REBOOTING DEMOCRACY | FEBRUARY 10TH, 2015 | DANIEL YANKELOVICH

Taking a Blog Pause

Dan Yankelovich announces the launch of his new bbok, Wicked Problems Workable Solutions: Lessons from a Public Life.

This will be my last blog for a little while. For the next few months I will be immersed in events relating to my new book, Wicked Problems…Workable Solutions.

Actually, the book and the blogs are closely linked; the book elaborates the central theme of the blogs. I had conveyed my conviction in the blogs that the American public is correct in its judgment that our nation finds itself "on the wrong track." Writing the blogs made me realize that conventional political and economic solutions won’t put us back on the right track.

When shopping for products, Americans know they are in the driver’s seat. They know that companies are obliged to take their views and habits into account if they wish to thrive. But on social issues such as health care and public education the opposite mind-set prevails. Political leaders don’t feel the need to engage the public. And average Americans don’t feel their views really count.

The book’s point of departure is that most Americans don’t feel they really have a voice in shaping the decisions that impact their lives, and that this is a betrayal of the promise of democracy. They suspect that the technical cleverness of the few is trumping the political will of the many.

As a consequence, our economy, our schools, our health care, our criminal justice system, our national government – none of these core institutions of our democracy are working as well as they should for the majority of Americans. Mostly, their own interests rather than those of the larger society drive our institutions.

The wisdom of crowds is crucial, I believe, to meeting the challenge of our nation’s increasingly wicked problems.

A whole mess of wicked problems such as stagnant incomes, blocked social mobility, political polarization and a dysfunctional educational system threaten to overwhelm us. (The definition of a Wicked Problem is that conventional solutions, by themselves, can’t solve it.)

Behind the mess and confusion lurks a serious philosophical issue. Unless we confront it directly the public will not be able to exercise its obligation to make our democracy function successfully. Our philosophical challenge is to recognize that our democracy can only succeed in the context of genuine community where individuals and institutions seek the common good as well as their own interests.

The philosophical issue, at its core, is an ethical one. To succeed, democratic societies have to achieve a reasonably high threshold of ethical caring for one another. The top one percent has to adopt a stewardship ethic toward the other 99%. Banks and hedge funds have to care for the larger society as well as their own interests. Big companies can’t hide behind the treacherous doctrine of 'shareholder value' to rationalize their lack of concern for their workers and the community. Professors at research universities have to care for their students and communities as well as for their own research.

In Wicked Problems…Workable Solutions, I explore:

  • Why the vast majority of Americans is correct in believing the nation is on the wrong track.
  • How we can improve our eroding civic ethic and the quality of public engagement.
  • How to counterbalance the cult of self so dominant today.
  • How to develop a new philosophical ethos that will allow Americans to contribute to the common good.

In the book I show how the public often reaches sounder decisions than the experts: not because the public is smarter, but because it is not blindsided by the Group Think of expert elites. I also elaborate the important concept of the public’s Learning Curve. Properly understood and nurtured by leaders and the media, it can lead to wiser public judgment. The wisdom of crowds is crucial, I believe, to meeting the challenge of our nation’s increasingly wicked problems.

The book was published at the end of last month, and is available for purchase at Target, Amazon, Walmart, Google Play and on iTunes.


Comments

Wicked Problems…Workable Solutions.

Submitted by: Edward Gate on Monday, February 23rd, 2015

This is an interesting book. I will look forward on your answer on the question, "Why the vast majority of Americans is correct in believing the nation is on the wrong track". This question really catch my attention.

Hope this is not your last blog post throughout the year :).

Blog sites like this is really helpful most especially for people who wants fresh and latest offshore news.

I'm looking forward on your next blog post Daniel :).


Edward


Social Organization of American agenda upon identity

Submitted by: Jeanmarie Amend on Monday, June 29th, 2015

Dear Mr Yankelovich: Peace, grace, may I introduce myself to you: American, b. in this country, native in English, educated in private education to phD level, employed, unmarried, faith-concerned. The trend in the Public Agenda work over the recent three years per se has been away from fostering clarity on the axiological or rational kind of unitary thinking about agenda. Simply, it is true, every day, that priorities must be triaged in the absolute responsibility of action on behalf of life, civil society, liberty, safety, the national interest and identity as global citizens. Our affiliations can be discussed again, as, for example, Daniel Bell, yourself, Bernie Sanders, did or do; the simplicity of statement, however, is called for at the nexus today of history and dynamic change. It behooves Public Agenda to meet and discuss statement, the drafting to write a new statement, address, to whom, how to involve for emotional rapport and responsibility, and the way, forum? National Constitutional Convention? curriculum? news and event campaign? Agenda must beget the new real belief among citizens that the sense of personal responsibility and wise reflection with others can beget a plan and be achieved within realistic means and time. The tension of creativity has to be rediscovered within the public life! Long occupation by special interested parties distended the intelligence of even the highest authorities in the institutions of government. For example, how acute is the US Department of Printing about itself. HUMANITY AND CARE ENGENDER RESPECT FOR LAW WHEN THE PREMISE OF LAW AND ITS ENFORCEMENT IS NOT PUNISHMENT BUT PROTECTION OF LIFE, ONE'S LIBERTY, SELF AND IDENTITY. The disrespect for personal autonomy enacts and enables large group dynamics outside the United States and within spheres of influence far removed apparently from instigating agents. You laid a foundation for collaboration which has to be newly taught as a model of social engagement, disinterest and the idea of public service, being essential in the original meaning of generosity and personal reason. We must restore society in order to teach or save it, I understand our work to be as in the case of a protectorate, professional and that of sponsor, until civil society and rule of law are again connotative of care.


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