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First Responders

Most emergencies have deep roots. Perhaps we should stop sowing bad seeds in the first place.

We like to honor first responders, as we should. Those who face immediate danger on our behalf are brave and have the stuff of heroes.

Most emergencies have deep roots. We rely on first responders to stop urgent problems that crop up, but we'd be wiser to nip them in the bud. Even better, we should stop sowing bad seeds in the first place.

Investing is hard. We eat a doughnut and spend money today, but regret it at the doctor or when the bill comes. Behavioral science tells us that we discount the future for the present. After all, we might die before we get old.

Infrastructure is our least urgent, most important investment. We must be adaptive, but our obsession with just-in-time serves to confuse larger growth. The U.S. Interstate Highway System and the Hoover Dam didn't happen 140 characters at a time. Neither did Amazon.com. Planning is not always sexy, but it's how big ideas happen.

Hoover Dam site
An inspection party near the proposed site of the Hoover Dam in the Black Canyon on the Colorado River.

We rely on first responders to save the day, just in time. We should celebrate their heroism, but we should also look for canaries in coal mines. What deeper problem resulted in that crime? What started that fire? What circumstance created that terrorist? Sadly, even first responders, while honored in name, often don't get what they deserve. It's easier to celebrate than to support.

Good wines and ideas need time to breathe. Expose the root of a problem, plant the right seeds, and be patient. Drama makes great stories but belies progress.

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