What’s the Worst That Could Happen? How to Make a Choice.

by Pitt Griffin on July 29, 2015 · 0 comments

in Economics, Politics

“The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks” ― Christopher Hitchens.

Will an increase in the minimum wage lead to economic Armageddon and mass firings – or will it lift millions out of poverty? Many have an opinion and luckily there are ‘experts’ they can cite for support. That’s economics for you. And there are other quandaries.

Are you a Keynesian or a Monetarist? Is austerity or increased spending the route out of depressions?

It’s not just economics. Take climatology: Do you believe that global warming will decimate the human race – or not?

Or weight loss: Is cardio-exercise good for shedding the pounds or not?

Life is confusing and uncertain. So how should we make a choice in the face of this doubt? My suggestion is to do what brings the least bad result if you’re wrong – while considing who supports which position. The exception is when the science is overwhelmingly in favor of one side of the debate. Say evolution or vaccinations.

Let’s consider the minimum wage. If you increase it, then at least some more people will be earning a living wage. If you don’t, then everyone earning a poverty wage will still be earning a poverty wage. Who’s for it? Labor advocates. Who’s against it? Corporations. Which do you think is in the workers’ corner?

Right. So let’s raise the minimum wage.

While climatologists are almost unanimous in thinking that the Earth is warming and the warming is caused by human activity, there are different schools of thought on how bad the effect will be and how long the will take to kick in.

Corporate interests, and their political poodles, predictably warn that dealing with global warming will be an economic hardship.

So what to do?

If we decide to do nothing and we’re wrong lives will be uprooted and the economic dislocation will be catastrophic. If we decide to do something and we’re wrong, we will spend a fortune, but we will end up with a lot of spiffy new technology, whole new economic sectors, a cleaner place to live and many new jobs.

On the denier’s side are corporate slaves to the bottom line. On the other, scientists with no discernable ax to grind

The choice is clear – let’s act against global warming.

Cardio? If we’re wrong, we won’t lose weight – but we’ll be fitter. So let’s get on the treadmill.

Life is simpler if you worry less about whether you make the right or wrong choice, but instead calculate the effects of making the wrong choice.

Concept image of a lost and confused signpost against a blue cloudy sky.


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