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A Modest Proposal: Give Compromise a Chance—and Rational Thinking too

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 2011

By Harold Hower


People today tend to dislike compromise, as seen in headlines about labor disputes and budget battles. While politics was once called “the art of compromise,” today “compromise” is viewed as a dirty word, or at least a very pejorative one, with the connotation that to compromise is to cave in, or to sacrifice your principals.

In our everyday work, however, do we not compromise to achieve progress and to avoid costly stalemates? For instance, not every construction dispute goes to tortuous litigation; not every zoning rule is rigidly applied without consideration to variances that can facilitate progress. And wage and salary negotiations always involve compromise.

“Stick to your guns” is a slogan that more aptly fits fanaticism than democracy. The National Rifle Association sticks to its guns, literally and figuratively. What if there were an organization called the “Rational Rifle Association” that promoted both Second-Amendment rights and thoughtful rules to limit the damage of firearms’ proliferation?

Is there room for compromise in budget battles involving public employees’ remuneration (salary and benefits) versus strapped municipal or state governments? Yes, if employees agree to cuts rather than brutal layoffs; and yes, if governments concede that unions have a right to exist.

Is there room for compromise between Republicans and Democrats in the federal government over meaningful reductions in deficit spending? Yes, and there are growing hints that a “Grand Bargain” will be struck, involving entitlement reductions together with revisions to the Tax Code that will remove loopholes and thereby increase revenues.

Shouldn’t we demand compromise from our political representatives, all of them, to put government on the right track, just as we carry out compromise in the conduct of our daily business, to make sure we achieve the ends we seek.

ABOUT THE BLOGGER

Harold Hower

Harold Hower, CEO and founder of Technology Publishing Company, likes to think about ways of improving conditions in the architectural coatings industry.

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Tagged categories: Finance; Government

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