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.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Unknown said...

Gavin, student loans do have an enormous impact on our country's future. There is more debt in student loans than in credit card debt. They cannot be discharged via bankruptcy. And the debt is issued without regard to future ability to repay.

That's the very definition of a bubble.

Unknown said...

I agree with all except student loans. They are a massive bubble deeply affecting millions of Americans for three reasons:

(1) There is more debt in student loans
than in credit card debt. (>$1 trillion)

(2) One cannot discharge student loan debt through bankruptcy

(3) Student loans are not given in respect to the future ability for one to repay.

Thus we have a pool of debt that is rapidly growing, impossible to discharge through conventional means and not attached to the usually metrics enforced to ensure the market doesn't collapse.

Unknown said...

I doubt legalization of weeds is actually unsubstantial as it affects imprisonment and resource allocations of law enforcement. But of course, I don't have numbers to prove it.

Edwin said...

It is important to keep people fighting over unimportant things.

Provide them with TV wrestling style feud between politicians, and they will watch and take sides.

Important policies are created and executed in silence.