Why ObamaCare is similar to it:
…the Affordable Care Act’s insurance market reforms have created a system prone to what Charles Perrow dubbed “Normal Accidents.” By “normal,” he didn’t mean “minor” — the lead exhibit was Three Mile Island. Rather, he meant something like “hard to avoid.” The system is both complex and tightly coupled: All the pieces are interdependent, so a failure in one part is apt to cascade throughout the market. This is not a system where you want to start pulling out one piece to see how well the rest can get along without it.
The administration clearly understood this — right up to the point where a major component failed. Now it’s apparently planning to keep the reactor running with as many pieces as possible in the hopes that none of it will unexpectedly blow up. This is not sound policy thinking, or even sound political thinking, and I think that all of us who care about keeping insurance available for ordinary Americans should try to talk them out of it — for their good, as well as our own.
Sound policy thinking is not their hallmark.
As an aside, Perrow’s book is excellent — I used it for doing case studies of various tightly-coupled complex disasters when I was doing contract work for S&MA at NASA HQ a few years ago.
[Update a couple minutes later]
The buck stops with Obama:
He’s not very competent, and like most people who aren’t very competent, he tends to hire people who are no more competent than he. As they say: First rate people hire first rate people. Second rate people hire third rate people.
Except he seems to be a third rater hiring fourth raters. And this was obvious to some of us in 2008, but not enough, then or four years later.
[Update a few minutes later]
Obama and Sebelius: The dog ate my homework:
The collapse of the Obamacare project over the first three weeks offers no such pathways away from responsibility. Obama and his team demanded that Congress pass the Affordable Care Act so that they could impose their own ideas of central-planning reform on the health-care industry, which makes up a sixth of the American economy.
It passed with no Republican votes, and thanks to its tax provisions, provides most of its own revenue streams. The Department of Health and Human Services has had 42 months to prepare for the rollout of the web exchange, the critical tool that would allow people to purchase mandated insurance policies under government supervision.
In short, the ACA was the Obama administration’s own bid to prove that activist, large-scale government was superior in innovation and competency. Instead, it has become a signature example of the lack of accountability, incompetence, and rank dishonesty that activist, large-scale government creates and protects. And that was just on performance. Despite the 42 months lead time and the outlay of $400 million, the web portal failed immediately, and two successive weekends of repair couldn’t make it work.
That’s actually the best news. One couldn’t have demonstrated Hayek’s thesis of the knowledge problem more spectacularly than this belly flop of a swan dive.
[Update a while later]
OK, if you don’t like the TMI analogy, how about the Titanic?
The Obama administration had three years to build Healthcare.gov, a website that is not fundamentally revolutionary when compared to the likes of Progressive.com or Amazon.com. Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare during a window when they controlled all power in Washington, and were more concerned about passing a health care law than with passing a good health care law. Most of them never bothered to read the law they passed. Many of them sold their votes for pork or empty promises. While the Titanic had little advance warning of the iceberg, the Obama administration was warned by stress tests months before the site’s launch that Healthcare.gov would crash. But they did not heed those warnings.
Similar unjustified arrogance and hubris was involved.