Two for those who voted today

Question 1: Was your vote influenced by concern of losing some direct benefit that you are now receiving from the government?

Maybe you believe that your vote will help preserve your Social Security check or Medicare coverage. Or perhaps you’re a teacher who thinks the Federal government will help fund your paycheck. Or you work for a Federal contractor that you expect will get more government work under one administration than the other.

Question 2: At any time recently have you grumbled or thought about ‘how broken our political system’ is because of all the special interests, lobbyists and politicians who promise one thing and do others?

If you answered yes to both questions, have you considered that you are part of the reason ┬áthe ‘system is broken’?

What if it doesn’t work?

A moderate/liberal, but mostly uninterested in politics, friend of mine recently told me that he may not vote for Obama next week.


I’ve worked with this friend for years.

One thing I influenced him on over the years was the idea of emergent order. I pointed out that success stories are often a matter of random luck and the best way to ensure a company’s success is to try as many of the happenstance of random luck as possible.

We saw it over and over at our business. Many things that seemed like they should have worked, didn’t. Some things that seemed like they shouldn’t have worked, did. Many of those things were discovered by accident.

I pointed out to him that centralized management and politically powerful constituent groups in the organization stifled the emergent order that is evolutionary, random, experimental discovery. Stifling that process led to lackluster results — unless the company happened to be very lucky.

My friend said health care was the issue that made him reconsider his presidential vote. Obamacare is a centralized system that will stifle discovery and innovation. It doesn’t allow us to experiment with plans B, C, D, etc. if Plan A doesn’t seem to be working. It only allows for us to keep tweaking Plan A — which puts us on the same path as a mature company that can only manage to tweak its core products, rather discover new ones.

My friend has seen Plan A not pan out enough times that he thought Romney’s approach of letting the states experiment seemed to make more sense.

I don’t know if he will follow through, but it’s good to know that I’ve at least caused him to think about it.

But I like wine and beer

In this election season, it’s good to remember a classic Walter Williams column from 2010, Conflict or Cooperation.

Different Americans have different and often intense preferences for all kinds of goods and services. Some of us have strong preferences for beer and distaste for wine while others have the opposite preference — strong preferences for wine and distaste for beer. Some of us hate three-piece suits and love blue jeans while others love three-piece suits and hate blue jeans. When’s the last time you heard of beer drinkers in conflict with wine drinkers, or three-piece suit lovers in conflict with lovers of blue jeans? It seldom if ever happens because beer and blue jean lovers get what they want. Wine and three-piece suit lovers get what they want and they all can live in peace with one another.

It would be easy to create conflict among these people. Instead of free choice and private decision-making, clothing and beverage decisions could be made in the political arena. In other words, have a democratic majority-rule process to decide what drinks and clothing that would be allowed. Then we would see wine lovers organized against beer lovers, and blue jean lovers organized against three-piece suit lovers. Conflict would emerge solely because the decision was made in the political arena. Why? The prime feature of political decision-making is that it’s a zero-sum game. One person’s gain is of necessity another person’s loss. That is if wine lovers won, beer lovers lose.

It seems with each election cycle we continue to shove things into the political decision-making arena that shouldn’t be there.

One such thing: what children eat for lunch at school.

I’ve been an opponent of the First Lady’s movement to control school lunches since the beginning. Recently,there has been a rash of news stories about students and parents who have become less appreciative of the First Lady’s school lunch efforts as they find their personal choices in conflict with what the government thinks best.

As the election draws closer, I encourage you to keep your eyes peeled for things that are being unnecessarily shoved into the political decision-making arena.

New York city is the innovator in this arena. They’ve placed smoking, salt and now large, sugary-drinks in the political arena. They are being placed there because the government, acting in the best interest of their taxpayers, claim these things drive up health care costs.

As Obamacare takes hold, watch for these trends to go nationwide. The rationale used by these nannies is, “If I’m paying for your health care, then I have a right to tell you not to drink Super Big Gulps.”

Watch out, if you lead what others may consider an unhealthy lifestyle. They may eventually use the above logic to seek to limit the choices you make — all for the greater good, of course — or deny you the generosity of ‘their’ funding.

What I find ironic, is how this super-nanny-ism is never compared to a free market. In a free market, you make choices and deal with the consequences.

Some find that objectionable because it appears to lack compassion. What about those who don’t have the means to handle the consequences?

But, it is rarely considered whether they could have made different choices leading up to consequences and if not having to deal with the consequences caused them to make less responsible choices.

But, once the ‘compassion’ of super-nannyism takes over, it surprises me how quickly the super-nannies lose compassion for those they judge to have not made responsible choices. Now that I’m paying for your health care, I have the right to tell you not to drink Super Big Gulps.