political commentary

the 4:33 principle

We should be grateful when politicians and other government employees slack off.
by T Nelson


The 4:33 Principle

On the Internet, no one can tell whether you're a dolphin or a porpoise
by T Nelson

The famous composer John Cage once wrote a composition called 4:33, which consists of four minutes and 33 seconds of complete silence. It's often said, after listening to his other compositions like Atlas Eclipticalis, which was mainly a series of nerve-racking randomly timed piano crashes, that 4:33 was the composer's best and most beautiful work, and it was by far his most popular.

4:33 is a catchy little tune. I often find myself humming it during the day. The musicians generally act like the whole thing is silly. They'd obviously rather be showing off their skills, but at least they're creating beauty, and they get paid for it just the same.

Score of John Cage's 4:33

Maybe we could apply the 4:33 principle to government employees.

We've all heard stories about the government employees who make six-figure salaries while doing nothing but browsing the Internet all day, but who can't be fired. According to the Government Accountability Institute, as of March 2013, our current president has played a total of 115 rounds of golf since taking office. In 2010 he took almost 7 weeks of vacation. Other presidents have taken even more.

That's just not enough. Politicians do their best work when they're drunk, unconscious, or in bed with a prostitute or boinking an intern. Fifty years from now, Bill Clinton will be nearly forgotten and it will be Monica Lewinsky who is remembered as the one who used her talent and skill to prevent him from going off half-cocked, so to speak, and starting a war in the Middle East. So even if we have to fly our leaders to Tahiti at public expense to keep them out of harms way, it would be well worth it. For lower level employees, there's always the local strip joint. We should encourage them to have a free lap dance on us (so to speak).

If we could get each of our senators to remain silent for four minutes and 33 seconds once a day instead of giving a speech, we could have seven hours and 35 minutes of golden non-lying silence every day.

Let's assume the 4,312,000 federal employees (according to OPM) make, on average, $100,000 a year in salary plus benefits. That amounts to 431 billion dollars a year, or $1,436 from every man, woman, and child in the country. If state, local, and city government are included, the total number of government employees rises to 21,925,000 (as of December 2012, according to Mike Patton of Forbes Magazine).

Many people assume this is a colossal waste—a problem to be solved. But if no government employee, from the President on down, were allowed to do any work, we would have fewer stupid laws and regulations, less wasteful government spending, and far fewer foreign policy disasters. That alone would be worth paying $1,400 a year. It would be well worth the cost.

A memo-writing gap

Our corporations understand this intuitively. In a big company, the average manager is said to attend 61.8 meetings per month. As much as 40-50% of managers' time is taken up in meetings. In many companies, employees send summaries of the meeting to each other afterwards, which the other employees must read. Then there are the countless memos, SOPs, and ISO documents that need to be written. Even engineers and scientists these days spend much of their time creating useless reams of paperwork which nobody ever reads.

Although engineers and scientists usually still find ways to be productive, most meetings are held by managers. The purpose of these meetings is to keep managers and executives out of the way of those who do actual work, and thereby reduce the amount of damage they can do to the company.

Our government used to be a world leader in meetings and memo-writing, but in recent years they have fallen behind. Most government spending is now automated: for example, 6% of our tax revenue (as of 2013) goes to paying interest on the the debt that they racked up, which stood at 17.6 trillion in 2013. That's great, but it happens automatically, which frees the employees to figure out ways to spend even more of the money they don't have.

The debt is a problem, but it's not the biggest one. The debt will go away by itself when our currency collapses. The big problem is the politicians and bureaucrats who will rebuild it afterwards, when USA 2.0 is created from the economic rubble.

Make them eat cake

You can help. If you work in a government office, bring some rope to work tomorrow and tie your colleagues' hands behind their back. If that doesn't work, throw an office party and make them eat cake. Or call a meeting. Anything to keep their minds off work. We taxpayers will thank you for it. When the revolution comes, we'll tie them up for real.

See also:


Government Is Too Big

The government is gone! We're free!!!

America must evolve

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