Ming the Mechanic:
Monkey Money

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Monkey Money2003-09-12 09:05
picture by Flemming Funch

One of the best demonstrations of economics I've gotten, I got from ... a monkey. It was a little monkey at City Walk by Universal Studios in L.A. It had its owner with it, who was playing an old-fashioned organ where you grind the handle and it plays a corny old tune. The monkey was dressed in a silly costume, and there was a sign presenting the simple business proposition: Get out a quarter and the monkey will come over and get it out of your hand. Get out a dollar bill and the monkey will not only come and get it, but he will also shake your hand. Which is all cute, and well worth a quarter or a dollar, just to see that the monkey knows how to get the money, and to feel that it actually shakes your hand. I got out a dollar. The monkey snapped it up, shook my hand, and moved on to other businesss. Not so much as a smile, but I still felt satisfied with the transaction.

But now, the remarkable business action going on becomes apparent from observing that there's continuously 50 to 100 people standing around, and the monkey is essentially running around as fast as it can, picking up dollar bills and shaking hands. Seemed like 10-20 customers per minute to me. And, well, despite that I'm no business genius, I can easily add that up to $600-1200 per hour. Indeed, the organ grinder had a a rather large box that all the money was dropped into, and it was running over when I saw it.

I was sort of stunned. But that is a money machine at its best. Once you've trained the monkey, it takes very little effort, brings in loads of cash, and all the customers are happy with the transaction. The monkey works for peanuts, but I'm sure he's happy too.

I have peanuts. I have a roomy bucket that will hold a lot of money. But where do I get a monkey?

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12 Sep 2003 @ 09:26 by jstarrs : Try fleas...
...you find them in Toulouse & you could get a circus going & investment will be minimal.  

12 Sep 2003 @ 09:55 by ming : Fleas
If I could just get them shaking people's hands, I'd be set. Or, hey, monkeys have fleas, so I could piggy back one business on top of the other. I'm already thinking like an entrepreneur.  

12 Sep 2003 @ 10:12 by Laura @ : Creative Thinking
Very creative thinking Flemming!!!  

12 Sep 2003 @ 10:33 by Jon Husband @ : The 100th, or 1000th Monkey
If....you're an out-and-out capitalist, you borrow a bunch of other peoples' money, you set up some business (hopefully in a niche that lasts for a while) market the crap out of the idea/product/service (whether it's good for your clients or not - witness tobacco, fast food, Twinkies, etc.) and then you go hire a bunch of ..... monkies who you tell that they can have a job, so they can get a mortgage and three tv's and three cars and so on..., and you help them stay scared that the peanuts will run out, and so they keep on doing what you tell them to do...until you have no more use for them....and then you let them go back to their natural habitat....as scared hairless monkies.  

12 Sep 2003 @ 17:58 by ming : Monkeys
Yeah, so being a monkey trainer, who only provides peanuts when people do the right dance - that's great business. See, I hate that whole thing. But at the same time there's something there.  

12 Sep 2003 @ 18:16 by vibrani : Taking care of business
any way one can, is what it is......any gypsies or pet stores around there who might hook you up with a monkey, Ming? (I like monkeys, and apes - some of them are sweeter and more trustworthy than humans, and they don't hide their feelings.)  

12 Sep 2003 @ 20:17 by ming : Monkey Business
Actually I don't think I want a monkey. Although they're probably good friends. I'd just like to learn that trick, of money flowing effortlessly, and everybody being happy about it.  

12 Sep 2003 @ 20:34 by vibrani : What is the difference
between a panhandler versus a monkey taking money? Can this thought lead anywhere, I wonder...The organ grinder and money, and panhandler, are honest about wanting a handout. They ask and often receive. The only difference is in the gimmick, wouldn't you say? To have something unusual that people don't often get a chance to see or touch (the monkey, obviously), the novelty, which seems easier in passing the buck. I mean, people paid for religious objects, a pet rock, or rubber vomit. Anything can sell - but is it in the marketing, and the timing? This doesn't necessarily answer anything with respect to a business of integrity (as discussed in your other post).  

13 Sep 2003 @ 00:42 by tricia : A HANDSHAKE FROM ONE OF THE FLEAS
I don't do this well, but we together have in our new business group, refriedbeans.org:

It is the grandchild of the founding members' vision of a new civilization.
Ming is it's father; the creator of the system we translated into a practical business plan.
Our collective energy of the Earth is its mother, as "felt" through the collective energy here.

We are a new model of business.
We are a new community of new business.
We are a positive sharing force to counteract the destructive force of greed.
We are individuals.
We are local.
We are global.
We are independent; joined together in a system of the Cs.(Ming's & Jewel's Cs)
We take business and give it back to its customers.
We take profit beyond that required for our chosen minimalist lifestyles and return it in the form of opportunity for all.
We provide the opportunity for any member to earn the same as the owner, and the opportunity for the individual to define their own need to earn.
We are taking a little and creating a lot of LOT.
We feed you with certified organic, certified kosher, non-GM food.
We buy from suppliers who share the same dreams.
We are the only business you can buy from even if you don't have money, if you are willing to share the dream and put in a little effort.
We will be our own bank.
We will begin our own new economy.
We will fund the dreams.
We will take the money from the negative system, and invest it in the sharing system.
We are opportunity for all, limited only by the limits of individual imagination.
We are using everything we have, but using it equitably instead of miserly.
We are saving the Earth, and we are doing it together.
We first value trust; we judiciously use money.

We are REFRIED BEANS, each and every one of us.
We welcome you into our hearts.
We hope you will welcome us into yours, for we are One.

We are the first signs arising from all the effort.
We are you, we are we, we are me, we are all of us.

We're here to make us all feel better for the journey and the reality of the dream.
We are open doors and wall-less worlds.
We ARE refriedbeans.org, soon to be working its way into your life and heart.

(Any further comments from the other Fleas?)

Love ~ Tricia  

13 Sep 2003 @ 00:56 by vibrani : You said it all, Tricia
It is absolutely beautiful and real. This IS taking it to the highest level of business with integrity and spirituality. You know I support refriedbeans.org in all that it is.  

13 Sep 2003 @ 06:48 by ming : Giving people money
The difference between giving money go a panhandler or to a cute monkey is probably not much more than how we feel about it. Like, whether we feel we've gotten some service, been entertained, or whether it makes us feel like we're charitable good people. Like, in L.A. it was my personal policy to always give money to people who asked on the street. Unless they too blatantly looked like the monkey. I didn't give money to the people who were standing by freeway entrances panhandling, because it just seemed too easy, and I could well imagine them making $100/hr already. But if they come up and ask me on the street, I'd normally give them something.

Another place I've noticed something similar to the monkey phenomenon is the guy in uniform who's standing outside a big Las Vegas casino to get a taxi for the people who're leaving. There's a long line of people leaving, and there's already a long line of taxis waiting. All the guy does is wave over the next taxi and open the door for you. Which is nice of him, of course, even though we just as well could have done that ourselves. And you give him at least a dollar. Probably more if you're in a good mood because you actually won something in the casino. He does at least 5 taxis a minute. Again, we're talking about at least $300 in tip an hour. Is that fair? Does it matter? And then I go to the supermarket and somebody bags all our groceries and will even help us out to the car with them. He probably makes $7 or so per hour, but yet I'm not allowed to tip him, even though his help is more appreciated than the guy opening the car door at the casino.  

13 Sep 2003 @ 09:45 by vibrani : It doesn't make sense
I tip the bagger anyway because they do make so little. I always wondered about the people in the bathrooms who would hand people towels after washing hands. As if we couldn't do that for ourselves. I didn't like them being there - but maybe they did prevent vandalism and other crime.

I also don't give money to the people at the freeway entrances because they're mostly drug addicts (who often have had to go to my husband's clinic to get clean), and are making lots of money as it is panhandling. I saw the same man here and in Beverly Hills on Santa Monica and Beverly Drive. Only in Beverly Hills he has another gimmick, he wears a suit and has a different sign about his being a disabled vet lol. In the mornings he'd be there, in the afternoons in my neighorhood - sometimes he'd alternate days. What a gig! He recognized me and at that instance he knew that I knew his game. He never came up to my car again lol I haven't seen him around lately.

I think so many salaries are out of whack. And I don't like feeling pressured into tipping somebody for doing nothing, or for poor service, or to "look good." What really gets my goat are that some restaurants hire servers and don't pay them anything nor offer them benefits - these servers rely solely upon their tips for their salary. But, it's under the table and some of the only work people here from other countries, and don't have a green card, can get. Restaurants take advantage of that.

I think people generally like to get something for something. Pass the monkey the buck and maybe he'll shake your hand.  

13 Sep 2003 @ 19:15 by tricia : I have this great idea...
another way of balancing our economy. Instead of sliding scales for fees for professionals (not all use, but some do), why not charge the per hour value of the service user? E.g., lawyers come together and decide the ethical max per min. is $25 (hypothetical figure). If they charged the corporate executive the per hour value, which they may be safeguarding with their service, they would be more accessible to those who earn $7/hr., without it necessarily affecting their yearly income. As it now stands, even THEY get less for providing protection for one who is "worth" more, and this phenomenon (to me) seems to keep perpetuating itself. Is this faulty reasoning on my part? I'm really not sure here.

In a similar manner, if one has achieved professional prominence, but the activities involved in that lifestyle require the services of a maid to have consistent quality of life, due to time limitations or inclinations, why is the maid presumed to be worth less per hour than the quality they are upholding in another's life? I've never understood that, and I'm wondering if anyone has a reasonable and justifiable explanation for why we think this way about worth.

If this is not faulty reasoning, is there hope for ideas like these for balance?  

13 Sep 2003 @ 22:43 by Jon @ : Work and Worth
Job evaluation, and concepts such as job size, responsibilities, complexity and so on are what underpin most of the formal notions of setting compensation for "job"-like work in organizations. There are some vague notions of "markets" for skills, but this is a very very inexact and elastic "science" - more of an art as to who you can convine with what BS.

I used to do this kind of work, for big multinational clients, as a compensation and org design consultant. Seriously skewed world,job evaluation language seriously lacking in describing and underpinning what really happens doing work in an organization, very structured, static not dynamic, rigid not flexible - only one set of conventional wisdoms, don't mess with the compensation systems too much kind of world. Glad I stopped.

It is a very limited and limiting way of looking at work and organizational structures and dynamics, but sadly it is still by far the dominant one.  

13 Sep 2003 @ 23:25 by vibrani : Let's not forget
the financial and time investment in education, which usually transferred into the salary one gets after college, post grad school (how many degrees), or professional training. There is some merit to this and shouldn't be ignored when figuring in salaries. I personally don't think that because someone makes more or less money than another is a reflection on them as being a worthy or good person. It is also about skill, performance, training, time, money investments, how many years one has been doing their job. I know housekeepers who makes more than people working working in a bank - $15.00-20.00 an hour (and no housekeeper is THAT great at what they do - let me tell ya). I can't make sense out of this: How does one compare primarily physical labor to primarily mental labor? What about skills and the effect of their work upon others - a corporation vs. a household? Should a contractor make the same as a writer, an emergency room physician the same as someone who works at MacDonald's? The problem, as I see it, is in confusing one's salary with one's personal worth.  

15 Sep 2003 @ 04:38 by repsyche : the word monkey contains word money
my partner proposes a Boulder-sitting and security service. Obviously, most folk have not got time to watch over the world's rocks and boulders, but we can do it for you ! Customers would get a photo and map of the location of their adopted rock and we would look after it for them and send the occasional update and birthday card etc...  

22 Nov 2003 @ 21:56 by Rey @ :

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