Society as a Failed Experiment
By David Swanson / washingtonsblog.com

There’s little dispute among social scientists that most of our major public programs are counter-productive on their own terms. There is also little analysis of this phenomenon as a pattern in need of an explanation and a solution.

Prisons are supposedly intended to reduce crime, but instead increase it. Young people who when they commit crimes are arrested and punished become much more likely to commit crimes as adults than are those young people who when they commit crimes are just left alone.

Fixing public schools by requiring endless test-preparation and testing is ruining public schools. Kids are emerging with less education than before the fix. Parents are sending their kids to private schools or charter schools or homeschooling them or even pulling them out of school for a few months during the worst of the test-preparation binging.

Free trade policies are supposed to enrich us. Trickle-down tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations are supposed to enrich us. We keep trying them and they keep impoverishing us.

War preparations are supposed to enrich us, but impoverish us instead. War is supposed to protect us, but generates enemies. Or war is supposed to benefit some far away place, but leaves it in ruins. Is more war the answer?

When a road gets crowded, we enlarge it or build another road. The traffic responds by enlarging to fill the new roads. So we cut funds for trains in order to build yet more roads.

We’re several times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist. So, we give police officers weapons of war to make us safe.

We’re making the earth’s climate unlivable by consuming fossil fuels. So we ramp up the consumption of fossil fuels.

Guns are supposed to protect us, but the more we spread the guns around the more we get killed intentionally and accidentally with guns.

What causes us to pursue counterproductive programs and policies? And why does it seem that the bigger the program is the more we pursue its counterproductive agenda? Well, let’s look at the above list again and ask who benefits.

We’ve made prisons into a for-profit industry and an economic rescue program for depressed rural areas. Enormous profits are being made from children who abandon public schools; from the point of view of those profiteers there’s every reason to fix schools in a manner that actually makes them horrible. Corporate trade pacts and tax exemptions for billionaires don’t impoverish everyone, just us non-billionaires. Some people get rich from road construction. Weapons companies don’t mind when one war leads to three more (especially if they’re arming all sides), or when police pick up used weaponry that can then be replaced. Oil and coal profiteers aren’t focused on the inhabitability of the earth. Gun manufacturers aren’t worried about how many people die so much as how many guns are sold.

What keeps us from seeing this as a pattern is the myth that we live in a democracy in which decisions are made by majority opinion. In reality, majority opinion is badly distorted by anti-democratic news media and largely ignored by anti-democratic officials.

Major public pressure will be needed to change this situation, to strip corporations of power, ban bribery, provide free media and public financing of elections, and create a democratic communications system.

We should begin by dropping the pretense that we’re rationally testing policies and adjusting them as we go. No, the whole thing is broken. Experiments keep failing upward with no end in sight. Enough is enough. Let’s change direction.

4.2 ·
2
What's Next
Trending Today
93 Documentaries to Expand Your Consciousness
Films For Action · 7,012 views today · There are over 800 documentaries now cataloged in our library of social change films. That's probably way too many for any mortal to ever watch in a lifetime, let alone a few...
This Short Film Plays Out Like an Epic Movie That Will Shake Your Soul - But the Movie Is Real, and We are The Actors
6 min · 5,006 views today · For next year, we need a resolution capable of confronting the crisis we face, and making a future worth fighting for. This short film looks back on the crisis and confusion...
The Daily Show's Trevor Noah Talks With Conservative Host Tomi Lahren
14 min · 3,965 views today · "Tomi" host Tomi Lahren gives her take on the Black Lives Matter movement and explains why she lashed out against Colin Kaepernick for his national anthem protest.
Social Media Echo Chambers: Here's How Most of Us are Living in One
2 min · 3,009 views today · Americans are blocking out the friends and news sites that won't confirm their views.
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 2,999 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 2,938 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
Why We Need Big Picture Activism
Helena Norberg-Hodge · 2,062 views today · Despite the countless grassroots projects already under way, the global economic juggernaut can seem too powerful to stop. But because more and more of us are becoming aware of...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 2,033 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 1,790 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Who's Really to Blame for Fake News? Look in the Mirror, America.
Neal Gabler · 1,319 views today · Consider for a moment the oxymoronic concept of “fake news,” which we have been hearing so much about lately. This isn’t your typical disinformation or misinformation —...
Bernie Sanders: Carrier Just Showed Corporations How to Beat Donald Trump
Bernie Sanders · 1,313 views today · We need a president who can stand up to big corporations, not fold to their demands.
How a Land High in the Western Himalayas Can Help Us Understand The Crisis of The Modern World
9 min · 1,311 views today · This is a clip from The Economics of Happiness. Watch it here. It's a brilliant film that was easy to put at the top of our list of the top 100 documentaries we can use to...
South Koreans Are Really Good at Protesting
2 min · 1,008 views today · South Koreans organize some of the largest and most peaceful protests in the world. Here's what makes them so good at protesting.
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 947 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
The Most Mind-Altering Photograph of All Time
4 min · 853 views today · Carl Sagan narrates the story of the Pale Blue Dot, the one place we all call home. 
Law Professor's Epic Response to Black Lives Matter Shirt Complaint
Social Design Notes · 791 views today · A first year law school student wrote a complaint about her professor having worn a Black Lives Matter T-shirt during class. The professor’s response is priceless. Scans of...
Corporate Giants' "Sustainable" Palm Oil Revealed as Sham
Nika Knight · 724 views today · Nestlé, Kellogg's, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and others are linked to child labor and forced labor in Indonesia
The 6 Grand Illusions That Keep Us Enslaved
Sigmund Fraud · 632 views today · For a magician to fool his audience his deceit must go unseen, and to this end he crafts an illusion to avert attention from reality. While the audience is entranced, the...
What Humans Are Really Doing to Our Planet, in 19 Jaw-Dropping Images
Michael McCutcheon · 595 views today · Last week, Pope Francis and church officials encouraged everyone to consume less and think more about our impact on the environment. It's a timely warning because the next six...
Dreaming Beyond Capitalism: a Culture Without Fear
Martin Winiecki · 399 views today · In the 1990s an unusual encounter took place in the Ecuadorian Amazon. In plant rituals, shamans of the Achuar, a tribe living in pristine forest that had never been in touch...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Society as a Failed Experiment