Self-destruct gene

“This is working so well. Let’s do away with it.”

That is a message I hear all too often. In one guise or another. You probably hear it too.

I hear it so often I wonder if a self-destruct gene is a major ingredient in humanity’s make up.

Here’s an example of the gene in action. A performing arts group near me ran a successful gala every year. It made a lot of money for them. More money than any of their other events. It won friends galore. Subscribers and others called it the best event of the season.

The board decided to end it. It seems they wanted “something new.” That “something new” became a disaster.

Advertising people will regale you with stories of clients who kill their succesful ad campaigns. All their research tells them their campaigns are doing better than expected. Their people in the field tell them the same. Sales figures tell them the same. Yet the companies stop them.

Years ago I ran the marketing of a small manufacturer. I constantly had to fight skirmishes with those in the firm who wanted to kill our most successful campaigns.

Large companies face the same problems. The man who was president of ABC Radio confirmed this with me. ABC ran four Paul Harvey programs. His morning news. His mid-day report. His Saturday special report. And his “Rest of the Story” program.

These were the four most popular programs in all of radio. They made tons of money for the network. Yet when contract time came around this president usually faced a mutiny amongst his news management. They wanted to kill Harvey’s programs. The four most listened-to programs in the country.

The president told me he had to go to the chairman each time to have the contract renewed.

We see the gene at work on large projects.

Currently the Russians are destroying the success of their oil and gas industries. They won’t kill the industries. But they will harm them. So reports Leon Aron in The American Magazine.

After the breakup of the Soviet Union, a lot of Russia’s oil and gas was in the hands of private companies. Companies that made their owners incedibly rich. But the reason they got rich was because they made their companies successful. And they reinvested nearly $40 billion - 88 percent of their net profits. Reinvested in more drilling and exploration and technology.

These oil companies paid billions of dollars to the government in taxes. They paid out billions to countless shareholders. Their good management increased oil and gas production 47 percent in 4 years. This was a success story. Meanwhile, government-owned oil and gas companies managed a miserable 14 percent increase.

The Russian government decided to kill the geese that laid the golden eggs. It has jailed some of the oil company leaders. It has confiscated some of the companies’ assets. It has forced companies to sell out to the government. After averaging 8.5 percent growth from 2001 to 2004, the last two years the growth in oil production dropped to 2 percent.

Elsewhere, wherever the Russians have government-owned pipelines and equipment there is dilapidation.

Idiot Hugo Chavez is doing the same to his country’s oil industry.

You surely know people who self-destruct. With addictions. With behavior that works against their success. For instance, depressed people will often ignore the best of news, the best of opportunities. When they identify what holds the most promise they go out of their way to do the opposite. If something works for them they will drop it.

Many gamblers will keep betting until they lose. In option trading. At casinos. At the track. When they win big, they fold their winnings into the next bet instead of their pocket.

Spendthrifts will not be happy until they spend more than they earn. Earn $50,000, spend $52,000. Get a $10,000 bonus, on top of the $50,000? Spend $62,000.

You need a hundred fingers to count the times our congress has axed tax and economic policies that are working.

No good deed goes unpunished? No success goes unthreatened. It’s in our collective genes.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

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