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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Strategic Imperative Redux

Okay, fabulous discussion. My initial intent and effort here was to allow the conversation to run its course and then comment. That might have been a bit too much to try and bite off but we'll give it a go.

So lets table the word strategic for a moment and focus on "imperative". A caveat first though, and that is that we are talking about the nation as defined by the Constitution. That is important because as the only formal document that says "What America is" it provides a useful limit to the conversation.

So what is an imperative? An imperative is defined as something impossible to deter or evade; pressing. As we look at the imperative let us use this simple example to frame our discussion. For an average US citizen, is it imperative to eat or to breath? Hopefully everyone picked breath. ..And hopefully everyone is ready to post but you will die if you don't eat eventually--which is true--thus introducing the impact of time and change on what is imperative. So how does that change how we view imperatives? I believe that it essentially shifts imperatives away from action and into idealogical systems to support action---which circles us back to the Constitution. So the initial Constitution--minus the bill of rights--is simply a plan for an way to govern seated in the rule of law. The bill of rights then places some marker in the ground that sort of says, "But within this system of governing, we will never ever do this this and this (x3.33)" Further amendments generally addressed specific changes in the world that had to be accounted for within the United States defining document--or at least were thought to.

So, it is a bit of a circular argument, but if the document defines the system that becomes the United States, that document and that system become imperative to the survival of the country they define. It is the only pure imperative--it is the air for our aforementioned person.

Now we get to the strategic part---and this is really nothing more than how do we ensure that person will always be able to breath---how do we ensure that we will be able to allow our defining system to work. What is the plan. Okay, so we go back to our person who is currently breathing and happy for it. But, being as how our person is in Massachusetts that person is only going to last about 3 hours without shelter, so in order for the person to be able to breath in three hours she is going to need shelter in two. And though she can survive on urine for a little while, she will need water within two or three days so she may be able to breath---foul water will work but eventually it needs to be clean BUT it will never have to be gatorade--ever. Likewise our person will need to eat within a week or so, but will be able to continue to breath for a long time at 800 calories a day---and will never ever have to eat apple cobbler ala mode to be able to breath-----everything directly necessary to support breathing becomes a necessary part of the plan--but only as it is tied to breathing---thus those things that are strategical imperatives are those that are directly tied to the survival of our system.

Keep in mind that there was a specific reason that I chose to say "There is no strategic imperative to fight GWOT", and that is because the act of deciding exactly where the lines are between imperative, "really need to do", "really ought to do" etc was beyond the scope of this effort. Preventing the casualties and impact that terrorists can reasonably inflict, I believe, is well below anything that could be considered an imperative--now, as I state, if we choose to conducted it--that is another topic entirely--but it is a choice---and as we fund that choice we need to make sure we are not putting "ought to's" in front of imperatives.

Now, just as a single strand digression--and this is how these types of priorities need to be segmented--in order to have and maintain our system as defined by the Constitution, clearly we need lawyers. In order to have lawyers, we need an education system, a court system, etc etc. Keeping in mind the various people that have to be functioning to support all of that, does the education system that we create need to be free and equal to all citizens?

Apple Cobbler ala mode anyone?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Made blackberry pie yesterday so big slices of pie a la mode all around.
"Does the education system that we create need to be free and equal to all citizens?" In terms of "need" and "imperative" the answer is no. Before you start throwing pie, let me explain. To train people to be lawyers (following Tom's example) our system merely has to find those who are most adept at that particular skill and educate them. The school system could begin testing students' aptitudes even at a young age and funnel each child into an education program that best fits their perceived aptitude and the corresponding occupation. Sound familiar? So as a "need"...no.
OTOH this country was founded on the principles of equality and some may argue this does not give everyone an equal opportunity to be a lawyer. Everyone is tested, so everyone has a chance. This is a purely analytical system. What it does not take into account is personality, drive, ethics and ambition. Those traits may still be measurable to some degree but I believe that the general population would rebel at such a system. Their arguement would be that this is the "Land of Opportunity" and our country has a strong history of "self-made men" who would not do well in such an educational system. They would say that educating children only for their "best" occupation is not "equal". To sum it up. We don't NEED to provide free and equal education (where equal means the same education) to provide expert lawyers. But to keep with the beliefs of the population we do provide education.
What do you think? Would the above educational system be constitutional? Would you support it? Why?

3:49 PM  
Blogger Lisa A said...

Thanks Tom, for clarifying strategic imperative. Loved the analogy, I needed concrete and that analogy helped, especially “thus introducing the impact of time and change on what is imperative”

I like the distinction ”pure" imperative, and using this freamework to define strategic imperative, I agree with your assertion that ”There is one crucial fact that the United States must accept if it is to hope to be successful in its fight against terror: there is no strategic imperative to conduct a war on terror, global (GWOT) or otherwise.”

And I get “thus those things that are strategical imperatives are those that are directly tied to the survival of our system.” I can see where there may still be some room for subjectivity as to what is imperative as we delve into supportign strategic imperatives.

“does the education system that we create need to be free and equal to all citizens?”Hmm let’s see well, It is a strategic imperative that we have a skilled workforce, our citizens will need to be educated to understand what our stratgical imperatives are :) I’d say in theory “ no” the education system does not need to be free and equal to all citizens. Some might even say a public education system without vouchers for someone to opt out is against the tenth amendment…"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people." As long as our citizens are being educated, that would still fill the strategic imperative.

In my personal opinion, because the number of low income and poor in our country is over 12.5 % of our population and growing as illegal immigration continues, this percentage most likely would not have the time to home school, or the finances to come up with the funds for a private education for their children. So, I think if we don’t have a free education system, over time we would not meet our strategic imperative of having a skilled workforce. And equal ? Again in theory it sounds good, but as each child is different, and parent participation in both that child’s life and the child’s school makes a huge difference, in reality the education while similar will not be equal.

And yes, I think we really ought to have Apple Cobbler ala mode :)

9:16 PM  
Blogger janet w said...

Not to be contrary, but after our good citizen is breathing freely, isn't the next imperative not food but water?

Can't one survive for a bit of time with fresh air and water even if one isn't fed? Not that I know this scientifically, but ... again, guesstimating based on what I've gleaned over a lifetime ... you can go without food but not without water.

Would love to know if I'm right :)


9:57 PM  
Blogger Lisa A said...

Janet, in the female mind we think water, Tom substituted another fluid first, then dirty water, and finally clean water.

In FTC Tom wrote "September 11, 2001 begot the U.S. P.A.T.R.I.O.T.
Act, which clearly circumvents constitutional guarantees. At the highest levels of government—the federal level of government sworn to uphold and defend the constitution—our leaders have consistently sought to do "something" to make the United States safe rather than focusing on their sworn duty
(pg 3 )
If we accept Tom's assertion from his post Strategic Imperative Redux that "if the document defines the system that becomes the United States, that document and that system become imperative to the survival of the country they define. It is the only "pure" imperative--it is the air for our aforementioned person." And I do (if you don't,let us know why) this seems like the perfect place to revisit my thoughts on the U.S. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act.

I've posted before it didn't make me scream, so for those of you who have issues with it, and would like to discuss it, will you share your opinions on the U.S. P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act ?

12:53 AM  
Anonymous Kristy...1/20/08 said...

"does the educational system that we create need to be free and equal to all citizens?"..... No. In all of our U.S. history it never has been! It's a good 'ought to' but historical reality is that a 'free and equal education system for all U.S. citizens' is still a dream in progress.>> As long as each individual school district's school board is allowed to determine the who, what, when, where and how things will be run. What courses will be taught and available and who's children will be given access to those courses, there will never be a 'free and equal educational system' in our country. When the local school district is determined to build a new football/sports training complex for it's athletes instead of spending tax money to build a new math and science facility..who are we kidding?>> When an Alabama school district will pay a high school football coach
$l09,000.00 per school year, to produce a winning football team; two and a half times the annual salary for the any teacher in the school district..How do you propose to change that imperative mind set?? Your idea for an educational system free and equal to all citizens' is a nice egalitarian idea.>> But it is not necessary, at least in the minds of many powerful local people. Survival: food, clothing, shelter. A population to work in the local service jobs. Getting paid just enough to keep the local economy humming. That is the present reality of our country. >> People with money or the connections, buy their children the best education they can obtain. Come to the Mississippi Delta area of our country (or the rural part of many states) and see what a 'free' education will get your child! They will be lucky to graduate being able to read and do basic math. Because if a person is spending their money to send their child to a private school, do you really think they will vote to raise their property taxes to pay for a decent school facility & good teacher pay in a school that their children do not have to attend? No, they will not. The privacy of the voting booth will shield them from public shame. They will say one thing publically and do something else entirely in private!>> As long as there are enough jobs to keep people from becoming too dissatisfied; questioning the legitimacy of the government. The status quo will stay the same. .....Kristy 1/20/08

9:16 PM  
Blogger JC said...

First, here's where I have concerns. If like Tom states, "Further amendments generally addressed specific changes in the world that had to be accounted for within the United States defining document--or at least were thought to", then couldn't it be argued that terrorism is just such a change in the world that requires "alterations" to the Constitution? Scary thought in my book.

Second, thank you Tom for the plug about why lawyers are necessary.

Third, I think public education is necessary for two reasons: one is that an educated population is necessary to support systems and structures as outlined in the Consitution and secondly, and more importantly in my opinion, it is necessary to educate the public sufficiently enough for them to understand the basics of the Consitution and the rule of law such that they may live within its bounds based on their own understanding and not that which is dictated to them by those in authority. In other words, absent an educated public, where else would we get the voice of dissent that serves as the balance in our system?


10:39 PM  

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