Sharing stuff I've learned, and things I've thought about...

Checks & Balances

That government is best that governs least – attributed erroneously to Thomas Jefferson

Checks & balances built into our form of government need to be reflected in our society at large. There needs to be a general recognition that both business and individual interests do not always coincide with the interests of the citizenry; other individuals and businesses are affected by actions taken by private enterprise to pursue their own interests. Just as each branch of government serves as a check on the other two, and just as the voters serve as a check on the actions of our government, government is in a position to serve as a check on the private sector (both individual and corporate).

It is true that efforts by government to provide effective checks against inappropriate and harmful actions and practices by the private sector can sometimes lead to undesirable second- and third-order effects. The solution is not to prohibit the role of government to regulate, but to hold government to a higher standard, avoiding ideology and the impetus for a quick-fix band-aid in favor of more carefully considered actions, and continual monitoring of the effects of those actions to ensure that the desired result is achieved.

We as a people have allowed our government to take short-sighted and ill-conceived actions repeatedly over generations. The recent difficulties of my home town (Detroit) is the most striking recent example of allowing governments to run roughshod over any semblance of responsible public stewardship. The solution is not to limit the role of government to conform to some philosophical ideal which will never achieve the lofty goals that the ideologues claim, but to demand our governments operate within a horizon much more distant than that defined by the election cycle. Crippling government will only serve the interests of those who feel that they have all the resources needed to provide for themselves all of the security that they require. Think gated communities and private police forces.

The only check on corporate or individual excesses is a strong government. The only check on excesses of strong government is the power and influence of the people built into our constitution.

If you don’t think things are working the way they should, read the preceding paragraph a few more times and ask yourself, what is it in that simple description that is broken?