First off, let me tell you that the ‘political spectrum’ is a load of crap. No thinking person can be fit under a pat label of ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’. The whole left vs. right conflict is a false dichotomy created by interests who stand to gain from the oversimplification of the issues facing our nation and our world. The whole ‘right vs. left’ debate ignored the possibility that there may be points of view that are neither right nor left.
If you will allow me, I will try to create a diagram of current accepted political wisdom:
The biggest flaw in this model is that ‘democrat’ somehow implies Liberal, while Republican is synonymous with conservative. I don’t know how many tax-and-spend republicans we need before we wake up to that lie.
However, the Republican Lie and the Democratic Lie are not the subject of today’s muddled rambling. Instead I would like to discuss why we have governments in the first place. Governments are important, and they are actually good. Tonight is just the first step in developing my political theory. It is inconceivable that I am the first to think of government this way, so if any of you can point me to other references I would be grateful.
So here goes.
There are three major forces in our economy and out way of life. There is Business, Labor, and Government.
Another name for business is ownership. Business has one goal: to make money. Everyone who participates in ownership, which includes everyone in a 401k plan, benefits from the mandate of business to create wealth through the efficient use of resources. Business at its best is a ruthless profit machine.
Contributes: efficiency, growth
Detriments: greed, corruption
Labor is the representation of the people whose sweat makes business work. The primary goal of labor is to ensure that the profits reaped by business are distributed equitably. Labor stands for fair treatment of workers and proper recognition of their efforts. (I will post later about just how badly labor is doing in the US, and what they can do to improve their lot.)
Detriments: inefficiency, corruption
Government represents the needs and goals of society that are not supported by business or labor. For instance, neither business or labor are motivated to protect the environment. Both of them would sacrifice the planet for better return or higher wages. You can’t fault them, but you have to balance them.
Government ideally lies outside the traditional political spectrum. Ensuring the education of our children is not a liberal ideal, it is a pragmatic need of our society. Protecting borders and looking after collective security is another important role for any government.
Contributes: efficiency, education, sustainability, security
Detriments: inefficiency, corruption
Government appears to be a contradiction. How does it simultaneously provide efficiency and inefficiency? I’m glad you asked. There are certain unsung boons, like the bureau of weights and measures, that make business work better, There is antitrust law, which ultimately (when well applied) increases the efficiency of the marketplace and promotes competition. At the same time government is an impediment to efficiency, and well it should be. By recognizing a long-term value on a resource government ultimately makes that resource more expensive.
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Wow. I managed to talk about the inefficiencies of government like they were all good. I left out a bit. Bureaucracy. Red tape. You know the drill. I guess that’s the risk you take with stream-of-conscious political journalism.
I don’t always mark my updates so obviously, but that was a big omission.
</added after posting>
The idea of short-term hardship for greater long-term gain are lost on both business and labor. That is why we ask people from amongst us, people we trust to be wise and far-seeing, to represent our less tangible goals. It is also why we are disappointed with our representatives so often. It is why I am running for president.
All three vertices of my social triangle contribute corruption. Man, I’m a cynical bastard, but I really think I’m right. Another contradiction of government is the pursuit and reduction of corruption. You look at successful economies around the world, and the one thing they have in common is that everyone is held to the rule of law.*
I have a really neat diagram that shows the tension between the vertices of the triangle, but I’m just too damn tired to get it in here.
Before you get too carried away, my description of the idea role of government is not meant to be an endorsement or a criticism of current governments. I’ll leave that for another day. Trust me, I have plenty of beefs with the way things are going now. I feel it is important, however, to have an open discussion of just what the heck the role of government is. Only when we come to some kind of understanding why we have a government in the first place can we criticize the way our current government is being run. Any criticism or praise of current policy should ultimately be founded on such ideals.
* Aaaaaaaaagh! I have to say it. I wanted to stay away from discussion of any specific policy, instead examining the higher ideals. But I have to say it. I can’t stop myself. Do you remember why you’re reading this footnote? If not go back and review real quick. Ready? OK, here we go, then. We’re doomed. Starting with Reagan, the US government has shown increasing disdain for the law. There’s a reason Dub has delayed the release of his dad’s records. Being above the law is also not a partisan issue. When our leaders stop answering to the law, we lose everything.