I Stand Before You Completely Different

These are potential allies, people who would be good patriots if we just make the effort.


Speech by an Honest Party Congressional candidate to an Inner City Constituency, 2016 election

So I stand before you as a white guy who grew up on farms in Ohio in the 1960s and 70s. Graduated high school in 1983, went on to college, was 1 of about 1 in 17 white males in my generation that got advanced degrees, taught college and medical school, failed at academia and became an engineer. I had a good career.  I did a lot of interesting projects, interesting jobs.

No hiding it, I am not like many of you. Older, educated, nerdy, white Midwest farm-boy who believes in the non-coercion principle as the bedrock of morality, and insists that government be moral, be honest, and be able to prove it at every moment. And that it works.

So, if you all think that a person has to be a lot like you in order to represent your interests, you really should vote against me. Voting for your interests is what democracy is all about, a system of government that says every individual is the best judge of what is best for themselves. I want you to vote your interests and have no problem with you thinking I am not the right person. That is how it is supposed to work.

And most people do.  I suppose you all have been voting for people most like you to represent your interests your whole lives, and your parents and grandparents did too.

How’s that working out for you?

Not so good, I think. But it hasn’t worked out real well for any of us down here in the lower 99%, and God help you if you are in the lowest 10%, no matter your race, creed or color you are screwed. The folks on welfare don’t have a lot of choice, I think. Some are needy, which the welfare programs were designed for. And then they expanded as the society got richer and more generous, and taxes went up and business went down and jobs went away and we had to have more programs for the jobless, … The people who are doing OK are all in businesses that are in highly-regulated industries or who supply them with various services. The medical cartel, the military-related cartel, the federal services cartel(s), the financial services cartel, the legal cartel, the education cartel. Most of those will laugh and tell us how intense the competition between them is. Sure, billion-dollar aircraft are produced by intense competition. And our wonderful gov services, lots of competition there. And very many MDs are not taking new patients.

Every law has effects in the economy, shifts prices of different goods and services in different directions. Those create constituencies for that law, and more laws like them. Having created a demand, legislators rush to fill it, a service costing campaign contributions, seats on the board of directors of NGOs and companies paying $30K for an afternoon a year in a luxurious hotel suite in a great vacation spot with fantastic food, fine wine and lovely playmates.

They don’t live like you and me.

If you were in the lower end of that system, e.g. lawyering, you could do OK despite the big surplus of lawyers, maybe because of the big surplus. You see, they were a cheap resource, so they went into many administrative positions in business and government and immediately started increasing their power via rules and their ability to interpret (inside the agency) or circumvent (in private practice) the rules. Successive generations of this high level of legal entrepreneurship has produced quite a body of rules.

Guess who pays for all that ruling and interpreting? Do you feel the society has become more Just as a result of their work? That we are more one people, generally accepting and appreciating each other? Actually, I do, but think it is because we people are a lot better than our government and its effects. We, all of us, more and more appreciate that you others spend 99.5% of your time thinking about family, work, kids, food, sex and drugs, just like we do. Just kidding about the drugs, of course.

Pardon me for being a pain in the ass about this, but I have to point out that we have all of us been doing something real wrong for things to turn out this way. Our world is way worse than we all think it can be and should be. There has been a long conversation over about 50 years about whether government should assume more control of the society in order to make it better. Nearly all such decisions, from the beginning of federal control of the economy and society, were intended to do good. And they did good, but, despite a lot of articles about the great goods these programs have done over the years, and remember, they did some good, we have ended up in the sorry state of a big proportion of our total population out of jobs, the highest incarceration rate in the world by far, people falling in income relative to prices at every level of the social and economic order. Except for the very top, of course.

How to explain all this?

I don’t know. If you understand all that above, followed my stream of consciousness-everything-is-connected meander, you understand that it isn’t knowable. We can’t figure out cause-and-effect for any social or economic event. Everything has a thousand causes, most of which we can’t measure. Give it up, there is no basis for social or economic engineering.

And you folks in this audience and your friends and neighbors are the world experts in social engineering. The black and Appalachian poor in the US have been the laboratory rats for more social engineering than any population in history. Give our politician-social engineers credit, they were well-intentioned people and the best thinking of the deciding classes at the time was that the country needed their improvements to the welfare system, the education system, job training, child welfare, hospice, community outreach, … The people in them were genuinely proud of their work at the beginning of each experiment implementing well-intended laws.

So how has all that good intentioned social engineering worked out for you? I mean the minor side-effects of blighted neighborhoods, lousy schools, drug dealers in the streets, the patronage system with political parties in control of everything, especially the falling number of jobs, .. On and on and on. You guys can do the list better than me.

Progressives believe they were right enough to do the experiment. It wasn’t exactly phrased that way, rather some version of ‘humanity owes it to them and so you should feel good about taxing some of you’. Larded about with political patronage, graft, corruption, high administration costs with lots of jobs, lots of lawyers, growing complexities for everyone remotely touching these services. Falling heavily on the poorest and least educated.

To the black guys and girls, young men and women, on the street. Here you are, out here all night every night, rain or shine or show or sleet, risking your lives to sell highly desired products. You folks bring a lot of money through the neighborhood. You know better than me how much. Do you get to see a lot of it? Your boss sees some, he does OK. You guys do better than average in the neighborhood, even way better, but that still isn’t very good when you compare yourself to the life of your legal-aide lawyer next time they arrest you. Even the jailers do better than some of you guys and gals working the streets. And the reason is the same as always, you are working for someone else, and somewhere up the chain of command is strong political influence selling your services. “Providing services to you” is how they phrase it.

Failure everywhere is how any unbiased observer must see it. There is not a single service provided by our government that is working for the lower 10% in our society. Most don’t even work well for our fading middle-class, their schools work because parents make up for the dumb curricula and teaching methods, control the excesses of the administrations better.

So, how to explain all this failure? First the engineering and science understanding. Engineering is having the tables of material characteristics and equations, measurements and specifications tied down tight. All the possible variables known and understood, plans with measures of progress at every step, and a management that can make that happening with high probability. And if it is a complex problem, you better have all those things tied down real tight, or your design and construction will fail.

Did we have the measurements and equations needed to do any of those social engineering projects? Of course not.

As an engineer and citizen, I insist that we acknowledge the consequences of our social engineering projects. When we face up to the outright failures and the opportunity costs of those failures and the thinking behind them, we have the understanding not to do that again. That is how we got here. Top down improvement has not worked.

And the other science and engineering understanding : every law is interpreted in the context of other laws, sometimes many other laws, some very large. That multiple is the exponent for the increase in complexity of the intersection of legal and social and economic worlds. In other words, the increase in the complexity of our lives is the number of pages of law raised to an exponent of the average number of legal interactions per page. Exponential complexity is exponential costs. Eventually a system like that prices itself out of business, as our government has been doing for some time.

Top down improvement can’t work because the rule-based control systems don’t scale.

But the social, family-level understanding is equally important. Every family has problems, members we are proud of, members we like, and we all know each other’s misfortunes and failures. It doesn’t take a lot of insight to see that their misfortunes and failures are real strongly tied to how the outside world is going. When there are a lot of jobs that hire competent young men and women, we raise competent young men and women, they have an advantage in the social order, the cool and intelligent follow their lead and the society follows. And ditto on the business side, so golden times.

But when times are tough, poor people do more dumb things. So do not-so-poor people, there are a lot of white guys in jail for drug offenses too, most everyone has some relative who had problems. And none of that to deny that some of our relatives are ne’er-do-wells, never quite got their act together. Individual responsibility counts.

There is also no denying that a bad economy is the price for a large government. There are no exceptions, which is what we Honest Party people have been telling everyone since the beginning of our utopian era. We have vastly over-centralized our civilization by allowing our governments to become so powerful. Centralized systems fail, and they fail by biasing everyone to fail, by making the choices too hard, the criteria for success too high. Too few jobs is the defining factor of these failures.

And the system fails one individual at a time. One blighted life at a time. Another person resigned to a minimum wage life.

Failing citizens giving up are not good for any of us. We need to stop those failures at the source.

Vote for me, let’s stop the government from helping.

1 thought on “I Stand Before You Completely Different

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