Tuesday, December 19, 2006

How to fix almost anything

Jonathan Rowe suggests that the most effective way to ensure serious problems get addressed is to ensure that wealthy and powerful people suffer the consequences of those problems. That way they have a direct incentive to tackle them.

"To put this another way, when big shots can glide through life in gilded cocoons, it breaks the social feedback loop. Those in a position to do something about a problem do not feel an urgency to do so...

We naturally get worked up about the things that rattle our own cages. Potentially it is a mighty social force; but it goes untapped when the rich and powerful are exempt from the problems that most Americans face. If every CEO in America had to fly economy class, send their children to public school, and deal with computer help lines themselves rather than have gofers do it for them, the quality of life in America would increase measurably. If the very rich had trouble getting medical insurance they would show as much concern for that problem as they do for the diseases they themselves contract. This basically is the thinking behind Rep. Charles Rangel’s proposal to revive the draft. Imagine Dick Cheney speaking at one of those mega-buck Republican fundraisers, to an audience worried that their own offspring might be drafted. The bellicosity and swagger over an Iraq would be quite a bit less. "

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