Here is one of my favorite pictures of how things could always be worse.
It reminds me a little of a possibly apocryphal story one of my professors told me about the construction of the early Tokamak reactors. It seemed someone had gotten a sign reversed so that while all of the support structure was constructed to harness a force going in one direction, the force actually went the opposite direction and the device flew apart. Needless to say, when we engineers work on something important or expensive there are always several of us checking the calculations for this very reason. But sh!t still happens.
Here is a song by Todd Rungren illustrating the principle of how little things can make a great difference. I remembered this from an appearance on Letterman’s show about 25 years ago or so. Below is a much tighter version of it than the one I saw that night. This one is performed with Darryl Hall. But there is a reason it is so tight… see if you can spot the giveaway.
It is a catchy enough tune after the intro, but what attracted me to it were the lyrics. Looking into them further they turn out to be a quote from Ben Franklin;
“For the want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”
The guy was a polymath, inventor, entrepreneur, founding father, ladies man, diplomat… and now we can add rock lyricist to his titles. Heck, I guess he was even a blogger if you count his pamphlets.
But to bring this post back around to current events, no discussion of failure would be complete without mentioning Obamacare. It is now facing a challenge that the drafters did not foresee in that many states refused to set up exchanges. It wasn’t just a drafting error as the provision in question was meant to extort the states into setting up exchanges by not providing for federal exchange subsidies. They expected the states to capitulate. They did not. That was one nail. And now that they see the peril the left is running around making arguments that help make the case for those challenging the law. While others are simply lying about what they said and why they said it. These are more nails… only in this case we hope they are coffin nails rather than ones for horseshoes.
Obamacare is like the monster in a bad horror movie. Every time you think you have killed it the judiciary applies the jumper cables and shocks it back to life, or Obama saws off one of its limbs and attaches a new one… all of this is completely lawless of course. But eventually one of these errors will be its demise. And it will likely be one that was considered insignificant at the time which snowballs in an avalanche of unintended consequences.