Phase One . . . Phase Three

I had to laugh out loud when a friend sent me a link to the following and reminded me that he’d told me this weeks ago. Too bad I didn’t write about it then (I could have scooped the WSJ).

Anyway, here’s a piece of the piece:

Consider the 1998 “Gnomes” episode — possibly surpassing Milton Friedman’s “Free to Choose” as the classic defense of capitalism — in which the children of South Park, Colo., get a lesson in how not to run an enterprise from mysterious little men who go about stealing undergarments from the unsuspecting and collecting them in a huge underground storehouse.

What’s the big idea? The gnomes explain:

“Phase One: Collect underpants.

“Phase Two: ?

“Phase Three: Profit.”


This more or less sums up Mr. Obama’s speech last week on Guantanamo, in which the president explained how he intended to dispose of the remaining detainees after both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly against bringing them to the U.S.

The president’s plan can briefly be described as follows. Phase One: Order Guantanamo closed. Phase Two: ? Phase Three: Close Gitmo!

There’s more along the same lines, so let me agree with the writer (and my friend who first brought this to my attention) that the critical second phase is apparently missing in action (or inaction, as the case may be).

Unfortunately, many individuals who would consider themselves pragmatists are so focused the simple beginning and the fulfilling end that the messy middle is completely overlooked. In all fairness, I can easily do the same thing–particularly if I am desiring a specific thing so strongly that normal logic is not working very well.

The big issue is this: These are very large and complex issues at play and we are foolish to expect that everything is simply going to fall into place because we want it to. In fact, entropy is just about willing to warrant that things will fall apart–not together.