Who is throwing dead cats in the reality machine?

I just noticed the “Good News” category and felt drawn to post something in it.

Let’s see: the economy is liable to fall off a cliff if we don’t enact desperate, expensive measures – that may actually aggravate the situation.

Our foreign policy is unraveling from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas, and North Korea is back in the nuclear bomb business.

Both candidates of one of our two political parties, each in his and her own way, have passed from error-prone to ignorant to unprincipled to scary to something unprecedented in my lifetime: general objects of widespread – and deserved, God help us – ridicule. Not the occasional targets of good-humored jokes and a daily poke from Tom Toles: objects of widespread ridicule, and for their essential qualities, not an occasional pratfall. It’s no laughing matter, and no victory. Democrats can’t be good Democrats without good Republicans, and a one-party system is bad news no matter which party it is.

The government is rudderless and the executive branch is running along behind events, irrelevant and ignored, figuring out how to win the Congressional elections of 2006. No grownups are available before late January to step in before things get really out of hand. Of course it’s unthinkable that the US could “turn to David Petraeus in a time of national emergency”, and yet for an instant there, I thought it.

Events daily upstage the Onion.

Oh yeah, the good news I’m setting you up for: You can ease off worrying about all of the above: it’s all a lot less important in the grand scheme of things than you thought it was last week.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.