5 min read ⌚
How Too Much of a Good Thing Leads to Disaster
Nothing is good when exaggerated.
This is the central concept that best selling author Bill Bonner expands into his book “Hormegeddon,” which we are going to summarize for you in this blog post.
Who Should Read “Hormegeddon”? And Why?
Bill Bonner studies “hormesis,” the instance when a little bit of something is beneficial, but too much of it can kill you.
He introduces his coinage “Hormegeddon” which means having “too much of a good thing in a public policy context.”
His compelling book covers many examples he notices such as governmental overreaching or health care problems.
About Bil Bonner
Bill Bonner, is a co-writer of several books, writes the daily financial newsletter Diary of a Rogue Economist and is the founder of Agora Publishing.
Did the title intrigue you?
It did intrigue us, that’s for sure.
“Hormegeddon” comes from “hormesis” which explains the things that are good in small quantities, but if you surpass that quantity, the excess can be really bad.
For example, you need to eat every day, but if you get too much food inside your body, you will get fat, and possibly even ill.
Sex, exercise, work – they are all “subject to the law of declining marginal utility.”
So, what is Hormegeddon?
Hormegeddon is “what happens when you have too much of a good thing in a public policy context.”
An example of such cases are the instances when governments apply “rational, smallscale problem-solving logic” to “inappropriately broad” situations, and as a result, create “public policy disasters.”
Modern society needs to have real information – in order to get feedback and learn from it.
However, “public information” cripples society by feeding it processed statements through mass media and advertising.
As a result, people see war and politics, good and bad guys as simple narratives, that they do not wish to solve, but just consume.
Large-scale plans usually fail because planners falsely believe they know what is best for their communities and understand their needs.
The problem with Hormegeddons reaches economists as well.
Classical economists patiently observed and then created their theories, while modern-day economists believe that economy is a science that tells them what to do at which moment, while it is not.
According to Bonner, contemporary economists are “able swindlers” and “accomplished charlatans.” They apply a “Simpleton’s Economic Model” that simplifies complex economic realities reducing them to numbers.
So, when an economist tells you how the world works – do not believe him.
Converting realities to numbers is a problem that pops up everywhere: in the consumer price index, the “average man” calculations, the GDP…
Numbers create an illusion that economy can be reduced to math, and that you can plan it that way.
The biggest problem is that modern economists believe they can measure quality, not just quantity. As a result, they feed us with information distorted information regarding the unemployment rate, inflation and so on.
Classical economists were wise since they knew their limits. They observed the world that surrounded them and sought to understand the underlying principles according to which the surroundings function. They thought of themselves as “natural or moral philosophers.”
Contemporary economists, on the other hand, believe they can run the economy better than the free market.
Another problem that society faces are governments and “leaders.”
Actually, the real issue lies in the people’s conception that they need more leaders, while they don’t.
Yes, there are times when leadership works, but it is on a smaller scale. When it comes to leading on a bigger scale, problems pile up.
Leaders waste people’s money and time, especially when they get so busy “leading” that they don’t understand the needs and wishes of their followers.
Leaders are the central figures in the concept of government. However, these leaders are those practicing “big-scale” leadership, and hence, it doesn’t work as smoothly as it is planned.
The biggest problem with governments is that its leaders do not live among the people they lead. As a result, they are usually unaware of the real wishes and needs their followers have.
If we add the lack of feedback to all of these issues, we will understand why governments are mostly dysfunctional.
Key Lessons from “Hormegeddon”
1. Ineffective Corrections
2. Not Enough Security
3. Health Care Hormegeddon
The free market enables people to learn from their mistakes. It punishes them for their wrong moves by making them lose money.
However, such feedback teaches people to take things easy and correct their future actions.
Government programs, on the other hand, do not enjoy the “blessing” of such feedback. They receive funding no matter their success and functionality.
Other than that, governments continually disrupt market attempts to correct their wrong actions.
Not Enough Security
Contrary to what you may believe, governments do not exist to make people more secure. In fact, they cannot.
However, this notion creates many problems. Why?
Because governments cannot create wealth – they can just redistribute it. So, when a government gives you state benefits, it always costs you.
The people who run the programs which are supposed to make you more secure, always take a cut.
The free market will cost you less, and do a far better job in securing you.
Health Care Hormegeddon
The health care system is yet another example of Hormegeddon.
Some activities like exercising, minding what you eat, and getting regular check-ups can be useful.
However, since in the modern world the government or insurance companies pay for medical care, doctors do not spend their patients’ money, so they refer the patients to specialists or do extensive tests all of which increases the costs of treatment.
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“Hormegeddon” QuotesWe understand the world by analogy, not by digits. Click To Tweet There is no faster path to disaster than enthusiastic leadership. Click To Tweet That’s what leadership is all about – solemn and pompous lying. Click To Tweet It is not because barbarism is evil that people turned away from it. On the contrary, it is because it is unprofitable. Click To Tweet Central planning can do a good job of imitating real progress, at least in the short run. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“Hormegeddon” is a bold and at times judgemental complaint against ideologies and lies which, according to Bonner have resulted in financial crises and governmental errors.
It is an intriguing book, in which Bonner does his best to develop his theory entirely.