A Simple Observation about Simplicity

I am seeing people on my Facebook and Google+ feeds (amongst other places) making assertions about how the solutions to our problems are “simple.”

“It’s simple,” they will say, “just cut this and that and that other thing and you’re done!”

The problem of course, is that if governing were that simple we wouldn’t have a bunch of problems that seem intractable, we would instead have a bunch of solutions.

Now, granted, if one was absolute dictator, perhaps some of these solutions would be, in fact, simple to execute (although I would note that history demonstrates that being the absolute dictator is rarely what it is cracked up to be and even the fiercest of authoritarians still have to deal with politics and the basic forces of economics).

And, as I love to say about absolute dictator jobs:  they’re great and all, but they are hard to come by.

(Ok, rant/pontificating over for now…)

FILED UNDER: Political Theory, US Politics, ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Sean Paul Kelley says:

    You confuse simplicity with ease. Many of the solutions are simple, often commonsensical, but they are in no way easy to come to.

  2. An Interested Party says:

    If it were that simple, the people who are calling for all these cuts would name exactly what they would cut and how that could be done, with so many of the things that could be cut having such strong constituencies…instead, we hear empty rhetoric about closing the Department of Education or ending all foreign aid, as if doing either of those things would even make a dent in the budget…

  3. “There is always an easy solution to every human problem–neat, plausible, and wrong.” — H. L. Mencken

  4. gVOR08 says:

    There are, by way of example, simple things we can do to create jobs. However, they also produce things like spending, taxes, and inflation that rich people hate, so we won’t do them. As a society we are either/both too dumb or too cheap to fix our economy.

    And the irony is that a rising tide really does lift all boats. If rich people would allow us to do the right things, they would also get richer.