East vs. West: What Is Right Action?

By: hawkgrrrl
May 8, 2012

As an American living in Asia, I often encounter cultural disconnects.  A peer or friend will make a comment that is so obviously based on assumptions or values I don’t share that I realize that my own values and assumptions must sound equally foreign to them.

A few months ago, one of my co-workers in India made a statement that I found very unsettling.  He said:  “When we focus on results nothing changes.  When we focus on change we see results.”  Since this claim was made in a business setting in a results-driven culture, I was taken aback.  I had to ask him to repeat it several times, yet it still flew in the face of everything I believe as a business person.  I really was at a loss how to respond to someone who believed that.  Was he really saying you should get an A for effort and that results didn’t matter?  If so, that explained a lot about the results I was seeing from his group!

In talking with another colleague from India, I shared the mantra of our mutual colleague with him, and that I thought he was taking an idea of non-attachment from Hindu spiritualism and (perhaps mis-)applying it to a work setting.  He agreed, and as a fellow Hindu he understood the concept.  We could both agree in principle that the idea of taking “right action” or doing the right thing regardless of personal reward was a common principle or value between our cultures, having the integrity to do what is right, even if it’s not immediately advantageous.  Yet, there was definitely more to what my first colleague was saying than just that.  His holy texts were leading down a different thought path than the way we look at things in the good old U.S. of A.

Last month while vacationing in India, I saw a saying from the Bhagavad Gita engraved in the temple wall at the Vishwanath temple at Benaras University in Varanasi:  “Thou hast power to act only, not over the result thereof.  Act thou therefore without prospect of the result and without succumbing to inaction.”  This seemed like a slightly more palatable version of the same thing my colleague had said.  Even so, it sounds great if you are meditating, but I wouldn’t take it into a review with your boss or client.  “Sorry, guys.  I only had power to act, but my results are totally out of my control.”  That sounds like a recipe for unemployment.

On the flip side, it also occurred to me that our American focus on results must make us sound like total control freaks by contrast.  And maybe we are.  After all, our founding Puritan parents certainly fit that mold.  The American dream (rags to riches) is basically a lesson in controlling your results through your actions – hard work pays off.  The little guy gets ahead.  We aren’t content with our lot in life – that’s the American entrepeneurial spirit, right?

Mormonism is a religion with deeply American roots; the more I travel the world the more I see those American roots exposed.  For most global converts, American values are one of the elements that attracts a person to our faith:

  • Autonomy rather than duty.  Many converts align more strongly with their new Mormon family, breaking with their cultural or familial values – even breaking with their actual families.
  • Egalitarian views.  Even in racist or hierarchical cultures that require submissive behaviors, we are all equals in the sight of God within the church.
  • A belief that hard work yields tangible results.  Whether we are talking about self-reliance or the focus on works as a vital part of faith, this belief is deeply engrained in Mormonism and in American culture.

Looking at other Hindu texts, there are nuances to this idea of detachment from results that we almost never hear in Mormonism, certainly not in the workplace, and seldom in American discourse:

“Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice.  Better than knowledge is meditation.  But better still is surrender of attachment to results, because there follows immediate peace.”  ~The Bhagavad Gita

And a trip to the unemployment line!

“A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return.”  ~The Bhagavad Gita

‘Tis better to give than to receive – so I suppose we can all get behind this one.  However, in a work setting, this might be replaced with Quid pro Quo.

“One should perform karma with nonchalance without expecting the benefits because sooner or later one shall definitely get the fruits.”  ~Rig Veda

This one is more aligned with American values in that you do get something for your efforts, but you can’t control when.  In this sentiment, efforts do eventually pay off.

“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.”  Mahatma Gandhi

Also not jangling to our American values.  This one is just a call to do something, anything, and not just sit still waiting for good things to happen.  It’s a call to action!  And we do love action.

“One becomes virtuous by virtuous action, bad by bad action.”  ~Veda Upanishads

As a man thinketh, so he is.  Another twist on the importance of action in building character, regardless of the outcome of the actions.

“To the illumined man or woman, a clod of dirt, a stone, and gold are the same.”  ~Bhagavad Gita

This is another one about not attaching value to things.  However, try depositing a clod of dirt in your bank account and see if they’ll let you withdraw gold in exchange.

A few questions to consider as East meets West:

  • What is the difference between detaching from the outcomes of our actions and just not getting anything done?  How do we take right action if there is no regard for outcomes?  Isn’t expected outcome how we judge what is right action?
  • Are Americans too materialistic?  Does materialism taint our spirituality within Mormonism or Christianity?  Or is that an American value that is tempered by our faith?  Are Indians not materialistic enough? (I must admit, that thought certainly crossed my mind when I saw elderly men in India who had renounced all worldly goods, including clothes, in pursuit of spiritual things.  I mean, c’mon, nobody wants to see that.)  I also have to point out that Americans are nowhere near as materialistic as some Asian countries – but India’s not one of them.
  • Should we strive to let go of outcomes (take no thought for the morrow) or should our actions be done to achieve outcomes?

Discuss.

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34 Responses to East vs. West: What Is Right Action?

  1. Stephen Marsh on May 8, 2012 at 6:37 AM

    When we focus on change we see results My favorite example is focusing on worker safety to improve product quality.

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  2. Stephen Marsh on May 8, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference …

    vs.

    Act in a world that is random. Results are not guaranteed (past performance does not guarantee future results), but are more likely if you act than if you do not.

    vs.

    First, do no harm. [That is, default to no action so that you do not make things worse in self stabilizing or dampening systems.]

    vs.

    The means are your ends [That is, how you act is the actual end, not the result.]

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  3. DB on May 8, 2012 at 8:22 AM

    ”When we focus on results nothing changes. When we focus on change we see results.”

    Maybe I’m secretly Eastern without realizing it but this statement makes complete sense to me. No, it’s not about getting an A for effort and results don’t matter. This statement is all about results. Results are nothing more than a consequence of effort. If your focus is on the results rather than the effort, your results will never change because your effort is what creates the results. You have to change the effort in order to change the results. Focus on the effort and the results will follow. This is the exact philosophy I’ve always used with my team at work. Don’t focus on the goal, focus on how to achieve the goal. To me, this isn’t Eastern philosophy; it’s just common sense.

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  4. Tristin on May 8, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    To make sense of these Eastern concepts, I think you need to first examine your values. If your values are having a nice house, nice car, regular vacations to exotic countries, and a top-notch college education for your children, then it might be difficult to align with a concept such as change-before-results. If, however, your values are having a deep and unshakable peace hike living in the midst of a chaotic and suffering world, then it makes sense to let go of results and focus instead on finding joy in the journey.

    We have so little control over the world around us anyway (only our delusion convinces us otherwise), we might as well let go of trying, learn to surf the waves of karma, and begin learning to recognize beauty, love, and freedom in the minuscule details of life. Then we will be living a life worth celebrating. No amount of worldly success can replace the victory of inner peace.

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  5. hawkgrrrl on May 8, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    Stephen, I think your quotes are right on track with my thinking. Each of these is just a slightly different twist on an idea. Each is true situationally, but maybe not universally.

    DB, that’s an interesting point – it’s like “not looking beyond the mark” in the BOM.

    Tristin, I think that’s valid, and why this concept is appealing in a culture where there is a lot of poverty and difficulty vs. a corporate culture.

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  6. hawkgrrrl on May 8, 2012 at 9:15 AM

    Oh, and one more thought Tristan – I would have said something similar about understanding Eastern wisdom requiring a certain amount of apolitical peaceful detachment. Sounds great to people living in California, but it resembles very little a lot of what I actually see in Asia:
    - extremely violent recent history in Bali, a Hindu country.
    - recurring violent protests in Thailand, a Buddhist country in which nearly all young men spend 2 years as monks.
    - Chinese Buddhists who worship Buddha’s statue rather than seeking enlightenment and who are extremely materialistic (well beyond their means) rather than renouncing wealth.

    These are just some of the examples of what I see here vs. what Americans idealistically think.

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  7. ji on May 8, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    There are different ways of seeing the same thing.

    Boyd K. Packer perhaps spoke of some of these things, reminding us to focus more on principles and less on procedures and results.

    “There is a spiritual element beyond the procedures in the handbook. It belongs to the priesthood and carries supernal power. Unless you are familiar with it, unless bishops and stake presidents are familiar with it, they might implement programs and yet not redeem the Saints.”

    “Let me give two examples, one from the more spiritual part of our ministry and one from the temporal part.

    “The first has to do with Church courts. It is our responsibility to discipline members when there has been a very serious transgression. The organization and the procedures for holding a court are explained in detail in the handbook.

    “However, unless you know the principles that apply in such cases, you might hold a Church court in technical compliance with the handbook, even follow proper procedures, and yet injure rather than heal the wayward member.

    “If you do not know the principles—by principles I mean the principles of the gospel, the doctrines, what’s in the revelations—if you do not know what the revelations say about justice or mercy, or what they reveal on reproof or forgiveness, how can you make inspired decisions in those difficult cases that require your judgment?

    * * * *

    “Another example: It is clear in the revelations that we are to take care of the worthy poor. How is this to be done? We are to collect fast offerings and there are the welfare service programs—we’re familiar with those. In the handbooks are statements on how they are to be administered. Yet each case is different. Without a knowledge of gospel principles, you could act in technical compliance with the instructions, yet demean rather than exalt the member. Suppose you knew nothing of independence, thrift, and self-reliance.

    “It is not a matter of dedication, because we would never question that. It is a matter of where to place emphasis. It is a matter of vision. For “where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Prov. 29:18.)

    “There are principles of the gospel underlying every phase of Church administration. These are not explained in the handbooks. They are found in the scriptures. They are the substance of and the purpose for the revelations.

    “Procedures, programs, the administrative policies, even some patterns of organization are subject to change. We are quite free, indeed, quite obliged to alter them from time to time. But the principles, the doctrines, never change.

    “If you over-emphasize programs and procedures that can change, and will change, and must change, and do not understand the fundamental principles of the gospel, which never change, you can be misled.”

    Principles, Ensign March 1985

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  8. Will on May 8, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    Our faith, which is embedded in the US culture, is merit based. The plan of salvation is really the distribution of the souls of men based on how well we perform, which includes how well we incorporate the atonement in our lives. It is totally a result based religion stemming from a result based culture – a truly American church. I think this is why the church attracts so many conservatives and libertarians.

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  9. Nick Literski on May 8, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Will, I thought you supported your faith tradition. You just made it sound like a multi-level marketing scheme on steroids (not to mention completely antithetical to anything resembling salvation through faith in Jesus).

    Whatever happened to Nephi saying that it was by faith that you are saved, after all that you can do?

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  10. Tristin on May 8, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Something should be said about absolute vs. relative truth, I think. In an ideal, absolute world, we would be able to renounce wealth and embrace the inner peace of detachment. In reality, however, it is often not simple or wise to give up all material possessions and desires and just meditate or pray all day. We have people that rely on us, relationships with individuals and groups that we need to honor, and a tendency toward imperfection that leads us to watch TV rather than volunteer at the homeless shelter. All of that is okay and nothing to be detested.

    However, there is a balance between the absolute and the relative that we should be mindful of. Just because the absolute is not possible at this moment in time, it doesn’t mean the absolute is a silly and useless goal. We should be striving to move our habits and intentions closer to the absolute as much as possible, always trying to be like Jesus (very much a being of the absolute) even while acknowledging how wide the gulf is between us and our goal. So while it is absolutely true that the journey is more important than the destination, the relative reality is that we have to attend to both most of the time.

    @Will (#8): I don’t believe that the church is inherently set up in a way that attracts conservatives and libertarians. I think the church has molded itself to a conservative worldview (mostly during the Cold War when everyone was so afraid of communism). The church has been very collectivistic and grace-based historically (think ZCMI and the United Order).

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  11. Will on May 8, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Nick,

    Thanks for demonstrating my point.

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  12. Will on May 8, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Tristin,

    I thought ZCMI stood for Zions Collection of Mormon Idiots.

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  13. Mike S on May 8, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    I love the Bhagavad Gita and have read it many times. There is a profound truth contained in it. It has actually made me a better person in many aspects than things I have read in the Book of Mormon.

    There is a fundamental difference in applying it to a business environment, where business is more integrated into a person’s psyche in Eastern philosophies. In Buddhism, there are certain industries where you simply should not participate.

    Additionally, it depends what “results” you measure. In the West, we typically look at money. Mitt Romney made a lot of money breaking up companies, making them more efficient (ie. firing people), etc. We see this as success, but on a more profound level, is putting someone out of a job “success”. If we cheat someone in business (even if legal) have we “won”? If we hire illegal aliens because they will work for less money, have we “won”?

    And even in the LDS Church, we focus on results. Take the simple promise in Moroni that every missionary says: Read and pray about the Book of Mormon (effort) and you will get an answer that it is true (result). But we can only control one side of this equation. What if someone does the effort yet DOESN’T feel it is true? Is that acceptable? Can someone get up in testimony meeting and say “I read and prayed about it, but don’t really know if any of this is true?” Or do we only accept positive results, implying the effort doesn’t matter.

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  14. Mike S on May 8, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    #8 Will: Our faith, which is embedded in the US culture, is merit based. The plan of salvation is really the distribution of the souls of men based on how well we perform, which includes how well we incorporate the atonement in our lives. It is totally a result based religion stemming from a result based culture

    I completely agree with this comment as being the prevalent attitude in the Church. But it also leads to my biggest discomfort WITH the Church – it seems quite narcissistic and exclusionary. In this regard, I am actually much more comfortable with Hinduism or Buddhism.

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  15. Jon on May 8, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    For the record there are agorists (sp) that live on $2,000 dollars a year, so truly, dirt works.

    I think it is what we focus on that we deem important, a la don’t put your trust in riches, something like that that Jesus said, don’t remember the exact quote.

    I haven’t read all the comments yet so forgive me if I’m repeating someone.

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  16. Jon on May 8, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Mike S,

    Additionally, it depends what “results” you measure. In the West, we typically look at money. Mitt Romney made a lot of money breaking up companies, making them more efficient (ie. firing people), etc. We see this as success, but on a more profound level, is putting someone out of a job “success”. If we cheat someone in business (even if legal) have we “won”? If we hire illegal aliens because they will work for less money, have we “won”?

    Not to defend Romney, but the free market. It is the difference between the seen and the unseen. Yes, we see people lose their jobs, but since the labor is freed up to do more productive things new jobs are created and new wealth is created that would have never existed before, yes, there is temporary pain, but the long haul produces a more prosperous people.

    To say that hiring/not hiring illegals “we” win is egocentric. Do we not love our neighbor just because he doesn’t speak our language or customs? Let’s love one another and bring prosperity to all.

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  17. hawkgrrrl on May 8, 2012 at 6:29 PM

    I think the BOM actually does focus on both action and outcomes. The pride cycle reinforces that – righteousness (right action) leads to increase of blessings (outcomes) leads to pride, leads to less righteousness.

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  18. GBSmith on May 8, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    ”Thou hast power to act only, not over the result thereof. Act thou therefore without prospect of the result and without succumbing to inaction.”

    This was a favorite of Lowell Benion’s

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  19. anon today on May 8, 2012 at 10:46 PM

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the book of Job for an upcoming piece I’m writing and a recent experience and I find it very applicable. Job was obsessed with (and controlled by) right action, assuming that because God promises blessings to people who engage in right action, that the end result will be blessings … now. What he learned was to engage in right action as a form of devotion and leave the timing of blessings to God. I think that the Western idea of outcomes-based priorities assumes a lot when we know we can’t control outcomes. I find it very proud and very short-sighted, especially when some social science researcher trumpets yet another “cause” to a complex social problem. But then, I’ve been studying Eastern philosophy for a long time and I find it more Semitic than our own philosophies and a whole lot more useful. Still, it isn’t much for making the trains run on time, I will admit.

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  20. Bonnie on May 8, 2012 at 10:48 PM

    Oh criminitely. That’s me. Forgot to sign out and in.

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  21. Jared on May 9, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    The more I study the Book of Mormon, the more I understand why the Lord revealed the following:

    54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
    55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
    56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
    57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—
    58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.
    59 For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay.

    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 84:54 – 59)

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  22. Douglas on May 10, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    HawkChick – thou shalt not overthink the issue. Thus said George Burns: “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” (just ask Monica Lewinsky).
    Mike S – if Mitt made money by restructuring companies and making them more efficient for the investors, then he was exercising his fiduciary duty. That is always a good thing. If some were dismissed from employment, it’s because their services were no longer required. That’s a decision that we each make with our respective disposable incomes. Individually it seems insignificant, as a whole it’s far greater than anything that Mitt could do while at the helm of Bain Capital. Are we being taken to task for the effects of our respective financial decisions on other people’s jobs? Then don’t mount your self-righteous high horse and presume to judge Brother Romney. I would judge he and his wife in this matter by how generously they give fast offerings. Since that’s a private matter, and Mitt is too modest to toot his own horn, only he, his bishop, and the Savior know that answer.

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  23. Mike S on May 10, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    #16 Jon / #22 Douglas:

    I agree with your comments in many ways, but am left in somewhat of a quandary. I have always leaned towards free-market economy philosophies – let market forces decide things, fiduciary duty to make as much money / return as possible, etc. I have worked for the Republican party in the past. Etc.

    Yet, at the same time, I wonder how much is “too much”? At what grey line does our fiduciary duty overtake our duty to our fellowman?

    In my profession as a surgeon, there are ways I could treat people and bill for things to make more money, but I don’t do them because I don’t think they are “right”. They are certainly legal, but I’m not going to do them.

    In dealing with insurance companies, there are many other problems. For a company to rescind a cancer patient’s insurance because 3 years before they didn’t put down that they received treatment for acne is flat out wrong. It supports the company’s fiduciary duty to their stockholders, but it’s still wrong. When my friend has a hormone treatment denied for their son twice (because it costs tens of thousands / year), then finally finds out it is company policy to deny it 2x and only approve it for those persistent enough to keep pestering them, it is wrong. Legal – yes. “Required” as a fiduciary duty to their stockholders – absolutely. But morally wrong.

    In Buddhism, one part of the eightfold path is Right Livelihood – meaning avoiding business in weapons,in human beings, in meat, in intoxicants, and in poison. While might have a “duty” to make money in these areas (because someone is going to), think of how much better it is if everyone simply avoided it.

    So, at what point does our “moral duty” superceed our “fiduciary duty” – ever? Or is the goal of making money higher than other things?

    And p.s. this is my big issue with City Creek Mall.

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  24. Jon on May 10, 2012 at 3:53 PM

    Mike,

    This isn’t an either or proposition, that is, if we have the free market then the poor won’t be helped. That is simply not true.

    To answer your question briefly, we must use the non-aggression principle or the second great commandment and then we will be able to solve these problems. It is not right to use violence against others to make them do what you think is good, and when we do we end up have more problems then we started. The book that illustrates this in great detail is “Healing Our World: In an Age of Aggression” by Dr. Mary J. Ruwart.

    The free market doesn’t mean that people must hurt each other, in the end it would help more people then the method of violence that we currently use.

    People assume that people are inherently not good so they decide they must use force to create good. But, if people aren’t good, then the people who use the force wouldn’t they use it to their own ends and then no one would be helped at all? I reject the notion that people aren’t good, I think most are, but when the systems that are created by the use of force people become limited in how much good they can do, and even become apathetic to helping others. We can see this by the constant intrusion of government into the charity field, as more and more organizations are pushed out and the more you hear people say, “Well, that’s the governments job, why should I do anything?” Even with all this intrusion there are many that do much work for the benefit of others.

    A good source for better logic than I can provide is Stefan at http://freedomainradio.com/ although he is a staunch atheist many of his ideas come through clearly and logically.

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  25. Jon on May 10, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    I don’t know how well that last answer helped.

    So, at what point does our “moral duty” superceed our “fiduciary duty” – ever? Or is the goal of making money higher than other things?

    When we make money, we help others by creating useful jobs for them. So, these probably aren’t exclusionary, it’s not either or. And, like I said before, I don’t think most people are out just to make money, I think we like to live in communities and to help one another.

    And p.s. this is my big issue with City Creek Mall.

    What’s great about that is, in the free market, you have the choice not to contribute to said organization that does that with their funds.

    Now let’s look at something here in AZ in Glendale, where government is raising taxes, again, to fund a hockey stadium and subsidize rich owners and players in the name of “stimulating” the local area where the arena resides. Now the people of that city have no choice to not contribute even though it is making everyone worse off. Businesses are thinking they might have to move out of the city because of the higher sales tax on their goods.

    If you read the book I suggested before you will see tons of examples on how using force, in the end, creates a people that are worse off despite the best intentions.

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  26. Tristin on May 10, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    The biggest problem with a reliance on the free market to solve our problems is the fact that most of the big players–corporations–have a single directive: profits. They have more power and control in our society than anyone or anything else, and their soul purpose is to make money. Without regulations and limits on these players, natural market forces would lead to a concentration of wealth at the top (worse even than we see today). The well-being of society would be reliant on the goodwill of these profit-creating, soulless entities.

    Call me naive, but I would rather rely on the government than corporations. While neither lives up to my idea of a benevolent organization, at least the government is designed to execute the will of the people. We can always fix what has been corrupted and get things back to how they should be.

    Corporations, on the other hand, have no benevolent intent. The will of the people is only important if it affects the bottom-line of the corporation’s financial sheet, and many corporations have finagled their way into situations where even the most outspoken critics have a hard time avoiding patronage to their products and services.

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  27. hawkgrrrl on May 10, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    Douglas, love your comment #22!

    Tristin: “Call me naive, but I would rather rely on the government than corporations.” Uhm, you’re naive. “Corporations, on the other hand, have no benevolent intent.” Not entirely true. It depends how you define benevolent intent. For corporations to succeed in a free market, they have to contribute more to society than they take from society. They have to have products and services that people want enough to pay for them – to pay slightly more than it costs to perform or make those services and products. They have to be held accountable to not be free riders (subsidized) or gamers of the system (Enron, Lehman Bros) through reasonable and well crafted legislation.

    Government, OTOH, has no such restrictions, and apparently (based on what has happened my entire lifetime) isn’t even beholden to manage their own budget. If a corporation did that (and some have) it would go out of business (and some do).

    The most corrupt corporations are the ones where the government gets involved: through subsidies, lopsided regulation that favors some over others, or bailouts (which were due to poor regulation). The govt should be a watchdog organization we pay to keep the markets in line – as they don’t produce any tangible product. If you want to see corruption in business, go to China. If you want to see unmanageable bureaucracy and inability to get anything done that benefits staggering levels of poverty, go to India. Both those examples are what happens when the government runs things.

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  28. hawkgrrrl on May 10, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    Oh snap! What were we talking about again?

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  29. Zara on May 10, 2012 at 6:32 PM

    Without having studied a lot of Eastern philosophy, I have come to the same conclusions myself. I’d always noticed that setting goals never worked for me like it worked for other people. Maybe it was my perfectionist tendencies working against me, I don’t know. I learned that when I stopped trying to control the result, I did better work (including creatively) and the results, like magic, ended up becoming much more satisfying. So I accomplished my goal without worrying so much about the goal, if that makes sense. There’s something to be said for the journey itself, and for not judging ourselves on our ability to produce.

    My college is moving toward “results-oriented” pedagogy, similar to No Child Left Behind, and it’s a complete mistake. Not all things can be measured, and when they are, many crucial elements and factors are ignored. You can have a goal of all students receiving As or you can have a goal of students learning something. But often those goals are mutually exclusive because the push for results does not foster an atmosphere conducive to true learning (and the opportunity to learn from failure, as well).

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  30. Jon on May 10, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    The biggest problem with a reliance on the free market to solve our problems is the fact that most of the big players–corporations–have a single directive: profits.

    Corporations wouldn’t exist in a free market, they are created by government to make the people in them not responsible for their own actions. Liberty dictates that everyone is responsible for their own actions.

    So, we need regulations to regulate that which only exists because of regulations?

    Got it.

    So the worst thing that could happen in the free market is that corporations could become state like entities? What does that say of the state?

    Doh! Good thing I didn’t start this tangent!

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  31. Jon on May 10, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    @Zara,

    Yeah, that’s why government schools don’t work very well, they are results oriented and make kids feel bad if they don’t have the same talents as the “A” students.

    That’s one of the reasons why we’re home educating our children. So that they can learn to love to learn, i.e., the process. If you know how to learn and you love it, the results are easier to come by.

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  32. FireTag on May 11, 2012 at 4:47 PM

    Tristan:

    “Corporations have finagled their way into situations where even the most outspoken critics have a hard time avoiding patronage to their products and services.”

    “Patronage” is the lifeblood of many political machines. Even in the sense I think you meant the term, in the US larger and larger percentages of the population are having a hard time avoiding dependency on government products and services. There can easily come a point where people do not control government, but government controls people. The instability of Europe and the Middle East, as people realize that their political class has made what may be irreversible errors, should encourage you to shed being naive.

    The great insight of Darwin in evolution was that the mechanism that generates fitness to survive does NOT require intent, and, in fact, can outperform mechanisms that ARE designed.

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  33. FireTag on May 11, 2012 at 4:49 PM

    post script: …which, of course, is why we can’t design antibiotics fast enough to keep up with germs. :D

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  34. Douglas on May 13, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    Mike S – as an MD and Surgeon you have your medical ethics to answer to. I have little doubt of your intelligence and integrity in discharging your duties that you needn’t be micromanaged by bureaucratic twits that never ran a gloved hand through a patients viscera.
    I’ve been fortunate in that my duties as a Mechanical Engineer to protect public health and safety have yet to be compromised by those writing my performance appraisals and signing my paychecks. When faced with that, “I pays my monies and takes my chances”.
    Beyond that, I can’t get wrapped up in whether or not someone will lose their job. I have the taxpayers interests to serve, and in that service, there will be winners and losers. All I can hope for is as free and vibrant an economy as possible so that those that get the short end of the stick can find another way to make a living.

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