I thought I was spouting off -- I made a big point about useless and misleading data reports. I also tried to make a point about politicians being too short-term oriented and not focusing on the real issues. But you want more -- so here goes.
I think some of you people are living in the old world -- a world where left and right ideology are important. Like many good things that outlive their usefulness, this dichotomy is not only less productive than it used to be but it is downright damaging. You don't have to meditate and say Ohhhmmm three times a day to see how today's difficult challenges reflect our inter-connectedness. It is our overlaps that matter more than our differences. I listened to a labor leader pontificate the other day -- his mantra is unchanged from the 1960s and focuses on the separate and paramount goals of workers. Firms and their leaders, according to him, are selfish and gain only by stepping on the backs of the workers. I hear plenty of talking heads on television ridiculing people who ask Congress to do more to help those whose situations have eroded over the last decade. There is plenty of finger-pointing and derision. A few minutes watching any news program easily and vividly supports the notion that ugly and mean spirited accusations dominate the news. Listen carefully -- there is VERY little said about the real causes of our problems. There is very little time devoted to honestly debating the impacts of various solutions.
Don't kid yourself -- this is not business as usual. And one side is not going to win. There are three things that are missing today. First, there is no real discussion of cause and effect. There is no serious debate about the most important issues. Even some scientists lie and exaggerate. And we let them do it. We have chosen our teams and whenever the "good-guys" say anything we jump to their side and their defense. We don't even listen to the "bad-guys". Second, once we get into cause-effect analysis we will clearly see that the solutions to problems require shared burdens and shared misery. We don't think that way now. We are not going to do better as a nation or as a world until we realistically evaluate the ways in which we can share the burdens of the solutions. Once we start REALLY CARING about the plight of others, the more they will care about ours. Funny thing -- this sounds a lot like the moral philosophical statement -- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. You don't have to be in any particular religion to believe in that idea -- most religions and many variants of atheism see Do unto others as a pretty logical way to live. Third, we lack leadership. Some of you think I am out of my gourd, but those of you who don't think all this is too crazy should be looking for leaders who are reaching across the famous aisles or looking for ways to create coalitions that transcend obsolete idealogical silos.
Whether the present healthcare policy passes into law or not; Whether we get an energy or new stimulus or a financial reform bill -- it doesn't really matter. The losing side will find a way to regroup and challenge again in the coming year or years. It is good to have this kind of competition in government. BUT THE PROBLEM is that this competition is wrong-headed and motivated by sad, pitiful, close-minded extremism. Extremism is a form of sadistic pleasure- seeking that gains only at the expense of others. Real analysis is, on the contrary, pretty hard and dreary work. After working all day, who wants to come home and listen to talking heads discuss and debate the details of our many issues?
As the tsunami comes closer to our sadly weak and short seawalls, we will become clearer about our common and interdependent fates. Real debate and solutions will sound a little sexier. As the baby boom hits the shores of retirement in bigger numbers over the next decades, we will see the end of extreme ideology and the rise of seriousness about evaluating and solving our biggest challenges. Let's hope we don't wait too long.
Was that enough spout?