The magic number 3, a solution to every problem

by Frank 29. January 2012 13:00

I was recently speaking to a very senior public servant trying to understand the government’s purchasing policy as we had been locked out of a couple of bids. He explained that it was because they already had 3 ECM providers and that was all they needed regardless of any other factor or consideration. He said he always did things in threes so he had 3 automobile suppliers, 3 computer suppliers, 3 soap suppliers, etc.  He said he believed that as long as you have 3 options you can meet any demand or contingency.

At the time I thought this was pretty stupid; how can you possibly meet any demand with just 3 alternatives? Then the more I thought about it the more I realized that 3 is in fact the magic number.

The number 3 can be used to measure anything and to control and predict anything. Goldilocks rated porridge using the magic number; too cold, too hot and just right. She rated beds the same way; too hard, too soft and just right. Good sales people always give you 3 options and then recommend one, e.g., too complicated for your needs, too simplistic for your needs, just right, the one I recommend. People are either too fat, to thin or just right. A meal is too big, too small or just right and so on and so on ad nauseam.

You could easily get through life with 3 pairs of shoes (well maybe women couldn’t), 3 jackets, 3 pairs of pants, 3 ties, etc. We are supposed to eat 3 meals a days so food is already under the spell of the magic number.

Three is the basis for a whole new philosophy, the ‘Power of Three’. The Catholic Church is already under the spell with the Holy Trinity and most governments in the world have 3 tiers with a President a Lower House and an Upper House. We also know by experience that 3 wheel  bikes, trikes and scooters are far more a stable than their 2 wheel counterparts and that a 3 way bet is the safest bet of all. Just about anything we can think about is better in multiples of 3.

I now realise that my aforementioned public servant is actually a philosopher and a prophet and far wiser than I had initially thought. What he should really do next is start a religion based on the magical properties of the number 3. I for one would certainly line up in the rain to join (hell, I would even crawl over barbed wire in the snow to join). We should call the new religion the ‘Power Of Three’ or POT for short as in pot the smoking substance or stemmed to ‘potty’ as in of unsound mind or the plastic contrivance toddlers use until they can graduate to the toilet proper. POT would attract people from all walks of life and of all persuasions because of its universal nature. That is, the number 3 controls all of our lives.

The priests of our new religion will be able to confidently predict anything and will be renowned for their unnerving accuracy.  The stock market will rise, fall or maintain the status quo. A cricket match will be either won, lost or drawn. A horse race will always have horses in the first, second and third positions. A patient’s condition will improve, worsen or not change. A new born child will grow up to be tall, short or of average height. That same child will be fat, thin or of average weight and at school will be academically above average, below average or average.

There is no better way to look at the world than through the number 3. We can manage our lives and responsibilities using this magic number. In fact, I see no reason to teach children to count beyond the number 3 because everything we need to do and have to do in life can be governed by the number 3. If we got rid of all numbers above 3 then we could have our kids out of school years earlier and into the workforce where we really need them. We could solve the unemployment problem with a resurgence of old-fashioned jobs like chimney sweeps and pit pony boys for the coal mines. We could drastically reduce the size of government by only allowing 3 political parties and 3 seats for each party. There would only be 3 government departments and they would only be allowed 3 employees each.

Once we have implemented our 3 policy we could sell off Parliament House in Canberra and lease out hundreds of government buildings because the government wouldn’t need them anymore. We could drastically cut costs in the same parliament by only allowing 3 phone calls a day and 3 choices at the canteen and by not allowing any politician to live greater than 3 kilometres from his office or be chauffeured more than 3 kilometres a day. Additionally politicians and bureaucrats would only be allowed 3 flights a year and no politician or bureaucrat would be allowed to stay in office longer than 3 years (then they would have to get a real job and suffer like the rest of us).

Of course if politicians and bureaucrats knew they had to get a real job in 3 years they wouldn’t pass the stupid legislation they now do. At the moment they can pass all kinds of draconian laws and taxes because they are not affected by them; they are protected with job security, guaranteed pensions and the like. If they knew they would shortly have to live and work in the real world they would be much more circumspect about the laws they promoted.

The Power Of Three (POT) is starting to sound like a truly wonderful idea. For example, there would only be 3 governments in Australia, not the 8 we currently have and tens of thousands less politicians and public servants to draft silly legislation and screw up our lives. We would pay 3 percent tax instead of 45 percent and we would only have to fill in a tax return every 3 years.

With all the ex-public servants and politicians now in the workforce we will have to get used to job sharing so we will all have 3 months’ vacation a year to make room for our new recruits.

The number three will become the guiding economic principle for Australia. We will only trade with 3 countries, we will only allow 3 manufacturers in any sector so 3 car manufacturers, 3 ice cream manufacturers, 3 fast food restaurant chains, 3 road makers, 3 accountancy firms, 3 law firms (that will be basis for a few lawyer jokes), 3 banks, 3 brokerage houses, 3 coal mines, 3 iron ore mines, 3 bread makers, 3 butchers, 3 types of ice cream, 3 types of cheese, etc.

No one will complain about a lack of choice because as my senior public servant said “With 3 suppliers you can meet any demand or contingency.” Little did he know that my initial disappointment would soon turn into inspiration and the stimulus to create a new world religion, the Power Of Three.

I am now working on my next publication, “The thoughts of Chairman Frank on the Power Of Three.”  When that is finished I will begin working on the first testament of my new bible and it will start with “In the beginning, Frank spoke to the great God public servant and was given the magic number…”

I can’t wait for the TV show when  I can proudly stand on stage in a shimmering silver suit, wig and makeup and implore you to send money so I can air-condition my dog’s kennel (I had better make that 3 dog’s kennels). The possibilities are endless, long live the Power Of Three.

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