A Positive Outcome is Not Enough

It’s not a novel idea. When deciding on an action or initiative, it’s insufficient to do a simple cost-benefit analysis. The implicit cost of missed opportunities is at play.

A recent NYT piece about handwriting in the classroom is a perfect example. The author describes various benefits of teaching children to handwrite, and voila, we should be convinced. I’m not convinced. Primary school years are formative, critical, and in short supply. What else could a child be taught in that time that would improve their lives immeasurably? It wouldn’t be very surprising if something other than handwriting imparted more.

When you look around, you start to notice that this hidden cost is constantly missing from all types of advocacy. In budgeting, what else could those dollars be spent on that does more good? In social activism, are there more important targets for the limited resource of public outcry?

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