Monday, January 02, 2012

Politics Is Digital But People Are Analog


Now that 2012 is upon us, the reality of the election process for a new president impinges on our thoughts more frequently.  Potential voters are called upon to combine their own personal biases with "positions" from various candidates and attempt to make a rational choice in the voting booth in November.  It is a choice made more complicated by incomplete information and outright distortions.

Politicians are busy trying to determine the direction toward which the wind is blowing so that they can adjust their proclamations accordingly.  The position of the day becomes fodder for charges of "flip-flopping."  Last year [or five years ago], so-and-so had a progressive rating of 7.9 out of 10 for this and now he is 3.2.  That means he has either learned his lesson or become disgustingly weak, depending on which bias against which the position is scored.  53.7% of voters favor such-and-such, up from 42.1% just a year ago.  We need [want] digital precision in our politics.

If we examine our daily personal lives, we can see how our thoughts our more analog... less precise.  We are more ... or less ... inclined about various issues, feelings, needs, etc. from day to day.  We are often ambivalent about something: we pity the plight of the poor family whose story has just been broadcast and wonder why they aren't being helped more, but we view lack of personal economic success as a failure of personal initiative.  In similar ambivalent thinking, some believe more taxes are necessary... just not from themselves.  This ambivalence reflects the analog nature of life... nothing is quite exact or precise... nothing is static.
A big part of the political problem is that we, as a nation, are just too big to be managed effectively on a national scale... and it will only get more difficult.  We want to believe that less than a thousand people at the top of the political pyramid can direct... effectively... the myriad interactions of hundreds of millions of individuals in thousands of communities and dozens of states.

What we get is more: more laws, regulations, directives, contradiction, waste, dislocation, and distortion.  In an attempt to standardize the nation, we trample the variation that makes the nation prosper and function effectively... often in the name of that variation or diversity.  No, that doesn't mean there should not be standards.  We don't want 300 different voltages being distributed along the electric grid.  But neither do we want a central government telling us what we must have in our diets or what level of health care is allowable.  Our national size forces us to accept some commonality, but it does not force us to accept that our personal rights must be trampled to protect someone else's personal rights.  It also doesn't mean that the government should pick winners and losers... something best left to the marketplace and millions of dynamic, self-interested decisions.

As citizens and voters, we will be faced with a "1 or 0" choice ... yes or no ... purely digital ... in November.  It will satisfy us for the moment and then we will begin the process of four more years of analog feelings about the results... more or less.  We will try to defend our reasoning with digital arguments, but the reality is analog... and that is why political reality is so confounding to most of us.  We must remember that the candidates for president are analog beings with analog contradictions ... despite the digital positions they may publicly state.  None of them is capable of being 1 or 0 on everything.

They will be more or less... and they will be more or less appealing depending on your personal biases.

That's not to say that the nature of politics is unnatural, but nature is analog after all.  Where are, for example, these politicians along your analog gauge?

2012 IS HERE


Can"t Find It?

Use the SEARCH BLOG feature at the upper left. For example, try "Global Warming".

You can also use the "LABELS" below or at the end of each post to find related posts.

Blog Archive

Cost of Gasoline - Enter Your Zipcode or Click on Map

CO2 Cap and Trade

There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
... The Government is on course for an embarrassing showdown with the European Union, business groups and environmental charities after refusing to guarantee that billions of pounds of revenue it stands to earn from carbon-permit trading will be spent on combating climate change.
The Independent (UK)

Tracking Interest Rates

Tracking Interest Rates


SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

My photo
Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)