Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sports, Public Policy and Either/or Thinking

Clearly in the complex arena of public policy making, impulse thinking aided and abetted by instant communications has “obvious defects.” Impulse thinking may work well in sports games supported by rules and referees, but what rules and referees exist in the public sector are being rapidly eroded by the current win at any cost politics most prominently practiced by Republicans.


The constant pressure to get the ‘scoop,’ the need to be first and always right and the rush to judgment, lock journalists and politicians into a vicious spiral of impulse thinking and instant communications. Everything, no matter how complex or how important, has to be reduced to a tweet or a text and delivered instantly, before everybody else can deliver it. “The resulting commentary,” John Pitney says, “is long on reflex and short on reflection.” 


Plus this way of thinking and being reduces everything to trivia. Important things are no more important than the current score. People pay more attention to high school, college and pro sports than they do to voting and being informed on issues. Of course that’s understandable being that politics and the important stuff is so complex and messy and sports is so clean and straight forward. Much easier to follow sports and reduce everything, especially the messy important stuff, to a game and think of it as a game with only two sides, two choices, either a winner or a loser. Perhaps this way of thinking and being once worked well for us in the past, but it doesn’t work well now. The interdependence and complexity of real life no longer lends itself so well to the simple minded winner/loser sports/game metaphor.

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