Friday, August 14, 2009

Act in haste, repent at leisure

"We're trapped in a web of short-termism, expecting quick answers to problems where there aren't easy answers." I found this astute observation in a Globe and Mail piece by Alison Loat.

Alison suggests that we all need to "give political leaders the opportunity and space to be truly effective" as they address problems that have been decades in the making.

But we're not geared that way any more, are we? We live in an on-demand, instant gratification, world. Marketers have conditioned us to go get whatever we want, when we want it. Easy credit means no waiting, and technology gets it into our hands lickety-split.

News media breathlessly pile onto the latest issue, frenzification in the pursuit of profits, promoting relatively minor glitches into crises demanding everyone's attention.

Google delivers the answer to any question at the click of a button. E-mail enables us to dash off a message and get a reply back within minutes. Fast food joints serve up an array of choices whenever, and wherever, the first hunger pangs strike. Craigslist and eBay help us dump our old stuff, and load up on new stuff right away.

So, we demand quick fixes for recession, climate change, hospital wait times, pandemics, international trade disputes, and a host of other complex problems. To some extent, pols set themselves up for this by promising that they can fix things if we just vote for them.

Reality is that things take time. Government is organized, properly, to move with due deliberation and sober consideration of long term consequences.

Boring, and sometimes frustrating, as that may be, to do otherwise will produce slap-dash legislation, flavour-of-the-month programs, and little real progress.

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