In the bestest of the bestest hands

There's an old saying that too many cooks spoil the broth. I have long believed that among the reasons for GM's failure has been that its products are seen as designed by committee. (The camel, of course, is a horse designed by committee.) Ford, OTOH, has suffered less from this, probably because it is still more reflective of the traditions of its founding patriarch. A Ford is still perceived as a Ford, while "a GM" could be almost anything.

The national economy is much more complicated than broth or an automotive manufacturer, yet people believe that somehow the government -- especially in the form of the president of the United States -- is in charge of it. Now more than ever.

If we assume for the sake of argument that the president is in charge, you wouldn't know it. In ann article titled "Obama's Economic Circle Keeps Tensions Simmering," the pro-Obama New York Times looks at the vicious bickering between the many economic "chefs" Obama has around him. But not to worry! According to David Axelrod, everything is OK. "At the end of the day!"

The disagreements are only natural, White House officials say. The issues are big, and so are the personalities, as Mr. Obama intended. He has said he wanted advisers who would be teammates as well as rivals, long on experience and brainpower and able to air all sides of an issue to help him decide.

"You can't assemble a group of really brilliant people, and deal with some of the most complex problems in our lifetimes and not have disagreements," said David Axelrod, Mr. Obama's senior political strategist who, with the White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, plays a big role in mediating among the economic advisers and helps shape the decisions.

The president "invites debate but he doesn't tolerate factionalism. And ultimately everybody on the economic team knows that at the end of the day we're going to hold hands and jump together," Mr. Axelrod added.

Which means we get one or two parts Roemer, one or two parts Summers, plus varying parts Bernanke, Goolsbee, and Geithner, following which they all hold hands. (I hope they're required to sing "Kumbaya" or something.)

President Obama is in charge, of course, and the pundits are left speculating about whether the economic fallout is a result of design, incompetence, or incompetence by design.

I'm wondering whether design by committee might be a factor.

Or would that be incompetence by committee?

posted by Eric on 06.08.09 at 10:06 AM


I had to meet with some Ford lawyers a couple months ago.
If they start making a Ranchero-style "car" on the new Mustang platform, you'll have me to thank for it.

Veeshir   ·  June 8, 2009 4:45 PM

As a Ranchero owner, I thank you just for floating the idea!

Eric Scheie   ·  June 8, 2009 6:20 PM

I have some experience with committees and their decisions,
A committee decision that is agreeable to all it must be so stupid that no one could support it as theirs, but in being that stupid no one owns it, therefore no one is blamed.

Hugh   ·  June 8, 2009 6:28 PM

They make those in Australia.

If you're fresh out of dead sheep, you'll be wanting some concrete blocks and sandbags in that cargo bed. Seriously.

comatus   ·  June 8, 2009 9:58 PM

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