A friend and her husband designed the house of their dreams, scouted out land and bought the best lot they could find, then secured contractors. After clearing the land, the builders poured concrete for the foundation.
Returning the next morning to check on the concrete, they were astonished to find it had disappeared! The newly-poured foundation was gone.
Two more cement trucks poured more concrete, and by the next day, all that had been freshly laid was gone as well. To many of us it seemed now would have been a good time to investigate the reason for the disappearing concrete, but the contractor insisted that if it was just a little sinkhole underneath, the three trucks of concrete had taken care of it.
A fourth truck arrived and poured its load. True to the history of the past few days, that cement too disappeared.
Now it was time, the contractor decided, to determine what had gone wrong. (And we all thought, “Oh, ya think so?”)
It seems that the surveyor and the contractor had missed the fact that this land sat atop a cavern that extended way back under the land. They had been pouring concrete into a fissure. Four truck loads had barely begun to fill that cavern.
Had they been more careful, the surveyors, and all the other professionals involved in determining the fitness of this land, would have saved our friends a lot of money and worry. If they had just learned from their past error and stopped after the first load, or maybe even the second, they would have changed tactics or even abandoned the pursuit and searched for new land.
I remembered this story when listening to US economic and political news recently. Pouring billions of dollars into a sinking economy did not shore it up. In fact, the sinkhole just keeps getting bigger. Yet the professional bureaucrats who determine how our money is being spent have decided to pour several billion more dollars into that sinkhole.
My story is an imperfect analogy, but perhaps it serves to show the futility of pursuing a different result but using the same tactics–throwing good money after bad. In essence, we’re told, all we need is more cement to pour down the same sinkhole. We didn’t get results before, but by doing the same things again we expect great results the next time. Wait–isn’t that the definition of insanity?
It’s ridiculous to think that our bureaucrats will fix it this time when they didn’t last time. It’s even more ridiculous that anyone in America, who has observed the government’s futile attempts, would believe that it will work this time. Not learning from the past, we insist on doing the same thing over and over again and expect the same results. Insanity.
The tactic of bailing out companies that probably should have been allowed to die a natural death so that other more healthy enterprises could rise from the ashes–this is not wisdom.
Nor is decrying the wealthy, sneeringly calling them “fat cats,” and then vacationing with them (golf, galas, and garden parties) on Martha’s Vineyard.