How ‘That’s the way things ought to be’ and ‘I just can’t imagine that’ get us in trouble

I like this quote from Steve Jobs about school choice (from this Mark Perry blog post):

Jobs said that the main complaint against school choice is that schools would cater only to rich kids, and the poor kids would be “left to wallow together.” However, he said, “that’s like saying, well, all the car manufacturers are going to make BMWs and Mercedes and nobody’s going to make a $10,000 car.

A caller to a radio program I was listening to recently said he’d like to see universal health care, because he thinks the government is fairly efficient and he can see how it would be better than what we have now. (The host pointed out the Federal government is trillions in debt, so what does he mean by ‘efficient’?)

This, is a good example of ‘the way things ought to be’ bias. The caller can envision how a single payer system works, so he’s for it. Even though the radio host pointed out a compelling reason why the caller’s vision might be flawed.

Further, the caller simply can’t imagine how a freer market in health care could work, so he’s not for that.

He lacks the ability to recognize that his imagination should not be the limiter of what ‘we’ do and do not do. This is shared by many folks.

I’m fairly certain this caller could not imagine how more complex systems work, even something as mundane a food market.

He can wrap his brain around how a grocery store works.

Beyond that, I bet he never thinks about how many grocery stores and suppliers there are and the vast network of people it takes to make all those items available, everywhere.

If he did, he’d quickly realize that it’s hard to imagine how it all works, how all those people coordinate so he can enjoy high quality products, conveniently and have lots of choices, with very little disruption and how hundreds of millions of others enjoy the same luxury.

Then he might be a little more open to thinking that stuff that is beyond his imagination might actually work if he opened his mind to the idea that not everything that ‘ought to be’ needs to be within his frame of comprehension.

When I hear folks talk about a single payer health system, I think of a school cafeteria. Yes, it may not be terrible (though if it was, what choice do you have?)

That may sound better than some of the pain points we have the system now, or even had prior to Obamacare.

But, what folks like this caller don’t realize, is that they are trading away a potential system that could look a lot more like our food market, where you have grocery stores and restaurants that evolve rapidly to meet all our needs and many of our wants.

1 thought on “How ‘That’s the way things ought to be’ and ‘I just can’t imagine that’ get us in trouble

  1. Would it be OK if I cross-posted this article to There is no fee, I’m simply trying to add more content divxersity for our community and I liked what you wrote. I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. If “OK” please let me know via email.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s