The Merit of Ridiculous Decisions

Today’s brutal economy is forcing people to do things they would have thought to be preposterous a year and half ago. In Japan, as unemployment grows to levels not seen since World War II, unemployed factory and office workers are going to the countryside to try to be farmers. Recently, I traveled to Japan and witnessed a place with high-tech, amenities I couldn’t imagine beforehand. Restaurants have computers to order from, taxies have doors that open automatically, public toilet seats are heated and ultra fast trains dominate transportation. People used to this world are attempting to learn to farm, in brutal conditions, hours away from metropolises such as Tokyo for a chance to make a living. Today only six percent of Japan’s population are farmers, verses 20 percent three decades ago, and two thirds of Japan’s farming population is 65 or older—this is sector in which there is demand for new labor. In response, the Japanese government is spending $10 million to send 900 people to job-training programs in farming, forestry and fishing. It’s a minuscule experiment, so why not try it.

There are parallels to this contrarianism in the in the U.S. Today artists from all over the world are attempting to establish a new community in a ghetto of Detroit (see the TMW blog “A Renaissance In Detroit from 25-03-09). Newspapers such as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer are scrapping their entire print addition to only publish online. Would that decision have been fathomable five years ago?

There is a wonderful Seinfeld episode in which George, the ultimate loser, for whom nothing ever works out, decides that any instinct he has for a decision he’s going to do the opposite. Some of his decisions appear to be utterly ridiculous, but somehow they lead to him to get a job interview to work for the Yankees. In the interview he decides to berate George Steinbrenner, but then he gets the job.

In today’s economy, one can’t be too quick to rule out new ideas, no matter how ridiculous they at first may seem.

Source Wall Street Journal

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