Over the centuries, we've accumulated a number of cabinet positions at the highest levels of government: secretaries of state, treasury, defense, interior, agriculture, commerce, etc.
It’s time to update the cabinet for the 21st century.
1. Secretary of Happiness
It’s time to take happiness seriously. After all, what good is progress in any other domain if it doesn’t make us happier?
2. Minister of Getting Other People To Like Us
This position would replace commerce secretary and secretary of state and add responsibilities for tourism and foreign investment. This might be the equivalent of a Wal-Mart greeter at the level of international politics.
3. Minister of Getting Other People to Fear Us
Replaces defense and homeland security secretaries, in charge of intimidating would-be enemies. As with the above position, this person might collaborate with Hollywood and it might even be a suitable position for a former movie director or producer.
4. Secretary of Simplification
In charge of producing sound bites for policy, reducing clutter in closets and garages, and eliminating unnecessary meetings within communities and organizations.
5. Chair of Genetic Redesign
Ethics, economics, and technology behind the re-creation of creation. Genetics seems an important enough domain to warrant its own cabinet position. Stalin sponsored cross-breeding of gorillas and humans at one point (fortunately, the artificial insemination of women with primate sperm failed), hoping for a better soldier. It might be worth thinking long and hard about how we ought to approach this fairly foundational topic.
6. Dude for the Radicalization of All Things Boring
Could also be a sub-dude or, rather, under-Secretary to the Secretary of Happiness. Measure of success would be the extent to which even teenagers have to admit that it is pretty cool to live here. This might be an appropriate position for a former X-Games star.
7. New Technology Facilitator
Would replace agriculture, commerce, transportation, and energy secretaries, and adds capability to help establish standards in technologies as varied as photonics, nanotechnology, neuro-devices, hydrogen, solar power, and artificial intelligence.
8. Director of Esthetics
Drives architectural standards, billboard design, fashion, art, music videos and office interiors. Helps to remind everyone that what we see makes a difference in how we think and feel.
9. Facilitator of Learning, Self-Improvement, and Innovation
Replaces secretary of education and creates an infrastructure to support people as varied as boot camp drill instructors and self-help seminar leaders. Given that learning can no longer be neatly contained into the beginning of a career, completed upon the completion of a university degree, for instance, the definition of education and the infrastructure to support it needs a radical change. It might be worth facilitating this.
10. Minister of Complexity
Position designed to set up creative tension with the secretary of simplification, also responsible for urban development, financial markets, forests and other ecosystems, romance, and extended families (essentially, everything hopelessly complex) replacing secretaries of interior, housing and urban development, and treasury and the lords of chaos.
11. Guy Who Can Find Your Cousin a Job & Get You a Raise
Replaces the labor secretary and gives you a virtual Uncle Vinnie who looks out for your best interests in labor markets, working to ensure not only work safety standards and minimum wages, but angles to get you a company car, a cubicle designed and colored like a Fisher-Price toy instead of something colored to placate psychopaths, and a job title that will impress your relatives and even strangers you meet in bars.
12. Secretary of Blogging
Or, alternatively, we could call this SOB president of cyber-world, duties to include developing and making available more sophisticated filters for spam, ensuring high scores for on-line games like World of Warcraft, and finding some way to soften the blow for reporting down days for one’s portfolio. Oh, and of course, the SOB would work with us to raise the probability of bloggers creating provocative and influential content.
13. Secretary for Life
Replaces health and human services secretary and focuses on keeping us well by vetoing subsidies for products like corn syrup and ensuring funding for P.E. classes, and is measured by increases in median life expectancy.
14. Defender of Liberty
This will complete the set, giving us cabinet positions for life, liberty and happiness. It is this, after all, that we began fighting for in 1776. This position would work to ensure privacy and various freedoms to include rights of assembly, religion, speech, pet ownership, and freedom from silly regulations originating from the Secretary of Esthetics and the Radical Dude.
Thanks to Jennifer, whose comments and follow up to the Biden?! post prompted the idea of not just a cabinet position that we bloggers could hold (she also pointed out that it that the acronym would be SOB), but a full slate for the 21st century.
Obama and McCain's advisors are welcome to contact me for further details. Now that Obama has taken my advice on Biden as VP, perhaps he'll welcome these humble suggestions for a slight remodeling of the cabinet.