Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Comprehensive": Cover For Central Planners

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Alter to Reason

Comprehensive legislation -- whether emanating from a city council or the US Congress -- is bound to be destructive.  The differences lie only in limits of hubris and the scale of harm. At the moment I'm thinking of the push for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, the recent fiasco of healthcare reform and proposed "grand bargains" to reshape the economy.   I believe the principle applies universally.

Incremental legislation, by contrast, is more targeted, manageable, easily understood, simple and transparent.  Its outcomes and costs are less difficult to predict. When mistakes are made they are easier to remedy.  On the other hand, incremental is harder than comprehensive.  Since incremental initiatives will be elements in a larger (comprehensive) scheme, they will require careful planning, sequencing, coordinating and prioritizing.  Once implemented and evaluated in action, an element may indicate the need to revise parts of the plan not yet launched.