Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Sea Story 

For many, many years, the great Ship securely glided the oceans of frequent danger. A variety of captains, senior officers, and crews were dedicated to assuring the safety of the passengers' lives and their property. The Ship had a sound bottom but through time had developed leaks, small and largely unnoticed.

Everybody was content until one day when someone discovered that the leaks had grown slowly into a flood. Immediately, the captain summoned his senior staff to discuss the flooding problem and determine a solution. After many meetings, a plan was drafted and the crew was dispatched to make it work. The passengers were then gathered to announce the plan.
"May I have your attention, please?

"A plan has been developed to solve the problem of water collecting in the bilges and holds. First, the crew has been instructed to survey the amount of water leaking into the Ship and submit appropriate reports. This has proved to be difficult so far. We need to document where the water is and determine if a short-term, long-term, or negligible risk is involved."

"Secondly, a program has been developed to deal with the problem of waterlogged provisions. Passengers will be required to submit an assessment of how much of their intact provisions they can distribute to those who have lost theirs. This should produce minimal hardship since, in our opinion, some people have more than they actually need."

"Thirdly, paperwork is being prepared to obtain the necessary additional pumping resources to adequately attack the water. Maintenance will be performed to install the pumps, fully realizing the unique attributes required for each location. Also, to power the pumps, a disbursement has been requested to purchase more electrical generating capacity."

"However, the use of the pumps shall be only with the approval of the senior staff. Due to concerns regarding ballast, it's important that the operation of the pumps be controlled. It's believed that the stability of the Ship may be upset if all the pumps operate to remove the water."

"Everyone needs to realize . . . "[interrupted]
Voice from crowd:
"Excuse me, excuse me."
"Yes, what?"
"I was just wondering if you are going to stop the leak. The water keeps coming in. Why not stop it?"
Well, we are working on that. You obviously don't understand the complexities of the problem. Many aspects have to be addressed.

Uh, just for the sake of everybody, who are you?"
"I'm nobody special. Just an interested passenger who wants the problem fixed. I don't like waterlogged provisions and I don't think the other passengers do either."
"Like I said, the problem is complex . . ."[interrupted again]
Interested passenger:
"But it's not logical! You've got a Ship. The Ship has a hole in it. And you're talking about surveys and documents and ballast and generators and redistribution of provisions! You're not fixing the hole in the hull."

"If the hole in the Ship is not repaired, no amount of surveys and documents and ballast and generators and redistribution of provisions is going to make a difference. You've got to fix the hole first, then all the other problems will ultimately be resolved. Without fixing the hole, the problem will continue and likely get much bigger."
[tersely] "In closing, the senior staff expects your full support for the plan. Thank you for your time."
Some people may think the Ship in this sea story is the United States of America. Some people are right.

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