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Question of the Day, about reforming America

12 March 2010

Questions are esp welcome to the FM website’s email at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com.  Today’s email questions the premise underlying the many posts about reforming America.

You’re imploring Americans to get more involved in their political system without deeply examining the reasons why they aren’t. These might include, in varying degrees:

  • a belief that no matter what they do,
  • their efforts will be trumped by corporations with unlimited funds,
  • lack of time (what with 2 wage-earners being the norm),
  • a belief that change could make things worse (I’ve read that most people are in favor of term limits, but not for their own representatives), and
  • a belief that our political system itself is not relevant to their lives (it was, after all, set up for a largely rural country of about 5 million people).

Probably other things, too.

Nothing you suggest is particularly esoteric or even difficult. So why aren’t people doing them? Solve that problem and perhaps they will.

“Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.”
— #10 of Deming’s famous 14 Points, from Chapter 4 of The New Economics by W. Edwards Deming (1994)

This is THE question for the early 21st century.

I don’t care about the reasons so many Americans have become disengaged from our political regime.  Neither will our descendents, or the anybody in the future other than historians studying dead cultures.  What happened to the Etruscans?  The Scythians?  Nobody cares.

This diagnostic perspective might work for a social scientist working on a master plan to save America.  I don’t believe in such things, esp for us.  Esp right now.

Don’t tell me the odds.  Write a letter to Washington, Lincoln, or Martin Luther King complaining about our problems.

All I ask is that we try.  And that those unwilling to try just get out of the way.

The home team has the ball.  We can run with it and score.  Or stay on our couches and watch TV.

The clock is running.

No excuses.

Here’s an actual answer to this question

Successful large scale social engineering lies beyond the current state of the social sciences.  Political theory can help, as it has since Machiavelli.  Economics, psychology, and sociology can help, just as they have improved the efficacy of advertising and propaganda.  But when it comes to political reform we’re not much better off  than the Founders in 1776.  Or the Roman Plebes in 509 BC (birth of the Republic) or  49 BC (it’s death).

A Hari Seldon could answer this question with his equations for psychohistory.  But, as in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy, the result would be tyranny.  Not a democracy.  Why would a scientist-king care what us ignorant plebes think?  Perhaps exhortation and organization are the only forms of political engineering suitable for a Democracy

For more information on the FM site

Reference pages about other topics appear on the right side menu bar, including About the FM website page.   Such as…

Posts about solutions, ways to reform America:

  1. Diagnosing the Eagle, Chapter III – reclaiming the Constitution, 3 January 2008
  2. Obama might be the shaman that America needs, 17 July 2008
  3. Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008
  4. Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008  
  5. Fixing America: shall we choose elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008
  6. Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008
  7. Fixing America: the choices are elections, revolt, or passivity, 18 August 2008
  8. What happens next? Advice for the new President, part one., 17 October 2008
  9. What to do? Advice for the new President, part two., 18 October 2008
  10. Are the new “tea party” protests a grass roots rebellion or agitprop?, 1 March 2009
  11. How to stage effective protests in the 21st century, 21 April 2009
  12. The first step on the road to America’s reform, 29 May 2009
  13. Correction to my previous posts – not all citizen activism is good…, 16 October 2009
  14. The first step to reforming America (the final version), 7 December 2009

Afterword

Send emails to fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).  Questions are esp welcome.

To receive posts by email, subscribe using the box on the upper right.

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