Saturday, October 11, 2014

CORRUPTION AS THE EXERCISE OF COMPETITIVE INFLUENCE



From a coldly logical perspective of how Capitalism works, one might argue that the excessive influence that power elites enjoy in this country is simply life as it should be. Decisions at the highest levels should be made by those who have already demonstrated success in the marketplace of ideas. Social management should be based in the practicalities of how to most efficiently apply all of the factors of production, integrated with distribution, so that needs are supplied with a reasonable cost benefit ratio, as well as the incentive of net gain.

That antiseptic description, of course, hardly begins to encompass all of the irrational factors that make up human nature. There is also the less than precise application of the word "corruption" when it comes to how power is abused in this country.

The real problem here arises with the differences between Capitalism and Democracy. At the risk of stating the obvious, they are quite simply two very different decision making systems. A great deal of what we see as corruption now occurs precisely because that's the only way the two can work an interface of conflicting priorities.

The statement in the first paragraph above makes perfect objective sense for a market base decision system. It runs into trouble, however, the moment it has to translate the strategies of market leaders, with their quite specific priorities, with the priorities of the other management group. A group that comes into being at the behest of a quite schizophrenic collection: namely the citizens who both vote as "the people", but who are also those beholden to the other managers for their livelihoods.

It is in this absurd duality that "the people" make precise definitions of such words as "corruption" a bit more complicated than it would otherwise be. This is so because "buying influence" isn't always the bad thing it ought to be. How can it be when such influence brings home the "bacon" that gets a representative reelected.

I make this distinction for the sole purpose of suggesting that the two systems are inherently at odds with each other. Most especially as Democracy maintains this notion that "the people" cannot govern themselves directly. 

It is easy to see how that notion has stayed so entrenched, at least from my perspective. With "the people" so sucked into the demands of their one special skill, how could they hope to also find time to stay informed enough to make day to day governing decisions. But again, that's just another aspect of why Capitalism, with its emphasis on the segmentation of all production into skill specialties, keeps the citizenry tied down as employees. Obviously, in that scenario, they can't be expected to govern. 

The electrification of skill retrieval, however, has changed all of this. On the one hand, skills can no longer be commodities, but on the other, we no longer have to suffer within a factory oriented mode of social organization. We can change everything around so that we are no longer employees who have direct bosses, but also a body politic with a supposed vote for another group of bosses. We can be our own government and production supervisors; even as we share the maintenance of our productive systems. 

Automation. Three D printing. Modular sub-components mass produced so that an array of end use items can be made. All of the sites on the internet now that illustrate the "do-it-yourself" movement. These are all examples of the free flow of information. And isn't it also interesting that, if information wasn't a commodity, how much easier it would be to live in the know so that we could actually have a fair chance of being able to govern ourselves.

What a concept! Right?

Please think about this. Give it serious thought. The corruption spoken of in these kinds of articles is, at least in significant portion, structural on a fundamental level. It cannot be addressed with any more reforms. We need to start over with how we organize ourselves so that Democracy has a chance to work a balance between individual liberty and the needs of the whole. 

Salon Article: They won, we lost: How corruption became America's national pastime.
They won, we lost: How corruption became America's national pastime