Why do we collectively create results nobody wants?

Despite having a wealth of knowledge and skills, we keep collectively creating results nobody wants.  To me, that reality is the biggest problem of our era.  Whether it’s governmental systems that impose austerity while unemployment is high, or corporations that force employees to choose between work and family, sacrificing one or the other, or nonprofit organizations that seem to invest huge resources into fundraising rather than service, or schools designed to turn out industrial age employees when we need information age employees, our institutions are structured to meet yesterday’s challenges and are failing to meet today’s challenges.

Our problem isn’t a lack of knowledge.  It’s not a lack of skill.  It’s not even a lack of resources.  We have sufficient knowledge, we just don’t use it.  We have sufficient skill, we just misemploye it.  We have sufficient resources, we reoutinely misallocate them.

Our public discussion is trapped in yesterday’s rhetoric – regularly dragged into an either-or dichotomy of free markets versus socialism as if our current corporate capitalism in any way resembles the idealized small enterprise version of capitalism that so many people hold dear.  I recognize, for example, that my basic liberal instinct to use government to constrain and restrain corporate power is part of the old dialogue, while the conservative call for deregulation is also part of the dialogue.  The tendency of corporations to use their wealth to influence government is also part of the old frame of reference.  When oil companies lobby to preserve the status quo, they are working from the old way of being in the world – and while protecting today’s profits, doing so at a vast cost to the world.

Otto Scharmer argues the source of our age’s problems is between our ears – how we think about the world is our problem and our collective inability to shift to new ways of thinking creates a feedback loop in which the outcomes we want remain out of reach and the outcomes we don’t want keep coming back.

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on November 12, 2013 - 7:57 pm

    Not continuing to build aircraft and tanks the military doesn’t even want just seems like the way to go.

    Has the definition of “conservatism” come to mean doing the same dumb thing, over and over again, expecting a different result?

    Wouldn’t Americans who build those aircraft and tanks prefer to be retrained to build the infrastructure their OWN country badly needs?

    • #2 by Glenden Brown on November 12, 2013 - 8:07 pm

      Larry – my instincts tell me the answer is Yes – Americans would rather spend the money here than there. We’d rather build schools than ships and planes for war. What I’m talking about is a broad systemic change in how we look at and live in the world. It’s not about deregulation versus regulation, it’s not about right versus left. it’s about recognizing the old battles are entirely counterproductive.

  2. #3 by Richard Warnick on November 12, 2013 - 9:19 pm

    We don’t have any lobbyists from the future coming to warn us about the effects of climate change: sea level rise, superstorms, droughts, food shortages, epidemics and waves of climate refugees. We do have lobbyists from Exxon and the Koch brothers.

  3. #4 by Larry Bergan on November 13, 2013 - 12:23 am

    Alan Grayson reminds us that FOR ONCE, the American people got something they wanted: NO WAR!

    We won the battle, and the military-industrial complex lost the war.

    Yeah, the MIC that president Eisenhower warned us about, told us if we didn’t rush into war, the American people would be in grave danger and Obama, ultimately, decided to ignore them.

    Full text of the E-mail:

    Dear Larry,

    Two months ago, we were told that if the United States did not attack Syria, we would see a new era of chemical weapons warfare.

    Yet here is last week’s Reuters headline: “Syria Meets Deadline To Destroy Chemical Production Facilities.”

    Let’s celebrate.

    Let’s celebrate the war that never happened.

    Let’s celebrate NOT having to hold sad and somber funerals for young Americans who would have lost their lives fighting in Syria.

    Let’s celebrate NOT having to nurse and care for the wounded veterans who would have returned from the U.S.-Syrian war.

    Let’s celebrate Congress NOT having to appropriate billions of tax dollars in emergency spending to support U.S. military operations in Syria.

    Let’s celebrate NOT having to attend bitter marches protesting the U.S. war in Syria.

    Let’s celebrate NOT having to rebuild Syria’s roads and bridges and schools, so that we can have a shot at rebuilding our own.

    Let’s celebrate peace.

    We won the battle, and the military-industrial complex lost the war.

    We should be proud of our victories, because our victories matter. I know that politics sometimes can seem discouraging right now. Progressive often seem to lose, and lose frequently. But, you know what? Sometimes we win. And when we win, we save lives. We promote equality. We serve the cause of justice. We improve people’s lives.

    I’m going to crow a bit, right now. Because, together, we stopped a U.S. attack on Syria. The military-industrial complex said attack, and attack now. We said what John Lennon once said: “All we are saying is give peace a chance.” We said that there is no such thing as humanitarian bombing. We said that we can’t go around the world launching missiles and dropping bombs every time we see something that we don’t like.

    Well, we were right, and the military-industrial complex was wrong. We forced diplomacy rather than more carnage, and now the chemical weapons stockpiles are being destroyed.

    This is victory. Our victory. Two months ago, 100,000 of us signed a petition at DontAttackSyria.com. Eighty thousand of us shared it on Facebook, and tens of thousands more shared it on Twitter.

    And you know what? We stopped an attack. We saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.

    And you know what else? We got those chemical weapons production sites destroyed.

    Peace won. Lives were saved. Thanks to you. Good job!

    We progressives, each one of us, we have a head, a heart and a spine. We can win. We will win.


    Rep. Alan Grayson

    I’m thinking this great news isn’t a priority for the “news” media. In fact, I almost forgot; didn’t you? The media’s manipulative powers should never be underestimated.

  4. #5 by cav on November 13, 2013 - 7:17 am

    It may be a bit early to declare the MIC lost the war. Just sayin’.

    At least some of the monied lobbyists and corporate heads have little other purpose in life- or ability to imagine, anything other than perpetuating the very structure that continuously nudges the roll-out of further war.

    Profit. The quest for which is a nasty human frailty. Bodies pile up invisibly in the wings.

    • #6 by Larry Bergan on November 13, 2013 - 6:24 pm

      Well, if a man were to walk into a casino and sit down at a gambling machine and win the jackpot every time he pulled the lever, I’m thinking somebody whose interest in money was greater then his love for humanity would be lured back to his favorite machine.

      I didn’t say anything about Dick Cheney or his pals, but I was thinking it.

  5. #7 by cav on November 13, 2013 - 7:44 am

    Was talking to a libertarian acquaintance, about IBM, Ford, GM and other US companies being WWII collaborators with the Nazis. He did not see the necessity of those companies being forced to pay war compensation to victim, or that there was any kind of moral conflict, that US citizens being tossed into that war, either by enlistment or by the draft, and being in dire hazard, while those companies continued their profit making, sometimes making war products for the other side. I thought the company officers should be tossed in jail at least. He thought that since companies are essential amoral entities that they were not responsible in that way. Corporate citizenship in its rawest, least human form.

    To me it’s rather peculiar that individuals acting on their own are held to a higher standard of morality, than the corporate set of people who do these things.

    • #8 by Glenden Brown on November 13, 2013 - 9:35 am

      cav – I think the issues you’ve identified is one of the central political struggles right now. The Citizens United decision gave corporations basically all the legal rights of real persons without any of the legal responsibilities.

      You can’t put a corporation in jail. But they are creatures of the state, created by law, and I think should be subject to regulation as a result.

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