This morning Rick linked to what must be the first positive editorial about the economy I’ve read in a long time. Paul Krugman basically says we’re still in bad shape, but we’ve “backed up several paces from the edge of the abyss.”
At the end of Rick’s short entry, he wrote this about the role of government and the lack of credit when something actually goes right:
Also, by the way, remember acid rain? The government totally got on that and fixed that. Someone mentioned that on the Daily Show last week and I thought “huh. oh yeah. that went away.” We should like make holidays or something when the government fixes something, instead of, you know, forgetting completely about it, only to go on to bitch about the next problem.
Immediately I was reminded of a quote from The Black Swan that I actually blogged about almost two years ago (seeing blog entries written from 2007 and realizing it was two years ago still surprises me). As I explained in the post, the quote is from “a thought experiment that imagines a politician who managed to get a law passed prior to September 11th, 2001 that required all airplanes to have bulletproof locked doors to the cockpit. Taleb goes on to explain:”
The person who imposed locks on cockpit doors gets no statuses in public squares, not so much as a quick mention of his contribution in his obituary. “Joe Smith, who helped avoid the disaster of 9/11, died of complications of liver disease.” Seeing how superfluous his measure was, and how it squandered resources, the public, with great help from airline pilots, might well boot him out of office . . .
Now consider again the events of 9/11. In their aftermath, who got the recognition? Those you saw in the media, on television performing heroic acts, and those whom you saw trying to give you the impression that they were performing heroic acts.
No real point here other than to say when you act to avoid a problem it is incredibly unlikely you’ll ever receive the credit you deserve since no one can ever know how much you really helped. It’s an interesting conundrum.