The Right Compromise
“Half a loaf is better than no bread.”
One has to start out with what is right rather than what is acceptable (let alone who is right) precisely because one always has to compromise in the end. But if one does not know what is right to satisfy the specifications and boundary conditions, one cannot distinguish between the right compromise and the wrong compromise —and will end up by making the wrong compromise.
There are two different kinds of compromise. One kind is expressed in the old proverb, “Haifa loaf is better than no bread.” The other kind is expressed in the story of the Judgment of Solomon, which was clearly based on the realization that “half a baby is worse than no baby at all.” In the first instance, the boundary conditions are still being satisfied. The purpose of bread is to provide food, and half a loaf is still food. Haifa baby, however, does not satisfy the boundary conditions. For half a baby is not half of a living and growing child. It is a corpse in two pieces.
ACTION POINT: Now think through the problem you specified in the two previous readings. Make a decision that represents a compromise, half a loaf, but goes in the right direction toward the ideal solution. Then think of a compromise that is “no bread at all.”
Building Action into the Decision
A decision is only a hope until carrying it out has become somebody’s work assignment and responsibility, with a deadline.
A decision is a commitment to action. Until the right thing happens, there has been no decision. And one thing can be taken for granted: the people who have to take the action are rarely the people who have made the decision. No decision has, in fact, been made until carrying it out has become somebody’s work assignment and responsibility—and with a deadline. Until then, it’s still only a hope.
A decision will not become effective unless needed actions have been built into it from the start. Converting a decision into action requires an-swering several questions:
• Who has to know of this decision?
• What action has to be taken?
• Who is to take it?
• What does the action have to be so that the people who have to do it can do it?
The action must be appropriate to the capacities of the people who have to carry it out. This is especially important if people have to change their be-havior, habits, or attitudes for the decision to become effective.
ACTION POINT: Think through a decision you have made. Who has to know of the decision? What action has to be taken? Who has to take the ac-tion? Make sure the people who have to take the action are able to do so.
“It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose your own.”
“Our economy is based on spending billions to persuade people that happiness is buying things, and then insisting that the only way to have a viable economy is to make things for people to buy so they’ll have jobs and get enough money to buy things.”
“I believe in a relatively equal society, supported by institutions that limit extremes of wealth and poverty. I believe in democracy, civil liberties, and the rule of law. That makes me a liberal, and I’m proud of it.”
“The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. ”
“No nation has ever taxed itself into prosperity.”
“When we replace a sense of service and gratitude with a sense of entitlement and expectation, we quickly see the demise of our relationships, society, and economy.”
“Bailing out people who made ill-advised mortgages makes no more sense that bailing out people who lost their life savings in Las Vegas casinos.”
“You know what’s truly weird about any financial crisis? We made it up. Currency, money, finance, they’re all social inventions. When the sun comes up in the morning it’s shining on the same physical landscape, all the atoms are in place.”
“You can’t tax business. Business doesn’t pay taxes. It collects taxes.”
“The best way to boost the economy is to redistribute wealth downward, as poorer people tend to spend a higher proportion of their income.”
“Disease is the biggest money maker in our economy.”
John H. Tobe
“But the economic meltdown should have undone, once and for all, the idea of poverty as a personal shortcoming or dysfunctional state of mind. The lines at unemployment offices and churches offering free food includes strivers as well as slackers, habitual optimists as well as the chronically depressed. When and if the economy recovers we can never allow ourselves to forget how widespread our vulnerability is, how easy it is to spiral down toward destitution.”
“Don’t tell me what you value, show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.”
“The power to tax is the power to destroy.”
“Cheap booze is a false economy.”
– Christopher Hitchens
“Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade…”
Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
“Thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste.”