Friday, May 1, 2015

Social Jenga

I was thinking about recent news events and the image of a Jenga game popped in my head.  If you already understand Jenga, you can skip to the next paragraph.  In the game, a tower is made of alternating layers of tiles stacked on each other.  The players then take turns taking tiles from the lower portion of the tower and placing them on the top of the tower.  At first, the "easy" tiles are selected: tiles that don't seem to be supporting the tower and can easily be slid out.  As the tower gets taller, it gets less stable and there are fewer "easy"tiles.  But the game must continue until the last tile is removed that causes the entire stack to collapse.

This reminds me of the social engineering that is taking place in politics.  At first we admire the stable tower built on hard work, discipline, and time proven principles.  The benefits are comfort and stability.  "What about the people that aren't included in the tower?  Wouldn't it be nice if they had some of these same benefits?"  So we take from the bottom of the stack to make the tower taller (i.e., add more people to the middle class).  Other voices warn that doing this makes the tower less stable.  "Non-sense!  We're just taking the excess and redistributing it so more people can benefit."


  • More people should be homeowners.  So we put allow for risky lending practices putting our financial institution at risk.
  • More people should have college educations.  So we use debt to pay for it, to the tune of over $1.2 trillion. [12
  • The government should provide more for more people.  So we borrow $18 trillion dollars from what used to be a stable system to make the tower taller.  [See debt clock
  • More people should have healthcare.  So we mandate that everyone pay for healthcare, including the young and healthy, hardworking people just trying to start out.  We fine them 2% of their income if they don't.[See Individual Mandate]
  • The joys of sex shouldn't be limited to marriage.  So we make it easy and acceptable to have cheap sex.  We provide financial support for unwed mothers.  There are record numbers of single parent families and we take the lives of over a million fetuses a year in the U.S.  These "benefits" no longer demand the commitment of marriage, so a stable "tile" is removed and added to the top.
  • This last Tuesday, the Supreme Court was arguing about removing another marriage "tile" so the stack could be larger.  
Is it possible to go in reverse and put the pieces back to restore stability?  or Do we continue playing the game until the stack collapses?  

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