#119 Who's Voting Smart? (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

I'm pretty sure this isn't a new idea for me.  Most likely at least once in the last eight years, I've ranted about fools overpopulating the world and my country.  However, this last election sure pointed out how true it's becoming: the dumber are becoming dumber and more prevalent.  We've been working at this for 200 years as a country and for at least ten times that long as a species, but it's a little scary how quickly the viciously stupid are taking over the world. 

NPR did a series of interviewing various folks from various parts of the country, asking about their political views and Presidential choice for 2004.  One stop that particularly entertained me was in western Nebraska.  Other than the town's barber and a retired teacher, every person interviewed was a single issue voter with absolutely no intellectual grasp of that lone issue.  Most of the reasons for voting were embarrassingly stupid or selfish.  I was appalled at the lack of knowledge of the candidates or their real positions on the only issue the small town spud cared about. 

My favorite is the sole moral position of the religious right; anti-abortion.  Or, as they put it, the Right to Life or, even less consistent, Pro-Life.  Outside of this one issue the Right is consistently on the side of immorality and about as anti-life as a group of living beings could be.  Take, for instance, their goose-stepping leader, G.W. Bush.  While the Governor of Texas , Bush executed 152 people.  Does this sound like someone who believes in the "sanctity of life?"  Bush even ridiculed the pleas for a stay of execution Betty Beats, mimicking her words ("Please don't kill me!") to a Time reporter and laughing at her doom.  That was early in his reign of death.  Beats was his 121st victim, but Bush still had work to do.  He loved killing people and, given his charge into an unjustified war, still does.  The difference between G.W. Bush, the Governor, and GeeWiz, the President, is that he can kill thousands, hundreds of thousands, of people as President.  So much for that moral position.  The only time Bush turns the other cheek is when he's using the cheek to take aim.  The best I can figure is that the right wants more people to grow up in dysfunctional families or orphanages so they can have the pleasure of killing them as adults.  That's hardly a moral position.

The other farcical pro-Bush position is a deluded belief that Bush is some kind of defender of capitalism.  If there ever was a socialist in the White House, Bush is the man.  GeeWiz comes from a state and family history of socialist leeches who have made their fortune feeding on the public blood vein.  The Texas economy is based on federal welfare from military installations, oil, and aerospace.  Without federal subsidies, Texas would be just another southern state populated by backwards hillbillies, crooked politicians and illiterate fundamentalist preachers. 

George, himself, was a total failure at everything he attempted until he hooked up with a pack of corporate socialists who conned Arlington, Texas into condemning a few hundred acres of prime private property and handing over $600 million in public financing for a new stadium.  Bush and his co-conspirators still owe Arlington Texas $7.5 million for their piddling share of the stadium costs.  Apparently, they have no plans to pay back the debt, tying up the city and citizens in court while the Statute of Limitations runs out on the balance due.  The extremes Bush and his buddies have gone to hang on to the largest-ever baseball team sale profits have been very close to criminal.  Being good socialists, they've offered absolutely nothing in return to the city that made them millionaires and moved Bush from the "loser" to the "winner" column.  Even as President, Bush is taking advantage of rich guy tax breaks, handing federal money to his crooked cronies, and violating national and international laws on a daily basis. 

For anyone with a lick of sense, those two inconsistencies ought to be enough to make folks think twice about putting someone like GeeWiz in charge of catching stray dogs.  But not small town Americans.  So the real question is why are these people so irrational?

Anyone who's lived in a small town knows the real problem facing rural America.  The smart kids leave and the dumb ones stay.  Even the dumb kids who stay know that they are living in a depressed fools' paradise.  Because of the ag economy/ecology, the down-breeding has not just been a passive sport.  I moved my family from western Kansas to western Texas to central Nebraska during the 1970s.  Part of what chased us across the plains was the runoff of industrial agriculture.  Literally. 

Agriculture is one of the dirtiest industries in the world.  In the mid-1970s, western Nebraska's water was so contaminated with nitrogen from irrigation fertilizers that the EPA was faced with the the decision to cut back industry's productivity or poison children.  The government chose the poison and the allowed levels of nitrogen was raised to ten times the previous limit.  Exceeding the previous limit was known to cause brain damage in small children and likely would cause unknown/unstudied harm to adults.  So, over the last 30 years, just this one source of vicious pollution has been doing a job on the IQ of country folks.  There is no shortage of harmful pollutants in the rural environment.  Cities often dump their really toxic waste in the country, under the assumption that what the hicks don't know won't hurt them.  Which is another reason why the smart kids get out of the country as quickly as possible.  If they don't, they won't be smart or healthy for long. 

Small towns have been down-breeding since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, but the last 40 years have been incredibly hard on village IQs.  For a few short moments, in the 1990s, telecommuting looked like the answer to the shrinking gene pool.  When technical folks found that they could live anywhere and get their job done, small towns experienced a short revival in their quality of resident.  It didn't last.  The economy went bust and many telecommuters became tele-unemployed.  When they did find jobs, they had to move back to the office and the city.  When they didn't, it was because they were over-employed and under-skilled and that meant that they were the same kind of folks who were already living in the outback.  Of course, many of the technical types discovered that rural existence is less than Mayberry-like long before the economy died.  They discovered the pollution, the corruption, and the ignorance and learned that these faults are something the locals actively designed into rural life. 

The rural economy is so bad that they've been exporting dumb-asses to the city for decades.  Now, we have huge populations of inbred hillbillies  surrounding urban areas, sticking the cities with the foolishness they've imported from the boondocks.  Those areas are politely called suburbs, but the citizens would be more accurately called "urban hicks."  They've brought the rural desire to pretend to independence while relying on state and federal handouts for survival.  They've brought their provincial dependence on superstition and religion to urban government.  Worst of all, they've continued their breeding practices which means that the stupid are having large families while intelligent citizens are having small families or avoiding reproduction altogether. 

As if the degeneration of the species wasn't progressing fast enough, our immigration policies have been slanted toward increasing the importation of rural fools from all over the world.  With a recession well into its fifth year and real unemployment heading toward the 1980s levels, you'd think that immigration might become a little more selective.  You'd be disappointed.  We're importing the world's menial laborers in record numbers.  The one thing the Republicrats need most of all is a stupid electorate.  The Heartland is doing its part to supply all the fools necessary to satisfy this demand.


Is Bean-Counting A Profession?

Now that the economy is crawling back to life (in spite of the best efforts of the Teabag congress and the hopes of the 1%’ers who’d hoped to totally crush the middle class), people are job hunting and hopping again. (Read the ShouldIQuit test;  the questions are important, you don’t need to actually take the test. 7 Reasons Why You Hate Your Job will also give you a fine grip on why so many people hate their jobs. ) The reason most of us hate our work is because management sucks the life out of the job and the people in it. The reason management is so awful is because the skill set they have is insufficient for the job. The only thing MBA clones know is simple data manipulation; bean-counting. As anyone who has ever performed an inventory knows, that ain’t rocket science. Supposedly, the big lesson in a Harvard MBA program is learning the valuable skill of “pushing blame down and pulling credit up.” That is, also, not rocket science, brain surgery, or useful anywhere outside of a spoiled brat’s fraternity or the upper floors of a Misfortune 500 corporation.

While statistics show the American worker has become dramatically more efficient and productive. damn little of that output is due to management. In spite of mismanagement’s general incompetence, engineers, technicians, clerks, sales people, and everyone else are motivated to do a better job with modern tools (tools that are generally beyond management’s capacity to comprehend or use). The simple fact is that people with even the slightest amount of freedom and talent are driven to do a better job. That’s not something management can claim credit for, it’s just human nature.

The tools MBAs acquire for management are intimidation, whining, and the rest of the manipulation skills typical of 13-year-old girls. Accounting is still a valuable skill and a respectable profession. But bean-counting at the remedial level of MBAs is not even worth considering beyond its comedic value.


#118 A Corporate Republic (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

For the last few days, I've been considering the results of this last election.  I've wondered why the results, from the beginning of the Presidential campaign two years ago to Tuesday, needed to be as destructive as they were.  I've wondered why Florida, New Mexico, and Ohio's elections so desperately needed to be thrown to George Bush, regardless of the choices made by individual voters.  I've worried that my country no longer counts individual votes for some secret, evil reason and I've tried to understand that reason. 

I think I do understand.  It's all been there for me to see for my entire life.  As President Rutherford Hayes said a few decades back, the United States is a republic "of the corporation, by the corporation, and for the corporation."  We all know this, even if we still hope that it isn't true.  In the US, Corporations have more power, rights, and freedom than individual humans.  Corporate execs can even contract or mass-produce murder with little fear of prosecution.  The politically correct term is "the defense industry," but after Iraq and G.W. Bush nobody outside of this country will ever call it that again.  The United States is clearly an aggressor and we have stepped past "offense" well into offensive.  Corporations making medical products do it all the time.  The military-industrial complex bases its output on murder.  Companies that abuse the nation's natural resources and spew toxic pollution into the air and water have happily murdered children and adults for decades.  Our current system of government has been specially designed to allow corporations to prosper from the death, dismemberment, and illness of individual citizens. 

We are a corporate republic, not a representative democracy.  Individuals no longer matter to the government we have allowed to exist.  Even worse, we are now trying to export this awful form of government to the rest of the world.  Our experiment in "nation building" in Iraq is just an extension of the nation building we've attempted all over the world.  All of the "freedom" drivel aside, the purpose of the Iraq invasion was to assume power over their oil assets.  It's no more sophisticated than that.  South America has suffered, for nearly 100 years, from our attempts to build corporate-oriented nations. We've tossed off South American elected governments when they tried to restrict the "rights" of US agribusiness and dope peddlers. 

In the last two decades, Europe and, especially, Asia have succumbed to the US corporate-oriented form of government.  In many of those countries, individual humans have become nothing more than slaves to their corporate manufacturing masters.  Those same countries are where the United States has shown that it values economic relationships far above human rights. 

The Corporation, a film that studied corporate behavior as if it were an individual human, found those organizations to be functionally sociopathic.  As its reference, the film used the DSM-IV-TR, the manual psychiatry designed for use in the diagnosis of mental disorders.  The characteristics of anti-social personality disorder (aka: sociopathic and psychopathic behaviors) are determined from consistent behavior described in the following:

  1. failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors as indicated by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
  2. deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or conning others for personal profit or pleasure
  3. impulsivity or failure to plan ahead
  4. irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
  5. reckless disregard for safety of self or others
  6. consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent work behavior or honor financial obligations
  7. lack of remorse, as indicated by being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt, mistreated, or stolen from another

Anyone who spent a moment of time in the belly of a corporation, especially a Fortune 500 corporation knows that most of this list constitutes "performance standards" within those organizations.  Personally, I witnessed those exact behaviors within two medical devices corporations, repeatedly, from corporate execs and the actions of the corporation.  In fact, any corporation that does not act psychopathically is violating US law by not protecting the interests of its investors above all other considerations.  Corporate ethics are very different from human ethics.

Robert Pirsig, in his book Lila, wrote about society being the higher animal: the entity that is the next, massive, step up the food chain from individual humans.  One piece of critical information that he missed is that the individual members of US society are corporations, not humans.  Individual humans are nothing more than cogs in the wheels of corporations.  The society we serve is populated by corporations, not humans.  Humans are two steps removed from being at the top of the world's food chain.  If individual humans decide to act in their own interests, which will usually be opposed to the interests of corporations, the corporations simply force their governments to ignore that human intervention.  That is what happened in this election.

Currently (and for the last 100 years), Republicans are the purest corporate political party, but they are followed closely by the Democrats.  Both parties are sponsored and directed by their corporate masters and neither offer a hopeful choice to individual citizens.  Without the sponsorship of corporations and their executives, neither party would attract much attention or loyalty from individual citizens.  The only intelligent citizens who do pay serious attention to the major parties are CEOs and wanna-be-CEOs.

CEOs are not necessarily evil folks, although they are certainly not the kind of people that you'd invite to your home for dinner with your family.  However, acting to serve the needs of the institutions of which they are barely a vital organ, they regularly do evil deeds.  The gigantic salaries they receive induce them to do whatever evil tasks their corporate group-mind needs done, even when those acts are obviously harmful to the world, the nation, and their communities.  With the assets of the corporation, CEOs have caused an amazing amount of damage to our democracy and the nation.

The politicians who write laws to benefit corporations, at the expense of the lives of the individuals and communities they pretend to represent, are probably not evil.  But, the organizations that put them in their offices are absolutely evil by design.  So, the laws the politicians write and promote have harmful intent and effect.  In this case, the ends and the means are identical. 

The corporation has not been a successful organization, from an evolutionary standpoint.  Corporations have served to promote overpopulation, world-climate-altering pollution, vanishing natural resources, and heartless social injustice.  The corporate social model is self-destructive and it may destroy the species that serves it.  It has already destroyed our representative democracy.  If the US continues to export this form of government to the world, most of us may live to reap the "rewards."  A psychopath, in any form, is a dangerous, irrational being.  Allowing psychopathic institutions to direct the nation's political system is suicidal. 


Being Engineered

If there is a phrase that Americans despise more than “social engineering,” I’m not sure I want to know about it. There is a reason, although not a good reason, for so many of us having negative feelings about social engineering: we are no longer the engineers. The things that change society are no long mostly generated by our economy. There are lots of reasons why the United States went from a driver of new ideas and technologies to an unwilling, uneducated, hostile passenger. One big reason has been the country’s unwillingness to make the obvious and, now, insanely expensive, conversion to the metric system. Another is the fact that we have always suffered from an intellectual inferiority complex. All the way back to Alex Tocqueville, in his 1835 book Democracy in America, wrote “I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run.” For the most part, that has been true. Our Presidents, congress critters, governors, mayors, and other elected public servants  have been, on average, sub-average men and women. When superior men do run and are elected, they are easily ridiculed for (and often defeated by) being “elites” and “eggheads. Adlai Stephenson and Barak Obama are modern examples.

Social Engineering is a given. We’re doing it, even when we are doing nothing. The range of social engineers runs from incredibly incompetent to scary good, just like real engineering. The social engineering done by the Nixon/Ford/Reagan/Bush I & II crowd was akin to a really incompetent shade tree mechanic. They systematically, but fairly ignorantly, dismantled the middle class, ripped the competence right out of the State Department, the CIA, the EPA, FCC, FDA, FDIC, SEC, and every core competency of the United States government from Washington D.C. to every state capital. Their “plan,” if you can give it that much credit, was to clear a path for their 1%’er owners to gut the nation’s wealth, wreak democracy, and restore a feudal system. Wrong place, wrong time, wrong concept. Still, it was social engineering by a bunch of idiots who wouldn’t know a slide rule from a yardstick.

Clinton’s presidential and political hero was Eisenhower, so there wasn’t much point in expecting great engineering skills from the people Clinton staffed his cabinet. Accidentally, he managed to find a few areas of competence and that’s about all it took to turn around 12 years of borrow-and-spend Republican wastefulness and hand Bush II an almost balanced budget and a diminishing national debt. The Bush II crowd couldn’t build a sandbox without assistance, and it took them no time to reverse-engineer the Reagan economic catastrophe and even go Star Wars and Grenada a good deal worse.

Engineering is manipulating the current status or technology. You can either have it done by professions who are skilled with mathematics, science, and some talent for making things happen or you can let the shade-tree idiots play with tools they don’t understand until the tree falls on them and us.  There are no other alternatives.


#117 Why A Business Exists (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

The MBA folks will tell you that a business exists to make money; period.  Businesses that operate that way don't succeed for long.  Businesses that start out with that simple-minded motivation rarely survive the first year of operation.  So much for what MBAs know about business.

Businesses that succeed serve their customers, first, and profit from that service, second.  Businesses that succeed really well know their customers really well and know exactly how to meet their expectations.  The only way to do that is to set out with the intention of serving a group of customers with a product or service that will meet the needs or desires of those customers.  The word that keeps appearing here is "service." 

Most execs have absolutely no idea how to provide service.  They believe the world was set up to provide services to them, not the other way around.  However, many successful business ventures were started by people who were driven to provide a service and wouldn't let anything, including financial or personal hardship, get between them and the people they intended to serve. 

Bill Gates and his partner dropped out of college and set up shop in a New Mexico Holiday Inn so that they could be close to their first customer, Altair (a long dead, early computer company that provided as little service as possible to its customers).  Their product was a simple version of Basic (a product that Microsquash is still promoting and supporting) that had been specially ported for the Altair's processor and I/O.  It's tough to provide much more service than moving into your customer's backyard and developing the product exactly to their application.

A company I worked for, a decade ago, once filled it's assembly lines with musicians and music lovers because the founder/chief engineer and the rest of the execs had absolutely no idea how to design the professional music products they intended to build.  They were bright enough to hire people who might use the products and would criticize the products until they were right.  Now, that same company has staffed its sales and marketing departments with ex-professional sound engineers who provide the same capability. 

Since then I've been employed by, or temporarily contracted to, a variety of companies, in a variety of industries, that have not managed to develop any sort of corporate service attitude.  I wish I could say the experience has been enlightening, at least, but it's mostly been depressing. 

The fault always lies in the same location; at the top.  CEOs who believe they've paid their dues and deserve royal treatment start the attitude disadvantage.  CFOs, CMOs, UFOs, Vice-Presidents of Nothing Useful, Directors of Nobody, Managers of Managers, and all of the pointless, overblown titles that amount to folks serving no one but themselves and performing no work that benefits the organization follow down the chain of power.  By the time the company's pecking order reaches down to the people who actually perform the function of the business, the business focus is totally blurred. 

Generating a business statement is a pointless exercise in a business where the people who stand to profit the most are completely disassociated from the business activities.  And that's the way smart companies think; the people who gain the most from the business success should work the hardest and smartest.  If the folks at the bottom of the totem pole believe the people at the top are supporting the company's reason to exist, everyone is going in the same direction and the whole can exceed the sum of the parts.  When that happens, it's fun to go to work in the morning.  When it doesn't, the lion's share of paperwork generated on the company printer is resumes.


#116 Who Are We to Export Democracy? (2004)

All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day

The Bushies are still jabbering about "nation building" and "holy wars."  Bush preaches that "we will expect a higher standard of reform and democracy from our friends in the region (Iraq)," while doing everything to repress democracy and reform in the US.  More of that "do what I say, not what I do" parenting. Business that can't build quality products find that they can't design them, either.  Governments that aren't democratic will be as disabled when it comes to building democracies. 

Bush was the first unpopularly un-elected President since 1888.  Even worse, Bush is the first appointed President in the history of the nation.  Not only did he lose the popular vote, he lost the fair count of the state and, therefore, the electoral vote.  He used his daddy's Supreme Court to overrule state and federal Constitution law.  The Republican brown shirts revel in this triumph of power over public choice, but the rest of the world wonders "what is next?" for the most powerful country in the world. 

The makings of a democratic undoing have been with us since the beginning.  This isn't the first time the country's future as a semi-representational democracy has been in doubt.  This may be the worst time for it to happen, though.  The Electoral College is a decrepit concept that was intended to compensate for pre-electronic communications difficulties and the founding ruling class's distrust of the "unruly masses."  Alex Hamilton was one of the big supporters of the Electoral college and he's possibly the least democratic of all of the folks who had anything to do with the authorship of the Constitution.  Aaron Burr did the nation a great favor by shooting Hamilton.  Burr should have kept going and shot the Electoral College. 

Since 1789, barely 20,000 people have elected all of the Presidents in our nation's history.  In 2000, a half-million more citizens voted for Gore than Bush, but 271 electors voted for Bush and that's all she wrote for democracy.  The rest of us were just exercising our right to put marks on pieces of paper and to waste a few hours on a November Tuesday.  This country is as far from a one-man-one-vote nation as was the old Soviet Union.  In fact, in the least populous states (like Montana), one man exercises approximately 670,000 votes. 

Let's look at this institution that elects our President and Vice President.  When we're through, if you still believe your vote counts, I'd like to hear your opinions on the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, informative news outlets, and honest politicians.

First, the electors are selected by the two major parties long before the election takes place.  This is to ensure that no third party ever has a chance in hell of winning an election.  48 states have a winner-take-all elector selection system, regardless of how split the state's vote actually was the winner takes all of the electoral votes for the state.  This further entrenches the two-party system and, effectively, tosses out the minority voters before their vote leaves the state.  One-man-one-vote?  Hardly.  Only Maine and Nebraska have a proportional system that divides up the state's electoral votes in relation to the actual citizens' vote.  The majority of states don't even care who you vote for, as long as you vote Demolican.  If you vote for a member of one of the major parties, it's assumed that you voted for the candidate that party has selected.  Names don't matter.

In half of the states, the electors are legally committed to vote for the party's candidate, in the rest of the states the electors can vote for anyone they see fit.  Electors rarely exercise judgment or ethics, but they do have the right to do so if an actual human ever managed to be in that position.  Our system has been so perfect at eliminating humans from the Electoral College that only 12 people in the history of the institution have bucked the Powers That Be.  It's a nearly perfect, immoral, mindlessly undemocratic system. 

The actual voting for President and Vice President takes place on January 6, most years.  The votes are counted by the US Senate in a special, damn-near secret meeting in the chamber of the House of Representatives.  If no candidate receives a majority of electoral votes, the 12th Amendment allows the House to pick the president.  Of course, they can pick anyone they see fit, regardless of how you and I voted.  I wouldn't put it past the birdbrains we've had in the House in the last few years to select their favorite Hollywood actor or the King of England, if there weren't minimal limitations on their options.  However, they can only pick from the top three candidates in the general election.

In the 2004 election, 538 electors will decide the Presidency (based on the states' 100 Senators + 435 Representatives + 3 electors from the District of Columbia).  A candidate just needs 270 votes to win.  Some fools think that the college was founded to protect small states.  The fact is only 11 states are necessary to elected a President.  For example, if California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, New Jersey, and North Carolina vote together, the rest of the country can go to hell.  If that's a representative democracy, I am a Republican. 

It's true that the citizens of smaller states wield greater influence on their state's electoral votes, but the states themselves are less important.  States are not the big issue in a democracy, though.  States are just border lines between sales tax rates.  The real issue in a democracy is citizens' ability to govern themselves.  The Electoral College is another example of how corporations have installed themselves in the real power seat of the country.  They select the candidates, they control the electors, and they decide who will be mismanaging the country for the foreseeable future.  The rest of us are just expendable employees. 

The "battleground states" are the states with big Electoral College membership.  The first seven, California through Ohio, are the most populous states and they possess 256 of the necessary 270 votes necessary to win the election.  This system makes it possible for corrupt politicians to cater their platform to these states, damning the rest of the country to political purgatory.  If you still have any questions about why California receives so much federal personal and corporate welfare, the Electoral College is as far as you need to look.  Want to do your own math, as the Demolicans have already done?  To see how few states are involved in electing a President, here are the numbers for your experimentation pleasure:

The 2004 Electoral Vote

California - 55
Texas - 34
New York - 31
Florida - 27
Illinois - 21
Pennsylvania - 21
Ohio - 20
Michigan - 17
Georgia - 15
New Jersey - 15
North Carolina - 15
Virginia - 13
Massachusetts - 12
Indiana - 11
Missouri - 11
Tennessee - 11
Washington - 11
Arizona - 10
Maryland - 10
Minnesota - 10
Wisconsin - 10
Alabama - 9
Colorado - 9
Louisiana - 9
Kentucky - 8
South Carolina - 8
Connecticut - 7
Iowa - 7
Oklahoma - 7
Oregon - 7
Arkansas - 6
Kansas - 6
Mississippi - 6
Nebraska - 5
Nevada - 5
New Mexico - 5
Utah - 5
West Virginia - 5
Hawaii - 4
Idaho - 4
Maine - 4
New Hampshire - 4
Rhode Island - 4
Alaska - 3
Delaware - 3
D.C. - 3
Montana - 3
North Dakota - 3
South Dakota - 3
Vermont - 3
Wyoming - 3


Defining Leadership

"There goes my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader." Mahatma Gandhi or "I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?" Benjamin Disraeli

In the last six years, President Obama has been beat up quite a lot for his “lack of leadership.” Most of the beating comes from the Fox News crowd, so it is unclear what their definition of “leadership” might be. Having been a middle manager a few too many times, upper management a couple of times, and being stuck in meetings with people who made far more money than any human could possibly be worth way too many times, I’m not much of a believer in what most pundits and other non-working-and-never-had-a-real-job experts call “leadership.” Stupid people will follow any loud voice off of the nearest cliff, but society, science, or accomplishment is never achieved by stupid people. Practically any piece of human excrement can filter to the top of a military organizational chart and for the less-than-average intelligence sorts a fancy jacket and hat and lots of merit badges qualifies as evidence of leadership. Being anointed with a leadership position does not prove that one is, in fact, a leader. The bankster CEO history has pretty much proved that repeatedly in the last 200 years. Even Forbes Magazine, a leadership worshiping machine if there ever was one, has a list of incompetent CEOs.

I think the modern American myth and value of leadership is mostly about avoiding responsibility, as a society, or intentionally as in convincing the 99% that there is nothing they can do about the rape and pillaging of their country and assets. The fact is that in every moment in history when a “great leader” arose, there were a lot of great (or greater) “followers” involved. You can not lead sheep into battle, but wolves are a whole ‘nother issue. In our country’s past, we’ve been blessed with a few defining moments when the general population was fed up with the status quo and looking for a representative to “lead” the country in a new direction. The two Roosevelt’s were great examples of those times and the population being led. Teddy took over the country in 1901, after the country had suffered for years from the 1893 Great Depression and the following mediocre recovery. Populist and socialist sentiment was high and the ruling class were under constant revolutionary threat, so Roosevelt had the popular support and activist backing to move the country forward several great steps. Franklin Roosevelt took office after several years of Republican mismangement caused the second Great Depression and banksters had destroyed the world economy leading to the rise of Italy, Spain, Japan, and Germany’s fascist political parties. The United States had its equivalent fascist movement, but the populist and socialist movements were stronger (lucky for us) and Roosevelt rode that strong wave to the Presidency (Three times, inspiring Repuglicans to write the 22nd amendment so they’d never be out of power again.) and outside of the really stupid states crushed the Republican party for almost two decades.

"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it." Theodore Roosevelt

"It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership." Nelson Mandela

Traditional leaders knew they were no rare commodity and until modern warfare changed leadership to bureaucracy, leaders led the charge into hazards. There was a reason their soldiers “followed” them. It’s hard to take any modern political leader seriously, since their motto for four generations has been “I’d love to go with you, but they need me here.”

"Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership." Colin Powell

Most CEOs think the company and it’s employees are there to serve their whims. They have aids, subordinates, VPs, CFOs, COOs, and a collection of sycophants who don’t contradict the Fearless Leader or offer the slightest contradiction to his most insane “insights” or product or promotional insanities. Not only are they afraid to open their mouths, they’ve been selected to say “yes” and nod approvingly. That’s pretty much it for their business skills. That sort of mismanagement can’t really solve problems, but they can sure create some.

"A great person attracts great people and knows how to hold them together." Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Creating and maintaining teams is the hardest of all leadership tasks. Most of the people who want to hold the big corner offices wouldn’t recognize a team if one trampled them to death. In my experience, most teams are “built” by accident, not by management’s design. When a group of people with disparate but complimentary skills happen to form, the real leadership skill is finding ways to hold that unlikely combination together. Most management people are jealous of competence in any form, but terrified of group competence since it pretty much eliminates the illusion of leadership necessity. Regardless of the profitability, invention, or strength the team provides the organization, most managers will do almost anything to tear the team apart and return the organization to the dysfunction that appears to require a leader. I’ve lucked into participating in three excellent, productive teams in my career and all three were unintentionally and incompetently or intentionally and jealously destroyed by upper management. Each of those teams were responsible for the products that sustained the companies for several years after the teams dissolved and none of those businesses ever again managed to assemble similar groups or equally successful products.

"All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership." John Kenneth Galbraith

In President Obama’s case, Galbraith’s requirement would demand that the country have a couple dozen Presidents because our nation is full of major anxieties. We may be the most fearful, most conservative nation in human history. Likewise, most incompetently managed businesses are overwhelmed with anxiety. Applying Pareto analysis to focus the organization’s attention on the most important anxiety might help, but the organization would have to be functional and sentient enough to comprehend the analysis. 21st Century United States is as terrified of mathematics and logic as it is of its “black” President. The intellectual requirement for citizenship is beyond the capacity of far too many of our citizens. The intellectual requirement for being led is equally unobtainable. Too many Americans do not want a President, they want a king or a dictator. Neither of those are leaders.

"A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd." Max Lucado

President Obama has done a fair job of that. All of his administration’s accomplishments have been achieved without the assistance of Congress, the Extreme Court, much of the military, federal and state law enforcement, or popular support. In the eyes of the world, President Obama was a game-changer. In the eyes of his fellow Americans, he is either a hero, a sell-out, or the anti-Christ. However, some of the crowd is treasonous and vicious. That group should be brought down with the full force of the law. Obama does not have the support of too much of the military, law enforcement, or even the federal government. Those groups are completely committed to pursuing the interests of the nation’s ruling class and the last thing they are likely to support would be a democratically elected President. As traitors and carpetbaggers, these groups are completely committed to demolishing what Washington called “our great experiment” in democracy and self-rule.

"Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal." Vince Lombardi

“Work” is a four letter word and a concept with which our ruling class has no familiarity. Characters like G.W. Bush and his siblings, Willard Romney and his brood, Donny Trump, and the rest of the 2015 Republican clown car have not “worked” a day in their lives. Romney made his money leveraging other people’s money and work. Bush is a “consultant” who gets paid for access and connections. One of his big money clients was the notorious Lehman Brothers “investment” firm, one of the groups responsible for crashing the world’s economy in 2007. If you don’t believe they paid Jeb big money to help them get a bailout from Jeb’s little brother, the President, you are too dumb to be led anywhere but over a cliff. And a leash would be required even for that minor task. People who have never worked at any real task are incapable of providing leadership to people who do work. President Obama’s academic and social work record is open for even the dullest reader to analyze. His accomplishments as a community organizer, author, lawyer, and Senator dwarf those of the entire Republican party. Likewise, the most effective leaders in American business history have been hands-on scientists, engineers, technicians, farmers, doctors, lawyers, skilled tradesmen, and even a few lawyers. The spoiled children of the wealthy elite are only occasionally endowed with a work and service ethic (Teddy Roosevelt, for example) that makes them worthy of leadership roles. Assuming otherwise, is the kind of thinking that creates an inbred royalty class.


Generational Notes

The constant babble from the Millennial media is the sad story that Millennials are working more for less than their parents. I don’t know who these parents are, but I know the Millennials I know aren’t even in the game with the Boomers I worked beside in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Obviously, the children of the 1% are the same useless, entitled, lazy, boring brats they’ve been since humans started farming, serving the ruling class in various armies, and working until we can’t and get tossed into the rubbish heap. The working class has put in 60-90 hour work weeks for generations and the most recent batch of working class kids has deluded itself into believing that a degree in social studies, English or some foreign language, history, music, art appreciation, or any of the so-called “liberal arts” qualifies them for a life gazing into the distance from their corner office. Four extra years of studying your navel is not a qualification.

A friend, whose 20-something son still lives in Mom’s basement doing nothing useful, says, “This generation wants to start off where their parents ended up.” I’ve noticed that, too. After working, usually as waiter or boutique store clerk, for a year or two way too many of these over-age children “come home” and stagnate in their parents’ basement until . . . we don’t know what these bozos think they’re going to be doing when the parents die. If they are planning on an inheritance from their X-gen parents, they have been paying no attention at all to popular economic forecasts. With that in mind, the Millennials are really deluding themselves if they think their X-gen parents are going to pass on the inheritance they receive from the Boomer grandparents. Honestly, all of this depressing financial grasshopper “planning” makes me glad that my own life expectancy is fairly limited. I don’t need to be around to watch the sky fall on yours and my goofy grandkids.

And it is going to fall.


American worker income has fallen in all areas since 2000 (Bush-Cheney, if you are historically deficient) and there is nothing on the horizon to indicate that will change anytime soon. In fact, it’s probably likely nothing will change for the better in the country’s near future. All signs point to a gradual-to-rapid decline in American world influence, industrial strength, citizen education levels, wealth, quality of life, and practically every other marker with which we and the rest of the world use to indicate who’s who on the international organizational chart. The chart (at left) pretends to explain why going into debt for college is so important, but it’s not that convincing. Mostly, it demonstrates why kids who live in their parents’ basements are pretty much useless and, to no one’s surprise, incapable of producing an income. The majority of the “less than high school diploma” and “high school diploma” kids are the video game, social network, YouTube obsessed crowd or the usual street bangers who have been off of the economic grid for decades. The are certainly not manual laborers, skilled or semi-skilled. The reason that many of those jobs go to “foreign workers” (In the USofA, that is probably the silliest oxymoron of all.) is that too many young US citizens do not qualify as “workers” in any sense of the word. They barely qualify as warm bodies.