Tag Archives: corporate greed

The Canoe Race-a Satire on Capitalistic Economies

“The Canoe Race – a satire”

Source:   http://blogs.sourceallies.com/2010/02/a-modern-parable/

As you can see by the date embedded in the link, the following “parable” is now 6 years old.  What should be obvious to all somehow remains a mystery.  Corporate mismanagment and theft of wages and benefits of employees, bailouts, lay-offs and use of off-shore tax havens to avoid paying taxes in US-based enterprises is on the rise.  Could it be because of unchecked greed?  Oh no, surely not.  That is such a harsh and politically incorrect word to use.

In his “Dune” books Frank Herbert often mentioned “the law of the minimum” when talking about resource use and allocation.  An intelligent person understands that resource (or energy) re-allocation has to be based always on the minimum.  Always use the lowest number when guaging resource availability.  Competitive capitalism uses the opposite law, if it uses any law at all and it would be better said that capitalism is a lawless appropriation of any and all sources of energy with no thought ever given to the possibility that a resource will end – at least not until another, even more profitable resource has been discovered and brought into use.  

The one English word that perfectly defines capitalism is “MORE!” with the exclamation mark.  Do note, all you poets, that “More!” rhymes quite comfortably with “Whore!” – and with good reason.  Capitalism cannot function within a finite condition of resource availability, at least not without powerful governments dictating a steady-state economy (see Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steady-state_economy ) because we live in a finite environment and yet capitalism is the “economic model of choice” used to exploit, rule and control this world.  That being the case, the logical conclusion is that man’s entire civilization based as it is on such a perverted economic system can but collapse, the main beneficiaries of capitalism’s “largesse” being the very last ones to recognize their own demise.  By the time Americans, Canadians, Europeans and Australians realize their quasi-divine concept of capitalism has eaten through the last victuals in the global pantry, there will be nothing left to come back on.  They will die.  That, of course, has always been the price paid for worship of idols.  Now for the parable:


A Japanese company (Toyota) and an American company (General Motors) decided
to have a canoe race on the Missouri River.  Both teams practiced long and
hard to reach their peak  performance before the race.

On the big day, the Japanese won by a mile .

The Americans, very discouraged and depressed, decided to investigate the
reason for the crushing defeat.  A management team made up of senior
management was formed to investigate and recommend appropriate action.

Their conclusion was the Japanese had 8 people paddling and 1 person
steering, while the American team had 7 people steering and 2 people

Feeling a deeper study was in order, American management hired a consulting
company and paid them a large amount of money for a second opinion.

They advised, of course, that too many people were steering the boat, while
not enough people were paddling.

Not sure of how to utilize that information, but wanting to prevent another
loss to the Japanese, the paddling team’s management structure was totally
reorganized to 4 steering supervisors, 2 area steering superintendents and 1
assistant superintendent steering manager.

They also implemented a new performance system that would give the 2 people
paddling the boat greater incentive to work harder.  It was called the
‘Rowing Team Quality First Program,’ with meetings, dinners and free pens
for the paddlers.  There was discussion of getting new paddles, canoes and
other equipment, extra vacation days for practices, and bonuses.  The
pension program was trimmed to ‘equal the competition’ and some of the
resultant savings were channelled into morale boosting programs and teamwork

The next year the Japanese won by two miles.

Humiliated, the American management laid off one paddler, halted development
of a new canoe, sold all the paddles, and cancelled all capital investments
for new equipment.  The money saved was distributed to the Senior Executives
as bonuses.

The next year, try as he might, the lone designated paddler was unable to
even finish the race (having no paddles), so he was laid off for
unacceptable performance, all canoe equipment was sold and the next year’s
racing team was out-sourced to India.

Here’s something else to think about: GM has spent the last thirty years
moving all its factories out of the US, claiming they can’t make money
paying American wages.

TOYOTA has spent the last thirty years building more than a dozen plants
inside the US.  The last quarter’s results:

TOYOTA makes 4 billion in profits while GM racks up 9 billion in losses.

GM managers are still scratching their heads… and collecting ever larger bonuses…