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Change that Works

Individuals, politicians and political groups come in several varieties, such as liberal, conservative, libertarian, communist, fascist, socialist, anarchist, or any of the other philosophies or positions. And they use the tenets of their belief system as the basis for solving the issues they are presented with. But reality is not so simple. The solution to complex problems is not always amenable to a one-size-fits-all approach. Often the required approach that achieves the desired result is paradoxical, or opposite to what might be expected. This is also one of the reasons why science does not rely solely on reason to determine solutions. Scientific Method requires rigorous testing to confirm a hypothesis. And similarly, engineering relies on testing to confirm that a product design is correct. Because scientists and engineers are used to dealing with verifiable failures, the need for testing in their fields is obvious. Other people are mostly used to dealing with people, and not the “things” that the scientists and engineers deal with. The biggest difference is that people have reason, and things do not. People with reason are able to take a request, and will tend to filter their responses based on what is reasonable. Therefore, the request does not need to be exactly presented to garner some sort of useful outcome. This is not the sort of approach that works with setting up policy for a nation since, in the aggregate, masses of people do not react like individuals. They react more like things. So, politicians will legislate something, and not fathom why they are not getting the desired result. This difference in the appreciation of things can lead to some disastrously incorrect management situation assessments. An example of this is both the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle disasters. Here, the managers were not able to properly comprehend the impersonal and unforgiving nature of dealing with things. They seemed to have some vague notion that things, like individual people, have a buffer zone of forgiveness derived from their reasoning nature. Good national policy requires that one recognizes that reality does not conform to the rationality that people place on it. Reality does not recognize philosophy. The landscape of reality would appear to change its philosophy from one situation to the next, across disciplines, within disciplines, and even within individual problems. Optimal performance comes by applying the solution that best solves the problem, regardless of which philosophical model that solution is aligned with. For instance, eliminating minimum wages actually benefits the poor immensely, fitting the conservative model. On the other hand, we find that single payer universal health care produces vastly superior health care, fitting the liberal model. But even these examples are more complex than that, such that we find that both of these require a range of liberal and conservative-style components to make each derive the best outcome. Elaborating on the examples, liberals are typically opposed to using free market wages at the lowest income levels, because they believe a legislated solution can improve on the performance of free markets for the poor, even though we continue to find that having a minimum wage produces staggering unemployment and hardship for the very poor. This has been borne out across all countries and at all times, from the time that minimum wages were instituted many decades ago. But the liberal position will not abandon its philosophy and accept reality.And conservatives are typically opposed to single payer universal healthcare because they have adopted the belief that free markets provides superior overall healthcare, even though reality has proven that the outcome is always the opposite. This has been borne out in every country that has single payer universal health care. But the conservative position will not accept these facts which contradict their philosophy.These ideologues are trying to shoehorn every problem into the formula of how their philosophy purports that reality works. And they are not deterred by repeated failures, but continue to hold to their convictions. Even though they may employ “experts” in the solution to the problems, the philosophical bias inevitably pollutes the outcome. Applying a single philosophical solution across the spectrum of real problems is only wishful thinking: erroneously confusing the “reality” inside one’s head with the reality of the real world. The reason for this disconnect is that these people trust their reasoning, and do not realize that reasoning , without knowledge based on rigorous modeling and testing, is not very trustworthy.

Change that works must use rigorously derived solutions, and not allow these to be overridden by a philosophy which is only derived from some intuition of what is right or wrong, or an intuitively derived notion of how the world works. When solutions are properly determined by the nature of the problems themselves, and not by a particular philosophical model, the solutions might look like any of the philosophies. Or different parts of the solution might be divided so that each looks like a different philosophical approach. We cannot allow this type of ignorance to continue to sabotage implementing the change that will work to cure the ills of our society.


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