#46 Scary Marketing (2000)

All Rights Reserved © 2000 Thomas W. Day

I had the honor and pleasure this week to attend a marketing training presentation for a new, incredibly complicated medical product. The presentation was competent and informative . . . and scary.

The thing that has always amazed me about the medical industry is how dumb the customers must be. In case you're under the mistaken impression that medical "customers" are patients, get real. Nobody gives a flying flock of spotted and buttered desert turtles about patients. The end-all-be-all in medicine are doctors.

For a few moments, in the early 90's, there was a thought that HMO's and hospital administrators might slither into that driver's seat. Doctors saw that coming and grabbed those positions, too, putting themselves back in control faster than  Hillary could shout "Willy, put that back in your pants and zip up!"

Since doctors are the target audience, the tenor and content of medical product advertising is what makes me nervous. You'd like to think that a device that can save or lose lives would be taken seriously, wouldn't you? If you wouldn't, I will, twice, to make up for your limitations. We'll all be disappointed.  The gist of all medical product marketing is "lots of pretty colors and catchy pictures." Useful information is hidden deep (and small) inside the product packaging and is thrown away with the bloody towels and used pointy objects after surgery. The constant message aimed at these highly educated, occasionally respected physicians is "this device will not require you to do any work or know anything" about your profession.

The marketing message is full of New Age nouns turned to verbs (by tacking "ize" on the end) and verbs turned to nouns with old fashioned misuse. Spiffs and perks abound.  Companies put together "care packages" of free junk for physicians and their lab underlings. They box up loads of useless gadgets and print all kinds of mindless messages on sticky notes, for the sales reps to give away, when they interrupt what ought to be a physician's busy day. The product names are catchy (or funky, depending on your perspective) acronyms that remind you of new cars or video games. There are dozens of non-technical "product training" meetings presenting information that could be understood by a grade school kid.  All training meetings are held in uncompromising places like Maui, Disney World, the Bahamas, and Vail. These training vacations are somewhat scaled down for nurses, but offer "let's pretend we learned something here" CEU's so the nurses and techs won't have to suffer through real accreditation classes.

Does this kind of marketing really influence physicians and surgeons? Damn straight.  The industry line is that medical product sales is a "relationship business." That means the doctors have a dependent relationship on the sales representatives for everything from babysitting services to tickets for athletic events to the fee for the afternoon golf game. Often reps are also responsible for providing a basic understanding of which organ is being operated on during a given medical procedure. The only other "profession" with this kind of relationships is Congress and the soft money lobbyists. Just like the politicians, doctors have become so comfortable with the constant bribery that it's necessary to do this stuff just to get to talk to a physician about a new drug or device.  Just like Senators and Representatives, not that many of the target audience knows enough about the subject to understand the technical details.

All this has led us to a very scary place in medical development. The products, both drugs and devices, have become incredibly specific, complex, and powerful. Properly used, we can compensate for the failure of just about any physical or mental function. Improperly used, current technology can replicate most physical or mental catastrophes.

Engineers, kept isolated from customers and product users by anti-tech Marketing goofs, create more and more complex products with features to treat non-existent maladies. To justify these pointless features, the "more is better" philosophy gets thrown into an endless loop between R&D, Marketing, and the docs. Nobody understands the purpose for anything, but we keep adding more things to prove we can fill all available space.

Marketing tactics use "creative" terms and acronyms that explain absolutely nothing useful. Detailed explanations are abandoned in the drive to prove that "less words, more pictures" will catch the customers' attention.  Industry uses inventive, non-physiologic scenarios to sell product features to docs who, apparently, don't know enough about physiology to question those fabrications. We blow statistical smoke up their butts until they can't tell the smog from the patients.  Product planning uses logic like, "Biowhatsit has three retro-bozo-refabulators in their Bonqulator, we need five in ours to be competitive." We build in five and find a doc to run a "clincal" to prove that five of these useless things was clinically necessary.

In the real world, the overwhelming majority of all medical products are used in their "nominal" condition. Docs take a neurostimulator, a pacemaker, a mechanical heart, or a surgical tool out of the box and use it as it was preset by the factory. Docs may be untrained and operating totally in the dark, but they know better than to fool with the stuff because they don't have the slightest clue how it works.  Sometimes a physician will actually resort to asking the sales rep what to do and I can't begin to describe how bad things can get when that happens. I have abandoned sports equipment in my garage that has more surgical capability than the average MBA-clone sales rep.

At the other end of the knife what do we, who may become patients, do to protect ourselves? My first advice is to be very careful what you sign if you ever find yourself in a hospital. If you assume that your physician is not much more interested in your well-being than a used car salesman, you'll be in a pretty accurate frame of mind. There is no place in life where a second opinion is more valuable. Third and fourth opinions are good, too.  What we ought to do as a population of prospective patients is to get the FDA and Congress off of their butts and make them fix this system or find employment flipping burgers and bobbing for French fries.

Once we boot the lobbyists out of Washington, we ought to be working at booting the bribery out of medicine.  Currently, medicine has taken the military-industrial complex's place at the federal funded corporate welfare trough. Just like the pack of vampires who sucked the country dry building useless and incompetent weapons in the 1980's, medical drug and device manufacturers drained the country of vital juices in the 90's and are still at it.

Personally, I think it's time to put some teeth in the nation's treason laws and start going after those who become rich cheating the public. After a dozen or so ex-CEO's take the needle or suck down a lung full of cyanide gas, get out of the way of industry reforms.  If the execs have to pay the price for their corporate failures, change will happen, with or without doctors knowing what they're doing.

November 2000


#45 A Rat-like Political Experiment (2000)

All Rights Reserved © 2000 Thomas W. Day

George Washington said, "The preservation of the sacred fire of liberty, and the destiny of the republican model of government, are justly considered as deeply, perhaps as finally staked, on the experiment entrusted to the American people." I suspect he'd be a bit dismayed at the way we're currently managing this experiment. For those who follow the Rat Rants, you probably suspect that I have mixed emotions about the results of our Presidential election (however it turns out). You'd be right.

Sixteen years ago, we tried a guy who once was a supporting actor to a chimpanzee, after letting California prove this same dude wasn't up to the challenge of sitting on a chair in the governor's office. For eight long recession years, Ronnie succeed in looking confused, which is what passes for "charisma" and "communicating" in the modern media-muddled world. After almost a decade of indictments, convictions, cover-ups, treason, and burying the country under an astounding who-knows-how-many-trillions national debt, Ronnie left office, as sentient as a Bush brother after a ten day binge, and a conservative national hero. Go figure.

Following in those stumbling footsteps, the Bush family has, apparently, been grooming the nation for this day. First, George the First appeared to be no mental threat to anyone outside of Kansas or Texas; a do-nothing Vice President following in the two hundred year old heel marks of do-nothing Vice Presidents. Still, after what happened this year, you have to wonder if he didn't have some control over the "opposing party" and the national consciousness (the ultimate oxymoron). If the Demolicans hadn't found someone even less interesting to run against Bush in 1988, we'd have never heard of (and learned to love) his little buddy, Danny.

Four years of listening to the Danny Quayle babbling brook conditioned the country to living with a moron a heart beat away from a fool. Somewhere, in that large building, I'm sure there is a button that could destroy the world, but we also learned to take comfort in the secure knowledge that neither of those two goofs could find that button in their lifetime, let alone in four years. Bush spent his time trying to get us to look at him long enough to read his lips and starting wars to distract our attention from his criminally warped children. Danny occupied his time trying to get his foot out of the Lincoln bedroom's trash can.

In hindsight, it appears that George Sr. was getting us ready for life with George Jr. Once you've suffered a speech from a mathematically, grammatically, and generally intellectually impaired Vice President, what's to stop you from doing the same with an equally talent-free President? All George Jr. adds to this mix is absolutely no working experience at any job whatsoever. And a lifetime of failure at every highly-paid menial task he's stumbled upon.

And now, after eight years of prosperity and economic stability, Americans are ready to resume the Reagan-Bush trickle down years. Because, and let's be real here, the only thing George Jr. had to offer was an upper class tax reduction. That was the only stand the man took in a year and a half of campaigning against every reform proposed during that period, even reforms offered by members of his own party. Any kind of review of Bush's record as a person or a candidate would make anyone, even his dad, wish there were some minimal qualifications required before a citizen can run for President.

George didn't win the hearts of the majority of voters, but he may have won the majority of electoral votes. (For the fourth time in history, Alex Hamilton gets his revenge.) Just considering the almost half of the voting public who tossed their fish toward Bush, I have no idea what this choice meant. It couldn't have been a completely selfish economic decision. The state that suffered an actual recession under Clinton-Gore, California, went for Gore. Californians are advertised to be the most self-absorbed people in the country. It couldn't have been a reaction to the phony morality play the Republicans have been staging for the last eight years. Bush is an acknowledge drunk, druggie, convicted small time criminal, party animal, and general purpose rich-kid screw-up. So what were those folks voting for?

It could be an iteration of that experiment Mr. Washington described. Seriously.

In 1998, in Minnesota, voters decided on the odd premise that a professional wrestler might be as skilled, competent, and believable as either of the moronic professional politicians the Demolicans offered us. Of course, the Repubocrats and the press were convinced that nobody would "waste their vote" on a professional wrestler who ran from the edge of a political party that only barely existed in Minnesota.

Wrongo, Mongo. Minnesotan voters took the view that two things would be accomplished with their vote; we can send a message to the Demolicans that we're not taking any old junk they decide to pawn off on us and we can find out just how technical a job being a governor really is.

Nobody's managing these tests, however. We overestimated the Repubocrats' intelligence and failed our own gut check. The two political parties didn't learn a thing from the loss of the governor's office. This last election presented voters with the same old group of nincompoops and ruling class butt kissers, but voters didn't call the political parties' bluff and chickened out before the revolution did any damage to the powers that be. An uncontrolled experiment doesn't return useful data. Just ask the FDA, drug companies do this kind of crap all the time.

The other part of the experiment has played out pretty well, though. I've always maintained that 99+(a lot of 9's past the decimal point)% of all executives contribute absolutely nothing useful to the facilities they mismanage. If that's true in the private sector, it has to be more true in government. At worst, Jesse Ventura hasn't done any worse than any of our past traditional party goofs. At best, he has been incredibly consistent to his own beliefs and statements. So, we've learned that either this job is unnecessary or any fool off of the public streets can do the job well enough. '

We might be about to run that same experiment on the President's office. Don't get me wrong, Americans have filled the office of President with a long and hilarious collection of morons, crooks, and clowns in the last 224 years. The two party system hasn't done much for quality government, but it has sure provided lots of great material for political cartoonists and satirists. When our politicians aren't trying to get us all killed, they are almost always good for a laugh. But George W. Bush is an experiment at an almost perfect level. He has absolutely no useful qualities or experiences to offer to the position (not completely unlike Gerald Ford, but with less intelligence and coordination). If the republic can survive GWB, we'll know two things; anyone can do the job and the job is completely unnecessary.

A few years back, the federal government closed down everything but "essential services" for a few weeks while Clinton and the Gingrich crowd waved their private parts at each other. At that time, each branch of the federal government identified who their "non-essential employees" were and sent them home, with pay, until the politician's put themselves back under zipper and suit pants. Hopefully, someone noted which jobs were non-essential and that information was stored some place where NSA and AEC employees won't take it out, play with it, and forget where they put it. When this next four years is over, we can add the office of the President and Vice President to that list and get rid of all of the non-essential government positions. After which, we'll have reduced the federal budget to about $42,000 a year and we'll be able to pay off the national debt by the middle of the summer in 2005.

So pay attention fellow Rats. The country is about to fire up a really interesting experiment.

October 2000


Putting Customers Last

2014-02-24 Rockhound (28)We’re camped at a place called “Rockhound State Park” in New Mexico and the public servants for the New Mexico State Park system have been all over the place on this trip. On average, New Mexico’s state park employees are no better or worse than anyone else’s. Unfortunately, that means they are mostly pretty useless.  It’s rare and special to find park rangers who know anything about the park where they work. The park management is most often absent and arrogant. It’s clear the state has dedicated a lot of money to creating and maintaining these parks, but it’s equally clear that no one is watching the store.

This park, for example, is using some federal money to spruce up the bathrooms. Nice idea, but it’s just a bathroom remodel, not a total rework requiring a from-the-ground-up reconstruction. If you were having this kind of work done in your home and the construction company insisted on disabling your entire bathroom, you’d fire them. Not here, though. The contractor locks up the bathrooms and the state employees lock up the bathrooms in the visitors’ center, so any tent campers and campers without bathroom facilities are shit-out-of-luck. They don’t even bother to put signs on the doors, they just lock them up. That is, clearly, the  kind of thing that ought to get someone fired. But not in government work.

Likewise, the US public has become more complacent about arrogant bureaucrats all over the country. I think the “Fines Doubled in Construction Zones” legislation is a symptom of that arrogance. Since when did a highway worker’s life become more valuable than a citizen/taxpayer’s life? Those four-foot tall concrete barriers highway crews use to isolate themselves from traffic have to be dangerous for the traffic. I’d love to see a study that counts the number of injuries and deaths caused by those barriers. Once we have that number, we can compare that to the number of highway worker injuries from when nothing more than signs and flagmen protected the construction crews. The other highway construction tactic that pisses me off is when road crews block off miles of highway, diverting traffic from divided lanes into narrow two-way traffic zones. They typically work in tiny sections while pushing drivers into miles of slow moving, dangerous, single-lane traffic. A more reasonable system would be to block off no more than a few hundred yards more of the road than is being serviced.

Citizens are being asked to accommodate bureaucrats and government workers far beyond the service provided by those un-civil and hardly-servant employees. There is no good reason for it. Nothing government does is of more value than the citizens it is supposed to serve. If government employees cared to know why the public resents them so overwhelmingly, this is exactly why. That cynical police motto, “Protect and Serve,” was a good idea. Someone should try it.


#44 The High Cost of Overpriced Management (2000)

All Rights Reserved © 2000 Thomas W. Day

If you didn't see this one coming, you haven't read a single Rat's Eye, ever. I'm nothing if not not-subtle. (While my past English profs would have a field day slashing red lines through that double negative, I'm leaving it in because of its irritant value.) In my 35 years of employment, I've worked for companies that were:

  • small and totally unprofitable,
  • large and going bankrupt at the speed of sound,
  • small and bagging money like a New York drug dealer, and
  • huge and listed on every Fortune 500 list ever cobbled together for the purpose of misleading investors.

I think I can apply way too much personal experience to the cost of overpriced management. In fact, I can provide examples of actual companies that lived and died in the real world. Of course, the names will remain slightly disguised in the interests of protecting the incredibly guilty.

Unfortunately, the toy I'm using to do the math for this Rat Rant is Microsoft's Excel 97. For those of you not cursed with this piece of software, I apologize. For those who have found various marginally legal or totally illegal ways to "find" this program on your computers, I recommend that you play with the numbers and experience the many ways that you've been screwed over by management salaries. (Yes, there are macros in the file and if you don't enable them you'll have to figure out your own company salary distributions.) Just to make this toy as simple as possible to understand, I put together a quartet of examples for you to play with. However, you can enter your own information into the shaded cells and play with the calculations. Here is the spreadsheet: salarygame.xls. [Sorry, I don’t know how to put a spreadsheet on Google’s Blogger, so the tool is gone. Email me if you want a copy to play with.]

The first example (Small & Bankrupt) is of a company I worked for in the late 1970's. It would be a mistake to assume that the pack of execs who mismanaged this company cared about profitability or the company's survival, but the example demonstrates how simple a turn-around would have been. The company had gross profits (before salaries) of $425,000 on a gross income of about a million and a half. Because the execs were executing a slash-and-burn game with the company's assets and products, they stripped off all of the "excess cash" for themselves, to the tune of $150k salaries for each of the "owners." (The company "owned" nothing, because these guys were experts at leveraging nothing into yet another quarter-million dollar loan.)

Like most small businesses, even 20 years ago, this company had a hard time attracting talent and labor. The bottom line was almost a quarter of a million in the hole, which finally sunk the company about six months after I abandoned ship.

Obviously, the management of a company with this kind of history doesn't deserve anything resembling top dollar for its performance. These guys paid themselves like they were winners, but they couldn't have hit the ocean from a life raft. Dropping their salaries 60%, to $60k a year, could have radically changed the complexion of the company. If that money were simply put into the bottom line, the company would have shown a $49,880 profit. If that money were equally distributed among the rest of the employees, the two middle managers would have been making $57,210, the three engineers would have made $52,443, and the assemblers would have earned $15.49 an hour. All good wages for 1980. For that kind of money, there would have been no issue with finding talented people for the company's positions.

The next example (Small & Profitable) was a company that had struggled for almost 15 years to break even. During the early years, the execs/owners limited their salaries to reasonable numbers because they recognized that their contribution to the company's success was marginal, at best. But when the company suddenly stumbled on a successful product line and the bottom line flipped polarities, they started doing "equivalent salary" searches to justify making themselves instantly rich. In less than a year, they tripled their take-home and followed that with similar (but smaller) increases for other management people. Instead of sharing the wealth with the folks who made it possible, a very dedicated hourly work force, the execs hoarded the company's good luck to themselves. The end result was steadily declining growth and market share and a decade of complaints about the quality of the workforce. Within five years, the average tenure of their assembly workers declined from ten years to eleven months, and the quality of the product followed.

This example shows that if the company had held the management salary line during the first year of profitability. The constant complaint was "we can't keep good people on the assembly lines." At $8.50 an hour that was a problem, at $14.50 (what we could have paid if we'd have put all of the excess exec salaries into hourly wages) we'd have had people standing in line to apply.

My loser big company example (Big & Brain-dead), managed to gross huge numbers for a few years while producing a net loss for its conglomerate owner. The salaries and bonuses it paid to executives were so huge they were obscene. The company was part of a group of like small-minded corporations that constantly petitioned to the federal government for higher technical green card quotas because of a non-existent "skilled labor shortage." Hit the button for this company and see how much they could have been paying engineers ($176,229) if they'd have cut back their non-productive executive costs and plowed that money straight into technical positions. Somehow, I'm pretty certain that plenty of talent would have been found for that kind of money. Unfortunately, money doesn't often equal talent when it's spent on executives.

Finally, I pick on one of the companies that is regularly found on Fortune Magazine's many lists of top companies. This is yet another company constantly whining about the lack of technically skilled employees. If you look at their corporate statement, you'll find that they pay their top execs an obscene average of $11M in salaries and bonuses and stock options. This is a company that averages $13.50 an hour for assembly workers and $80k a year (including bonus and benefits) for technical employees. How serious do you think their employee problems would be if they paid $27.60 an hour for assemblers and $163,565 a year for engineers?

It's amazing how many problems can be solved by cutting back expenses for the most unproductive workers in a business. If you have an example you'd like to have added to this spreadsheet, let me have it maybe we'll start a revolution. Like that will happen in my lifetime..

October 2000


Where Were You?

Gun owners always bring up two old fallacies when they try to defend the incredible rate of gun violence in the US: “A well-armed society is a polite society.” and “As any student of history knows, gun control figures prominently in the designs of totalitarian states.” The USofA is the best armed society in the world, with 89 guns per 100 citizens (as of a 2007 survey), and I find it hard to imagine that anyone would classify us as “well mannered.” The NRA has bought and paid for a collection of gutless and moronic congresscritters to maintain a national inability to make decent estimates as to how many households are gun-toting, but most estimates put the number at about 40%. That’s not far from the “traditional” number of armed American households, so if history were on the side of the “defenders of freedom” argument, you’d think we’d have some evidence in our history. We do not have any such evidence.

t1larg.trail.of.tears.max.standley.courtesyThe well-armed citizens of Andrew Jackson’s 1830’s regime did absolutely nothing to stop the forced “Trail of Tears” march, the ethnic cleansing of the Cherokee,Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations. In fact, well-armed citizens often stood along the trail harassing the victims and, even, occasionally killing one or more including grabbing children from their mothers’ arms and bashing them to death on rocks and wagon wheels.

Homestead_Strike_-_18th_Regiment_arrives_cph.3b03430During the 1892 Homestead Steel Strike, the military was called in to bust the union after Pinkertons and the local cops failed to successfully violate workers’ rights. I’m sure you’ll be amazed to learn that the hundreds of thousands of well-armed Americans around the country sat on their hands and watched Andrew Carnegie’s goons, local cops, and the Pennsylvania State Militia crushed the strike and tossed the steel workers back into near-slavery. There was plenty of violence on both sides of the labor battle, but damn little contribution from the well-armed society that read about the strike, the strike breakers, and saw the Pinkerton goons abusing their neighbors and fellow workers. In the end, the busted strike cost workers income and rights all over the country as the union collapsed along with most of the union movement and the mine owners retaliated by lowering wages and increasing work hours.

Likewise, the 1894 Pullman Strike was settled with military assistance and cost workers a few more rights and a crapload of jobs. Still, no response from the armed citizenry who were supposed to believe will rise up and defend democracy, freedom, and the American Way. In fact, the average American disapproved of the strike because it inconvenienced them slightly, along with agitating the Faux News of the day; the yellow journalism Hearst newspaper. Grover Cleveland, the jackass Republican President of the time created Labor Day as a diversion to placate unions and the rare semi-alert American laborer. Eugene Debs, one of the union organizers, went to prison, studied Karl Marx, and became a socialist who ran for president five times. Eventually, our tolerance for democracy hit a new low when Woodrow Wilson’s merry band of goons tried and convicted Debs for in 1918 under the Espionage Act of 1917 and sent a presidential candidate to prison for 10 years. If an armed public were capable of being incited to revolt in the interest of freedom and democracy, you’d think jailing a legitimate candidate who received 900,000 votes might have done it. But it didn’t.  Apparently, putting up road blocks between capitalists and their war profits is an unacceptable and unforgivable crime.

Cc_martiallawIn 1903, the Colorado Labor Wars gave the armed public yet another chance to grow a pair and rise up on their hind legs. “There is no episode in American labor history in which violence was as systematically used by employers as in the Colorado labor war of 1903 and 1904.” The Blackwater goons of the day, the Pinkertons, and the state militia abused miners at will, even publicizing some of their abuses in national newspapers. After numerous beatings, murders, illegal imprisonment of miners and their families, a couple of incidents of military sniping and general purpose class warfare, the miners were forced back to work or fired for union activity. The state of Colorado’s citizens revolted, mildly, passing a referendum requiring an 8-hour workday. The new corporate-owned Republican governor tabled the constitutional amendment and the legislature let it die. 

bonus-army-hoover_dvd.originalWhen Herbert Hoover sent Douglas McArthur’s Army and six tanks to dispatch/disburse the “Bonus Army” (WWI vets who had been screwed out of the cash value of their “service certificates” so that bankers and other Great Depression scammers could continue their corporate welfare party.), there is no record of the millions of American gun owners rising up to defend fellow citizens who had fought for them in the first “Great War.” The majority of Americans turned their heads just as you might predict they would if they were disarmed.

That was then and this is now, right?

Police-riot-in-Chicago-Dennis Brack-Black StarHow about the 1968 Chicago Police Riots? Crooked cops went on a rampage, beating the crap out of war protestors, political campaign workers, bystanders who just happened to be walking, driving, or standing in the general territory of the crazed and crooked police (Remember the Time Magazine headline, “Cops on the take can’t take orders?”) ; including Hugh Heffner who was just picking up his morning paper when he got clobbered. Just a “bunch of hippies,” right? Not worth your gun-toting time to protect their rights from the powers that be.

ohioHow about the 1970 Ohio State National Guard Murders? Talk about the moment when the government comes to end civil rights. It’s hard to beat the inspiration that should have come from the murder of four students after the crazed military goons fired 67 rounds into a crowd of peace protestors. We’d just “escaped” from 8 years of the terror of liberal Democratic government. Gun ownership was hitting all-time new highs. Where was the outrage? Where were the armies of pissed off and armed citizens? The government was overstepping every Constitutional boundary and a fair number of Nixon’s goons were ready to send the military after anyone who disagreed with their power grab and profit-taking. Still, no protests, except from the kids who would be asked to dump blood and futures into this regime.

usatodayphoto1And today?



Occupy-Wall-Street-sfSpanWTO_protests_in_Seattle_November_30_1999There is no shortage of moments in American history where liberty could have been defended by the mostly-bullshit-filled Second Amendment proponents. Every opportunity has been ignored. Where do these gun loonies show up? At political rallies, in movie theaters, at Starbucks, in restaurants, and in grocery stores. They are not fighting for liberty, they are scaring the shit out of the rest of us. Come-and-Take-it-rally-screencap-615x345These crazy fucks don’t give a flying damn about freedom, democracy, or liberty. They are wannabe terrorists who don’t have a clue why the Second Amendment is in our Constitution. Because of them, I think it’s time to repeal that poorly considered portion of the Bill of Rights.


pict33denver_KUSA-TVJoe Miller - guns demonstration

OCCUPY-articleLargeOccupy-Oakland-007One of the more obvious things about gun owners is that they are practically never anyone you might consider to be revolutionary, defenders of liberty, progressive, or, even, liberal. They are overwhelmingly conservative. Conservatives, by definition, are the least likely people on the planet to have to worry about being harassed by “the government.” With the obvious understanding that “government exists to protect the rich from the poor,” you would have to be a Fox News simpleton to imagine that our military, police, or any other government agency would be “coming for my guns” if you are anything less than an armed Arian Nations KKK-sheet-wearing nutball. If you aren’t a noisy nutball, even then you’re pretty damn safe from the US government.

ee8ba0a3b7a1a01d45dcc21d088cd0dfsecuredownloadOn the other hand, if you are an unarmed Occupy kid protesting the rape and pillage of the American Treasury by our well-dressed criminal banking class, you’re going to get your ass handed to you by every goon with a SWAT patch on his uniform or a riot-control suit to play in. If you are foolish enough to possess weapons while supporting any sort of change in our corporate oligarchy you are probably going to be shot or rounded up and tried for treason. For the most part, the people who are most likely to be harassed by any government on the planet are also the least likely to own guns. But we know that’s not the NRA’s crowd, right? Those folks will be helping with the round up long before they make a useful contribution to restoring democracy or creating a fair society. They are, after all, conservatives and conservatives support the status quo no matter how evil it may be. They always have and always will.


Sucking Professionally and Academically

I’m currently reading a book (Quiet, by Susan Cain) that about introverts, introspection, and the polar opposite of those qualities which seem to be valued irrationally by our brain-dead culture. The chapter I’m currently working through is focusing on my all-time least favorite school, Harvard Business School. In my experience and study, I believe the best thing any business that hopes to be successful can do is to purge all MBAs from positions of responsibility (The best way to foolproof any system is to remove the fools from the system.) and ship as many HBS MBAs to the competition as possible.

A friend of mine recently went through a job search and, happily, found a position with a research firm in Michigan. I’m glad he has work, he’s glad he’s finally re-employed after a painful period of financial instability, and his new employer is, I hope, happy to have his talents at their disposal. I hope this is a “happily ever after” story.

If I were back on the hunt for work, though, his new employer wouldn’t be on a list of jobs I’d want. The reason is that this employer uses the HBS bury-them-in-bullshit interview system for employee selection. There may be nothing on earth I despise much more than the “interview by committee” selection system. I’ve gone through it myself a few times and have been selected by the process at least three times. Only one of those three turned out to be a good experience for me or the employer and that one happened because the owner of the company, and chief engineer, overrode the “committee” and made me an offer before the committee members came to a consensus. I turned down one of the other two jobs because I found a better opportunity before they made up their minds and the third job was one of the worst experiences of my working life.

A small part of my distain for the HBS “pull credit up, push blame down” mismanagement style comes from the dichotomy their multiple personality philosophy forces on their minimally skilled “students.” Quiet quotes the school’s profs saying “If you’re preparing alone for class, they you’re doing it wrong. Nothing at HBS is intended to be done alone.” and “Don’t think about the perfect answer. It’s better to get out there and say something than to never get your voice in.” The idea seems to be to derive every decision from a committee and for the committees to be driven by the noisiest, least prepared, least thoughtful members. Not only is that the idea, but it is absolutely the end result of their mismanagement style. The dumbest, most arrogant, least technical, least knowledgeable, loudest, threatening fools rise to the top and Decisions are consistently foolish. The work atmosphere is consistently childish and hazardous to those who think on their feet, as opposed to those to emote on their feet. If you can’t make a decision on your own, do your own research, make up you own mind, what useful contribution can you make to a committee? The answer is, of course, “none.” However, that hasn’t slowed our empire’s worst companies from swirling around that toilet bowl.

Harvard Business School’s influence on a huge variety of organizations has been catastrophic. To be clear about how completely useless HBS is, remember Larry Summers is the school’s President. Summers is on record for never having made an intelligent decision about anything in his life. He is at the heart of the world-wide economic depression we’re currently struggling to escape and he was chosen to lead this worthless institution after doing a perfectly miserable job in the Clinton administration. If you chopped that lardass into bite-sized chunks, he wouldn’t make good dog food.


#43 When Did Whiners become Winners? (2000)

All Rights Reserved © 2000 Thomas W. Day

"Eat the rich,
"There's only one thing that they're good for
"Eat the rich
"Take one bite now - come back for more " Aerosmith

I guess I first noticed this in the early 90's, when Neuter Gingrich and George ("I'm not always a wimp") Bush started speaking in public. Still, it amazes me that so many whining old men hold positions of power in Washington. What's up with that?

"Well, I woke up this morning
"On the wrong side of the bed
"And how I got to thinkin'
"About all those thing you said . . . "

A few weeks back, my clock radio woke me up with the simpering whine of Trent Lott and an equally pitiful sounding politico named "Connie Mack."

(I thought Connie Mack was a baseball minor league. When did a professional sports franchise get the right to run for public office? Did we allow our current pack of elected morons to hold a Constitutional Congress and I didn't hear about it?)

Anyway, these two doofuses were bawling about how traumatized they were by the federal government's "armed invasion" of the Miami home where Elian Gonzalez had been held. It sounded like a pair of East Coast trust fund babies trying to convince their mother to let them borrow the Mercedes and the mountain resort for the weekend. I practically smashed the bedside stand, trying to put a stop to that awful noise.

I wouldn't be surprised if this kind of irritant gets votes in the hope that they'll shut up once they get a job. It doesn't work. Quit voting for them, whoever you are.

"And I just can't see no humor
"About your way of life
"And I think I can do more for you
"With this here fork and knife "

A couple of decades ago, some brilliant media commentator went on record saying that no woman would ever be elected President of the United States because a woman's voice would not be capable of calming a panicked American public in times of crisis. Times have changed. For the last twenty years, we've been packing the House of Representatives and the Senate with rich and whimpering frat boys whose voices make blackboard scratching sound musical. Was this a liberal conspiracy to condition our ears for the first female Chief Executive? Make me listen to that Connie Mack character for thirty seconds and I'd vote to replace him with Phyllis Diller or Mad TV's Cabana Chat lady. If we'll tolerate these voices, discriminating against any human (or not) aural characteristic has come to an end.

Back in the 80's, I wondered about the aural capacity of folks who could tolerate listening to George Bush through four years. Things have gotten much worse. I'm astounded at the people who put up with thirty seconds of G.W. Bush. That man could irritate a rock. Combine a middle aged spoiled brat with that Texas "we all talk through our noses down here" thing and you'd think that ought to create a combination that would trap the man in his country club for life. You'd hope. And you'd be wrong again. All that moral damage we were told that rock and roll would cause has taken a different sort of toll on the American public. We're all freakin' deaf!

I guess it was bound to happen. After two hundred and some years of laughing at those grumpy old English men with speech impediments who punctuate every speech's conclusion with "hurumph, hurumph" or "here, here" followed by "mumbly, mumblay, mumbly," it's probably our turn to be stuck with an embarrassing sounding government. Now, the rest of the world can record our politicians' public utterances and play them back for comedy relief on their late night talk shows. I know that Danny Quaile provided the world with that sort of entertainment, so maybe we're just adding more fuel to the world's comedy quotient. Still, it's going to be painfully embarrassing to travel overseas until this problem is fixed.

For me, this is doubly humiliating. Not only are these whiners running my government, but they're, mostly, from my generation. We should have seen it coming. All of the macho guys from the Baby Booming generation got toasted in Vietnam, fried their brains on dope, got rich in rock and roll bands and have dropped so far out of the mainstream that they can't find it with a fishing pole, or gave up on politics, altogether, after wasting a few years charging windmills in the 70's. That leaves the country in the hands of the Ivy League dorks who couldn't get lucky or noticed, unless they waved the contents of their billfolds out the windows of their Porches and Beemers. What we're left with for public offices are the kids who were drawing an allowance from their parents long after their 40th birthdays.

Even knowing all that, I want to know why they're getting votes? When did Americans lose all aural discrimination? Are we so used to traffic noise, tinny television speakers, and crappy car radios that we don't know the voice of authority when we hear it? Maybe the way to fix American politics is to improve the noises we all live with. If we got a good stereo system installed in every kitchen, maybe we'd get a better class of politician.

July 2000