Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Reality is not optional"

I don't care that this was published more than 5 years ago--this is the best explanation of why having a perfect plan or solution does not lead to a perfect outcome that I've ever heard. Here's the best paragraph:

"Thomas Sowell likes to say that reality is not optional. But we oh so want it to be. We want to change outcomes without consequences with the ease of adjusting the thermostat on the wall of our house. We want to dial incomes upward and gasoline prices downward. We want to blame Wal-Mart for the fact that its employees earn below the national average. We want to blame China (or Mexico or Japan or India) for our trade deficit. We want to blame or honor the occupant of the White House for whether new jobs are high-paying or low-paying. This worldview that flies in the face of reality and that ignores the inherent complexity of the real world is the bread-and-butter of journalism and the breeding ground for unintended consequences. "

Find it here: Russell Roberts "The Reality of Markets"

Read this one too: Russell Roberts "Pigs Don't Fly: The Economic Way of Thinking About Politics"

2 comments:

Mark said...

That second article is both cynical and depressing. He leaves little room for altruism, doesn't he? In such a world as Roberts describes, everyone and everything have their price. Do we believe that?

Sarah Boyle Webber said...

What I liked was the realism of it, the realistic explanation of why so many politicians promise to do this or that and more often than not, are unable to do what they promised. To quote:

"We are a bundle of motives. We are often torn between what is best for ourselves and what is best for others. We are torn between doing the right thing and doing the easy thing or the convenient thing. Sometimes we choose the selfless course of sacrifice. The costs and benefits influence our choices."

How many days have I started with a list of goals for the day and ended the day having spent it on much less laudable pursuits? Many, because it was easier to do those other things. There is altruism in the human race, but I'm with Augustine in believing that the source of all that is good in humanity is the power of God working in us, whether we are conscious of it or not. Not every altruistic act is done in the name of Christ, but I believe the source of all those altruistic impulses is Christ working on Earth.