I would venture to say this article hints at on of the challenges of humankind in general; it has applications from global finance to climate change…right down to why people don’t make important changes in their day-to-day lives.
…If the problem has not been experienced before, the public is not convinced of the potential costs of inaction. And, if action prevents the problem, the public never experiences the averted calamity, and voters therefore penalize political leaders for the immediate costs that the action entails. Even if politicians have perfect foresight of the disaster that awaits if nothing is done, they may have little ability to persuade voters, or less insightful party members, that the short-term costs must be paid.
Talk is cheap, and, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the status quo usually appears comfortable enough. So leaders’ ability to take corrective action increases only with time, as some of the costs of inaction are experienced.
Calamity can still be averted if the costs of inaction escalate steadily. The worst problems, however, are those with “inaction costs” that remain invisible for a long time, but increase suddenly and explosively. By the time the leader has the mandate to act, it may be too late.