Tackling Weighty Issues:
Mid-term Question Two

by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright July 2013


Outline your perfect political structure. Define its laws and its governing body. Answer as best you can the problems we face right now in education, social and legal areas. Build your utopian government and describe the workings in detail.



Defining the perfect political structure is like defining the perfect partner: You really don't know, even after you've experienced your best choice. But, that doesn't prevent you from thinking about other possibilities.

In this discussion I will first cover axioms -- definitions/givens -- then show how choosing these reveals the good structure.


Governing is situational.

This is why we have many forms for the many circumstances of our lives. Examples:

o When you in school taking or giving courses you are subject to a school government.

o When you are working for a company you are subject to a company government.

o When you live in the United States you are subject to many different levels of geographic government, plus the governing of many regulating agencies which are based on your activities rather than your geography.

This is far from an exhaustive list. In sum, government is a complex situation.

Politics and law making are ways of deciding what situations will be controlled by the different forms of governing the community creates.

Good governing recognizes the needs of both technological possibilities and human instinct thinking.

Changing the technology environment changes the range of human possibilities. If you have commercial airlines you can fly across in the entire US in hours. If you don't, that process takes days with cars and interstates, or months with horses and walking.

Human emotional thinking is what I call instinctive thinking. It comes to us as suggestions, and if we follow those suggestions we can come up with fast and easy answers to day-to-day problems. ...Except those fast and easy answers are well designed for the Neolithic Village environment (Stone Age), not the modern civilized environment. To deal with modern conditions we need to use a lot more analytical thinking, learned thinking. But, we still have the instinctive thinking, and it still wants to be used. When you "Let your heart be your guide." you are using instinctive thinking.

In the case of the commercial airlines mentioned above, the airline "governments" created must also accommodate the "fear of flying" instinctive thinking that many airline passengers have. One way this has been accommodated is by the "worshiping at the altar of the Holy Metal Detector" ritual conducted by the TSA priesthood, now a ubiquitous part of passenger loading at US airports.

In sum, technology is a variable, human emotions are a constant, and good government must accommodate both well.

Building Enfranchisement is a key to good governing.

The pre-20th century Chinese history scholars who tried to figure out why some of their past governments survived and others failed were fundamentally mystified, and they knew it. What they came up with as the stock answer was: Successful governments have a Mandate from Heaven, and when they lose that mandate they are replaced.

I will amplify on their Mandate concept. I will call it enfranchisement.

Enfranchisement is the feeling a person gets when they feel:

o The community is respecting their wants and needs

o The community is affected by their actions

Note that the person doesn't need to get everything they want and need. But they need to feel that when they aren't the community is recognizing their sacrifice and they will accommodate them on other issues in the future. Likewise, they feel that if they do something damaging, the community will suffer, and that's a bad thing for them. They feel like they belong to a community they want to belong to.

When these feelings are strong, crime is low, and the satisfaction with living in the community is high. The converse is disenfranchisement. This is when a person feels the community doesn't care about them, and they don't care if their actions damage the community.

Example: A teenager contemplates a trying out a career of pick pocketing. If he's feeling strongly enfranchised he won't contemplate it for long because getting caught at it would dishonor him and his family in a serious way. He has seen what happens to others in the community who've been revealed as pickpockets, and he considers it a lesson to be taken seriously. That risk makes the reward for successful stealing seem too small. If he's feeling disenfranchised, instead he thinks, "Meh! Why not give it a try. Who that I care about is going to care?"

All governing systems must keep enfranchisement high on their list of goals. Note that morale and enfranchisement are similar concepts applied in different circumstances.

Avoiding Panic Thinking and Blunder Response

There are times in the life of a person, and a community, when something scary looms. If the person is familiar with this threat they can respond quickly and appropriately. If they are unfamiliar they will panic. When this happens the response will appear to be random to a "cool-headed" observer -- the response to the threat can look good, or it can look terribly wrong and be terribly damaging. But to those making the choices in the heat of the moment the choices will feel like a real good response. This is what I call Panic Thinking and Blunder response. Witch-hunting in its various forms is an example of a community Blunder response.

One of the goals of a governing system is to avoid the Community Blunder response, to replace it with a cool-headed response.

These are the axioms. Let's look at the ramifications of them.

How to do governing well

Governing is situational. And in our modern times the situations people experience change rapidly with time, place and activity. This means we should be ready, willing and able to accommodate changes to how we govern. This need to be flexible about governing systems is not recognized by instinctive thinking. The instinct is to mix governing and religion. The belief becomes that there is a Chosen Way to do governing well. This belief works less and less well as modern living gets complex and fluid. This means we need to be using more analytical thinking (learned thinking) when we plan our governing and governments. This means thinking about governing should be overtly taught as part of our education package, and not in a religious/propaganda way that supports Chosen Way thinking.

Governing must accommodate instinctive thinking... but carefully. Both Panic and Blunder choices mentioned in axioms, and Bernard of Clairvaux's "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." are scarily relevant in modern decision making. Our current governing systems support many expensive choices because of worries about security and wanting to do good, but not wanting to worry about if the good is actually being done. When responsibility for the good intention is handed off to others, and not carefully monitored, the opportunity for corruption becomes enormous. Part of the cure for this temptation is transparency. There should nothing, NOTHING, sneaky about the governing processes or decision making. Good government needs informed citizens.

Fighting Panic and Blunder comes in two forms. The most effective form is preparedness -- this is why school fire drills are effective. The second form is giving cool-headedness a chance to prevail. This is done by slowing down the deciding process and getting many heads involved. This is why consultants are valuable in the business world, and the "checks and balances" of the US governing system help make it effective.

The last useful tool I will talk about is experimenting. We must recognize that times are changing and we don't know all the right answers for living in today's technological environment, and that environment is going to change when we get to tomorrow! Finding the right answers for how to govern is going to take constant experimenting. And experimenting means many more failures than successes. It means learning from the failures and being willing to upset the apple cart when successes are found. Above all, it means being more analytical. It means using learning thinking, not heart thinking, to understand what a success is. An example of a current environment where lots of experimenting is already part of the scenery is businesses operating in a competitive marketplace. “Watching the bottom line.” is effective monitoring.

All this experimenting can be very scary. This is why America's immigrant experience has been so important to America's historic success at adapting to the Industrial Age -- immigrants, by the act of immigrating, have demonstrated they can tolerate big changes. We need to incorporate this "immigrant experience" into our education systems.

That's what I have for recommendations.

--The End--