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June 28, 2017

Planting Cut Flowers

My friend Nancy quoted me a bit of extreme wisdom: “Making policy without studying history is like planting cut flowers.”

Bingo. Much of what passes for policy today is an attempt to get the bouquet and beauty of flowers without any messy work with seeds, roots, and dirt.

Healthcare won’t improve with the top dressing of more and more government subsidy. In fact life expectancy in the US has gone down for the first time since the peak of the AIDS epidemic despite the introduction of Obamacare. The roots of escalating health costs are obesity, opioids, and the fact that we can prolong life greatly if expense is not a consideration.

Businesses look for government grants to bypass the cumbersome business of attracting private investors or leveraging income from early sales.

We want a higher minimum wage without the training or skills which makes workers worth more.

We want everybody to be able to go to college without addressing the root problem that our K-12 system is graduating people who aren’t ready to flower in a post-secondary environment.

For politicians there’s an obvious advantage in planting cut flowers so long as they don’t whither before the next election. It takes a long time to make visible progress from the roots up. It behooves us all to study history.

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