Lucky Mom

Oct. 18, 2011

"Marge vs. the Monorail" and you

Lucky Mom guest post - Author: Ryan Sandberg.

Fans of the television show “The Simpsons” almost universally recognize episode 9F10, otherwise known as “Marge vs. the Monorail”, as one of the series' best episodes ever.

Written by late night legend Conan O'Brien when he was a staff writer on the show, it depicts the antics that ensue after Springfield unwisely invests a recent windfall into an unproven monorail project sold to them by a shifty out-of-town salesman.

Matriarch Marge Simpson sees right through the scam, but as her son Bart points out in the episode's entertaining song-and-dance number, “...it's too late mom, the mob has spoken!” Ostensibly a spoof of “The Music Man”, “Marge vs. the Monorail” does a wonderful job poking fun at the tendency for people as a whole to generally act like idiots, but to always wind up doing the right thing.

During these tough economic times, when it almost seems wise to consult Keen.com for advice on the future, the message of episode 9F10 is as poignant now as it was when it was aired nearly two decades ago. It's during times like these that people are the most vulnerable to quick cures, simple solutions, and the most romanticized of revolutionary ideas.

Rarely do any of these ideas pan out at a time when complexity is what caused the problems in the first place and patient plans are the only ways to fix them. In Springfield the roads were horribly out of shape and the town didn't have the money to fix them.

Then when the money became available, their solution was to spend it on a monorail to get around town instead of fixing the bad roads. We need to avoid similar mistakes in the present day.

That means it's imperative that you as an individual and as a parent keep a clear head when it comes to the “right” solution. It's so easy to get swept up in a mob mentality, yet so many people forget that and allow rash collective judgments to dictate their personal decisions. For example, an unfortunate episode of SIDS in the neighborhood may prompt every parent to go out and spend tons of money on a product or pill that some in-town blogger suggested would ward off crib death. Lo and behold everyone eventually realizes that SIDS is statistically a fact of life and that such solutions are probably ineffective. But instead of that money going to practical purchases, it was wasted in a bout of baseless fear.

Advice from the media in general must always be digested with a grain of salt included. With that said, the words of wisdom found in 'Marge vs. the Monorail” ring true as much today as they did back in 1993. People are by default foolish and quick to believe anything. Keep that in mind the next time someone tells you they have all the solutions. Chances are you'll have questions they can't answer.