The Dilbert management theory of John Banks and Kim Dotcom

* Allegedly, *allegedly, *allegedly, *allegedly, *allegedly, **illegibly, ***in my opinion, *allegedly, *allegedly, *allegedly. **** I reckon.

That’s the best way to talk about this Banks / Dotcom palaver: if you get the legal tip-toeing out of the way first, it’s just asterisks, not lawyers, that break your flow as you try to explain it. It’s hard to work out what’s going on if you’re worrying about getting sued.

Anyway, let’s see what we’ve got. Deep breath…

… okay so the slim majority of our government is at risk of collapse because the PM – who struck a deal with a casino* to change the law in exchange for a convention centre – depends on support from an ex-Mayor who has been soliciting corporate donations* and calling them anonymous*, including money from said casino plus an absurdly wealthy internet pirate* who split his donations into more easily concealed parts at the ex-Mayor’s request* by signing** a couple of $25,000 cheques. But the pirate is now angry*** because, apart from buying the ex-Mayor’s (failed) efforts to influence the law and help him purchase a mansion*, his money was wasted when the ex-mayor didn’t go to $50,000-worth of effort* to block his extradition on trumped-up charges out of the US* which itself has purchased New Zealand’s legal co-operation in order to protect its entertainment sector ****.

…Phew. What an unsavoury mess. It’s as if the galaxy of stars required to even explain this situation are casting a wan and wobbly light of their own – one that picks out worry lines on John Key’s brow and glints from the sweat beads on Banskie’s too-tight skin. It’s an unattractive scene.

Speaking of which, check out Kim Dotcom. From here it looks like he’s having a decent crack at bringing this government down. Some people even think he could do it – and reckon they’d vote him for mayor if he pulled it off.

But what do we think about Kim Dotcom? Do we even like him?

A while back the Dotcoms complained they didn’t feel welcomed by New Zealanders when they became residents – but what does the guy expect? He changed his name to Dotcom then moved to New Zealand. How about Kim Dot-co-dot-enzed?

That would be a start at least. And there’s no denying the man has a certain charming zest for life. But voting the guy for mayor? That seems a big step. Is he really city hall material? Would we vote not-so-Lil’ Kim for public office?

When people start talking about leaders, I find it’s often worth applying a brilliant yardstick of authority proposed by the (admittedly cartoon) management analyst, Dilbert.

Dilbert claimed that all leaders can be explained by only four qualities, which operate on two axes. There’s good (G) and evil (E), plus the qualities of being competent (C) or incompetent (I) – which means that all leaders fall into one of four types: GC, GI, EC or EI.

Let’s try some examples. Looking at leaders past and present we can see that British prime minister Neville Chamberlain, for instance, was widely viewed as a nice chap but pretty hopeless, making him GI; while closer to home hindsight shows that Helen Clark was both well-intentioned and effective (GC). George Bush on the other hand was both malign and bad at it (EI), whereas Dick Cheney (or Rob Muldoon perhaps?) embodied the final and most dangerous combination EC – or evil and competent.

You follow? There’s even an argument that says the public prefer an E,C leader over one who’s incompetent but good – which explains why Phil Goff was trounced at the last election.

So what about Dotcom? United States prosecutors would have us believe he’s a kind of Baron Harkonnen figure (if you don’t get that reference, just download the movie torrent for Dune) – an obese, evil genius intent on sucking the entertainment industry dry for his own glutinous satisfaction. Whereas fans of free fireworks, the video game Modern Warfare 2, and his impossibly hot wife see him as a black-clad benefactor – like Santa Claus if he were in The Matrix. An Owen Glenn on pies.

The truth of course is probably somewhere in between. As a multi-millionaire entrepreneur he obviously gets a C for competence, but in the truculent revenge he’s exacting on JB, most people would place his morality on the slippery slope. Mind you if you take John Key’s view that it’s the law, not ethics that counts in politics, maybe Kimmie will be the next man in the Act yellow jacket…

Anyway, that just leaves the bloke at the centre of this affair to sit the Dilbert test. Is our JB a cunning EC? Or is this muddle over money the work of a misunderstood GI?

I think there are few people who’ve crossed paths with Banksie – on the way to Damascus or elsewhere – who would doubt the man’s competence.

But his morals? The worry for the government is that most people watching this sordid anonymous-cash-for-pokies-and-power mess play out would be happy to slap an asterisk on it and call it evil.

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