Friday, November 13, 2009

Congressional Problems, Our Problems (Part 1)

About a week ago I wrote about how congressional obfuscation is going to cause problems with health care and elsewhere. Those obfuscations seem to be the work of a few congressional leaders and may be deliberately caused. However even beyond that, congress operates under some serious disadvantages. Those disadvantages also apply to much of what the rest of us do, though not to the extent that they apply to congress.

First, congress is under pressure to do something about any perceived problem. Sadly, our representatives will get lots of bad publicity if they refuse to act and almost no positive reaction if they fail to move, even if the proposed action is damaging to the country. That publicity swings elections, putting pressure on our representatives to do something, even if it's wrong. I posted an entire blog on this subject back on June 15, 2009. (

A second disadvantage is that congress by nature engages in stage one thinking. What that means is that they look only at the initially expected results and do not ask things like, “and then what?” Political pressure is always for the quick fix, Adverse results usually come later, on someone else’s watch. Congress will authorize bailout funds for all sorts of businesses but fails to ask, “Then what?” What will happen when the money is spent? What will the massive borrowing or taxation do to the economy?”

How about when congress voted to pressure banks to make mortgage loans more “equal opportunity” by loaning to minorities? Did the representatives ask, “What then? Will those marginal mortgages have a high default rate?” If they did they must not have cared about the answer, which was obvious. We now have economic problems caused in large part by the defaults on those marginal mortgages. Furthermore, those who borrowed and were forced into default have their credit damaged. They were harmed by the “help” congress gave them.

This of course applies also to our personal and work lives. It is easy to make a decision based only on the obvious. We can buy that TV or new car we want, even on credit. However it is more difficult to think about “what then?” What happens when the bills start coming in? What happens if our employer has to cut back and our income drops?

This also applies to our love lives. A friend was recently married after a rather rushed courtship. She is older than most and perhaps a bit set in her ways. Her husband likewise has previous life experiences that gave him certain expectations. My wife and I tried to warn her that she should look at things carefully, especially the “big three” marriage problems: children, money, and in-laws. She did not do that, and the marriage may not survive. She and her husband now have problems in all three of those areas. She could have asked herself (and her intended husband) things like, “How will we deal with your children? Any children we have? How will we act if your parents interfere with our family decisions? How will we manage our money?”

Some have the idea that love conquers all. Well nearly all marriages start with two people in love – but have you checked the divorce rate in this country? Stage one thinking contributes heavily to that problem. However if couples would just look a little deeper many would either not marry or would go into marriage with a better idea of how to stay happy with each other.

Stage one thinking is a recipe for trouble, in personal, work and national life.

To be continued next time with a couple of other such problems.

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Old Atlantic Lighthouse said...

Congress has too much power for its behavior. Term limits would help.

Hal Lillywhite said...

Term limits would help, but congress would have to cooperate to give us such limits. The real problem is the voters who demand all sorts of goodies from government but forget who pays for those goodies.