Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Compromises and solutions

One of the principles of a representative republic is that through negotiation and compromise the government of the citizens of a nation will arrive at a solution that both solves a particular problem and the solution is something that all interested parties can agree upon. Ideally this is done via a peaceful governmental process with input from the people expressed through their representatives. In this manner societal problems are solved peacefully and all parties will be satisfied with the outcome.

Before I begin the discourse of this principle I would like to say a few words on behalf of compromise. These days it appears to be a dirty word that elicits a feeling similar to what one feels toward those who talk in a movie theater. A sense of distaste and revulsion. This to me is not what compromise should elicit from us. A compromise can be a useful solution to a problem.

A husband and wife are arguing over a spouse's particular hobby. Why this is a stress on the relationship is not important for this discussion. What IS important is that the hobby in question is a cause for conflict. Both sides want to have their way. But both sides (ideally) what the other one to be happy. A compromise in this matter can yield an effective solution to the tension.

But a compromise in and of itself is not by nature a solution. The compromise must solve the problem in question to the satisfaction of both parties in question. Like any other tool it must be appropriate to the situation. And attempting to use compromise in lieu of an actual solution at best is putting off solving the problem and at worst creates a far worse problem than the original issue.

To myself the perfect example of a compromise that does not solve a problem is our country's healthcare system (if one can call it that). The government regulates the system creating heavy burdens of paperwork and regulation compliance. Yet it is also privatized to the point where consumers must make all kinds of choices with information that is complicated and confusing. It is the worst of both worlds, a system that is both a private and public nightmare. Arguably the only consensus this country has is that everyone hates it.

And yet it is from another perspective the perfect compromise. The system attempts to accommodate both those who want a more centralized system in the public sector and those who want a more privatized free market system. In turn it has both, and we are miserable for it. What the problems are depends on one's perspective, yet all agree that the system is flawed and miserable.

I do not have the answer to the riddle of the system. But I do know that the current health care system illustrates perfectly that a compromise in and of itself is not a "solution." It is very important to understand as we as a society continue to tackle these societal issues that we do not surrender to a compromise for the sake of compromise.

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