By: James Lyman BSAE, BSEE, MSSM

Economic & Finance Report

A tensegrity structure is a structure held together solely by the tensions of connecting strings or cables, held erect without any physical connections of the structure members themselves. Only by the actions of tension can the structure exist. So you might ask, “So who cares about tension structures? What does that have to do with my problems as a millennial?” Well, the answer is— because a tension structure is an excellent model of how a modern government functions . . . what a modern government must have if it is to be effective in addressing the problems facing the people. The simple stick and thread model on the left side of the picture represents what the structure of a modern government must be in order to be functional.

Looking more closely at the left side we see the three sticks colored red, white and blue, standing erect without being directly connected to each other. There is about a half inch gap between each stick where they cross over in the center. Only the silver color threads connecting the sticks, are holding them together by being in tension with each other, thus defying gravity so they remain standing. It should be apparent by simple inspection, that if the strings are cut, the structure would collapsed, and looking at the bottom right of the picture, we see scissors posed to cut two of those threads. When those threads are snipped, the structure immediately, and without any further action, collapses into a heap, as seen on the upper right portion of the picture, no longer able to stand on its own.

So now the question is, which side of the picture represents our present government? Well, on the day of his retirement from Congress, Speaker Tip O’Neill stood on the steps of the Capital and warned about the new generation of politicians, what he called ‘sound biters’, who were very skilled at using the news media for their political careers … and very little else. Despite his warnings, over the years, the Congress has slowly filled up with those sound biters leaving a domestic government unable to address any problems what so ever, whose only method of solving problems is to try and ‘spin’ everything towards what their constituents want to hear. This has spread to the other organs of the governments where now the paid government employees address problems they are charged with by spinning … by using the proverbial ‘smoke and mirrors’ to create an image that problems are being solved.

The real consequences of the influx of these sound biters was the breaking of those tension members which held the government up, as the sound biters struggled to cope with problems which they’re so ill equipped to handle. In frustration, they sought to weaken and circumvent the tension members, the checks and balances of our government, thereby cutting the threads. Just like the model above, the structure of the modern government has collapsed to become completely ineffectual. Our wonderful government that, over two centuries, has done so many wondrous things to America is now the heap of sticks shown in the upper right portion of the above figure.

And all this at a time when millennials face increasing problems and troubles. Because of the job displacement by technology, coupled with increasing difficulties of keeping individuals in an advance technology society, the millennials very much need the governments (note plural) to be working the problems they face. They very much need functioning governments if they are to have any sort of a future at all. But with the lost of the balance from tensions required for a modern government to function, the youth of America are left with nothing to help them as their world slowly, but surely crumbles and they are left out.

Those strings of tension that hold a modern government upright and functioning, have been cut by the application of mass marketing and mass media technologies to our political system- the same exact technologies used to sell tampons, hemorrhoid salves, laxatives and toilet paper. So it should come as no surprise why we keep getting tampon presidents, hemorrhoid ointment vice-presidents, laxative senators and toilet paper congressmen. To restore the balance to our government, we need such things as a line item veto, term limiting and limiting outsiders from participating in other people’s elections. The Congress must regain control of the vast government bureaucracy of federal employees, if they are to govern domestic America as the Constitution intended. The vast amounts of monies now used in the political system must be limited, if the ‘sound biters’ that Tip O’Neill tried to warn us about, are to be driven out of Washington and our modern government restore to functionality.


The tensegrity structure is what every millennial must know to really understand how a modern government really works.


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