Fed Up with Feedback Loops?
There was a great article by Robyn Goldwyn Blumenthal in Barron's last weekend about how Democrats and debt go together. True, one could argue the Republicans have done their fair share to rack up debt in the last decade; I wouldn't argue. However, according to the article, states that tend to vote Democrat "run average per capita deficits more that 2.5 times their Republican counterparts":
TJ Marta, chief market strategist of Marta on the Markets, has found that states that voted more heavily for Democrats in the last five presidential elections racked up average per capita debt of $1,896, versus $729 in those favoring Republicans.
"It's astounding," says Marta, who got the idea to run the numbers after seeing a story on CNN that showed a map of the U.S. color-coded by debt per capita. "It looked surprisingly similar to the political red versus blue state maps," he says.
One of the more interesting parts of systems thinking is when the feedback loop reveals itself. In systems terms, the feedback loop represents the consequences of our actions (positive or negative). If somebody is deliberate in designing their system, the feedback loop is rarely a surprise. Even if the results vary from what is expected, the changes can be traced, explained, and corrected. It's when people don't pay attention to the system that the results are a surprise. Sometimes the results get people's attention and prompt change. Other times, people just dismiss the results. Why should we care about numbers as long as our political agenda is furthered (or the other side's agenda is hindered)? Well, according to the article, these same "blue" states have worse bond ratings, translating to higher interest rates on debt, meaning the taxpayers are bearing more of a burden. So this system feeds yet another system. Funny how that works.
I'm not trying to politicize here; I just found it an interesting example of what I've been saying about systems (ALL systems) for many, many months. If you are not designing your systems with a purpose, the feedback loop will reveal what you designed by accident. What about YOUR systems... at work... at home? Do you know what the feedback loop measurements are saying about your output? Are you prepared for results? Are you willing to accept the numbers and make changes accordingly? Do you even agree that there's a correlation?
(Image source: Barron's)