Imagine that you are less than perfect and when it comes to the issues of the day, you have to guess about mechanics. I'm like that. I think it's a bit weird that we call ourselves a democracy but when it comes to decision making, we do a lot more shopping than we do voting. Shopping is voting in a way. You vote for the products and brands you like, want and need by purchasing them. You put your money where your mouth is. This happens pretty much every day. We make $100 decisions all the time and the result is a shopping cart full of groceries, or a fancy paper bag with a fancy article. In the parlance of the interwebz, the answer to "Consume much?" is Hells yes.
Voting for politicians is something we do a lot less frequently. When we do so, we're stuck with our decisions. We can't return defective selections and get a refund or a substitution. The polling place closes for 6 months or a year or 4. In fact, the difference between voting and shopping is almost exactly backwards. When we shop, we go and buy first and we pick the item first hand, and then use it first hand. Then we talk about our experience with it after our investment. In politics, we talk first and evaluate the talk, and then make our selection through intermediaries. To be fair, voting for politicians is rather more like buying a car. We talk about it a lot before we do it. We finally come up with a decision that we believe we can live with for several years. Sometimes we get bilked.
It is reasonable that people make better decisions when they are solely responsible and make the decisions often enough to get good. Americans are very good at shopping. We are not so good at voting. We don't do it often enough. We don't recall our decisions enough. We fail to evaluate the consequences properly, and we don't know all the rules. We could do better. Today we are dealing with our own lack of confidence in the whole process. One bad apple seems to have ruined the whole supermarket chain. Things we never questioned changing seem to scream out for change. We are antsy and our trust has been compromised. It doesn't matter if Trump did it or Clinton did it, if Bush did it or if Obama did it. Something stinks to us and we're mad at the whole thing. We're mad at ourselves for letting this happen. We're mad at the other guys for letting this happen. Everybody loves America but hates what it seems to be becoming.
- Senses - Mind (self)
- Money - Products (commerce)
- Votes - Policy (government)
- Prayers - Liturgy (religion)
Here's my little chart. It illustrates inputs and outputs in four different systems. Can you see it? In the self, your senses, what you smell, see, taste, feel and hear, immediately impacts your mind. You are instantly responsive to your perception of things around you. That's why you inherently trust yourself. This is happening all the time. In commerce, the input is money, and the outputs are products and services. You might do this every day. It's obviously less responsive. But over time, the flow of money determines what products and services win and which lose. It can happen really fast, like a hit song, or a new shoe, or a great football draft. Every day the market produces something new. When it comes to government, you don't have a lot of chances to vote as you do with money, but you do pay attention and you make changes with your vote. That cycles every two years or so and the results take time to evaluate. Finally, religions change very slowly.
So it comes as no surprise that the fast cycle of commerce is being more responsive than the slow cycle of government. Let's focus on that. Can we expect that in order to satisfy a hyped desire for change that we could shortcut the slow cycles of government? We admit we have a justice system in our government, but it's not a social justice system.
We want recognition of our senses, which are immediately changing our minds, to be reflected in policy. We see and hear about some unarmed black man being shot. Our senses immediately affect our minds. How long will this change be in isolation? Social media gives us an outlet. That same day I can call, video, write, text, and otherwise Insta-something my state of mind and get Insta-something feedback. That has become a marketplace. A very fast marketplace, and that is captivating. It's responsive. We've never had that before from media. Wow. Companies are getting faster by using the Insta vectors of social media and online. TV shows used to get produced only in one season. Remember that? Now media production is much faster and more responsive. So products and services move faster. On the fastest edge, online gaming and Twitter get us engaging our senses in realtime. This may be unprecedented in the history of commerce. If one day Twitter charges you per tweet, it will be as fast as online poker.
Young people who grew up and went to college in the age of Netflix have expectations that politics should be as fast as commerce. After all, Barack Obama raised more money for his campaign from the Internet than any previous politician. Politics too, it seems can be viral. Certainly hashtag activism is more responsive and immediate than voting. This is where the conversation of democracy is shifting - away from hidebound institutions like the Electoral College and arcane procedures like clotures and filibusters. Isn't that what we want?
Wouldn't it be crazy if you could get everybody on Facebook and Twitter to cast a vote on Roe vs Wade and stop screwing around with Congressional testimony and Supreme Court appointment grandstanding? Where's the email that proves everything we want to know? Let's just find out now! Let's settle this at internet speed, right?
The business of creating products and services, let us not forget with the input of money, is more responsive than government with the input of the popular vote. So people who want answers now are going to be more receptive that fast cycle. So you can wait for the EPA to make higher standards for air pollution or you can go out and buy a Prius or a Tesla and do your part today. The latter is more immediately gratifying. You could go to church and pray for God to bring down lightning on Big Coal, but you're probably going to get results faster by electing Bernie Sanders. Capitalism is moving faster than government. It always has, but now it's moving faster than ever. It is changing our expectations of how fast change can occur. Neoliberal politics is bent to the direction of supporting that capitalism for its social aims. So if you are impatient with the status quo, capitalism is supporting markets that with the look and feel of politics.
That look and feel is seductive, and I'm here to say that it's wrong. Woke capitalism has one major flaw and that flaw is the lack of deliberation and compromise. The market doesn't deliberate, it sets prices. All of the pros and cons are boiled down to one item, the price of the ticket. If you want X you're going to pay for it more if you want it now. You're going to have to pay more if you want it good. That's the golden triangle. Cheap, Fast, Good. Pick two. Why do we hate lobbyists and backroom deals? Because we know the money eliminates deliberation and compromise, and we want our say to matter. We want our piece of how the pizza gets sliced. We want to be in the room where it happens. Well money eliminates all that.
There are permanent and very good reasons for keeping the four realms separate. Each should have influence over the other but not control. The self should not be controlled by business. Business should not be controlled by government. Government should not be controlled by religion. They operate at very different paces for very good reasons. Expecting one to do the job of the other is a mistake. Justice can never be a market phenomenon.