Who’s “optimal” are we talking about here?
Thomas Friedman is at it again. He finds our method of governance just too cumbersome and one which mostly yields “sub-optimal” results. I mean, look at the Chi-coms:
TOM BROKAW: Tom, are we at a kind of turning point in America in terms of being able to make this a functioning country again, or are we dysfunctional?
TOM FRIEDMAN: Well this is what worries me. I’ve been saying for awhile Tom, there’s only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, the Chinese form of government, and that’s one-party democracy. In China, if the leadership can get around to an enlightened decision it can order it from the top down, OK. Here when you have one-party democracy, one party ruling, basically the other party just saying no, every solution is sub-optimal. And when your chief competitor in the world can order optimal and you can only produce sub-optimal? Because what happens, whether it’s health care or the energy bill, votes one-through-fifty cost you a lot. Fifty to fifty-nine cost you a fortune. And vote sixty: his name’s Ben Nelson! And by the time you’ve made all those compromises, you end up with the description David [Brooks] had of the health care bill, which is this Rube Goldberg contraption. I really hope, I hope personally it passes. I hope it works. But I can’t tell you I think it’s optimal.
Well, of course mandating one child and one child only was certainly considered to be “optimal” by the leadership. The polity didn’t agree. And now the mostly male generation which has since grown up and is experiencing a vast shortage of women doesn’t either. Damn law of unintended consequences – it always tends to screw up “optimal” top-down decisions, doesn’t it?
And as I recall, they certainly considered the “Great Leap Forward” to be “optimal”, didn’t they? What are a few million, er 14 to 20 million deaths, when the “top down” solution is so, uh, “optimal”. Indeed, with those 14 to 20 million deaths, the plan ended up working rather well – except for those cases of cannibalism – because there was more for those who were left.
And the “Cultural Revolution” was pretty “optimal” as well, wasn’t it?
It was certainly “optimal” for Stalin to declare the Kulaks “enemy of the people” wasn’t it? It allowed him to essentially steal their farms and “collectivize” them while deliberately starving millions of those “enemies” of his “optimal” plan to death in 1933. Yup, very “optimal” if you’re Joe Stalin and you get to make those “top down” decisions, isn’t it?
I assume Hugo Chavez thought it was an “optimal” solution to nationalize the oil industry Venezuela. None of that sloppy law and democracy stuff for him, by George. And that’s worked out so well, hasn’t it?
Would someone buy Mr. Friedman a one-way ticket to China please? There he can forever bask in the goodness of top-down “optimal” decisions and glory in them like so many millions have already done there since the imposition of “optimal” top-down decisions.
That would be an “optimal” result for me.