June 12, 2024

Who's Poor Richard?

Benjamin Franklin, writing under the pseudonym Richard Saunders (AKA "Poor Richard"), published Poor Richard's Almanack from 1732 to 1758. The almanack provided useful information, proverbial wisdom, and humor to the American colonies.ย 

In keeping with Franklin's legacy, Poor Richard's Blog tackles todayโ€™s complex issues and the foundations of the Franklin Party, while hopefully also dispensing some wisdom and good humor along the way.ย ย 

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Poor Richard's Blog

Benjamin Franklin, writing under the pseudonym Richard Saunders (AKA "Poor Richard"), published Poor Richard's Almanack from 1732 to 1758. The almanack provided useful information, proverbial wisdom, and humor to the American colonies.ย 

In keeping with Franklin's legacy, Poor Richard's Blog tackles todayโ€™s complex issues and the foundations of the Franklin Party, while hopefully also dispensing some wisdom and good humor along the way.ย ย 

Welcome to the Franklin Party Newsletter!

Foresight


In previous blog posts, we discussed the first two core values of the Benjamin Franklin Party: science and justice. This powerful combination of epistemology (science) and ethics (justice) provides a significant amount of operational guidance, so why is the third value of foresight needed?

Foresight is necessary because many problems are born of shortsightedness. In fact, many new problems are the result of solutions to previous problems.

For example, to power the industrial age a fuel source was needed that was plentiful, inexpensive, and energy dense. The eventual answer to this problem was fossil fuels, but with this solution came many new issues, such as:

  • Environmental damage from extraction, transport, processing, and consumption
  • Strange geopolitical arrangements and tolerance of human rights abuses
  • Atmospheric CO2 rises leading to climate change
  • Oceanic CO2 increases resulting in marine acidification and species die-offs


History is rife with many other examples of solutions leading to new problems. Here are a couple more:

  • In the 1950s, the drug Thalidomide was prescribed to treat morning sickness in mothers until it was discovered it also caused birth defects.
  • Pesticides, which protect crops, also kill beneficial species, contaminate groundwater, and lead to the evolution of resistant super-pests.


So, without a doubt, foresight should be applied to all government decisions to better anticipate and minimize any unintended adverse consequences, which is why foresight is a core value of the Benjamin Franklin Party.

But, beyond avoiding unanticipated negative side effects, foresight is also helpful in the social and political realm. Governance is a long game, and if bridges are burned for short-term political wins (e.g., uncivil election campaigns), then there is no bridge to cross back over later when it comes time to govern.

Foresight would instead recommend the careful accumulation of social capital (trust, reciprocity, etc.) and judicious use of it โ€“ the continuous building and maintaining of relationship bridges, not the foolish burning of them.

Wrapping up this series, the three triangulating values of the Benjamin Franklin Party are science (our brain), justice (our heart), and foresight (our eyes). If you would like to see these values better represented in your U.S. government, then we invite you to join us in our quest to make the United States the best possible country for all Americans.

Yours in republic keeping,
James Carroll
BFPNC Chair

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