Oct 152013

1398335_10101741791467852_1048111985_oI attended an anti-Monsanto rally over the weekend. People who know me may be a little surprised, as they may know that I’m generally pro-GMO. I am, however, against certain applications of the technology (which should go without saying about any tech, really). Much like I’m generally pro-electricity, but anti-Electric-Chair.

However the recent US budget debacle has taught me something.

On Oct 1st the Republican party took the economy hostage by shutting down non-vital portions of the government, and refusing to reopen them until their demands are met. Then they claimed that the Democrats were responsible for this shut-down because they “refuse to negotiate” to meet their demands.

Alonzo Fyfe recently said

“few people seem to realize that a “clean continuing resolution” – the traditional government response to this situation in the past – is THE compromise position.

No increase in corporate taxes, no single-payer health care, no carbon tax.

No reduction in corporate taxes, no defunding of the Affordable Care Act, no opening up on the national wildlife refuges for drilling.

Both sides get absolutely nothing – a perfectly fair and equal compromise.

Unfortunately, the Democrats stepped up to this position immediately – very early in the year – refusing to make any demands and suggesting a “clean resolution” from the start.

The Republicans responded by what has become a traditional fashion for them. When their Democrats take two steps forward, the Republicans immediately take two steps back and then accuse the Democrats of refusing to compromise.”

This is what politics has become in the US. One cannot negotiate in good faith anymore – one must start at an extreme position that you wouldn’t actually WANT to become law. Your opponent is doing the same thing to try to make the negotiated settlement closer to what they actually DO want. If you could both agree to start at a reasonable position you could have a reasonable dialog, but if your opponent is going to take extremist positions to game the system you’re forced to do the same (oh look, it’s a coordination problem!)

Likewise, it seems that arguing to put any sort of regulation or restrictions on industrial agriculture means I have to start from a position of “I want to ban all advances in agriculture technology!” so I can be “talked down” to a more reasonable position.

It leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I’m not sure I did the right thing. I guess I did something, which is a step above doing nothing at all and hoping the situation resolves itself. But there needs to be a better way of fighting extremism than simply taking the opposite extreme position in an effort to balance it out. I fear that’ll just lead to disaster.

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