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Posts Tagged ‘government’

square peg round hole

Did you ever watch a toddler trying to put the pieces of a wooden puzzle in the proper hole?  Over and over again they try to find a way to get the round peg into the square hole.  It is an interesting learning and discovery process to observe.  Eventually, they discover the right hole and then move on to the next piece repeating the process.  Over time, they figure the puzzle out.  Interestingly, as adults, we have a natural tendency to continue to play this game.  The difference is we don’t know we are playing it.

While the world has gone through significant change over the past five to ten years, some have struggled to adapt to the changes.  Harder and harder they bang on the round peg believing that it must fit into that square hole.  Nowhere is this more apparent than with our political system.  What they fail to realize is that what we are experiencing is nothing like what we have experienced in the past.  It is a new playing field all together.

Unfortunately, the strongest point of reference for dealing with the “new” is often what worked for us in the past.  In effect, we tend to see the new through ‘old’ glasses.  So, our options quickly come to the surface.  And then we get upset with the results.  Maybe if we hit the peg harder.

What is interesting about change is that most businesses quickly figure it out, younger generations embrace it, and advanced institutions are riding it into the future.  However, many of our political pundits are stuck in the government labyrinth and will never figure it out. –  It looks impossible.

Many years ago, I came up with the following quote: “Nothing is more disruptive to the current state than a change in reality.”  What we are dealing with today is a change in reality, and it is disruptive.  No matter how hard they hit the round peg it is not going into square hole.

I wish I had an answer for our political quagmire; because it is painful to watch.

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teens

In the last 100 years, 16,307,243 men have been inducted (drafted) into the military: WWI – 2.8 mil., WWII – 10.1 mil., Korea – 1.5 mil., and Vietnam – 1.9 mil.  In 1970 the Selective Service System went to a lottery system based on your birthday.  In that year, the first 195 birthdays were drafted; my birthday was #82.  It didn’t matter to me since I was already in the U.S. Marine Corps.  The last man drafted entered the Army on June 30, 1972.

No one that I knew wanted to be drafted, but off they went to serve their country.  As the years passed, I’ve bumped into very few individuals that served in the military, including those drafted, that didn’t consider it a life learning experience.  We learned responsibility, commitment, loyalty, discipline and the experience of “serving” our country.  We learned how to work with individuals with vastly different backgrounds and perspectives.  And, we experienced some things that we would like to forget.  Most of us can still talk about it as if were yesterday.

Let me put this into perspective.  Today we have 1.4 million individuals serving in the military protecting 323 million of us; or 0.4 percent of our population.  So very few individuals will acquire that “serving your country” experience.

I realize that everyone can’t serve in the military.  In a ‘We Are the Mighty’ article in 2015, it was reported that there were 34 million individuals between the ages of 17 – 34.  Of that group 71% wouldn’t qualify for military service due to physical, behavioral and emotional issues.  Of the qualified group, only 1% had an interest to serve in the military.  We, as a country, have become disconnected from the idea of serving our country.

Here is my thought-provoking proposal.  Every young person, starting at age 18 must serve their country in one of the following services.

  • Military (two years active, or 6 years reserve)
  • Conservation Service (National Parks, recreation, energy programs, etc.)
  • Medical Service (Veterans hospitals, health service, etc.)
  • Peace Corps (as is)
  • Educational Service (Programs for supporting primarily at risk schools, preschool programs, maintenance, etc.).

There would be two commitment choices for non-military service; a two-year full-time commitment, or a four-year commitment of two active weeks each year and two days a month.  Pay grades and ‘service’ benefits would be like those for military personnel.  How about earning funds for college, college credit, help with buying a house and medical benefits?

While the service requirement starts at 18, full-time student deferments (college, trade schools, etc.) would make sense for filling certain positions; however, the deferment would have a set period.  Also, the non-military service options would provide a great opportunity for those individuals with some physical limitations that could not serve in the military.

The future of our country will be determined by how well we prepare our young people.  However, too many of them today are struggling to find a path forward or a purpose; or in street terms, a way out.  I believe this would provide a valuable building-block for growth, and it would greatly benefit our country.

 

 

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mistake

I find it somewhat amusing that the term “unintended consequences” has been surfacing in the political discourse of the presidential campaigns.  It has been introduced as a new discovery.  Wow, look what happened when ‘they’ did that.  That’s awful.

There are always unintended consequences to a decision; some good and some bad.  It is not just recognizing that there will be unintended consequences to your decision that is important; it’s also thinking about how these consequences might occur.  – And, planning what to do if they do emerge.

In two earlier posts The Second and Third Order Consequences (https://thinkinthingsover.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/the-second-and-third-order-consequences-8/) and The Second and Third Order Consequences – Part II (https://thinkinthingsover.wordpress.com/2015/09/27/the-second-and-third-order-consequences-part-ii/) I give examples of how unintended consequence occur.  They are not random, and they should, in most cases, not be a surprise.  You have to think beyond your decision about possible reactions outside of what you are trying to accomplish.  I am not talking about decision science or some predictive algorithm; it’s “common sense.”

By now you have probably figured out where I’m going with this.  Political discourse → unintended consequences of government decisions → lack of common sense.  Yep!

 

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Capital Dome

…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government… it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.

Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence.

Over the past several decades I have come to realize the emergence of two realities.  –  The reality of what really is, i.e. the real world, and the reality of the distorted perspective of a group of powerful individuals, i.e. their view of the world.

The focal point of my concern is with our elected officials; specifically our House and Senate leaders as a group.  This is not about Democrats, Republicans, Independents or specific ideologies; it is about governance.  The reality of this group is out-of-whack with the reality of what the citizens expect from our elected officials.  Our citizens expect our elected officials to govern this country on behalf of its citizens; all citizens.  They expect its leaders to do what is in the best interest of our ‘society.’  They expect honesty of purpose, integrity, informed judgment, and the courage to do what is right.  It is that simple.  What I am observing in our elected officials is bizarre.

It seems as if Washington, D.C. has become disconnected from the rest of the country.  They stand for and represent either nebulous constituencies or powerful political action committees (PAC).  As I look around my community and talk to others, I don’t see a manifestation of these nebulous constituencies. or the standard-bearers of the PAC’s.  It is like trying to grasp fog; you can’t get your arms around it.  When I question my elected officials, I usually get a canned and non-committal response from an aide that leaves me more at a loss.  Consequently, I believe that a critical mass of our elected politicians do not have the substance to govern.

The problem is that this pervasive misalignment of reality in Washington, D.C. is having an increasingly negative impact on society in general and business in particular, whereas, it appears the Washington, D.C. group remains unscathed.  Let me give you a comparison.  If business owners ran their companies the same way as Washington, D.C., they would go out of business.  Let me say that again, they would go out of business.  Business owners focus on what is in the best interest of their company and its stakeholders, which includes the community, and perform accordingly.  They either succeed or they fail.

As I watch the theatrical performance of the cast of characters running for our next President, I ask myself; are we at the point Thomas Jefferson was talking about in the Declaration of Independence.  Remember, society is always perfectly positioned to get the government it deserves.  If you leave government unattended, this is what you get.  We have left it unattended for too long.

Let me close by saying that I truly believe that our country has a great future.  The substance of our ‘citizens’ is incredible.  All you have to do is observe the selfless generosity and courage of people in times of crises, the millions of the small business owners who put their personal capital at risk to drive our economy and employ two-thirds of the workforce, the hordes of volunteers who serve our communities, and the bravery of our military community who stand their post in harm’s way so we can enjoy the benefits of this great country.  Our substance is in place, now we need to change Washington, D.C. so they see the real world.

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