Issues, Policy, and Politics – Part 1

The following was originally posted on FaceBook.

Since some of you don’t follow FB, I thought I would repeat this series here.

Part 1

There are important issues that need our attention.

Unfortunately, you can’t solve the vast majority of them.

Here’s an example: income inequality.

We have people in this country working several jobs who can’t afford to both feed their kids and put a roof over their heads while others, no brighter, nor more deserving (no matter what the prosperity gospel says), make millions.

It is a huge damn problem.

Here’s another:

There is hard empirical evidence that the oceans are warming and that sea ice is melting. This is already causing flooding along coasts across the world. It is part of a larger issue of climate change that also should be addressed.

Solve this. ASAP. Just do it. Actually, do this one first.

And if you can, why haven’t you?

But you can’t, can you?

Well, could you?

You are an intelligent and educated person and even if you thought you had an idea of how to solve either of these issues, you couldn’t, could you?

Why not? Why can’t you just cast your personal juju and make it happen.

This is a serious question I am asking. Believe it or not, this is at the heart of the real debate that is going on in the background now and which will become more important as we get closer to the 2020 election.

Some of you are muttering that this is ridiculous and won’t read any further.

Some of you will read out of curiosity.

But this is more important than you think, and I urge you to consider this.

At some point you have to admit that you can’t solve these problems, not alone, anyway.

So you can’t do this alone? You want help? How much? How much help do you need?

What if I get a (damn) big bowl full of pebbles and the whole country draws one blindly. We’ll put 100 white ones and the rest are black. Pick a white one and you’re on the team. You get 100 random Americans to help. About 90 of them graduated high school. About 30 have a Bachelor’s college degree. Maybe two have a PhD in something. You’ve probably got some auto workers, a few fast food workers, a teacher, and a software developer; you’ve got a plumber, a woman that fills vending machines, and a homeless guy. There’s the guy who claims the earth is flat and one who think that if you put too many people on one side of an island, it will tip over.

How about that?

No?

How about 5000 random people?

No?

Why not?

I’m giving you all this manpower!

No?

Why not?

The answer to that question is at the core of what you need to realize to be an informed voter. It’s at the core of what it means to be an American and a responsible citizen.

Part 2

So, the assignment was to solve a couple of key problems by yourself.

You were urged to take the question of why you couldn’t do that seriously. You were promised manpower chosen at random from the population.

Let’s start there. There are many facets to this, but lets start there and come back to the others.

If you want to solve the problem of ocean temperature rise, can you do it with a group of random people? What if none of them know anything at all about the ocean, ocean currents, ice pack histories, rate of ice melt in the arctic, etc. What if none of them know anything about how rising sea temperatures influence hurricane strengths and how hurricane strengths are related to shore erosion, and how shore erosion contributes to flooding and sea rise?

Random manpower is not really helpful in solving problems when compared to people who know stuff. We call people who know stuff “educated.” We call some people who are very educated in a specific area “experts.”

So in this particular instance you don’t want the people who drew the white pebbles from the big damn jar so much as you want some highly educated experts. Interestingly, the list of things they need to know most about are scientific fields of study.

So right off the bat, you are admitting that we need education; we need scientific research, and we need experts.

Nothing is being said here about how to implement these things, just that without them, we can’t solve modern problems.

You should be aware, as if you are not, that there is a growing number of people who don’t feel that way.

If you do NOT believe that we need education, scientific research, and experts, then you suffer from a disassociation from the reality of the modern world. Period. You have a break with reality. Some would call it psychosis.

There are many possible causes for this disassociation. Some of the more common are: a sort of PTSD – future shock, if you will. The world is changing too fast for you to absorb it all, so you refuse to. Others include exposure to right wing political dogma or right wing nationalism, exposure to modern Evangelical religious thinking, or some combination of all of these.

I hope you see the relationship between random selection of people and the choice of those who know the stuff that might allow them to arrive at a solution and the democracy vs republic argument. This is another example of the “everyone has an equal say” which the founders rejected, and the “let’s get people who know stuff to 𝘳𝘦𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘵 us” argument the founders preferred when they formed our government.

Of course, your educated experts won’t be much good to you if people think they are elitist snobs with their own agenda, so you need to find a way to convince others that education and experts are necessary and to be trusted. That’s an implementation issue. Your educated experts won’t be much good to you if people think that what they “believe” is just as valid as what highly educated experts have learned through exhaustive study. And they won’t do you much good if corporate interests who would prefer the climate change issue ignored, spread false rumors about it being a Chinese plot.

So you have more problems to address before you can begin to address the original one.

We’ll come back to those later as well.

So since I’m the one pulling the strings in this mental exercise, you can have your experts. We’ll forego the lottery that levels the playing field. You get as many experts as you can find.

You still can’t solve the problem, can you?

All your experts reach a consensus and tell you what needs to be done. And you still can’t do a thing.

Why?

Well, for one thing the experts tell you the solution is going to cost money. Lot’s of money. More money than in your checking account, for sure. Maybe more than is in your whole local bank.

And you have no way of raising that much money. GoFundMe won’t cut it.

For another thing, some really powerful corporate interests are going to take a huge hit. In the case of rising oceans, the entire fossil fuel industry is going to be impacted severely. They may not like the idea of taking said hit. Remember all the stories about the guy who invented a car that ran on water? (Probably apocryphal, but…) He vanished one day. Poof. You may not like the idea of being vanished one day, poof.

And if you were willing to chance that, you don’t have the power to force those big corporate interests to do what you want so you can solve the problem.

Power and money! Or lack thereof. And that’s where we leave the realm of problems, issues, and plans and enter the realm of politics.

So, you really need highly educated experts, but all the experts in the world can’t help you get anything done unless you have money, the power to raise money, and the power to force counter-solution interests from stopping you.

Or, as we say in the locker room when the great orange haze hangs over it, you’re fucked.

To be continued…

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