Herein lies a central paradox of the news: it gives us the tools to develop views on serious and consequential decisions which have a direct impact on our lives. It invites us to the conference table and into the parliament, it introduces us to the key players, then it shows us nothing but inexplicable delays, strange compromises and maddening evasions. It can feel as though we are daily being invited to watch helplessly while a close friend drowns behind a plate-glass window.
The news routinely tantalizes us with the promise of drastic change and improvement. It anoints certain politicians as visionaries and expresses confidence they can fundamentally transform the nations within a few months of attaining office. Then everything falls apart. The politician turns out to be a fool and is dismissed as shallow and complacent, the central bank governor cites the behavior of the bond market as the reason for renewed caution, the conferences get bogged down in petty squabbling…
What the news seldom bothers to mention is why things don’t change very much; why great power and resources can’t solve our difficulties, at a stroke. It leaves us to assume with mounting fury that every ongoing problem can only be the result of laziness, stupidity, or malevolence — and could be solved in a few relatively decisive and simple steps by someone intelligent and ingenius.
p. 53-54, The News: A User’s Manual. Alain de Botton.