Monday, September 10, 2012

New Theory

New to me, anyway.

I think people who read about events rather than participate in them are prone to wanting them regulated and controlled.  If you read (or watch or hear about) any industry or activity, what will be reported will be what is going wrong.  So you will just naturally want to make some kind of rule or set up some kind of consequence about that, so you can have done with it and move on.  Kids singing in the halls?  Thai immigrants being snubbed? Hot dogs too long for the buns?

More seriously, when NPR or the NYT, or even more conservative outlets like (I've heard) Fox News or WSJ, run a front page story about an industry, it's because someone cheated, or lost money, or broke laws, or fired a lot of people, or poisoned the wells or something.  If that's what you read, that's what you will think the world is, and you will want to fix it in similar ways each time:  make a rule so that Bernie Madoff or Google or the State of Indiana can't do that anymore.

The attitude comes from sampling current events without depth.  Seeking information in a certain way or receiving it in a certain way - via front page, or news hour, or other "selected bursts," may make one tend rather automatically to favor government intervention.  The medium is the message.


james said...

Good observation. If the model you use for understanding the situation is derived entirely from the over-simplified news report, it will seem to have a simple solution that only needs enforcement.

If your model of the wall says it is a blank surface, you will firmly believe that the most aesthetic/best fengshui location is the right place to put the knick-knack shelf. If you know where the studs are you may have a different idea.

Sam L. said...

As we used to say where once I worked: One Example Is A Trend (For Us).

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Yes and the second time you say "Time and time again..."

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a need for some people, if not most, to find fault in someone else, providing solace for their own shortcomings.
This 'critical thinking' is a natural human tendency, I would guess, but it does lead to easy acceptance of the first burst of information as sufficient to constitute 'a case' in the head.

karrde said...

I guess this explains the wide variety of "there ought to be a law" responses.

Come to think of it, a government agency issues fines to automotive companies who don't sell enough fuel-efficient cars. There is a complicated formula for generating the Corporate Average Fuel Economy of a manufacturer's sales, and a fine is levied if it isn't high enough.

You would think that if there was a market for more-efficient cars, the companies would build cars that are more efficient...

karrde said...

...and I feel like I left my comment half-done.

It appears that when gasoline got kind-of-expensive (late 1970s, and possibly similar to the prices we see now when adjusted for inflation), the President and Congress said "there ought to be a law".

Because news reports showed the pain that low-economy vehicles gave to their owners. But news reports didn't show the engineering/manufacturing hurdles necessary to produce high-fuel-economy cars.

So they wrote a law.

Possibly, the President and Congress were unaware of what foreign competition (who regularly built high-economy vehicles) could do to the American auto industry.

More likely, they wanted to be seen doing something. So they did something.

Politics driven by the news cycle...

Sam L. said...

Don't just stand there, do "something!" Say that to Congress or a regulatory agency , and something stupid is what you get.

Anonymous said... we become more exposed through electronic media to more superficial, bizarre and unmediated 'news' stories, the public appetite for ever more control over society (laws against children riding bikes, Bernie Madoff, supermarket trolleys with wonky wheels) will become exponential.

Whatever happened to the idea that life is a risk?