11/07/2009

Make It Less Boring

Way back when my kids were young, our family would spend the occasional evening playing Monopoly; the board game, not the computer version. Some evenings, we'd play for a couple of hours. As the girls got older, the games got shorter. The reason they got shorter was that it became obvious how boring the game really was and we wanted to get it over with sooner. The way to make Monopoly go fast is to treat it like real business. You take shortcuts. When one of your competitors gets into trouble, you buy their property cheap. You plot strategies to do the most damage possible to your competitors, in this case my kids and wife. If you are lucky, ruthless, and reasonably clever, you can "win" pretty quickly. The point of winning being, the game ends and the boredom ends with it. Don't get me wrong, I loved spending time with my family, it was the Monopoly I hated.

It struck me that this might be the core problem with modern business (and government). In my experience, the closer you get to the top of American corporations, the more uninteresting the people become. I've been stuck in meetings with C's, vp's, directors, and the like and there wasn't a one of them that you'd want to invite to a party. Unless you expected your daughter to grow up to be a useless, dependent bimbo, you wouldn't want any of them dating your daughter. The only kind of sport you could imagine them playing would be the kind of activity that crippled old men suffer: golf, bowling, bridge, riding Harleys, and tossing dice in an alley.

So, with that as a background fact, maybe the solution to resolving the lack of ability, integrity, and intelligence in the nation's board rooms is to get rid of the boredom. The key to livening up business (and government) is to eject the boring people. The problem is, most Americans are timid, conservative people who freak-out when their dull little worlds are challenged. So, this is purely a theoretical exercise because we are clearly a dying culture with no more hope of rejuvenating ourselves than a body with a severed head.

Imagine, if you can, business, political, and cultural systems designed to remove the boredom from work, politics, and life. For starters, the corporate system has proven, repeatedly, to provide no useful value to society. It attracts mobsters to the top management levels, it produces useless trinkets that quickly turn into giant trash piles, it endangers the environment and the future of the nation. The existence of corporations, as they currently exist, restricts freedom and democracy. Worst of all, corporations are the ultimate conservative organization, far more so than even government, so they are coward-breeding facilities. If you want to bust boredom, you have to get past cowardice.

Minnesota tried a government experiment at busting boredom in 1999. We didn’t like it. Jesse Ventura shook up the state bureaucracy, rattled the cages of the vested powers, challenged our braindead media, and got more done in 4 years than the previous half-dozen Republicrat governors had managed. Like any good leader and intelligent citizen, he got out after 4 years and went back to living his life. The state followed Ventura with Pawlenty, a likeable, attractive, incompetent, hopelessly useless, and boring hack politician. He’s one of the douchebags the Republicans are hoping to pawn off on the nation in the next Presidential election. If you thought national politics are idiotic today, wait till you elect Polluty to national office. The nation’s IQ will drop as quickly as it did in 2000.

There are small pockets of communities and small businesses that work to remove boredom and boring people from everyday processes. If anything from this country survives into the next century, it will be their legacy. Everything else is doomed to fail and deserves that fate.

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