Nov
24
2013

“Failure is ALWAYS an option*.” #obamacare

A free hint to my fellow liberal arts majors: outside of our own, rather narrow, academic disciplines, it really doesn’t matter how hard you wish for something. You’re not gonna get it that way:

The idea that “failure is not an option” is a fantasy version of how non-engineers should motivate engineers. That sentiment was invented by a screenwriter, riffing on an after-the-fact observation about Apollo 13; no one said it at the time. (If you ever say it, wash your mouth out with soap. If anyone ever says it to you, run.) Even NASA’s vaunted moonshot, so often referred to as the best of government innovation, tested with dozens of unmanned missions first, several of which failed outright.

Failure is always an option. Engineers work as hard as they do because they understand the risk of failure. And for anything it might have meant in its screenplay version, here that sentiment means the opposite; the unnamed executives were saying “Addressing the possibility of failure is not an option.”

This is in reference to – Shock! Surprise! – Obamacare, but the principle applies to pretty much everything else, too.  Including, truth be told, situations inside the aforementioned rather narrow academic disciplines; it’s just that the stuff that doesn’t rely on math can sometimes be finessed with sufficient group hallucinating.  It is merely the administration’s basic problem that good health care policy relies on math.

Read the whole thing, of course. And marvel at just how different Barack Obama is not from his predecessors when it comes to technology issues. This in itself would be a pretty good argument against technocracy, except that everybody sensible abandoned that theory back in the Thirties anyway…

Moe Lane (crosspost)

*Amusingly, when I saw this quoted on Instapundit my instinctive response to the phrase “failure is not an option” was the title of this post.  Then I read further and saw the exact same response.

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