American Exceptionalism

I look forward to a return to civil political discussions. I do not demonize those with whom I disagree politically. In fact my views encompass many parts of the political spectrum, and I suspect this is true for many of us. Also, political and social views are constantly emerging and evolving.

Today’s snapshot:

1. More often than not government (all) regulations do not entirely achieve their intended effects. Their unintended effects can be positive or negative. This is due to the world’s and society’s infinite complexity. Thus, I am skeptical of most grand efforts to “fix a problem”.

2. Immigration is a net plus for societies and nations. Most closed and static systems wither and die. Illegal immigration is unfortunate but the individuals involved are humans. If you can’t stop the illegal immigrants at some point the only good option is to normalize their status. The world’s population is stabilizing and will begin to decline in the second half of this century. This will undermine societies and economies whose systems assume population growth. All countries need vibrant young populations to pay taxes and support programs such as welfare safety nets. By 2050 all countries will be actively competing for immigrants.

3. Abortion is horrible. Forcing women to be prisoners of their bodies is horrible. Given that I cannot achieve clarity on this issue I think it’s best left to personal choice.

4. Climate change is real and it is currently driven by humans. Given that regulatory approaches are often flawed, solutions should be emergent and market and locally-based. (See point 1) Thirty years ago I was debating pollution and energy with a friend in an English pub. He was advocating a large government program. I asserted that the first successful electric car would be created by a private company.

5. Humans form associations to solve problems or take advantage of opportunities that can only be done at scale. Governments and large corporations are examples of such associations. Epidemic diseases need to be tackled at scale.

6. Human ingenuity and innovation are everywhere. So is human fecklessness, selfishness, and evil. Large organizations and societies try to maximize the first category and suppress the second. It’s hard. But the key point is that both large organizations and governments are staffed by the same species–adorably imperfect humans.

7. Decent health care should be available and/or affordable for everyone. Unfortunately designing an equitable health care system is particularly complex. Some nationalized health systems–such as the NHS in the UK–suffer from chronic underfunding because once you nationalize health care it has to be funded through taxes and you know how people feel about taxes.

8. Altruism is advantageous from an evolutionary perspective. Communities with altruistic individuals do better than communities without. The Golden Rule is just about the only philosophy we need.

9. Ideologies are unhelpful. They narrow your options and simplify complex reality.

10. Skin color is irrelevant to human performance.

11. America is the world’s most multicultural nation. That is its only true exceptionalism. We will prove to be either a successful example or a tragic one.

One response to “American Exceptionalism

  1. Pingback: On Markets, Government, and American Exceptionalism – Eugene Eric Kim

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