Monday, September 29, 2008

Quick reminder...

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Luca Pacioli, Franciscan monk and mathematician (picture) is known as the "Father of Accounting" for codifying double-entry accounting in his 1494 book, 'Summa de arithmetica, geometrica, proportioni et proportionalità.' So every accounting transaction has two sides - credits and debits.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sir Isaac Newton (picture: Godfrey Kneller 1698 portrait of Newton) came up with his laws of motion. The 3rd law of motion states that "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."

Robert K Merton (1910-2003), sociologist, popularized the notion of "unintended consequences." He listed five possible causes - ignorance, error, immediate interest (as opposed to long-term interest), basic values, and self-fulfilling prophecy....

OK, so where are we going with all of this? Well, it is good to keep these general concepts in mind while making decisions, something that our (U.S.) politicians are not very good at! Many of the decisions they make are regarding matters of great import (e.g. the recent proposed 'bailout'), yet they often act on minimal information and with a cavalier disregard of the intricacies of the matter at hand. As a result unintended consequences are rife... Small wonder when so many of our senators and representatives seem to specialize in ignorance, error, and immediate interest.