A "very liberal", a conservative and a libertarian all responded to a forum thread that I started on pragmatarianism. After some brainstorming I came up with an analogy that was kind of like a pragmatarian twist on MTV's the Real World.
Here's my post...written in response to Pinkie...the "very liberal"...
Pinkie, let's say that you, me, Chuckberry and Neomalthusian agree to purchase a house together...and we all agree to split the mortgage.
The trickiness comes into play in deciding what the house needs. As a "very liberal" you believe the house needs a pool, a jacuzzi, a pool guy, a home gym, a vegetable garden, a greenhouse, a gardener, a state of the art washer/drier/fridge/dishwasher, a maid/cook, post-modern furniture, modern art, an interior designer, a feng shui consultant, a ridiculous home entertainment system, earthquake insurance, flood insurance, tornado insurance...etc.
Chuckberry, the conservative, believes that the house needs two dobermans, a security guard, a steal-reinforced 10ft brick wall topped with razor wire...and new copper pipes.
Neo, the libertarian, believes that the house needs very little. He just wants a home security system and super high-speed internet.
As the centrist, I believe that the house needs a reasonable amount of common goods.
In order to pay for all your common goods we'd each have to pay a lot of money. On the other hand, we wouldn't have to pay much money to cover Neo's common goods. So we all agree to each pay the average amount between your high cost and Neo's low cost.
We decide to allocate our "common money" via the representative method. So we take a vote and everybody votes for themselves...except for me. I vote for you...so you win. You immediately increase our common money rate in order to try and pay for all the common goods. But you decide it's not enough money so you take a second mortgage on the house.
Us guys start to grumble and even you kind of realize that we can't afford all the common goods you want. So we take another vote and elect Chuck. Chuck lowers our common money rate but doesn't pay off the second mortgage. Then he directs nearly all of our money to building his super wall, hiring a second guard and buying a third doberman.
You point out all the weeds in the garden, the alligator in the pool, the dishes in the sink...and you promise not to raise our common money if I vote for you again. Neo objects of course...he wants me to vote for him. Heh, like anybody would ever vote for a libertarian. Obviously our house needs more than two common goods.
So I vote for you but you do exactly the same thing as the first time. So then I vote for Chuck but he does exactly the same thing as well. The bank is breathing down our necks and the animosity in the house is palpable. There's got to be a better way.
I call a house meeting and suggest a new method. Everything would be exactly the same...except, if we're not happy with our representative we can choose for ourselves which common goods receive our individual common money. We decide to give it a try.
Neo pulls me aside and tells me that we've been seriously overpaying for pretty much all of our common goods. He takes me to ikea to see some reasonably priced furniture.....then to a local gym which has an olympic sized pool and low fees. Afterwards we go to a local mom and pop restaurant with healthy but very affordable dishes. Lastly he takes me to a very nice local botanical garden where he tells me about how we can significantly reduce our insurance rates by bundling.
What do I do? I present you with all these alternatives. Perhaps you'll agree with some and disagree with others. Maybe you'll provide some different alternatives.
What ends up happening is that we start focusing on results. If you can find us a super skilled/affordable chef to come cook for us then none of us guys are going to bother going out and paying more money for mediocre food. If you can find us a crazy motivated/knowledgeable personal trainer that can give us a great group rate then we wouldn't bother paying for a gym that we never go to. If you can find a gardener that turns our garden into the Garden of Eden for less money than the cost of membership at our local botanical garden then we wouldn't complain.
We all want the best results for the least amount of money. We all want the most bang for our buck. It's within our reach. We just have to concentrate. Pragmatarianism...it's completely non-partisan...and within our reach. We just have to concentrate.