Friday, August 12, 2011
Smart and Lazy...Mostly Lazy
The writer Jerry Pournelle writes that conventional wisdom among the military used to judge officers by two variables: by smart and stupid, and by active or lazy. Of course it's an oversimplification, but I have found using those variables is a good rule of thumb.
The list would be like this:
Stupid and Active
Stupid and Lazy
Smart and Active
Smart and Lazy
The active and stupid are to be eliminated. That combination is so obviously dangerous it doesn't really need to be explained. But if it does, let's just say they'll get many men killed in battle, or even in training.
Lazy and stupid are the heart of the army, the kind who work their way up from the bottom. They are most of the officer corp. They aren't dangerous, because they want to do as little as possible.
Smart and active make good staff officers, but aren't to be promoted, and they are never to be given supreme command. They're always coming up with bright ideas, but that doesn't mean they're good ones.
To my surprise, the highest command goes to the smart and lazy. They come up with good ideas, but get others to carry them out.
As best as I've been able to discover, it was Count von Bismarck who discovered these variables, when he realized the two most importance things in soldiers were their intelligence and their propensity to take action. Things got simplified over the years to "smart" or "stupid" and "active" or "lazy."
I was a bit surprised, since I'm smart and lazy. My idea of a good time is to sit in the backyard in a lawnchair as the sun goes down, smoke my pipe and watch my pug (who is very stupid and very active) run in circles. Or to spend an hour soaking in a bath. My idea of sports is fishing. Yet I'd make it to the top in the military? Hard to believe. But then, I did try to build a robot when I was 12, figuring if I succeeded it could do my housework.
I operate on the assumption the military, having been around for thousands of years, knows what it's talking about. Since human nature doesn't change, you can take those variables and apply them to other fields. What about politics? If you do, you'll encounter something pretty scary.
George Bush was stupid and active. And as the years of his Presidency went by, he got dumb and dumber. Is this what political power does to people? Make them stupid, make them think they can get away with things no one in his right mind would think he could get away with? Make them lose their conscience? I am reminded of the saying, "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
I think a better saying is, "Power intoxicates, and immunity corrupts." Bill Clinton became stupid and active, and almost got booted out of the Presidency.
As for Barry Soetero, he is also stupid and active. As hard as it is too believe, he's worse than Bush.
Such stupidity and activity has lead to the U.S. being involved in six wars, and the severe damaging of the economy.
Apparently almost all politicians are stupid and active. That's why they cause so many problems. An example of a man who is smart and lazy (lazy as a politician) is Ron Paul, who is an exemplar of what every politician should be.
Hitler, for example, was a consummate politician, one who was described as half-genius, half-insane. Half-genius and half-insane makes him stupid and active, so it's not surprising when he was in the military his commanding writers wrote of him that they could not detect in him any qualities for being an officer. Although people think he never made it beyond corporal, he really never made it beyond private, first class.
I once wrote an article a few years ago about what I would do if I was the King of America. I'd gamble, chase women, drink wine, grow roses, and do several other things, almost none of them political. I'd get rid of most laws and let the free market take care of itself. In other words, I'd actualize my smart and lazy self even more than it already is. And I'd make a good king.
The problem with politics is that it always attracts the active, whether they're smart or stupid. The public is the one that pays for their activity. If we have to have politicians, we need lazy ones. The best, of course, would be lazy and smart.
Don't look at me, though. I'm not interested. I am, of course, much too smart – or is it lazy? – to fall for the con job known as politics.