On Donkeys and Elephants

No, unfortunately this is not actually directly about donkeys and elephants though I do love animals. I wish it was.

Readers, before I express my opinion; I’ll let you know that I’m a pretty strong liberal. Yes, I was one of THOSE people that loved sites such as romneytaxplan.com. That being said, I do appreciate learning all viewpoints on political issues.

I was talking to one of my close friends a couple of months back about a class he was taking, Robert Reich’s Wealth and Poverty.  The class was discussing how to reduce the income gap, when my friend (who is also a liberal) suggested some conservative ways to resolve the issue. Now, I know some of you might be thinking along the lines of “What, I thought that conservatives sidestepped that issue just like Romney avoided outlining a tax plan” and that conservatives falsely believe that upward mobility will resolve the issue magically. Coincidentally, the graduate student instructor thought along the same lines.

I cannot pretend to scratch the surface when it comes to conservative thought on resolving income inequality and poverty issues in America, though I can imagine that some ideas may involve supply-side economics and touch on the belief that government benefits decrease the productivity of people in poverty.  That being said, I think the issue is the fact that as an interested student, I don’t know much more and I always learn the side that, for example, the liberal graduate student instructor chooses to address.  This bias was illustrated beautifully by a poll taken during the presidential elections that cited that amongst faculty at various top institutions, at Harvard, a mere 7% were conservative, a similar 6% at Yale and much of the same at universities throughout the United States. Berkeley, being its liberal self, would certainly fit this rigid mold. In almost every major institution, diversity is a note of pride; we see professors of every race and orientation. Why is there limited diversity when it comes to political thought, which could be put under the umbrella of intellectual diversity? If every university continues to churn out well reasoned liberals due to a lack of exploration of conservative rhetoric, is there a possibility that each one of us has only a limited view in solving current issues?

I’ve always assumed that solving current issues would be reliant on looking at history, one of my favorite topics. My perspective on history is a little odd though, and somewhat applicable to my current rambling. I see history as an interesting and complicated form of mathematics (surprise surprise, if you know me).  Almost any relevant historical event could be generalized to a logic puzzle of information, where pieces are solved based on knowledge of particular elements of the puzzle. Different actors, or solvers of the puzzle, have different pieces of information and thus have different methods and solutions.  Of course, complications arise when leaders decide to take less than rational methods to either make the puzzle harder to solve for another or try to avoid solving the puzzle altogether.  Additionally, there are externalities as well in many of these situations, which add another layer of complexity. As outside readers and observers of these puzzles, seeing the perspectives of the various solvers of the puzzles helps us solve current issues that have similarities, even if the political climate is completely different. However, if we progress into a society in which everyone is applying the same method to the issue at hand (for example, for the recession, everyone seemed to veer towards austerity), perhaps we’re starting to limit our efficacy and no longer showcasing the creativity our society covets so dearly.

I’m sure there are many other, less redundant (and better) conclusions that can be made from these examples, unbeknownst to me. Let me know what you think.


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