Sunday, March 24, 2013

High Symbolism, Low Substance debate

Arnold Kling concisely expresses something I've been thinking about a lot lately:
The minimum wage issue is high on symbolism and low on substance.
It feels to me like 98% of the political debate I see is over issues that, in the grand scheme of things, don't really matter.

There are issues that people really, truly, care deeply about. That they get emotional about. That they organize around and march on Washington and make demands.

Abortion. Minimum Wage. Legalizing Marijuana. Children Being Abducted By Strangers. Student loans. Global warming. Peak Oil. Gay marriage. Israel. The Terrorist Threat.

All high symbolism, low substance.

Or, to put it another way: 100% solve any of those issues (in whatever direction your political leanings say they should be solved) and I think the world would look pretty much like it does now.  Slightly better, but not a lot better.

Immigration. Disease. Empowering Individuals / Disempowering Despots. Better Governance ("It's The System, Stupid"). Tolerance.

High substance, often low symbolism. I wish we spent more time talking about things that, if fixed, would make the world much better.