Crawl Across the Ocean

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Here's today's purported wisdom from CAtO (i.e. Me): People can devote resources to more than one thing. For example, they may decide to do more cooking for themselves, and also decide to do more reading. People can also support more than one concept or idea. For example, they might support measures to fight poverty, and also support electoral reform. From the above premises, It follows that people can devote resources to more than one thing they support. For example, they might write a donation to the united way to fight poverty, and write a letter to the editor at a newspaper arguing in favour of electoral reform.

All seems pretty obvious, no?

And while this is true for people , it is even more true for organizations, such as government, which can draw upon the resources of many people.

So what is my point?

My point is that if people are discussing whether or not women should be allowed to compete in ski-jumping at the Olympics, and you argue that we shouldn't even be discussing this until women are free from severe oppression in the Middle East, you are an idiot.

Similarly, if people are discussing fighting global warming, and you argue that we shouldn't do anything until we have solved Africa's governance problems and eradicted poverty there, you are also an idiot.

In general, when you argue that people shouldn't talk about x because x is a distraction from problem y, odds are you are an idiot. I say 'odds are', because there are some situations where things really are (somewhat) mutually exclusive, and a focus on one area really does prevent/limit action on another, and it's true that individual people don't have unlimited resources but cases where there is really a constraint in action are rare enough, in my opinion, that I feel comfortable making the general statements above.

People do not get together and identify the most pressing issue facing the world (as if they could even agree), devote all resources and efforts to solving it and then move on to the second most pressing problem and solve it and so on. Arguing that we need to solve problem Y before we solve problem X is just a recipe for getting nowhere on either. The world just doesn't work that way.


  • True, then again there are some cases in which this is a legitimate point - several years ago there was a private member's bill that came up for debate in the house of commons about adopting a symbol for the house of commons.

    Given that there is a limited amount of time for debate of private member's bills, it seems obvious that house of commons time devoted to discussing such a trivial issue (especially since the peace tower is such a widely recognized symbol) should be better spent elsewhere. Then again this is probably a point on which you'll agree with me.

    Though, I suppose there's an argument that any time spent actually discussing things in the house of commons is more beneficial then yelling back and forth in front of the cameras and accusing other people of looking at porn...

    By Anonymous V, at 9:28 PM  

  • Well for sure, nobody has infinite resources, and that includes the House of Commons. Although it's debatable whether having them do more or less is the preferred option given the current circumstances.

    By Blogger Declan, at 11:03 PM  

  • are absolutely right...the world doesn't work that way. The only problem is, most of the time, its the idiots who are in charge:(

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:17 PM  

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