The failure/triumph of results

I recently read an online essay rant that was written by a faculty member puppet at a military university in China, about how the superiority of the Chinese government is that it isn’t based on the “vapid” concept of human rights, but on results. The value of a government policy, the author wrote, is not whether it conforms with some abstract ideal, but whether it gets results. Real progress is made by focusing on results, not abstract ideology, the author wrote.

I recently witnessed a perfect example of this results-oriented thinking when I was out for a walk the other day. As summer is drawing to a close and autumn is approaching, we are starting to see some leaves turning color. I saw a nice example of the coming fall on the street.


My, what a lovely sight, fall foliage!

However, a closer look revealed a small defect in the presentation. Not only were the leaves actually pieces of plastic that had been wired to the tree, but the tree wasn’t even the same species.


Erm, wait a minute, maple leaves on an acacia tree?!

To an American eye, this is a hilarious failure. However, if you judge this action by the “results-oriented” standard, this is a tremendous success. If the goal was to give people the pleasure of seeing autumn colors, then tying fake leaves to the branches of a completely different species of tree, the leaves of which don’t change color in the fall, is reasonable.

It doesn’t matter that it’s all an illusion. It’s irrelevant that the people have been tricked by the government. A lie is justified if it achieves the government’s goal. The results are all that matter…

…or maybe not.

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