Tuesday, March 21, 2006

What makes a decision good?

And I know some would like me to change, but you can't be a good decision maker if you're trying to please people. You've got to stand on what you believe. That's what you've got to do, if you're going to make decisions that are solid and sound. President Bush, 3/10/2006


I'm telling you what's on my mind. And what's on my mind is winning the war on terror. And I understand war creates concerns, Jim. Nobody likes war. It creates a sense of -- of uncertainty in the country. The person you talked to in Cleveland is uncertain about our ability to go forward. She's uncertain about whether or not we can succeed, and I understand that. War creates trauma, particularly when you're fighting an enemy that doesn't fight soldier-to-soldier, they fight by using IEDs to kill innocent people. That's what they use. That's the tool they use. And it creates a sense of concern amongst our people. And that makes sense, and I know that.

And one of the reasons why it's important for me to continue to speak out and explain why we have a strategy for victory, why we can succeed. And I'm going to say it again, if I didn't believe we could succeed, I wouldn't be there. I wouldn't put those kids there. I meet with too many families who's lost a loved one to not be able to look them in the eye and say, we're doing the right thing. And we are doing the right thing. A democracy in Iraq is going to affect the neighborhood. A democracy in Iraq is going to inspire reformers in a part of the world that is desperate for reformation.

Q Will there come a day -- and I'm not asking you when, not asking for a timetable -- will there come a day when there will be no more American forces in Iraq?

THE PRESIDENT: That, of course, is an objective, and that will be decided by future Presidents and future governments of Iraq. President Bush 3/21/2006

Iraqis think US in their nation to stay AP

What makes a decision a good one? Is it, as the President argues, a function of consistency with previously held beliefs, or is it, as Jesus preached and William James cast as the Philosophy of Pragmatism, in the effects-good fruit coming from good trees and vice versa?

As most long time readers know, I bought into the long Gold trade right after 9/11. As I rank decisions relative to their effects, what James also referred to as their "cash value", I qualify the choice as good so far.

If, instead of doubling since that time, the price of Gold had been cut in half, I would not qualify the decision as good. I would be wondering what went wrong, and not for the first time.

Admittedly, there were many periods of doubt in the early going. Although I have been trading for decades, the ultimate test in that field of endeavor comes whenever you put a position on-when you see if your sense of the future will manifest. I find it a humbling experience mainly because I am keenly aware that my sense of the world is not the world. I have made many mistakes in the past, and been quite sure of myself while making them.

Fortunately, as I wrote, so far, so good. The causal forces I assumed would be working, seem to be working. The price continues to rise. It could, of course, all go horribly wrong which is why I keep reading the news and checking to see if the theories on which I based my decision are still valid.

Interestingly, I see that Ben Bernanke, in a speech last night expressed similar sentiments when dealing with ambiguous situations and in my view the future is always indeterminate until it unfolds.

Given this reality, policymakers are well advised to follow two principles familiar to navigators throughout the ages: First, determine your position frequently. Second, use as many guides or landmarks as are available.

In other words, if you can't know how good your initial decision is when you are making it, at least be willing to check its effects often so as to reset course when needed. I agree. Would that such thinking was evident elsewhere in Washington.


I'm working on a longer polemic on neo-Hegelianism, such as Fukuyama's End of History and its variants which so infuses the minds of the Neo-Cons with their deterministic dreams as opposed to my own ambiguous ones. Hopefully I'll get it up on Thursday.

Tomorrow I'm playing hockey in the morning and meeting a long time reader for lunch so tomorrow's output will be minimal if at all.