Sunday, March 13, 2016

There is Something Wrong

There is something wrong in the United States. The political system is tearing itself apart and for no discernible purpose and to no appreciable benefit. The system is broken and we don't know why or how, but it is definitely broken. In times such as these, the villains and  heros become indistinguishable by vantage point, but we are sure that they must exist. How else can this situation be explained?

The problem is the system that we have been using to seek its solution. The problem is crony capitalism, or more specifically, cronyism. Cronyism has become the means that we control large organizations; it is the means for control of the US Government as well as large corporations. We have allowed cronyism to supplant our traditional systems because of the overall complexity of the system and our desire to centralize control.

When we know someone that knows someone that is in the business of doing something that ultimately might be turned back around to us for our advantage, we are using a network of cronies. In systems theory it is called a small worlds network and it is very efficient at transferring information over distances. Using a small worlds network, it is sufficient to know that a certain individual is the one to go to if you want something done. That individual knows others that know others and sure enough, ultimately they know someone that can do the job.

The referencing in a small worlds network is done not by competence, but by connectivity.

When crony networks displace functional networks, the problem itself as a problem, is never what is solved. Crony networks are information transmission networks, they are not direct command and control networks. They do not take responsibility for the problem such as it is and they avoid the exploration necessary to add definition to the original problem. Each stage in the routing is a loss of useful information. The network simply routes the information to another location that will deal with the increasingly abstracted problem in return for a price which is again multiplied as the "solution" is routed back to its source in a circuitous quid pro quo fashion. Crony networks respond to problems the way the brain responds to injuries--it routes around the problem.

Thus, we don't fight wars any longer as a country. We adapt to them. The situation was made very clear to me when I had occasion to ask Senator Corker, the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, if he was planning on rewriting the Authorization for Use of Military Force in Afghanistan seeing that the military objectives all flowed down from this document and at the present time (several years ago), the US military was rudderless. His response was that he thought that President Obama had enough power through the current authorization. In other words, Senator Corker could not even comprehend the problem. Rather he saw the situation as one of negotiating relationships.

We would be right to imagine that the problem of the Iraq war was conceived in similar terms by President Bush. Not until the time when he understood that if we were not winning the war, that we were losing and then making the speedy connection to his reelection prospects, Bush finally decided that a different strategy by different generals was appropriate.

The deficiency of small worlds networks is that they do not simultaneously sense that which they control. Crony networks are ignorant of the larger problem surrounding them. They were never meant to solve problems, they were meant to transmit information across distances.

So today, the crony networks that make up the US Government have been ignorant to the burdens that they have put on the American people over the past many years. Like the absurd Rules of Engagement impressed on our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US Government understands the actual problems of the American people as abstractions that are then routed around. Each layer of complexity justified by the problem is meant to insulate the government from its affects rather than to solve the actual problem.

Thus, in a failing educational system, we are offered common core as a "solution". In response to an economic collapse, we are given more taxation and more government spending. In response to the destruction of the American family, we are given more restrictions on family life. Is it no wonder that labor is imported so readily and lawlessly from Central America when our government restricts the ability of the US worker to profit from his own labors? The system is simply routing around the problem as it sees it.

In a normal functional relationship rewards are distributed to those that contribute productively to the solution of a problem. In situations where crony networks flourish, these rewards are chocked off. Furthermore, the information flows that sense problems are suppressed. Thus a gap has opened between the people and its dysfunctional government just as a gap has opened between the US Government and the reality of problems in the outside world. Our government has no idea of our problems and we are increasingly powerless to represent ourselves to this government in order to have these problems solved.

The crony network has grown to the point that the cumulative costs that are siphoned off at each stage of the quid pro quo network are so much that they are consuming the host. It must be beaten back if we are to survive. Immediately, it requires that the individual voter become responsible and aware for his own vote. The solution to the problem is to regrow our civic structures and save what remains. This work is hard and with little psychic reward. But, it is the reality of the situation. The alternative is worse.