The President’s Responsibility Is To Ensure the Post Office Can Do Its Job.

The role of the President is to manage the federal government. To administer it completely and make darned sure it can do what the Constitution & subsequent laws intend it to do — that’s what we elect Presidents for.  Among other things, this means making sure our troops’ paychecks are produced & distributed, Park Rangers are hired and given the supplies to do their jobs, and making sure the Post Office is adequately staffed to meet anticipated volume.

Mr. Zip, icon for zip code usage

Failing to react to expected upticks in volume at the Post Office is Administration mismanagement.  This November tens of thousands of citizens will opt to vote-by-mail for the first time. The USPS needs requisite staff & tools to try to meet the challenge — that’s their job. The President should direct his Postmaster General to quickly identify those needs & pursue funding from Congress.

President Trump, however, refuses to take the steps necessary to ensure our Postal Service can handle the increase in mail volume due to mail-in ballots in the November election.  He refuses, once again, to take any responsibility or to do his job.  In fact, he has placed one of his lackeys (who payed dearly in campaign contributions to be considered for the privilege) in charge of the Postal Service specifically to ensure that mail delivery efficiency decreases.

Is it incompetence alone that has led President Trump to make these decisions?  No, he is guided by a diabolical political calculus.  This calculation figures that voters who do not support him will be unwilling to vote in person because of the fear of contracting COVID19 & inadequate voting capacity in their communities.    

Continue reading “The President’s Responsibility Is To Ensure the Post Office Can Do Its Job.”

With Their Hands Held Out

For nearly two generations, we have been told about the superiority of free market capitalism.  We’ve been told that markets are the fairest, most equitable way to do everything: they are self-correcting, more agile, and better-aligned to the American spirit of self-reliance, ingenuity, and ability. 

Some particularly myopic businesspeople and those who repeat their messages, have even held business as a model for government by declaring, “Government should be run more like a business!”  Given these decades of pro-business thought & policy, one would believe that no entity would be able to better weather any storm than tried-and-true American capitalism.  It is the stuff of pride and legend.

So, then came COVID-19.  What did nearly every business sector do immediately following the proliferation of stay-at-home orders aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19?

Continue reading “With Their Hands Held Out”

Make Good Decisions; Don’t Expect Repayment when the Situation Changes

There are a lot of new ideas being bandied about by Presidential candidates this election season.  Those few that survive to a post-election legislative effort will likely be blunted or severely modified.  Nonetheless, that does not keep some folks from declaring with every new idea that the sky is falling and pointing out that some who took reasonable actions to deal with the pre-change situation will be hurt and require compensation.

We all take actions in response to situations as they currently are.  Things change.  You made a good decision at the time.  However, you’re not going to get a gold star (or a tax credit) if that decision no longer applies.

Let’s take two examples.

First, there’s the idea that college tuition will be waived at public institutions.  In at least one encounter recorded and played many times on television, a dedicated father complained to one of the policy’s proponents that “it wasn’t fair” to implement this policy because he had done “the right thing” and put aside money so that his child could go to college.  Great decision on his part.  Even greater that he was deliberate, forward-looking, and disciplined.  I applaud him.

However good and capable his decision, that alone should not mean this idea should be rejected.  Times change and we all adapt to them.  If free tuition were to go through, I am sure that he could find other uses for his savings.  Perhaps he could give his child the “on campus” experience or help them to start a business or buy a house (or even buy himself a retirement home somewhere relaxing).  He made an excellent decision and showed superior fiscal restraint based on the economic conditions at the time.  There was (and is) no guarantee that times won’t change and the value of that good decision lessened.

Secondly, I read a tweet where someone argued that many unions (and I believe, workers in general), “gave up wage increases & other benefits for health care coverage,” and asked how they will be compensated if Medicare for All were implemented.  I argue that the same principle applies in this case as above.  Unions & workers had a choice: they could pursue higher compensation or try to assure adequate health care for their families.  Where healthcare was chosen, those workers have benefitted from the peace of mind that insurance brings and may have received medical services that were covered, in part, by their plan.  Could most workers have had more savings or a better quality of life if they hadn’t opted for healthcare?  Yes (but some with large medical bills would have been worse off).  Should they be compensated if Medicare for All becomes the law of the land?  No.

Again, collectively or individually, they made a choice to value healthcare above compensation.  It was a good choice at the time.  Times may change, but it was still a good choice.

Most of us can look back on our lives and lament, “If only I’d had this or that when I was younger.” Usually we think “this or that” could have had a long-term impact on our quality of life and helped us to make better decisions.  And we’re not alone.  Engineers, public and private leaders, and others certainly thought so, because one or more of them brought the “this or that” we’re lamenting into being.  They saw something that could help other human beings and made it reality.

Look at the Internet for example.  A couple generations ago, we humans could only dream that the answer known to mankind to nearly every question could be researched in a matter of seconds — and with the most recent information!  Every day, people use information from the Internet to make better decisions about their long term goals as well as their daily lives. 

No one is advocating to compensate those who lived before the Internet for their time researching periodicals in the library or for mistakes they made because they didn’t have access to quality immediate information.  There are dozens of new programs forwarded by Presidential candidates that could affect how we plan for and live our lives.  If any actually comes to fruition, getting ‘paid back’ for your good decisions in the past shouldn’t be included. 

Times change.  Make good decisions.  Continue to make good decisions because they’re the right decision for you now, not because you expect they’ll be the right decision forever.

God Save ‘Da Prez

Here’s a fun little ditty for a Friday morning.  Sing out loud or to yourself to the tune of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. Need I say more?

My Country 'Tis for Me
Land of O-li-garchy
Of Me I Sing
Land where my Father lied
Housing to blacks denied
I love the Upper East Side
Of Me I Sing

My friends, please look at me:
Monied celebrity
It's me you love
With ten thousand-dollar bills,
Hedge funds will be fulfill'd
My wallet with rapture thrills
Of Greed I love

Let healthcare go to pot
And all Obama wrought --
Costs that are bad!
Let angry tongues awake
I'll sell them oil of snake
'Til their pocketbooks shall break
Like a Trump U. grad

They'll think I'm God -- you'll see
They'll trade their liberty
for me, I Sing
Long may my Star be bright
Lit up by TV light
Rev'ling every Twitter fight
Donald Trump your King.

Social Media Posts Need a Believability Rating

The Information & Social Media Industry needs to step up to help us differentiate higher quality submissions from poor ones.  Providing a rating for each post will help get us there.

Not all information has the same value. This is something that we all inherently know. However, when it comes to social media it is difficult to differentiate the quality information from the bad. An independent industry association is needed to provide some reference to help us determine the quality of the information we are subjected to every day.

To understand how we might address this chasm on social media, we need to explore how we validate information we receive in our physical lives. Let’s imagine that you are on an elevator and two women are talking. The daughter of the shorter woman in the elevator has an overbite and may need orthodontic treatment, as she is explaining to the taller, blondish woman. The shorter woman heads up a department in your company that you’re interested in and your Aunt is an excellent Orthodontist, so you are now very interested. You listen carefully. You decide to file this piece of information away for an introductory conversation that you might have with the department head in the next few weeks.

Of course, it’s not always that easy to determine the value of the information. In this case, you know who the shorter woman is, and you know that she is an expert on the primary subject of the conversation – her child! You also know that she could be important to your career. Each of these factors make this information valuable and believable, but how? Continue reading “Social Media Posts Need a Believability Rating”

Your Patriotism Is Up To You

In a recent post ( that has been reported in many outlets, Mike Rowe (known for Dirty Jobs and his narration of Deadliest Catch) makes an engaging case about how politicians, players, and the NFL brass are using football and the controversy about kneeling vs. standing to make their own points. It’s a short and thoughtful read, and I highly recommend it. Mr. Rowe reminds us that our country is what we make of it. His opening words are a good reminder to all of us:

“In democracies, we the people get the government we deserve. We also get the celebrities we deserve, the artists we deserve, and the athletes we deserve. Because ultimately, we the people get to decide who and what gets our attention, and who and what does not.”

As I do not believe that this is a controversy that is among the most important in this country at this time, I should probably stop writing now. I don’t watch a lot of football, and when I do, I usually miss the kick-off and opening ceremonies, because something else I was doing was more important.

Like many people, however, I have been giving this issue a lot of thought. Continue reading “Your Patriotism Is Up To You”

Will Market Forces Drive Change at Equifax?

OK, so the Equifax breach is a big deal. A BIG deal. Nearly half of Americans are affected[1]. Their information (and possibly yours and mine) has been accessed by some entity who is probably up to no good. There’s been hemming and hawing and biting of fingernails, but, other than a fairly precipitous fall in Equifax’ stock price,[2] it’s unclear what penalties Equifax may suffer resulting from its potential mishandling of all of our financial data.

What potential penalties are in the pipeline?

  1. Class Action lawsuits – generally these turn my stomach. I always tend to picture a bunch of too tanned lawyers drinking tropical cocktails in the Caribbean comparing the numbers of persons who have joined their class action the way some overconfident men compare shoe sizes. I know this is likely unfair. However, like many Americans, I worry that we are an overly-litigious society.  There’s another reason I don’t think much of class actions. The companies at fault never seem to learn much. We’ve all received checks in the mail because this bank or this auto manufacturer did something wrong and is making it up to me by sending me a check for $19.47. Whoa, let me pay off the mortgage! Was the problem solved? You tell me. How many of you have received a second check from the same entity a few years later for another infraction?
  2. Government investigations. Several state Attorneys General and government agencies have indicated that they will be investigating the breach and the responses of Equifax, its Board, and “C” suite. These will likely be lengthy goings on and unlikely to result in any near-term change in Equifax’ data security policies and practices. With any luck, necessary policy and practice changes will result from the recommendations of the “independent cybersecurity firm” that Equifax has engaged[3]. Hopefully, these will occur earlier than any government orders or settlements could provide.

Continue reading “Will Market Forces Drive Change at Equifax?”

Trump Tops the Eclipse

Scene: The Oval Office

President Donald J. Trump, Steve Bannon, and Vice-President Mike Pence are present, sitting. Sarah Huckabee-Sanders is entering the room.

TRUMP: “Standers –“

SANDERS: “It’s Sanders, sir”

TRUMP: “Yeah — don’t worry — I know my people — believe me”

SANDERS: “Yes, sir.”

TRUMP: “What’s all this about a blackout?”

Sanders looks at the President, confused.

TRUMP:   “You know, this thing that’s going to eclipse – (aside) nice word, huh – who says I don’t know words? – (to Sanders) that’s going to eclipse my Twitter feed.”

SANDERS: “Oh, you mean the Solar eclipse that is going to occur on Monday, August 21. “

Continue reading “Trump Tops the Eclipse”

Winning in the Time of Trump

It seems to me that we Americans deserve a lot of what we get. That includes President Donald Trump. Trump’s popularity is the beneficiary of several social movements of the last half-century: our American obsessions with winning and with wealth, as well as the distillation of all points of view into yes or no. This essay deals with one of our favorite things: winning.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Winning is important. Life is a competition for scarce resources, for the pursuit of personal fulfillment, and a struggle against harsh environments and physical and mental limitations. It is essential to find success in these challenges: to win! However, there are ways of winning that can help others to be successful or, at least, not degrade those others. When winning is the sole and overriding goal, it can lead to harmful behavior. Continue reading “Winning in the Time of Trump”