At some point, you've probably heard some version of the axiom that it's better to fail quickly and often, because then you learn a lot - about what not to do, and about what does work. One thing I appreciate about working in the world of technology is that there are lots of opportunities to fail, and there's very little room culturally to keep failing in the same way multiple times. You either learn your lesson and find ways to do it better the next time, or you're left behind.
I can't help but contrast this to today's news that AIG (American International Group), a for-profit corporation that is not doing well, will be given $30 billion in taxpayer dollars, after the $150 billion in taxpayer dollars they got last year apparently didn't do the trick.
U.S. taxpayers have involuntarily been made into long-term equity investors in a failing business venture. I don't think we have any reason to be confident that "just a little more money" is going to do the trick this time.
Please excuse me while I go throw up.
AIG has been called "too important to fail." I would like to see the full list of corporations and individuals who are Too Important to Fail, who are so above the natural benefits that come with experiencing failure in any system - software development, capitalism, or otherwise. I would like to know that, if it's not TOTAL FAILURE TO SUCCEED AT WHAT THEY DO, and then TOTAL FAILURE TO BE BAILED OUT WITH $150 BILLION, what are the criteria and warning signs that might make us say, "hmm, I guess we shouldn't keep investing in that approach, let's learn from that failure and move on" - ?
I know what some responses might be. "It's not that simple," or "this is an exceptional circumstance," or "you have no idea what you're talking about." I will call B.S. on all of those responses, because the U.S. government is still spending my money to make it happen, and no matter what their reasoning is, they better do a heck of a lot better making sense of it for the American people. Come on, I'm a smart guy, I've run a business with complicated finances, I can think about how complex systems work...explain it to me. Make me understand why we should do the same failing thing over and over again and expect it to get better. Give me one good reason to feel good about this.
Oh, there is that other axiom, isn't there? The overly-quoted one from Mr. Einstein. "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
There are other things to be up-in-arms about, and there are many other injustices happening even within the government solutions to the economic crisis. But today, I can't think of any other word for it: this is totally insane.