Thursday, March 15, 2007

Great Moments in Human History

Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.
--Thomas Sowell

I’ve got an idea:

Let’s build the biggest ship ever made. We’ll make it water tight, and we’ll separate it into compartments so that if it should spring a leak in one place, the rest of the compartments will keep it afloat. And because it cannot sink, we won’t need to take up as much space with useless life boats, so we can put more passengers on board. Thus by selling more tickets, we’ll be fabulously rich!
What could go wrong?

No, wait. Here’s an idea:

There’s this thing called the Internet.
You may have heard of it.
Dot-com, or Dot-net, or something like that.
The government and universities have been working on it for years, and it’s going to be all over the place, and people are going to be able to watch movies on their computer, and this thing called e-mail will replace the postage stamp, and anybody who’s anyone will all have things called web pages and blogs and you can buy stuff over the internet.

So we’ll just put a dot-something after our name, throw a website up, and people will drop money in our laps, and it’s all upside.
What could possibly go wrong?

No, I’ve got a better idea.

Let’s build a series of dikes and levies around the Mississippi River Delta so that we can expand the usable land in New Orleans. Everyone wants to live there, and we can keep the water out, and build quaint, French-flavored neighborhoods, and people will flock there to live and work and play, and our City will become the Crown Jewel of the Gulf Coast.
What could possibly go wrong?

Ooh—ooh—I’ve got it; I’ve got it:

You know those people that didn’t jump on board for that internet thing? Some of them had grandparents that came to this country on steamships. Some of them were living in New Orleans when that little storm hit.

They need places to live…and there are a lot of guys who did cash-in on that internet thing, they’re doing pretty well now, and they’re wanting to buy bigger places in California…spread all that money around. Let’s get these groups together and lend money to people to buy homes they really can’t afford. But we’ll do it with loans that offer really low rates at first.

Everyone will jump on board, and because there’s plenty of funding to go around, everyone’s going to be buying houses—even speculators who like to buy rental property. And home values are going to go up, so there’ll be lots of equity to tap into, and people will take out loans on their homes for new boats and cars and vacations, and it’s really going to create a positive ripple effect in the economy—you know, that trickle down thing.
I read about that on the Internet.
What could possibly go wrong?

Meanwhile, in a massive tent pitched upon the distant sands of the Middle East, a group of robed Bedouins and Sheiks gathered to contemplate their new-found wealth from deposits of oil located beneath their feet.
What to do? What to do?

“Hey, I’ve got an idea,” said one of the leaders.
“Let’s sell our oil to the Americans. They’re always creating and engineering new ways to do things, and seem pretty successful at it. Remember that D-Day thing a few years back? The French loved it.

"What could possibly go wrong?”

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