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How many times during this (or any) campaign have you heard a politician or partisan say “We know what we have to do”? He or she means, of course, that his or her candidate possesses the philosopher’s stone and will, if elected, turn base metal into gold.

Let’s face it: if anyone knew what we have to do, it would have been done by now. There would surely be examples in the history of the last two or three thousand years. I can only think of a few reasons why not:

  1. It is an absolute breakthrough, on the order of calculus or quantum mechanics. (Which of our politicians do we really think is that deep a thinker?)
  2. It is so politically unpalatable that nobody could get it implemented. (That covers a lot of ground.)
  3. “We” really don’t know what we have to do. (There are a lot of smart people out there, and for some reason they don’t all agree on “what” we have to do.)

Personally, I’m going with a 50/50 split between options 2 and 3.