Sunday, March 22, 2009

Obama's Bowling Score Aside

Legitimacy


President Obama has been traveling a lot lately. Even though he has a lot of important projects to attend to in Washington, he is spending the precious coin of presidential time on propping up his favorability numbers. I mean, who cares? Do we really think that the most powerful person in the world should waste time on Peoria? As we all know, the answer is sadly, yes.


If you read economists and business types on the web, you will eventually come to the conclusion that there are more important things than recouping the AIG bonus money. There is no doubt that it is the biggest political sore point, but it is a storm in a teacup. In fact, it may even be counter-productive to pursue a claw-back. It may actually be bad for everybody involved, the nation included. The conservative point of view is that it may also be unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the President has to act as if he's pursuing every last dollar.


The problem here is legitimacy. The President can be elected by a landslide. Every public figure can tell us that they're behind him. He can be praised from the pulpit and the street corner until youtube is overflowing with his praises. And he still won't have the authority to do his job.


We are a very suspicious people, and rightly so. The understanding of the insidious nature of power has been with us since long before George III tried to recapture the divine rights of monarchs. We always think that someone is stabbing us in the back, and then we force them to do it. Obama doesn't want to fool us, but he has to. We won't have it otherwise.


Unfortunately the problems facing him are so challenging that he can't solve them without our complete cooperation, and there are very few tendencies in American life that foster that sort of cooperation. It is for these reasons that we absolutely require an improved version of government. The trust network I have outlined would be able to provide people with the kind of assurances that we require. We would not have to go to the streets for satisfaction. We could go to our designated neighborhood liaison who has already spoken to others. We could ask and understand why things were being done as they are. And we could get suggestions for how to help.



Here is an interesting article, somewhat tangentially related, on the propagation of trust through networks. Do you think we could set up a sort of eBay grading system for politicians and platform planks?


Here's a youtube video that shows how easy it is to fool us. It's also a very good explanation for the housing bubble.

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