Sunday, August 3, 2014

National Governance (Over) simplified

There once was a King called Governance.
He had three sons:

  1. Son one was called Capitalist
  2. Son two was called Socialist
  3. Son three was called Pluralist

The king wanted to find a successor to rule his kingdom called World after him.  So he called his three sons and posed them a riddle.

The riddle was this:

3 men are lost in a desert. They are 2 days away from the nearest oasis.  They have only one can of water. 

  • Man one is called Weak - He is so weak that even if he drinks the one can of water, 50% chances are he will die before he makes it to the oasis.
  • Man two is called Average - If he drinks the one can of water, he has a 75% chance of surviving the two day journey to the oasis.  However, a 25% chance he could still die of exhaustion and thirst.
  • Man three is called Strong. He has a 50% chance of surviving the 2 day journey and making it alive to the oasis, even if he has no water.  However, 50% chances are he will die in those two days.  On the other hand, if he consumes the can of water, there is almost a 100% chance he will complete the 2-day journey to the oasis, alive and fit. 
The wise king asked each one of his sons, "If you could choose, whom would you give the water can to?"

Son Capitalist was very logical and clever.  He was the first to answer, "Both Weak and Average could die even if they consume the can of water.  And so could Strong without any water. So I would give the water can to the Strong.  Better to save at least one life with 100% guarantee than risk all three with no certainty!"

Son Socialist was kind-hearted.  He said, "Life is a gift from God. And hope is all we have.  So I would try to keep as many people alive for as long as I can.  Who knows?  Some help could come along the next morning, and by then we would have let one person die, is that even acceptable?"

"I would give the water to the weakest man.  At least that way, we know all three will most likely remain alive till the next morning.  And with some luck, help will come in time and ensure all 3 continue to remain alive.  It is wrong to favour the strong against the weak. My duty as ruler would be to be a safety net for the weakest."

The third son, Pluralist was quiet and in thought.

When the king looked at him, he humbly began, "Obviously any choices we make will be imperfect. And will result in death.” 

“But as human beings, are we in it only to survive?  Do morality, intelligence and creativity have no play here?”

Everybody was now listening to him.

“In my view, water is a common wealth of all three citizens,” Pluralist continued, “So I would consult with all 3 men and ask them if the following would work:

Let half the can of water be given to Strong.  BUT ONLY UPON the condition that he will carry WEAK on his back on the journey to the oasis.”

“Of the balance half can, I would divide it equally among the other 2 men - Average and Weak"
"What would you achieve by that?" asked his brother Socialist.

"A number of things," continued Pluralist.

  1. Everybody gets water - it’s a common resource that everybody has a right to 
  2. With more water comes more responsibility - so I would give more to Strong with the responsibility of helping the Weak
  3. I foster a bonding and mutual responsibility for life and survival among all 3 men
"But what if they all die anyways?" asked Capitalist.

"We will all die one day brother," said Pluralist.  
"With this formula, everybody will certainly have a higher chance of surviving as a community as opposed to as individuals.  Moreover, even if they die eventually, they will die with honour and probably with happiness.” 

”Isn't that what life is all about anyways?"

Everybody was quiet.

The king was not sure whom to handover Kingdom world to.  So he divided his kingdom into three provinces.

  • His eldest son, Capitalist, he handed over America
  • His second son, Socialist, he handed over India
  • His youngest son Pluralist, he handed over Canada
(the purpose of this fictitious story is only to provoke thinking and reflection as opposed to making any judgements about any country or political systems)

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