Mountain Math Software
home consulting videos book QM FAQ contact

PDF version of this book
next up previous contents
Next: Religious institutions Up: Values and evil Previous: Culture and values   Contents

Political and economic institutions

The declaration of independence and constitution of the United States codify a successful political structure. They established a limited central authority that enhances rather than circumscribes individual freedom. The central government attempts to minimize forms of competition (like murdering your opponent) that do not enhance creativity while supporting those that do. Through democracy it creates at least the possibility of an effective voice to any group no matter how little power or influence they may have aside from the vote.

These documents reflect an intuitive recognition that freedom of individuals and institutions is crucial to creative development and the pursuit of happiness. We have a creative instinct that is always seeking something new and different. The founding documents of the United States reflect and respect human striving as a universal instinct not limited to a ruling elite.

The political structure of the United States established boundary conditions that have supported enormous creativity. Yet our history is scarred by equally enormous injustices starting with slavery and continuing with fraud and exploitation of the weak by the strong up to the present moment. We can do far better then we have. The increasing disparity between the haves and have nots and especially the increasing impoverishment of those near the bottom is a serious threat to democracy itself.

Globalization has made the poor through out the world competitors for an increasing range of jobs. This is eroding the need for and bargaining power of low skilled workers. At the same time the political influence of money has expanded with the growing importance of mass media and the rising cost of advertising.

Our rapidly increasing productivity should be making life better and easier for everyone. We should have more choices and options. But the opposite seems to be happening and not just to those at the bottom. Increasingly jobs that will support a middle class life style are making greater demands on the employee's time and energy.

These trends are a corrosive process that could destroy the foundations of democracy and with it human creativity. Part of the problem is the erosion of a value system that saw the family as the primary source of meaning. When I was growing up in the 1950's a job was seen primarily as a means to support a family and every man who played by the rules was entitled to a descent job at a living wage. Of course that value system was permeated with injustices against women, blacks, gays and everyone that did not fit a narrow Ozzie and Harriet stereotype. Those advocating a return to that value system are moving in the wrong direction.

But there was something important in that value system that we do need to revive. The focus on the family was also a focus on quality of life. The purpose of work and corporations was to provide a higher quality of life for the companies employees, customers and investors. Economic gains through greater productivity is one but only one means to a better quality of life. A good income means little if one has no time to enjoy it and to nurture all the dimensions of ones humanity.

Competition is essential to creativity, but diversity is equally essential. A winner take all economy in the long run is less productive because it destroys diversity. Productivity and economic wealth have no intrinsic value. They are means to the end of enriching and expanding conscious experience. The forces that put too much emphasis on winning are equally a threat to diversity and quality of life. We need to develop some cultural counterweights to insure the diversity that is at the core of our enormous economic success will continue. One way to do this would be through the tax system as described in Section 14.2.

One source of perverted values in Western culture is the search for logical absolutes where none exist. In part the winner take all economy stems from this. If productivity is good than more productivity is better even if does serious damage to long term creativity. An extreme example of this is the bumper sticker: ``He who dies with the most toys wins.'' Life is not a game to win or loose, but an experience to enjoy. Measuring ourselves against others in limited ways is important, but it is not what life is about. We are different from each other for good reasons.

An important example of this fallacious logic that comes from requiring absolute distinctions where none exist is the argument that human life begins when sperm meets egg. It is obviously absurd to call the resulting single cell a human being. It is human only in its potential and not in its being. As an embryo and fetus develops it becomes increasingly human with no absolute dividing point. The seriousness with which one must take this developing life depends on its stage of development. That is an uncomfortable reality for many on both sides of the abortion debate. But it is an obvious fact if one is willing to simply look at what is and recognize that human life has no absolute defining set of conditions. Insisting on an absolute boundary leads to absurd philosophical positions by creating boundaries where there is a convenient absolute dividing point even though that boundary has nothing to do with the distinction one is trying to make. It is the modern equivalent of arguing about how many angels fit on the head of pin. One can construct elegant arguments about this, but in the end they are pointless and meaningless.

Morality is an unsolvable problem. No simple absolute rules can be adequate to codify moral behavior. Life creates values. It makes as much sense for there to be an absolute final morality as there does for there to be an an absolute final biology or mathematics. These fields have no bounds and neither does the evolution of values.


PDF version of this book
next up previous contents
Next: Religious institutions Up: Values and evil Previous: Culture and values   Contents


Mountain Math Software
home consulting videos book QM FAQ contact
Email comments to: webmaster@mtnmath.com