A man wants his wife to get breast implants. His wife doesn’t want it.
They compromise, and she gets one implant.
Is this the best outcome?
No! It’s the worst possible outcome. Either of the two other outcomes—no implants or two—would be better than the compromise.
So why are Americans so infatuated with political compromise that leaves the country more lopsided?
Why Compromise Produce the Worst Outcome
The FBI’s top hostage negotiator provided my example, via Eric Barker’s fabulous blog, Barking Up The Wrong Tree. Chris Voss, the negotiator, said of compromise:
It’s really one of the worst things in disguise … So you’ve got to ask them open-ended questions to get them to see. You’ve got to use basic hostage negotiation skills to get them to hear it and sound it out, so that they begin to see that what they want might possibly be ridiculous…
Ridiculous, indeed. The sequester is an example. Compromise resulted in cutting defense–the thing the government is supposed to do–and leaving alone entitlements. Entitlement is what the the government’s not supposed to do.
Even Krugman believes we have to fix the entitlement nightmare, but as long as compromise trumps principle, we won’t.
Famous Compromises Ended In Horror
Political compromises usually produce the worst possible outcome. But that outcome isn’t realized for years.
Neville Chamberlain’s compromise with Hitler (The Treaty of Berlin) enslaved millions, prolonged the horrors of the concentration camps, extended Hitler’s reach across Europe, and subjected Chamberlain’s country to a brutal, prolonged bombing terror.
The Missouri Compromise turned human slavery in the US South from a family matter into a massive industry while hardening the positions of both abolitionists and slave-merchants. The result was the Civil War.
Dodd-Frank negotiations and compromises ended up regulating the life out of small financial firms and even non-finance small businesses, while protecting irresponsible and exploitative Wall Street firms from the consequences of their own misdeeds.
Yet the press and the President scream for more compromise in Washington.
I’ll take them seriously when they get half a boob job.