Class Warfare Blog

August 6, 2012

Introducing the Political Balance

It is increasingly difficult to find common ground in this country. As a means of doing so I suggest that all decisions of import be made based on a simple tool I am calling the political balance. This is not really different from similar tools like Franklin Lists, etc. but I think the more graphic format would help people see the whole of issues rather than just what is presented to us.

The Political Balance
Imagine an old style balance, the kind held by the statue on top of federal court houses. This is then used in a number of ways, for example, consider the question “Is global warming a hoax?” On one side of the balance, you place the “No’s” and on the other side you place the “Yes’s.” Let’s start with the people involved: on the “No” side you have almost (but not quite) 100% of atmospheric scientists world wide who say that climate change is real. On the other side you have American politicians who are accepting “campaign donations” from companies with vested interests in not spending money they don’t want to and who, to a person, do not understand the science behind global climate change.

Which way does this balance tilt?

You could also take the same issue and place different things on the pans of the balance. Addressing the same question, let’s place at “ideas” on the pans. On one side we have scientists placing ideas like: “globally CO2 and other gases are accumulating in the atmosphere” and “greenhouse gases, like CO2, absorb infrared radiation that would otherwise exit the atmosphere into space, cooling the atmosphere,” and “nine out of the last ten years globally have been the hottest on record.” On the other side are ideas like “all of the scientists are wrong” and “there is a global conspiracy of scientists to undermine our economy,” “we can’t afford to make changes to the engines of our economy.”

Which way does this balance tilt?

Using the Balance
If a decision of some import is to be made, an empty balance is posted (in a newspaper, on a website, and an invitation is made to contribute to the loading of the balance. Some “shaping” of the discussion needs to be made otherwise one can be weighing “apples against oranges” as the cliché goes. Then a listing is made of the unique items contributed to each side. Then a decision is made. If the decision is made counter to what the balance indicates, then one must look closely for corruption.

Here’s an example: “Should we go to war?” Obviously, there must be a scenario, so to be a useful example, let’s use the second Iraq War as a specific example.

On the “Yes” side were the arguments that the Iraqis were developing weapons of mass destruction and will use them against us and our allies, that eliminating Saddam Hussein’s junta would create a democratic state in the Middle East to counter the despots and theocrats surrounding Iraq (yes, this argument was made . . . before Congress!), that Israel was threatened my missiles carrying atomic or biological weapons.

On the “No” side were. . . ? At the time the “no’s” were just doubts about the “itel,” as it were, but really there should have been:
• high and low estimates on casualties
• high and low estimates on battle deaths
• high and low estimates on non battle-related deaths
• high and low estimates on collateral deaths to civilians
• high and low estimates on collateral damage to Iraqi infrastructure
• high and low estimates on political repercussions from nearby countries which support terrorist movements
• high and low estimates on costs in dollars
• high and low estimates on costs in what those dollars could buy if they weren’t spent on making war (opportunity costs)

Let’s say that even with all of this laid out the decision to go to war is made. After the fact, one could compare the estimates made and publicized with the actual numbers and we would then have a really good idea as to how well those elected officials were able to predict such things. This is critical because if somebody is really bad at making such estimates, how much should we trust them in the future?

And wouldn’t somebody who made good estimates for making such decisions be a good candidate for your vote if the ran for office?

1 Comment »

  1. I do estimates as a part of my job. Nothing like the ones you have mentioned, no deaths/casualties, just hours and dollars for projects. The problem is, even if you do a lot of estimates, any given estimate could be about right, but will likely be wrong one way or the other, simply because you can’t anticipate everything that will affect the project. A war is a project that’s million times more complex, and you can’t anticipate anything, really. But with wars, there is an easier way to decide: a war should start if is is the only choice.


    Comment by List of X — August 6, 2012 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

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