Thursday, February 23, 2006

An Honest Harold Hill

With the Dubai port deal we find ourselves on the cusp of another one of those eye-opening moments where the people (briefly) wake up and realize the nature of the con. These moments, when they come to fruition, lead to an instinctual need for a political purge.

Unfortunately, these moments are only of the moment and often pass before we are fully aware of them. The sad reality is there will always be P.T. Barnum suckers who will buy into the next two-bit snake-oil politician that comes along. We can't depend on people waking up to the lies. Even if they do wake up and run the flim-flam artist out of town on a rail it is inevitable that a few days later they will start giving ear to the next con man to waltz into town.

People want to believe there is a simple solution to their problems.

Instead of railing against this all to human failing, it behooves us to appreciate its dynamics and use it ourselves in order to provide a counter weight to the grifters. It involves speaking on a higher plane of communication where we don't just talk about the effects of policy but also talk about the things that are effecting peoples lives. Professor Harold Hill spoke on that higher plane when he used people's fears ("Oh we got trouble!") to scam them into buying his solution.

But, unlike The Music Man, we aren't trying to fool them into believing in a fake problem in order to buy a fake solution. We are trying to awaken them to real problems and engage them in a dialog to find real solutions. Speaking on this "higher plane" is not a scam, just because it is the same technique used by the scammers.

In this case, motive truly matters.

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