Where’s the Big Idea? Lies, Damn Lies & Big Data

ImageI’m old enough to remember when political parties rallied around principles.  They won or lost on the quality of their ideas and how well those ideas resonated with the American people. Everyday we witness the abandonment of Big Ideas for Big Data. 

With Big Data leadership takes a back seat to pandering, and principles are replaced by pragmatics.  Political campaigns are reduced to donors and demographics.  Since tomorrow is Independence Day, take a moment with me and reflect on how our Founding Fathers would have addressed grievances with mother England in the age of Big Data. 

By any standard The Declaration of Independence was and remains a Big Idea.  A disgruntled band of lawyers, merchants and farmers gathered together to defy the most powerful nation in the world, risking life and livelihood, for the principles of liberty, freedom and self-determination.  In today’s Big Data environment proponents of this Declaration would be called “wackobirds.”  Merchants would be pitted against the farmers who dumped their shipments in the Boston Harbor.  Lawyers would weigh in on both sides. Jefferson’s masterpiece of freedom would never make it to the floor for debate!

Personally, I’m convinced that if I sponsored legislation approving the cure forImage cancer, Doctors and Undertakers would be pounding on my door complaining that I was about to put them out of business.  Welcome to the world of Big Data politics, where “in God we trust” has been replaced by “abandon hope all ye who enter.”

Living is easier in a world where someone is always there to watch over your care, feeding and shelter, just ask any farm animal.  Life is rosy, right up until dinner time!  Have we really struggled 200+ years to preserve this Republic for an America where quality of life is determined by how high you rank in the targeted demographic food chain?

ImageRunning for office on slogans like “Yes We Can” ignore the obvious retort, “but should we?” Congress has realized its ruin by treating every aggrieved group like a frustrated parent to a temper tantrum throwing child in a checkout line.  One more sugary treat will bring contentment. Turning to consultants they are told the answer is predicting which child will remain content the longest for the fewest treats, complete with graphs listing which candy makers will contribute the most for passage of the Willy Wonka Relief Act.  In the Big Data world the child’s behavior molds the parent’s response. 

King George called.  He wants his Colonies back now.  Happy Independence Day!  Enjoy it While We Can!     


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11 Responses to Where’s the Big Idea? Lies, Damn Lies & Big Data

  1. RickD says:

    King Obama doesn’t want to give the colonies back!

    For one, I am not going to be a colonist any more.

  2. Eric H says:

    Here Rick, let me try the public school missionary angle on you:

    “Rick, you can’t leave! What will we do if all the good people leave “the system”? You need to stay here and suffer loss the rest of your life so you can keep helping to fund “the system”.

    Convinced? Yeah, well it doesn’t work too good on homeschoolers either.

    I thought about Belize for the extended growing season. But dang, there is King George again…plus hurricanes. I am looking into becoming an illegal alien instead. It looks like a pretty good deal:


  3. michaeltfoster says:

    I definitely agree with the basic thrust of this piece, that data can be misconstrued to advance the policies favored by special interests and to arrest substantial, principle based progress. My only objection is that you seem to dismiss pragmatism altogether, even when applied in pursuit of one’s principles.

    • frankniceley says:

      “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock”. – Thomas Jefferson

      • michaeltfoster says:

        Yes, but Jefferson also acknowledged the folly of sacrificing ends to means. We can’t always pursue are ultimate ends directly and are instead forced to settle with the closest attainable approximations.

      • frankniceley says:

        I seriously doubt that any faithful observer would contend that Congress has erred on the side of principle anytime in recent memory.

  4. michaeltfoster says:

    Well, that depends on whose principles. I’m a reasonably firm proponent of adherence to the constitution, but public officials on the other side of the aisle have rallied a great deal of support in the name of their own principles. Obama passes irrational economic policies in the name of “social justice”, which has little, if any, basis in the constitution but is just as idealistic as conservative principles.

    • frankniceley says:

      Exactly, why the Constitution is so important. It wasn’t written to protect the majority or the mob, but the minority and the individual. That is the underlying beauty and validity of principled Constitutional republicanism.

  5. michaeltfoster says:

    I couldn’t agree more with that. I just think that we have to embrace realism in order to protect the constitution from those who would marginalize it.

  6. The Sen. says:

    Well said!

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