Posts Tagged 'Regulation'



Intervening

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• The bureaucracy of Government Health Care

• Standardized Testing in Schools

• Regulatory Commissions that stifle commerce

• Micro Managing

All are symptoms of a failure. Things weren’t turning out well so someone had to step in to look after it. And not surprisingly, in many cases the ones who step in not only don’t understand some of the challenges, but also have a different background set of concerns driving their agenda — what they pay attention to.

And so it is very annoying, and in the end improvements, if any, are usually modest and often offset by new problems that manifest.

If someone hires you to run a lemonade stand and you don’t make money you can basically expect one of four results.

  1. Be fired
  2. Be left alone to continue to fail
  3. Be micro managed
  4. Be more effectively managed

The probability of the best outcome is not great. If you know best, and if you want to keep your boss or government out of your business then you best be producing the desired outcomes. This means you first need to know what are considered the best outcomes.

Teachers, for instance, may be in a no win situation because our definition of what it means to “educate” a child has changed. They failed. And now we have standardized testing and no child left behind (among others). It may look a little better on the surface, but the underlying problems are worse than ever.

There have been ample opportunities for insurance reform in the past few decades. Apparently enough people in power thought it was working well enough. You could argue they got what was coming to them.

It’s all bad management. Again, if you want to keep bad management away then you need to produce results. It’s really hard (not impossible). But those are the rules.

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Disguise

OwlTree

What a corporation needs:

  • Fertile ground in which to conduct business. This includes…
  • A population who has enough belief that they have a say in things to carry on.
  • A population who believes (enough) that consumption, in whatever form(s) it may take, yields enough satisfaction in life to remain content.
  • A population predictable enough to manipulate somewhat easily.

Democracy — we appear to have a say. Sort of like the child who is allowed to decide between milk or water.

Military — the capacity to fight wars to make the world secure for business (corporations). Our personal security, to whatever extent it really exists, is also a useful byproduct.

Religion — keeps us relatively happy and docile. When things seem exceptionally shitty we can find solace there. Our sensibilities are more predictable. Manipulatable.

Quality of life — is often rated according to a simple triangulation on a few parameters: perceived security and autonomy, belonging, and belongings.

It can be easily argued that the world contains a corporate totalitarian core thriving inside a fictitious democratic shell. Few recognize this ‘inverted’ totalitarian state because it looks nothing like the Orwellian images we’ve been given of such a condition. The world is being militarized by the significant states and their ‘police forces.’ State surveillance is becoming universal and torture is outsourced to gulags.

In past times simple folk usually couldn’t work out how they were being manipulated by royal monarchies, and the papal monarchy, who claimed a ‘divine right to rule.’ Ordinary people from those times couldn’t see how the rivalrous network of elites were actually linked through similar goals and ideals, not least because the illiterate masses were indoctrinated to believe in their humble lot, to obey divinely-endorsed authority and to live in fear of damnation. And pay taxes.

We see more compelling arguments that the planet is more than ever ruled by super-wealthy people who use their outrageous fortunes to steer the trajectories of whole societies for their material and political gain. Armies of professional, political, religious and even military elites serve them. Together they comprise a highly-networked ‘capitalist’ class. ‘Free markets’ are spread with the idea that they deliver the individual freedom and prosperity for all.

This may be a conspiracy theory or it may be true, though there is no doubt some truth in it. Either way we go along because it’s all we know, and because we’re focused on our own individual relatively incremental improvements in life we can see and feel first hand. It’s not a terrible life. It’s all we know how to do. We are given schools and religion, that also train us to be compliant and content. We’re reasonably comfortable most of the time, and we are shown examples of some who appear to rise to the status of ‘rich,’ or some other highly regarded status that looks fulfilling. They aren’t fundamentally different from us.

Our society basically works for most people. And that really is the best disguise.

The Cost of Facts

spacechimpFacts cost virtually nothing once they have been gathered and published. The internet and television cause many to perceive facts are all readily available. Everything we could want to know (not to mention what we don’t want to know) is up for grabs.

But facts are actually expensive. Someone has to figure it out that first time. An organization has to send reporters or information gatherers, or maybe pay to have a study done, or do rigorous experiments, or real detective work to get to the bottom of it. Someone spent real time and possibly money to acquire the expertise to deliver.

Consumers and information organizations have a choice. News organizations can pay professionals to go investigate and gather facts, not to mention culling it all down and putting it into a relevant context. This costs real money. Or they can pay a couple of people a few hundred dollars to scream at each other on TV for a few minutes.

Both types of information are available on air and online. Consumers choose and the market responds. We can hardly blame the market, and I assume we don’t want any organization “controlling” the news, nor the way it’s presented (more than is already happening).

Opting for free or cheap is easy and usually appears to make pretty good sense on the surface, but someone somewhere will hopefully be willing to pay to truly get the real, factual information we need to make sense of the world. The scary thing is, who? Corporations? Government? Whoever pays has the most control. Period. It’s already happening before our eyes. The value of facts and science is being challenged more and more every day, and you don’t need to pay anyone to tell you that much.

The Cost of Responsibility

Responsibility

Responsibility is a double edged sword. We sometimes seek it for reasons of control, influence, or reward. We sometimes loath or avoid it because we don’t want to be accountable. Or we’re lazy, or just afraid.

The fundamental cost we sometimes fail to fully recognize going in is that our rights diminish as we have more responsibility. You sometimes need to give up to go up. Some areas of your life have to take a back seat. You have to say no to things and you have to miss out. Not on everything, but most likely on some things you care about. It is a sacrifice.

There are also even less tangible costs of leadership. It is lonely at the top. Bearing the weight, having to be the bad guy, having to absorb all manner of apathy and negativity while still finding ways to motivate oneself and others to carry on and go forward takes a toll emotionally, and thus it is a great gift when someone knowingly and continually elects to sacrifice themselves in this way for the sake of the greater good. People looking in from the outside rarely seem to understand the magnitude of it. Those costs tend to be more hidden, and it often looks like an ego trip, or at least something self-serving. There is always that self-serving element, of course, but there is also great sacrifice. It can’t be added up or counted. It can’t accurately have a fair dollar amount applied to it. Its value is in the eye of the beholder. And not surprisingly that perceived value may differ between the sacrificer (doer) and the mere observer.

Always keep this in mind before volunteering or saying yes, and also allow some grace when someone else is in the batter’s box.

But don’t tranquilize or otherwise mislead and undermine yourself. Some responsibility is unavoidable. You can’t hide, at least not for very long.

Documented Kids

dossierKids are growing up in a world where their entire existence is documented and likely widely available on the net. Parents and other relatives have probably shared numerous details and photos by the time the child is old enough to talk. Later, friends will add to this database.

Technology is just beginning to mature around all of this information. Facial recognition, and systems that build and manage metadata are all conspiring to take any schred of privacy away. Imagine a cute kid photographed in front of the house with the house number visible in the background. Triangulate that against a photo of her parent at work with a logo in the background. Find a blog post written by the parent containing a negative parenting experience relating to the child.

While there are some safety concerns to be mindful of, the “needle in a haystack” principle applies. Unless there is some reason for your kid to be a target she is probably just lost in all the noise. But all of these things are starting to be tied together in such a way that the child will have a semi-public identity before he or she has had a chance to manifest her own, actual identity.

Could that innocent blog post later cost her a chance at a job? Or maybe they determine the health insurance will be too high because she “liked” fried chicken. Will that innocent photo of her at one year of age in the bathtub become a source of embarrassment when another kid posts it at school? Will the child be targeted in sophisticated ways (unbeknownst to the parents) by savvy marketers?

We’re all public figures these days so we may as well get used to it. Our generation did it to ourselves. Now we’re bringing along a generation where it has been done for them…to them.

We might want to think about that. I’m not suggesting that we take things so far as to choose names according to what Google finds (as some do), or that we preregister our children to Facebook and YouTube (as some do), but they’ll later appreciate it if we’re mindful enough in what we post that they have a chance to decide for themselves a little bit about what they want their public persona to be.

24/7

responsibilityBoat

If you believe you need your employment, or your current lifestyle/family, etc. then there is no such thing as time off. Your responsibility doesn’t end when the lights go off at the end of the day. You can pretend it does. You can leave work at the office, or drop the kids with their father or at school, but that responsibility continues…even while you are sleeping. We seem to get it on some level with kids, but maybe not as much with job and career. Is it really any different? If you care about the outcome you better make sure to be taking the right actions at all times to best ensure the future you want.

japanese-man-asleep-on-the-trainLikewise your responsibility for your life and its outcomes isn’t on hold while you’re working, or on vacation.  All of these clocks continue to run, and if you aren’t moving forward then you’re probably slipping backwards.

It’s daunting, isn’t it?

The Drain of Friction

ballandchainwomanEvery system has at its outputs results that correlate to the inputs. When riding a bike your forward motion is the sum total of your pedaling energy, plus a wind vector, plus a gravity vector, minus energy lost to friction. All of these are necessary evils, but only friction is always and completely a drain. Wind and hills being what they are, your ultimate battle is against friction. Anything you can do to eliminate friction on your bike (inclusive of the friction of air passing by) will pay long term dividends in results (unless your goal is only to burn energy), and thus professional cyclists spend staggering amounts of money on technology to make bikes waste less of their energy.

Likewise life has its obstacles (wind) and hurdles (hills) that must be overcome. However hard they may be you can be assured that you’re also facing a certain amount of friction in your endeavors. Who and what is holding you back or making things that little bit harder than they should be? Is it necessary?

Like a professional cyclist you owe it to yourself to take an honest look around and assess the affect the components of your life are having on you. Anything or anyone that’s too much of a drain with too little positive input should be de-emphasized or otherwise moved out.

Easy to say in a vacuum, but sometimes we owe people, have commitments, or we just feel like we need to ‘take one for the team.’ That’s certainly part of what must be factored in, but as you do that be mindful of the truth that in many cases you’re allowing these things as part of your own baggage, to make you feel better, or to avoid something difficult, etc.

If possible, start the search in your business (that’s an easier place to be objective). Find the person, philosophy, or process that’s a drain. Get rid of it. There may some positive contributions, but if the net input is negative cut it out. Just try it. You’ll usually find two more drains hiding in the shadows behind it that you never could have seen. When you see how much better things work without the unnecessary energy drain you will be inspired to look for more opportunities.

Only then can you begin to fight off the fear of change and start to see it rationally.


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