Angry New Yorker

Monday, September 19, 2022

"No plan survives contact with the enemy" - German field marshal Moltke the Elder.  

Call this morning out of the blue from a NYC real estate agent asking about "my plans" for the building in Astoria, NY, that my grandfather purchased back in the early 1950s. Built in 1928, it's an attached two story brick row-house with a number of small apartments. It's where I live as a kid for the first few years of my life; it's where I spent many a Sunday as my parents and family visited with my maternal grandparents (my father's parents live around the corner) and where me and a good friend fresh out-of-college stayed for one winter because it cut our commute to our downtown Manhattan job while my grandparents headed south to their trailer in Astor, FL. It's where my grandparents basically lived their entire adult lives after they came to the US after WWII.  Comparables on the block now go for $2.2 to $3.1MM. 

I have no idea how the agent got my name. I'm not listed on any of the deed documents to my knowledge; nor on the family trust agreement that the building's title was transferred into before my grandmother's passing. [I'll come back to this later.]

I've been thinking a good deal about leadership. Especially from our current political leaders, of both parties. And I've come to a conclusion that most of our current crop of lifetime leaders are sadly wanting because they have virtually zero idea of how chaos effects reality. Recently - and as totally an aside to this essay - I read U.S. Grant's memoir. As expected, a majority is highly focused on the Civil War. But the driving experience one gets from his recounting of warfare is chaos. Careful plans gone awry. Unexpected weather intervening. Needed supplies never showing up. Communications never received. Along the ability to react to same in an effective manner to overcome. Grant knew this first hand. This also factored into his Presidency. There's a reason the Marine's mantra is "Improvise. Adapt. Overcome" because nothing is more chaotic than the battlefield. Our leaders forget that chaos isn't confined to the battlefield.

My grandparents knew chaos post WWII firsthand. My parents saw the effects of it firsthand. I only came to appreciate chaos' awesome power late in life - and I grew up reading WWII books like Guadacanal Diary, Thirty Second Over Tokyo, etc. where nothing in the recounting of war tales worked the way they were suppose to. But I didn't have an appreciation for this when it comes to policy. Mainly because I bought into the canard that adults were in charge and could be relied upon. Which has been patently proven to be in false. And I'm very sure today's millenials and the majority of today's well-bred children have little idea of the power of "things going sideways" - playdates are planned, schedules are made, and resume internship and add-ons are checked off - but it's a major factor in how we've gotten to where we are today. Why? Because our leaders invariably set up programs that are geared to predictable lock steps: Pass law A, People will do B and Result C is what will happen. But that's not reality. It's not the way life works. And going against reality generates bad results. [I'll return to this later, too]

Bottomline is that very few in in congress or in the higher echelons of business knows what a real FUBAR day looks like or what Murphy's Law actually means in the court of the day. And for good reason: they arrange their days to avoid such scenarios. But the result is that have little understanding of what many, if not the majority, of Americans face each day. The morning where the car breaks down, the phone battery went dead, and the electric bill didn't get paid in time.... those unanticipated situations that veer the car of your day off the road and into a pole. Andromeda Strain had a scene where a small piece of piece got stuck in the teletype machine and prevented the bell from ringing so the person on duty never new a vital new message had arrived. It was classic Murphy's Law. Our putative leaders have forgotten this - or never realized it in the first place. 

Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?