Star Ford

Essays on lots of things since 1989.

“Never enough” syndrome

on 1999 April 20

I have noticed that Americans don’t know “enough” when they see it. For example, how good should the roads be? I was recently in a meeting where Albuquerque’s roads were said to be rated at mostly “fair” or “poor”. It seems that no matter how good the roads are, we’ll invent a rating system that will label them all fair to poor and give people something to complain about.

In medicine, no expenditure is considered too much, and every illness is considered a good candidate for more research and better treatment; yet at the same time there is consenus that the costs are too high. How much treatment is enough?

Education also suffers from the “never enough” syndrome. In another meeting, someone recently proposed that it be an official city goal that 100% of high school students should graduate and pursue a college education of some type. My question is why is education so inefficient that it takes fifteen years to teach someone what they need to enter the work force? And how could this person not see that some people are more academically inclined than others? The quest for academic equality just brings down the standards and makes people have to spend more years learning the same stuff. Taking “never enough” to the extreme, no matter when you stop going to school, it is considered “dropping out”.

Yet another example is the amount of personal space people want to have. Only the constraints of affordability keep people from living in ever-larger spaces. Public parks also suffer from never-ending size requirements. Most of them are empty most of the time, but we keep wanting more.

And finally, “funding.” People like to say things like “in this era of limited resources…” (as opposed to eras where they had unlimited resources!?) It is commonly said that (for all X) there is not enough funding for X. Why even bother to say this?

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