The fact that I have no remedy for all the sorrows of the world is no reason for my accepting yours. It simply supports the strong probability that yours is a fake.
Henry Louis Mencken
Minority Report, H. L. Mencken’s Notebooks , 1956
[I’ve seen this in engineering as well as politics. Someone who doesn’t really understand the problem has great enthusiasm for a simple solution that on the surface is very appealing. This enthusiasm and confidence can sometimes be very difficult to combat because it can take a great deal of effort to educate the people advocating the solution on the error of their ways. And in fact it may be impossible to educate them because they are too stupid to understand. Gun control is one such example.
This brings us to another Mencken quote, “For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
I have no idea how to deal with this in politics. I have enough trouble with it in engineering where most of the people are rational and reasonably smart. This is part of the reason that government powers should be severely constrained. Political decisions are frequently very complex issues with incomplete data sets. Even if you had rational people involved, which you frequently don’t, and they had the general populace’s best interests at heart, which they almost never do, getting a consensus on the solution that best fits the available data is nearly impossible. In politics data, if present, is cherry picked. Proper data analysis is completely absent.
It is far better to let the free market provide the “remedy for all the sorrows of the world” because the solutions attempted will be varied. The non-solutions will quickly end up in the dustbin. The partial solutions will be tweaked and retried. The true solutions will dominate and another “sorrow of the world” will be reduced or eliminated.—Joe]