As we’re closing in another New Year, and at least the illusion of a clean slate, it seems as good a time as any to think about ways to improve ourselves. (Assuming, of course, that the Mayans and Nostradamus are wrong about the world ending around this time next year, making us all look silly.)
I have main two areas of focus for my self-improvement efforts (well, three, if you count trying to ignore doomsayers like the Mayans, Nostradamus, the Rapture guy, and the folks who are Occupying Wall Street all over the country).
The first is to improve my relationship with the digital devices in my life. We just had a rough patch with a new computer whose ports didn’t fit any of my existing devices (again), a broadband modem which took about 20 hours over three days to discover doesn’t work yet with Lion 10.7 (which my cellular company knew about but neglected to mention to me or their “helpline” folks), and a new iPhone that seems to require more set up than the launch of a new mutual fund. Still, I acknowledge my part in all this, and resolve to make a genuine effort to understand the needs of each new device, and then whole-heartedly strive to meet those needs.
Second, I resolve to more resolutely resist the temptation to follow our current cultural path to be either rabidly for, or violently against things, with no room for rational thought or debate. For instance, I have little doubt that the Iraq war would have gone a lot better in much shorter time if, rather than simply shouting “Yes, War!” or “No, Peace!” at each other, we would have had a public debate about exactly what we were going to do, how long it would take and how we would know when we accomplished our goals.
More closer to home on the financial front, we have another classic example of the House Republicans who are so “against regulations” that we can’t have a rational discussion of what changes are necessary to increase much needed investor protections. Meanwhile, the Washington Democrats are so “pro-regulation” they rammed Dodd-Frank into law, before we even identified the causes of the Market Meltdown, creating (among other things) new loan regulations that are so Draconian they are actually preventing new home loans from being made, thereby extending the housing crisis indefinitely.
Sure, some regulations needlessly hurt business while others are necessary consumer protections. Perhaps we all could resolve to take ourselves and our ideas a little less seriously, and intelligently sort out the very serious problems that confront us with a little less polarization—including distinguishing the regulations we really need from those that will have foreseeable “unintended consequences” that are worse than the problems we are trying to solve.
That’s my 2012 Kumbaya moment. I hope you have an extra Happy New Year, just in case the Mayans and Nostradamus have it right.