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The delights of uncertainty
by Jan Sand
2007-01-11 08:21:03
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A very uncomfortable proportion of humanity is unsure about when and where their next meal may appear. An equally large number, if not more, are concerned about even more fundamental circumstances of their survival and the well being of their loved ones and there is certainly no pleasure in this. But there is a flip side to uncertainty.

Taken by Linda Lane - www.wonderlane.comWhen we start on any general project such as what we will do during the day or the next month or the next year the quality of uncertainty adds a definite spice and adventure to the future. If time is a dimension like any of the dimensions of space then it is most likely the future exists and our precise activities may not be predictable.

But since they exist in time and space they must be somewhere there. Everything from who and when and where we meet our future spouse to the momentary itch that makes us sneeze at one specific moment is likely to be fixed in time. And where, and how we will meet our demise - would anyone prefer to be aware of these events beforehand? Not me, although I do take the precaution of carrying a pocket pack of tissues for preying sneezes.

There constantly appear fantastic stories of people who somehow violate the basic laws of information and get access to the future of lotteries or horse races or the stock market. Although it would be delightful to be financially independent, if it would just become a tiresome routine to buy the winning ticket for an event whose outcome is certain, the whole procedure would lose its flavor.

A large part of all knowledge is devoted to how present events and current setups might affect the future. Certain events like astronomic phenomena are very predictable and much of the reliability of our vital systems depends upon future predictability. But even ordinary predictability has its downsides.

Any marriage where intimate relationships become totally predictable rapidly approaches boredom. Half the fun of adventurous cooking is in not knowing quite what might occur if an unknown ingredient or spice or procedure is added to a known preparation. Imaginative and creative writers many times confess that they start a piece with no knowledge as to how it might turn out. And painters and sculptors sometimes start a work and in the process discover the material talks back to them and suggests outcomes totally new and fascinating. Not being sure of how an undertaking might turn out is a test of one’s capability and understanding of the world and how it functions and success validates a total person’s caliber.

This tightrope in time and space where we carefully feel our way to security and success is much better traversed with a safety net underneath to provide a second chance. Wise and compassionate communities are universally the means for providing this safety net to let individuals know that explorations into the unknown are valuable to civilization and if they fail, as many times they do, the community esteems the adventurous soul and will stand behind him or her in the hope that, in the end, the community will benefit.

From these aspects it is interesting to look briefly at the two underlying philosophies of the two major opposing political parties in the USA and how they deal with uncertainty.

The Republican Party claims to be the party of the entrepreneur, the party of the independent man who knows how to provide for himself and does not require the support of the government to make his way. It claims to glory in uncertainty and in the independent mind of the capable individual to deal with it and profit from it. It broadcasts that the independent businesses it supports should pay little or no taxes and thereby benefits from the freed capital to expand their business to provide jobs for the workers it needs to produce. It professes that the forces of the market will control prices and quality and wages to the benefit of the general populace. Any taxes, any regulation by the government on the way the business is run or the quality and safety of the products produced is undesired interference in the beneficent forces of the market place.

Although theoretically the profitable businesses should invest their profits to provide more jobs, the integration of economic operations over the international scene leads investors to send their money overseas where labor is less able to demand reasonable wages. Therefore market forces are sabotaged to deprive workers everywhere of the power to negotiate properly, which delights businessmen such as the managers of Wal-Mart.

But, since workers comprise a substantial portion of consumers, in the long run the purchasing power of the market will decrease to the decided disadvantage of the entire economy.

One other odd point. All businesses are a gamble (an uncertainty) since an overwhelming percentage of new businesses fail. Investing in Wall Street is an outstanding example of this as the fortunes and misfortunes of many investors will testify. Nevertheless, peculiarly, the religious right, which abhors gambling, stands firmly with the business oriented Republicans.

The Democratic Party is much less comfortable with uncertainty. It traditionally has its base in labor and the less well off classes. Its philosophic outlook sees government as a major element of the community and when there is a lack of services or capability of economic forces to provide for the health or well being of the individual it is government’s function to step in and provide remedies. In other words, it works to provide an element of certainty and security.

The Republicans are enthusiastic when this attitude is applied to businesses and people in the upper economic strata but firmly rejects this attitude with respect to less well off individuals in trouble. The Democrats therefore see the forces of the community as a bulwark against uncertainty but the Republicans seem to embrace uncertainty as a stimulus to individuals to employ their inherent capabilities to survive and prosper.

Peculiarly, the generous subsidies Republicans grant businesses who frequently are doing quite well without them (as in the case of the huge oil corporations) are not regarded in the same light as the helping hand of Democratic government to individuals in deep personal trouble. There seem to be vital and suspicious inconsistencies involved here with, perhaps, un-stated agendas.

Photo taken by Linda Lane - www.wonderlane.com

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Thanos2007-01-10 16:33:48
Very good article Jan

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