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Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Batman Principle

The uncomfortable fact about Batman is that he is not very good at fighting crime. True, he fights crime in very heroic and entertaining ways, and he usually succeeds in defeating his adversaries, but never for good.

His distaste for killing is admirable, although that often leaves the villains alive to cause more mayhem later. Since he doesn't have any problem with taking the law into his own hands, I always wondered why he never captured and locked the villains in his own prison rather than ones they always easily escaped from. That would stop them permanently and not violate his taboo against killing. Of course, the reason he doesn't is that the writers want to keep the story going.

I think many real problems are made worse by the desire to look cool while trying to win it instead of winning. I call this the Batman Principle.

This principle is often seen in actually law enforcement with gaudy uniforms & vehicles, questionable practices such as high-speed pursuits, and frequent failure to catch criminals. It is also present in big businesses that spend more money on flashy ad campaigns than looking for new opportunities.

Of course, the best place to see that Batman Principle at work is the military. The military wastes vast sums of time and money on useless training, vehicles, and propaganda. I think the single best example of this is the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Originally intended to be a simple scout vehicle and troop carrier, it morphed into an armored vehicle with lousy armor, a scout vehicle too slow to scout, and a troop carrier that hardly carried any troops. All this because the generals wanted a vehicle that looked cooler. See the clip below for more details:

Another good example is the US Air Force's desire to replace the tough and effective but slow and ugly A-10 with a sleek, new fighter-bomber.


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