A Mechanism for Finding Better Solutions and Implementing Them

This is a reconstruction of several comments of mine as part of a discussion with some valued and respected friends who disagree with me about political things.  In the process of it, I have found a vision, and I’m liking it.  I’d like some further thoughts about it from thoughtful people of different positions.  It began with a link to an article I posted which was written by a black Republican woman, and the discussion of that led to a request for sources who could answer questions about the relative causes of factors of poverty in the black community, particularly as concerns social welfare programs and imprisonment on drug charges.

None that I know of, but I  can see that some might exist. I know the guys who did Freakanomics did some exploring of similar topics. It’s hard, because this is such an emotionally invested question. Those who support it, do so because they… like the idea of helping those in need. Those who oppose it, do so because they don’t like the way the helping is done, and the impacts it has on the people it intends to help. And each represents the other as if they oppose the reasons for their position — as if those who oppose the programs do so because they are mean and want to hurt those people, and those who support them as if the goal is to subjugate and infantilize the people they are trying to help.

All the reason of the pro-Life pro-Choice debate.

Part of the problem is that there is no reference book that you can refer to that says “For X economic problem, apply Y, and all will be better.”  So we can all sit around and throw out reasonable sounding solutions to whatever problems we see, with no way to find out which will work other than to try them and see what happens — and no guarantee that we will understand what worked, why, and what similar sounding situations in the future will be made far worse by applying the same solution as seems to have worked now.  Economies are chaotic systems, in which small, sometimes invisible causes can have far wider and deeper effects than larger, more visible causes do.

This is scary, if you think about it too much.  The expectation of the Modern World that we can comprehend and control the uncertainties of the future through application of Reason and Science proves more of a wish than a fact.  Liberalism and Conservatism both turn away from this, because both are based on the assumption that correct application of their principles will produce beneficial and predictable results.   This has proven a faith-based hope more than an evidence-based assertion.

With that in mind, I think we would do best to develop an ability to detach from our subscribed paradigms and their associated distrust of those who disagree, and to negotiate consensus solutions which can be sold to those who share those paradigms in such a way that they can be implemented without the necessary agreement of the nominal leaders of our “sides.”  Just as said leaders can come together to seek and find compromises which contrast with the sensibilities of their nominal followers and implement them over their objections, in a top-down direction, we can seek and find a consensus of the reasonable among the followers and build enough support for them within our “sides” that we can impose them on our leaders in a bottom-up direction, who will discover that they have agreed with these solutions all the time.

The first step is to nuance our loyalty to our sides, similar to that which the OP describes, and develop a courage to see truths which contrast with our suppositions.  Then, we can seek the ears and thoughts and voices of those who have taken such a step (or are disposed to), and give them our ears, our thoughts, and our voices in return.  Letting go of our assumptions and understanding the “others” more as they understand themselves can reduce the pointless and stupid bickering of miscommunication and misunderstanding, as solutions become more about pragmatism and less about ideology.

I better stop, before I injure myself.

3 thoughts on “A Mechanism for Finding Better Solutions and Implementing Them

  1. I just finished “Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass” by Theodore Dalrymple. He describes in elaborate detail the British underclass and the specific causes for their sorry state. This is all based on thousands upon thousands of interactions with individuals (he is a physician at a state hospital in the part of town that brings him into constant contact with the underclass). The causes are not unique to Britain but are happening everywhere. Well worth the time to read. I’m now reading “Our Culture, What’s Left of It” also by Dalrymple.


  2. Thank you for your kind offer. I have the Kindle Reader installed. I shall contact you presently (sorry, but Pride and Prejudice came installed and I read Chapter 1 again).

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