Hey, Hey We’re the Monkeys

OK… :) Bear with me… there’s a point to this story…

 

If you start with a cage containing four monkeys, and inside the cage hang a banana on a string from the top, and then you place a set of stairs under the banana, before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana. It is then that ALL the monkeys are sprayed with high pressure cold water.

 

After a while, another monkey tries with same result. As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray ALL the monkeys with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it (physically).

 

 

Now, put the cold water away (no more spraying). Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new monkey. The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs. To his shock, ALL the other monkeys beat the crap out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.

 

Next, remove another of the original four monkeys, replacing it with a new monkey. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm– because he is now part of the “team.”

 

Then, replace a third original monkey with a new monkey, followed by the fourth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Now, the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they are not permitted to climb the stairs.

 

Finally, having replaced all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana. Why, you ask? Because in their minds, that is the way it has always been!

 

This is how today’s House and Senate in the U.S. Congress operates; and this is why, from time to time, ALL of the monkeys need to be REPLACED AT THE SAME TIME!

 

This is meant as no disrespect to monkeys. You can never underestimate the predictability of stupidity.

 

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

 

A Modest Proposal (requiring a Constitutional Amendment)

 

Humor aside, I’d actually be in favor of doing this (replacing EVERYBODY in the House and Senate) Not just term limits (which are also a good idea); but set a time frame (like years ending in 00, 25, 50 & 75… or whatever time period) AND on those years ALL House and Senate members are replaced.

 

When those years roll around, no one who has ever held a position in the House or Senate is ever eligible to hold either of those offices again. That would include all current office holders and would mean that House members could not just run for Senate (and vice-versa). We basically clean house (pardon the pun) every quarter of a century.  The new members start over in deciding how the sausage of government is made.

 

This would work even better in conjunction with term limits.

 

Isn’t it great what stupid monkeys can teach us.

Comments

Thomas Sutrina Added Nov 21, 2017 - 6:59pm
Love the story and agree with the analysis.  Problems is that the replacements will come for the state monkeys already trained.  So you have almost no chance of not getting a trained monkey.
 
The alternative is to make in know that they will only be in office one term and be primaried out of office.  We need to enforce the rules.  Like Rome the tax payers are feeling the pinch of wasteful spending.  Thus During Bush the rise of the Tea Party.  We have to replace the leadership as a message that anyone is expendable. 
 
All the welfare programs need to be sent to the states which is Constitutional.  They can not print money so welfare will be pulled in.   Jobs will become the method of reducing the need for welfare and  the means of getting elected.  
Pascal Fervor Added Nov 21, 2017 - 7:15pm
Love your analogy Lynn.
 
However I fear that your ideas for altering the pattern analyzed could only have worked in an earlier epoch. I fear it is too late for rational approaches.
 
The ruling class is ensconced. They viciously fight to exclude outsiders. 
Leroy Added Nov 21, 2017 - 7:39pm
The monkey story has made its rounds before on WB.  The only problem with the analogy is that the monkey is punished when he goes for the bananas.  In the case of Congress, he is rewarded.  Maybe we should consider an electric shock everytime they proposed legislation that would increase the deficit.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Nov 21, 2017 - 7:51pm
we should consider an electric shock everytime they proposed legislation 
 
There, fixed it.
 
opher goodwin Added Nov 21, 2017 - 7:53pm
Lyn - The only problem with replacing everyone is that you are presupposing they are all as bad as each other. Some experience and talent might be necessary.
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 21, 2017 - 8:02pm
opher - we don' need no steenkin' experience. Screw expertise - all expertise is corrupted.
 
Seriously, there is a huge problem with elected officials being coopted and corrupted after exposure to the aisles of power. But I don't feel that universal dismembering of legislative houses is the answer. What is the answer? I'm not sure, but I might be in favor of a limit of about 6 terms in the House of Representatives (12 years) and 3 terms in the Senate (18 years). No limits on someone going from the House to the Senate (or the reverse). That would give up to 30 years legislative experience, but prevent dynasties from being built. I'm from West Virginia, where we had the longest serving senator ever (Byrd), and it certainly did us no favors to have all that seniority, except through patronage.
Lynn Johnson Added Nov 21, 2017 - 8:44pm
Thomas >> Problems is that the replacements will come for the state monkeys already trained.
 
OK.... so tweak it.  No state reps either.  The point being starting from scratch ever so often.  I really think that would help.  Some disagree and that’s OK; so let’s find the minimum common ground and move forward.
 
One thing is for sure.  Our current system is a mess and has been a mess for a long time.  It’s well past the point where we need to shake things up in a major way.
 
Pascal >> I fear that your ideas for altering the pattern analyzed could only have worked in an earlier epoch. I fear it is too late for rational approaches.
 
Oh I agree completely.  We're doomed... and passed the point of no return decades ago.  My philosophy is simply to fight no matter the odds simply because it's the right thing to do.  It’s kind of that Christian philosophy thing.  God doesn’t command us to win… just fight or run the good race… whichever analogy you prefer.
 
Leroy >> The monkey story has made its rounds before on WB. 
 
Oh no!  I insist the story/analogy is completely original on my part.  It is utterly impossible it has ever been seen in any form previously or anywhere else for that matter.  I take offense… ;)
 
Leroy >> Maybe we should consider an electric shock every time they proposed legislation that would increase the deficit.
 
I game!  Let's do it!  Castration?  I’m OK with that too… though that would only be a threat to Democrats since Republicans seem rather lacking in that area.  You can’t cut off what’s not there.
 
Opher >> The only problem with replacing everyone is that you are presupposing they are all as bad...
 
Not at all!  I assume there will be a few good legislators tossed out with all the bad.  No… I am saying it's worth it.  None of them (not even the good ones) are entitled to their office.  Overall, I expect we would be better off and we’ve got to do something.
 
Opher >> Some experience and talent might be necessary.
 
We've got that (experience and talent) in spades... and look at the mess it's given us.  Let's try the other extreme for a while. :)
 
Clock is right, experience more often than not equals corruption and in your pocket politicians.
 
Clock >> But I don't feel that universal dismembering of legislative houses is the answer.
 
Ooops I spoke too soon. :)
 
Clock >> I might be in favor of a limit of about 6 terms in the House of Representatives (12 years) and 3 terms in the Senate (18 years).
 
OK!  Let's start there.  But let's get the ball rolling!  See?  Compromise!  We'll see how that goes and then see if we need to go further.
Leroy Added Nov 21, 2017 - 9:04pm
Hi Lynn, here's an animated version of the monkey story
Lynn Johnson Added Nov 21, 2017 - 10:01pm
Leroy >> Hi Lynn, here's an...
 
Whoa, whoa, whoa... I don't like where this line of questioning is going.  It only took me a few seconds of viewing said "animated monkey story" to see it in no way resembled my analogy.  Five monkeys... a ladder... come on Leroy…
 
Let's just drop this right here... especially since it's just my attempt at being a smart-ass in reference to you calling out others for non-original content.  I try to emphasize my attempts at humorous remarks with emoji’s. (see ;) above).
 
Of course, the monkey analogy is very old and borrowed to make my point.
Leroy Added Nov 21, 2017 - 10:24pm
Lynn, I was just offering an amusing, animated version of the story ;)
Pascal Fervor Added Nov 22, 2017 - 1:31am
The general agreement that your analogy has received (so far) may be best explained in what Wretchard posted just today target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">The End of Prestige.
 
<blockquote>The only alternative to physical control, as 19th century Europeans found, was bluff, or <em>prestige</em> as it was then called.  Prestige made it possible for a few to govern numerous (and often violent) subjects.

Prestige was almost entirely psychological, based on instilling a genuine respect and admiration among the ruled. </blockquote>
 
[fitting but unseemly exuberant laughter redacted]
 
We've such great respect and admiration for our rulers that nobody voiced umbrage over them being compared to monkeys, and unthinking ones at that.
opher goodwin Added Nov 22, 2017 - 5:59am
Lyn - well I like the principle. It might just stop the corruption setting in.
Lynn Johnson Added Nov 22, 2017 - 7:47am
Pascal >> [on Prestige...]
 
Nice relevant contribution.  I got a belly laugh just imagining the difference between then and today.  I'm guessing we can all agree that "prestige" is dead, dead, dead...
 
Just to show us that there is nothing new under the sun.  These are the words of Will Rogers in the 1920s and 1930s.  They are all relevant just short of a 100 years later; and still funny in a "we're doomed" sort of way.
 
"Congress is so strange; a man gets up to speak and says nothing, nobody listens, and then everybody disagrees." -- Will Rogers
 
"We all joke about Congress, but we can't improve on them. Have you noticed that no matter who we elect, he is just as bad as the one he replaces?" -- Will Rogers
 
"When Congress makes a joke it's a law, and when they make a law, it's a joke." -- Will Rogers
 
"It's getting so if a man wants to stand well socially, he can't afford to be seen with either the Democrats or the Republicans." -- Will Rogers
 
"There is something about a Republican that you can only stand him just so long; and on the other hand, there is something about a Democrat that you can't stand him quite that long." -- Will Rogers
 
"About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation." -- Will Rogers
 
"Senators are a never-ending source of amusement, amazement and discouragement." -- Will Rogers
 
"The Senate just sits and waits till they find out what the president wants, so they know how to vote against him." -- Will Rogers
 
"We cuss Congress, and we joke about 'em, but they are all good fellows at heart, and if they wasn't in Congress, why, they would be doing something else against us that might be even worse." -- Will Rogers
 
"Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don't hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous." -- Will Rogers
Lynn Johnson Added Nov 22, 2017 - 7:49am
Opher >> well I like the principle.
 
Good enough!
 
Opher >> It might just stop the corruption setting in.
 
Probably not... but let's do it anyway.  Just for the vindictive hell of it, if for no other reason. :)
Lynn Johnson Added Nov 22, 2017 - 7:53am
Dave Volek Added Nov 22, 2017 - 8:04am
EABC:
But I don't feel that universal dismembering of legislative houses is the answer. What is the answer? I'm not sure, but I might be in favor . . . . 
 
I too have my doubts that term limits will have any effect. The US did not become better governed when in reduced the number of presidential terms to two. I see this solution as a red herring. 
 
With Tiered Democratic Governance (TDG), there will be a combination of new blood to add new ideas into governance plus enough of the old guard will stay around to remember why things were done in certain way. Of course, elected representatives of the TDG will be focused on the betterment of their society rather than the betterment of themselves or the political party.
Kate Moss Added Nov 22, 2017 - 8:33am
There are at least four decent members of Congress. The rest should be given the same gun freedom the rest of us enjoy.
Pascal Fervor Added Nov 22, 2017 - 9:48am
Lynn >> "It's getting so if a man wants to stand well socially, he can't afford to be seen with either the Democrats or the Republicans." -- Will Rogers.
 
We've progressed so much since then, Lynn, that It's gotten so if society wants to stand, it can't afford either the Democrats or the Republicans.
George N Romey Added Nov 22, 2017 - 10:36am
Unless money is taken out of elections, or more accurately the rich buy the politicians and the political system you will get nothing but other monkeys.  The reason we do not have a logical tax code, a real (and honest) infrastructure program, incentives and punishments that discourage outsourcing and insourcing, etc. is that the money class is doing fabulously well with the current system. So of course the bought and paid for monkeys talk about change but never get to it, on both sides. 
Lynn Johnson Added Nov 22, 2017 - 11:50am
Dave >> Tiered Democratic Governance (TDG)
 
Dave, thank you for the link.  Better government is obviously something you have given a lot of thought to and you have put forth the effort of documenting and explaining your ideas. If anything, I greatly respect the passion and work involved.
 
I can't comment on the merits of TDG with my limited exposure, but promise to take a closer look at your page.
 
Kate >> There are at least four decent members of Congress...
 
It's like old lawyer jokes... 99% of lawyers give the other 1% a bad name. 
 
What the difference between a dead snake in the road and a dead lawyer.  Skid marks before the snake.
 
Pascal >> It's gotten so if society wants to stand...
 
Like I said earlier, I firmly believe that we are doomed as a society (both the U.S. and Western in general).  I wouldn't give us a 1 in 20 chance of being around a century from now (as things look today). 
 
All republics eventually implode (see Rome)... it's just our time.  And there are plenty of barbarians at the gate (and already inside the walls) prepared to rape, pillage, and plunder.
 
George >> [money in the elections...]
 
I will grant your point that there is a problem in that regard.  But I have mixed feelings on simply limiting the money that can be spent.  I'm also totally against the public funding of elections.  And finally, I'm a little wary of Uncle Sam deciding who can spend what.  I'm more on the side of full disclosure than limitations.
 
I’m sure if you and I sat down together, as congress should, we could hammer out a few well thought out regulations/policies that would at least start to address this issue.
 
George >> So of course the bought and paid for monkeys talk about change but never get to it, on both sides.
 
Absolutely... BUT (back to my original premise) wouldn't it be nice to make the fat cats buy a whole new set of monkeys on a regular basis.  Never underestimate the benefits of making it as expensive as possible to do your monkey business. :)
wsucram15 Added Nov 22, 2017 - 3:07pm
Money has to be taken out by demand of the people, ALL the people.  Then term limits.
Leroy Added Nov 22, 2017 - 4:09pm
We could solve the largest part of the problem by eliminating the House of Representatives and representing ourselves.  Unfortunately, most people are afraid of this sort of power.
George N Romey Added Nov 22, 2017 - 4:11pm
The fat cats have enough fat to buy politicians every election cycle and they do. Personally I don’t see money out of politics without a revolution. The politicians love what the fat cats do for them and the fat cats get a good return on their investment. It started with the. Powell Memo in the early 70s that stated business needed to become political. Hence the birth of PACs, lobbyists and special interest groups.
Neil Lock Added Nov 22, 2017 - 5:35pm
Lynn: Let me suggest that your term limits suggestion doesn't go nearly far enough. Why not have a limit on the length of time any government employee can spend working for the government? Or for any company that does government contracts? Say, 10 years in each, or 20 years in total. There might need to be a few exceptions - judges, and military officers in time of war, are the only ones I could think of. That way, the entire government would have to replace its monkeys regularly. Like your car needs to be serviced regularly.
 
I was going to add a </sarc> tag, then I realized that on re-reading my suggestion, it sounds more sensible than I meant it to be...
Lynn Johnson Added Nov 22, 2017 - 7:23pm
Neil, I don't think the </sarc> tag is needed concerning your addition.  I'm totally serious concerning my recommendation and hope you are too.  I want to see the system shaken to its core (and acknowledge as very valid assertions that money has to be a big part of that).  I think term limits are the minimum; but are a good place to start.
 
A valid argument against term limits is that it transfers too much power to the bureaucrats (the so-called deep state).  So... include them in the process.  Including companies and contractors is definitely on the table.  I would assume "scientist" and researchers continually living off the government tit would fall under that category as well.
 
Let’s roll… "Cry 'Havoc!', and let slip the dogs of war".
Pascal Fervor Added Nov 22, 2017 - 7:38pm
Lynn >>  too much power to the bureaucrats
 
The argument used by the Progs in the 19th Century was that bureaucracies, filled with "the best and brightest" -- in the days when meritocracy was not sidelined as a white privilege dog whistle -- were needed to curb the excesses of the spoils system.
 
Let's just stick to your final conclusion and put stock in tar and feathers just in case you meet resistance. 
Pascal Fervor Added Nov 22, 2017 - 8:01pm
I meant to include the observation that The Law of Unintended Consequences and The Devil is in the details somehow always seem to turn up when one social ill (spoils system) is replaced by some "new and improved" solution.
 
Knowing this, how many wish to venture across any bridge knowing social engineers had any hand in it?
 
Ok. Sorry for the interruption. Now back to your original conclusion.
Dave Volek Added Nov 23, 2017 - 12:37pm
Pascal
The law of unintended consequences will definitely apply if term limits are imposed. I can see veteran civil servants running circles around newbie congressmen. The congressmen won't really understand how to get things done until their term is up. Political institutions need a combination of experienced veterans and new blood to challenge the old ways.
 
Here are some bridges of social engineering where influential thinkers created new systems to get the population thinking in a different direction.
 
1) Magna Carta
2) American Constitution
3) French Revolution
4) The European Revolutions of 1848
5) The Third Reich
6) The marketing of tobacco to make us look wealthy, sophisticated, sexy, masculine, and feminine.
7) The marketing of the anti-tobacco lobby to convince many of us to stop smoking or never start.
 
 
 
Pascal Fervor Added Nov 23, 2017 - 2:07pm
Dave,
 
Your switch from literal to metaphorical is a nice contribution.
 
I see your metaphorical bridges. Even the strong ones had downsides.
 
The bridge I asked about was literal and related to the value of merit so strongly as any who needs to cross one should expect.
 
The law of unintended consequences in hard engineering is frequently prevented by dual failure systems designed for x+ decades. After that it's up to nature and chance.
 
In soft engineering -- and social is just about the softest -- it's much tougher because the human mind can and does seek out new work-arounds that the originators had left out of their probability calculations. That is because it would be an event that has not been yet invented, so it can't be included in the statistics that account for all known events.
 
Create an obstacle and there are minds that thrive on figuring out how to pass it. See, it is very hard to account for human nature's creativity. It is enough to give one pause to reconsider the report that man was created in the image of his Maker.
 
And this last explanation only applies where the social engineers are in the employ of honest societal heads.
 
Scheming societal heads will look to downplay or exclude some instances of human nature from the published calculations -- or remove them entirely from past studies -- knowing that will surely topple the system -- in the hopes of personal gain. The Devil Is In the Details. Sadly, the word ruthless has not been eliminated from our ken.
Dave Volek Added Nov 23, 2017 - 3:14pm
Pascal
And this last explanation only applies where the social engineers are in the employ of honest societal heads.
 
And I think this says it best when social engineers often fail. One of the best example are the engineers that devised the scheme where poor people could get mortgages they couldn't afford to pay--which then led to the 2008 recession. They violated a basic principle of banking: don't give out silly loans.
 
We still have lots to learn about applying social engineering. But because there have been obvious failures does not mean it is evil. In fact, there is all sorts of social engineering done by the corporate world.