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Sunday, March 25, 2012

America is Maxed Out

I'm currently a designer but before that I was a gamer. The two skill sets are not uncomplimentary.

There is a life cycle to designs and strategies. I'm sure that if I wanted to bother, it would be easy to find several websites with alot of boring corporate talky talk that would break "The Lifecycle of a Design" in to phases like "Concept", "Feasibility Evaluation", "Prototyping and Field testing" etc etc... any one who has ever developed a deck for MTG will recognize these phases, as will product designers... then there's finally "Combat Ready" (well, in the business world you'd call it "Production") and then "Tweaking".

There's a final phase after all these. I'd call it "Maxed Out". When your deck/strategy/design/product has been tweaked for all its worth, and can no longer be improved on, at least not without radical restructuring or starting over, its Maxed Out. A maxed out out strategy can still win games, and a maxed out design will still sell, but being maxed out is the first step towards being "Obsolete" if you have any decent competition.

America is Maxed Out.

Now get me not wrong, the Constitution is an amazing piece of work, and 200 years ago it was extremely bold, innovative and cutting edge. In terms of design, it was the new predator on the block, an awesome, out-of-the-box concept that took the world by storm and spawned imitators and rivals everywhere.

The fact that, after 200 years, it is still functional at all is a bit mindblowing. I can't think of any other design that hasn't been radically reworked in the last 2 centuries. Even the most basic technology: the wheel, the chair, metallurgy, even the way we use fire and speech- all have been hugely revamped since 1776. The fact that the Constitution is still here at all is terribly impressive. So when I say it needs a tune up, I am not saying it lightly, but it shouldn't be a shocking or terrifying or even surprising concept to anyone. It is a very old design.

How long has it been since anyone seriously thought words like: 'Bold, 'Innovative', 'Cutting Edge' or 'Out-of-the-box' applied to Washington DC? Don't laugh like that. But what about 'Moribund', 'Gridlock', 'Ponderous', 'Top heavy', 'Idiotic', 'Retarded', 'Imbecilic?' Even words like 'Corrupt', 'Injust', 'Psychotic' and 'Cruel' are frequently accurate. Most people are thrilled if Congress shows a temporary lapse in to ordinary common sense, but nobody looks to the government for leadership or wisdom these days. Among our leaders, mediocrity isn't the rule any more, incompetence has become the rule, and mediocrity is now exceptional

If that last paragraph is true (and it is so true that it has become a hackneyed cliche) don't we have to admit that America is in decline? There is an ostricheqsue instinct to avoid the obvious conclusion, but the cold facts indicate that the shark has been jumped. The design is maxed out. It is headed for obsolete. This shouldn't be a surprise.

But none of the founders ever thought the Constitution was perfect. They built in provisions for adaptation and evolution. Good thinking, founders.

With our 200 plus years of field test data, we are equipped to make some fundamental, constitutional level tweaks.

What needs to be tweaked? I'm interested in your thoughts but a few areas that seem obvious to me are these:

  • The Judicial branch has begun legislating. A check or a balance is needed here.

  • Our representative government is too frequently representing no one but itself and protecting no one's interest but it's own. We are developing a ruling class, disconnected from the ruled class.

  • There is a distinct tendency over time, in the present design, for the top levels of government to expand at the expense of the local levels. It rarely shrinks when shrinking is needed, but always grows if given half a chance. This should be addressed.

  • If there are historians 200 years from now, they are going to laugh at our national debt the same way we laugh at those hilariously backwards morons who used to think the world was flat. We simply have a massive cultural blind spot. We tend to think we are only stuck in the mud, but the numbers show that we are fully submerged. And everyone with a shovel digs down, all the while arguing about how fast we should be digging. Digging up is not even considered. If people actually understood how deep the politicians have taken us in there would be war in the streets. Some serious shoring up needs to occur here.


Eyepoke said...

My formal apologies for writing about such a boring topic. I think about this stuff some, and it helps to write it down some where. schnaa.

Anonymous said...

I do not think the Constitution has "jumped the shark". I think that "We, the people" have far too long let the system it set up be gamed by people that stayed into long and were self-serving. I think most of the problems are from trying to circumnavigate the Constitution and no one calling "foul".

Washington (Governmental bureaucracy and overreach) has definitely jumped the shark. The Constitution, when applied justly and w/its powers properly used, reins in the the shark. It is still "Bold, 'Innovative', 'Cutting Edge' or 'Out-of-the-box'", but Washington is not. Constitution does not equal Washington.

Your areas that are noted for work are very true. The Constitution was also envisioned so that it was not complicated that w/ a minimal work, anyone from farmer to Framer could understand it. The Framers did not want the common man to be hoodwinked by legal double talk. If people were reminded of that, voted with that in mind and yelled "shenanigans" through media (new and old) when they saw the issues happening, it would go long in helping.

As far as specifics:
Judiciary legislating? I think that you would have to go all the way back to, what, judicial review? I think that's not an overnight thing, but would be helped w/educating the people on... The Constitution.

Government over-expansion? Balanced budget amendments would help.
Returning power to states via decreasing things like the department of Education. Again, calling "shenanigans" when the Executive uses the EPA or other government agencies, for example, to effectively legislate bypassing our republican democracy.

Yes, we are way in the mud, passed shoring up. Things need to happen, big companies need to fail, banks need to go under, government programs need to end and people need to lose jobs. New companies need to form, other banks (or credit unions) need to form and people go to work for the new and the old that survived refining.
Americans (not government) need to help each other and themselves. Beyond the Civil War, we (Americans) can work things out w/o property destruction and bloodshed.

The Big E

Renae said...

good stuff. I definitely agree with you (John) about the specifics at the bottom. I'm with Erik. I don't think the constitution is the problem. I think the problem is that no one seems to care much about the constitution. I think a great back to basics, strip it down, and cut the B.S. would go a long way. We seem to have so many long winded, loop holed, coat tailed laws that no one really understands, that we have completely lost our way. Does anybody really have any clue what a fraction of the crap they pass through up there is?

As for our ridiculous national debt, I think our main problem is that no one wants to take responsibility for their own anything anymore. How to solve that?? I don't know. There are so many levels in which this very thing has screwed everything up. Everyone wants a bail out, a hand out, everyone wants to pass the blame to someone else. Please Oh Mighty Government solve all my problems for me so I can sit on my useless lazy you know what and whine about how my life sucks, and how it's all your fault. A friend of mine who is a MIDDLE SCHOOL teacher told me that a girl in her class basically told her that her life's ambition was to get pregnant so she could get welfare. It boggles the mind.

Alright, shutting up.

Patrick said...

I think that the most important thing here is that the internal "checks and balances" initiated by the Constitution are not enough. The Designers of said document intended for the People to get involved and to make sure that the Government didn't get out of control. I think it's been awhile since enough people have realized that and takin responsibility for it. We need to actually DO something about the failings of the government rather than just talk about it.

That's my two cents anyway.

Eyepoke said...

I definately don't think we need to scrap the Constitution. I could imagine a situation where that would be the best course, but it would have to be something pretty post apocalyptic.

Part of the wisdom of the Constitution is that it contains provisions for its own evolution and adaptation, via Amendments. I do think we have reached a point where some upgrades are called for.