By now, I've already written a ton about politics. In four blog posts, I've discussed the Purpose of Government, I gave my 2012 Endorsement from Evolutionary Philosophy to President Obama, I described why his presidency resembled the Middle of a Turnaround using ideas from corporate change management, and I posted a sample passage from my novel Draining the Swamp, which is all about government and politics and one heroine's efforts to make a difference in them.
I love political philosophy. I love the possibilities that good governance can give us. I love the freedoms and interdependencies it has already given us. I love the step that America took to lead the world toward open, democratic societies. But I can't stand the constant stream of bad news lately about how broken the US political system is these days (with Republican obstructionism, the criminal ROI of corporations paying small sums to lobbyists for their enormous tax breaks, the apolitical IRS stupidly focusing on one political party, Monsanto getting politicians to anonymously add benefits for them into bills) and what that has done to our society (poor education, poor health care, crumbling infrastructure, dying ecosystems, high income inequality, mass shootings). It all gets me so angry because I want to do something about it, but then depressed because there's just not much more I can do. Some day, when I'm done writing these essays to help introduce and illustrate all the parts of Evolutionary Philosophy, I'm sure I'll write many op-eds (or is that op-Eds, short for the Opinion of Ed) about the politics of the day and what we might do to change them. It's something I'm hugely passionate about. If I thought I were electable, I'd run for office. But for now, let me just lay down some of my guiding principles of political philosophy.
Government / Politics
The purpose of government is to regulate the economic system by correcting market failures in order to best ensure the long-term survival of the species. Different strategies are required for the markets of different types of goods. Public goods (non-excludable, non-rivalrous) such as national defense, justice, and public utilities must be highly regulated or provided by government. Common goods (non-excludable, rivalrous) such as air, water, fish stocks, and timber must be protected for long-term sustainability. Club goods and private goods (both excludable) should be regulated towards perfect competition, which ensures maximum benefits for consumers. The six characteristics of perfect competition are: 1) many suppliers with an insignificant share of the market; 2) identical output produced by each firm; 3) consumers with perfect information about goods and prices; 4) all firms have equal access to resources and technologies; 5) there are no barriers to entry or exit in the long term; 6) there are no externalities in production or consumption of the goods.
The regulation of the economic system is an extraordinarily powerful position to occupy so there is great possibility and temptation to succumb to corruption by the money in the economic system. Corruption can occur anywhere singular people have hidden control over a decision. This is why checks and balances and transparency within the political system are of the utmost importance. It is also why only people of the highest character development should be chosen to work in this field.
Authoritarian or monarchical rule is plagued by the tyranny of the individual. A true democracy (all decisions made by majority vote) is plagued by the tyranny of the majority. The proper construction of a government is somewhere in the middle - a republic with representatives empowered to speak for the majority and the minority.
Among life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, life is paramount. This does not mean the life of an individual though; it means all life. Survival of the species is paramount. Individual freedom must therefore be constrained. Individual freedom must be subsumed to the cooperative goal of creating a lasting society. This is not a heavy burden as true happiness can only be found in a society that is safe for life. The appropriate sacrifices of the individual for the sake of society are merely the wise sacrifices of the short term for the sake of the long term.
Countries that recognize the evolutionarily philosophical goals of humanity, economics, and government will naturally desire to form coalitions of cooperation. Countries that do not recognize these goals may try to compete with these coalitions. They cannot be allowed to win. Cheaters within evolutionarily stable systems must not be allowed to win. Sovereignty is not a valid shield to hide behind when actions go beyond borders. Diplomacy, aid, ostracism, and force are the escalating options to deal with countries (corrupt leaders, really) that do not cooperate.
There are some commons that are common to the world. These must be regulated by an international system of protection and enforcement.
Political discussions become heated very quickly in today's world. I'm hoping discussions around political philosophy will be less so. I'd love to hear your thoughts about this - even though I kind of hate politics right now.