On The Nature of Compromise

10/31/12 00:00:00    

By Michael Mealling

Compromise is something you do when you are negotiating around an agreed upon goal. If I want to buy something from you and you want $2 for it and I only want to pay $1 then $1.50 can be called a compromise. If both sides agree then both sides win.

But when the goals aren't the same that can't be called a compromise. Asking me to buy something at $2 when I don't want it at any price but then forcing me to pay $1 for it instead is not a compromise. That $1 is not some mutually agreed upon middle ground of sane policy making. It creates perverse incentives and deep seated resentment that after repeated “compromises” turns into hatred and violence.

You can't call it a compromise if one side loses. And, as some like to say, you think that good compromise is when both sides lose, if all you do is keep losing eventually you will refuse to play.

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