Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Politics and Promises

Since we are now in the campaign season. It is time for me to bestow some country wisdom on you young'uns. And here it is in a nutshell. Promises is crap!

Just ask yourself what could happen if these soapbox philosophers are successful in fulfilling their promises. What we will get is an experiment void of clinical trial. I have thunk on this a bit and here is the breakdown.

When there is some perceived social problem, government will try to solve the problem as far as the solution betters the candidate’s chances of election. But many of these issues are complicated as a banker's bookkeepin' and the “ideas” offered ain't guaranteed to produce the desired results. The law of unintended consequences takes hold and that means that things can go wrong, and the smartest of us will figure a way to make hay out of it. Politicians are all too willing to experiment with our community and our sacred institutions. The casual use of experimentation has risks. And, it is common knowledge that any politic worth his salt knows these risks and how to play them to his benefit.

Risk Factors:
Risk Factor #1: Can the experiment be undone if results are undesirable?

  • The primary reason that an experiment may not be undoable is that the outcome benefits some group other, intended or not. And, once a benefit is bestowed by government, it gains a following and that knot gets harder to untie. If it needs undoing, then government would be taking away a "god given" (government bestowed) right.
  • It is more detrimental to a candidate’s approval to propose removal a benefit than it is to fail to bestow one. Besides the candidate can always claim that he/she "tried" to do the right thing, but the other party was in the hip pocket of the (liberals / conservatives / radicals / rednecks / business) and too stubborn to go along.

Risk Factor #2: Does the experiment affect small or large portions of the population?

  • The larger the group affected, the greater the consequences of failure or success. Still, one could be strung up either way. But would you rather hang as a senator or a common citizen.

Risk Factor #3: What is the length of the experiment (time passage between implementation of experimental condition to evaluation of results)?

  • If successful or unsuccessful, will results be understood? If the time required to determine if the experiment worked is long enough, the candidate can avoid being judged on whether the idea was a good one. Therefore, the candidate can avoid the consequences of half-baked ideas.
  • What is the measure of success? If the test of the experiment is based on fuzzy definitions of success, then it is easier to deflect criticism. "They was expecting something completely different that what we intended!" The "we" here includes all those who benefited from the experiment whether that was the original intent or not.


Tis better for candidates to promote government actions which promise to benefit large numers of constituents, will take decades to produce results and which can have multiple definitions of success.

Anyway, that's the way I look at it.

RK "Tex" Arado


Cowgirl Betty said...

I think Hun would agree with you, and use your argument to justify why we shouldn't have universal health care and all roads should be toll roads.

Anonymous said...

Bet Hun wouldn't like toll roads if he had to use them every day...! You've still got ol' Bull. Great blog! Heiffer