Lessons from Genetics for Government

When breeding plants or animals for a particular characteristic, you naturally are culling out other characteristics.  Long ago breeders discovered that the inbreeding necessary to standardize a trait also reduces the vitality of the offspring.  This is because the rich gene pool one starts with loses more and more unique genes.  If I am selecting for blue eyes, I naturally am extinguishing the genes for green and brown eyes from the pool.  But there are also other genes that have nothing to do with eye color but are unintentionally selected against, because they are close to or interrelated with the green and brown eye color genes.  As reproduction, health and vigor decline, it often becomes necessary to bring in an outside individual, one that is markedly different from the type you are breeding for, in order to ensure survival of your captive population.

While a very brief, simplistic description of the problem, I believe a similar issue exists with government.  That is, there is a limit to how much uniformity can be coerced or forced into a population before the results are unhealthy or destructive to that political unit.  For instance, as the type and way of educating our populace grows more uniform and directed, we lose the “genes” necessary to deal with a major fluctuation in our environment (be that physical, political, or otherwise).   The evidence is clear that what one child learns at 4, another learns at 9, and forcing the issue can do great harm.  Or by focusing on cerebral skills we see a reduction in the physical fitness and health of a population.

So when I hear of a grand plan to require all children to “stay in school” until they are 18 org they graduate, I can only wonder whether we are losing future George Bernard Shaws, George Eastmans, Peter Jennings’,Peter Jacksons, Thomas Edisons and the like.  What made this country great was diversity – not simply the diversity of ethnicity, but also of culture, styles, ways of learning, choices, timing, and – even in part – values.  If our government is in the business of making clones, then we can expect arrested development of our nation.  Clones by definition can never be better than the mold they are made from.   But a nation of uniquely developed individuals can.

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