Saturday, May 22, 2010

Idiotology And Problem Solving

Ok, so I'll just stop laughing and pointing at Ayn Paul, er Rand. Politics and governing are always going to be messy when you have at least three people involved. Look, when there's just the two of you; you can beat the hell out of the other one - that third person is a wild card. Take that little difficulty and add a few hundred million more people and, yes, it is going to be a mess.

Politics and governing are the art of accomplishing the possible and hopefully doing some good. This is what kills something like Libertarianism - it is not about problem solving, it is some sort of philosophy. I'll not spend any time trying to explain that mess to anyone beyond that the magic hand of greed will solve everything. It makes all kinds of assumptions and sets all kinds of conditions up with absolutes all over it. It is a kind of political religion in that sense. Some actual Libertarian said on the media that it takes a professor to explain it not a few minutes in an interview. Not that it would do you any good...

The harsh reality of problem solving tripped Rand up badly. The Jim Crow south was about a whole lot more than a couple nasty brutish laws - it was an entire social structure that denied a race any place in society's commerce. He had to admit it finally and that is going to cause him problems with his kin - they deal in absolutes not the messy greys of life.

Part of what ails DC right now is that problem solving is not the agenda of one of the players. There is the same kind of purity test being applied by the GOPers that the Libertarians apply. (yes I know there is also the plutocratic base to please) Legislation that does not have a (R) after it is going to be fought tooth and nail for political gain in the first instance and secondly the mantra of government over-reach is going to be applied to any effective policy.

With quite a bit of justice people feel that there is too much government, the problem gets real sticky when it comes to ox goring. Don't touch my Medicare is a pretty reasonable response to threats to it, same with ... ok, now you're in trouble. Most of this country won't stand for starving people on the streets (starving people are also dangerous) but they also don't like supporting them. We have managed through a lot of years of behavior to create a system that will have those starving people without government. So, where do you go with your harsh absolutes from there? You put them down and solve as best you can what you're faced with.

At no point in this nation's history has there been that "perfect" starting point to make things all work out nicely. At every point there have been an existing set of circumstances to be dealt with as best possible in the face of too many individual opinions to just act. Ideologues or "philosophers" don't get this and their solutions demand absolutes - conditions that don't exist responding in ways that don't happen or have wayyyyyy too high costs. Yes, starving people will die and thin the herd and some will be saved by charities and ... well ooops some will start killing the "haves" because they "have not." Not good.

You certainly can strangle business by trying to regulate every aspect of it and burying it under a blizzard of paperwork and other assorted messes, but counting on it to self-correct means consequences you may not be able to bear. To be sure, coal miners can quit working a place that's real dangerous - the problem is they find that out after they've been blown up or buried. Now if you think you can do that to people in your business freely the chances are that someone is justifiably going to come kill you. There is every chance that they will figure life trumps your property rights and make you pay for it.

Practice and history have given us some fairly harsh lessons in what doesn't work, this is scarcely the first finance driven economic crap out or the first year workers were getting killed because profits trumped working reasonably safely. A hell of a lot of people have died or suffered to get this message across - some entity has to look out for them. That entity can't be magic, it has to exist and it has to have an interest beyond self profit. We call it government and argue endlessly about how to - but in the end we will accept that there are problems too big to be solved elsewhere and do it. The pretty words and constructions of a philosophy won't do; some messy solution will have to be worked out. It will either be that way or things are going to get very,very messy. We have this messy contract called government in the end analysis to keep us from having to slaughter each other. Get used to the idea, for pete's sake. Solve problems.

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