Billy, stop watching TV and go battle for global supremacy
Written by Michael Lewis on February 6, 2014
You wouldn’t play in the National Football League using the local Pee Wee League champs.
You wouldn’t ask the high school aviation club to pilot the American Airlines fleet.
You wouldn’t dream of asking the most talented neighborhood dance class to replace the Miami City Ballet’s dancers.
You wouldn’t do those things because you’re smart enough to know that even the most talented of our youngsters need years of experience before any of them can hope to reach the level of top professionals.
You also know that the best and brightest all across this land seek those key roles as well, and that while many aspire only a few can attain them. There’s a reason, after all, why a pinnacle is a pinnacle. It’s because we all can’t be the best.
None of this is rocket science. Everyone knows that school kids are in no position to battle the top professionals of this nation.
Correction: not everyone knows. I forgot the Miami-Dade County Commission. How foolish.
This is the government that just decided in its “height of sanity,” to quote Commissioner Barbara Jordan in talking about another elected body, that the way to compete for global tourism, trade and investment is by having high school art students handle our county’s branding, imaging, slogan and logo.
That’s right, we’re going to compete against the Big Apple using the Little Red Schoolhouse.
Commissioner after commissioner after commissioner talked about how bright our 14- to 16-year-old art students are, so let them compete to create a branding package for the county.
There is a perfectly logical reason, as commissioners noted: the kids are free, but we might have to pay Miami’s best professionals to take on the world.
And since we paid within the past decade for imaging and branding help, Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz said, commissioners might be criticized for using pros.
Amateurs, however, are OK in global competition. We’d lose the battle but save the money, which we’d need as tourism, trade and investment were all siphoned away.
That, unfortunately, is the reality of Miami-Dade government.
Commissioners were perfectly fine giving away $3 billion for a baseball stadium from which they don’t get a dime on grounds that we needed the stadium to be a Big League community.
But when it’s not sports, why pay for the best when we can have amateurs at work? Besides, our commission seems to be much more at home with amateurs.
Juan Zapata, who is relatively new, developed the idea of an image upgrade to get a competitive edge in a global arena. And he promised to bring forth nationally recognized advertising leaders from Miami who had already offered free services in the cause of community building.
Our concern initially was that he hadn’t looked broadly enough. He later filled that gap by adding branding to the overhaul package.
What was not to like in this concept: free work by national leaders that commissioners could in the end accept or reject?
Only that commissioners might be criticized if we upgraded from the current ho-hum slogan “Delivering Excellence Every Day” to something that might have the magic appeal of “Big Apple” or “Windy City” or “City by the Bay” or “Research Triangle” or “City of Light” or …
At the end of a commission meeting – or, in the case of branding, commission beating – Mr. Zapata put the whole matter on ice, saying he was in no hurry to look at any of these things and in any event if he got around to a new proposal it wouldn’t cost a penny for anything at all.
So as other communities fight harder to lure business we’re going to reject free top-level expertise that could benefit tourism, trade, investment and global image and instead think about how school kids could do the job.
And we’re going to take our time about even that.
And as we try to lure a future Super Bowl, commissioners, should Miami’s bid include having a Pee Wee League team on one side? It makes just as much sense.