Long-term can mean shirking duties (Whipple)

As suggested in a recent editorial, short-term thinking can spawn bad decisions in both the business world and political realm. Consider the president’s push for a deal with Iran, which would defer Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons until after he leaves office instead of trying to stop it.

But a sense of urgency about getting distasteful things done is often essential to make progress, while plans to act (terminate wasteful programs, reform taxes, etc.) “when the time is right” may prove useless. Also, long-term thinking is hardly infallible. The manmade global warming theory remains unproven, for example, and many people aren’t convinced that we must switch to more expensive, less reliable energy sources to avert a planetary catastrophe.

All too often, the long-term thinking conceit has been used to justify giving vast authority to regulatory agencies that, like the water-hauling brooms in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” cannot be easily controlled once they get started. Witness the FCC’s current plan to abrogate a bipartisan understanding dating back 20-plus years and regulate the Internet in the name of “net neutrality.”

Ultimately, the real problem is not short-term thinking – it is misguided thinking likely to produce bad results. How are we to know what ideas or policies are misguided? That’s what political debate is for.

William Whipple III

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