No one ever got fired buying IBM

That headline has only a tangential relationship to this blog, but I hope it got your attention. When I was rereading the previous post about TDM and how our betters seem to go for the big, expensive solution to all our problems, I got to thinking about all the big, expensive solutions and just how well they did.

Consider the high-speed rail line being sort of built here in California. Its price has been going up exponentially, the complexities have been legend, and the fact that its replacing a one-hour air flight with a three-hour train ride that will cost more than the flight, haven’t seemed to slowed its supporters one bit.

We spent billions putting a human on the moon, and then what. There’s a solar electricity generating plant near Las Vegas that has cost taxpayers billions, it takes natural gas to get it going, its killing birds by the hundreds, and we come to find out, there are clouds out there that block the sun.

Airbus decided to build that world’s largest passenger plane. Boeing decided not to. Airbus is considering cancelling the project, Boeing is building 787s like they are going out of style.

The list is endless. Notice that it wasn’t only in the public sector.

It’s the grand gesture. Its about creating a legacy. It’s about getting elected. It’s about ego. I’m sure there’s a Frenchman somewhere looking out his window as an A380 flies by and saying to himself “I did that.”

Did you ever notice when a new sewer goes in, there is always a big sign with the mayor and the local councilman taking credit? They have to be seen as doing something. After all, that’s what we put them there for, isn’t it, to do something.

As one of the Hunt Brothers was quoted as saying when they were cornering the silver market “A billion here, and a billion there, and pretty soon you are talking about real money.”

So JVH, what’s you point.

I guess the point is that must we always go for the big numbers, the grand gesture, the ‘definitive’ solution. Why can’t we think a project through? Consider all the ramifications. Then start off with baby steps. It works for kids, why not massive projects.


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