Democrats & Liberals Archives

A New Political Compass

As I have stated in my previous post I think that the current RIGHT-LEFT political dichotomy should be replaced with a BUSINESS-PEOPLE dichotomy in order to provide us with a clearer political compass. This new compass demonstrates the need for a new political party that better represents individual people - a People Party.

Here's why we have parties in the first place. In the U.S. we have a representative democracy. Each citizen has the right to vote for a government official to represent him in government deliberations and decision making. To gain more strength, an individual citizen may join an organization that more effectively represents all its members. 1000 citizens working together, have more democratic power than one citizen alone. A million citizens, geometrically more power. Organizations to boost the political strength of individual citizens are called parties.

Political parties, however, are not the only organizations that try to influence political decisions. All sorts of organizations - religious, ethnic, social, professional, charitable, union, business, international, etc. - poke their heads into the political arena. Which are the most representative of their members and thus should be more influential?

Homogeneous organizations tend to be more representative of their members than nonhomogeneous organizations. A prime example of a nonhomogeneous organization is a big corporation. The owners have goals different from the managers, which are completely different from the goals of employees. And yet we allow such businesses to represent all its members. And we have 2 big Business Parties, Republican and Democratic, to represent these businesses.

Where's the party of the People? Who represents the People? Ordinary People? People who belong to some of the many non-business organizations? People who are members of organizations that are more homogeneous than business organizations?

To achieve an optimum democracy, we cannot do better than to follow Abraham Lincoln, who told us that a true democracy consists of a government

Of the people, by the people and for the people.
  • OF THE PEOPLE means Political Representation - Government should be a mirror image of all the different people comprising America. All the people.

  • BY THE PEOPLE means Political Influence - All the people may vote. All the people may contact government officials to express their desires

  • FOR THE PEOPLE means Political Benefits - All people should benefit, not merely the rich and big corporations

Lincoln did not talk about the need for more or less government, but of the quality of government. He did not emphasize business, but people. He was concerned about how government was run and for whom. He thought there should be several parties representing people. And we don't even have one.

Because businesses contribute so much campaign money, the Business Parties are entrenched. To make sure the rest of us - the vast majority of the country - get decent representation, we need a People Party. Only then will we be able to say that we have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Posted by Paul Siegel at December 13, 2009 7:05 PM
Comments
Comment #292616

Paul

Some of your premises do not comport with my experience. For example, you say, “The owners have goals different from the managers, which are completely different from the goals of employees.” Don’t they all want the firm to be prosperous and profitable? In fact the only thing that they probably disagree about the details of how to divide the proceeds. I have been an owner, manager and employee. I understand that we all benefit when we make an acceptable team.

You ask about who represents “the people”. Who are the people? Most Americans own something and more than half of all households own stock. Most “workers” are also mangers or technicians who get to organize their own work and that of others. The poorer 20% of the American population doesn’t work much at all, so they are not workers, managers or owners.

You mention Lincoln. If you read what Lincoln wrote in general and place him in his time, he just assumed that most people would be workers and many would be owners of farms and businesses. I cannot find anything in his writings or speeches that indicate that he thought government should support “the people.” The Homestead Act, passed during the Lincoln Administration, gave people farms IF and only IF they worked them. The government did not retain an interest in the farms. It is clear that the intent was to transfer government land to private control.

Anyway, I think you make some interesting points, but I really don’t see where you are going with it.

I think we all agree that we should have an efficient government that allows the people to achieve the goals that they – i.e. the people themselves – determine. Organized coercion, whether it emanates from large business, powerful NGOs or government, is bad.

Posted by: Christine at December 13, 2009 8:53 PM
Comment #292625

Paul,

I must disagree. Our current set of parties is likely the best method of governance in the United States, but if a third party should come into being, it should be the HONEST Party. There is nothing wrong with the Republicans or the Democrats except corruption. Your BUSINESS Party is the cause of the corruption, but that won’t change by changing the name of a group formed for the purpose of attaining political power and influencjng national debate. If we could go back over the Fourteenth, we might make some headway, but…Mammon will be mammon, and the struggle for it will always take presidence over good deeds or good sense.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 14, 2009 5:54 AM
Comment #292629

There is no such thing as the interests of “business” vs. the interests of “people,” and the very idea is both crude and silly. There are simply conflicts between the interests of one group of people and those of another group of people. Businesses, which are composed of people, are only one of many means that people are organized into these groups of competing interests.

People do not all have the same interests and want the same things, so government can not simply favor them. If there were no private property or privately held companies at all, the same problems would arise. We would still need farms, factories, power plants, shopping centers, etc., and there would still be people working for all of them. Hence the interests of these people would be tied up with the work they do, which will sometimes put them in conflict with the interests of others.

Efforts to favor “the people” do not elimate either the interests or potential conflicts between different social groups or sectors of the economy. All it accomplishes is to increase conflict between people and businesses with a third player: the government, which is also composed of people who have their own interests—a chief one being an interest in accumalating and exercising power.

Posted by: Phillip at December 14, 2009 12:28 PM
Comment #292636

Phillip, the crudity and silliness is all in your comment: “There is no such thing as the interests of “business” vs. the interests of “people,”.

When it comes to legislation and policy, the business interests have a megaphone, and the people have the volume of a mouse fart, in influencing that legislation and policy. The naivete contained in your stated perspective is truly overwhelming. Hang in there though, we all began as novices to workings of our government at one point or another. The trick is to embrace one’s own misconceptions and remedy them as one goes along. Otherwise, one becomes and ideologue whose utterances and perspectives lack any connection with the real world, and force one to support incompetence, lack of education and knowledge, and the Peter Principle in politics.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2009 5:00 PM
Comment #292637

David, my point is that when we’re talking about “people vs. business” as a generality, we are making what logicians call a category error. Your comments reflect the false dualistic thinking common to that sort of logical mistake because you’re taking that simplistic either-or, black or white thinking at face value.

There may be times when it makes sense to say that a business (rather than “business” as a monolithic entity) is in conflict with “the people,” but doing so in just a verbal convenience that doesn’t really capture the essence of the situation.

An example would be if a waste-processing plant wanted to locate next to a downtown area. The people wouldn’t want this but a business would. In such a situation, however, the profit motive of the business would also be the profit motive of its employees and its shareholders and anyone who would find the proposal convenient—all people.

At the same time, many OTHER businesses would be bitterly opposed—local retailers, restaurants, property owners, etc who would see their property values and quality of life decline. This is why it doesn’t make sense to talk about the interests of “business”—businesses, like people, have different and often competing interests.

My point is a pretty obvious one. Businesses are groups of people which employ people and serve people and which people have a vested interest in.

There may be “people” out there who are not employed by a business, who do not rely on tax revenues generated by businesses, or who do not purchase goods or services provided by businesses, but such people are very, very few. Even the Amish own and operate businesses and go shopping with the profits they make.

Posted by: Phillip at December 14, 2009 5:55 PM
Comment #292638

Phillip said: “David, my point is that when we’re talking about “people vs. business” as a generality…”,

But this is not a web site for general discussion. And the title of this article was: “A New Political Compass”. This web site and article are focused on politics and government, and hence, your generalities are not applicable, to the topic at hand.

Your attempt now to defend your irrelevant generalization, if that is what it was, is still irrelevant to politics and government. As I said, business interest and public interest are VERY different things in the arena of politics and government, which is the focus of this web site and this article.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 14, 2009 6:21 PM
Comment #292640

Phillip,

Perhaps the separation you seek might be in classification?

Business: A business that sets a goal to become a major player…to have an impact on policy in order to further it’s own agenda, as compared to;

Non-Business: A business that sets its sights on managing to get through the month…then the next month.. then the next month.

For the purpose of political speak, the former is BUSINESS, and the latter is PEOPLE.

BUSINESS is an enemy, because it cares not for or about America. It cares only for its own agenda…all the nickles.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 14, 2009 7:34 PM
Comment #292641

PS:

Wal-Mart is an example of the former…the local goods merchant is an example of the latter.

Sam Walton began as a Five & Dime store owner, who wished only to feather his own nest a little and to take care of those who worked for him. He changed, with prosperity, into an individual who forgot who helped get him to the top, the country that allowed/assisted him in attaining those heights, and any moral principle that he ever had on his climb. The desire for mammon…

Wal-Mart the scourge of labor and honest business dealings.

Posted by: Marysdude at December 14, 2009 7:42 PM
Comment #292645

Marysdude, those “classifications” make no sense. Some businesses are non-businesses and other businesses are businesses and we know it because they’re trying to influence public policy? None of this has anything to do with the actual definition of a business. Non-businesses aren’t businesses because they’re just trying to get through the month? A business is acceptable to you only if its failing or in danger of failing? Your remarks aren’t very clear.

Phillip said: “David, my point is that when we’re talking about “people vs. business” as a generality…”,

But this is not a web site for general discussion. And the title of this article was: “A New Political Compass”. This web site and article are focused on politics and government, and hence, your generalities are not applicable, to the topic at hand.

Your attempt now to defend your irrelevant generalization, if that is what it was, is still irrelevant to politics and government.

I am arguing against talking in generalities. You are arguing in favor of doing so. I was clearly arguing AGAINST talking about “business” vs. “people” in these general abstract terms. The political and economic reality is that “people” and “business” are not separate things that can be talked about using generalities and abstractions.

Whenever we say “business” and “people” as if they’re different things, that is a vocabulary based on generalizations and oversimplifications. I am a person. You are a person. I own a business and I employ PEOPLE. Those people, their families and myself, depend on the business for our liveliehoods and well being, as do other businesses where we all spend our money. You may choose to contract for my services—if you are one of the many people who do, you benefit from what your receive. If you do not choose to do so, you are enjoying the benefit of the tax dollars we pay.

I’m surprised to think that people sitting at home surrounded by things designed, built, and purchased from businesses (and paid for with money received directly or indirectly from businesses) would employ such either-or black-and-white thinking and consider “business” to be the enemy.

Posted by: Phillip at December 14, 2009 10:18 PM
Comment #292648

Sam Walton died in 1992, Almost everything in those stores back then had American flags on them.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at December 14, 2009 11:10 PM
Comment #292651

Nice try, Phillip, but, you have now contradicted yourself and tied your own arguments up into such knots as to render them entirely incomprehensible.

Ah, well. I tried to suggest that it is easier to accept errors and grow, than to defend the indefensible. One day, hopefully, this will make sense as it does to all who leave the world of their parent’s ideologies and learn to think and evaluate long held assumptions against reality, and embrace reality, instead.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 15, 2009 1:43 AM
Comment #292652

Phillip, perhaps one day, your education in economics will shed some light on the reason why consumers do NOT fall for the married at the hip relationship between business and themselves as customers.

Most people regard this relationship as necessary but, largely adversarial. They understand that those trying to sell them their brand have a vested interest in hyping the positive and hiding the negative, up to the point and too often including, outright lying to consumers, in order to make the sale.

This is not how most Americans treat their family or friends, and so, this relationship of interdependence between producer, marketer, and seller, and the customer, is far more often than not, one rendered tolerable only by necessity.

This is one of the fundamental reasons the GOP’s coziness with the corporate business world continues to undermine and make short any term they may find themselves in the majority. Republicans rule, the customers get taken even worse than before, and the customers remove them from the majority. The latest round of this was Republican Rule, creates horrible recession and excesses by the insurance, mortgage, and banking industries, throwing millions out of work, and voters, consumers all, throw the GOP out of the W.H. and majority in both Houses of Congress. It is common refrain in American politics.

The Irony is that the GOP is ever able to get back into power given their record since the Nixon Administration when deficits ran side by side with Republican assurances of fiscal responsibility. Reagan’s years were no different. The Bush 1 years, no different, though one must hasten to add that Bush 1 did renege on his “No New Taxes” pledge IN ORDER to be fiscally responsible, and Republicans revolted against him. Then along comes Bush 2, who acted as if there was nothing to hide regarding Republicans and debt and deficits and threw caution and responsibility to the wind, doubling the national debt which took 200 years to create, in just 8 years. Bush 2 never met a deficit he could find a veto pen for.

And for every Republican administration and Congressional majority, real wages for the middle class and average working American fell, making them poorer compared to their parents purchasing power per hour worked, of the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Of course, it is also true this trend continued through every Democratic presidency and Congressional majority as well. But, then, Democrats have never held fiscal responsibility up as their top billing priority as Republicans have.

Posted by: David R. Remer at December 15, 2009 2:01 AM
Comment #292664
Most people regard this relationship as necessary but, largely adversarial. They understand that those trying to sell them their brand have a vested interest in hyping the positive and hiding the negative, up to the point and too often including, outright lying to consumers, in order to make the sale.

Apart from whether or not you speak for “most people,” which I seriously doubt, everybody is as you say aware that companies are out for profits and hype their products and services. That’s the system, everybody knows it, and everybody particpates in it. It’s about being an intelligent consumer, and businesses are also consumers—those who are not intelligent fail.

Anybody who so much as sells their car, house, or even their grandmother’s old lamp on Craigslist will try to get the maximum dollar amount they think they can get away with. Businesses are no different, and an intelligent person knows this and adjusts to it.

Even individual people engage in this hyping that you speak of—I could show you resumes that have come across my desk that would make you laugh. Show me the person who goes on the job market (offering what they have for sale—their skills and time) who stresses all their flaws and limitations on their resumes and in a job interview. People and businesses behave the same way, and if fact the behaviors of businesses ARE the behaviors of people. Pretending that people are one thing and “business” is some inhuman entity like the Borg from Star Trek that is here to enslave and persecute “people” is downright silly.

Of course, it is also true this trend continued through every Democratic presidency and Congressional majority as well. But, then, Democrats have never held fiscal responsibility up as their top billing priority as Republicans have.

Nice afterthought there. The problem it seems, is government itself, since nobody ever seems to get it right. The sooner everybody wakes up that, the sooner all of us can back to—well, business.

Posted by: Phillip at December 15, 2009 12:49 PM
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