About Untangling the USA

The opening scene of this narrative describes a playoff game between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders, and the obscure NFL “tuck rule” that favored Tom Brady’s team. Football, alongside baseball, is one of our favorite pastimes. The rest of the world watches soccer, a much simpler game with a huge following – a billion people watch a World Cup final. But we enjoy our sports and their complicated rules; it is like a puzzle to be solved. This is fun and harmless. However, complexity brings much more adverse consequences in other areas. If our financial security or health is at stake, complexity may end-up costing us a lot. This is a lot less fun, and potentially harmful. The book explores the costs we all pay for the complexity in our socio-economic system in health care, energy and electricity, finance, taxation, laws and regulations, and technology.

Yet complexity is not in our DNA. Our Constitution is legendary in its brevity and simplicity of purpose; our early inventors thrived to make our world simpler and easier to live in; and we won the Cold War because our market-based approach to economics was much more effective than central planning complexity. Conversely, many of our current policy failures are due to their complicated nature. Increased political polarization has led us away from simple and practical solutions. In the private sector, the increased roles of finance and globalization have led to many arrangements benefiting the few at the expense of the many. And the private and public sector cannot succeed in untangling themselves, creating collages of complex interactions.

It is imperative that America seeks simple solutions to our current issues. Otherwise we are condemned to a future of declining economic competitiveness, increased inequality, and erosion of the social fabric of our country.

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