Friday, February 04, 2005

Aequanimitas Reloaded

Michigan's newly-elected US Representative, the Honorable John "Joe" Schwartz (bio), a surgeon, was interviewed regarding Social Security.  A snippet from the interview was on NPR yesterday.  He said something like this:
It depends on the actuarial analysis.  If the analysis shows that not much should be done, then not much should be done.
Mr. Schwartz is a Republican, and generally is regarded to be a moderate.  His medical training is very much in evidence here.  First find out exactly what is going on, then only do as much as you have to.  Don't go messing around with a complex system unless you have to.  You have to exercise restraint when you employ powerful interventions, because it is a lot easier to screw things up than to make things better.

It is unwise to base the magnitude of your intervention upon the magnitude of your emotional response to the problem.  It is tempting, when confronted with a problem that gets you all worked up, to want to rush in and do something big.  The principle of equanimity, however, is to act with prudent restraint.