Friday, May 21, 2010

The status quo

Sometimes there are good but non-obvious reasons for keeping the status quo. Competing interests may have, over time, been balanced and counter-balanced to form a functioning ecosystem. And as with any ecosystem, reducing the functioning whole into its constituent parts in the foolish pursuit of extracting isolated benefits is an intractable problem.

Other times, the status quo represents a deeply flawed system, fundamentally broken at the core. Such a system is characterized by people in power whose actions are driven primarily by the overriding interest in preserving their own favorable position, to the recurring detriment of the less favored.

The tough part is looking at a situation and making the call as to which one of these models applies. In some cases, the status quo may be made up of both a well-balanced system with benefits to all, as well as a rotten portion entrenched for no good reason but the preservation of the holders of power. Fixing what's broken is a separate problem, and we should be concerned with fixing the problem only after we have correctly identified it.