January 2, 2012

Doing Nothing

A couple of years ago I posted a little self-help piece on another blog. I'll reprint that piece in its entirety one of these days ... I know, be still my heart ... but for now I want to focus on one of the items on the list. Briefly, I posited that nine out of ten times, the best thing to do was nothing. The art was in recognizing that one time in ten when action was needed.

A corollary to this principle is that most of us can do nothing, so what you are aiming for are scenarios when you can get your way by doing nothing. It's hard to explain, but believe me it works. With teenagers, it may be the only thing that works.

The problem is that Rule Number One indicates that most of the time we have a hard time doing nothing. The sense is that leadership is defined by doing something, anything, otherwise you look passive. Bearing this in mind, I present this excerpt from the December 27, 2011, issue of the Washington Post:
Ironically, if Congress did nothing at that moment, the debt problem would largely disappear. The expiration of the Bush tax cuts and related provisions would bring in an additional $4 trillion over 10 years. The spending cuts would add savings of more than $1 trillion. Borrowing would slow and the debt would begin to fall as a percentage of the economy by the end of the decade, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. No one expects that to happen, however. Instead, policymakers will be under enormous pressure to come up with more palatable alternatives.
I guess the question to ask ourselves is how much bitter medicine are you willing to swallow to get better? The politicians keep telling us we can have our cake and eat it, too. You and I both know that ain't true. The above suggests that by doing what we all know is necessary, major tax hikes accompanied by major spending cuts, we go a long ways toward solving the debt problem ... a good thing to do assuming that is the correct problem to be solving here. But that's another matter.

Happy New Year, not that anyone believes it will be.

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