Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Too Much Monkey Business

Experience is what you get when you didn’t get what you wanted and there’s quite a world of difference between twenty years of experience and a year of experience for twenty years. If we could have figured out a way to ice skate inside a police armored car with teachers and municipal employees during the budget deliberations, we wouldn’t have had to misuse them all as symbols and hostages.

What follows is an old story that’s part of our experience. Any resemblance to how we govern ourselves here in The Rose of New England is fully deliberate. If the feelings of anyone on the current City Council are hurt, in the interest of comity, I'll say I'm sorry not, but I'm not. And for the budding entrepreneurs in the audience, I’m thinking there’s probably money in swimsuit futures. You’ll see what I mean shortly.

Place seven monkeys in a cage.
Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under the banana. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as that happens, blast all the other monkeys with ice cold water. Then wait.

After a while, another monkey will make an attempt, provoking the same treatment: all the other monkeys get sprayed with cold water.  Pretty soon, whenever a monkey tries to climb those stairs, all the others  prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water.

Remove a monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey will see the banana and start to climb the stairs. Guess what happens? Yep; all the other monkeys attack it!

After another attempt at the stairs and perhaps another, the monkey realizes if it tries to climb the stairs, it’ll be assaulted and it gives up.

We're not done.

Remove another of the original monkeys and replace it with a new one. You’ve guessed it: the newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. What about that previous new monkey? Pshaw! Joins right in dishing out the punishment.

Replace a third original monkey, then a fourth and so on, until all the original monkeys have been replaced. Lather, rinse repeat. The result is and will be always the same: every time the new monkey heads towards the stairs, it’s attacked.

Most of the monkeys beating it up have no idea why they aren’t permitted to climb the stairs-actually, they’ve never even tried to go up the stairs- or why they’ve beating up the newest monkey. Remember, we replaced all the original monkeys; none of the current ones have ever been sprayed with cold water. But no one approaches the stairs and tries for a banana. Why not?  Because, as far as those little critters know, this is how things have always been done.

And if you always do what you've always done-you'll always get what you've always gotten.

Government at any levelis like having a birthday or an anniversary. We all know when the dates and what's involved and yet we are always unhappily surprised when we’re never rewarded for all the work we didn’t do in preparing for them.

As always and again this year, we searched for the guilty and someone or something to blame because for our annual budget woes we’ve convinced ourselves this is problem solving, because it always has been around here. All I can wonder is who rolled the hose up and put it away?  November elections are just around the corner and we have a very small budget to buy bananas but we have the all water we could ever need…

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