Read a funny article on Mao and his management style today in the Economist. The article was not aimed at another anti-communism harangue, as the Western world has always been engaged in since the cold war. Rather it points out some ruthless aspects of Mao’s leadership skill, among which his poignant understanding of sunken cost. The object of discussion was a doctor who once saved Mao’s life was left dying on the prison floor during the Cultural Revolution. While it is not so accurate to describe the negligence on Mao’s side as forgoing sunken cost, nevertheless I believe Mao understood what that means, despite without the actual modern coinage. But the real backbone behind many of Mao’s ruthless, seemingly ungrateful actions, was justified by a sense of sacrificing individual rights for the sake of greater humanitarian goal. He is a political Jack the ripper so to speak, although he didn’t actually reign by fear, but by maddening hope. I must take my leave from this subject due to my intrinsic ignorance thereof.
what I need to talk about is sunken cost as applied to myself. The reason I bring it up is that I got fined today in the library, at the outrageous rate of 2 dollars per item per hour, which accrued to 32 by the time I talked to the librarian. I managed to cut it down by half, under extremely careful eye contact and a suicidal Asian (possibly Korean) face. She took the cue and started to appeace my belabored soul rather than adding insult to injury. Still I felt irretrievably lost, after one of the major defeats in recent memory. In fact fining has been a recurring theme in my life, the prevention of which could merit another thread. But let’s focus on the meaning of sunken cost in this situation for now. I was reasonably well adjusted after having cut down the fine by half, but had she not done that I might have gone berserke and act in a very unprofessional way. I might even start to tighten my budget, giving up any temporal pleasure in the next few weeks. But the psychological consequence would have been devastating. Anyway it’s always good to remind myself that lessons must be learned, and yet life must continue undisturbed, especially during time of peace, although suicide rate is probably much lower during war period.