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Monday, Aug. 26, 2019

What’s Complicated?


Some issues not that hard to understand

“You wouldn’t understand.” How many times have you heard that one?

Or, “it’s not that simple – it’s complicated.” But is it, really? The philosopher Confucius believed, “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” I think that’s mostly the true. I mean, things might be hard, but all in all, they are seldom that complicated.

So, it’s still somewhat confusing why Mayor Perkins decided recently to veto Councilwoman LeVette Fuller’s ordinance (requiring City Council approval of city expenditures of $500,000 or more), by saying “(m)any of the city’s high dollar contracts involve complex issues and terms that would require councilpersons to utilize city staff for comprehension and clarification, thus impeding city operations.”

Because what I heard (in that veto) was Mayor Perkins saying to the City Council (and the voters who elected them): “Y’all just wouldn’t understand – it’s complicated.”

Really? They wouldn’t understand because some on the City Council may have graduated from the College of Hard Knocks, and not Harvard Law? But that’s beside the point.

Instead of defending the status quo, or demeaning the intelligence of the City Council to possibly comprehend “high dollar contracts,” Mayor Perkins missed a “teachable moment” (as President Obama would say). A teachable moment to lead, and to ask instead, “How can I make these complex, high dollar contracts as easy as possible to understand for both the citizens and City Council alike?” And for an administration that campaigned on the promise of transparency at City Hall, and making sure everyone had a “seat at the table,” this would have made perfect sense.

But the truth is, most times when people say, “You wouldn’t understand,” it’s because they don’t necessarily want you to. “You wouldn’t understand” is often an excuse to avoid what needs to be done. Or when they say, “It’s complicated,” they often are hiding that they haven’t thought something all the way through in the first place.

Part of this is due to how we’re wired. You see, when your brain is trapped between two negatives – doing nothing and doing something painful – it will come up with ways to stay busy doing nothing. Yes, nothing. A confused mind says no. And one of the most common ways for it to do nothing is to complicate things.

Nancy Pelosi did that, with regards to the complicated 2,300-page Affordable Care Act, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” In other words, it’s so complicated, so voluminuous, don’t bother doing what really needs to be done – which is reading the bill before you vote on it. Another example was the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi. Here was a coordinated, premeditated terrorist attack by an Islamic militant group, but instead of explaining that simple truth, the Obama administration covered up the reality by complicating the matter with a cockamamie story that the attack was due to outrage over an obscure video (which “you wouldn’t understand”) and then lying to the families of those killed in the attack.

Perhaps this, too, might help explain why President Trump’s poll numbers continue to rise. Like the American people, he understands things aren’t so complicated after all. That relationships with North Korea or China or Iran aren’t that complicated. That securing the border isn’t that complicated. And he doesn’t pretend any of it is, even though decades of politicians in Washington have made everything from education to taxes to foreign policy as complicated as possible – and you see how well that’s turned out.

Mayor Perkins may explain vetoing an ordinance (that would have increased transparency at City Hall) because he doubts the City Council’s ability to comprehend complicated matters, but experience has shown that those who claim “it’s complicated” are really just making excuses.

It’s been said that “any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.” That’s what voters thought they were voting for last fall – and what they deserve.

After all, if we keep doing what we’ve been doing all these years, we’ll certainly keep getting what we’ve been getting all these years.

And thankfully, there’s nothing complicated about that at all.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman, attorney and author of “Bright Spots, Big Country, What Makes America Great.” He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by e-mail at louisavallone@mac.com, and on American Ground Radio at 101.7FM and 710 AM, weeknights from 6 - 7 p.m., and streaming live on keelnews.com.


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