Sunday, January 25, 2009


Wretchard notices that it is simply agonizing to oppose a stimulus package that has so many goodies for you in it. It's so tempting that you kind of forget who is actually paying for those goodies. He then quotes management guru Drucker:
The old time management theorist Peter Drucker observed in 1959 that the most important thing to remember about the future was that it depended on getting things right today. He said it was important to understand what you were getting into now, and to feel your way forward every step of the way as things progressed. Otherwise, enthusiasms would simply lead to walking off a cliff. Drucker wrote:
Strategic planning does not deal with future decisions. It deals with the futurity of present decisions. Decisions exist only in the present. The question that faces the strategic decision-maker is not what his organization should do tomorrow. It is, “What do we have to do today to be ready for an uncertain tomorrow?” The question is not what will happen in the future. It is, “What futurity do we have to build into our present thinking and doing, what time spans do we have to consider, and how do we use tihs information to make a rational decision now?” …

Strategic planning is not an attempt to eliminate risk. It is not even an attempt to minimize risk. Such an attempt can lead only to irrational and unlimited risks and to certain disaster.

Economic activity, by definition, commits present resources to the future, i.e., to highly uncertain expectations … While it is futile to try to eliminate risk, and questionable to try to minimize it, it is essential that the risks taken be the right risks … We must be able to choose rationally among risk-taking courses of action rather than plunge into uncertainty on the basis of hunch, hearsay, or experience, no matter how meticulously quantified. … As such, planning, whether long range or short range, is nothing new. It is the organized performance of an old task. But we have learned that the task will rately get done unless organized. Above all, it will rarely become achievement unless done purposefully.

I’m a little disappointed in President Obama’s exhortation that people ought to stop listening to Rush Limbaugh’s reservations about the stimulus package. There’s every reason to look a gift horse in the mouth. First of all to decide whether it’s a gift; and second to decide whether it’s a horse.

The truth is that we have entered into a frenzied neo-Keynesian, neo-Galbraithian revival in government policy. Just sit back and be happy with all the largesse being handed out and remember that, thinking about the “long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead.”

It's an economic philosophy that is understood clearly by a person in the throes of an acute manic episode; caught up in his excesses, spending money recklessly on all those unrealistic and grandiose plans. Many manic patients see themselves as 'saviors of the world'; and, in a perverted way from their perspective, they are--because in their own mind, they have carefully built a sturdy wall to keep reality at bay from their fantasy. All in all, mania and its less histrionic sibling hypomania are just two of the more flamboyant manifestations of psychological denial.

And, any economic philosophy dependent on psychological denial certainly makes strategic planning a whole lot simpler. Live for the moment! No worries for the rest of your days! Hakuna matata and so on.

I just happened to be watching The Lion King with my daughter and a few of her friends yesterday, and was struck by this exchange in the movie. Simba's life of pursuing pleasure and living for the moment causes him to hear his dead father's voice telling him to remember who he is is:

Mufasa: Remember...

Simba: Father!

Mufasa: Remember...

Simba: Don't leave me.

Mufasa: Remember . . .

{Simba is left out in the fields. There is just a cloud left where his father's image was. The wind tosses the grass restlessly. Rafiki approaches.}

Rafiki: What was THAT?
{laughs} The weather-- Pbbbah! Very peculiar. Don't you think?

Simba: Yeah. Looks like the winds are changing.

Rafiki: Ahhh. Change is good.

Simba: Yeah, but it's not easy. I know what I have to do. But, going back means I'll have to face my past. I've been running from it for so long.

{Rafiki whacks Simba on the head with his staff.}

Simba: Oww! Jeez-- What was that for?

Rafiki: It doesn't matter; it's in the past! {laughs}

Simba: {Rubbing head} Yeah, but it still hurts.

Rafiki: Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or... learn from it.
{He swings at Simba with his staff again. This time Simba ducks.} Hah, you see! So what are you going to do?

Yes...what are we going to do? Are we going to take a principled stand against this latest round of [unprecedented] economic insanity that will inevitably lead us down the path to neo-Marxist fascism and remember who we are and what we stand for; or just hold our hand out for the next government dole?

Change can indeed be good. But not when it is merely rhetoric; or wishful thinking; or recycling failed ideas of the past; and especially not when it is psychological "undoing" and psychological denial.

And, with the Democrats in charge, you can bet that "Run Away"--or "Hakuna Matata"-- will be the governing memes for the next four years.

No comments: