TED Conversations

Eric Preissler

This conversation is closed.

Is the gridlock problem in government a problem with the system or greed and flawed human behavior? Is there an answer?

Nobody can agree on anything in Congress and the divide between the Right and Left is only growing larger. Everyone always preaches bipartisan ideas, but no one ever follows through. Fill-a-busters are a huge problem and if someone has a good idea it can take years to implement. There has to be a solution to these problems, but is it in selecting the right people for the job or changing the system. I heard a comment on the radio the other day about making government positions part-time jobs, so it went back to being a public service like it was intended. This means it would filter out the people who became politicians just to get rich. Maybe it is time for a change.

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Jan 31 2013: In my objective observation of our system, all I can see is dysfunction. Without getting emotionally involved, which is a hard trick to do, I look at our politicians and this ongoing gridlock that has been going on far longer than I've been alive. I do not see the people's opinions, fears, problems,needs and challenges addressed. What I see is 'parties' dividing people into groups which immediately pit us against each other, because these parties already have certain laid out ideals, beliefs and stigmas attached to them. I feel that this 'party' system's main purpose is not to represent us, but to keep us divided.

    I honestly do not believe there is anyway to fix this system. For the main reason that it never worked in the first place. My favorite quote is "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." ~ Albert Einstein. And I honestly think this is the best advice for us, I'm not just referring to the US. We as humans, globally, need to start thinking on different lines because these gridlocks and political dead-ends will never sort themselves out. And now, unlike 20 years ago, we actually can interact and communicate globally thanks to the technologies of today. Us as individuals putting our minds together, spreading ideas and acting I think will have the most impact.

    For insistence, right now the most exciting and feasible idea I've come across is that of a Resource Based Economy. Based on the ideas and project of Jacque Fresco as a starting point at least. I'll try to post a link to his TED talk. Here we go, copy and paste if you must: http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxOjai-Jacque-Fresco-Resource
    • thumb
      Jan 31 2013: I really like what you said here. You are correct about the system being broken, and I do think we need to rethink our entire foundation. The problem with a perfect society like you are describing is human greed. Maybe you or I see it as flawless, but someone will always come up and try to keep everything for themselves and use it to their advantage. Greed will drive any government system down because it always has, and it is only human ignorance and petty things that are keeping the world from being a better place because the ideas like this and more are out there. Great post!
      • thumb
        Jan 31 2013: I agree that something like this would not work if we flung our society as it is right now into it. This type of system is something that has never really been tried before, in part because we didn't have the technology to support it but mainly because it would require a whole new value entrenchment for us in general. The main concept here being that we can manage our earthly resources in such a way that would create abundance for everyone on earth sustainably. That being said, without the scarcity that we face today, we could rid ourselves of money completely. Now if there is no need for money (or even trade for that matter) would we still see greed, class separation, inequality, hoarding or the majority of crimes that we see today? I guess this is a major question of human nature. Are we naturally greedy, selfish and power hungry? Or are we shaped by the environment that we grow up in? If say, greed and power hunger does just happens to diminish in a environment were we don't have to compete for resources, or the control of resources, what would be the purpose of government?

        Because we don't really have a comparison yet I think all answers are speculative at this point. But as I listen to the people around me, more and more I'm hearing a growing outrage at all the wrongness that these systems are generating, and I'm inclined to believe that we are enraged because we don't want to be this way.

        Like any theory I think we need to find a way to test it, to see if this could work. But it all starts with the spreading of ideas right?
      • thumb
        Jan 31 2013: I don't think a Resource Based Economy would be a perfect system by any means, just a vast improvement over what we have now. No doubt problems will always arise as they always do. But I think with a system like this we could actually work on solutions. In my imagination this would be a constantly changing and improving system. Just a side thought… :)
        • thumb
          Jan 31 2013: this sounds a lot like Marxism (not Communism, but true Marxism) which in theory is the best form of community. Money doesn't matter and regulations handle themselves becasue everyone is looking out for the good of the group. Poverty woulc be gone resources would be shared and innovation would be pushed. Again the problem with this and Marxism is the people in power relinquishing the power. It will not happen because we have created this unstoppable monster. The people at the top like the system because they benefit from it and they will not let it change wihtout a fight.
        • thumb
          Jan 31 2013: I think your ideas are great and I totally agree. Do you think there is a good way to ease into a system like this though? Or do you think it has to be a swift change?
      • thumb
        Feb 1 2013: I had to look up Marxism just now, I've never really read up on that before. The Marxian analysis of Capitalism is very eerily accurate This is pulled from the Marxism Wikipedia page:

        "Under the capitalist mode of production, this struggle materializes between the minority (the bourgeoisie) who own the means of production, and the vast majority of the population (the proletariat) who produce goods and services. Taking the idea that social change occurs because of the struggle between different classes within society who are under contradiction against each other, the Marxist analysis leads to the conclusion that capitalism oppresses the proletariat, which leads to a proletarian revolution. Capitalism (according to Marxist theory) can no longer sustain the living standards of the population due to its need to compensate for falling rates of profit by driving down wages, cutting social benefits and pursuing military aggression."

        Still just about as accurate today as when this analysis was formed in the 1850's I think.

        I don't think a swift change into a Resource Based Economy would be possible, or a good idea. Despite my own impatience. I think we would have to take a very scientific approach to testing something like this. Gathering data and facts that are more than just opinions and theories is still the best way to design something that functions the way it's supposed too.

        I just finished reading a short eBook that laid out a really inspiring theoretical idea of what a Resource Based Economy could look like. I can't say I agree with all the ideas, but it's all theories. I do really like his ideas of how to
        maybe going about testing/transition. I'll try and post a link to it if your interested in giving it a read: http://www.mediafire.com/view/?6tmc6ld43lxc1gv
        If that doesn't connect, doing a Google search for "The First Civilization" should bring it up as first in line.
      • thumb
        Feb 1 2013: I really do agree that the biggest roadblock is the people at the top of the pyramid right now. And I definitely don't really have a good answer on how to overcome the greed of wealthy elitists. I guess my hope lies in that the majority are people that are suffering from the system and are ready for a change. I really don't see a way to affect any sort of solution or change from within this system though, after all it was designed by them.
        • thumb
          Feb 1 2013: Ya I like this idea for sure, but I think (and this is just me thinking out loud) that a resource based economy may send us backward and reduce innovation a little bit. Becasue we rely on the resources for wealth and equality no one would be inclined to advance products that may not need resources or alter the resources we have to make them better and more effective (like better food and less expensive food). I think testing it would be necessary and I am not sure how you would go about doing that. What ways do you think we could test this?
      • thumb
        Feb 1 2013: That was one initial thought that I had too. How would innovation and production move forward if no one was required to work for money in order to get their needed resources. Someone posed this question to me, What would you be doing if money wasn't a issue?

        Well, personally I would be perusing my interests, which actually cost me money and are very time consuming. I would also be satisfying my curiosities, I've always wanted to go to college but never had the resources to go and did not want to go into tens of thousands of dollars or more worth of debt in order to get a degree in something I may or may not make a good living at. I've seen one of my family go through 7 years of schooling, $80,000+ in student loans, now unable to find a job in her field and working at a department store with barely enough to live on let alone start to pay on her debt. Nor did I want to choose a field only for the sake of money but that did not hold my interest.

        The more I look at this question the more obvious to me it is that money actually inhibits innovation and progress instead of progressing it. One good example that I see a lot in my line of work has to do with hunting for grants and funding for scientific research. Researchers have to spend a large amount of time trying to secure funding which, unless comes from a non profit organization, the Investors expects to see a return with interest for their funding, or rights to profit or patent new innovations. This is especially stunting in the area of microbiology and disease research where areas of interest fall into categories where low or no cost solutions are needed for developing countries.

        Another interesting example is after WW2 around 1954/1955 I think. There was a main stream implementation of planned obsolescence where goods were engineered to break down quickly or at least, go out of style quickly in order to boost the number of sales and increase profits.
      • thumb
        Feb 1 2013: I think if people were free to pursue their interests and talents instead of being to forced to devote the majority of their waking hours pumping gas, standing at a cash register or sitting in a office, we'd see a explosion of innovative ideas. I personally know a lot of intelligent and inspiring people that have simple not been able to contribute because of being low on the monetary scale.

        As far as testing, I think we'd have to find experts in fields like computer sciences, education, agriculture, psychology, biology, engineering and chemistry who could figure out what would be needed and designed to put together a model. And then a small test group, maybe 50 people to start. And slowly adding variables such as families with children or people with violent histories. This would mostly likely take decades and there would mostly likely need to be many in all different climates globally.

        I found one group, Open Source Ecology, that is doing some design work on what they call the Global Village Construction Set. These are basic plans to building and fabricating 50 different Industrial Machines that they have isolated as be needed to build a small, sustainable civilization with modern comforts. There's the link, http://opensourceecology.org/
        I think designs like this will help a lot when trying to put together a working model.
        • thumb
          Feb 2 2013: Ok I understand what you are saying, but I am thinking innovation like different energy sources and food productivity. If everyone had everything they needed, don't you think we would get complacent with that and stop looking for clean energy and productive ways to grow food and create water. I think you are right on technology and medical fronts, but what about the resources. Have you read anything on the stages of civilization? If not I would reccomend this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6GooNhOIMY0.
          It is the widely accepted (by physicists) way civilizations advance. I see the problem that if we keep the resource plan in place there is no reason for us to push the advancement to type 1 or type 2 civilizations.
      • thumb
        Feb 2 2013: hmm... Sounds like a type 1 civilization would be a Resource Based Economy of sorts. At 1:25, I would love to know how it can be calculated when the transition to a type 1 would happen. It's probably beyond my understanding right now, but I would love to know the rough run down. I also find it interesting that he refers to this as a 'historic transition from type 0 to type 1'. This transition appears to be going on right now for us. Later he goes on to state that there is no evidence of this happening any where else. Maybe I'm just taking his wording to literally. At 3:15, when Michio Kaku talks about terrorists being the people not wanting this transition does he mean terrorist like the ones we think of today? Extremists groups pushing their own agenda by use of spreading fear, or does he mean terrorist such as wealthy elitists like banks, corporates and governments that manipulate population fear through manipulation of money and control of resources? Is this accepted by physicists as a theory, or fact? It also sounds like he is saying that if we survive the transition to a type 1 civilization that the eventual advancement to a type 2 and type 3 would more likely to follow. But in my thoughts it would seem that his definition of a type 1 civilization would differ from a Resource Based Economy in the fact that a type1 would eventually use up all it's planet's resources and have to move to drawing it's power from it's star, and the theory of a Resource Based Economy is based on the theory of managing it's resources sustainably so it never uses up it's resources. And in that sense, with the idea being that we want to sustainably use our resources I don't think we would stop looking for more productive and efficient ways to grow food, produce clean energy or create or recycle water. But it is impossible to truly answer that question because it is so much based on circumstances that may or may not occur for possibly hundreds of thousands of years.
        • thumb
          Feb 2 2013: Ok so the basic idea of the calculation is we use our past as the template. We then figure out the exponential development of our society. Then we can determine what types of things we need to reach each level and once we punch in those numbers we can figure out how long it can take a civilization (like ours) to reach each level. This is the basic outline, the actual math is much more complex and algorithmic in nature.
          In the world of physics there are no things that are considered as fact because nothing can be proven to be 100 percent true 100 percent of the time. Even the laws of physics, we are learning, break down at certain points i.e. the discovery that subatomic particles may be able to break the speed of light. So this is just a mathematical based theory and there is really no way to test the findings besides just living out our existence.
          So for the last question that is a common misconception I think. The basic idea is that no matter what we do, the pure fact of us living on this planet converts our resources to an unusable state. Entrophic means cannot be stopped and this means that no matter how well we allocate our resources eventually we will run out of natural energy, land and materials. This is just a fact of life that being alive uses resources. Eventually, no matter how long we can hold it off, we will have to expand to using star power and galactic power because these are the most robust sources of power in the universe. As much as we look fondly on our planet, the power and resources available here are basically nothing and extremely finite when looking at the solar system, not to mention a galaxy as a whole. So instead of allocating our resources and prolonging the inevitable we should be looking for the innovations that can push ouur societs to this next level.
      • thumb
        Feb 3 2013: Ok... This is definitely new territory for me. Forgive me as I fling my thoughts out here, it helps me to visualize new concepts a bit. Entropy being the measurable amount of thermal energy not available for work right? At least as one part of it's definition, (which I know my understanding is extremely rudimentary at this point). Expressed as waste heat from a closed system, like a by product of work. Although irreversible to that system (I'm thinking of living organisms as being closed systems) isn't that entropic energy taken up as useable energy by different closed system that in return has it's own entropic energy that is taken up and utilized by a still different array of closed systems? It seems that would be one reason why we have such a vast collection of different types of organisms on Earth ( which itself I guess would be a closed system), from macro to micro. I think I understand the idea that conservation of energy of an isolated system will reach equilibrium because it has no release or input of energy from the outside, closed systems should be different from isolated systems and should be capable (in my head) of transforming entropic energy from one, into useable energy. This to me points to sustainability as being possible. Unless individual galaxies are considered isolated systems as they are dependent on their star?

        Maybe, if in theory we say a transition to a Resource Based Economy marks the transition to a type 1 civilization. And we enter this transition with the intention and goal to be sustainable, which leads to constant improvements and innovations to how we manage our resources, then eventual it becomes widely apparent that no matter what, our planetary resources will run out, wouldn't that then mark the transition to type 2? So I guess my thoughts are that if we enter into a type 1 with the intentions of constantly making the system more efficient than that would ensure a natural state of constant progression and discourage complacence.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.