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Monday, June 21, 2010

What If We Ignored Politicians?

I believe that we are surrounded by perfect solutions to all situations at all times. Our humanness either prevents or inhibits our ability to see the myriad of solutions. Our race consciousness overrides the openness required to move beyond what we know, what we think we know, and our innate self-interest so we are receptive to all solutions available. Only by stepping out of ourselves and putting aside our personal history, our demographic identifiers, our prejudices, our expected outcomes, can we then be open to alternative solutions to problems and issues.

Accepting this process of solution finding, what if we ignored our politicians? What if we ignored the solutions that they present to problems that often they themselves have created? What if we ignored solutions that are formed often not because of their worth but rather because of what they can do--raise money and votes? What if we who are closest to most of the issues and problems looked inside ourselves and our immediate community rather than outside for the perfect solutions which exist by we have not seen?

Our problems are a lot different than they used to be. While many problems remain through history, poverty, illiteracy, quality housing for all, the percentage of our population afflicted with these problems are smaller than they were before. Consider the conditions in major urban areas such as New York City, Chicago or San Francisco one hundred years ago and know we have made great strides in education, sanitation, and safety.

But as our problems have changed so has our problem solving. It seems to me that over the years, especially the past few decades, we have ceded more and more of our problem solving and solution providing to those further and further away from ourselves and where problems exist. Instead of looking within our communities to solve our problems with solutions that exist locally, collectively we have removed ourselves and our communities from the process with the exception of a ballot cast every two or four or six years. Rather than having a local issue that needs addressing being addressed by local residents coming together to discuss the issue and the range of solutions, more and more residents have taken the path of waiting for the government to identify and solve the issue.

What if we lived and acted not out of selfish self-interest but out of what is right, ethical, moral? Can we even do this anymore? Our education system has curriculum designed and required by bureaucrats and politicians not in our community. Our health care delivery system has mandates and requirements that place incredible control in the hands of bureaucrats not in our communities protected by politicians residing far away most of the time. Our public safety is more and more detached as local communities interact less and less with those working to protect them. What solutions that we as a community have are even brought forth much less able to be enacted?

What if we ignored our politicians? What if we ignored the attachment identity that not only they have but that many, most, of us have as well. Attachment and detachment identity. What if we ignored politicians who stake themselves to one solution, in doing so their most ardent supporters stake themselves too, inhibiting the free commitment to the myriad of solutions that surround issues. Too often the solution is conceived by political party officials or workers so far removed from the problem being addressed that they have no concept of the issue much less any possible solutions. Too often the solution has very little to do with the actual problem and more to do with the individuals or groups that enable election and re-election.

What if we ignored the solutions offered by politicians to problems and instead required them to offer their philosophy of problem solving? What if instead of them telling us what problems we have and how they plan to solve them we demanded they tell us instead of what role the government should have in solving problems that exist in our community? What if instead of telling us who supports them we demanded instead that they tell us why that support exists? What if we broke down from the required political dialogue of what can you do for me/us and instead learned what can you do that allows me/us to do for ourselves?

Politicians have one purpose, to determine how much of our money they can acquire through taxes and then to determine how that money will be spent. Our money goes to the city, the county, the state, the federal government, with the belief by those given the power to collect our money that they can spend our money better than we can to solve problems that affect us more than them. What if we were able to use that money ourselves to solve these problems ourselves in our own communities? Are we capable? Would we be able to transcend selfish self-interest sufficiently to enact community self-interest and do what is right? Would we see a greater amount of accountability and personal responsibility within ourselves and our community?

Yesterday as we walked into Ralph's grocery store my eight year old asked me, "Dadda, if we are a free country why do we have laws?" I explained to her the value of laws, to ensure that everyone has an equal chance to be free so some of us do not restrict or stop the freedoms of others. But then I thought, she's is on the right track, but I ask "if we are a free country why do we have so many laws?" Because we are enabling our politicians to create more and more laws by ceding more and more control of solving our problems to them.

What if we ignored our politicians and began finding the perfect solutions that exist within ourselves and our own communities? What if our politicians recognized that more laws and more money do not solve problems, but individuals and communities with recognized common values, common morals, common principles of integrity, accountability, personal responsibility and trusteeship can solve problems?

We are surrounded by perfect solutions, are we open to seeing them? Do we have the internal integrity and courage to recognize them and implement them? Can we ignore our politicians and create our own solutions?



Bob Schilling said...

One of the issues in our world is that a perfect solution for one person or group is not so perfect for others. We probably can't find an optimum solutions. Muddling through, unsatisfying though it may be, is all we have available for some issues.

And we're NOT "closest to most issues." We don't know how to cap the well in the Gulf, and we don't, as citizens, know what to do about the oil that's come ashore. Some problems really do require more expertise than fair-mindedness and common sense. Some problems require technical expertise.

It may be that poverty is less than it was 100 years ago -- though we should be careful about our measurements here -- but it's also true that more people are sliding slowly out of the middle class. Our country has a sad roster of closed mines, logged-our forests, and sterile fisheries that no longer support middle-class working men and women. That may, in some respects, be worse than the poverty we had 100 years ago, which was at least eased by hope.

As the size and power of large corporations has grown, the ability of any one person to find fairness and redress of grievances has proportionately shrunk. So we need the Interstate Commerce Commission to protect farmers against predatory railroad shipping rates, and we need the FAA. We need consumer protection agencies to help to keep the unscrupulous from selling toys with lead paint and Transformer toys with small, easily broken choking hazards.

I'm frustrated with elected officials as well, though perhaps in a different way. I think that unless we get corporate money out of politics our republic is doomed. I think they've corrupted everything and everyone they come into contact with. If we let them continue, they'll wreck our country.

Dennis C Smith said...

Bob: Until you begin treating union campaign contributions as you do corporate contributions you will not see any change in governance. Our state and city budget issues are not the result of the influence of private side donations so much as labor side donations.

As for closest to the problems, I would continue to argue that in fact we are the closer than government. It is easy to pull one issue out and say, "but look at this I/we can't do this..." You may not be able to cap a well, but the private sector can and does; maybe not yet at the 5000+ feet they were forced to drill, but when it gets capped it won't be government doing the job.

Perhaps the slide out of middle class is inevitable when they have less and less control of their wages, investments and savings.

Thanks for your comments.