business news in context, analysis with attitude

We continue to get lots of email responding to some of the political discussions that have been taking place here the last few days...with the right sniping at the left, the left sniping at the right, and me sitting it in the middle saying that this is the reason government is dysfunctional. I wrote, in part:

You illustrate my broader point.  You think he is an overly biased bully...and an idiot.  He thinks people like you are the same thing.  "Tell him to go to hell"?  There's no civility in the discussion, no room for any sort of compromise, no room to say that on some issues and approaches, the other guy may have a legitimate argument, even if you disagree with him.

One MNB user thinks I am treading on dangerous territory:

Here's some friendly advice regarding your political exchanges between readers, etc.: Stay away from politics, religion, and being too sure of yourself. Unless of course you're looking for one of those "talking head" jobs for the networks.

I understand why you say that, and you’re hardly alone in feeling that way.

But I have to tell you, some of the best and most interesting discussions we’ve had here on MNB have been about disparate subjects that include politics, religion, sex and baseball’s designated hitter rule. I think that this is because there is a level of passion applied to these subjects that sometimes is not seen in traditional business discussions...and I’ve never wanted to have just another business site. This means treading carefully sometimes, but I hope that with risk comes reward.

And don’t forget - this whole thing started with a discussion of swipe fee reform.

MNB user Craig Espelien wrote:

It always amazes me the polarizing effects some things have on the political left and/or right.  As you are probably aware, I tend toward the conservative (at least fiscally and economically) and have lived in two places (Minnesota and California) where the left side of the equation is pretty strong.  I get very frustrated when political partisanship overrides common sense and reasoned debate.  I also am disappointed in the amount of “single issue” folks there are today.  Whatever happened to getting the issues out in the open so they can be discussed?  Whatever happened to “root cause analysis” rather than our current symptomatic bombast?

I feel that your blog is pretty even handed – and it is always disappointing when you get blasted for trying to share a variety of views on a subject or any subject.  I view any sort of media like a restaurant – if you do not like what you see, you have the choice to opt out and try something else.  Keep it up – you and Michael provide a pretty good bit of broad business insight using movies and the retail trade as a base.


MNB user John Parvin wrote:
Liked your summary today....
Both left and Right sides are basically closed-minded and unable to see that together we accomplish more....and all of the name calling and anger just displays the lack of maturity on both sides.  Good for you for being willing to put it all on the table...something I admire and a large reason I tune in each day to your writings.

I accused the two sides of “political malpractice,” which led one MNB user to write:

Political malpractice, a perfect word for what our governance has become. We fail to KISS (keep it simple stupid) and over legislate. A simplified version dealing with interchange fee reform would have built a huge opportunity for the two parties to stand together and say "we did this to help you the consumer". This is something that all consumers and small businesses wanted, needed, and deserved. It would have been an excellent opportunity to build some dialog across the aisle and realize there is room for compromise on many issue that need to be address by this congress. I fear that tolerating this "Political Malpractice" will lead to even greater polarization of the congress and the populace. That is not good for a style of government that requires just those qualities.
Another MNB user chimed in:

Prepare yourself. I am not going to attack bleeding heart, liberal, profit haters. Nor am I going to attack heartless, conservative, wealth-mongers. Okay, not outside of those two inflammatory statements. I’m also not going to attack your pendulum leanings (right today, left tomorrow). All I pose is a bit of agreement with your perspective and a question.

The more entrenched we become in our positions and the less willing we become to sharing and listening to ideas, the higher the likelihood for political impotence. Civility and Discourse are lost on the majority of us – nowhere in either of those is there a requirement to give up your values or wholeheartedly accept another’s. Civility and Discourse simply requires two the courage to do three things:

1.       Honestly and openly share your ideas, beliefs and, most importantly, SOLUTIONS – with the goal of improving our situation
2.       Humbly LISTEN to others and judge the solutions on their merits, not based solely on preconceived notions of bias based on party, race, creed or socioeconomic status.
3.       Continue the conversation, ask questions, deliver feedback, identify common ground and drive for solutions.
Instead we’ve all found it easier to spout our ideas (or those heard on either Hannity or Olbermann’s newsish programs) and then retrench ourselves. Rather than sitting down and discussing ideas, strategies and solutions for the better good and judging on the merits of each, we’re launching grenades and vitriol back and forth across a battlefield. That leads to becoming a combatant or disengaging from the process – I’m not sure either is helpful.

By the way, my 8 yr. old niece reminded me something I find easy to forget. It’s no accident that Listen and Silent are comprised of only the same letters. We are free to share our take, but that freedom should come with the responsibility to shut our mouths when we’re finished and open our eyes and ears.

MNB user Denis Zegar wrote:

I don't want to beat a dead horse to death, BUT, the debate between the left and right is often misconstrued.  This can be easily remedied by simple semantics.  Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, etc. are bona fide news organizations.  Fox News is an oxymoron.  By renaming Fox News to Fox Commentary, we would no longer have to worry about the facts just opinions.

The same would have to be said of MSNBC, I think. Let’s be fair about it.

MNB user Bernie Ellis wrote:

Congratulations on your observations on the "right/left" debate. There is no debate, no compromise in today's political discussions. I am scared by the incivility and lack of facts that are bantered about today in almost all political "debates". The problems that face this country will not be resolved until we can talk seriously and without rancor with each other. Both sides are playing to their respective audiences and not trying to solve the issues.

We face the serious challenges both economically and socially that every society faces as its population ages and changes ethnically. Too many people are fearful of what may become of their place in the pecking order.They are worried about it but do nothing to help lift the tide so everyone can gain. If we fight amongst ourselves, we will all fail.

There are hard decisions to be made to because clearly our current path is not sustainable. The discussion shouldn't be about cutting taxes. The real question is what services do we want as a society and then how do we pay for what we want. What is our obligation to our children's children? Americans are too into today and lack the vision to see the tomorrow we should build for our children. How will they look at our behavior today in 50 years? Will they be proud of us and what we did to each other and the world?

Today, I'm scared by what I hear on television on the subjects of politics, immigration and society.My parents were the children of immigrants and tasted hated and discrimination. As a result my father tolerated no words that defiled another human being. We need to return to that attitude.

MNB user Frederic Arnal wrote:

Your response to the angry political rants was exactly on point.  What on earth has happened to civility and discourse in this country?  I'm beginning to think that there are only two types of people; those who are willing to accept the possibility of different world views and those who aren't.  Neither is exclusive to the Left or the Right.  Not very encouraging.

Responding to an angry rant from someone on the right, MNB user Gary Harris wrote:

Wow, it’s that kind of stuff that makes me embarrassed to be a Republican. I may have to tear up the card. I long for the days when Republicans and Conservatives stood for something besides the downfall of the Liberals and Democrats.

If success in the current system is based on the other guy losing instead of working with the other guy to actually solve problems and make the world a better place, we’re screwed. And I’m an optimistic person. I suppose my increasing intolerance for intolerance is making me part of the problem instead of the solution, but I’m hoping for a fresh breath of cooperation and accomplishment someday. Hope I’m around to see it.

Me, too.
KC's View: