The Gift of Failure


by Lou Binninger

Some feel that Jon Brower Minnoch (September 30, 1941 – September 10, 1983) was the fattest person on earth. He was an American man who, at his peak weight, was estimated to be 1,400 lbs. This was a close estimation because his extreme size, declining health, and lack of mobility prevented use of a traditional scale.

At 12, Minnoch weighed 294 lbs. and by 22 he was 6 ft. 1in weighing 500 lbs. Though hard to imagine, he was once a baby born of a woman. As a child it could be assumed that Jon had the dreams of a youngster, was free to move, contribute and create.

However, Minnoch's weight continued to increase steadily until his hospitalization in March 1978 at age 36 due to cardiac and respiratory failure. Minnoch was diagnosed with massive generalized edema, a condition in which the body accumulates excess extracellular fluid. Endocrinologist Dr. Robert Schwartz estimated that over 900 lbs. of Minnoch’s body mass was retained fluid.

Transportation for Minnoch was difficult. Moving or getting out was nearly impossible. It took over a dozen firemen and rescue personnel and a modified gurney to transport him to University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. There, he was placed on two beds pushed together, and it took 13 people to simply roll him over for linen changes.

Minnoch lost much of his freedom due to his obscene size, equaling more than eight 170 lb. men. He certainly consumed the natural resources, medical care and public services equivalent to the total of many people. His ability to contribute to society was stunted by his need to consume to maintain his way of life.

The United States government is the equivalent of Jon Brower Minnot. It’s obese, lethargic, wastes massive amounts of hard-earned resources, is sick and is good for very little. Pick the department, agency, and budget. You will find waste, people underperforming and being overpaid.

As Minnoch couldn’t move, the government is like a massive freak unable to change but constantly demanding more resources to survive. All wealth is created in the private sector, but is then taken and flitted away by government. The government is like cancer cells having mutated and are now screaming out of control.

The Founding Fathers considered government a necessary evil, so the smaller the better. An organized effort was needed to defend against foreign invaders and the sinful ways of humans. However, as the bureaucracy grew the people’s freedom and liberty were in the same measure devoured.

The 4 trillion dollar federal budget means 4 trillion dollars removed from the private sector. In private hands it was producing goods and services and being well-managed only to now be wasted by politicians on frivolous and nonsensical fiascos and mad ideas.

Silicon Valley is synonymous with incredible wealth and creativity but also with massive failure as possibly 90% of start-ups don’t succeed. Each misfire forces learning and improvement. It’s called creative destruction. Unprofitable enterprises end when investors pull their money back as a “great idea” is not so great after all.

However, when government fails it increases the budget and promotes people. ‘Dead horses’ are rarely declared dead and buried. It’s in someone’s perverted interest to preserve a stinking carcass. ‘Investor withdrawal’ is not allowed and is punishable by incarceration.

The Wall Street Journal says that it takes under an hour to fly from Chicago to St. Louis and American Airlines does so 7 times-a-day. The taxpayer-funded railroad called Amtrak does the same task in 5.5 hours. A fast rail project is now under way in Illinois to travel at 110 miles per hour and cut the trip to 4.5 hours. Two billion dollars has been spent to steal a few customers from the private airlines at taxpayers’ expense for a trip 4.5 times slower than by air.

Service and Amtrak (or government) is an oxymoron. This is not a partisan issue but a problem of political perversity and corruption.

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