Shutdown Fears Show Inherent Problem with Governing as Compromise

One of the great fallacies of government is that it requires compromise to achieve maximally beneficial outcome. Let me explain by using some very simple logic.

1.) For every decision there must, by definition, be a maximally beneficial outcome.

2.) The most desired action is one which provides a maximally beneficial outcome.

3.) If a compromise does not provide a maximally beneficial outcome then it cannot be the most desired action

4.) A compromise does not always provide a maximally beneficial outcome

Therefore a compromise is not always the most desired action.


With apologies to my philosophy professors, that’s basically what this discussion must come down to.

The argument is not new. In fact, we’ve had it myriad times this year already with the debt ceiling talks as well as with issues in California, Connecticut, Illionois and Wisconsin around state budgets and collective bargaining.

Republicans were crucified by the radical left media for sticking to their financial guns (Thanks Second Amendment), while the Tea Party was characterized as a group of domestic terrorists for demanding the government be accountable for its spending (God forbid).

As I mentioned Friday, the government is now facing a shutdown because Republicans and Democrats in Congress can’t agree on how to allocate funds for disaster relief heading into the new fiscal year beginning October 1.

Republicans in the House have already passed a package that would allocate about $1 billion in immediate funds and another $2.6 billion starting October 1. Part of that money would be offset by cuts elsewhere.

Senate Democrats predictably have blocked this legislation, presumably because it makes too much sense  makes them look bad.

I’m not going to re-argue for additional spending to be offset by additional cuts.

What I do want to do is emphasize my earlier point which is to take this an opportunity to show that compromise is not an inherent good.

True enough, our founding fathers intended to create a representative democracy whereby a diverse constituency was represented. However, to quote Lewis Black, our founding fathers also assumed at least a few of the people in the room making these decisions could read.

We have a two party system so that the minority can present legitimate opposition to the majority, questioning it and providing feedback in order to come to a maximally beneficial outcome (Is that phrase starting to make sense yet?)

Government is about getting the best deal, not the most compromised deal. Think of it another way, if we compromise on important ideals like freedom, then compromise suddenly becomes a dirty word, not one to be lauded.

It’s interesting that, in the face of opposition, the majority party, devoid of any backbone or guidance, has insisted on a compromise, when the minority party has flexed its muscles as a party of firm ideals  and ultimately got the majority to cave.

When you have no clear path from your President and no quality ideas when it comes to solving the problems of our country, it makes sense to say, “Hey, can you guys help us? We REALLY need a compromise here because if we go with what we want, we’re SOL.”

In both cases, the Republicans were right to stand their ground because they had the idea holding the country’s best interest. When you have the maximum benefit on your side, or at least more benefit than the other guys, you don’t have to compromise.

Furthermore, we shouldn’t want our legislators to compromise simply to say they did.

As the trophy generation grows up and “Go get ’em” turns into “good try,” it’s not surprising that a generation of compromisers is being developed.

That’s great in a kindergarten classroom. In politics, in the real world, it can be dangerous.


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