5.15.2013

Multi-Layered, Multi-Playered

A highlight of my first class at Penn was a lively discussion we had about some contemporary issues that everyone is buzzing about, namely: (1) education funding, (2) Marcellus Shale, and (3) casinos and stadiums as economic development drivers.  From the impassioned comments, groans, and facial expressions I could tell people had strong opinions about these topics, and so it was fascinating to explore together just how complex, multi-layered, and multi-playered these subjects are.

I was quick to note that in some countries, there isn't anything complex, multi-layered, and multi-playered about big things like this: one person or group just decides, and that's that.  Not so in our country, in which so many actors are involved in making any big decision about public resources, public land, or public policies, and each actor in turn is influenced by a myriad of factors (one of which, I hope, is quantitative analysis, the topic of my class!).

I will say this: however much we may complain at the dysfunction in the way we make big public decisions, I vastly prefer this way to another, more centralized way.  At the least, it makes for more interesting classroom discussion on a Saturday morning on a beautiful May day.
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