March 16, 2004

Political Tiering

Programmers create additional 'tiers' of programs in order to reduce complexity and separate out certain bits so they can be independently adjusted. The overall complexity of the system is much higher, but because you are only dealing with one chunk of the system at a time, the actual problem you have to deal with at any one time becomes smaller and more manageable.

One of the reasons that you separate out things is not just complexity but the commingling of things that really should be separate. One example is presentation and business logic. You can make a program that has everything all hooked together in one huge monolithic file but this inevitably means that changes to one or the other either do not get done properly, and it's usually the most important part, the business logic, that suffers.

A similar process has gone on in politics in the past. It was an important innovation for the king to separate and create a distinction between his private purse and the public purse, the state jewels and his own private collection. An independent judiciary is another such 'tiering' sort of solution.

Some of the hallmarks of something that needs to be pulled out and specialized into its own tier is that the issue is important, it keeps popping out in seemingly random ways, across disparate conventional areas and few are talking about the issue holistically and sensibly. Population policy is just such an issue.

We run huge portions of our public expenditures on the assumption Ponzi scheme style of assumption that the next generation will always supply a wide enough base of new participants to keep things going. We funnel huge portions of our savings into land and houses, assuming that there will be a sufficient increase in the population base to raise prices and pay for our retirements. We are frightened of too fast an increase in 'their' population so we flood the third world with more condoms than life saving antibiotics. Abortion, too, is very much a population issue as the enduring controversy over whether abortion has been targeted for [note: link has some disturbing imagery] racial or other 'eugenics' reasons.

I probably have strong opinions on all, or at least most, of the individual issues that collectively would make up the population tier. That's not what I want to talk about here. What I'd like to suggest is that population policy be pulled out into its own tier, that public policy actions that will narrow the base of future generations be explicitly linked to a need to reform public expenditures and private savings that depend on a certain rate of population growth, or such population growth reduction measures be balanced by other changes that will raise the future population base.

This is a highly complex problem and past mismanagement has led the entire first world to the brink of a projected collapse in the mid-21st century. The very least that we can do is to stop pretending that this collection of issues is not actually connected.

Posted by TMLutas at March 16, 2004 11:00 AM