Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More Political Health

I've commented from time to time on the mechanics of political health.  In this case I don't mean the health of the larger body politic but rather the health of bodies of politicians.  For example, the use of hand sanitizer during campaigns has been the subject of some commentary.  Some argue they are necessary to keep the politician from catching colds or worse while others claim that hand sanitizers insult voters.  Then there is the issue of eating on the campaign trail.  If you are what you eat then, at least on the campaign trail, politicians are entirely fats and carbohydrates.

But campaigns are only a product of deep preparation so it's only sensible that preparation starts with the bodies doing the running.  This article in the New York Times covers the issue of pre-campaign training and eating regimes which go on months before the formal campaigns start.

Running for office is like any other physical activity; diet plays a part.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Making government policy

Start with a cage containing five monkeys.

Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result - all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him.

After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.

Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not? Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done round here.

And that, my friends, is how government policy is made. 

(not original to me but too good not to pass on)