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Don’t Pick Up the Banana Peel

May 18th, 2008 . by economistmom

I didn’t post yesterday because I was distracted.  I locked my keys in my minivan in what turned out to be a failed attempt to do too many things at once.  With a great plan for how I could: (1) teach one yoga class in the morning, (2) quickly change clothes, (3) drive straight to daughter #3’s ballet venue while eating “breakfast”, and then (4) leave her performance a little early to get to the second yoga class of the day, I celebrated the success of the plan prematurely–at step #3–and got so unfocused that I managed to lock my keys in the car–and not notice until I was to implement step #4 (instead of hours earlier at step #3 when I could have had time to remedy it).

See, my tragic downfall was that I picked up the banana peel.

Arriving at the ballet theatre, I was rushing out, opened the door, hooked my purse over my arm, then realized I needed to grab my cell phone.  So I grabbed the cell phone in one hand, keys in another, and then locked the car door from the door lock.

Then I noticed the banana peel I had left on the floor.  Oh, better pick that up, or the car will reek of banana by the time I get back here, hours later…

So I picked up the banana peel in one hand, cell phone still in the other, purse still hooked over one arm, and then closed the car door, running toward the theatre focused on finding a trash can along the way for my banana peel.

Somehow with two hands full (cell phone in one, banana peel in the other), I didn’t notice I didn’t have my keys… not until I had to implement step #4, hours later.  Step #4 failed.   

Of course, this was just another of the regularly-occuring signals to me that I try to do too much.  It also served as a lesson:  “don’t pick up the banana peel”–meaning, don’t let minor distractions and trivial things get in the way of accomplishing one’s major tasks “at hand.”   (ha ha)

I suppose a lot of you people out there (but especially parents) have your own picking-up-the-banana-peel moments, and I know that this applies big time to the way the government conducts business.  Why, government has tons of banana peels lying around them!  I suppose next week I will find a way to talk about the “banana peels” in the congressional budget resolution.

What do you think are good examples of ”picking up the banana peel” and “locking the keys in the car” that you see in the public policy arena?  Or in your own daily lives? 

One Response to “Don’t Pick Up the Banana Peel”

  1. comment number 1 by: B Davis

    What do you think are good examples of ”picking up the banana peel” and “locking the keys in the car” that you see in the public policy arena? Or in your own daily lives?

    I think that one could argue that going into Iraq was a major case of ”picking up the banana peel” and “locking the keys in the car”. Of course, there are some who believe that “going to war with Iraq was the right thing for the United States to do” (33 percent according to a recent poll). I must admit to being with the majority on this issue. In any case, it seems that almost everyone agrees that there were major mistakes made in the process.

    In the area of the budget, I’ve long thought that the focus on the unified budget deficit is a major distraction from the real issues. What rational individual focuses on their monthly credit card “deficit” as a sign of their financial health? What’s important is the total outstanding debt. It is the federal debt that we will have to pay interest on forever (or until we pay it back). The unified deficit becomes little more than a historical footnote at the end of each year. It is the debt that stays with us.

    In addition, the unified deficit ignores all of the funds that are being borrowed from Social Security and the other trust funds. Hence, we had the bizarre case where the unified deficit was $162 billion in 2007 but the gross federal debt (which does include these funds and is currently about $9.3 trillion) went up by $499.4 billion in 2007. I’ve posted more on this issue here.

    Finally, I think that the supply-side argument that tax cuts pay for themselves is a major distraction. It serves to short-circuit any rational debate about the benefits versus the costs of tax cuts. This may have been a factor with our cutting taxes during a war for the first time in our history.