Monday, March 15, 2010

It doesn't rain when you dance

When I was in the Air Force I participated in a team exercise. It was some game that a group of officers played and we had to work together to accomplish some made up task.

We did our first task and it went fairly well and we got the highest score. It turns out most everyone got the highest score on that one. Then we debriefed. We talked about what went well and what went poorly. The mood was sunny; brimming with our success we extolled our excellent communication, our teamwork, our plain old awesomeness. Of course I threw in a sour note (I am a sour person). I spoke up and plainly said that we were not so awesome. The reason the task went well, was because the task was easy. I was slaughtered for my comments and one person took particular offense.

Off we go and do the next task. This time things didn't go so well and we failed. During the debriefing, we were brimming with something other than success and this time the comments weren't so rosy. Our communication was off, our teamwork faltered, and we were just plain. Not awesome at all.

After we went back to our rooms, the very person who took offense at my earlier comment said in private, "you were right." A small, yet considerable gesture.

It's a common theme, when you win it's because of skill, when you lose it's because of bad luck. Politics is full of this. When the economy goes up, it's because of some brilliant politician, or economic theory. When it goes down, bad luck, out of your control. The reality is that the economy moves on it's own, and know one really knows what would have happened had the politicians done nothing. Politicians have the benefit of comparing themselves to hypotheticals. And their alternative reality is ALWAYS worse than reality.

So what can we go on? We can't go by results because it is impossible to compare today with a today that didn't happen. We need to go by logic. If it doesn't work for you on a personal level, it doesn't work for a whole bunch of people. No matter how smart the guy telling you that is. Spending more than what you have is a recipe for bankruptcy for the individual and the country. And imposing a cost on people who are productive incentivizes them to be less productive. That's common sense.

2 comments:

$TeVe said...

Well put-together. I've always been surprised at the stupidity of phrases like "the Bush Economy" or "the economy under Clinton," as if we live in system dictated by five year plans (we don't yet, anyway). If the economy sucked under you predecessor because of him (does he get credit for the years of growth too?) and it continues to suck under you, shouldn't you take the blame?

Adam Freund said...

Thanks Steve.

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