Punchinello’s Chronicles

September 23, 2008

Going Purple in Politics

Filed under: Just Thinking — Punchinello @ 1:56 am
Tags: , , ,

We’ve all now seen the red and blue map of the US, colored blue for Democrat party, red for Republican party voting lines. Too many people are saying this matches liberal and conservative demographics. It’s not true, of course; conservatives aren’t necessarily Republicans, nor are liberals always Democrats. The ideology of conservative or liberal (progressive) is based on values, philosophies, risk tolerance, and many other components.

Be that as it may, most of us would agree that the country is now polarized to the highest level in nearly 100 years. The chasm between conservatives and liberals is nearly unbridgeable, particularly at the extreme sides of the spectrum. And yet, unless we do something to bridge this gap, the country will implode.

Let’s accept a general relationship between red, Republican, and conservative. We’ll also accept a general connection of blue, Democrat, and liberal. Terrific. How do we each of us become more purple than one or the other color?

One of the defining attributes that separates the two ideologies reflects two views of free-market capitalism, or even just free markets in general. Conservatives hold that markets evolve on their own, and should have no governmental interference at all. Liberals hold that free markets will favor the rich, disenfranchise the poor, enhance greed, and override any sort of rational society. Neither side is entirely correct, and both sides have become much too extreme in their view.

Conservatives are fond of saying that evolution and natural selection are just fine. Left to their own devices, all species of living things will adapt to the world around them. Entire species, not each individual member of that species! A market, they say, is a living body and will adapt and evolve. So’s a business, they say. But will the “species” of “business” carry on at the expense of every modern individual company?

Positive adaptation will be rewarded, negative capabilities will fail to thrive and die out. But this is completely a reactionary view of selection. Only AFTER events have changed the environment do animals and plants, bacteria and viruses change through adaptation.

Human beings are nearly unique on the planet in that we not only react to a different environment after the fact, but we also can change DURING emerging conditions. When it gets too cold, we put on a coat. If we don’t have a coat, we invent a coat. We don’t simply die, waiting for Nature to produce a mutation with extra fat and hair! We don’t solve a problem by waiting long into the future!

Although it may not be obvious, this entire concept of adapting to change also connects to the philosophic argument of manifest destiny versus free will, predestination versus individual freedom. Animals, prisoners of their genetics and behaviors, have almost no free will. Human beings aren’t animals! We have a reasoning mind, imagination, and the freedom to choose our course of actions. That includes acting against our own best interests and killing ourselves.

Taking it all together, we cannot simply “adapt” to whatever changes of economics, social values, culture, and so forth. Free market natural selection certainly works, but only in the most blunt fashion. Indeed, history shows us that totally unrestricted economies, close to anarchy, don’t survive at all.

One solution would be to fundamentally redefine the term “government.” That would redefine the role of government. Liberals see government as a total control and authority, conservatives see government as a hindrance and bother. Neither view is rational, realistic, useful, or workable.

We conservatives are going to have to come to terms with deliberate intent. If we want a society, national or global, neighborhood or family, we simply can’t wait and react to everything that happens. Imagine a family where the kids can do whatever they want, and the parents “adapt” to the results?

Liberals are going to have to accept that government cannot be a totalitarian authority, regulating and controlling what it doesn’t understand (profitable business and capitalism). Imagine a family where the kids are unable to do anything whatsoever without first getting permission from their parents?

Between the two is a blended interaction. For example, with the banking and financial institutions facing many collapses, why not take the most profitable or efficient business executives from outside that particular field, and have them form a temporary consulting group. The business leaders could certainly be picked on the basis of limited connection to any particular financial institution.

If the airline industry is failing, take successful executives from retail, manufacturing, agriculture and energy. When retail companies fail, get successful executives from everywhere other than retail. Same with housing and real estate; get outside consultants already successful in their fields to examine what’s going on in the troubled industry.

Following such a study, the temporary consulting group would likely have recommendations to restructure the failing financial system or other ailing industry. Government would be charged with making the recommended solutions happen. That wouldn’t necessarily mean total regulation, nationalization, or other such extremes. But it would mean allowing badly run institutions to fail, providing a set of realistic oversight systems, and so forth.

What are the laws that keep business owners from coming together to set policies in another industry or field? I dunno, but I’m sure it’s illegal. So what? Far more important is that nobody would do it under the current view of “free” markets or “regulated” markets. That fundamental concept has to change.

The problems we’re facing aren’t based on detailed technical knowledge of a specific industry. They’re problems based on fundamental principles of business, markets, human nature, profit and loss, valuation, and so forth. Any successful executive can understand the application of these fundamentals in another business. When they see how very badly management has run a failing industry, not just one company, they likely also will see solutions.

The solutions we’re looking for are global, applicable to ALL businesses. It’s only that government regulations are now considered the absolute minimum standard for ethical management. Anyone who can creatively figure out how to avoid those regulations is rewarded. But that’s not how business and capitalism run. Without a market, nobody makes any money. Without business, we have a society of dirt farmers.

From what I see, the main problem is that nobody’s allowed to join together to provide rational feedback on anything at all. Government enacts programs, but nobody is held accountable for the stupidity of those programs. Businesses are free to do whatever they want, with no peer review whatsoever. Aren’t business executives as critical in a society as medical doctors?

Peer review doesn’t mean internal industry policing and so-called ethics committees. It means ALL business executives, across the countless interacting fields in a society and economy. Government should be in a position of mediation, not decision-making!

Maybe we should incentivize business owners to run for limited terms in the House of Representatives, and disincentivize career politicians. The Senate could be public advocates, counter-balancing the House. The Executive branch would allocate resources to build the best country possible.

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4 Comments »

  1. Amen to the comment regarding red state blue state characterization.I’ve lived in both- if we’re going to use color coding for the sake of the topic. I have liberal friends who live in the middle of rural country Tennessee as well as conservative friends who live in the heart of the SF Bay Area California where I now reside. In my opinion, both extremes are equally guilty of presenting a sort of cultural war.It makes me just as angry to hear people who proclaim themselves as liberal to poke jabs at some of my fellow Southerners as being backwards, uneducated, and overly religious as it does to hear some Republicans make comments that all people who are gay are evil and that everyone who lives on the coasts are rich, liberal elitists with not a single patriotic bone in their bodies.

    I came very close to going independent this race. Mccain’s choice of vice president made it easier for me to go with Obama. But I listen to what both parties say, which as the race draws closer sounds identical in many ways. But I also hear the same useless background chatter from both sides bashing each other’s “culture”.

    The sad part is that we’re losing whatever culture we once had. All parts of the country are becoming generic and patterned with cookie-cutters. When I visit my family in TN, my home town is being turned into one giant McMansion development for ( ironically) many people from states like NY and MA who want “cheap” real estate and a huge home which insulates them from their less wealthy neighbors. Wal-Mart and Home Depot decimated all the mom-n-pop stores. The restaurants are mostly chains and fast food joints. The radio is dominated by the big 5 top 10: classic rock, country, pop, rap, and alternative.

    So when there is this discussion of “culture war,” I can’t help but feel like saying: “what culture? its totally going away!”

    Anyhow, this cultural perception is what is creating such vast partisanship in the country and if not addressed, could very well bring down the government’s operational efficiency.

    Comment by bob — September 23, 2008 @ 11:44 am | Reply

  2. There is no government operational efficiency. Government these days mostly panders to the loudest special interest groups. It’s like running a company where the executive management polls the employees on each and every decision. A culture can only be sustained when people have values, and all our values are under attack–liberals attacking conservatives, conservatives attacking liberals. The net result, nobody does anything, goes anywhere, wins at all: gridlock.

    Comment by Punchinello — September 23, 2008 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  3. ———————————
    “Anyhow, this cultural perception is what is creating such vast partisanship in the country and if not addressed, could very well bring down the government’s operational efficiency…”
    ———————————

    Look no further than CA’s budget crisis. 80 days late, tens of thousands of overdue bills, and although an agreement was reached, there are no real corrective actions to make this more efficient next year. Politicians will not be held accountable for their decisions because the general populous has no interest in allowing the red/blue balance to be disrupted.

    I have always believed that things work best when there are responsible people of different parties distributed across the branches. A democrat congress for a republican president, and vice-versa. The problem is that blind partisanship amplifies incompetence which makes it hard to find the responsible people required to be effective.

    Comment by mcb — September 23, 2008 @ 4:40 pm | Reply

  4. Maybe if we pay Congress 90% of their private sector salary, limited to 5 years in a row, that’d work. If they never had a private sector job, their salary would be 90% of minimum wage. 🙂

    Comment by Punchinello — September 24, 2008 @ 1:10 am | Reply


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