Saturday, November 19, 2011

Study lessons from Congress

At this very moment, I'm rushing to complete my law review student note for the deadline on Monday. This is a process that I've made immeasurably more difficult for myself, because I made some very poor choices a month ago when I was designing the topic. I quickly realized that a few of my conclusions were, as I had outlined them, untenable, but at the time I didn't really see a way to work out the kinks. So instead, I just took note of the trickiest issues so that I could work them out before the final deadline. Theoretically, time pressure at this later date would help me focus my mind and solve the problems I wasn't able or willing to solve at the time.

Does this sound like a horrible work strategy to you? Maybe it is. But I can at least take solace in the fact that no less an institution than the United States Congress adopted the exact same strategy. It, too, faced an irresolvable conundrum a few months ago. And it, too, decided that the best way to solve the problem was to wait a few months and raise the stakes. It too expected that, by doing so, it could avoid the obstacles that dogged it the first time around (in this case, in large part, Republican intransigence over taxes). And it too has reached the deadline, and discovered that its problems have not magically evaporated, but are exactly the same and as exactly as difficult as they had been before.

The Supercommittee technically hasn't failed yet, but its failure is starting to seem like a foregone conclusion. Then again, failure might have been a foregone conclusion from the very beginning. Which doesn't actually give me much solace at all.

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