Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Brave New World

I have a headache. I've been buried in flip chart sheets for the past few days. Our focus group met for fifteen minutes the other day. Over Martinis, Vodka and/or gin, based on preference(always have refreshments available). We decided as a group, to change the world. We've never actually done this before, since we are basically theorists.

You know book smart. Of course other Utopians have written about how this can be done. Some are thinking authors like our Founding Fathers planning for our best interests as identified in our Constitution. While more autocratic authors write to control populations like Mao, Che, Stalin, Robespierre, Lenin, Pol Pot an Ayatollah or two, Alinsky, Oh I could go on but I think you get my drift.

Anyway we sat down to assess how best to make change. I wrote the date at the top of the first sheet on the flip chart to memorialize the founding statements of our brave new world. We could change the world. Like the wise people we are, we could remove ourselves from the present and focus on our past experiences. We could navigate through our subconscious and attain a higher state, a state beyond the reach of mere mortals.

Since by practice a focus group is usually facilitated by a Community Developer to guide the conversation, we discussed who should lead us. One minute later I was surprised when the group selected me to fill this exalted position. They said I looked good and spoke well. We began, I asked, "OK how do we go about doing this." (Developers are trained to ask open ended questions). One person said "Take over the private sector." I asked "What do you mean by that?" (Another open ended question.)

"Simple," this person, said "Nationalize anything that produces income, you know start with private banks, look how much they make and can you believe what they pay their executives. These people receive huge annual bonuses based on risky investments, bad people, shame. These dollars should go to the Govt.instead.

Next go after the auto industry, remove the private investors from the mix, investors must make a lot of money they can afford to lose some of it. Then turn the industry over to the unions and print money to throw at them. The unions will make money and in return they can pour their new money into their political favorites reelection funds. That means us." I wrote this down.

Another participant said, "Nationalize The Health Insurance industry, don't kill it outright, just nick it. Can you imagine all those monthly insurance payments flowing into the treasury. Premium and tax money coming from every man, woman, and child in this new and better world. Why we'd have money out the wazoo. Then to keep the money for new programs, streamline access to health care. That way you can reduce outflow from the treasury."

"OK," I said, "That does sound like it would generate much needed income for the State. What else could we do?" A young woman raised her hand, "Nationalize the Student Loan Program remove it from the private sector, let the students make their monthly payments for education to the US Treasury." I wrote this down.

One person asked, "But with all the watchdogs in place how can we do all this?" Someone else said, "Easy, control the Internet, we can filter content and identify people who need correcting, that way we can pass along the true facts." Another said, "Shut down private radio stations, Isn't Chavez doing that right now? We could use his tactics here, they seem to be working in Venezuela." "Why yes they do!" I said and wrote this down on our flip chart and taped the page to the wall.

Someone from the back of the room said, "What about newspapers." Another said Nationalize them, they are losing money because people are canceling their subscription. That way we can keep them from failing like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac putting us in the position to control content more efficiently." "What else?" I asked.

A wizened man in the front row, who had been very quiet, said, "Demonize anyone who opposes our plans. Call them Brown Shirts, Nazis, angry mobs who don't have the facts. When they gather in the thousands, tell them their homemade signs are offensive. Let loose our major leaders to condemn and ridicule them at Town Halls. Then go and do whatever we want. After all what can they do, if we move fast enough it will be too late to stop us."

I wrote this down and said, "We have a plan."