Environmental confusion

They keep coming back.

A proposition offered for debate:

Much of what’s wrong with American political discourse results from a simple error in sustainability analysis. The problem is that too much stuff — ideas, proposals, arguments, people — gets recycled when it really needs to be composted. (For all I know, the same may be true of management and commerce; I’m not as clear about academia, though the idea that There is No Truth does seem to keep coming back to haunt us under various labels.)

Here are some examples that spring to mind. Other examples are welcome and will be posted if I’m in the mood. (Oh, and speaking of lists that I promised to update: a reader reports having spotted a truly fine “ness” monster: “ineptness” for “ineptitude.”)

Items currently being recycled instead of being composted:

1. Nader for President.

2. “Soft on terrorism” (a recycled version of “soft on Communism”).

3. Don Rumsfeld.

4. “Deficits don’t matter” (recycled supply-side economics).

5. George Stephanoupoulos.

6. Reparations.

7. Al Sharpton.

8. Protectionism

9. American Imperialism.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com