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Making Choices: There are no Choices; only Tradeoffs

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“There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”

Thomas Sowell, A Conflict Of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles

In “A Conflict Of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles“, Thomas Sowell summed it up eloquently. Similarly, in today’s current events we are presented with Choices. Regardless of choices available, there are always costs and tradeoffs. No choice is perfect. Our objectives should be to maximize our positives while minimizing our negatives. Sounds reasonable and it is. Sounding reasonable doesn’t make it simple. Difficult choices are always that… Difficult and frequently gut-wrenching and that is why emotions run at breakneck intensities.

This year’s Presidential election options are clearly sub-par. I have yet to meet an individual that was jubilant about the options, no matter what political party they supported.

While discussing the current options along with why a voter may choose one candidate over the other with my son, I summarized rational reasons for selecting one candidate over another as follows:

Option 1: Donald Trump

Assume you are unhappy with the current state of our country’s direction. You feel we are presenting weakness instead of strength. You believe we are watering down our social fabric. You are tired of political leaders that, regardless of party affiliation, represent more of the same of larger government, increased regulations, more national control of local matters (e.g. schools, governmental lands, environmental impacts, etc.). That you believe that an outsider, any outsider will provide a shock to our system, regardless of how bad that shock may be, is better than any career politician that was groomed by one of machines, who are beholden to donors, who believe in incrementalism and more of the same, then you should cast your vote for Donald Trump.

Option 2: Hillary Clinton

Assume you believe that first and foremost, our President should be well trained; an experienced politician with friends and relationships both inside and outside of Washington. That you believe our President should demonstrate control over their emotions; that working within the system is better than working from outside; that stability in policies is better for the markets, our citizens, and our international relationships; that proven government leadership, even if imperfect, is better than no experience at all; that the country today is in better shape under its current leadership then when under the previous administration. That you believe there is a softer heart even at the risk of increasing the deficit and raising taxes. If you believe in the above, then you should vote for Hillary Clinton

Option 3: A Third Party

If you believe that we aren’t where we should be and that neither of the big two party candidates is a good choice, then you should consider one of the several third-party candidates. If you believe that even if your choice has a near zero probability of winning, that you would rather vote for a candidate that better represents your values, vision, and beliefs, then you should vote for a third party. If you believe that our two-party system is fundamentally broken and that until we become a multi-party political system that you and your fellow citizens will continue to be overlooked in order to serve the dollars that flow from lobbyists and vested interests, you should vote a third party candidate.

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Thomas Sowell understands the complexity of options and choices. That there are no fully correct or fully wrong choices. We merely have to select the best set of tradeoffs that lead us to the best chances for a world we prefer relative to the world that we have.

Election day is less than a month away. There will be more negative ads produced. More “disturbing” revelations from years ago and more innuendo about character, viewpoints, stupid things said, reminders of past mistakes, and screaming statements as to why one candidate is wrong so therefore vote for the other. Frankly, our current process is broken and we deserve better. We ultimately receive better when enough people vote their conscious, even if that means pulling the lever while holding one’s nose.

This post isn’t designed to persuade you to make any certain choice. Merely its design is to help frame how one might make their decision and feel good about it.

Now – Go enjoy your day.

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Dan Morris is a founder of VeraSage Institute, a think tank dedicated to promulgating and teaching Value Pricing, Customer Economics, and Human Capital Development to professionals and businesses around the world.

Dan presents frequently at national and regional conferences.

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