Today's change agent entry is inspired by the former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis who is credited with coining the phrase:
Sunlight is the best disinfectant
and is a guiding principle in the benefits of openness and transparency in everything from politics to customer service.
Having lived in Japan for a couple of years and subsequently taking two years of college Japanese, I have a bit of a soft spot for all things Japanese.
I cheered when Takeru Kobayashi decimated the previous world record for eating hot dogs.
So this year when his name started bubbling up in my news filters, I naturally started following the developing story. It seems that Nathans Famous, the Coney Island hot dog company who has been holding a hot dog eating competition on and off since 1916 somewhere along the line out-sourced its marketing to something called "Major League Eating", which from everything I can gather is a shell for-profit corporation trying to not only capitalize on someone else's future colon-cancer, but hell-bent on forming a monopolistic death grip on what used to be a common and free competition held at every county fare (such as pie eating contests etc)
While the spin doctors like Richard Shea of MLE have been trying to shift the blame to Takeru for having a "contract dispute", further trying to use FUD tactics and character assassination by painting him as an unstable individual, reading Takeru's account is a lot more authentic and genuine.
We may never know the full story, since there are always three sides (yours, mine, and the truth) -- what is evident from the public information is that MLE wants to control Takeru and bar him from competing in any non-MLE sponsored event. Period. The irony is not lost on me: On Independence Day someone wants to keep someone from being independent.
Lets translate that:
A for-profit corporation, who's only value-add is providing promotional support in exchange for gathering fee's from advertisers, wants to enslave a human being who's primary means of income is from winning eating contests and barring that individual from competing in any competition that it isn't deriving some economic benefit from.
As far as I can tell, Major League Eating is exhibiting all the classic signs of rent-seeking (from WikiPedia):
"rent seeking occurs when an individual, organization or firm seeks to earn income by capturing economic rent through manipulation or exploitation of the economic or political environment, rather than by earning profits through economic transactions and the production of added wealth."
If anything this suggests that there is an opportunity here for someone to form the "World Eating Federation" a non-profit who's primary motivator is to funnel its revenues in to providing stock to food-shelves or sustainable agriculture in developing nations. Karmically that would help balance things out.
What I've discovered in my little ranting missives on Facebook is that merely mentioning "Nathans Famous" in my updates, its automatically showing up on their facebook page. How amazing cool is that as a lever for change agents to pull? Its not full sunshine, but more like a laser pointer.
Today's Big Idea is this: In social-networks, use and distribute laser-pointers to illuminate bad behavior.