His Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition

Posted Nov 21, 2018 at 16:55. Revised Aug 23, 2019 at 12:53.

This is a raw draft being prepared for ComplexityTrap.Com. This unpublished blog is currently undergoing major content revisions.

For centuries the British Parliament has had customs for how the opposition (the minority party) can express disagreement with the majority party’s policies. Acts of disloyalty to the nation or sabotage are not allowed – a responsibility encapsulated in the phrase “His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition”. The Queen (or King) symbolizes the nation, and this phrase poetically bans disloyalty to the country. In short, there are limits to the acceptable ways of opposing the policies of another political party. Of course, situations can J.D. Nobody will now empower you to say Nobody told me after you read this post. You will have a perfect and truthful excuse for pleading ignorance of the disruptive forces in our country today.

In an era of ever-growing complexity and narrowing focus, the United States has been moving away from the opposition being His Majesty’s Loyal Oppositions to being His Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition. There are many contributing factors to this evolution, of which the growing inability to deal with growing complexity and the resulting increase in the narrowness of focus and awareness are the most basic.

The election of Barack Obama as president resulted in an announcement by Sen. McConnell that the opposition’s primary objective was to cause the Obama presidency to fail. This de facto sabotage was a great leap forward in transforming the opposition party into His Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition.

The election of Donald Trump as President made the opposition go all out for payback for the way Obama had been treated by Trump’s litany of bombastic campaign rhetoric. Both extremes of the electorate saw a moral duty to engage in total and unyielding sabotage to anything those on the other side might say or do. This extremism has precluded all reasonableness by otherwise reasonable people.

The reasonable people in both parties are more in fear of being voted out by the extreme fringes within their own parties than they are of being ousted by the opposition party. It remains to be seen to what degree these fears are justified, but extremists are turning on the moderates in their own parties and creating even more incapacitating divisiveness. Sitting down with an opposition member can occur only when both are confident that they will not get caught. This situation becomes an albatross on the nation when reasonable people dare not agree on sensible things.

Understanding how the American governmental system has evolved in the years following the American revolution sheds some light on this situation. The evolutionary similarities and differences between the British and American systems have created respective strengths and weaknesses in both countries, as well as having built complexity traps over time. After the American Revolution, there was a great fear of a new king arising who would dictatorially run a tyrannical central government. This fear led to crafting the American constitution to have substantial power limitations and checks on the central government. The American system was intentionally designed to make it difficult for the central government to exercise excessive power.

It was assumed when the nation was founded that any farmer, tradesman, or merchant would have no difficulty being a legislator in Congress. The relatively simple problems in governing at that time would be easy for the average Joe to understand. Governance issues would require at most a few weeks out of a legislator’s life during his two-year term. The idea of an urban, industrial, and technologically advanced society that would be confounding even for full-time legislators was not on the founding fathers’ radar.

The representatives in Washington were expected to represent the interests of their home districts without having any political parties. The need for some discipline soon led to the rise of political parties, but the representatives generally voted the interests of their home districts ahead of party loyalty. The political idea of parties keeping discipline with a robust Prime Minister is only partially present in the American system. In the American system, a representative is more likely to resolve conflicting loyalties by voting for the desires of his constituents and against his party’s wishes. His British counterpart would tend toward going with his party rather than with his constituents.

Historically, American parties have rarely voted as a bloc. This is now changing. Indeed, the two-party American Congress increasingly looks like a parliament of splinter parties within mother parties. In such a situation governing cannot happen without party loyalty. Congress has become a parliament without a Prime Minister.

A parliamentary system typically has a head of government (the prime minister) and the head of state (a King, President, or Governor-General) who is a different person from the Prime Minister. Most power is held by the Prime Minister, with the head of state being in the background most of the time. Strict party discipline and a parliamentary majority (or coalition) guarantee that getting things done is prioritized over constraining legislative power. In a presidential/congressional system, the president is legislatively and constitutionally limited in getting things done. The president does not have the same powers as a prime minister because the powers of the President and the legislature are constitutionally separated.

On the other hand, a president is both the head of government and the head of state. As the complexity of governance grows, increasing administrative powers are necessarily delegated to the president, slowly making him the king that the founding fathers feared. And this kingship is not the kingship of a constitutional monarchy, either.

The moral outrage at the slowly ensnaring complexity trap and its oversimplification causes Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition to morph into His Majesty’s Angry and Disloyal Opposition. The main governing objective now becomes retribution and sabotage against the other party.

In this new world facts and opinions are conveniently identical, which aids in backstabbing either the “king” or the other party. This hobbles the government’s credibility when dealing with bad international actors. Nothing but more rampage on the international stage can come from bad actors when they see the President as domestically wounded or made impotent by the fractious discord.

Worse yet, the extreme opposition could spawn persons who see killing the president as their highest moral duty. Should such an assassination happen, the assassin’s most extreme sympathizers would likely turn out en masse to dance in the streets, as happened on a much smaller scale at Margaret Thatcher’s funeral. The backlash to an assassination could well open the gates of Hell.

Observers of the scene have noted the current national discontent’s similarity to the anger extant before the outbreak of the American Civil War. Things could become quite ugly because today’s extremists are equipped with tens of thousands of far better guns than were the soldiers in the Civil War. It is worth noting that the first significant battle in that war was the First Battle of Bull Run, also called the Battle of Manassas. Each side believed before the fight that the other side would quickly cave and that the conflict would be over. Large numbers of people brought picnics to the Bull Run battlefield to watch the rebels get trounced, but the picnickers ended up fleeing from the victorious insurgents when the day was over. This minor squirmish went on to kill more people than any other war in American history.

No one going into the war thought it possible that His Majesty’s Disloyal Opposition could create so much havoc, but that’s the way things turned out. Who knows where the developing backlash to today’s Disloyal Opposition will lead? One can reasonably ask “Is the United States today the way it is because of Donald Trump, or is Donald Trump the way he is because of the United States?” In any event, the problems are much deeper than The Donald’s competence.

Now you can honestly say Nobody told me.

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Nov 21, 2018 at 16:55. Revised Aug 23, 2019 at 12:53. –> Retrieved Aug 25, 2019 at 01:05.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

Just Wait

Posted Mar 18, 2016 at 18:22. Revised Aug 23, 2019 at 12:49.

J.D. Nobody recalls the first presidential election in which he was able to vote – the 1964 election between Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson. J.D. Nobody and most of the country was caught up in the fear that Goldwater was a near lunatic who would involve the country in a nuclear war. Despite having served in a fighter squadron with fighter pilots like Goldwater and having met him personally, J.D. Nobody believed the picture of Goldwater painted by the Johnson campaign.

There was recognition that some of what Goldwater was saying was the impulsive bravado of a fighter pilot, and many – including J.D. Nobody – did not recognize that Goldwater’s boast of nuking the Vietnamese into oblivion was only a locker room boast. It was not something he would have done when faced with making a command decision.

J.D. Nobody did have the prescience to see Goldwater’s expressed concerns as legitimate ones that would erupt in a bigger way later if not addressed. J.D. gave some of his ultra-liberal acquaintances the admonition “If you think Goldwater is bad from your point of view, just wait until you see what the pipeline of the future will deliver!”

None of these people could accept that anything worse could happen in the future. In prosecuting the Vietnam war Johnson did everything that Goldwater had advocated, and worse – such as effectively manufacturing the Gulf of Tonkin incident to ensnare America further in the Vietnam War. Johnson had made the first “just wait” happen sooner than anyone expected. Once again, J.D. Nobody’s admonition “if you think this is bad from your point of view, just wait.”.

A “just wait” soon arrived in the person of Richard Nixon. Nixon had some important accomplishments as president, despite there being much hand-wringing over how anybody could be worse than Nixon. Watergate was the best “just wait” yet.

The arrival of Ronald Reagan raised the cries of anguish once again. Nixon was no longer the greatest disaster of all time. J.D. Nobody now pointed out “if you think Ronald Reagan is bad from your point of view, just wait.”.

The cries of “no one could be worse” arose once again for George H. W. Bush. Again, just wait.

With the arrival of the Clintons came a jackboot political machine powered only by the polls. A jackboot political machine is not a bad thing; just a return to normalcy.

Next, there was George W. Bush, and once again the cries of anguish rose to a higher level yet. Ronald Reagan was no longer the greatest disaster of all time. Another opportunity for J.D. Nobody to point out “if you think George W. Bush is bad from your point of view, just wait.”.

And the progression goes on with Donald J. Trump and Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton and AOC and Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar…

Notice any pattern?

Tomorrow, there will be someone worse yet. Just wait.

Now you can honestly say Nobody told me.

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Mar 18, 2016 at 18:22. Revised Aug 23, 2019 at 12:49. –> Retrieved Aug 25, 2019 at 01:05.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

The Animals In The Barnyard Are Nervous

Posted Feb 23, 2016 at 17:53. Revised Jul 8, 2019 at 07:13.

For many years, farmers in Central and South America noticed that occasionally their animals would become restless, and would sometimes attempt to smash their way out of their pens or corrals. Many farmers believed this behavior was because the animals knew a major earthquake was imminent.

Knowledgeable people thought this was just ignorance and superstition on the part of the farmers, but over time, there was a growing realization that the animals knew something. No one was able to explain with certainty how they were detecting impending earthquakes, but there is much evidence that they knew when an earthquake was coming.

The 2016 political situation in America is similar. Huge numbers of people (the animals) know that something is wrong and that trouble lies ahead, but they’re not sure what to do about it or whom to blame. The people in the Establishment, like the farmers in Central and South America, have a hard time believing that many in the ordinary rank and file (the animals) may know something that the elite do not know.

Politics has manifested itself in two extreme groups of people, a group of conservatives who want to throw the rascals out and replace them with people who respect traditional values, and a group of extreme progressives who want to throw the rascals out and then massively redistribute wealth.

Even though these factions regard each other as enemies, they have a great deal in common. Both want to tear up the current order and replace it with something much more to their liking. In each case the people involved in this advocacy are often ignorant and simple, having simple-minded solutions that would probably create more problems than they would solve.

Because of this, the Establishment has difficulty listening to inarticulate outsiders. Ironically, the Establishment itself is also ignorant and uninformed about what is going on in the world beneath its feet.

Much of what is happening is a result of the ever-growing complexity of society, technology, and current life. This complexity guarantees that people will be less and less informed about the things going on around them simply because there is too much for any one person to absorb. It also results in ever-increasing specialization because each ever-narrowing specialty becomes ever more complex.

The people who are the best able to master the world of complexity and keep it running become increasingly more valuable and the pay they can demand reflects this. Those who are less able to stay on top of keeping this complex system running become less valuable economically than those in the know. Neither a return to the traditional values of earlier years nor wealth redistribution can reverse this force.

The primary cause for extreme wealth inequality is ever-growing complexity and its associated need for specialization. Tax law changes rarely reduce tax law complexity. Since 1981, there have been many conservative and liberal income-tax reforms that promised to produce tax fairness and less extreme wealth distribution. The result of the reforms is that inequalities increase as complexity makes the insiders more valuable because they have the knowledge for dealing with the tax system. This increasing tax complexity promotes the self-interest of tax accountants and tax attorneys.

Tax law complexity and tax law revisions guarantee an ever-growing need for tax advice from tax accountants and tax attorneys. Any change to tax law, even simplifying it, generates new work for tax practitioners. More complexity allows tax practitioners to become ever bigger leeches on the economically productive segments of society. It is simple: more tax law complexity (and change) generates more wealth for tax specialists. The beauty in this scam is the people will demand tax revisions forever, thereby giving the legislators the perfect excuse: “We are only complying with what our electorate has requested – which is what our job requires!” (And we are laughing all the way to the bank in the process!).

If pro is the opposite of con,
then what is the opposite of progress?
Congress!

As complexity grows, it places an increasing drag on people’s lives. They then seek simplicity by seeking ever simpler explanations for things and oversimplifying the things they do. Ever-increasing complexity ultimately generates a complexity trap that ends each complexity sub-cycle. The result is the situation devolves into the chaos of a new simplicity, which can be far more perverse than the original simplicity was.

The biggest complexity cycle, consisting of the sum of all the smaller ones, similarly has an ultimate complexity trap. What the limits to complexity are, when they might happen, and how our complexity will simplify will correct itself is not known. We do know that nothing can grow exponentially forever.

All this is unfolding before our very eyes, and we don’t believe what we are seeing.

Now you can honestly say Nobody told me.

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Feb 23, 2016 at 17:53. Revised Jul 8, 2019 at 07:13. –> Retrieved Aug 25, 2019 at 01:05.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/

The Importance of Being Nobody

Posted Feb 22, 2016 at 18:28. Revised Jul 15, 2019 at 07:17.

Being J.D. Nobody makes me a most important person. Indeed, millions of people quote me every day when they find themselves in a mess. The great beauty in being able to say “Nobody told me” is that no one can ever question you about whether it is true or false. You win either way when you quote me or pretend to quote me because it will be unclear to your listener whether the word “nobody” is a proper noun or just a convenient collective noun. Moreover, this tool which I am providing to the world is perfect for keeping honest lawyers honest.

The power I grant to you to quote me is unlimited, and it provides you with a “get out of jail free card” for use in any situation in which you have screwed up or are unjustly accused of screwing up.

Use this power wisely, and use it in full compliance with the creed of America’s one true state religion, embodied in the beliefs of The National Utilitarian Church. That simple and profound creed embodies our unswerving belief in pragmatism and nothing else.

Panic-filled pragmatism is the typical result of twenty-first-century complexity. Also, the more complexities people find in the world around them the more likely they are to seek too much simplification. The mission of The Complexity Trap and ScholarZero Publishing is to give you the cover you need to be able to say “Nobody told me” when someone challenges you. This response will be especially true when I, J.D. Nobody, have in fact told you something you don’t want to admit to knowing.

Now you can honestly say Nobody told me.

Copyright © 2016-2019 Charles E. Dial. All rights reserved.
Posted Feb 22, 2016 at 18:28. Revised Jul 15, 2019 at 07:17. –> Retrieved Aug 25, 2019 at 01:05.
Transcript News Feed: https://ct.complexitytrap.org/feed/