Monday, December 07, 2009

Panic Is the Enemy of Clear Thinking, But an Excellent Sales Tactic

We are deeply resentful of all those who attempt to sell us something on the basis of false urgency, as in the following:

"This price is only good if you act today."

"Someone in the parts department wants this car, but the sales manager said you can have it if you match his price."

"This is the last one in stock, and I don't know if we will get any more."

Many such statements are factually false. Every such statement is an attempt to panic the buyer into a decision without gathering all the facts, including especially the relative merits and prices of comparable products from other sellers.

And these are exactly the tactics of last resort in politics, presently on display in the issues that have occupied much of this blog lately, namely global warming and healthcare reform.

For the former, note the Guardian's opinion piece which declares:

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days.

Wow! Let's applaud the geniuses who managed to schedule the Copenhagen summit at the precise fortnight, amidst millennia, in which the fateful decision must be made! But mark your calendars: the winter solstice of 2009 marks The End of the World as We Know It.

And on healthcare, Sen. Diane Feinstein is saying what nearly every Democrat seems to be saying these days:

If we miss this opportunity to pass this bill, it's lost. . . . This is the opportunity for health care reform. Some people say, well, we should do it next year, there are too many things. Y'know, there's an element of truth to that. But this is it. . . . If we don't deliver, we've got a problem.

Thanks, Senator! Even when you're willing to admit that no one in the parts department actually wants to buy that car, you're still hounding me with questions about how we can make the deal today. Apparently you think we're too much of a fool not to realize that a problem that's been brewing slowly for decades can stand some time for deliberation.

By contrast with such huckster tactics, we endorse instead the celebrated principle of the celebrated Stephen Sample, retiring president of the University of Southern California and author of the celebrated Contrarian's Guide to Leadership, which he styles "thinking gray":

Wise leaders can 'think gray." Most people take a binary approach to life, instantly categorizing things as good or bad, true or false, black or white. Effective leaders study the shades of gray inherent in situations before making decisions. They may put off making a decision until tomorrow, when new information might be available. They suspend judgment--not unlike a judge considering all the facts in a case--before making a final decision.

So we urge all thoughtful Americans to "think gray" by demanding that politicians debate these issues through 2010 and so make the upcoming elections a referendum on them. Lefties, if you're so right, what have you got to lose? Won't time make all the more obvious the needs which you insist drive your solutions?

Interestingly, federal law demands that any sale made in an individual's home may be canceled by the buyer within 72 hours. Our nanny-state Congressmen once acknowledged the duplicity of pressure tactics and gave consumers a statutory cooling-off period enabling them to get the pressurizing salesman out of the house so that they can do some thinking and comparing.

We simply ask for the same consideration with something much bigger.

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