Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Right Direction

A collection of national polls measuring Americans' opinions on whether or not the USA is heading in the right direction confirms wayward fears. An average of 18% of Americans affirm the nation's direction while 75.7% believe we need to change course. The confidence has been cut in nearly half from three years ago when an average of roughly 40% of Americans approved the direction in which their country was heading.

What is shocking to me is that even 18% (let alone 40%) of any group of people can get together, en masse, and affirm a specific heading. Now, this should be very easy in an automobile, when linear travel is most often the norm. One has normally two to four choices of direction upon asphalt. Given the flexibility of an off-road vehicle, a group of people can head in any planar direction. This, in itself, provides limitless direction and as a result, multitudinous dissent (provided no GPS navigation system is provided, (although one would be hard pressed to find an off-road vehicle without at least an iPhone anymore)). Yet, I look at a nation filled with over 300 million legal citizens rather than a Jeep Wrangler with seating for four. Think of a rocket ship, propelled by technological growth, national concern and social change. In what direction can this metaphorical ship head? Any. It has vertical, lateral and longitudinal rotational abilities. Moreover, the addition of a Z-coordinate allows us to head towards any infinite directions in space. Throw in a fourth dimension of time, and, well, you get my point. How can anyone, let alone 54 million Americans agree on a very, very specific vector?

There is an answer and that answer is simpler than aeronautical political science can explain. Americans, in general, believe that any direction "forward" will suffice. The minor directional bearings are assumed to play no large role in national government. Now if we define "forward" as positive movement in relation to one axis governing the "statusquo ", a whole hemisphere of travel is considered "wrong". Without getting too mathematical, the more variables that we restrict with a requirement of positive growth, the smaller our preferred directional course will be. Fitting into that pinhole becomes a more daunting task. Let's simply focus on "positive" spacial growth by moving up the Z-axis. I'll take away the dimension of time by adding another flat plane perpendicular to the Z-axis and call that our "goal". The National Government's job, now, is to reach our "goal" by moving in a forward direction (at a constant rate of speed). If it's direction is just the slightest bit skewed, then it will take calculatedly longer to reach plane "goal". If a backward direction is headed, then it will take either longer or never to reach plane "goal", depending on the value of the variables.

So how does one explain the existence of an estimated 54 million people who agree the United States is heading towards plane "goal"? Clearly it becomes the position of "goal". Some may place it very far away, others, very close. Some make "goal" a coordinate, or point. Some make it non-linear. Some make it so it is not perpendicular to the "positive" Z axis. Others make it an imaginary number (see Marx and Engels).

The only conclusion that I can draw is that while most can agree that the right direction in one with positive growth, there is a finite number of people who just don't seem to care where the nation is heading, as long as Dancing With The Stars is on.

2 comments:

Jeff said...

you know i have a compass (actually two, does that make it compi?) in my drawer? not the kind that tells you where to go, the kind that stabs you when you're looking for a pencil and rips through your flesh like a hot knife through butter. ow. i just thought i'd tell someone before i pass out from blood loss.

Wolffystyle said...

I believe it was necessary to do so. This happened to me often, patch it up with white out. Compi...I hate those little things, that's why God invented the coffee tin. Just trace your pencil around that and go on with your day...right?