Companies do all kinds of things to boost staff morale. They hire motivational speakers, have team-building exercises, give employees gifts, etc.
But the industrial psychologist Lawrence Zeitlin, in an article published in June 1971 in Psychology Today ("A little larceny can do a lot for employee morale"), argued that the most effective way a business could boost morale was by allowing its employees to steal a little from the company.
He argued that theft added to a sense of "job enrichment" by making the job more interesting. It gave employees a sense of satisfaction at getting away with it. Also, workers "often looked upon theft as a condition of employment." Furthermore, he noted, allowing the theft could be cheaper than installing elaborate security precautions.
In her book Management and Ideology, business author Judith Merkle provides some background info on Zeitlin's article:
Before its publication in Psychology Today the Harvard Business Review had previously turned down the article. It was, after all, a classic application of amoral Scientific Management techniques, and it offended the HBR down to its puritan roots. The interesting point is, however, that the control practices recommended in this article bear a close family resemblance to the working practices of Stalinism. Allowing theft, while keeping the rules against theft, certainly makes theft more thrilling, but it also opens up the way to arbitrary and discriminatory uses of power through the selective application of dead-letter rules. This is, of course, the first step in the destruction of the rule of law, and, in the long run, leads to the introduction of de facto totalitarianism.
1977: Larry Canaday, football coach at Eau Gallie High School in Florida, would inspire his players to victory by biting the head off a live frog. No one at the school was particularly disturbed by this. Parents would even give him frogs before games to help fire up the kids. But when word of the unusual motivational technique began to attract national attention, school officials told Canaday that the "frog-biting must cease."
Back in 1970, Douglas P. Stewart, a professor of classics at Brandeis University, made headlines for advocating that the elderly should lose the right to vote.
His thesis is this:
"The old, having no future, are dangerously free from the consequences of their own political acts, and it makes no sense to allow the vote to someone who is actuarially unlikely to survive and pay the bills for (what) he may help elect."
In other words, Stewart thinks old people vote with an attitude of "grand je serais mort, je me ficherais de tou — (when I'm dead, it (society) can go to hell)."
Stewart, if he's still alive, would now be around 83. I wonder if he's still voting?
The Daily Journal (Franklin, Indiana) — Sep 23, 1970
October 1977: German tourist Erwin Kreuz took a flight from Augsburg to San Francisco. When it landed in the United States, he got off.
Three days later, he realized he wasn't actually in San Francisco. Instead, he was in Bangor, Maine, where the plane had stopped for refueling. Kreuz realized his mistake when he got bored of wandering around what he thought were the suburbs of San Francisco, got in a cab, and asked to go to downtown San Francisco. The cabbie somehow managed to inform him (despite Kreuz's total lack of English) that it would be a very long trip.
Kreuz later explained that when he had been sitting on the flight, after it had landed, a stewardess had walked past him and wished him a "pleasant stay in San Francisco." The crew was being switched during the refueling, so she was just saying goodbye, but Kreuz assumed it meant they had arrived in SF. So he deboarded, went through customs, and managed to get a cab to a local hotel.
When the media got word of Kreuz's mix-up, he became a national celebrity. The SF Examiner flew him out to San Francisco at their expense, where he got to meet the mayor and tour the city.
A year later Kreuz returned to Bangor to be the celebrity guest at the opening of a shopping mall, but things for him then went downhill because the brewery where he worked back in Germany fired him for taking too much time off.
In 1979, Kreuz returned to Bangor a third time, hoping to find a job by cashing in on his celebrity. But the only job he was offered was as a janitor. So he returned to Germany.
"Mom, Dad--I want to grow up to be an EPA field-worker like Johnny Horizon!"
Such were the words probably never actually spoken in the early 1970s, when the icon of Johnny Horizon was launched by the BLM. But if any lad or lassie did utter such a wish, then they could have been placated with the Johnny Horizon Environmental Test Kit. Parker Brothers showed a little poindexter hard at work in their ads for the kit.
Just a year away from seeing if Steven Spielberg nailed his predictions from 1971, the year he made this show, L.A. 2017. Seeing elderly hippes still performing some fifty years after the Summer of Love, and knowing the Rolling Stones still go on tours, I think Spielberg might have been on to something!
In my latest article over at About.com, I tell the story of the 1970 Cable Car Nymphomaniac lawsuit — which is still one of the most infamous legal cases in SF's history (and was recently made into a musical).
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
Our banner was drawn by the legendary underground cartoonist Rick Altergott.