The Economic Mess Meets the Bozo Bit Dilemma

Jim McCarthy on the Bozo Bit dilemma:

Someone once asked me, "What's the hardest thing about software

I didn't hesitate. "Getting people to think."

Believe it or not, most people don't want to think. They think they want to think, but they don't. It's easier not to and to instead flip the bozo bit--that's what we call it at Microsoft: "That dude's a bozo!" Then nobody pays any attention to anything the putative bozo says or does forevermore. And as far as his making a contribution is concerned, he's just dead weight, a bozo.

A bozo, of course, is not to be trusted with anything. The best you can hope for is that the bozo will be paid to do nothing of consequence and therefore won't screw up the works. This is, to say the least, too modest an ambition for anybody who occupies one of those valuable slots on your team.
While I'm not a software developer, I have flipped the Bozo Bit on enough people to know what the ramifications look like in other arenas, including political ones. For the Bush Administration, the Bozo Bit was no doubt flipped by many on Mission Accomplished Day. For John McCain, my guess is that the Bozo Bit was flipped by many on the day he picked Sarah Palin for his VP. Beyond that, the Bozo Bit has been flipped on Republicans by a lot of liberals (and vice versa) many, many times. The result as it pertains to the economic bailout?
There was a lack of trust, a loss of confidence, a popular revolt.

Nearly every major political leader in America supported the bailout bill. The President of the United States. The Vice President. The Treasury Secretary. The Chairman of the Federal Reserve. The Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Democratic and Republican nominees for president. The Democratic and Republican leadership of the House and the Senate. All of them said the same thing. Vote yes.

But the leaders anointed by the U.S. Constitution to most reflect the will of the people voted no.
And from a liberal perspective, atrios says:
The bailout bill is currently failing in the House, though potentially they could hold the vote open for another few minutes and twist some arms to switch some votes. Still, I hope we have all learned our lesson here:

Don't play football with Lucy.
The only problem I can see with this conclusion is that, sometimes, we have to play football with Lucy.

When we have a task before us, we need to get people to think. In an interdependent society, there's no way around it. Situations like this economic crossroads are where diplomacy and innovation are key. When we know where people are willing to give, we can work with them to make it happen. And when we know where people are unwilling to give, we can innovate a solution to work within those constraints (often, an even better solution than we would have had without the constraints). It's no secret that when you have no responsibility for solving a problem, it's easy to criticize the solution (this seems to be pretty much the only thing Republicans actually know how to do). But at some point, development must ensue and progress must be made. At that time, I put my money on the diplomatic innovator to make it happen. Because there will always be Bozos in our midst when we are in need of change.

That said, having already flipped the Bozo Bit on this administration, myself, I wouldn't trust them with my lunch money.

Nothing New byslag at 2:57 PM

1 dispense karmic justice! (or just comment here):

Gye Greene said...

I apparently use the phrase "the annoying bit is..." This amuses my cousin (a programmer), as he envisions an on/off bit for "Annoying" that's been enabled... :)


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