Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Is there a middle?

When sides define themselves by what they are against and adopt beliefs and policies opposite to those they are against to create distance and separation between them, the middle vanishes. The middle left and the middle right exist, but they differ as much or more between them as from their own extremes. Only in appealing to common interests can a middle form. When is the last time someone on your side had something good to say about the opposition, or you yourself? When those things that divide us outweigh those that unite us, the center cannot last.

Monday, January 22, 2018

On filibusters

The advantage of filibusters is it makes it harder to change things, so once changed they tend to stay that way rather than reversing with each change of congress. The disadvantage is it makes it harder to accomplish anything. Those are part and parcel of the same package. It empowers a minority opposition, but that is what it is designed to do. There are worse things than the filibuster though. A majority of the majority is just another means of filibuster, but one controlled by an even smaller number, yet this is not enshrined in rules and only a majority of the majority could change this.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Governance and Majorities

Majorities mean having to be responsible even when it means doing what you hate so are always to blame when they don't, it is only a question of which blame is greater, being irresponsible or doing what was necessary. When you consider government the problem, shutting it down may seem a solution, and it may be, just not the way you thought come election time. When BS is adored, it comes to being believed, which proves a great mistake and failing.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Freedom of speech v. freedom to listen?

Does free speech mean not having to lie? Or does free speech allow lies in the name of belief? Does freedom of speech entail the freedom to lie? Does anyone expect honesty from speech once it becomes politicized? Everyone may be entitled to their beliefs, but are they entitled to lie? Are they entitled to force others to listen to them? Is there anything free about forcing others to listen? Shouldn't listening be as free as speech?

Monday, October 23, 2017

At what rate should business be taxed?

A great many say not at all, that is, 0%. But what are we as individuals and households but businesses without license or incorporation? Should none of us pay taxes? How will we raise the taxes necessary to operate? It may be preferable to tax consumption more and production less, but even that requires distinguishing consumption from production, not that easily done. Much consumption is necessary for production and much production throws off consumptive benefits, and consumption can occur at a basic level of necessity to an extraordinary level of opulence, just as production can maximize profits or growth or minimize them in favor of non pecuniary benefits. Consumption also varies much less than production and so requires much higher rates to generate the same in taxes. Higher rates mean more is spent in avoidance and evasion. While taxing production sounds bad as it can lead to less of it, production being highly unequal, leads to further inequality, which leads to corruption and distortion of the political system in its favor, not just output but rents as well. Ability to pay is more important than willingness to consume for taxation.

Monday, October 2, 2017

What does it mean to compromise?

People generally prefer compromise as long as it is someone else doing it. Less so when it is themselves. In this country, super majorities are necessary to accomplish anything and super majorities can only be assembled through compromise. When assembled at the ballot box, compromise may only be needed within one party though it is always wise to attempt compromise beyond it if at all possible to increase the possibility of compromise beyond it when needed, but super majorities rule. While compromise beyond it is desirable, it is not necessary, and if no compromise is possible, that cannot stop their duty of proceeding. Minorities must know what they want, what they can do without, what they can accept, and what they can't. They need to know what the majority wants, what they can do without, what they can accept, and what they can't. The latter is usually better known as it is embodied in legislation. Facing a super majority, minorities must realize they have already lost, the super majority will have its way, and the only possibility is to salvage what they can. They may be able to make some minor improvements or forestall some of the worst, but they can only do this through compromise, and their position is one of weakness. They must accept not everything will go their way and they will not win every battle. They cannot dictate terms beyond those the majority can accept. Complaints about lack of compromise of the majority by the minority is that of sore losers. Complaints about lack of compromise of the minority by the majority may be accurate but is irrelevant. Majorities unable to assemble the necessary super majority will fail to accomplish what they want without compromising more. They must realize they are losing, the minority will have its way, and the only possibility is to compromise more if they are to succeed. They may be able to provide some inducements or offer some concessions, but they can only do this through compromise, and their position, though a majority, is one of weakness. They must accept they will not get everything they want and may have give up more than they would like, or accept losing. They can dictate terms but the minority can reject them. Complaints about lack of compromise of the minority by the majority is that of sore losers. Complaints about lack of compromise of the majority by the minority are justified unless a super majority. To compromise is to not expect you will get all you want and to expect to give up more than you would like to accomplish something. No compromise is necessary if you don't want to accomplish anything. To compromise is to win some, lose some, and move on.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Disagreement and Responsibility

Persuasion is much more effective when focusing on similarities than differences, and while similarities are more common than differences, differences at the margin of agreement are often most salient at the margin of change, discussion, and policy. It is possible to both assume more similarity than exists and think most reasonable people think how you think, and that differences are greater than they are and engagement useless. It is possible to both ignore similarities and adopt opposing views simply to forestall agreement and paper over differences that are real and significant and believe similarity exists where it does not. Reasonable disagreement requires reasonable discussion, a desire to seek common ground, identify disagreement, an openness to new facts and information, a willingness to reveal our true objections, and to not letting our objectives blind us to our operation or vice versa. Most of all, it takes two. If one side isn't knowledgeable or interested in learning, isn't interested in common ground or seeking agreement, is not open to new information or self examination, that only repeats discredited assertions or makes false arguments, the most that can be done is to imagine the best case an opponent could make. Naturally, this is very difficult and will always seem unconvincing since if they thought as we do they would believe as we do. The more important task is to make our case the best we can and expose the falsehoods and weaknesses of our opponents. Opponents interested in reasonable discussion will welcome the chance to correct misconceptions and improve their arguments. Those who aren't will avoid substantive discussion and declaim on their opponents character and how they are being treated unfairly.