Letter: Complex world a work in progress

From: Tom Lane


I was pleased to see two responses to my last letter. Unfortunately, they both missed the point, so I will try to be more clear.

First, Mr. Cole misquoted me as saying I thought the purpose of government was to “provide for the people," when I actually said, “to provide for the well-being of the people.” I should have explained that “well-being” to me is defined by the Bill of Rights. He went on to argue against his own misinterpretation. How can I counter that?

Mr. Valek also commented in a more comprehensive way to my point of our system being very complex. He obviously comes from a conservative bias and assumed that I was of a liberal bias. He assumed I was anti-capitalist, and desired some Socialist society. All wrong. I was an executive at Cummins, and I consulted to major corporations trying to make them more competitive in our capitalist, worldwide, economic system. I am against unfettered capitalism, and that was my example. It was a disaster. Just like pure Communism and any other “pure” system based on some concept of how the world should be. Life is much too messy for some simple idea to work everywhere.

My point is that we live in a very complex world, and getting more integrated and more complex, and we human beings have not figured it out yet. It is a work in progress. Go back over 2,000 years ago to the ancient Greeks and read Plato’s Republic (not connected to this newspaper) As long as we have had nations, there are people trying to figure out the best way to govern them. Plato had some interesting ideas.

We have not figured this out yet, and I am making a case to be more inquiring about how things work, rather than posturing with some “right way” the world/government should be. We have not done well by women, people of color, gender issues, poverty and a few others. We seem to have granted governance by the wealthy at this point. Not sure that is a good idea.

If we do believe that governance should be giving a chance for all to do well, then we must keep adjusting and fine-tuning what we do. If you believe it is to protect the current people in power, then you have a very different view than I do. If you like the current system because you do well in it, then I would say you are narrow-minded. If you want to create a system that mostly benefits you, then I would say you are self-centered. If you want to create a system that favors your religion, then you should probably read the Constitution.

My point is that the complexity we live in demands that we need more and more people trying to understand how things work, and not just claiming to have the solution with no understanding. That is not a liberal position.