Interesting comment

While reading a WSJ article today about Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf defending the corporations’ actions in recent days, I was struck by a comment left by a reader at the end of the article:

“The legal, safety, environmental and quality control departments in corporations spend a lot of time making sure that high level executives are insulated from the undocumented pressure they put on lower level management to achieve revenue goals by any means. As long as branch managers (low-level scapegoats) get fired instead of people like Stumpf having charges brought against him, the implausible explanations for rampant consumer fraud will continue.

PS: The windows on many older GM SUVs shatter spontaneously (even while parked). Its not a common problem but known in the auto glass industry. GM knows about it. No recall……….  I guess they will wait until a kid in the back seat bleeds to death. I am sure the VP’s and CEO know nothing about the issue.”

Now, that little post-script rant….I’m not sure about that…..but I will say that the first part is VERY MUCH in keeping with my experiences (short-lived as they were) in corporate America are TOTALLY in keeping with that explanation. Everybody is ‘spinning’ to everybody else.

 

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Careful what you measure!

Measurement is a big part of the grown-up working world. Companies measure profit vs. loss. Hospitals measure ‘bed days’ and ‘labor expenses’ etc. In some way, accounting has been an integral of ALL organized societies for gazillions of centuries. I worked in the for-profit healthcare area for a long time (and still do, in a moonlighting capacity, but for a MUCH smaller agency than I did in the old days). Back then ‘managing labor’ was HUGE. Admittedly, NOTHING IN THE WORLD can bleed money like a nursing facility or an assisted living center if you don’t keep an eye on staffing-to-patient ratios…..but I digress.

I find most forms of measurement interesting. Statistics is one of the few arenas of mathematics that has (pretty much) always made sense to me. News outlets manipulate statistics all the time…..they’re good at it. I read a bit on the VA-scheduling scandal earlier today and thought I’d put a clip up here:

“In some cases, the system encouraged manipulation even without explicit instruction from supervisors. A manager in West Palm Beach, Fla., sent out laudatory emails touting the shorter wait times the system showed. Schedulers in Harlingen, Texas, reported being berated by supervisors when they booked appointments showing longer wait times for veterans. (It was “not pretty,” one employee said.)” —USA Today 

From a young age, I picked up on how people could be ‘praised’ obliquely…….we say ‘good job’ about this-that-and-the-other all the time…..so human logic figures out quickly that whatever falls outside that is ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’.  Although I’m a veteran, I’ve never sought 10 seconds-worth of medical care from VA (although I may have to one day). That said, I’m certainly no expert on federalized-healthcare, either. I will say, though, that SYSTEMS develop their own system of values and mores. School teachers know this, they learn it quickly in college. ‘I like how Austin has his books stacked neatly, and is sitting quietly at his desk.’  They learn quickly to praise the desirable behavior…..and it works!  So, when the boss sends out e-mails that say: ‘Whoa, no wait times! You guys are awesome!’, what do you think will happen?!

Companies, hospitals, whomever, whatever, wherever: we have to fall in love with TRUTH, no matter the potential outcomes….and everyone knows….often, the truth hurts!

It just cant keep on being this way

This, from an article entitled 85 richest now have as much money as 3.5 billion poorest:

Much ink has been spilled about the widening gap between the richest and the poorest, and about what it means for the global economic outlook, and yet, extreme inequality persists.

And while some argue that more should be done to help people at the bottom, rather than attack those at the top, former US Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary Peter Edelman said it was time for the rich to pay up.

“I used to believe,” Edelman said in his book “So Rich, So Poor,” “that the debate over wealth distribution should be conducted separately from the poverty debate, in order to minimize the attacks on antipoverty advocates for engaging in ‘class warfare.’ But now we literally cannot afford to separate the two issues.”

The “economic and political power of those at the top,” Edelman said, is “making it virtually impossible to find the resources to do more at the bottom.

“The only way we will improve the lot of the poor, stabilize the middle class, and protect our democracy is by requiring the rich to pay more of the cost of governing the country that enables their huge accretion of wealth.”

Recession-proof’d??

In the U.S., we’re allegedly past the Great Recession now. I suppose, by-and-large, my family’s finances are better than they were 18 mos. ago. My wife and I have been through some dark, dark, DARK TIMES as far as money is concerned. We are (I guess) the average American middle-class family (although, “average” and “middle-class” are ‘moving targets’ when it comes to definitions these days). There’s been a lot said and written about personal finance over the past 5 years or so.

Personally-speaking…….I have gone through such a metamorphosis about how I think about my money. I literally cant stop myself from laughing whenever I think about how the words “happiness” and “money” used to be linked in my personal world-view. I didn’t even know it was so severe until it started to change…..and change it has. I don’t at all believe that I’m in any position to give anyone advice, except to say, “If you want to know how to do it all wrong…..then look at how we did it.”

Two final thoughs while I’m waxing on about the Almighty Dollar:

Stupid Debt will destroy you. Most of how we get into debt in America is via Stupid Debt. Generally, so long as its a small house and you have a nice, polite, tidy little mortgage (with a stable interest rate)……a house is Smart Debt. Other than that, though, Stupid Debt will be your ruin…….take my word for it.

If you’re buying to make yourself happy…….you’ll NEVER BE ABLE TO BUY ENOUGH to reach that point……..never. 

Who needs materialism anyway??

I’m not saying that I agree with everything David Cain says…….I both love him and hate him when he decides to become an anthropologist………..however, he says some remarkable things sometimes. A big chunk of this post (should be called an ‘essay’, really) is posted up in my office this very second. This single article has been “liked” on Facebook over 100,000 times…….a blog post, for God’s sake!!!!!?

Any-hoo, it (and many other interesting things he writes over there) is worthy of your time.

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/07/your-lifestyle-has-already-been-designed/