Too big to fail, more like too big to succeed. It’s a basic principle of efficiency that the larger an item, organization, business, group or organism becomes, the less efficient it is. This point was brought home the other day while trying to login in to a Washington state website to do something the state said had to be done. After the typical runarounds, obfuscations, unwieldy design, not readily apparent nonsense and other normally inefficient rigmarole that governmental operations are prone to it came to light that the website required the use of the Internet Explorer browser. A googling, not binging, of browser market share shows that the public has long since left Internet Explorer, (8%), and all its trappings, virus susceptibility, and intrusive nature behind in favor of the clean working Chrome, (62%), and Firefox, (24%) browsers. Why does Washington require IE? Because Microsoft is based there and the fix is in? Because they just happened to hire a web designer who couldn’t work with anything else? Because the state government is inept at critical thinking? Likely all of the above. The last place where green screen computers are still being used is in some government back office where they rig the votes.
An old saying says that two people can do three times the work of one, but after that if all goes downhill, fast. Too many cooks make a mess the soup. Imagine being in business for yourself. As sheriff, attorney, executioner and Judge Roy Bean you could keep everything west of the Pecos moving along pretty smoothly. Take on a deputy and things probably still sail right along, other than having to establish a schedule for the one holer out back. Take on a whole passel for the posse and before too long they are lynching folks just on a hunch and going through the cowboys pockets for silver dollars without the nuisance of a fair trial. Things get out of hand fast, like a driver texting with his cellphone while smunching an egg McMuffin at the same time he juggles a latte changing four lanes at once to hit the off ramp he forgot to signal for. Oh yes, we are all simians, those of us that can type and tie a windsor that is.
What’s to be done? We live in a cooperative society. Think you can be an island, complete unto thineself like those knuckleheads on the TV that claim to be frontiersmen? They don’t fuel those pickups and ATVs and snowmobiles with stuff they shoot on the tundra. And what are they shooting with? See any of those rugged individuals casting their own bullets, making their own rifles from hematite they mined themselves. What is the attraction with watching these troglodytes get stuck in the mud and brew their own sour mash? Anyone can let a can of creamed corn go bad.
Too small to succeed or fail works as well. We all have need of these multinational corporations, the United Nations, the vast swarming armies, the redumbnant city, state and federal agencies that make sure our independent neighbors aren’t raising rhinos in their urban backyard. A friend once had a dog that could talk. It would ask for ketchup on its kibbles. Without ketchup it was truly despondent, hanging its pendulant jowls morosely in its bowl and looking up beseechingly at its owner. As soon as it developed a taste for salsa all problems were solved.
What makes the difference between a large, smooth operation and one that runs like a Rube Goldberg construct assembled by a legion of drunks? How can Denny’s offer breakfast for $two bucks? Did the Seahawks really pass on second and goal with Marshawn Lynch on the field? Why is it that we stand in line for hours on end to get our drivers licence renewed when we only do it once every five years and yet with one click we can buy stuff from Amazon all day, everyday, as fast as we can click the mouse?