The China Syndrome and the Meltdown of America: Part 2-Suppression of Dissent Through Visioning and Consensus

Article Published in CA Political News & Views:

Echoing the laments of pundits like Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently held that China outpaces the United States in building major transportation infrastructure like high-speed rail because of its authoritarian system.

“The Chinese are more successful [in building infrastructure] because in their country, only three people make the decision. In our country, 3,000 people do, 3 million….In a country where only three people make the decision, they can decide where to put their rail line, get the money, and do it. We don’t do it that way in America.”

Most Americans do not agree with LaHood so our elites have resorted to the stealth version of stifling dissent. These days, it seems that most government entities are offering “visioning” sessions when they want to get “public input”.  Yet these types of sessions are designed to have the opposite effect. They employ a variety of tactics to suppress dissent and limit discussion to favored options in order to ensure that the end result is the appearance of widespread support for a plan that in reality has engendered substantial opposition. Nowhere is this more evident than with the One Bay Area Plan, a 25 year plan that combines housing, transportation and land use.

One Bay Area’s predetermined objective is to impose the template of sustainability and smart growth policies on the 9 counties in the Bay.  The plan is mandated by SB375 which requires public input. The methodology for getting an input with the desired outcome is the use of the Delphi Technique, developed by the RAND Corporation in the 1960s.  The two code words associated with the technique are “visioning” and “consensus”. Visioning is the process that consists of a series of meetings led by a facilitator to get the participants to agree to a predetermined outcome.  Consensus is the process through which objections to a proposal are extinguished.  Consensus is not agreement.  It is the absence of expressed opposition.  For example, a typical goal might be “to preserve open space”.  The facilitator does not ask the group to agree because that might provoke opposition.  Questions such as how much open space, where would it be, how would it be acquired are not allowed.  Instead, the facilitator asks a negative question.  He might ask “Does anyone think we should not preserve open space?”  Anyone who answers yes to this question would look ridiculous and be marginalized by the group.  Negative response questions are designed to eliminate opposition.  The sessions do not allow you to question assumptions.  Here is a composite of a visioning session held in Concord, CA in Spring 2011.  The facilitator states (s)he wants public input but when it is given, it is ignored  or dismissed.

This is the opposite of representative government. Since very few people knowingly would vote to subvert their property rights through smart growth and sustainable development schemes, the bureaucrats and their enablers must resort to stealth and deception through the use of the Delphi Technique.  Visioning and consensus are the tools in their toolbox to herd opinions to a predetermined outcome. Citizens should be aware that when they see calls for “visioning” sessions, they need to realize that they are being manipulated.  They need to learn about the Delphi Technique and take the appropriate counter measures to let the bureaucrats know they will not be herded.

What happened to representative government?  What happened to voting?  What happened to honest and open debate?  Visioning and consensus are deceptive practices which harken to the China syndrome of stifling dissent.  They should have no place in the development of public policies in the United States of America.

*Reference for LaHood quote:

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