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Most of life is guess-work. Your elders never told you this. They made it seem like they had the answers to everything. For instance, the answer to uncomfortable feelings is alcohol, or food. Another for instance: when you misbehave, the answer is for Daddy to leave. Had your parents, teachers or other elders (including the people on TV), told you that most of life’s decisions are educated guesses, there would have been utter chaos. You would have realized your parents had no actual authority or knowledge, therefore you would have had no reason to listen or obey them. Then you would have become a homosexual. However your parents did manage to maintain the illusion that they knew what the hell they were doing, at least long enough to get you educated and out of the house. Then you realized you didn’t know what the hell you were doing, and you called your Dad, and said, “Hey Dad, what the hell am I supposed to do now?” And he said, ”Ha, ha, ha – jokes on you asshole, I don’t know either!” Then your mom tried to get on the other line, but accidentally clicked the call-waiting…
So now you are an adult, and you have to make adult decisions. Should you have kids? Probably not, what with your chronic depression and lupus. On the other hand, kids might fix that abusive marriage you’ve got going there. So kids it is! Should you go to law school? After all, the world doesn’t need more lawyers, and you’re not really interested in the law. On the other hand, you have no other ideas. Law school it is! Should you buy a house? Do you have a pulse and a credit score?! Of course you should buy a house! It’s like buying a cash machine that never empties (This blog was originally written in 2007)!
Particular human decision-making is, in reality, an emotional process. As David Hume said, “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.” That is, though logic and knowledge may inform our decisions, it is our desires and needs which ultimately make the decisions. This is why you kept dating that crazy person for six years, and managed to convince yourself it was a good idea. It should be noted that Hume was likely a closeted homosexual in the 18th century. Given that fact, his emotional side decided it was best to become an alcoholic.
Similarly, most public policy is a guessing-game, and like your parents, political leaders don’t want you to know this, because it would make you sad. For instance, economics is more philosophy than a science. Economic philosophies vary widely – and no one has been proven definitively correct. The whole of the economic policy of the U.S. is based on the philosophy that a giant, unregulated economy which is largely fueled by falsely perceived value, will keep going forever, making the world perfect and new. And, as long as we all continue to believe that, it will be so.
Of course, public policy making is devoid of particular emotional concerns. Though still a guessing game, it is a guessing game made by careful deliberation of what will do the most good for the most people. For instance, the invasion of Iraq was clearly a carefully considered decision; not the incredibly reckless, and possibly illegal, actions of a few men who just really had a hard-on for invading Iraq. The denial of gay-marriage is another example of good solid thinking. It’s not like we deny 7-10% of the population a basic human right just because we think being a homo is icky, right? It’s not like we refused to ratify the Kyoto Protocols because we were too lazy or greedy. No, we carefully looked at the opinions of every credible climatologist in the world, and then said, “You’re wrong.” So, rest easy fellow Americans. Although you might make irrational decisions (like buying a car you can’t afford), your government is a rational entity that makes good decisions (like allowing finance companies to give you a loan for that car you can’t afford).
Stay Strong America, and Await Further Instructions.