Re: Tale of Two Economies

Anton Sherwood (
Wed, 18 Mar 1998 01:08:37 -0700

> > > Michael Lorrey wrote:
> > > > You should look at the political arena as more of an x/y coordinate system,

> > Dwayne wrote:
> > > I would argue that it has a potentially infinite number of dimensions. Political
> > > decisions are rarely made on the basis of one or two variables.

> Michael Lorrey wrote:
> > Sure, but as a general axiom, most issues are either a matter of social freedom or
> > economic freedom, or a combination thereof, or can be framed within that system.

Dwayne wrote:
> I thought we were trying to transcend all of this dualist
> nonsense? People find it incredibly easy to separate reality into
> "us" and "them", "good" and "bad" etc. This doesn't make it
> accurate, merely convenient.

"an x/y coordinate system" implies a *continuum*, not a dichotomy.
Reducing the number of dimensions to two does not make it "dualism".

I don't think anyone here disagrees with your point that the true number
of political dimensions may be very large. The territory represented by
my map of San Francisco has at least three dimensions (what are the
physicists saying these days, ten dimensions?), and yet two is still the
most convenient number.

> I live in Australia. We have one of the highest standards of
> living in the world. I can't honestly think of a single person I
> know who in any way envies life in the United States. [thinks
> hard] Nup.

Well, I know a few Australians who live in California by choice.
(Our government, of course, "protects" us from many others who would
make that choice.)

> > While most other democratic governments utilize a parliamentary system of government,
> > these have proven to be rather unstable and prone to rapid populist influence (bread and
> > circuses),
> Oh. Okay. You are of course referring to something other than the
> Westminster System which as far as I know is quite a robust
> parliamentary system.

Robust because plurality elections produce a two-party system and thus
usually give one party a majority which it would not have in a more
representative system. Thus the ruling party can weild sweeping power
without provoking constitutional crises; I'm not convinced that's
entirely a good thing. ;)

(I advocate proportional representation with a separately-elected
executive - and high standards for the use of power.)

> Two words: Ronald Reagan.

Four words: Longest peacetime economic expansion. I'm not a fan of his,
but what's your point? Maybe it's self-evident to you, but I don't read
the same papers you read.

> > the US uses a republican system with, as you must know, three equally
> > powerful branches that are capable of checking the other. This system provides a measure
> > of negative feedback that helps hold in check the most contagious of populist fads and
> > foolishness.
> You are of course joking. The President of the United States has
> as much power as the other two branches of government. This has
> always struck me as dangerously absurd, but given that it was
> created in the wake of a monarchy, understandable.

Has Tony Blair less power?

We are taught in elementary school that none of our three branches can
do much of anything without at least tacit consent of the other two (the
"checks and balances"). In practice, the "balances" have long since
gone out of whack and the "checks" function more the other way, to put
each branch in the pocket of the others - in particular, the judiciary
is the creature of the very people against whom it is supposed to
protect us.

(If I were at Philadelphia in 1787, I'd have argued against creating a
separate federal judiciary.)

"How'd ya like to climb this high without no mountain?" --Porky Pine
Anton Sherwood   *\\*   +1 415 267 0685
!! visiting New Mexico, end of March !!