Sunday, July 16, 2017

Magic Bullets

 Wouldn't it be great if there were Magic Bullets? But there aren't, and believing in them is a sure way to end up miserable.
What do I mean by Magic Bullets?  These are basically simple answers to complex problems, that people want to believe in, even when they are proven to be false again and again.  The term stems from the idea that a single bullet can magically hit its target the first time, often without aiming.  It has come to mean something that cures everything with one simple technique - often without much effort required.

Quack doctors will push magic cures for serious diseases like cancer and fleece patients for millions of dollars for things like laetrile.  Not only are they stealing money from their patients, they are offering a cruel hoax of a cure,which of course does not work.

But desperate people want to believe.  Not only that, people want to believe there are simple solutions to all complex problems.  That one pill or one drug or technique or secret can miraculously cure everything all at once, without effort.

Or take weight loss.  Losing weight means having to exercise more and eating less, both things which are tedious and difficult and take a long time to see any results.  People prefer to take a magic pill or eat a magic food or do one thing that would cause them to lose weight without effort.  And nobody has ever gone broke selling such cockamamie schemes to the public.

You even see this in auto repair.  People sell a magic mystery oil or fluid or gasoline additive or fuel line magnet and promise that it will make their car run better and fix all of the chronic problems their car may have.  But a car that is blowing oil and that has a burnt valve isn't going to be fixed with some sort of gasoline additive.  Life just isn't that simple.

In politics, the same is true.  Both sides of the political spectrum are convinced that simple one-size-fits-all answers will solve all of our problems miraculously.  If only we would cut taxes or enact socialist policies our economy and our woes would suddenly and miraculously be cured overnight . All it takes is a simple solution - flat taxes or tax the rich take your pick, but of course neither would work.  Balancing the budget means protracted negotiations, difficult choices, and sacrifice, something no one wants to do.

In finances we see the same thing.  People want a quick and easy solution not only to solve their debt problems but also to become fantastically rich overnight.  And the world is full of people selling these simple solutions that never work.  Get-out-of-debt companies promise Magic Bullets to erase your debt overnight, but instead they actually add to your debts and woes. Other sell investment schemes guaranteed to make you a millionaire, but actually they just make you a little more broke.

Believing in Magic Bullets is what often gets people into trouble in the first place.  If there is a Magic Bullet in life it is this: don't believe in Magic Bullets.