Mindhenge Books
Human Politics Human Value

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Extracts from Human Politics : Human Value

Politicians in government may be frustrated, but to understand the reason they need listen only to their own voices. They have surrendered economic controls to the overwhelming vested interests of “the market”, which they constantly praise; they have promised people what they cannot have, offering low taxes in the same breath as high quality services that low taxes cannot pay for; they have told people that “prison works”, then have neither made prisons more effective nor promoted the alternative forms of sentencing that are known to work better; they have pursued a vociferous and punitive “war on drugs” that they know to be harmful; they have condemned benefit fraud when they know that there is hardly any; they have whipped up anti-immigrant sentiment when they know that low wage immigrant labour drives large parts of the economy; they have pledged to solve the housing crisis while implementing policies to keep house prices rising... the list is almost endless, showing not that politicians are inveterate liars but that weak, centralised democracy is a habitat in which the truth cannot thrive.
(extract from Chapter 13)

Education is focused on narrow attainment criteria in the same way that economic policy is focused on GDP, and for much the same reasons. It is easy to measure and compare progress against a single metric, and it is easier and faster to improve performance against a narrow measure of achievement. Just as transactional activity in the economy ramps up GDP much faster that real, productive work, clever management of a transactional assessment system can show rapid progress in educational attainment, irrespective of whether it addresses real human need. The failure of the economy to prioritise productive work, making and doing the things that people want and need, and the failure of the education system to prioritise the higher orders of human intellectual and emotional potential, are, therefore, closely linked. Transactional economic activity and transactional education are both allowed to displace productive activity because the system of worth that is being applied does not reflect true human value.
(extract from Chapter 15)

Managing the relationship between politics and human behaviour is a key aspect of human politics. The choices and decisions that people make are filtered through a range of complex human motivations, which rarely accord with the unerring self-interest of classical economic theory. Experimental studies repeatedly prove what people know from their own experience, that they routinely place their economic interests second to the well-being they derive from kind, selfless and generous acts. They are also shown to be bad decision makers when working out where their economic self-interest really lies. Either way, they are vulnerable to people and organisations such as commercial companies whose economic self-interest is more coldly calculated. A society that encourages people to get as rich as they can in the mistaken belief that everyone will prosper is increasing that vulnerability, while taking upon itself the cost and responsibility of correcting its subsequent ills. Such a society is deliberately making problems that it then has to fix.
(extract from Chapter 6)