Monday, March 22, 2010


Some people have a very difficult time making decisions. Others like to delay them - sometimes indefinitely, it seems. And others simply hold their noses (figuratively) and plunge in and hope that their decisions work out for the best. But therein lies a key issue with decisions. It is not the decisions themselves that are the issue but the consequences (and the related fear of) that cause the problems for people trying to make decisions. A cascading series of "what ifs" leads to a paralytic state whereby it becomes impossible to make an otherwise simple decision. Frankly, the concern is not so much for the decision itself as it is that the decision-maker is the one ultimately held accountable for the decision.

Taken at a political level in view of the recent passage of the health care "reform" legislation by the US Congress, the decision about what to do by various representatives was shaped by the potential consequences of this single vote. Democrats were particularly vexed at having to make a decision that could potentially make or break their legislative careers. For those on the far left, they were unhappy with voting for something they felt did not go far enough and feared that their supporters would drop them for not following through on their convictions. For those more toward the middle, there was concern that independents would drop them due to a concern among a majority of voters about the bill itself and its corollary costs and enlarged government implications. While the end result - with the assistance of a great deal of executive encouragement (or strong-arming, depending upon one's point of view) - speaks for itself, the final results of their respective decisions will be known further down the line. But the hesitancy of many of the final supporters to commit to a decision earlier was because they worried about the consequences of such a decision. Their subsequent rationalizations aside, many of those who voted in favor (and even against) this legislation would have preferred not to have been forced into making this decision at all. The fact that the possibility of "deeming" the bill to have been passed without an up and down vote was even pondered by the Democratic Congressional leadership (though it was finally submitted to a formal vote) speaks to the fear that many had of being held accountable for their decisions.

But this goes far beyond the realm of politics. Some people hesitate to get married, fearing what may happen if it turns out they are their intended ultimately are not compatible and having to deal with those consequences. Conversely, married people may push off a decision on getting a divorce for similar reasons - namely, that making the decision to get married in the first place was a bad decision. Even more simply, why purchase the car now when you can put the decision off and perhaps get a better deal later? Or suffer if you fail to take advantage of a deal now and a better one fails to materialize later? Or, perhaps at its most simple level - should I eat that ice cream now? Because if I do, I need to know who I can blame later because it's not my fault that I was tempted... The people who sold me the ice cream should have known better and they're responsible for my poor decision.

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