We Need to Change our Approach to Public Governance: A Call for Fewer Uncoordinated Tactics, and More Return-on-Coordination

April 28th, 2011
in Op Ed

roger-erickson Guest Author:  Roger Erickson, who is a systems entrepreneur based in Maryland. He worked for years in neurophysiology system research, at the Humboldt Stiftung, MIT, Yale, and NIMH before becoming more interested in community, business and market systems. Roger's newest interests are being pursued through several startups, as well as pilot agriculture commercialization projects with the USDA.

Throughout our history, both the nature and productivity of public governance has been a divisive issue in the USA.  Regardless of all the minor details of those arguments, an additional, neglected issue stands out.  It is obvious, as both population & economic complexity scale up, that maintaining coordinated alignment of public purpose inexorably becomes more difficult.

Follow up:

  With system scale, all prior methods fail to scale at some point, and public purpose decays from common strategy to uncoordinated tactics – unless methods change with changing context.  One aspect of this ongoing demand for adaptive change has been inevitable friction between rentier, entrepreneurial and labor interests working at cross purposes instead of alignment.  Others exist too.

One graphic example of the sorry state of current affairs comes from professor William K. Black, University of Missouri, Kansas City, who is an expert in the creeping migration of rentier class white collar crime, from tactics to strategy to government policy – demonstrating a process that has come to be known as “Control Fraud”.  The following video covers one of his many presentations (in an interview) on un-prosecuted criminal fraud exposed during the still ongoing socialized rescues of failed banks.


 TINA?  There is no alternative?   Of course there is.  An uninformed electorate can be manipulated, to modest gain for narrow purposes.  However, an informed electorate can achieve coordinated gains beyond imagination, as the history of the USA proves.

During all our public actions,  diverse methods, tactics, strategies and policies will always present as group options.  However, only a very, very few permutations of all those options produce timely alignment to group survival outcomes.   Responsible citizens cannot settle for anything less than agile alignment, to productive outcomes that improve the “general welfare of the people.

It takes so very little time for groups to self-tune their activities to those minimal patterns allowing the unimaginable returns-on-coordination.  This is not an undue burden.

Meanwhile, many methods, tactics, strategies or even policies can produce nominal numbers that may be statistically significant by local measures. Regardless of the numersical magnitude of these potential distractions, we should always consider such numbers as irrelevant until such time as we see what effect they have upon our net group outcomes in emerging contexts.   That is obvious, but useful only if repeated frequently, in every context.

Americans are not stupid.

However, they are certainly, through complacency, allowing narrow interests and diverse parties to slowly cook our golden goose.   This is entirely unnecessary, and comes primarily from neglecting to maintain adequate interconnectivity patterns and interaction rates.  It is practice at both flexibility and speed that produces agility upon demand.

This is not a new phenomenon.  The entire Vietnam era (started by Kennedy and Johnson and ended by Nixon) was a case in example.  Our populace was led to believe that we fought for a critical national interest against a communist threat, a perception eventually changed to acceptance of a people's fight for independence.

Even before Viet Nam and completely below the radar for most Americans was the intrigue surrounding U.S. interference in Guatemala and throughout Latin America during and prior to the 1950s.  One example of this is shown in the following video.  Other examples were discussed in detail decades ago by decorated Marine  Smedley_Butler.



 Without attention to the minimal national sharing pattern of minimally key data – data patterns that change with context – we become a disorganized mess instead of a more perfect union.   That is not what our Founding Population intended when they sent delegates to write the US Constitution.

Why is it that we can tune complex engines to automatically self-adapt to changes in, for example, air pressure & temperature and load, as we drive from Daytona Beach to Pikes Peak, yet we cannot tune our public policy apparatus to adapt smoothly to the increasing scale of population size and economic complexity?

It is clear that we are failing to do so ONLY through neglect of focus, not effort.   That practiced capability is the real national wealth we are squandering instead of bequeathing to our children.

The original question remains.  What least policy changes will do the most to redirect our many available strategies and tactics towards a national survival path?

It’s clear that we don’t NEED more narrow gains or efforts.  We have more than we know what to do with – even if we don’t yet allocate it well.  We need only policy changes that will allow agile coordination to once again scale up to match the pace of changing group options.   All system sciences concur on the pattern of initial changes needed.  They all require ramping up enough interactions to replace current frictions over random tactics with the allure of coordinated returns - something that always become obvious with enough dialog.  Once adequate inter-connectivity patterns and interaction rates start, the cascade upstairs from tactics to strategy to policy to group goals is hard to stop, and culminates with coherent group operations – something we haven't seen in national politics since ~1945, at least in this country.

Such policy changes will only be possible if our electorate once again begins to practice more diverse coordination more frequently.  An electorate that does not maintain adequate practice at coordinating cannot possibly generate agile coordination when the hour strikes.  Such an unpracticed, untrained electorate can be more easily manipulated to accept political tactics masquerading as national goals.  Elliott Morss alluded to this in an article title this past Tuesday:  “Is Ignorance Bliss?…

The answer is that, if ignorance is mistaken for bliss, the clueless honeymooners and their bliss are soon separated, sometimes abruptly and always badly.

Related Articles

Is Ignorance Bliss?  A Look at U.S. Income Inequality  by Elliott Morss

Analysis:  Wallison is Blind to Accounting Control Fraud  by William K. Black

The Great Debate©:  Wallison vs. Black on the FCIC  by William K. Black

From Stimulus to Austerity – What Role for Taxes?  by ElliottMorss

Inequality, Leverage and Crisis  by Michael Kunhof and Romain Ranciere

How Can the Architects of Crisis Investigate It?  by William K. Black

Insiders:  FCIC Was Set Up to Fail by Yves Smith

Austerity Rather than Stimulus?  Wait a Minute!  by Elliott Morss

Devil’s Bargain by William H. Gross

The New Feudalism  by Derryl Hermanutz

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