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That’s why they do field trials….

September 25, 2010

I think it’s time to stop being astonished that deep intellectuals are unable to draw connections between data points from separate but related domains – if it weren’t somewhat plausible and tragically funny, TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory” wouldn’t be so popular. Working in high tech I face that show with a sense of  dread, hilarity and more than a fair share of rubber necking (I work with engineers all day, every day….)

The Economist:

No sane leader of a country would want businesspeople to think that he was against them, especially at a time when confidence is essential for the recovery.

From this perspective, Barack Obama already has a lot to answer for. A president who does so little to counter the idea that he dislikes business is, self-evidently, a worryingly negligent chief executive.

….Mr Obama’s life story, as depicted in his autobiography and on the campaign, was one of a man once mired in the sinful private sector (at a company subsequently bought by The Economist), who redeemed himself only by becoming a community organiser

From the WSJ:

Twenty months of Democratic business-bashing has not turned the electorate against entrepreneurs…Mike Connolly of the Club for Growth—…notes that voters realize all businesses, not just the Fortune 500, are hurt by Obama policies. “Small business is hugely popular. And when these guys start having to lay off people, it’s not chalked up to corporate greed,

Having worked with enough “top marquis brand-name MBA” graduates who were bright but couldn’t manage to draw a triangle when given 3 points numbered in sequential order when it came to strategic analysis, unfortunately I’m not surprised by the Obama administration.

Learning to keep a sharp eye out and to look for inter-relationships and dependencies – that’s the trick. Government is a system design question that requires ‘field trial’ experience instead of a series of unintegrated specialist domains run by designers of academic models who don’t know how anything else in the system works. I see this in my role in my day job – smart people can’t connect point A and point B, much less “rare earth metals are mined in China, might not want to piss them off if you want the green job thing to work out”

There’s an unverified urban legend about a mechanic who was Henry Ford’s right hand man – the assembly line went down, Ford was losing money, his normal mechanics couldn’t fix the machines and so they called in Ford’s mechanical whiz. The mechanical whiz fixed the assembly line in under 10 minutes and then billed Ford $10,000 (a huge sum). Ford complained the bill wasn’t specific enough for such a short amount of time and the bill was returned saying

“a $1 charge for making the fix, and $9,999 for knowing where to put the fix”

The problem with the advisors Obama has chosen is that they are like him – specialists from specialist domains, with no “field trial” experience. They don’t know where to tinker or how the tinkering impacts something else. And worse – they don’t get out of the bubble and rely on people who do, so the ‘assembly line’ remains in idle…

Cross posted at Cassy’s smokin hot commentary where the smoke alarm was NOT going off due to popcorn left in the microwave. I swear.


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