Monday, March 25, 2013

Hobson's Choice: Vote

I intend to be philosophical here rather than ideological.

I mean, what choice do we really have when, to use a bad phrase, when we are stuck between a rock and a hard place (I could use a different analogy, but it would still be incorrect.)

If we really believe in the mud that one side hurls at the other side, I would think that both sides are equally just as bad. They are using language in public at each other which my mum would not allow to hear herself if I had to say them had I joined the "party." I think we are at the bottom of the pit, from all the mud at had been hurled. I won't be surprised if many of us have already switched off from the rhetoric.

I would imagine that this country is quite difficult to manage. After all, good is bad and bad is good. Anybody can think out of the box and get completely off tangent. When there is no reliance on logic and reasonable, we can simply be a bigot and still feel that we have the god-given right to utter absolute nonsense.

All of us what to start from scratch - by throwing the baby out with the bath water. We have thrown away what we had since the colonial times, and start from a new slate (I won't say clean). Now, someone proposes to come in and start with another clean slate. This is rootless revolution. I do not imagine anyone of us to be so wise as to able to reside in every "now-ness" with "nothing-ness."

Both sides subscribe to the same model; the only difference apparently is method or approach or modus operandi. This gives me the reservation. I would rather that both sides declare that they shall not engage in nepotism and if they are sons of ministers or elected representatives, they should involuntary step down and let others who do have such privileged backgrounds to stand up and give their contributions. (I shall not go further, as there are ingenious ways their fathers had argued why their sperms are better than my father's.)

I do agree with the view that says that probably the best option is the third option - the independent candidates - although they may not be of sufficient numbers to form the next government, but then we says it should always be about forming the next government. I like the argument that the job of the opposition (as a profession) is to be, as Socrates argued in his last days, according to Plato, is to be a horse fly which so irritates the horse that it keeps the horse awake. (But, of course, we know what happened to Socrates.) If we have to die, this is not a bad way to go off.

Really, the current fight is a fight for power, an intense fight for absolute power. If that is the final outcome, then we are all dead. The best compromise in a Hobsonian dilemma is to reduce both sides to their absolute margins that one is in no position to allow the other to be a dictator or, a tyrant. We had one too many in our recent history.

Neither side, from what I have gathered so far, really cares about this sovereignty of our nation, an abstract entity which we should cherish because it is so endearing as a concept - that we have this dear country of ours to die for. Most of us do that even without having to go to the front-line. We die in poverty, if not physically then spiritually. I suppose the best thing to do then is to rely on no-one, and sometimes not even ourselves. How sad, but probably how true!


walla said...

What is the real motivation behind the politics that would cause the incumbent to take extreme measures with regards finance and undemocratic actions that has triggered the other side to sound alarm bells and take to streets, choices of words aside?

To rephrase what has been said, it would be better to realign the rails from the start of the station than to add more sleepers on a rail already crooked.

This realignment may be a painful exercise but looking at the actual state of finances and moribund capabilities where it matters for future competitiveness, it would appear to be a mandatory exercise that must be executed not just to correct what has been done wrong but also to set standards for future compliance.

After all, if the bath water is dirty, the baby cannot be cleansed adequately to prevent such problems as would create bad health, sap strength, waste money, time and resources to rehabilitate, add risks of an epidemic and incur all the mundane things which could otherwise have been more profitably redeployed to other more fruitful exertions.

walla said...

Next we should ask where has the incumbent failed.

The incumbent has failed to clean itself first so that its dirty water has in turn toxified the ecosystem in which live the people it said it wants to serve.

Their health already thus affected, the incumbent next failed to make them stronger and more capable to face the new challenges and diseases of the world.

walla said...

Next we can ask what is the nature of today's tipping point.

Is this country tipping towards real changes and improvements under the incumbent?

To answer whether they are really real, we have to ask how they have come about.

Shall we not agree that those changes came about after the citizens had bellyached and complained vociferously to the last man, woman and child?

Shall we also find it not beneath us to agree that those changes have been superficial and cosmetic too often?

One key change not made is arresting big ticket corruption. If the passenger takes a free train ride and is caught, he is thrown out the window.

But if the directors of the two ringgit paidup company that had supplied the train are caught cheating treasury of millions for under-table commissions dressed as political contributions, they are given titles while the investigation papers are stacked first-in-last-out.

If this has only happened once in a blue moon, one can consider it an administrative oversight.

But the moon hasn't been blue for over thirty five years now.

The commissions creamed could have been otherwise invested to create jobs so that people could afford tickets and not risk being thrown out of the train while trying to get to their workplace because they have to live far away in cheaper places because all the intervening land has also been creamed for a song but resold for hideous personal profits again disguised as political contribution.

walla said...

Next we ask whether we can be charitable and accept that some of the changes were real improvements.

Then and in order to avoid making a hobsonian choice, the question has to be whether such changes are only executable by the incumbent. Or, can they be done by anyone else.

In this case, luck has run out for the incumbent because the citizens have been seeing with their own eyes for the last five years that those states won by the Opposition have in fact changed, improved and reduced if not erased the deficits accumulated by the incumbent which said only it has the record of performance.

The citizens now ask if these states can, why not the others too? After all, the human and resource infrastructure were not only retained but re-optimized.

The only over-arching change common to all those states was the change to integrity.

In fact the loss of integrity is also the common explanation for all the bad results that have come out from administrations by the incumbent.

When there is no integrity, rule of law or administrative due diligence, people in places will hinder good effort or create problems to enhance their own importance or take short cuts to make personal ill-gotten gains out of public funds, materiel and patience.

Funds and materiel aside, somewhere in the past, the patience had snapped across the nation.

walla said...

We can now ask what is a political party. It is just a platform for an ideology to be aspirated to become a vehicle for people to promote and defend ideals, plans, programmes and conduct.

Having said that, we can next ask if such an entity must be fixed in membership and manifesto.

Since it would be unwise to remain in straight jackets when occasions change constantly, membership and manifesto can be mobile, putting an end to the danger of party branding which has been shaken even for those in our vicinity who had thought they were unassailable.

Therefore what is important are good results from clean and smart actions guided by ethical principles applied intelligently and sagaciously.

The banner is just so that every five years the citizen knows which box to be marked with an X. It's the only time the lowly serf gets to grade his puffed up master.

Courtesy of the present election commission, some will get to do it as many times as they want at as many halls as they can get away with it.

Isn't it strange all of them happen to want to vote only for the incumbent?

walla said...

Which comes to the suggestion that hobson's choice forces one to go with independents as the best reprieve.

That might be skittishly true except in this country where we can have the hybrid called incumbent-friendly independents.

That's like saying neither gender on the official form but more the gender which pays more after signing the form. Thus making them dependents actually, no?

walla said...

Finally, let's assume both sides are corruptible just so that we can accommodate the saying better the devil one knows than the angel one doesn't.

In the present situation, there is a difference. The difference is that the Opposition's ticket is attack on corruption and, for all the wayang kulit, the incumbent's ticket is defence of corruption.

Now if places are switched and the Opposition becomes the incumbent next, then any sniff of corruption would incur it more wrath by the citizens who had voted for it on that score alone. It will not last the term. Because the first incumbent now the opposition could be the best watch-dog in that department of depravities. Since it is an authority on how to get away with it for so long now. Yes?

Therefore, if only for the reason of best deal for the citizen, the switch must take place.

The time is now, the mood is right, the hunt is on.

walla said...

Chris said...

Good piece, but you got Hobsons Choice wrong!
Hobson’s choice, is not as often imagined the faux choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, it is the absolute withdrawal of choice – imposed for the greater good.

etheorist said...

In the interest of getting my English right, let me go through my thinking process.

I always thought Hobson only allows you to take the next horse in line from his stable - and you do not have the opportunity to choose. It is the absolute withdrawal of choice from you but by you. An analogy I like is this: You have a choice by hanging or being shot. My little dictionary says: a choice of taking what is offered or nothing at all.

I am of course suggesting the only real choice are the independents. But then again, as walla argues, that may just be a pretense of a choice.

However, our duty is to vote, even if under trying circumstances. This is what I am trying to tell myself.

walla said...

We may well be looking at the wrong horse. It is not to be independent politicians but independent citizen voters.

Right now there are three camps. One for the incumbent, another for the Opposition, and the third the fence-sitters.

Let's decouple all three out and away from their ground. Then we ask this amorphous group a simple question applicable to everyone as an independent right-minded citizen voter.


"would you vote for a government which gives you rm500/- of your own money for your vote but takes rm500,000,000/-, again of your own money, for its own inner circle, or, would you vote for a government which does not give you rm500/- of your money for your vote but promises to give your children all-the-way free education paid for by closing off all rm500,000,000/- scams?"

Moreover, and this is an equally important question:

"why hasn't any intelligent and professionally educated pro-incumbent person ever asked, and answered, such a question before?"

Now, people may ask how does one know the promise will be realized? The answer is simple:

just as the voter can vote in a government, it can also vote out the same government - provided the voter views himself or herself as an informed and sensible independent citizen.

Somewhere in the haze before us, some of us seem to have lost our way and taken the acrimonious exchange of words in the marketplace as sufficient reason to walk away from making not only a right but also an advantageous decision.

In other cases (not here), they have even projected subliminal vibes that says, "if not for my view, then against my view. ergo antagonistic threat to my comfort zone".

Why not a simple, independent, sensible rationale that creates a new federal option which might well turn out right?

One can be excused for asking that obvious question because no one on the incumbent side has ever countered it with anything that addresses both the positives and negatives of the incumbent in a coherent and complete manner.

Lastly, has it ever occurred to anyone that the Opposition is basically made of volunteers who have had only one term so far, and face every day everywhere the full onslaught of an incumbent machinery which controls everything including how much to allow the Opposition to keep from its state funds for development?

And going into the elections, this same incumbent machinery appears more and more everyday to be controlling the very election machinery which is supposed to be independent.

This post, for the fence-sitters. And with a question as well:

'you reckon all this is just coffee-shop talk?'

walla said...


walla said...

and at the 13th comment:

james chua said...

Walla, two days to go, all signs are the winds of change have the very least we will have a very strong opposition to keep the check and balances much needed.