Friday, July 21, 2017

Nirvana Fallacies and the "Enemy of the Good"

As NIMBY preferences make inclusive communities less likely, nirvana fallacies also lessen the chances of new productive agglomeration, due to "one size fits all" infrastructure requirements. Stated another way: not only is it difficult to make room for more of us in the productive agglomeration we already have. It is costly and cumbersome, to establish new settings where additional productive agglomeration could occur.

Among other problems, nirvana fallacies don't consider the decades old reality of wage stagnation. Yet how much stagnation was truly necessary? Non tradable sector production reform, would have meant substantial real wage gains for all concerned. What's more, many aspects of production reform, should not have to be complicated - especially those which make it simpler for individuals to coordinate their lives in closer proximity to one another.

With production reform, millions would be able to embrace simple transportation options that could be designed for local community levels. Meanwhile, too much transportation dialogue centers around "perfect solutions" such as autonomous vehicles. Such a reality might also be imposed on communities which don't particularly want them. Worse, it might become difficult to build new, wage responsive communities, should all regions be expected to bear the infrastructure costs of autonomous transportation as the "perfect" solution.

Why are non tradable sectors so reluctant, to respond to the shifting wage distributions and lifestyle preferences of the present? Had these sectors been open to technological innovation all along, worries about wage stagnation would never have been necessary. Proactive measures would have resulted in real wage gains, which reduced the need for government revenue at the same time. Of the nirvana fallacy, Wikipedia wrote:
The nirvana fallacy is the informal fallacy of comparing actual things with unrealistic idealized alternatives...It can also refer to the tendency to assume that there is a perfect solution to a particular problem...By creating a false dichotomy that presents one option which is obviously advantageous - which at the same time being completely implausible - a person using the nirvana fallacy can attack any opposing idea because it is imperfect.
Doesn't the reality of real wage losses, especially given the consequent effects on city budgets, deserve a more practical approach? Nevertheless, cities become flummoxed when citizens take matters into their own hands. For example, Toronto residents had already experienced mishaps on a steep trail in a community park, before a citizen went ahead and built a $550 stairway. Since a stairway which met city standards would cost approximately $65,000, the privately provided stairway may be torn down.

In this instance, the city should have little difficulty funding a stairway built to bureaucracy code. But what happens when existing regulations make it difficult for populations whose income levels are better suited for less costly options? Also consider how Wikipedia describes perfect, as the enemy of the good:
A widely accepted interpretation of "The perfect is the enemy of the good" is that one might never complete a task if one has decided not to stop until it is perfect. Completing the project well is made impossible by striving to complete it perfectly. Closely related is the nirvana fallacy, in which people never even begin an important task because they feel reaching perfection is too hard.
Non tradable sectors are particularly exposed to both of these problems. While the human capital investment requirements for time based services of healthcare and education are affected by the "enemy of the good", physical infrastructure suffers from the nirvana fallacy. The "perfect as the enemy of the good" has also become a problem, for matching potential between employees and employers. When jobs dialogue is caught in the polarization of employee obligations versus employee costs, much of the underlying rationale for high reservation wage requirements - on the part of the potential employee - is missed. To what degree does the nirvana fallacy in present day infrastructure, contribute to one's personal high reservation wage?

The one size fits all "perfect" solutions of many a rule and regulation, leave little room for the incremental growth and ownership that would strengthen the hand of those with limited income. I have suggested time arbitrage as a form of incremental growth, which could make good use of skills as they are being developed.

Likewise, incremental ownership would be possible in time arbitrage settings, through the flexible arrangements of building components which can be reconfigured as lifestyle needs change. No one's "perfect" dream would have to be shattered, every time a personal commitment or investment doesn't work according to plan. At the very least, we can make room for flexibility at the margins, where millions await their own chance for full economic participation and productive lives.

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