Archive for September, 2011

The Argument of Hypocrisy

Pointing out hypocrisy or an inconsistency in someone’s position is a weak way to argue.

If your point or position is valid it ought to be able to stand on its own. Attacking someone else’s apparent inconsistencies doesn’t strengthen your argument. It may weaken theirs (maybe), but winning by tearing down the perspective of others is a cheap win.


An old friend once commented in a moment of frustration with the world and all of his obligations that he’d like to be able to just be.

All of the pontifications of this and other blogs aside that really is the essence of what makes us distinctively who we are. There is something you can do better than anyone else. Whatever it is is arguably what you should be doing….unless you hate it. (Though people almost never hate doing what they are truly best at.) To do anything else is a relative waste. Stay true to yourself and you can just be.

Fulfilling Non-Requests

Headlines say the post office may have to shut down.

First, clearly the news media do not fully understand why their product is faring so poorly in the new economy. Headlines like, “Post Office is Going Out of Business” are too sensational to be credible. Even if it were accurate and true (it isn’t) people just don’t “buy” it anymore. Most people aren’t willing to pay for sensationalism posing as news. There are too many other ways to get it. But that’s beside the point….

The post office is indeed in financial trouble. There are numerous reasons for this, from management problems to the cost of gas, but clearly the overarching problem for them is that there are too many other, more efficient ways to send things. We just don’t need the mail like we used to. And we don’t use it. Their volume goes down every year. All in all this is a good thing, if you care about the environment and natural resources.

But the post office marches on trying to fulfill the same requests they fulfilled in the days before we had e-mail, faxes, broadband, UPS,, etc. On the rare occasion I mail a letter or document these days I’m usually not all that concerned about when it arrives. If I am, they do (wisely) have options to help. But the general mail, where I can stick something in an envelope and have it delivered across the country for less than a dollar, is where I think a big part of the problem lies. That just seems too cheap.

Raising the price a little isn’t going to help that much. It would need to be raised a lot, regularly, which is a problem because it reaches a point where it will drive more people away, necessitating an even larger increase. The model just doesn’t scale in its current format. One trick, in this particular case, is to lower costs. How to do that? Well, how important is it really to have your mail delivered every day? If my mail came every other day, or even every three days I couldn’t care less. What’s going to be in it that’s so time sensitive that it’s a big problem for me to get it two days later, at most? Likewise, when I mail something somewhere I already understand that the delivery time may vary by three or four days as it is. Bills and payments are about the most time sensitive commonly mailed items, and that stuff is going electronic at an explosive rate, so most of it isn’t likely to be a factor in a few years.

They are fulfilling a promise (request) that hardly anyone cares about anymore. It’s expensive and unnecessary.

This is just the simple stuff.

The harder question is whether they are going to be able to compete effectively with Fed-Ex and UPS for the package carrying business. Currently they win only on price. In every other way those other two carriers are better, and there are others behind them that are competitive. A business plan that wins on price while going bankrupt isn’t much of a plan.

I fear that we will end up subsidizing a flawed business model here. Nothing new I guess…


Policies are used when good judgement and/or skill at persuasion and handling dynamic situations isn’t adequate.

They provide a box to work within, boundaries that remove the burden of decision making. They provide comfort and security — something to hide behind.

They are the antithesis of freedom and autonomy. They are the crutch of workers who cannot, aren’t allowed to, or do not want to own the responsibility for what happens.

Policies don’t represent any immutable law or objective reality. They are made up. People make them up, right out of thin air, to try to address circumstances where individual decision making isn’t deemed appropriate. They can be changed. They can be ignored or broken by anyone willing to take a risk.


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