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August 28, 2008

Simple v. Complicated

Joan Marie Aquilino

I read an article the other day and had to reread it several times. I’m still not sure I got it all. The author seemed to think solutions can't be simple but rather must follow a long, convoluted process of open, supposedly thoughtful, honest and sometimes meandering directions. Many times the long way around the block just confuses and gives more opportunities for false information to funnel through.


I wasn’t expecting the story about a favorite teacher and how he stayed on track, focused, and expecting the same from his students. The favorite teacher held them accountable and – if they fell short – there were consequences.


I was right on board with that, cheering on those traits, as was the writer. But, as soon as I bought into that line of logic, the direction went from simply being good to it being anything but. I must admit I lost the connection; but I read on thinking it would eventually make sense to me.


The piece then moved into Ronald Reagan's easy, simple solutions and then went on to relate that to Sen. John McCain's sound bite, simple solutions for things such as immigration and oil prices. It then went on to point out the thoughtful, nuanced approaches to our problems by Sen. Barack Obama.


I don't remember how or where Senator Obama’s thoughtful "solutions" to anything of substance has been explained. We hear words, not solutions. We hear about change; but change for the sake of change without direction is neither thoughtful nor productive, it's outright dangerous.


In my experience sometimes those who make things appear simple are those who are experienced and expert at what they do. I'll use an example from the Olympics to get my point across. Michael Phelps made swimming look like the simplest feat in the world. It's anything but. It took him a lifetime of hard work and daily practice to make it "appear" easy and simple. His easy is our difficult, long process that may never get the same results.


We are told by the writer that his teacher told him: "Beware of leaders who try to provide simple solutions to complex problems." To me as a conservative, a problem can have a very simple solution; but – to a liberal – simple just gets in the way of solutions.


Let’s break this down a bit. Locally we have the sound bite king himself – Commissioner Lennie Thompson. Then we have the prince of continuous gab, Commissioner Kai Hagen. Two extremes. Which do you prefer?


Personally I'll go for the occasional bite and humor of Commissioner Charles Jenkins, with the full but quick explanation attached, or the fact-laden, concise explanations of Commissioner Jan Gardner, normally lacking the bites. I'll have to say the looks on her face of late are speaking volumes. Maybe that's her bite. Whatever it is, it's working.


Ask Senator Obama a question outside his prepared talking points and you'll get complicated talk, not so much thoughtful as it is full of words until the bitter end when you realize no answer was given.


Try the abortion question. I've never experienced a response quite like that one and he said nothing. Ask a question of Senator McCain and you'll get an answer even if it's one saying he doesn't know. How many houses he owns? Ones he owns himself, with his wife, ones his wife owns, maybe they bought for their children, who the heck knows.


Now, if you asked how he obtained them, well, you might be asking a somewhat worthy question. Ask Senator Obama how he obtained his single home. I'm sure you'd get another non-answer. There is a bit of an age difference and I'd hope that by the time Senator Obama reaches Senator McCain's age, those ever present student loans will no longer exist. Then maybe he will be able to afford another house or two, maybe even a vacation property. Even my own parents owned one house in their 40’s, but ended up with three properties or more in their 70's.


Some problems are simple. Why try to make them complicated? We have too many illegal immigrants in this county and they are draining our resources. Do something. If that means building a fence, then do it. Simple solution.


We have escalating prices on oil and we are not lacking oil. Do something. Drill. Pretty simple solution. But throw in politicians and all of a sudden it's billions of dollars spent on studies; and then more studies to study the study; and 20 years later, we are told we haven't had a thorough enough process and need to start again.


I do agree when it was asked what makes a politician patriotic. The response was “it's not a pin on a lapel.” No argument there. I can tell a politician is patriotic by the words coming from his mouth, by the lives of those with whom he associates; and last, but not least, by the actions and the life he lives.


Do I need to point out with whom Senator Obama hangs out, then when busted on it gives a thoughtful lengthy speech on why it isn't what it appears to be and the excuses that always follow. He is a seasoned expert with lots of experience in this field, the field of backpedaling.


I also agree that as tempting as it might be to try to solve our problems just by passing new laws, it doesn't work. I'm not for passing laws willy nilly. This is something that needs to be fully vetted and done with the utmost respect and consideration. We are getting to the point where this generation won't be able to make personal choices because the government already mandates or prevents it through legislation.


What is our own governor doing?  Please show me how this governor isn't using his political power to simply bully this state. Do you think you'll ever see any money in Frederick for much needed road help while he's in office? Think again, if you hesitated at all on that answer.


No, he doesn't need Frederick; therefore why waste money on us. He'd rather take our tax money and pour it into helping illegal immigrants who cost us so much we can't provide for our own. Martin O’Malley provided a million plus dollars to Casa de Maryland to do what? Solve the immigration problems? No! It was to encourage. Senator Obama has a simple solution also. Ignore it. So, I am agreeing again, that all simple solutions are not the correct ones.


The simple solutions to all these problems is to think – and seriously think – about what is happening locally and nationally and vote for something more than complicated, pretty words.


So, after all this confusing back and forth between simple and complicated, I hope you came away with the same answer I did. Not everything can be solved with a simple answer, nor does it all have to go through a complicated process.


…’til next time…



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