Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Getting a good definition for the term "Politics Schmolitics"

The term was coined and used in order to express the skepticism that politics is any good for anything- except perhaps the politicians.

But it is a bit too loosely defined.   There's a need to tighten it up.  Just because you don't like something about politics is not a good enough reason to condemn it in all cases.

Even the Founding Fathers believed that government was necessary- but it was a necessary evil.  With government comes politics- and thus, it is also a necessary evil.

Choices have to be made, yet the choices that get made are not going to be universally liked.  In a democracy, there will be dissent.  In a democracy, there will be opposition.

I have a preference for two things in general.  That there be accuracy and that there be effectiveness.

A third preference may be efficiency. But efficiency could be too broad based of a term that could be applied to government. Let's narrow that down to where government doesn't impede efficiency, nor promote inefficiency. This would be applied to economics in general. But governments should be inefficient when it comes to taking peoples' lives, liberty, or property. Efficiency in doing those types of things are what should be avoided like the plague. The use of force is a necessary evil at times. But it shouldn't be efficient, you see. If it is too efficient, it can be lead to some consternation. Once certain kinds of things get done, it is really hard to get them undone.

Accuracy in politics is tough. Perhaps the reason for this is that it is competitive. Once competition gets in the mix, things can get a little rough. The idea may have been expressed pretty well by Leo Durocher, who wrote the book Nice Guys Finish Last.   People love the game, but if the game overrides everything else, we could all suffer for it.  Not everything in life should be a game.  Another quote:  "Winning isn't everything, it is the only thing".  But are there limits on what people should do in order to win?  Winning at all costs in politics is something that could tear a society apart.  There should be lines that don't get crossed.

Let's just say that the game can prohibit certain actions that are necessary and effective in dealing with problems.  George Washington didn't like political parties, but James Madison believed that they were inevitable in a democracy.  I can see Washington's point if partisanship can lead to outcomes that are good for the partisans, but bad for the country.  I can also see Madison's point that "faction" are to democracy as air is to fire.  If you eliminate one, the other must also die out.

The trick is to have an umpire.  The role of umpire can be played by the media, if it is honest.  Failing that, there should be a first amendment.  To back that up, there needs to be a second amendment.  This protects the people from the politicians.  It can keep the game as honest as possible and lead to the best possible outcomes over time.  Above all, however, it should prevent the competitive urges from destroying the integrity of the game itself.

Madison believe that a multiplicity of interests could manage the faction problem.  This is the strength of federalism and a system of checks and balances.

We should be careful about changing any of this.  It has worked well for us for over 200 years.

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