Is It Time To Take Few Steps Back?

This quote from John Derbyshire sums it up when it comes to computer operating systems and government:

We have reached a point of diminishing returns in our public life. Hardly anything actually needs doing. We may in fact be past that point; not only does nothing much need doing, but we’d benefit if much of what has been done were to be undone. What useful work can I do with Windows 8 that I couldn’t do with XP?

While I am not quite of the same opinion as Derbyshire in regards to his point about Windows 8 versus XP – XP certainly had its share of problems and shortfalls – I do agree that changing over to a 'new' operating systems just because it's new is not always the best thing to do. Personally, I believe Windows 7 was far superior to XP, fixing a lot of the problems in XP and Vista, and I have found it to be quite stable.

Windows 8, on the other hand, was a huge mistake on Microsoft's part. It offered nothing other than an arcane and confusing user interface suited to tablets and not laptops or desktop computers. (I have written on this particular topic more than once so I won't go into it yet again.)

Changing a user interface just because someone thinks it should be changed without bothering to ask the potential users what they think is always a mistake. If Microsoft had bothered to ask users of Windows 7 what they thought of it then they never would have tried to port Windows 8 to laptops and desktops.

The same principle of leaving well enough alone also applies to politics and government.

Politicians make a living—a very grand living indeed at the higher levels—by saying there are things wrong that need fixing. Are there, though?

Bill Thompson, running for Mayor of New York City, told city voters recently that one of every four city schoolchildren goes to bed hungry each night. Setting aside the temptation to respond to this the way we used to when parents nagged us to eat our vegetables because little children were starving in India—“Name one!”—I really have to ask: Does Thompson believe this?

If I had to guess I'd say Thompson doesn't believe it, but it makes for a great talking point for his campaign. It sounds like it should be true, but with a little digging you'll find it is a huge exaggeration. It's as if politicians and bureaucrats have to come up with new ideas in order to justify their reasons for being, even if they are bad ideas. Therein lies the problem.

If there are no real problems left to solve, those in government will try to find new ones that “must be fixed”, even if the problem doesn't really exist, or worse, is such a small problem that only a very few people are affected. It gets blown out of proportion and millions, hundreds of millions, or billions of tax dollars are allocated to fix them. The real problem is that there are very few problems that still need fixing, and they don't need the guiding hand or the money of government to do so. Like Derbyshire has stated, maybe some of the things that have been done in the name of the people in need should be undone because they serve no useful purpose while eating up a lot of money we don't have.

Some of it comes down to various functions, regulations, or programs having reached the point of diminishing returns, where expanding them or providing additional funding gives little or nothing in return. If 99% of the problem has been solved with 'X' amount of dollars, it will take 10 'X' the number of dollars to take care of the remaining 0.9%, still leaving that last 0.1% undone. That last 0.1% will take 100 'X' the amount of money it took to take care of the first 99% of the problem to solve 0.09% of the remaining problem. It makes no sense. Unfortunately with some of the things government does we have gone past that point of diminishing returns. Maybe it's time to take a close, hard look at everything government does at the local, state, and federal level and cut back on those things that have passed that point or do away entirely with things that are redundant, obsolete, or otherwise perform no useful purpose except to ensure the employment of unneeded government bureaucrats.

At least it would be a good place to start.