Monday, January 30, 2012

Week of 01/30/2012

It’s Not “The Best We Got”
– by David Matthews 2

Like some of you, I’m working with computers that are far from being the “latest-greatest”. They’re still running on Windows XP. Even my security program doesn’t like working with the “latest-greatest”, even though pretty much every software program I use screams that I should get drop everything and get that “latest-greatest” computer system.

Unfortunately, even with prices going down, getting the “latest-greatest” isn’t in the cards for me right now. I wish it were.

But if I were to tell you that any of the computers I have is “the best we have”, I’m sure you’d look at me funny and wonder what year I think I’m still in. I mean, yeah, my computers were “the best”… back in 2007. But this is 2012! Certainly there’s something better available today.

And yet, we give that same excuse when it comes to systems that clearly are falling apart or otherwise are not working the way they’re supposed to.

Around Thanksgiving I heard a discussion on ESPN about the college bowl system and how the ranking system is set up for college football. The gist of the discussion was that even if a certain school loses the so-called “championship bowl” game, that school would still end up being declared the “winner”. So the question was why even bother to have a “bowl” game if the overall winner was determined by factors that had nothing to do with the game.

One of the participants and the host both conceded that the system was clearly messed up, but that this is the system they have and it’s “the best system we got”. This prompted the third person in the discussion to then jump in and say “no, I’m sorry, but it’s not. We say that same line every single year and it’s just not true.”

And he’s right. I have heard that same excuse be used year after year after year. Even members of the United States Congress tried to get involved with fixing the system by which the college “championship” would be decided, and they couldn’t come up with a way that everyone would agree on would better reflect the efforts of the college teams. Instead, everyone just throws up their hands and say “meh; it sucks, but it’s the best system we got”.

They’re not the only ones doing that, though.

Our tax system is a mess. There is no other way to describe it. It’s a mess. We have multiple-tiered systems of taxation depending on income and marital status, compounded by taxes on certain kinds of purchases, not to mention the various tax deductions and tax breaks that we get. Every time we talk about fixing it, some special interest group butts in and says that it’s not “fair” that certain groups would end up be paying more in taxes while others will pay less. They don’t want the system changed in any way that takes money or power away from themselves or their friends, and they certainly don’t want the system “fixed”.

So rather than actually doing something to fix the system, we all throw up our hands and say “meh; it sucks, but it’s the best system we got”.

It’s not, but we’ll excuse ourselves of doing anything about it by saying that it is.

Our economy is a mess. What the conservatives and neo-conservatives claim is “capitalism” has been slowly transformed into a predatory philosophy of plunder; one where “supply and demand” are more fiction than fact, and often that fiction is the same grade-Z horror material seen on the SyFy Channel. Millions of otherwise hard-working Americans have not only been forsaken by the private sector and the government, but they’ve also been blatantly slandered against by the conservatives and neo-conservatives, and done so with impunity. Millions of Americans have lost their homes, their fortunes, their life savings, because of the mechanizations of those on Wall Street, and it’s all supposedly “their own fault” according to the very criminals that have shielded themselves from any accountability and then pay talk radio personalities to paint them as “risk-takers”.

And forget about trying to fix any of this! No, any kind of steps to hold these criminals accountable for their actions are instantly branded as being “job-killers”. And when the chief law enforcer for the nation and his assistant have resumes that include defending those same financial institutions, then you probably guess that their first priorities are to make sure their former clients get away with their acts with just a pittance of a fine. It’s a done deal as far as they are concerned. We’re not even allowed to protest about this as all the protesters are being slandered by Fox News and conservative talk radio hosts, and law enforcers are pulling out tactics from “Soylent Green” to shut down the protesters.

So instead of demanding justice or trying to fix the system in any meaningful way that doesn’t screw over the nation yet again, we are all expected to just throw up our hands and say “meh, the system sucks, but it’s the best system we got”.

Our political system is a mess. The two major political parties that run it are grossly incompetent, pompous, self-serving, and corrupt to the core. And pretty much everyone involved with the political system or reporting about the political system will tell you that it’s been this way for whole generations. It’s always been a “good ol’ boy system”, it’s always been “who you know”, it’s always been about money and power and ego-gratification, and supposedly there is nothing in this world that can get either party to change things for the better.

So the answer should be for people to turn to a third party. That’s what all the polls continually say, if you were to believe them. But the problem is that America has had a third party, and a fourth, and a fifth, and so on and so forth. There are over one hundred different political parties in America besides the Democrats and the GOP. Look it up over at Project Vote Smart if you don’t believe me.

Okay, so there’s a need for third party intervention, and there are plenty of “third parties” to choose from. So why aren’t people flocking to them? Because supposedly those parties “can’t win” and nobody wants to supposedly “waste their vote” by voting for a party that they firmly believe “can’t win”. They have been brainwashed into believing that the very alternative they demand just cannot solve the problem.

Thus… instead of doing the right thing, people just throw their hands up in the air and say “meh; the system sucks, but it’s the best we got.”

No, I’m sorry but it isn’t. And I’m tired of lying to myself or to other people to pretend that it is.

Let’s get brutally honest here… there is something inherently wrong in stating that any kind of system is badly flawed, in desperate need of repair, and then to excuse trying to fix it by simply saying “it’s the best we got”. That goes beyond ignorance. That’s negligence by hubris.

If we know that a system, a program, or an institution is in desperate need of repair, and we throw our hands up in frustration and fail to fix it, then by its very nature it is far from being “the best” at anything. We know that can be better than it is now. We know that it needs to be better than it is now. So the question shouldn’t be why it isn’t truly “the best”, but rather it is why we are unwilling to make it really be “the best”.

Much like that ESPN panelist, it is high time we stop dismissing doing the right thing with continual lies and excuses about how a failed system could be anywhere near “the best we got”. If it is not working, then admit that it isn’t. If it needs to be fixed, then fix it. But stop lying to ourselves and to every one else about how it is “the best” at anything, because if anything, that excuse only serves to show us at our worst.

1 comment:

Chuck Doswell said...

I definitely agree with this sentiment, but ... I know for a fact that some things we do are indeed a mess, they are the "best we have", and ... sadly ... there's nothing we can do about it. There may be technical barriers that can't be overcome, or it may be far too costly to do so.

As I see it, the trick is to be able to tell the difference between these two situations: 1. can be fixed but we lack the will, or 2. we want to fix it, but it's not possible at this time. I consider this to be an important distinction.