Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Liberals vs. Conservatives

Robert Moore, thank you for this review. I am old enough to remember the welfare situation of the seventies where every family I knew was getting government cheese from somewhere and more than one family had a convenient address for the father so they could be on the government dole. I remember the old war and its absolutely unpredicted conclusion. As an industrial engineer and computer specialist, I remember the massive changes in productivity and business practices that took place from 1975 to now. As a lower member of General Motors management, I remember a group of workers who had not been assigned a job for over two years walking down the aisle in the middle of the workday in a UAW represented plant. I remember asking a UAW committeeman "what will happen if GM fails?" only to be answered "Not in my time!"

The Reagan era was an answer to all of that. World competition was an answer to all of that. The Reagan-Thatcher-Gorbachev era of world politics was an answer to all of that. The answer is what it is and is far better than what might have happened. We are in an absolutely new era. The industrial age is past and a new age is being born. In the confusion of the birth of this new age, the lumbering stupidity of government institutions is amply demonstrated by the survival of a Osama bin Laden, by the existence of pirates on the world's oceans ,by the existence of drug cartels in spite of society's efforts to remove them and by the ability of criminal elements to take over the reins of government in many places including parts of the US system.

The U.S. government has grown massively during this era. When I drove to Washington D.C. in 1970 from my home in Norfolk, Virginia, federal government buildings rose from the country side far closer to the center of the city than they do now. Now, parts of Virginia and Maryland give the appearance of being government dominated states. You can see it from the roadside. Inside these new buildings are systems and communication links that increase the capacity of those using them by hundred to thousands of times from what was possible in 1970.

We are at the beginning of a tranformational era. Little or nothing about life will be the same. Open-mindedness to all ideas is the best approach. Belief that friends and enemies are defined by the conservative to liberal continuum is one of the most distracting positions in public discourse today. The power elites who control the world today will use such ideas to manipulate systems in ways they wish. The elites are very able and wise at their craft. They see, probably correctly, that their interests and the interests of the nation-state called the United States of America no longer match well. Their companies are headquartered in Dubai, their ships fly Liberian flags, their security comes from Blackwater, and they live anywhere from Miami to Hong Kong. Their family relations and friends come from every nation and have much more in common than the citizens of those nations. They define a new era and world.

New solutions and new systems that are global in reach will define this new age. New Deal liberalism and 1970 teachings of Milton Friedman have about as much to add to the discussion as Church debates from the High Middle Ages had to the needs of men of the Renaissance. I hope the book under discussion defines this new age and doesn't dwell on the recent but long-lost past.

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