We’ve Lost All Sense Of The Common Good

The theory of American civics is that the competitive process of every group advocating for its narrow self-interests will magically generate the Common Good, that is, a political and social order that serves everyone’s common/shared interests.

Unfortunately, that’s not how civic life functions in real-world America. We have completely lost any sense of a Common Good. All we have now is a cut-throat competition between entrenched special interests for a fatter slice of the pie while the bottom 95% have essentially no political voice and a rapidly diminishing say in the economy.

The problem with the theory that competitive advocacy magically generates the common good is advocacy is horrendously asymmetric: corporations and the wealthy have massively well-funded campaign and lobbying industries as their advocates, while the bottom 95% have no equivalent resources or organized efforts to advocate for their interests.

So what we have now is a competing set of self-serving elites claiming that their interests are in the Common Good. This is visibly, obviously, painfully false; each elite/ cartel/ interest group is only trying to sell its crassly self-serving agenda as being in the Common Good as a crude propaganda tool.

Nobody actually believes Big Pharma’s agenda (jacking up off-patent generic medications that cost $10/dose last year to $400 or $4,000/dose this year because, well, they have 40,000 lobbyists and billions to contribute to politicos in our pay-to-play “democracy”) serves the Common Good. It very clearly serves a powerful, wealthy few at the expense of everyone else.

Every special interest, from global corporations to public unions, makes the case that their own interests are identical with the Common Good–especially if more public money is required.

As I explain in my books Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform and Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Changethis is the corrupting fruit of centralization: when lobbying a few hundred politicos and a handful of top bureaucrats can result in billions in additional public spending sluicing into the coffers of special interests, there is no need to persuade the populace of the benefits to the Common Good of the proposed spending: you just spend a few tens of millions in our pay-to-play “democracy” and then reap billions as the payoff.

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Author: Travis Esquivel

Travis Esquivel is an engineer, passionate soccer player and full-time dad. He enjoys writing about innovation and technology from time to time.

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