Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Laughing Chance

As I write this, the economy is still in a roller coaster. One day the stock market flies upward hundreds of points, on another, downward hundreds of points and on another, up hundreds and down hundreds the very same day. The world in general is topsy turvy. These are turbulent times. Does anybody really know what is going on?

Are the people in charge of things very intelligent? Government, private sector, what have you, did the cream truly rise to the top? Well it may have but then that's when the Peter Principle came into play full force. Those in charge rose to their level of incompetence and several levels upwards from there.

Not everybody, mind you, but if you ask me, there just aren't enough competent people to go around in this country - world, actually - to man all of the positions that require competent people.

We all thought Alan Greenspan was king of the world. He sure stuck around a long time but just recently he was called on the carpet for letting our economy get out of hand. His successor was no better and neither is the guy running our Treasury. Do you know why?

Because they're all guessing, that's why. They don't know any better than you or I know except they get paid a whole lot more than you or I to guess and act like they know. They also don't act with yours or my or the country's best interests at heart, but with their own.

People don't always make rational, measured decisions, either. Do you? Do I? I know I often don't; even when I know what I ought to do, I don't do it. I doubt that the people at the top are much different.

Certainly, courses of action can be categorized into levels of probability and risk so that the obvious bad choices are weeded out, but after that, when just the more reasonable ones remain, out of 100 decisions to make, you or I could do just as well as anyone else; any difference in the number of "right" decisions among everyone would be just as much due to chance as it would intelligence or foresight.

Why do I sound so negative about this? Because I see what is going on. No one has a clue what the future holds, we can only make educated guesses and that's it. Do we really need to pay some people hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars to do this?

Take a look at sports. Some players get hot and go on a streak where they are unstoppable. But all of a sudden they cool off and someone else takes their place. Same with music. An artist will put out a string of hits and sell millions of records - an overnight sensation - but all of a sudden the string will end. Same with running a business. Somehow the company turns wildly profitable, stockholders are happy, and the CEO is a hero. Just how much of this is due to the CEO?

I say a lot of it is being in the right place at the right time. Here's another good example: television programming. Remember Fred Silverman? Or the other whiz kids who assembled the prime time lineups? For a while they could do no wrong but then they turned cold and couldn't pick a successful show with a high rating no matter how hard they tried.

It's not much different than playing poker or any other card game. When you're hot you're hot. It doesn't last forever. Skill does make some difference but a lot of it - it's merely chance in action.

Everyone has their fifteen minutes of fame. It's no different than being pulled into the middle of the dance floor by the Real Don Steele on the dance show he hosted back in the '60's (which by the way was called The Real Don Steele Show) - if you happened to be standing in the right place, there you went. But just as quickly as you went on, he came and yanked you off or pushed you back into the crowd. It really didn't matter how good of a dancer you were, did it?

Haha, you're probably thinking wow, he sure woke up on the wrong side of the bed! I know, I know, but think about how many things have been totally botched by the ones who run things in this world. They're just humans, at best. They have their time in the sun and then someone else will come and take their place.. meanwhile, amongst the rubble left in their wake, there will always be plenty of guinea pigs left for the experiments, and plenty of sheep left to fleece.

Here's a double-header for you today, this election day 2008:

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