Elections and Unintended Consequences

Election-day 2008 is just around the corner in the U.S. Our country is divided on many issues, and the issue of the day, can change month by month. People discuss who they will vote for, and why, or what party they are loyal to, things of that nature. Many people have hot button issues Ė for Christians Ė the pro-life / pro-choice is always one, gay marriage is a new hot-button. For everyone, the economy often takes the day, as the issue most important to most people, that seems to be the case this year as election-day nears.

One of our non-U.S. chatters was asking questions in chat the other night, trying to understand better, what is going on here in the U.S., and how did we get to this place of concern over our markets, economy, and the effects on the global economy. There is plenty of blame to go around, but I wonít bother giving any names of individuals or parties as to where to place the blame. That is not all that productive in this discussion, as it just tends to elevate passions, and that closes the mind. So I will try another approach.

Letís talk about what we the people do to cause problems and solve problems. First thing to notice and admit, is that no one wanted this to happen, there are no bad guys here. There are only motives, actions and consequences.

I attempted to make the case in chat the other night, that we might be better off if we did not have a system where each person gets a vote, that it might be better to have voters who are qualified to vote, based on their command of the issues that confront us, instead of having a large group of people who are not knowledgeable, making the decisions that affect us all. My point or position was not well received.

We know as Christians, that God judges the heart. If I desire to help someone, and take steps to do so with pure motives, that pleases God. That is a spiritual angle to the elective process that we should all take, and we should not be so concerned with what policies affect us personally, as we should be for how those policies affect our neighbors.

We tend to like to classify people politically as conservative or liberal, or other words that mean the same thing as those words have come to mean. On that scale, I would have to describe myself as conservative. As a conservative, I personally want to thank those who tend to be liberal, who do so out of the belief that liberal policies are good things, things that help people. If that is where you find yourself, I commend you, if you are liberal because you want to help others. Your heart is in the right place, God looks upon the heart. If you are for liberal policies because of how you think those policies will benefit you, that is your right, but you will not hear me applauding that.

Same goes for conservatives. If you are a conservative for selfish reasons, no cheers for you, if you think conservative policies benefit others, then again you have my admiration, and Godís approval I think. Hopefully, wherever you are on the political spectrum, left wing, right wing, or middle of the bird, you are what you are for the love of God and your neighbor.

Letís assume for the moment, that there are good people on both sides taking their positions for the right reasons. They cannot all be correct in their assessments, or they would all be in agreement. If we all are intending good, then what is going wrong?

I believe the answer to that lies in the different approaches that we use to view life. One person looks at life, and sees how things should be, how things should ideally work. The other person looks at life as how it is, and how things do work. The first is idealistic, the second pragmatic. One from the heart- feels how to vote, the other from the head-thinks how to vote. That is over simplified of course, but I think history will bear that analysis out as mostly true.

One is tempted to think that since God looks at the heart, then God approves of that approach more than the pragmatic approach. I think that is a mistake on a number of levels. An analytical pragmatic person may not be emotionally driven in his/her choices, but if they make those chances, they can be doing so with the same pure motives of hoping to benefit others.

In Matt. 25, Jesus tells a parable of the talents. While His primary point is not about using your resources wisely, that passage and others indicate that wise people do exactly that. In these times we have many resources. We are wealthy by the standards of the world and by the standards of history, though many of us do not feel that we are. Money is a real resource, which can be used for good or for evil. We have free time, because we have so many conveniences to make our life easier, our cars, our washing machines our stoves, you get the idea. If you are reading this, you have access to a computer and the internet, which is a great resource for information. If we have these resources, isnít it our responsibility to use them for the advantage of our neighbor whom God has commanded us to love?

This is a long lead in to what I want to discuss, the LAW OF UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES. There is a tremendous history of this law in action. Our current financial situation, to a large degree is upon us, because people wanted to make home ownership available to more people. The observation that our brown and black citizens (and other people with lower than average incomes) are under-represented as homeowners, led to the introduction of policies that made it easy for these people to get into houses that they could not afford. To most people, this is obvious now, but to anyone analyzing these policies, if was obvious from the beginning. What was intended to benefit a few people, had hurt a huge number of people.

The Americans with Disabilities Act Ė the ADA. Another good example of an idea with a big heart, hurting people. Business are forced to close down because they cannot afford to comply with ADA guidelines, opportunistic attorneys suing companies for violations for no other reason that to fleece them of money, situations where medical care is less available to the disabled, because doctors are afraid to take cases which the ADA makes financial ruinous etc. People with disabilities now find it harder to find work since the creation of the ADA, as employers are frightened of the financial risks and burdens that come with ADA compliance.

Minimum wage laws. There have been so many published studies by renowned economists on this, it is a wonder that minimum wage laws have not themselves been made illegal. Among economists, it is nearly unanimous that minimum wage laws hurt the ones they are intended to help. Many jobs which people have traditionally held, do not exist now, because  the wage cannot be justified by the work performed. When was the last time someone wiped your windshield (other than a homeless person) at a gasoline service station? The young and minorities are hurt the hardest by minimum wage laws. Unemployment of these individuals rises each time minimum wage laws are enacted.

Public education. The lack of school  choice, has made it certain, that those children who are trapped in substandard schools, will remain there.  Affirmative action laws on college entrance, place low performing students into schools where they could not compete, so they dropped out, while instead, student who could make the grade, were prevented from attending.

Social security. Another dumb idea whose time has passed. You are forced to pay a tax, so that someday, you might receive a pittance in your golden years, instead of being encourage to place than money into investments which would net you millions.

The Endangered Species Act.  Designed to protect endangered species, is succeeding at motivating the destruction of habitats.

There are hundreds of examples of these big hearted ideas that have gone wrong. This is the problem with voting with your heart, and not your head.

In any election, think about the problem and the offered solutions. Ask yourself where the money comes from, try to figure out who really pays for it. Is it the rich? The corporations? Or is it really the consumers and tax payers. The left seems to act as though there is this unending supply of money to be had, and that the government should just be able to take it, and apply it to what those in power deem best. How have they done so far? Government is wasteful, because it has no competition, private industry has to compete and be efficient, or it fails. Ask yourself if those in power, and those who want to be, have the experience and knowledge, a proven track record at problem solving. Sadly, sometimes you have no choice. Remember when I opined that perhaps most voters are not qualified to vote? I will add to that that most politicians arenít either!

Omegaman for dictator Ė 2008

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