• Posted: May 01, 2010 02:00:09
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A question for you: what do "too big to fail", a looming oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, 29 kindergarteners stabbed in the head, and a lone crop dusting pilot shot at with a 9mm hand gun have in common?
Least you think I'm implying something mysterious, I'll tell you straight out, conspiracy is not the answer. But, if you guessed "Tylenol Murders", you wouldn't be far off.
What I am getting at is leverage. In the case of the Tylenol Murders, still to my knowledge unsolved, someone tampered with over-the-counter medications prior to their being purchased. People died. Packaging changed. The cost was high, but whomever tampered with those medications did us a favor. Today, consumers are safer and responsible manufacturers have suffered less liability. A relatively small incident leveraged a huge social change.
Similarly, all of the incidents listed above have the potential to leverage similarly huge changes to our status quo. Very serious financial reform is in the offing for banks and hedge funds, changes that could reshape the prospect of financial stability for the U.S. and much of the world's economy during the coming decade, all due to the terrifying prospect of two or three very large financial institutions achieving insolvency and nearly precipitating the collapse of many of the world's banks. A similar lesson in leverage will be played out during coming days with respect to a BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Will the U.S. economy's irresponsible thirst for oil finally be tempered by a close to home graphic lesson in ecological consequence? The incident in China, the second of three in a week attacking children, might also result in the leveraging of a serious rethink as to how many people this planet is capable of sustaining at what feels like a satisfying level of prosperity. And fourth, will by-passing the institutions of society meant to peaceably settle dispute and taking matters into one's own hands with gun or bomb ever succeed in leveraging the kind of societal change for good that refusing to sit in the rear of the bus can and did? I think not.
Leverage is power, huge power. Choose wisely the battles you engage in and the consequences you hope to achieve.
Sunday, November 1st, 2009