Wednesday, February 11, 2009

ARRA and the Law of Holes

The first law of holes, famously states - that when one is in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.

In theory our governments should be operating on the same basis as the average household, or company. That would mean that when income drops, expenses should be trimmed as well. As we have seen since the beginning of the National government, first under the Articles of Confederation and then under the Constitution, matching income with expenditures has always been a thorny problem.

Failure to understand and consider the effects of legislation has made Congress watching an unending circus parade of unintended consequences. ARRA or HR 1 is merely the latest in a long line of quick cheap fixes that have been for the most part neither quick, cheap or fixes. There is a large database that shows across history, and culture the effects of various types of economic policy. Still in Washington DC our representatives find new ways to explain to us why this time is different, why this time a policy that has failed every time it has been tried simply has to work.

That sort of blindness always reminds me of an episode of 3rd Rock From the Sun, where Harry, the communications officer is watching reruns of the Buggs Bunny Roadrunner hour. He decides to bet that Wiley will catch the bird on the basis that he had seen this episode before and the plan was too brilliant to fail twice.

On the other hand, maybe we the voters are Harrys - we've been voting the same people in apparently believing that they are too brilliant to screw up twice.

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