Last time I wrote about the breaking point of the EU. This time I am going to take a different perspective on the issues of sustainability. While I like the idea of the European Union and am convinced that one day we will be able to implement the whole idea 100% as a reality, it is clear that the execution phase today is rather faulty. One might argue that we have to try and iron out the bumps along the way and I would agree up to a certain point, the point of no return. That point is over-complexity.
One peculiar thing about humanity seems to be that we have a difficult time learning from our own mistakes. Having had an opportunity to study both EU and United States government apparatus, one thing is quite obvious – government (and “law”) is getting more complex than ever before. Is it really necessary to do so? In my opinion definitely not.
As few countries are preparing to “accede” to European Union they are forced to rewrite their laws, rules and regulations. Being an economist I always saw most aspects of the law more as an obstacle, rather than help. It is quite obvious that we are in need of certain laws to protect ourselves and define certain dealings between people. Recently I found the following law that is enforced in Italy: “It is illegal to die in the Italian village of Falciano del Massico”. Last time I checked death does not wait for someone to emigrate. Maybe there is a new law on death which I was not informed about. We can read much more about similar laws in daily newspapers. On the bright side, a daily dose of humor is rather healthy.
Now let us “zoom in”. Effects of laws and regulations on an individual are often severe. Since the beginning of our “modern” civilization we have had market places (called agoras, not new, shiny supermarkets). These are the places where organic food is sold – healthy stuff. Several months ago I was buying groceries and talking to a golden-aged woman, with clear marks that her hard life had left on her. Despite her age she had a certain vigor about her. She lamented how she will probably have to stop selling the groceries since “new rules and regulations are killing her”. That sparked my interested to discover what kind of laws are going to be passed. The results of my exploration were appalling. While I do believe science is our key to the future, there is such a thing as too much science. Instead of encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit, regulations are often suffocating it. Her production costs will be unsustainable. She is not going to be the only one out of the business, certainly.
We live in a complex time in history. Too complex. It is time to look back and change a few things, both on personal and national/international level. Change is the fundamental element of humanity. The best description of change in my opinion comes from the science fiction series Star Trek: “Resistance is futile”. With too many rules and regulations it is impossible to change our ways to be more effective as both a species and individuals. There are few visionaries who do seem to have grasped the concept perfectly and made world better place, two of my favorite being late Steve Jobs and IDEO’s David Kelley.
There is a process to designing simple things. The process is readily available for anyone who wants to implement it, government apparatus included. It does have one prerequisite: being open to the change.