Thursday, August 20, 2015

"How Systems Get Tired"

Richard Fernandez writes:
One of the arguments for the impossibility of an event is lack of previous failure. “It never failed before and thus can never fail ever”. The Washington Post’s editorial board invokes a variant of this logic to refute Donald Trump’s border policy, arguing there are so many illegal immigrants it is too expensive to deport them all, leaving no alternative but to accept more. ... The same argument is used to justify other policies. For example the Fed can continue to print trillions because it always has.

The contrary view is embodied in Stein’s Law, named after the economist Herbert Stein, who said ”if something cannot go on forever, it will stop”. Following Stein’s Law, neither unbridled illegal immigration nor money printing can continue indefinitely. Each of these projects has used up a margin and will eventually reach a point where something unprecedented — something which has never happened before — occurs.

Social engineers are members of the first school of thought and are typically surprised by unprecedented events viewing them as perverse. ...

By contrast, physical engineers — unlike their social counterparts — are not the slightest bit surprised when structures which have stood for a long time suddenly collapse. The phenomenon is known as materials fatigue. ...

However, social engineers have no concept of fatigue. ...

Load should follow load to build “momentum”. The fact that a structure has survived a hit it was never designed for only proves to social engineers that it can survive even more impositions. There is no concept in social engineering of an endurance limit. On the contrary, social engineering is based on the belief that human beings are almost infinitely malleable.

* * *
If you believe in fatigue it is fortunately possible to see it coming. What was formerly homogeneous material begins to form micro-cracks and break up along planes of movement. ...

Structural engineers would take the cracks as a warning that danger was nigh and recommend reinforcing the points of stress or lessening the load. But social engineers would draw the opposite conclusion. The pulverization of polity are not warnings but proofs that all is proceeding as planned. Instead of regarding a candidate like Trump as a sign of stress, they would see him as a signal to double down. There would be no thought to reducing the load. On the contrary they would interpret it as time to put pedal to the metal.

... One of the most interesting things about fatigue is that the actual failure can happen very quickly. One minute you can be printing all the money in the world and opening the floodgates to illegals without any adverse result. It’s like sailing under a blue sky. The next moment, disaster strikes, oh so unexpectedly.

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