Duplicity, Politics & Regulation

Don’t assess a system by its mission statements so much as by its behaviour…

Duplicity. The ways in which what something is meant to do (or what is asserts as mission statement or other pithy sentiment) and what it actually does can be diametrically opposed. An online dating agency may actually possess a perverse incentive to find you a lot of dates with which you are poorly matched, thus ensuring your perpetual readiness to hand over your hard-earned as that perfect partner is surely just around the corner; failure is success, for someone. An employment agency that specialises in finding work for the unemployed may similarly possess a perverse incentive to find you lots of short-term temporary positions so that it can continue to justify its role and government subsidy acquisition through apparently high success-rates while actually doing a spectacularly bad job at helping people into positions of authentic economic security. Generating and supporting poorly-functioning systems produces systemic turbulence and this in turn creates the opportunity for the extraction of wealth, for someone.

There are more complex (and consequential) examples. A government whose central assertion is that of the protection of its citizens may possess, through some convoluted but not indecipherably complex feedback mechanisms, perverse incentives to actually loosen the reigns of security and protection for citizens where the spectre of political contribution and its sister-ghoul of enlightened (political) self-interest arise. The central stock and valued entity within a healthy and just democracy might be asserted to be the safety and well-being of the people of that nation; the reality of the situation may be that the capital wealth acquisition and generation associated with a product such as (but certainly not limited to) firearms becomes the protected stock and asset-store and the safety and well-being of citizens becomes a subsidiary clause in the emergent social contract. So, rather than having a system in which the inflows and outflows of legislative activity, regulation and intervention are cultivated around the needs and requirements of a secure and healthy population, the system finds itself oriented around and towards the accumulation of wealth in corporate and political wells around which the requirements for corporate and political continuity are the central, directed goals.

In the topical circumstance of guns, firearm regulation and public safety I am not certain that the economic and political information, energy, wealth and power flows are really fundamentally different to anywhere else within the larger systems of government and corporate interactions, it is just that in this case where the system is so very obviously broken that the anomalies and tragedies are as striking as they are. A problem I can see for those hoping to effect change to the current state of the system is that the system is, for all its inconsistencies and duplicitous messaging, actually functioning as expected and as required to maintain a working simulation of civil democratic society and as is actually possible under the economic and political constraints and axioms of that system.

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