“The Question” and Yo Mama

If our society is to continue with any resemblance to what we think of as traditional American Society, we, as a people, need to start using “The Question.”  The Question is what you should ask yourself when given a choice or opportunity. It’s a simple thing really, you turn to yourself and ask, “Is this the right thing to do?”

I’ve had long talks with one of my more conservative coworkers about this and he tends to get hung up defining answer, but I contend that the important part is that you ask, with heartfelt sincerity, The Question. The answer, born of whatever rationalizations you can convince yourself of, is for you to work out. For instance, we’d like to give you $30M a year to be our CEO…is this right for the company, for myself, for my family, for the country? Can I justify my taking money that could go to hard working employees or for growing the company?

How about this, if I lay off a division of my company my bottom line will be high enough this year to get a big, multimillion dollar bonus. Is this good for the long term life of the company, or will short term gain benefit me at the cost of many. If you can convince yourself it’s right than do it, the answer to The Question is not nearly as important to society as that you asked, wrestled a little and then decided on an answer you believe to be honest. There are too many situations to make rules, but we have to find a way to institute a societal effort to do the right thing, an expectation that everyone is doing what they think is best. Think about this, if we disagree with someone, say a company president, a politician, or and insurance adjuster, but you believe they are doing their best to answer The Question, we are far more likely to cooperated to find a way to work together.

How is this different from what we have now? After all, we have laws and rules. True, but is it legal, or will I get in trouble, are not questions upon which a good society is built. Game theory has shown time and again that cooperation is mutually beneficial to all, individual benefit at the cost of others is a short term, unsustainable approach…unless you have so much power that others are forced to play on your terms. There have always been those who take at all costs, it’s just that now many of these individuals are out of reach of society as a whole. Worse, the example is bleeding down into society in general and the altruistic are seen as chumps.

Hence, part 2 of our problem, the Mama. If you are in a position of power, wealth or authority, and you are using it to acquire more power, wealth, or authority without asking “The Question,” your Mama should be calling you up and telling you, “Son (or daughter), you are shaming me by taking advantage of all those people.” Instead, it’s more like, “we are so proud of our son (or daughter), they are doing so well, look at what they bought me.”

I’ve tried to teach my kids that doing the right thing has a cost. It might be that you don’t take that last dollar for something you’re selling, but instead ask for a fair return. It might be that you give something back that you don’t have to, like the wrong change at the supermarket; the cashier might have to make your “windfall” up out of her pitiful pay. It might be that you don’t take all of that raise you are offered because the gas prices are hitting the lower wage workers harder than you. It might be that you are injured or even killed trying to help someone.

Sure we’ll get hammered by some opportunistic scum from time to time, but eventually they will be found socially unacceptable, instead of being held up as examples of captains of industry. We can’t wait for others to change, we can only change ourselves…and put pressure on those around us.

We, as a people, need to hold those who are willing ask “The Question” and to pay that price in esteem, instead of that they are somehow naive chumps, so our mama can call us up and say good job, I’m proud of you.

The Choice That’s No Choice

In a political Spam-mail, John McCain is telling me about his health plan. He’s telling me about choices, telling me how I can make all these choices under his plan. It seems to me that the freedom to choose without choices is no freedom at all.

When in the last 20 years have we had any choices in health care that have not been legislated? Oh, we’ve always had to chose between which provider will hurt us the least, which provider will increase the premiums least, or which provider will pay the plan doctors in a timely fashion (so your personal physician won’t drop the plan or make you pre-pay). These choices are little more than a game of choose the rapist.

This plan smells suspiciously like it will be manipulated to benefit the insurance companies before it’s done. These are the companies that we trust to sell us at a fair price, health care for our families. The company I work at is mostly self insured, a couple of years ago my premiums went up 13%. Of that, 4% was due to increased health costs, the other 9% was an increase in the cost of our insurance carrier’s administrative services, the ABYSMAL administrative services.

If you want to read a real Pollyanna analysis of McCains health care program read: Fortunes’s “Why McCain has the Best Health-Care Plan” It Explains how employers will pass their savings on to the employee…because of the competitive labor market- huh? is that why wages have been stagnant since 2002? It also tells how the magical fairies of deregulation will use their wands of competition and bring the evil price beast to it’s knees. Just think of how these selfless little magical beasts have made life better, airlines, phone companies, savings and loans, banks.

So, I ask you Mr. McCain, what choices are you giving me really?

Here’s your sound Bite

I received a bullshit survey from one of the political parties the other day. Which one doesn’t really matter since they are both cut from the same cloth. It was designed for sound bites, not to find out what difficulties I and my family are experiencing. If you really want to find out what I think, hire yourself someone who can write a survey and not leading questions for numbers in your next speech.

You people are out of touch with what is going on out here. Pull your head out of wherever it is and stop worrying about winning, that will take care of itself if you can really address the needs of the people.

I’m only one person, but here’s what I think you would see if you lived in the real world.

I see double digit inflation right around the corner and no salary increases to counter it, assuming you keep your job.

I see my insurance rates last year rising %13 and even though my company is self insured, the insurance company that administers the plan raised their rates 9% so only %4 was due to medical expenses.

I see us becoming huge raw materials exporter, that used to be one of the measures of a third world country, but here we are. Our engineers are in India, our manufacturing is in China, who is going to be able to buy anything here.

So there you are. There’s some of my answers. Call me and I’ll give you more if you like.

A Different Kind Of Draft

Thomas JeffersonHey, how about a draft. Ya, a draft, where you pull numbers out of a hat and send a letter that says, “buddy, we’ve got an offer you can’t refuse.” But instead of drafting soldiers, let’s draft POLITICIANS!! Yes, lets have the first truly representative government ever.

I am really serious about this, here’s how it would work. We double the size of our governing body, congress, and stagger the terms so the turnover is slow. Then you draft the people to serve, white, black, men, women… it would be an exact cross section of our nation. Anyone with a high school education HAS to serve. If you are drafted you get DOUBLE your annual pay or say $80000 which ever is higher. You get a free place to live and you get your job back when you are done, after, say 4 years. NO ONE retires from this job!!!

The President is elected from this body, anyone who has served in the congress can be elected once. He is elected by the Congress who know him best. Since he has been out of his job for 8 years now, he retires but still serves as an adviser to all newer presidents and can’t be denied access to the President.

Can’t happen you say, the powers that be, like to be, so they would never let this happen. Well I have a plan, we need to start the Constitutional Convention party. We write the whole plan out before the election and our sole job is to get elected, call a Constitutional Convention, and put the new plan in place.

So, what do you say?

I say vote for we the people!