Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sadly largely lacking from political information: accurate accountability

Another contemplation of late: it's a rather unfortunate situation, in the voting population today, that there's a distinct lack of accurate long-term accountability for actions and policies, and their effects. This is certainly a phenomenon not restricted only to the political spectrum (eg: some people are baffled about how typical executive compensation packages destroy large corporations in the long-term), but it's especially noticeable and distressing in the political arena. How would Americans ever expect to be able to elect competent leaders, or judge their actions, I wonder, if they cannot even accurately correlate policies to effects?

For example, consider California's budget. The state has a massive deficit, which is causing much distress, and is proving very difficult to address for the current politicians. As a resident, one might be inclined to get rid of the politicians which created this mess, but to do so, one would have to understand the underlying causes of the problem. After all, California has some of the highest property, income, and sales tax rates, so it's highly doubtful that the problem is caused by not enough tax collection; yet you still have morons saying the state needs higher taxes to fix the budget problem! Now, I don't think you'll ever be successful at expunging all the morons from the state/media, but perhaps if the general population was somewhat more educated and cognoscente about the underlying causes, those idiots could be appropriately laughed at, instead of lauded as insightful.

Take, as another example, inflation. Inflation is an economic phenomenon which destroys wealth, creates a "hidden" tax on all assets, creates turmoil in financial markets, and generally encourages people to have destructive financial habits (such as shunning "saving" money, hording assets purely for investment purposes, and engaging in reckless borrowing and speculation just to preserve their wealth). It's generally a "bad thing", but is considered somewhat inevitable in all fiat currency societies, so much so that the government has official inflation targets, and some government officials periodically extol the "virtues" of inflation. If the general public understood that the misery associated with inflation was entirely preventable, that inflation was entirely created/controlled by government monetary policy, and that the loss of wealth and purchasing power they experienced was directly attributable to policies which created inflation (eg: printing a Trillion dollars to fund agenda waste spending), they might have an entirely appropriate unfavorable view of the politician(s) who stole their and their children's money by adopting such policies. Instead, we're cursed with a voting population which accepts such policies as "necessary" without appreciating the damage they cause, and is willing to accept when politicians predictably blame the damage on unrelated actions of the other party.

There are many more examples, of course, and no easy solution. One might argue for an IQ requirement to be part of the voting population, for example, but people not meeting the requirement would feel disenfranchised, and that could lead to discontent and civil unrest. It would be nice to have a non-partisan foundation operating in the public interest to provide unbiased information, but as long as the general population can vote equally, it wouldn't have much effect. It's lamentable, though, that in as progressed and information-savvy of a society as this, we are still governed essentially by the smooth talking and/of big spending few, backed by the idiocracy of the voting population, and politicians and talking heads can continue prattle off moronic distortions as factual statement to mindless applause, rather than immediate condemnation.

1 comment:

  1. I would support prior military service as a requirement for suffrage despite the fact that it would cause me to lose my voting rights. How can you make an informed choice on the Commander in Chief of the Military without military experience of some kind?