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14 December 2011

Unifying in the Middle

WBEZ, Chicago's National Public Radio affiliate, has been airing a series on the Midwest region's economy which included today's on the classic prisoner's dilemma. Unless you trust the others explicitly not to cave, you need to save yourself and thus, fall into the lose-lose situation.

This follows on the heels of the closest thing to Dixon and environs' own One Region One Book, begun by Sauk Valley News's Editorial Board, on the advice of Dixon Mayor Jim Burke, who later wrote an open letter to the mayor of Indianapolis after an open invitation for Illinois businesses to relocate appeared in the Chicago Tribune (mentioned in the WBEZ piece).

I heard author Richard Longworth speak at a RSM McGladrey summit for manufacturers.  When I had described to someone Longworth's rhetorical question: why do Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan all need to strive to have a powerhouse law school, agricultural school, engineering school, business school, medical school and undergraduate programs, the response came immediately -- there's a lot of pride and loyalty involved. 

That is not too difficult to understand, as we sit by and watch the drama that is the Eurozone.  Europeans had such hopes for unity as Europe, sure that a common currency would do the trick.  Yet, they are still proud to be Greek or Italian or Spanish or French or German, not European.  Someone actually from Northern Ireland recognizes the United Kingdom and its sovereignty over the British pound, but insists there are four separate nations within that kingdom, each entitled to its own World Cup football team.  Heck, here in the United States of America, we not only have a common currency, but a common language (mostly) and a war -- "commonly" called "Civil War" or "The War Between the States" to show us (and the rest of the world) the way and yet, that unity is fragile, as picayune or as significant as a Pennsylvanian pointing out that Pennsylvania is not a state but a commonwealth that at the moment has agreed to be part of the USA.

Sadly, cooperation is but a stone's throw away from compromise, a word and concept so besmirched that a lose-lose situation becomes indistinguishable from "winner take all." 

I might mention that Pride is one of the seven deadly sins.  As for loyalty, who says that loyalty can't be expanded?  Surely, we can somehow find unity in the middle?

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