Business & Development

Opinion: Mixing business, government can be a recipe for disaster

Chili is a favorite meal when the air chills and the last of Autumn foliage is raked away. So too is fresh baked cake or pie. But mixing the ingredients of the two in the same pan just won’t cut it. They must be cooked separately in different pans and at different temperatures. Chili is great. So is cake. But, in different containers and cooked to their specific instructions.

Unfortunately, the clamoring to solve the pandemic crisis, reform the inequities in housing, correct imbalances in supply and demand, and do the right things in the face of climate change cannot all be done in the same kitchen. In the same pan. Or, by the same experts. But that’s what we seem to be trying to do; mix the ingredients of chili and cake in the same container. Won’t work …

Business and government often try to work the same way, though too many of us are intent on saving time and money by multitasking or combining the resources of one endeavor with those of another, then achieving unacceptable results. The excitement of chaos may be an addictive drug, but it needs a reliable counselor. Calm may be the order of the day with a planning process that makes sense and has enough depth of thought to avoid negative, unintended consequences. Rapid-fire decision making with the goal of immediate gratification has made shallow thinkers, and failures of too many of us.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time,” is not a legacy to admire.

Small towns hampered with worn-out infrastructure and current demands of technology-minded citizens get trapped in communities of another time. Short-sighted and poorly considered decision making, with insufficient resources to advance to the next-most desirable level is a very expensive way to operate. Costs of maintenance and repair on shiny new projects are forgotten in the design development phase all across the country. Debt on no longer useful facilities is a burden left for next generations, the future citizens who weren’t even born when the ribbon cutting was front-page news.

Greg Henderson is the founder and former publisher of the Southern Oregon Business Journal. You can reach him at [email protected].



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