in the United States was bizarre, yet unsurprising. What struck me about his post was its use of (admittedly questionable) science to justify the birther conspiracy theory.

This is particularly intriguing, given the present hostility of the Trump administration toward science. Over the past year, the Trump administration has been attacking pillars of scientific and technological progress in a persistent manner. From the budget to the FCC, public education to climate change denial, this administration’s war on science and technology needs more focus among the general public. Continue reading

Holiday dinners mean political debates. Here’s what to do

Every Thanksgiving, I post a Facebook status encouraging friends to contact me if they need any help debating their right-wing family members. This annual tradition started as a bit of a joke, but it speaks to a broader phenomenon in the United States: the politicization of Thanksgiving dinner. Over the past few years, the inevitable political debate over dinner has turned into a trope. The Democratic Party has even released talking points to aid people during these discussions! I, for one, am all for these discussions–and I have some suggestions for people who want to bring their A-game. Continue reading