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Letters to the World “Series” by Jascha Kessler

Monday, September 11, 2017

Letters to the Editor

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

New York

Dear Letters Editor:

Re “Instagram Poets Sell Well,” [11 September], I was reminded of the comical complaint by Jimmy Durante once a week on Sunday radio in the 1940s, who growled, Evrabuddy wannsa geddinduh act! Sorry to remind us that hashtaggery sales in the tens of thousands of tweets and twitters does not poets make.  

When Stephen Spender went down to London in the latter 1930s, he was invited to lunch by T.S. Eliot, who was to win the Nobel in 1948. Asked what he wished to do now that he’d graduated from Oxford, Spender said, “I want to be a poet,” to which Eliot calmly rejoined, “I can understand your wanting to write poems—but what do you mean when you say you want to be a poet?

Sincerely,

Jascha Kessler

Emeritus Professor of Modern English & American Literature, UCLA

Santa Monica, CA

LESSONS LEARNED FROM IRMA

BRYCE ON LIFE

– A lot of the problems were our own doing.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Well, we survived Irma… not just the hurricane, but a ratings hungry news media, power and gas outages, and lack of reliable news. Frankly, I’m surprised we still have a sense of humor. Contrary to what the media told us, Irma was not the most devastating hurricane to hit Florida “ever, ever.” Have we already forgotten Andrew of 1992 which wiped out Homestead and left thousands homeless? What about the legendary “No Name Storm” of 1993 which produced more debris, downed trees, boat damage, and power outages than Irma? Or 2004 where hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Ivan crisscrossed the state leaving a swath of destruction behind? Of the storms I have witnessed in Florida since 1985, I would place Irma a distant fourth.

So why all the hubbub? Hurricane Katrina in 2005 showed what a real hurricane could do to a grossly under prepared area. The public was also keenly aware of the destructive images recently coming out of Texas from Hurricane Harvey. Destruction and the possibility of death seems to have a way of unnerving the strongest of us.

What was different though between the Florida storms of the past and Irma? Irma shut down the state and created panic conditions, the others did not. Three important lessons emerged in its wake:

First, the news media used fear to prod the populace. Fear is a powerful motivating factor. Have you ever noticed how animals in the wild react when they smell the smoke of a wild fire? They all retreat from it in their own way, but can be coerced to stampede under the right conditions. The human animal does likewise. Most of us calmly and methodically prepared for the coming storm, but many panicked and stampeded out of the state. We see this same use of fear used by the media in political campaigns.

Pandemonium reigned on the Saturday before the arrival of Irma. You didn’t dare go out on the roads unless you absolutely had to. Tempers flared on the roadways and in long lines. People began to hoard more supplies than they really needed, booked hotel reservations up north which they never used, and there were accusations of price gouging.

All of this in the name of ratings.

The second lesson was the anger created from ghost town conditions. When the power went out, and the gas stations closed, a domino effect occurred. One-by-one, all of the stores, restaurants, car dealerships, and public service institutions closed their doors. Even the post office closed and refused to accept mail. The old adage of, “through snow, wind and hail…”, is now an obsolete notion. Basically, the area came to a standstill, something I have never seen in Tampa Bay in the 32 years I have lived here. There is something eerie about standing in an empty Home Depot parking lot with tumble weeds around you. Virtually all stores and malls were closed, with no gas or water to be found anywhere. Super markets looked like the food shortages of Venezuela. Frustration grew.

The power grid of Florida is obviously inadequate to serve the state. It is frail and barbaric, and led by people who prefer to react to situations as opposed to planning. Let me give you a small yet typical example; in my neighborhood alone, my house is on a circuit that always seems to be the first to lose power and the last to regain it. Due to the many pine trees in the area, they fall and snap the lines hanging from above. Obviously, they should have buried the lines long ago but refuse to do so, claiming the cost would be exorbitant. In reality, it would be cheaper in the long run to bury the lines and keep their paying customers on line. The point is, they are content putting their fingers in the dyke as opposed to permanently fixing the dyke. This is a classic example of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Immediately following the storm, there was a noticeable absence of power company trucks, cable operators, and county utilities helping to clear debris from the roadways and neighborhoods. The only group that appeared to know what they were doing was law enforcement who safeguarded our streets and maintained order. Everyone else was “evaluating and assessing damage” as opposed to getting the job done. Even now, days after the storm, many people are still without power and access to the outside world. Even if the service providers are working, their low visibility creates the impression they simply do not care about the public.

The loss of power and utilities caused many people, including yours truly, to become nomadic in search for a place to relax and breath air conditioning. Several thousand people sought refuge in public shelters, mostly under crowded conditions. All of this required patience to maintain sanity.

The third lesson of Irma was when the power went out, cable and the Internet died along with it. Cell phone tower coverage was spotty at best. All of this meant reliable information was limited. Even our local newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, stopped deliveries. It was rather amusing to receive the Sunday paper on the following Tuesday. Why bother?

The one medium that got us through this period was AM/FM radio which provided news during the day, and entertainment at night. While it is being claimed AM/FM radio is obsolete technology and on its deathbed, they were the only ones there for the public 24/7. Thank God for AM/FM.

So Irma has passed Florida and gone into the history books. What was left in its wake was an incredible amount of angst caused by fear, anger, and the unknown. It was difficult even for the best of families, thereby creating high levels of stress. Aside from the laborious task of cleaning up their homes and restocking food supplies, Floridians need to regain their composure. This was a highly charged emotional roller-coaster we have been on for several days that left the populace burned out. All of this would be funny if it wasn’t so exhaustive. And we must remember hurricane season will not be over until November 30th.

Throughout this ordeal, we had several friends and family from the north pray for our safety, for which we give thanks. Next time though, I would ask them not to pray for us, but for some sort of sanity to deliver us from the madness of the media, power companies, and information blackouts.

The next time a storm like this occurs, I believe I will take a vacation to Las Vegas until it has blown over. I am confident my home will survive, but my personality will not.

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  IS SOFTWARE HARD? – WEDNESDAY (SEPTEMBER 20, 2017) – “Systems are logical, programming is physical” – Bryce’s Law

LAST TIME:  THE OFFICE SHRINK  – Who fulfills the role in your organization?

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

THE OFFICE SHRINK

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Who fulfills the role in your organization?

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Are there any Industrial-Organizational Psychologists out there anymore? After looking over the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the numbers don’t look very promising. Pity; It’s a useful profession aimed at studying human behavior in relation to the work environment and making recommendations for improving productivity. I’m afraid the position has diminished and defaulted to individual managers who are not properly trained to be office shrinks.

I am not such a psychologist by training but I have an appreciation of the work involved and understand the fundamentals. Bottom-line, the Office Shrink considers such things as worker intelligence level, motivation and attitude towards their job. From these observations, the office shrink will formulate a style of management, either autocratic or allow more worker freedom and participation in the decision making process. See “The Three Theories of Management” (X, Y and Z) in my PAPER.

Whether you are looking at your workers collectively or individually, these analysis tips will help. Perhaps the best place to start is to analyze in-house Employee Evaluation Forms which, in theory, should be performed on a regular basis. Here is a SAMPLE. Where such forms do not exist, the Office Shrink will be forced to evaluate workers based on nothing more than interviews and personal observations.

For each individual, the Office Shrink needs to consider:

Intelligence:
– What formal education does the worker have and what were his/her grades?
– What training certificates does the worker possess?
– What is the skill set of the worker?
– What is the IQ of the worker?
– What is the level of the worker’s intellectual curiosity? Is he/she apathetic or do they ask questions, read trade related publications, participate in groups, volunteer to help, etc.?

What motivates the worker?
– Job security?
– Money?
– Recognition/praise?
– Special attention?
– Personal/professional integrity?
– Other

How does worker respond to:
– Criticism (Good/Bad)
– Praise (Good/Bad)
– What are the “likes” of the worker, incl. hobbies (develop a listing)
– What are the “dislikes” of the worker (develop a listing)

Senses; How acute are the senses of the worker (sharp/dull)? Such analysis may provide some insight in adjusting the physical environment.
– Sight
– Sound
– Smell
– Touch (incl. sense of temperature)
– Taste
– 6th senses – intuitiveness, reaction to clutter, etc.

Attitude about job:
– Professional vs. ambivalent vs. wishes he/she were elsewhere.
– Output – Very industrious vs. minimum effort vs. sub-par performance
– Discipline – Consider work space, personal appearance, and approach to work; Clean, organized, methodical, punctual versus sloppy, tardy, many errors in workmanship.

Socialization skills:
– Communications skills – communicates well? (oral and written)
– Interpersonal relationships – Extroverted versus introverted.
– Courtesy – refined versus crude

From this analysis, the Office Shrink will understand a few things; first, the personality types in his work force (A, B, C, and D); (see “Personality Types”). More importantly, the shrink will form an opinion on the workers collectively in terms of their capabilities and note patterns of personality traits. From this, the shrink will determine two things: a suitable approach to management and how to manipulate the Corporate Culture to suit his needs.

If the Office Shrink perceives the workers as people possessing low intelligence and motivation, most likely the shrink will recommend more supervision until the problem is rectified (aka, “micromanagement”). However, if the workers are perceived as intelligent, take initiative, and produce superior results, he will be more inclined to recommend worker freedom and empowerment.

The Office Shrink may also recommend modifications to the corporate culture, such as dress, protocol, ethics, office layout, ergonomics, paint and lighting, possibly even adjustments to sound and smell which may affect the focus of workers.

As I said, I have considerable respect for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists. In the absence of such a person, the manager must assume the role. Unfortunately, without proper training the manager makes decisions based on his rudimentary perceptions of the situation. The smart manager though has no problem playing the role of Office Shrink. With a little education and/or consulting assistance he can take charge of his area of responsibility and run it like a fine watch.

For more information on these management concepts, see my e-book entitled, “THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! – Empowering Managers in today’s Corporate Culture.” If you also need consulting assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

First published: January 30, 2012

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  LESSONS LEARNED FROM IRM – A lot of the problems were our own doing.

LAST TIME:  THE SWEETENING OF AMERICA  – Whether we are aware of it or not, our tastes are changing.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

To Keep, or to Cast Away

“Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Romans 12: 2

 

Perhaps it had something to do with my having been listening to the angst-ridden radio newscast prior to entering the church, but at a recent Mass service a certain scriptural quotation virtually leapt at me from the missalette.  It was the admonition by the Apostle Paul to the Romans warning of being consumed in the distractions of the day and losing sight of the eternal truths.  What exactly, I pondered, might have been the distractions of that time that so concerned the writer?  Possibly something akin to our day’s tempests over LGBT bathroom preferences, offensive historical statues, and border fences?  Or something a tad more weighty such as the pending threat once again of global annihilation via thermonuclear war?

More importantly, however, then and now—and the whole justification for being in a pew that day—was the renewal of one’s focus on “what is good and pleasing and perfect”: The Great Source, Its creation, and our individual relationship to it all.  And that led me, quite logically, to ruminating once more on how best to negotiate humanity’s cantankerous community.  To call to mind another scriptural reference, Ecclesiastes 3, it would seem we’re culturally at a “season” of deciding what “to keep,” and what “to cast away.”  What new “stones” should be “gathered together”?  Whether to love, or to hate?  Indeed, we’re living, as another old saying goes, in “interesting times.”

The election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States has unleashed a plethora of conflicting perceptions, emotions, motives and stratagems from all quarters.  Voices from every side, muted in the recent past, are now blatantly shouting back and forth without restraint or civility.  The Washington political cultural has been exposed unequivocally for what it is—a cesspool of self-serving, hypocritical power elites who care nothing for law, loyalty, constitutionality or the real concerns and best interests of the common citizen.  And that’s not to even mention the abdication of any pretense to objectivity and factual responsibility by the major mainstream media.

The political left, many drawn to the socialist siren song of Bernie Sanders, are declaring war on capitalism, rejecting the “whiteness” of the Founding Fathers’ vision, championing “diversity” of race and gender above all else (even moral character), and squelching free speech (unless it agrees with their own opinions).  Their views feed into a “globalist” agenda in which the United States should be brought to heel and compensate other nations for all real or imagined exploitations of the past (climate-change treaties being one compensating mechanism).  Most of all, however, the election of Donald Trump must not stand, and, by hook or by crook, be nullified once and for all.

A counterview was well articulated in the September issue of James Cook’s Market Update titled “Donald Trump Can’t Save You.”  Mr. Cook identifies two trends that he opines will result in cataclysmic economic and cultural destruction in America.  The first is the profligate monetary and inflationary policies foisted upon the country by the government and central banking system that will eventually result in the collapse of “all fiat currencies.”  The second, which he deems “even more worrisome,” pertains to our “social welfare system,” which he characterizes as having “created a huge population of criminals, addicts, crazies, government dependents and people of low character…in league and in sympathy with the goals of the rioters and revolutionaries of the far left.”  “They envy,” he explains, “the successful, hate the rich and deplore the merit system…see inequality and racism instead of opportunity and the American dream…would not hesitate to overturn the constitution and the rule of law to accomplish their social goals.”   “These people are a threat to our safety and welfare,“ he declares, “…[as] their numbers continue to grow.”  And he concludes by stating, “Unfortunately, no political leader can solve this problem.  It can only get worse.”

So, what are we to believe?  What values are to be preserved and what to be discarded?  And what do surface representations often conceal?  Is, for example, Antifa really opposed to hatred, or only projecting (in the Freudian sense) its own hidden hatred out onto other groups?  (Their recent violent protests in Berkeley and armed, masked demonstrations in Kansas City would indicate perhaps those “masks” have begun to slip.)  Why doesn’t BLM protest the killing of young blacks by other young blacks, an astronomically higher number than those shot by police?   Why is the concept of “legality” nearly always avoided when discussing immigration in the major media?  Ah, so many questions and so few answers.  And, at the core of it all, clouding the clarity, rests a cauldron of “mixed emotions.”  Logic seems to have left the building.  Where today, amid the mundane, can we locate the “good and pleasing and perfect”?

As I sat in the pew listening to the choir that day, another scripture came to memory, Matthew 7:1-2: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.  For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”  Hmmmm.  Well, it seems to me (in my “judgment” here) that that’s about all we’re doing these days.  Judging.  And to pose another question: where do you draw the line between tolerance and nonjudgment, and stepping forward and declaring, no, this is wrong?  Some would say a start might be blocking Chelsea Manning—a convicted felon, traitor, classified-document-leaking gender dysphoric—from the honor of receiving a prestigious visiting Harvard fellowship.  Others, however, who have praised her courage and resilience and dedication to governmental “transparency,” have descended critically upon the Harvard faculty for having buckled and rescinded the invitation.  So, then again, maybe not?

“Commercials”

Whiter Teeth to Proud Extender,
Lighter Beer to Younger Render.
Love Them, Hate Them, In-between,
now a Part of Life’s Cuisine.

How long Have they been Around?
Surely long as Sight and Sound.
‘Bout time for a Whistle Blower,
started With an Apple Grower.

Had an Orchard just called Eden,
not sure Where – perhaps near Sweden?
Round Red Apples on the Trees,
need to Sell them ‘for they Freeze.

Advertise to bring in Biz,
heard About this Serpent Whiz,
could sell Snow to Eskimos,
Let’s bring in Some real Pros.

The Serpent said for Sales Upheaval,
let’s Promote that Good and Evil,
the First Commercial to Deceive,
seen by Adam and by Eve.

At that point Commercials Grew,
Fancy Cars to Mountain Dew.
Even though those Two Departed,
now Know how Commercials Started.

THE SWEETENING OF AMERICA

BRYCE ON LIFE

– Whether we are aware of it or not, our tastes are changing.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I find as I grow older I tend to gravitate towards simpler things. Take coffee for instance, I’ve always found pleasure in a simple cup of black coffee. I honestly believe I can distinguish a good cup of coffee from a bad one simply by drinking it black. Adding sugar, cream, and any other additive only masks the flavor. Then again, the bitter taste of the coffee bean is what a lot of people try to avoid, preferring instead a variety of sweeteners transforming it into more of a ice cream sundae as opposed to a hot cup of coffee in the traditional sense. Now coffee comes in a myriad of flavors including vanilla, caramel, cinnamon, and peppermint. Its whipped with cream, sprinkled with chocolate, and chilled with ice. Perhaps the best way to describe coffee’s transformation is from the “the rocket fuel of business” to Bosco.

Coffee is not alone in this regard. I recently visited a local liquor store to buy libations for the holidays. I don’t normally drink vodka but I was surprised by the variety of flavors now available including lemon, lime, apple, marmalade, raspberry, apple strudel, and dozens of other flavors (What, no kumquat?). I also noticed various liqueurs now come in an assortment of flavors as opposed to just one, especially the coffee flavored ones. I took most of this in stride as I typically don’t imbibe such drinks. However, as a whiskey aficionado, I was stunned to see apple and cinnamon flavored whiskeys creeping onto the shelves. Only then did I realize whiskey was also beginning to undergo a sweetness transformation.

I suppose this movement to sweeter alcoholic beverages was to be expected as the kids who savored sweetened fruit drinks and power ades years ago have grown up and cannot tolerate some of the bitter flavors of adult beverages. Nor will this be a passing fancy as young Americans have been conditioned to crave soft and sweetened drinks. Take iced tea for instance, whereas older people tend to enjoy unsweetened tea, younger people cannot palate it without some sort of sugary substance. Also consider Americans fascination with sweetened coffee drinks is directly rooted in chocolate. It kind of makes you wonder if we are really enjoying the flavor of such drinks or are we simply hooked on chocolate and sugar. I suspect the latter.

As for me, I’m a single malt scotch man who appreciates the simplicity of a good glass of whiskey, particularly when coupled with a fine cigar. I do not need to sweeten it up, just quietly sip and enjoy it at the end of a busy day. I enjoy its full bodied flavor with a touch of smokiness from its casks. Like I’ve always said, it’s the little things in life that make it enjoyable, such as a black cup of coffee, unsweetened iced tea, and a glass of single malt scotch. The day I am given a glass of tutti frutti whiskey is probably the same day I’ll stop drinking it.

I do not need to put in additives to enjoy such beverages, just simply to appreciate them for what they are and how our forefathers designed them. Like I said, keep it simple and enjoy the ride.

First published: January 13, 2012

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  THE OFFICE SHRINK – Who fulfills the role in your organization?

LAST TIME:  EXPANDING GOVERNMENT  – Why it has gotten so.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

“The Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune*”

We were bereft early in the morning of November 9th, 2016 as we are sure a lot of you were.  And most of you know the reasons by now but with the publication of ‘What Happened’ we now know the culprits.  First off and we never would have guessed this one, former President Barak Obama, The Smartest Man Whoever Was or Will Be President of the United States.  Then it was J. Edgar Comey no big news there.  Then it was The Russians and Putin of course.  Then it was Fake News, although we thought that was The Donald Himself’s line.  Then it was The New York Times who’d a thunk that?  Then there was Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein and last but not least, it was you.  You, the American people you the Deplorables.  You went and voted for the other guy.  Now if it hadn’t been for all of that, guess who’d be President right now?  Shame on you!  Chalk this one up to “the proud man’s (or in this case woman’s) contumely”*.

And this model Marisa Papen

marisa papen walker 3

as you can see was posing nude and using the Egyptian Pyramids as a backdrop, when she was interrupted by Egyptian authorities.  The authorities were horrified and told her she couldn’t do this at the Pyramids.  She in turn explained that she does this all over the world.  That she was doing it with the highest respect for Egyptian culture and art and her pictures were going to be art as well.   When she refused to stop, they arrested her.  Then they strip searched her.  But there is sort of a happy ending here, as the authorities let her go with a warning.  Our guess is, the strip search turned up nothing.  Chalk this one up to “the law’s delay”*.

And Anthony “Little Anthony” Weiner has reared his ugly head again.  Pun intended.  It seems his lawyers in a last ditch effort to keep him out of prison have sent a memorandum to his Judge before sentencing.  In it they claim that Anthony Little Anthony is “sick”.  Really?  And, that he was in a “self-destructive spiral” when he kept sexting to a 13 year girl, complete with nasty pictures of himself.   Somehow the lawyers proclaim that the 13 year old was in control and Anthony” Little Anthony” wasn’t, the poor baby.  But here’s something for Anthony “Little Anthony” Weiner to ponder.  If it hadn’t a’ been for President Obama, J. Edgar Comey, The Russians and Putin of course, Fake news, the New York Times, Bernie Sanders, Jill Stein, that guy with the big hairdo and you the American people, you Deplorables, guess who would be President right now?  And, guess who might not even have faced prosecution or even if he had, might now be looking at a suspended sentence, if not an out and out pardon?  Can we say here that it was just, “not to be”?

Dicens simile factum est

Pro Bono Publico

*William Shakespeare

EXPANDING GOVERNMENT

BRYCE ON POLITICS

– Why it has gotten so.

Click for AUDIO VERSION.
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Over the last 100 years the federal government has grown by leaps and bounds. The impetus for this is probably economic related (e.g., “The Great Depression,” and today’s world economy), and military related (including two world wars, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, numerous minor engagements, and the War on Terror). We also have several years of presidential campaigns heaped in where we were promised a lot more than two chickens in every pot or two cars in every garage. This has all changed the face of our government where we now have several more agencies and departments to deliver on presidential promises. For example, during my lifetime alone we have seen the introduction of several cabinet posts, such as HUD, Transportation, Energy, Education, Veterans Affairs, EPA, and Homeland Security.

There are essentially two theories as to why government expands: that it is driven by citizen demand, or it is self-generating, that it grows naturally by itself. I tend to believe in the latter as I see it as an excellent example of Parkinson’s Law in action. The law, which was devised by C. Northcote Parkinson, a noted British historian and author was based on his experience with the British Civil Service. Among his key observation’s was that “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” Basically, he suggests people make work in order to rationalize their employment. Consequently, managers create bureaucracies and superfluous work to justify their existence, not because it is really needed (aka, the “making mountains our of mole hills” phenomenon).

We see examples of Parkinson’s Law in just about every government body, from federal to state, to municipal, to the smallest bodies of government, including Homeowner Associations. A few years ago I was President of my Homeowners Association where I was able to balance the budget, update their governing docs, and streamline their administrative affairs. It wasn’t hard, it just required a little common sense, nothing more, nothing less. Since I left the board of directors though, spending has gone through the roof, and we are now paying more for dues and getting a lot less in return. As I see it, my Homeowners Association is a microcosm of the problems with government; paying more and getting less. To illustrate, the only visible government services that impacts me directly are roads, water and sewage, the police, and education. Everything else is transparent to me. Others might include welfare, housing, and the environment, but I think this is the exception as opposed to the rule for most people. In other words, the average person sees little in return for the taxes they pay.

Then we come to the old argument as to whether government should be more or less intrusive in our lives which is actually a political argument. There are those who say we need more government since the average citizen is not smart enough to control his/her own destiny, and there are others who want less government control and more freedom. Understand this, the government grew over the last 100 years under both Democratic and Republican administrations. So political ideologue has no real bearing in this regard. It is simply a matter of management (or the lack thereof).

Recognizing companies were becoming bloated and inefficient, executives began to flatten corporate hierarchies in the 1980’s and 1990’s. The poster child for this was Jack Welsh of General Electric who earned the nickname “Neutron Jack” for his ability to flatten G.E. units. Welsh’s approach was reminiscent of Joseph Stalin’s purges which came in waves of three: the first was to eliminate the deadwood from around the office, representing the people who were the most expendable; the second wave of purges represented a major belt tightening effort intended to find out who the company could live without, and finally; the third wave was the hardest as it required considerable soul-searching but uncovered the bedrock of the corporation. What was left was a more efficient organization that was more focused on the right priorities.

Now imagine if we did something like this to our government; it would force a lot of bureaucrats out of office, it would create a leaner and more streamlined government, and it would force them to concentrate on the services that truly matter.

But for some reason I think most people like a fat government. They like having someone looking over their shoulder, kind of like a security blanket. As I found in my homeowner association though, the price of a bloated government is more expensive, more bureaucratic, and provides less service. I guess it comes down to how dependent we want to be on government and whether we trust their judgment to maintain our interests. As for me, I vote for less government, not more. Here’s another way of looking at it: should the government serve its constituents, or should the constituents serve the government? You tell me.

First published: December 1, 2008

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  THE SWEETENING OF AMERICA – Whether we are aware of it or not, our tastes are changing.

LAST TIME:  THE PROBLEMS RESULTING FROM MORAL DECAY  – How it impacts business.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

THE PROBLEMS RESULTING FROM MORAL DECAY

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– How it impacts business.

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I recently went out to dinner with a business friend who owns a medium sized manufacturing company with just over 50 employees. Over a couple of cocktails he started to express to me his frustration with his people. He claimed to pay them well, provides a comfortable work environment, and offers a respectable benefits package. Regardless, he wished his people were more dedicated and professional in their attitude. He yearned for the old days when there was more pride in workmanship (and you thought I was the last of the whiners). I’ve known my friend for a long time and know his management style; he works well with people and although he insists on organization and structure, he tends to empower his workers to assume responsibility as opposed to micromanaging them to death. Frankly, I know a lot of people who would love to work in his environment, yet he still had this problem of employee attitudes and asked me for my thoughts on it.

I told him what he was experiencing was a simple matter of moral decay. Regardless of the work environment he provided and his interpersonal relations with his employees, there are other forces at work, namely our eroding system of values. I explained the following to illustrate the point:

* It used to be a person’s word was his bond. If he made a verbal commitment, you could count on it. Today, lying and deceit are commonplace in just about every corner of our society. Consequently, our expectations to honor a commitment have been lowered and, even worse, we have lost faith and trust in our fellow man.

* We used to have dedicated workers who cared about their work and doggedly saw a task through to completion. Now, we no longer associate our reputations with our work products. This may be because we have laws today making it difficult to reprimand or fire anyone regardless of their performance. Further, we now suffer from the “99% complete” syndrome whereby we never seem to finish anything with the excuse that, “We’ll get around to it.” In other words, determination and pride have been replaced by indifference which erodes production and opens the door for competition.

* We used to respect our bosses and were loyal to our companies. As long as you were employed by someone, you bit your tongue and endeavored to help the company succeed. For example, I knew a loyal Boeing employee who steadfastly refused to fly on anything but Boeing aircraft. Today, concepts such as corporate loyalty and respect are a thing of the past as employees no longer trust management, and management doesn’t trust its workers, all of which leads to an inordinate amount of back stabbing and political maneuvering. It’s no small wonder that today’s employees are regarded more as free agents as opposed to team players.

To me, morality means giving of one’s self, putting aside our self interests for the common good of all. However, if in fact such things as honor, courtesy, pride, respect, sacrifice, courage, dedication, commitment, loyalty, honesty, perseverance, integrity, and professionalism, are adjectives of the past, then we are indeed witnessing the moral decay of our society. Actually, it’s rather remarkable we have progressed as far as we have as a species, but it makes you wonder how much farther we would be if we had the moral fortitude to overcome greed, corruption, and other vices. As Samuel Clemens correctly observed, “Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.”

Interestingly, American morality seems to change whenever we change presidents from one political party to another. I can think of no other single event which benchmarks a change in our culture than the passing of the presidential torch. Consider for example, the social changes incurred in the transition from Eisenhower to Kennedy, from Carter to Reagan, Bush to Clinton, and now Obama to Trump. A change in Presidential party signals a change in social norms and moral priorities.

So what can be done about deteriorating moral values? You would think that our religious institutions would have a significant role to play here. Not necessarily. There are those who go to church simply to absolve themselves of their sins from the preceding week, not to correct any character flaw. After being “cleansed” they revert back to their indiscretions. No, we need to lead by example, reward accomplishments and truly penalize violations as opposed to looking the other way. There will always be those who are morally handicapped and persist in attempting to undermine our system of values, but we owe it to ourselves and our posterity to persevere. Our ability to surmount moral corruption defines who we are as a civilization.

Years ago, Arnold Toynbee said succinctly, “Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder,” meaning our social problems are actually self inflicted. If we can cause the problems, I would like to believe we are strong enough to solve them, regardless of the price to be paid. Going back to my friend’s problem, what is needed is a little inspiration, hope, belief in ourselves, a little brother/sisterhood, and a legal system that doesn’t stifle morality, but rather promotes it. Regardless of the magnitude of the job, from major to menial, workers must believe they are leading an honorable and worthwhile life. There is nothing wrong with ambition, as long as it doesn’t lead to incessant politics. There is nothing wrong with personal achievement/recognition, as long as teamwork doesn’t suffer. There is nothing wrong with criticism, as long as it’s constructive, not destructive. Basically, we just need some common sense and respect for the human spirit.

So, the question comes down to this; Do we still possess the fortitude to do what is morally right? That is a question for each of us to answer and for our heirs to judge.

First published: October 20, 2008

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 40 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2017 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Also read Tim’s columns in the THE HUFFINGTON POST

NEXT UP:  THE PROBLEMS RESULTING FROM MORAL DECAY – How it impacts business.

LAST TIME:  EXPANDING GOVERNMENT  – Why it has gotten so.

Listen to Tim on WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; KIT-AM (1280) in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube. Click for TIM’S LIBRARY OF AUDIO CLIPS.

 

Letters to the World “Series” by Jascha Kessler

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Letters to the Editor

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

New York

Dear Letters Editor:

Nikki Haley arrives as our ambassador to the UN, which means she is also an ambassador to 192 nations, of which perhaps a dozen are great powers.  One wishes her success for our nation’s sake.  It might also be well to offer a caveat for her sake.  Some years ago, a top KGB agent operating out of Riverdale in NYC, defected with his wife and college-age daughter.  We offered him a huge amount of $$$, and protection.  He set to work with an American writer and published a memoir of his career.  A couple of years later, a little note in the Los Angeles Times mentioned his death of a “heart attack” at the age of 55.  Suspecting a plant of faked news, I emailed his American collaborator to inquire as to what was what, and he replied that he had nothing to say, having done his work.

One thing was unforgettable in that tale of espionage: the Russian, assigned to the UN, remarked that his task of influencing most of the delegates of the world was easy: a Rolex watch was all that was required to keep them in line with Moscow and that once a month he drove down to the Chesapeake Bay to dump into its deeps all the computers and records of their office.

I hope Nikki Haley can be a persuader without needing to support the great watchmaker.  If not, the cost of pocketing so many nations will not be exorbitant.

 

Sincerely,

Jascha Kessler

 

Emeritus Professor of Modern English & American Literature, UCLA

Santa Monica, CA