The Long View

It’s terribly hard to take the long view. When people are suffering, why wait, when you can take action now? After all, life is short.

As a white kid in the South, I sometimes heard that slavery would have died out in time. It wasn’t economically sustainable, any more than our Social Security system today. It didn’t need to be legislated out of existence. That’s a plausible long view, but not tolerable to the slaves of the time.

These days, I wonder if off-shoring is going to die out as a business tactic. The news is full of stories about the weakening dollar. The NPR story this morning about increased labor costs in China certainly gives credence to that theory. But that view isn’t particularly helpful to the folks who are jobless today because of cheaper labor elsewhere.

The long view prescribed by capitalism has collateral damage. Addressing the collateral damage of capitalism with business regulation will have other collateral damage. How do you strike the balance between what’s good for the people as individuals, and what’s good for the collections of people we call businesses?

A public policy professor of mine once said, there are no right answers in politics, only choices between wrong answers. He may be right, but I have to believe that if more of us engage, if we create a pervasive culture of listening to, seeking out, and reconciling different points of view, that the answers will be less wrong.

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