Phil Parker (tigertoy) wrote,
Phil Parker

The political divide and long term thinking

I just had an interesting thought about the political situation.

Most, if not all, of the political issues I really get worked up over are long term issues.  I worry about things that I see happening in five, or twenty, or even a hundred years far more than I worry about things in the next six months, because in terms of my day to day life, things are mostly OK for the immediate future, but the long term future seems bleak.

On those big issues -- global warming, overpopulation, the loss of wild places and the creatures that live there, the ever-mounting national debt, attacks on civil liberties in the name of fighting the bogeyman of terrorism, the religious right's attempts to force everyone to live by the rules of their religion -- I, and most of the people I hang out with metaphorically in the political sphere, take one position, and the Republican power structure and most of the people who hang out with them metaphorically take an opposing position.  This isn't news, of course; but what's interesting is that all of these issues are issues where I am really worried about the future that I see coming, and that is why I take the stands that I do.  I infer a common thread in their positions that they're worried about the present and not so much about the longer term future.

I find this interesting because I see the same dangerous and inappropriate lack of concern for the long term future in another area of modern American existence:  the management of publicly traded American corporations.  Because of the way our economy is structured, our corporations have a pathologically short time horizon for their decision making.  I could discuss this, and the reasons for it, at length, but I hope that my readers will accept that the problem exists, because it leads directly to my real point.

The real power behind the Bush gang is the money of the big corporate interests.  In a roundabout, but still real, way, the same people that call the shots for our corporations are the people who call the shots for our government -- because politicians who don't follow the agenda of the big money don't get the big money for their campaigns, which means they lose elections to candidates who do get that money.  And the people who call the shots in the big corporations are the people who have been able to rise to and hold onto power in our corporations, which necessarily means they're people who are used to thinking in terms of the short term and not the long term.  Executives who worry about the long term perform worse in the short term than executives that don't, so over time all the executives are only people who don't worry about the long term.  That mindset is the main thing that's wrong with our corporations.  My new thought is that that mindset is ultimately what's wrong with our politics too -- the lack of real concern for the future on the part of the Bush administration is directly caused by the structural short-sightedness of our corporations.
Tags: ideas, politics, society
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