Archive for April, 2011

I Agree for All the Same Reasons But…

Over at AoSHq, Ace puts up a short but good post about the budget battle between the GOP and Democrats (who paint every action by Republicans as either taking the food right out of little Suzie’s mouth or the prune juice out of Grandma’s cabinet).  I especially sympathize with this:

“…I am tired of the Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Manana, Manana non-plan plan for reducing spending. We cannot be told always that big changes are coming in the future. That’s how we got here — we just kept permitting these problems to grow worse as we talked always about future changes.”

I’m there too, and his frustrations are echoed today by our own Region Rat in his post, “Why on Earth is the GOP Losing the Budget Battle.”

The frustration is understandable and at first glance, the wobbling back and forth by the Republicans doesn’t seem to bode well when we think about the tide that swept in a majority to the House and increased their numbers in the Senate.  Combine November’s coup against the Democratic controlled 111th Congress with a majority of Americans who are now in the acceptance stage of a government shutdown and, you have to wonder why there should be a compromise now.

I’d like to think there’s a good answer.  I would like to think that the GOP has gotten all James T. and rigged the Kobayashi Maru.  That is, maybe they are turning the no-win scenario they were handed when the Democrats refused to pass a budget last year into a mark in the win column.  I would like to think that the GOP has realized this isn’t a game of rock-paper-scissors but a game of chess. 

If you look at it this way, the GOP has to know that if it fights for the hard numbers based on H.R. 1, there will be no budget, there will be a government shutdown, and we will be having this same debate for another month, two, maybe more.  And during that prolonged debate, Dems will continue to accuse the GOP of trying to euthanize the neediest among us because, God knows, only government money feeds children.  So, to accept a compromise now for a portion of the cuts they want, they stop this budget debate.  They look reasonable to the voters who pulled the lever in the same direction as the Tea Party but wouldn’t be caught dead standing on a street corner with a “No New Taxes” poster.  And, they open the floor to the real debate, which is about how bad government’s addiction to power and control is and not just about the amount of money it spends to get its fix.


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Mass Hypno-Therapy*

Let’s take a journey together, you and me.  As I count down from 5 to 1, I would like you to imagine yourself sinking deeper into despair, the arms of your chair reaching up to pin you to your seat.  It is a relaxing type of despair so you’ll get used to it quickly. 


Imagine the room getting darker and the words on the screen glowing with an eerie, otherworldliness, becoming the only thing you notice or pay attention to.


Now as you read these words, imagine that you are the stockholder of an international corporation; actually you, and your body, represent all the stockholders of this large company.  This collective “you” realizes that your investment in this company is at stake, its expenses outstrip its revenues and its directors are continuously going the wrong direction.  You have invested everything you have into the company and you realize that if it fails, you will fail.


The words in front of you spell out how badly managed this company is.  These words tell you that the company is structured to have a modest number of unique departments with specified missions.  But the words are saying that within each of these departments, and among each, there is inestimable duplication of activities, useless divisions and programs without specific goals, and waste and corruption and abuse.  


And though up to this point, the words you’ve read have caused you to feel that there is no hope; that there is no way out of the spending mire in which you find yourself; that perhaps the only solutions is to begin looting your customers’ bank accounts indiscriminately to make up the shortfalls the company faces; or that maybe the company should start counterfeiting $1,000 bills; or, it should go to its largest competitor to ask for a loan  (well, another loan, just a hundred billion more so that it can keep on top of expenses).  It is at this point you see one word glowing brightly.  The word is impossible to ignore. “Manage!”


You now find yourself in front of your whole organization, standing before every employee, every stakeholder, every customer, every manager and director.  You feel you should be scared, you feel like the despair that was with you on our decent into this place should overwhelm you.  But you remember the last word you saw and feel confident that you have an answer. “Manage!” 

You know that you are here to tell this vast assemble crowd that your organization cannot balance its budgets solely on the backs of its customers.  It can no longer raise capital by borrowing more money.  You know that you need to tell them the answer to the problems begins with one action. “Manage!”  And you know that to “Manage” means the company must acknowledge what has brought about this situation.

You describe the redundancy, the abuse, the waste, and the burgeoning of departments and programs with no apparent rhyme or reason.  You demand that the board bring forward the department heads to explain what each department is doing, what their programs are aimed to address, and how they can measure the success of those programs.  You refuse to accept the explanation that this or that program is needed simply because it keeps people employed.  You’re not going to accept that the program exists because one of the board members asked for a favor from a department head, or some small percentage of the shareholders thought the program should exist.  You demand accountability, you demand consolidation, and you demand that the management, from the Board of Directors to the CEO to each department head, plan, monitor, and control, every aspect of the organization’s activities with the goal of obtaining demonstrable outcomes without undue expense. 

On the count of 3, I am going to snap my fingers and you will awake.  Before I count to 3, I am going to leave you with this suggestion.  Read a recent report on your organization’s poor management, 1. You will find it by following this link (, 2. Oh, and you will no longer let others dissuade you from doing what is expected of a concerned shareholder, which is to speak up about your interest in the survival of this organization.  You’ll not accept faulty claims that you are unsympathetic, extreme, or a knuckle-dragger.  I think that covers it, 3.


 *(Disclaimer – the above is not intended to provide actual therapy or, to serve as a remedy for any medical condition.  If you have a medical condition, seek the advice of a qualified physician.  If your medical condition includes thinking our government is on the right track, that no amount of additional spending is by the government is a problem, and that there is money a plenty in the pockets of rich Americans to pay for all the whims of the government, this is a symptom of a deeper problem for which no amount of advice from a qualified physician will help. )

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