You probably thought this was going to be a post about our dysfunctional political system.
You can relax, it’s not.
Voltaire’s quote has got a lot of mileage lately, mostly by proponents of Health Care Reform.
The original quote in French is “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien.”, from Voltaire’s Dictionnaire Philosophique (1764) Literally translated as “The best is the enemy of good.”, but is more commonly cited as “The perfect is the enemy of the good.”
In other words, pursuing the “best” solution may end up doing less actual good than accepting a solution that, while not perfect, is effective. One could also infer that the best makes that which is good seem to be worth less than it is.
So it’s always inspiring to find a nice, simple, example of real people not letting perfection get in the way of their actions.
Case in point, we have a report in the Wall Street Journal that Bernie Madoff was “physically assaulted by another inmate in December, according to three people familiar with the matter”. Being a reputable news outlet the WSJ article takes pains to gather multiple sources and attempts to disect the reasons behind the beating. [I prefer to think of the incident as a beating as opposed to a physical assault.]
Mr. Madoff was treated for a broken nose, fractured ribs and cuts to his head and face, according to a felon currently at Butner serving time on drug charges who was familiar with his condition at the time.
In any case it never becomes quite clear why the assailant attacked Mr. Madoff, although several theories are offered.
My own theory is that the assailant was familiar with Voltaire, and decided to beat the s–t out of Bernie not because of a perfect reason, but just because he felt like it.
On the other hand, all is not lost for Bernie while he is behind bars. It turns out that in some cases life allows you a form of redemtion,
Fellow prisoners say Mr. Madoff, who is Inmate No. 61727-054 at Butner, has garnered some respect from inmates because of the breadth of his Ponzi scheme. The fraud caused about $20 billion in net losses by thousands of investors.
Hey, nothing is perfect.