#50 The Quality of Dialog (2001)

All Rights Reserved © 2001 Thomas W. Day

It's been an amazing century, already, hasn't it?  We start the century off with a President who was elected by a partisan Supreme Court, protected by a Florida state government that made 1950's Chicago politics look reasonable and fair.  The winner was the less popular candidate, among the minority of citizens who actually cared enough to vote .  In fact, most observers and non-whacko right wingers will even admit that it's incredibly unlikely that Bush even got the majority vote of Florida citizens.  But he's the first President of the 21st Century.  I hope the new millennium doesn't go downhill from here.

It's possible, maybe even likely, that the country will survive all this anti-democratic activity with some remnants of democracy left intact.  It's possible that we'll survive another Republican administration with a functional economy, although it would be the first time in a dozen or so generations .  What's not possible is that the next four years will be illuminated by dialog that should be recorded for posterity.

It's pretty obvious that George "Dubbya" Bush is a moron.  He quacks like a moron, he acts like a moron, and he represents all of the things that the parents of morons have traditionally tried to hide from a critical society.  He doesn't even have the good sense to hide his hillbilly Tex-Mex accent in public, although he gave it a fair shot in his acceptance speech.  Worst of all, Bush appears to be proud of the fact that he can't spell, enunciate, or link verbs to nouns.  If his election proves anything it's that America has worked hard to overcome a slight intolerance for fools until, now, fools can walk the halls of power in Washington D.C., unashamed and unafraid.  As long as they're accompanied by a few hundred Secret Service agents.  I guess that's some sort of progress.

What was, unfortunately, demonstrated to the world and the twelve remaining literate citizens of this really large country (great being as great does and the U.S. having fallen a long ways from doing great things) is that the quality of dialog has been universally reduced to the sort of language that talk show hosts have made popular.  Based on the questions asked, and answers given, during the Supreme Court's review of the Florida recount question, Jerry Springer might have been comfortable in a justice's robe.  To someone who grew up reading the incredible collection of great American documents issued by our highest court, the current Supreme Court is an embarrassment; but a predictable embarrassment. 

Not wanting to leave those boys-and-girls-in-black isolated with their words of inconsistency and incompetence, the rest of our government's squirrels and random nut gatherers joined in.  One after another, Senators and Representatives gave up their sound bites to the media. 

Deprived of even a competent phrase to quote, the news goons fell all over itself proclaiming Gore's concession speech to be "statesmanlike," whatever that word has come to mean.  Maybe it's a relative thing.  Compared to Bush's victory gibberish Gore did sound reasonably literate and mildly insightful, but so do those fuzzy dolls that squawk "you suck" on impact.  Gore did a fine job, presenting the lightweight drivel he'd  been handed, but he wasn't any more inspiring at the end than he was in the beginning.  Which must be why we elected a guy who would be the last kid to be picked on a grade school playground, for any kind of game.

The media, not having the common sense or grammatical standards to pick and choose the good from the bad, simply poured the words from their Washington sources into our ears.  The talking heads didn't present any great dialog among themselves, either.  I've seen better commentary during sporting events than we were offered in explanation for the most complex and, possibly, important political event in modern American history.  Personally, I feel like an outhouse at a Georgia barbeque. If any more aural crap is spewed in my direction, my mental plumbing is going to back up.

We voters separated the chaff from the wheat, during the primaries and sent anyone who might be able to carry on a sentient conversation back to academia.  Early on, at least two candidates tried to elevate the discussion in the two political parties that appear to matter.  If you wanted inspiration, Bill Bradley could have provided that at a level not seen at the national level since Kennedy.  If you wanted straight talk about complicated political issues, McCain appeared to be ready to accept that job. (Although he appears to have recanted his reformer attitudes, since Republicans are notoriously unkind to any sort of "reform" that doesn't result in tax reductions for the rich.)  And, depending on your political persuasion, there were several candidates who communicated competently right up until they ran out of money and patience with an ignorance-loving voting public.

It's been said that a democracy can not survive when a critical mass of citizenry is exceeded. They theory claims that, as the population increases, the cultural intelligence decreases until the concepts of a participatory government are overwhelmed by the weight of the common denominator.  This election may have demonstrated that principle.  If you gather enough people together and allow  them to pick the most acceptable person to represent that oversized group, there are two ways for the group to go: they can pick the smartest person in the group or the dumbest.  Apparently, we've made our decision. 

I suppose the connection between individual financial stability, the national economy, and the office of the President is too vague for most voters.  That relationship is complicated by evidence that a fool will bomb out at chess or Trivial Pursuit, but that same idiot can survive national politics for a half-century.  We've made a national pastime out of distrusting intellectuals and all things academic.  In this election, that habit has been taken to an extreme.  Still, I doubt that there is a person in the country who would choose either Bush or Gore as a personal stand-in on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"  I wonder why it's so difficult to understand that the voting game might turn out to be "Who Wants to Experience another Great Depression?"

January 2001


#49 The Lesson, the Whole Lesson (2000)

All Rights Reserved © 2000 Thomas W. Day

The dot-com revolution is dead, long live brick-and-mortar . . . or something like that. Just about every business section in  the traditional news media has pronounced the Internet economy dead in the ether. Their reasoning for believing the potholes in the Information Highway are fatal flaws are as moronic you'd expect.  No wonder most of us get the news we care about from any old web page that strikes a Yahoo! search's fancy.

It's true that dot-com's are dying like flies. What kind of surprise is that? Face it, the benchmarks of the "industry," like Amazon and AOL and Yahoo!, have either never produced a profitable quarter or have to do desperate stuff like shuffling paper and pencils into the capital expense column to create one shining moment of microscopic profitability.  Even a math-deprived-and-impaired MBA graduate ought to expect these guys to die, eventually. And so they are.

The suddenly-realized cause for the media's wizards attention to this downsizing-to-drowning corporate activity is simple; the dot-com's are filing for bankruptcy and even a major media hack can identify that as a bad thing. Now, the NBC, Fox, ESPN, and Wall Street drones are trying to convince us that they knew this was going to happen, all along. Yeah, sure they did. And I guess all those "the Internet is the mall of the future" glossy magazine hype articles from just a year back were urban legends?

Inside all of the worthless drivel, is a speck of truth that these guys would rather the rest of us didn't examine. "The rest of us," meaning consumers and those few corporate types who actually care about making their companies profitable and efficient.  But be honest, being unprofitable isn't something that will automatically remove a company from the stock market's good graces. The last time General Motors showed a net profit was when Henry Ford was still convinced that anyone who didn't want to buy a black Model T didn't really need a car. IBM has to design special software, software that ignores negative numbers, to produce a decent financial quarter. And Chrysler? Don't get me started on Chrysler.

One of the great marketing hopes for most of the dying dot-com's was that selling advertising space would make the sites profitable. Somehow, marketing wisdom has, now, decided that advertising on web sites doesn't work. Nobody pays attention to web page ads, they tell us.  Once the boys with the really big advertising budgets made that decision, cyberspace became worthless and what little cash flow some of these companies produced vanished in a puff of business logic.

OK, I won't argue that I don't pay any attention to ads on my Yahoo! page or anywhere else. Somewhere out there, I have a Rat's Eye page on Geocities that I haven't updated for a year or so, because I hate their obnoxious pop-up ads.  But let's keep this ball rolling.  I don't pay attention to any advertising that I don't actually seek out myself.  If I'm hungry, an ad for a fast-food hamburger might catch my attention. If I'm sixteen hours into a dreary cross-country road trip to or from Kansas, a Super Eight Motel "turn left on exit 512" billboard is practically a homecoming welcome.  Sometimes I open a motorcycle magazine, specially seeking the best price on tires or fringy thingamabobs that stream from my handlebars and make me look like I'm going fast when there's a decent headwind to buck.  Ok, that last part's a lie, but I can see it happening in another couple of decades. 

That's it for marketing's effect on my buying decisions, though.  For me, uninvited advertising is simply an opportunity for a bathroom break or wasted space in my magazines or newspapers. Commercials on television are official notices that it's safe to make a three minute run to the family library or that I have just enough time to microwave a bag of popcorn before something more-or-less watchable returns to the tube. It's remotely possible that a spot for a movie might remind me to ask for a personal review from one of the life's-options-deprived folks I know who go to every movie, regardless of subject or possible entertainment value. At the absolute best (from a sponsor's perspective), a commercial break will trigger a spontaneous whacking of my remote control's channel buttons, where I'll be subjected to 2 seconds of the commercials on all of the available channels until the first station returns to a movie I've already seen twelve times or a women's basketball game, which will hold me over until what I want to watch returns from the dead.

There is absolutely no chance that an advertisement for a vehicle, clothing, tampons, soap, household appliance, drugs, insurance, stock brokerage, boxed set of disco's greatest hits, or web site will have even the slightest influence on my personal actions. None. Not one. 

In fact, I go out of my way to avoid companies that have irritated me with their commercials. All of those companies who think I'm a captured audience for their advertisements during the breaks in movie theater previews are on my hated-corporate-entity list. For instance, I'd go naked through an entire Minnesota winter before I'd buy a sweatshirt from that nasty looking witch at Old Navy. I'd rather eat rabbit droppings than taste Mentos. Otherwise, I buy from whatever store happens to be selling what I want to buy for the least money in the closest proximity to where I live at the moment I decide to burn discretionary income.

Advertising has such little impact on what I consume that the chances are a company might be more likely to attract my attention if I've never heard of them. I love stuff that's boxed or canned and labeled with those simple blue stripes.  The plainer the label the better.  The next best thing is an obscure brand.  If I've never heard of a company or it's product, I know they're not wasting a significant portion of the product's overhead expense on stupid advertisements and brain-dead marketing drones.

It's also possible that I missed their ads, when I was in the bathroom or making popcorn while their stupid advertisements were showing.  And that's something that is guaranteed to happen when the ads were shown during the Superbowl, all TV broadcasted movies, or . . . any time what I'm wanting to be watching is being interrupted by a $#%&@)* (that's an expletive-deleted for you who are too young to remember the days of self-censorship) commercial.

Back to the topic of dying on the vine dot-coms, if Wall Street has figured out how ineffective dot-com advertising is, why haven't they figured out how ineffective almost all advertising is? Probably because most of the so-called marketing gurus are New York residents.  Since that city's economy is spectacularly fragile and it's relationship to what goes on in the rest of the country is as functional as a House of Representatives debate, it's a matter of self-preservation.  If marketing drivel bit the dust, so would that unlivable city's fifteen decades of fame.

So what the investment pros have decided is that advertising doesn't work on web sites, but they've conveniently ignored the fact that it hardly ever works anywhere. If that understanding spreads to business in general, it's possible that the dot-com's will have actually accomplished the business revolution that they made claim to twelve months ago.

December 2000


Define “Service”

A friend put a note on Facebook about the fact that “The Air Force must really need more Electrical/Computer Engineers. They sent me an email saying they will pay $33,000 a year +full benefits while in school so long as you work for the USAF and DOD afterwards. GPA requirement is only 3.0.. Of course I would never do that but I always am just shocked by how much money they throw at people, even before graduation they will have invested almost $100,000 in these people.

“It's too bad for them my conscience and my soul are a bit more expensive than that.”

I replied, “Too bad for them, good for you.”

One of his other friends responded with, “Yeah people who serve their country are terrible human beings.”

That started a collection of responses that pretty much left me out of the loop. However, I spent a bit of my home improvement carpentry time contemplating what “serve your country” means to me and, apparently, everyone else. Service is defined in Webster’s as “the action of helping or doing work for someone” and “a system supplying a public need such as transport, communications, or utilities such as electricity and water.” I expect the sarcastic responder has a different definition of the word, but I’m pretty happy with the traditional explanations. There is a rash of “thanks for your service” lip service being paid to military personnel and veterans. It’s hard to believe many actually believe their words, since the majority of Americans keep electing Representatives and Senators who don’t believe in providing decent military pay or veterans’ benefits. Talk is cheap and politicians and conservatives talk cheaper than anyone.

There is a concept I try to get my head around often described as “Love the Warrior, Hate the War.” “Love” is a pretty strong word and one that I do not apply loosely to my personal feelings. I don’t love all that many people and those I do love are rarely people I’d describe as traditional warriors. So, don’t take it too personally if I don’t love you and still hate the war you fought. Honestly, I’m not that big a fan of humanity in general so I’m not picking on soldiers any more than politicians, religious nuts, bankers, investment scam artists, cops, bureaucrats, construction workers, or guys who live under bridges in cardboard boxes.

Many of the members of our current military are victims of the poverty draft. Their reasons for “serving” (to use the term applied by others to being a soldier) are varied and only occasionally connected to patriotism. Some “reasons” are downright stupid and others are sad. A military poll found the top five reasons for enlisting were “education, stability, respect, community, and adventure.” You’ll note “service” is not in that group. One of the commenters to a website reporting that poll had his own top five, “1. There are no jobs where you live. 2. There are no jobs where you live. 3. There are no jobs where you live. 4. There are no jobs where you live. 5. There are no jobs where you live.” I believe that kid’s list is a lot more accurate than the more idealistic, if no more patriotic, list the military poll found. Most of the military is staffed, from privates to the Joint Chiefs, with people who don’t have the skills to make a useful contribution anywhere in society, so they make a destructive contribution in the military.

Back to the original stimulus for this conversation, the idea that my friend was refusing to “serve his country” by not considering the Air Force’s generous offer.

Who is serving his country better or more: an Air Force electrical engineer or an electrical engineer who specializes in alternative energy research or manufacturing? How about an engineer who designs new products that will be manufactured in the United States; even consumer products? Where does an engineer who becomes an educator fit into the service formula? Or an engineer who works for one of the power distribution companies whose mission is to harden the electrical grid to make it less vulnerable to physical or software hacking terrorist attacks? How about an engineer who dedicates some of his early career days to volunteering for the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps Vista?

I know which side of everyone of those questions I fall on. The military is notorious for loyalty to itself; not just in the US but over the course of history. The whole idea of patriotism is entangled with nationalism, a bad motivation under all circumstances. Being patriotic to one’s country is a complicated issue. What exactly is our patriotism directed to? The Constitution? That is often one of the first luxuries to be sacrificed in any time of war, from the Revolutionary War to the Patriot Act and the NSA’s most recent abuse of privacy. There have been more than a few challenges to civilian rule in modern times: General Lucius Clay’s unauthorized attempt to taunt the USSR into an act of war in 1961; General Curtis LeMay’s arrogant tantrum threatening to “make a strike” against the Russians without Presidential authorization; CIA mobster William Harvey’s general disrespect and dishonesty in his attempt to drag the US into a war with Cuba at the Bay of Pigs; a fair number of US citizens still believe the military, military-industrial complex, and the CIA were involved in the assassination of President Kennedy (Yep, I’m one of that group. The CIA has consistently proven itself to be one of the least patriotic collection of mobsters in human history. They have been in a constant race with Russia’s Secret Police for that honor.); Oily North’s participation in the conspiracy to prevent the return of the Iran hostages until after Reagan’s election; the military and military contractor behavior during the Katrina hurricane disaster; pretty much everything the ex-military gangsters of Blackwater/Academi and Halliburton have done in those corporations’ history;  the ease and amorality of the pathway between a military career and a military vendor’s career; and the terror our military has inflicted on the world with their never-ending War on Terror.

The real question is in joining the military is a young person serving the Constitution, the people of this country, the government, the ruling political party, or the 1%? Carefully look at that question and your answer because those diverse masters are too often contradictory. The Constitution has fared poorly during time of war, so if that document and its best intentions are your motivation, you should probably be a war protestor rather than a warrior. The “War on Terror” has been particularly hard on the Bill of RightsThere are those who argue that the Bill of Rights is a luxury that should disappear during war time, even when that war is unjustified and irrational. If that’s the case, we are considerably less of a democracy and even more unjust a society than most patriotic Americans would like to admit. Many times the people have had to be “sold” on a war by the politicians and the 1% who will profit from any war preparation and actual warfare will make them “filthy rich” in the best application of that phrase. Any time you are “serving” anything, you should know who benefits. Serving the government is the last thing any citizen should be doing; governments are supposed to serve citizens or be overthrown. In the case of military “service,” the beneficiaries of  that service are probably not who you think they are or who they should be.


#48 Easy Solutions, Poor Results (2000)

All Rights Reserved © 2000 Thomas W. Day

In the year-aftermath of the country's many kid-killings, but especially the Loveland, Colorado school massacre, lots of people seem to have identified simple solutions to the problems that cause our kids to hate each other enough to want to kill. A real news reporter and columnist (the kind who don't seem to exist these days), H.L. Menken, said " There is always an easy solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong." 

I highlighted the word "wrong" because a big reason  we don't have many real news reporters is that we don't have many real news readers.  So, in case this rant manages to fall into the hands of non-Rat's Eye subscribers (all of whom are brilliant intellects and above average in all respects), I want to be sure that Mr. Menken wasn't misunderstood. 

Popular solutions haven't become any less simple or less wrong since his time, but we have a lot more simply wrong solutions to sort through.  This is based on the honestly simple fact that humans don't seem to be able to figure out who should reproduce and who shouldn't..

For instance, one of the parents of a girl murdered in Colorado told the Colorado state legislature (also known as the "Colorado State Home for the Overpaid and Mentally Deficient") that the lack of organized religion's presence in public schools is the root of the breakdown in the country's morality.  During America's religious primetime, lynching innocent folks was pretty popular in many of the Bible Belt states; and in all of the states below the waist.  I could be wrong, but that doesn't seem like a big moral improvement over anything going on today.  When I was a kid, the country, practically, had universal organized Christian activity in school. All around the country, you couldn't tell public schools from secular schools, unless the teachers were all wearing habits.  Kids were a hazard to other kids back then, too.  Maybe more so than today.

Minnesota's often-goofy governor claimed that more kids need to have guns so that the nuttier kids with guns would be afraid to use their guns. Our oversized, under-thoughtful Governor may be out to lunch.  Or out to referee a WWF match.  Or promoting his latest ghost-written book about his wasted and fantastic youth.  Anyway.

Colorado's problem was that there were too few guns in school?  There was a gun in every pocket, in the U.S.A. of the 1850's, and people got shot for just about any brainless reason you can think of. I suppose, eventually, it could be true that "a well armed nation is a polite nation," but how many reasonably mannered folks would have to die to complete that evolutionary correction? It's an interesting argument that failed the test in a simpler time.  It probably won't improve with more people and more problems in the mix. On the other hand, I guess it's possible that getting the damage done quickly might be just as efficient as letting it go on for another 225 years.

Flipping the legislative coin, a significant number of the country's lawmakers think the authors of the Second Amendment were just kidding around.  There must be 3,700 gun control bills scattered around the House and Senate. And another 7,400 similar bills litter various state government buildings.  Personally, I suspect that anything short of yanking the guns out of the cold, dead hands of every individual in the country won't do anything to improve safety in schools, or post offices. It's just an easy answer to the wrong question.

The problems kids face are far messier than surface changes in law can alter. Kids, of all ages, are a lot smarter than parents, teachers, legislators, and cops allow. Kids see what we do, and put more weight on action than words. What kids are seeing adults do is . . . anything we feel like doing.  From any objective perspective, there are no "standards of behavior" in modern life.  From the President's office to life on the street, rational and moral behavior is something that rarely happens enough for anyone to notice.

Maybe one real difference between now and yesterday is that it's a lot easier for kids to see what's really going on. Cops and politicians have always been, by and large, crooked and self-serving and dangerous. Today, we get to watch that behavior every night on television. If you want to read about it, do an Internet search on "police brutality" or "political corruption," and be ready for a long, depressing evening. While political figures have always been, on average, crooks, in the past it was harder to have that rubbed in our faces. Today, electronic and traditional media bury us in Washington's muck and the slimy activities of our local governments. "Public service" is a phrase that is completely out of fashion.  We don't even bother to label "carpetbaggers," these days.  We just expect it from anyone who's corrupt enough to want to hold a public office.

Try to think of a group that hasn't looked awful, when the public's attention is in that direction: the clergy, medicine, United Way and a hundred other "non-profits" that are little more than corporate empires, the military, the police, and on it goes.  In fact, pretty much any place the media light gets shown, we find a selfish corruption being illuminated.  The easy solution is "censorship."  Repressing the information isn't going to work, or happen. That genie's out of the bottle. What needs to happen is a dramatic change in how we deal with abuse of the public trust. First, there has to be some public trust.

Kids don't have any problem seeing through cultural smoke screens. They, instantly and intuitively, understand what we're saying with our actions.  When we chew up the Earth's resources, thoughtlessly and recklessly, we're practically screaming at them, "We don't care what your lives will be like after we're dead, we want to party now!" While any damn idiot knows that there is an end to the world's resources, lots of damn idiots are in control of wasting those resources at rates that are becoming measurable in "days of life left on earth." A lot of things are going to come to a screeching halt, in not very many years, and, if we don't care about the lives of our children, why should be expect them to care?

Tom Hayden once said, "My country let me right the wrongs." (And what happened to Tom, after Jane left him for the easy life of a billionaire's trophy bimbo?) The list of things that need to be done, so our children will believe they are wanted and that they have a reason to hope for a future, is practically limitless. The time for doing those things may be very limited.  There are no easy answers for any of these questions.  The best we can hope for is that there are answers.

December 2000


#47 Getting Paid to Lie (2000)

[This might be the most painful of all of my past Rat Rants. At the time, I worked for a big medical device company that did, in fact, pay me to lie. They didn’t pay enough, so I resisted. The price of resistance was really high, though. Eventually, my options became “Quit or die.” I quit.]

All Rights Reserved © 2000 Thomas W. Day

I want to start a movement. (Not that kind of movement. There is plenty of fiber in my diet and thanks for asking.). I want to organize all of the employees who are being paid to tell small or humongous lies into a coherent labor movement. The movement's slogan will be "Hell no, we don't know. Ask the idiot who made that decision."

My little grassroots movement would start in Fortune 500 middle management and work its way down the chain of command to the boys and girls who collect your money and hand burgers and fries through windows. Within a few years, those pitiful "company spokespersons" who never say anything more truthful than "we have no comment at this time" or "The Diddly Squat Corporation has never engaged in illegal activities and denies all of the government's allegations" will get to say, "The CEO's office is right this way, folks. I've asked Security to forcibly retain Mr. Doofus in his office until he answers all of your questions."

Imagine the consequences.

For example, I recently spend a long painful day, stuck in the Kansas City airport. I had expected to take a one hour Vanguard flight back to Minnesota. I ended up waiting for 3 hours in Kansas City, detouring through Chicago, scrambling, frantically, to my connection, and sitting for another hour while the plane loaded and unloaded passengers. I finally made it home, seven hours later than my scheduled arrival time.

All through this ordeal, I listened to Vanguard's uniformed and underpaid liars fabricate reasons for why more than one hundred customers were being inconvenienced. Since I arrived really early, in my usual paranoid fashion, I saw the whole story develop. My original flight was cancelled because an insufficient number of passengers had arrived early for the flight. Like Vanguard's role model, Northworst, this dinky wannabe airline likes to see all flights properly overbooked to maximize the airline's return on investment. That tactic bounced me to a plane that was stuffed with ticketed bodies, connecting from Dallas to Chicago through KC, which would depart an hour after my original flight. Bad enough, but it got worse.

The Dallas flight was, literally, bonked from the airport when a freight truck smacked into a wing and a replacement had to be found for that plane. The replacement came from a flight that was scheduled to arrive in KC a little later, also bound for Chicago. By the time that plane arrived, a second Chicago-to-Minneapolis flight was forced off schedule and three plane loads of people were waiting to get onto two planes.

It began to snow. A lot.

I had done my most convincing "angry passenger" routine and had obtained a boarding pass (instead of the stand-by option the clerk tried to hand me) for, not only the flight to Chicago but the connection to Minneapolis. That got me on the Chicago plane early and securely. A dozen or more folks, who got on through stand-by passes, got yanked from the plane along with miscellaneous freight and luggage, to allow for extra fuel required for the (now) severe weather. As the plane left KC, two and a third planes worth of passengers were stuck in KC, waiting for one plane arriving in a couple of hours and another that was scheduled to arrive in six hours.

The stories told to passengers mutated as the morning progressed. At 6:00AM, another early bird and me were told, simply, that our flight had been cancelled. As we were leaving check-in with our transfers in hand, we heard other passengers getting the crunched-plane-in-Dallas story with no mention of the original flight cancellation. When the first load of Dallas passengers arrived, they were told that they would be directed from the plane they were on to another, later scheduled plane, to keep their plane from losing its place in the airport's schedule. Somewhere during this performance, the story changed to the airline was trying to protect our safety by routing us all to Chicago to avoid being trapped in the KC weather. As the day went on, the stories got weirder and less believable. The conflicting stories and outright fairytales started blending into a screenplay that Rod Sterling would have loved telling.

All because the people facing the customers were not allowed to tell those customers the truth about why all this was happening to them. Imagine the relief and focus all of those frustrated wishful passengers would have felt if they'd have been told, "One of our many pinheaded executives decided to save a few bucks and his idiotic decision has cost all of you a half day of your lives." I, personally, would have felt a lot better about it all, just hearing the truth instead of the constantly evolving lies.

Of course, the zombie exec would have had to face the music/cacophony caused by his idiocy and, hopefully, he or she would have been fired. As we all know, too well, all corporate systems are designed to protect the guilty and punish the innocent. In most companies, even when the guilty is identified, the innocent are punished and the culpable are promoted.

Still, my little movement would put an end to this kind of guilt avoidance. The No More Lies Union Golden Rule would be "everyone paid less than $100k is allowed to always tell the truth or to pass the question on to someone who is paid enough to make lying worthwhile." The corollary rule would be "those responsible for any screw ups will be held accountable." Let's see how many MBAs and lawyers and accountants want to be executives if all customers are provided with the execs' home phone numbers and addresses. And the truth.

May 2000