(I wrote this tonight. I may delete it from this website in the morning. A little tipsy. Wine and Whiskey Wednesdays you know … Orf messaged me about an NPR piece that talked about Game Theory and the current government shutdown and asked my opinion. I just gave him more than he probably wants. Sorry Orf. Tell me to delete it and I will.)
Hey Orf, you messaged me about the piece on NPR that broke down the GOP / Dem battle and how it relates to game theory, and I just wanted to respond to it.
So first, of course just to clarify, I hope that you turned to me about game theory not because I work in games but because we hopefully had a conversation in the past about game theory and pragmatism and just ways of approaching situations. I am pretty sure that we spoke about it on our bike rides particularly when it comes to insurance and business dealings … but too many times during that NPR interview did I hear “Game theory … its not just a game!” to be sure.
That was a very interesting piece, and I think it was very accurate (as game theory needs to be) in breaking down the situation of the current government shutdown and the looming debt ceiling threat. Basically you have two sides playing a zero sum game. At this point in the shutdown either the republicans lose or the democrats lose. If the republicans allow the budget to pass, they are solely responsible for what they have created. Two weeks of government shutdown costs the government a shitload and causes a lot of pain to taxpayers. (Not sure if you believe that or not … some tea party subscribers think that government shutdown saves the government money … it would be a whole other topic to explain exactly how much it costs.) If the democrats cave to the Republicans and repeal the ACA then the Democrats are blamed for costing the government these past two weeks of money and hardship on families across the country. In this case, why, oh why, didn’t Obama just settle things weeks earlier, before our troops weren’t paid and the memorials weren’t shut down and our veterans didn’t receive their checks and field trips were ruined?? It’s all Obamacares fault!
No matter the story that is told in the end, the situation is affecting some people very hard. One story that I heard from Maggie which I am surprised isn’t talked about more is that the NIH, due to the shutdown, has stopped the chemo treatments that it funds to children. So there are children with cancer that are not able to get their scheduled chemo treatments. On Friday before the shutdown they were all ready to get their chemo, and then on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday … sorry, no chemo.
It really happens that quickly.
So the current situation that we are in really is a cold war on both sides, that is undeniable. Both the Democrats and Republicans are really in a no blink situation, and neither side can really afford to steer, which is why both side has taken the steering wheel off and thrown it out the window.
So outside of the current game theory and whatever got us into this situation, I have a major problem with the Republicans. Major problem. Again, I am not sure where you stand on this situation, but I am angry as hell at them. I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry with politics as I have been now.
The Republicans in this situation are political terrorists.
The law that was originally enacted to allow congress the power to approve the budget was put in place, as everything is at first, on good intentions. It was put in place to make sure that the government did not over spend and over step its bounds. If congress thought that the government was spending, lets say, 110% of what was financially feasible, then they had the right to not approve the budget. The idea was that by not approving it, they could speak to the president or the senate or whoever and figure out a compromise that made the budget more secure.
(Before I move forward, without explanation, lets just be clear that the current house is not rejecting the budget for financial reasons, it’s strictly for Obamacare reasons. You get that right? That doesn’t need to be clarified for anyone, does it? I don’t want to be typing forever here)
Sometimes rules are established with an intent and those rules can be taken advantage of when viewed verbatim to give one team an advantage over another. Let’s look at the NFL as an example. When the rules of football were established god-knows-when-ago, an incomplete pass was probably ruled as a stoppage in time so that the ball boy could recover the football and the play had the opportunity to resume. It took many smart strategists to realize that throwing the ball could be used for time management purposes, and now all teams use tactics like spiking the ball to stop the clock and let the kicker get on the field with all the time he needs without running the clock. A spiked ball is just technically an incomplete pass, after all, right?
The problem I have is that the government was and is in place to support the people of the country. Government is not a war, it is not a rivalry, it is not a game. The ACA was established within the rules of the law and, unlike in football, these rules should be followed by their intent and not their text. The Republicans / Tea Party have created a game out of it by holding the budget hostage and now the debt ceiling. They want to play the chicken game.
What option does that leave Obama? As a pragmatist, he must look at it the way the NPR piece described. In the past, he has played his hand as best as he could by compromising with both sides and trying to reach a middle ground. Now, however, if he is to turn his wheel and leave this game of chicken, he has accepted that this method of politics and political terrorism is acceptable, and that any time the house has a majority they can hold hostage the government to undo or pass whatever they want. If he falters on this situation, the three houses of government become one house of government: the house of congress.
I know I am ranting, but to wrap it up I don’t know what the immediate solution is. While I honestly believe that congress is terrorizing its own people, since it is made up of a collection of small town shitheads (seriously, can it be that hard to be elected to congress? BLin, when are you running for congress?) I don’t know how this whole situation resolves for either team. In the long run, what we really need to do is get rid of the two party system. The best way to do that, in my opinion, is to implement the Alternative Vote / Runoff Voting system. (Rather than explaining: link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Y3jE3B8HsE)
That would, I believe, immediately fix the two party system and correct a lot of our politics. It would let Tea Partiers be Tea Partiers, Republicans be Republics, Libertarians be Libertarians, Democrats be Democrats, Green Party be Green Partiers and Socialists be Socialists. No longer would party lines be drawn so hard. Republicans that recognize that government shutdown doesn’t make sense could do so. Green party candidates that don’t believe in war could do so.
Second step would be to get rid of Gerrymandering.
Anyways … I just wanted to make sure I responded to your text, because that NPR piece got my juices flowing. I haven’t re-read any of this so its a stream of consciousness … and I have had a lot of Duggans Dew tonight. I may post this to a blog somewhere that no one reads as well. Its a lot of text to go to waste.
My facts my all be wrong. Please respond where I messed up. At the same time, I welcome anyone that honestly believes that the current shutdown makes sense to explain themselves. I have yet to hear an actual argument.