Another Ball in the Air

Published M-Anation Sep 2019

What strategy do you use if you are overwhelmed? When I hear a hare-brained project proposed by a politician, it reminds me of a scheme an old boss of mine, another ball in the air. When there are more demands than you can accomplish in the time given, what do you do? It’s counter-intuitive but sometimes it’s better to make things worse or at least seem worse.

I asked my boss after a department meeting, “Why did you suggest the company do such an oddball project? You already complain that we can’t even finish the projects we have.”

He chuckled, then gazed at me through half-lidded eyes. “Whenever I am overwhelmed, I look for another ball to throw in the air.”

Juggling 3 balls
By nummer9 – Selfmade with JugglingLab, CC BY-SA 3.0,

“That doesn’t make sense. We’re already overwhelmed.”

“Watch. At the next department meeting, the other managers will be fighting so hard not to catch my latest hot potato that I’ll be able to swap any of my projects for whatever easy projects are flying loose.”


When a politician proposes a strange, off-the-wall project, check the statuses the projects he already has.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Golden Fleece Award, instituted by the late Sen. William Proxmire. Its most famous award was to the Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere. There are scads of important problems facing the United States, but a bridge of dubious utility was proposed, allowing for much jawboning, distracting the populace from essential items.

Another ball in the air can be used to support scapegoating. The scapegoat is created to distract attention from other failures.

For scapegoating see also: Arab Governments and Terrorists and Home-Grown Terrorists and Islamic Civil War.

Juggling animation created by nummer9 – Selfmade with JugglingLab, CC BY-SA 3.0,


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