A Failure to Listen – The Hinge Upon Which Governments Fail or Thrive

AmidalaPadmé in “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith” makes a powerful statement about the galactic war being fought, “This war represents a failure to listen.”  While Padmé insists that diplomacy is required, this is incorrect.  Diplomacy is the political game of charades, with smoke and mirrors of intelligence games.  Diplomacy fails because each sides agenda is more important than the words being spoken, which is why so much of the work done in diplomatic circles is done in “informal settings.”  Diplomacy fails to listen.

America is a Republic, rather America is a Constitutional Republic, where the rule of law as written is the supreme law of the land to which every citizen is bond.  In the world there are democracies, where the mob rules.  There are socialist governments where the fat of government is forcibly taken through taxation and doled out by the micro-ounce to those selected to win or lose.  There are still communist governments and monarchies where the leaders are pampered to the detriment of the citizenry.  Unfortunately, between these extremes are a host of other government types who borrow pieces from many government theories thinking they can escape the negative consequences of those government methodologies.

Yet again we find Padmé’s counsel appropriate and timely.  Before war begins, there is always a refusal to listen.  For example, it is historically accurate that the US Government had signs and warnings of the impending Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor, but the US Government had stopped listening to adverse advice, and America paid dearly for that failure to listen.  Worse, war came, and hundreds of thousands paid in blood for that failure to listen.

Emotional OutburstThe Russians thought diplomacy was the appropriate approach to Nazi Germany; and Nazi Germany made the Russians pay in blood for the failure of the government to listen.  Even though history has regularly taught the Russians not to engage in diplomatic solutions with Germans.  This was hardly the first fight between Germany and Russian troops and governments.  Failure to listen, and the citizens suffered tremendously to overthrow both Nazi Germany and then the chains of Communism.

Consider again the relationship between Mexico and the United States, the Mexican Government has never been an ally or friend to the United States; yet, the governments refuse to listen to common sense, and throughout history, those people hellbent on destroying America have always found safe passage and refuge in Mexican borders.  History relates that the failure of governments to listen, is the root of the United States and Mexican sour relationship.

Cuba has suffered under Communism and Castro’s poor ideas because government leaders refused to listen.  Venezuela fell because the governments in power refused to listen to each other, bribed the electorate, stole elections, and now a once mighty nation is starving while their government leaders sit in luxury.  How many times will this story have to repeat before the citizens of governments learn, we must be able to speak freely, and listen appreciatively, if we are to survive, grow, and prosper.

For too long, the powers of the world who consider themselves above the law have worked to keep the citizens separated into fighting factions.  Every conceivable line that can be drawn to distract, separate, denigrate, and deride has been drawn, and the only people winning in this are those drawing the lines.  Republicans against Democrats, Homosexuals against Heterosexuals, religions aplenty all against each other, state to state, NFL/NHL/NBA/NASCAR and so much more adding confusion and noise to the problem and further separating people along ambiguous lines to keep them from talking and listening appreciatively to each other.

Nuclear FamilyHow many families cannot have a meal without choices of lifestyle and hostility ending conversation over a failure to listen?  Can a Chicago Bears Family survive long with a fan from Minnesota or Wisconsin?  What about the other choices people make in their lives, religious flavor versus another religious flavor; this simple line has been destroying nations since history began being recorded.  What do we see in the Old Testament; governments repeatedly failing because they stopped listening.

Please note, this is not a call to drop standards, accepting everything, and singing “Kumbaya,” while Rome burns, and society dies an ignominious death.  This is a call to cease destroying society and begin listening first!  Why were the riots this past summer so brutal and destructive; first the mob stopped listening, then they stopped talking, and then they started fires and terrorizing society.  Why did they stop listening; because they assumed no one heard them and cared enough to shift the paradigm, (patterns of thought and action all based upon selfishness and pride).

Darth and AnakinWhy did Anakin stop being a Jedi; he stopped listening, then he selectively listened, he began acting as a terrorist, and then he became Darth Vader.  This plot line of refusing to listen is so prevalent and obvious because humans continue to make the same mistake.  When we stop listening to each other, we stop talking; when we stop talking, we become overwhelmed by our own echo-chambers, and create the chaos that ultimately destroys our lives, our dreams, and our futures until we begin to lay aside petty differences and listen to each other again.

Listening has four distinct levels:

    • Inactive listening – Hearing words, seeing written communication, zero impact mentally. Mostly because your internal voices drown out the possibility for communication.
    • Selective listening – Hearing only that which confirms your own voices, opinions, and biases. While others are speaking, you are already forming your response.
    • Active listening – Show the other person you are paying attention, engage with meaning in a reply. Focused upon removing barriers to get your point across.
    • Reflective listening – Paying attention to intent and content, reducing emotion, two-direction as both parties are engaged in achieving mutual understanding.

Social Justice WarriorListening appreciatively is reflective listening, where we commit to listening with the intent to achieve mutual understanding.  Essentially, to improve government we must listen first with the intent to reach mutual understanding, before we ever open our mouths to speak.

The following are some launch points for improving listening in society:

  1. Understand your desire.  Know that your desire choices are determining your destiny.  If your destiny is not one you appreciate, return to desire, make different choices.
  2. Practice mental preparation based upon previous situations, to make different choices.  Listening is a voyage of discovery to reach a mutual understanding, but mental preparation is key to safely reach the destination.  Prepare, use a mirror, practice until what currently feels alien becomes familiar.
  3. Reduce emotion.  The principle of empathy and sympathy are destroying listening and only reflect the internal voices.  The volume of internal voices is silencing the ability to reflectively listen, necessitating the need to fake actively listening.
  4. Listen as you would have others listen to you.  This is an adaptation of the “Golden Rule” and remains applicable as a personal choice.  How you choose to listen will determine your destiny.
  5. Listening remains the number one tool you control and has application to written communication and verbal communication channels.  Body language is a non-verbal communication channel that can be heard as well as seen.  How are you communicating non-verbally which is interfering with your written and verbal communication attempts?

Leadership CartoonListening is a choice.  Listening is hard.  Yet, many people have pointed out that we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as often as we speak.  Choose to reflectively listen, choose to reach a mutual understanding, watch society change.  It has been said that the US Constitution will hang by a thread, rule of law and the American Republic hang upon our decisions to listen appreciatively to each other and to stop allowing petty divisions to destroy ourselves, our families, and our American society.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.
All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Communication – A Tool of Improving Call Centers, a Leadership Guide

A call center recently asked for some help. They have an “open-door” policy for employees to use. The call center meets all the designated training directives and compliance mandates. They believe they are the “best of the best” in providing customer support and have won awards from third-parties to back up these claims. Yet, employee churn remains high, employee morale remains low, and the leaders are becoming wary of the employment pool attracted to the call center.

ProblemsIn making observations, the consultant team tested the “open-door” policy and found that those sought were never in their offices even though the doors were open. The training was occurring, but the training offered had little to no value for the front-line customer-facing staff. It was generally considered a zero-sum game, providing time off the phones and causing stress and overtime costs. Worse, the front-line supervisors and employees’ perception was the existence of a chasm, separating them from higher organizational leaders.

Yukl (2010, p. 7) stated the definition of leadership as a “… multi-directional influence relationship between a leader and followers with the mutual purpose of accomplishing real change. Leaders and followers influence each other as they interact in non-coercive ways to decide what changes they want to make.” Fairholm (2001) built on the definition by Yukl (2010), insisting that leadership is a social event specific to the group of followers and leaders. Leadership and followership is a social contract; a call center is one of the most unique social environments possible. Due to this social environment, the leader who inspires communication is the call center leader who will be highly successful and train others to be highly successful.

Inherent to a fruitful and lasting social environment that promotes growth and development, leadership requires non-coercive methods to inspire and empower and provide aid to followers during change. Leadership in call centers is a social event specific to that group of followers, and leaders requiring mutuality in action to influence objectives being appropriately met. Coercion is a poison that infects like cancer into social environments; unfortunately, coercion is an easy trap to fall into as it is effective in the short-term.

Using the definition of leadership by Yukl (2010), we find why coercive leadership is ineffective; coercion cannot touch the followers’ hearts and minds to empower action towards objectives. A coercive action is any activity performed to harm or ensure the compliance of the action’s target. Coercive practices take many forms, from withholding benefits, including praise, to overt action, including threats and force. Coercive measures are used as leverage to force an individual or team to act in a way contrary to their individual or team interests. Covert coercion is rampant in many call centers and takes the form of restrictive policies, carrot/stick incentives, and human treatment policies that allow favoritism to rule instead of results.

Coercion is pernicious, and coercive practices are preventable. Yukl (2010) further elaborated that the follower only gives the coercive leader power out of fear or acts as a coercive agent to oppress others.  Furthermore, Yukl (2010, p. 137) specified that coercive leadership produces fear as the only motivator, and fear is dysfunctional, making nothing but more dysfunction in followers. Academic researchers often use the military as an example of coercive power and coercive leadership. Yet, having served in the US Army and the US Navy, I can attest coercion does not work in the military just as it does not work in any other industry. Coercive power is an acid destroying everything, building nothing, and dehumanizing people into animals.

The opposite of coercion is persuasion. Persuasion is the mode of being effective in collaboration, and persuasion requires trust and communication. Trust is an operational factor that builds the relationship between followers and leaders. It is the single most crucial factor in collaboration; but, collaboration and trust, as operational concepts, require two-directional communication to reach maximum effectiveness (Du, Erkens, Xu, 2018).

Internal-CS-Attitude-Low-ResCommunication as a tool in expressing confidence in the follower/leader relationship gains strength to clear misunderstandings and reach the desired consensus to meet organizational goals and operational objectives. The operational concept of trust and communication requires the third leg of the trust relationship agency. The follower needs to possess agency to act, informed agency requires training to employ, and the power and support of leadership to feel confident in action as detailed by Boler (1968), Avolio and Yammarino (2002). Which is where concepts meet reality, where theory is tested, and the leader is needed.

The following are proposed actions to build trust in organizations, improve communications, and empower the agency in employees to act. One of the worst things a leader can do when coercion is suspected is “trust exercises.” Trust exercises like standing a person on a chair and having them fall back into the team’s waiting arms. A call center leader colleague tried holding team and department meetings using “trust exercises,” and the result was best described as a catastrophe. The actions proposed are practical and can be employed in all call centers, including those working remotely due to COVID.

  1. Employ praise! Honest, truthful, fact-based, and reasoned praise is the most powerful tool a call center leader can employ to build people. With many call center workers working remotely, using praise as a recognition tool is critical to improving employee performance.
      • Use QA calls to issue praise.
      • Use non-cash incentives to recognize powerful deeds.
      • Make praise public through company newsletters and leadership emails.
      • Be specific, direct, and honest in your praise.
      • Be consistent in offering praise.
  1. Saying you have an “open door” is not enough, be the support mechanism your people need.
      • Respond to emails. Even if you cannot offer a substantial response immediately, personalize the email response, set a follow-up date, and meet those follow-up dates for additional communication.
      • Respond to employee questions with enthusiasm for listening and acting, not merely speaking.
      • Stop active listening; begin immediately to listen to meet mutual understanding through reflective listening. Mutual understanding and a promise to act on a concern are essential to support “open-door” policies; failure to listen and act is the number one failure of “open-door” policies.
  2. Training must change. If training is not a value-added exercise to the person receiving training, training has not occurred, resources have been wasted, and problems are generating.
    • Does your trainer know how to gather qualitative data from front-line workers to make curriculum developments?
    • Does your trainer know how to collect quantitative data from the training program to gauge decision-making in curriculum improvement?
    • What adult education theories are your trainers employing to instruct, build, and motivate adult learners who are employed?
    • How do you measure training effectiveness?
    • Does a “trained” employee know how to use trainers’ information to change individual approaches?
    • Do team leaders take an active role in training, or are they just “too busy?”

All these questions and more should be powering your training of the trainer discussions. If these questions are not being addressed, how will you, the call center leader, know your training investment dollars can return a positive investment? Training remote workers, especially, requires training programs that can motivate learners to change personal behavior. Thus, the training must have the ability to reach the student’s honor and integrity.

Leadership CartoonCOVID has provided many opportunities, and only through collaboration, communication, trust, and empowered agency, can help call centers to survive this difficult period. Regardless of how long the government shutdowns occur, your call center can survive, and call center leaders can prosper, provided they are willing to be leaders indeed, not managers in disguise.

References

Avolio, B. J., & Yammarino, F. J. (2002). Transformational and charismatic leadership: The road ahead. San Diego, CA: Emerald.

Boler, J. (1968). Agency. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 29(2), 165-181.

Du, F., Erkens, D. H., & Xu, K. (2018). How trust in subordinates affects service quality: Evidence from a large property management firm. Business.Illinois.edu. Retrieved from https://business.illinois.edu/accountancy/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2018/03/Managerial-Symposium-2018-Session-IV-Du-Erkens-and-Xu.pdf.

Fairholm, Gilbert W. Mastering inner leadership. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001.

Ruben, B. D., & Gigliotti, R. A. (2017). Communication: Sine qua non of organizational leadership theory and practice. International Journal of Business Communication, 54(1), 12-30.

Yukl, G. (2010, April 23). Leadership in organizations [Adobe Digital Edition Version 1.5] (7th ed.).

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.
All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

A Dangerous Moment – A Warning!

A colleague of mine on LinkedIn said something that has me thinking.

“Divergent narratives are being weaponized to habituate people to increasing the threshold of violence.  A country should talk to each other not develop proscription lists.  Proscription lists dehumanize and demonize social or political opposition rather than engaging them in pragmatic ends towards the common good.  America is in a very dangerous moment.”

Consider for a moment the message my colleague is making.  Political thought that does not match that of another is automatically discounted, denigrated, and derided.  Social views of how to improve which differ from, even slightly, are castigated.

America is currently in the middle of a very contentious election count.  Where documented skullduggery, political shenanigans, and illegal activities are so egregiously apparent that anyone with eyes can see there is a problem.  Yet, to vocalize doubts, to ask for time to cull the fraud, and apply legal processes is being squashed while at the same time the narrative of “Unify the Country” is blared from every media outlet.

Just before the election, a member of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), made the following statement clear in a tweet.  “Is anyone archiving these Trump sycophants for when they try to downplay or deny their complicity in the future?”  This is a perfect example of proscription lists with the threat of weaponized government for those who disagree with AOC and her party.  How do we know this is true; within hours of AOC’s tweet, the “Trump Accountability Project (TAP)” was established to ensure no “Trump sycophant goes unpunished.”

The objective of TAP is “to make sure anyone who took a paycheck to help Trump undermine America is held responsible for what they did.” This objective should give every American pause and create concerns that America is falling into a totalitarian nightmare.  Worse, none on the political left are making any attempt to hide their agenda, to employ the “smoke-screen, and mirrors” tactics so common used by those with hidden agendas.  Sadly, TAP will not limit itself to President Trump’s administration officials and will include everyone who voted for Donald Trump as well as everyone who disagrees, dissents, or even asks questions.  How do we know this; Climate Warrior 7 tweeted a message similar in hate to that of Jennifer Rubin who writes for the Washington Post and MSNBC, saying,

Any [R]epublican “now promoting rejection of an election or calling to not to follow the will of voters or making baseless allegations of fraud should never serve in office, join a corporate board, find a faculty position or be accepted into “polite” society. We have a list.

 

If you know anyone who supported Trump please add their names to our database.  They will be dealt with in due course, once the appropriate legal framework can be put in place.” – Climate Warrior 7

Now someone could make a claim that these are two private citizens, exercising their free speech rights, and since there is no direct threat these two individuals are simply opining.  Yet, if that is the case, was Adolf Hitler’s book “Mein Kampf” simply a citizen expressing his personal views?  When a person makes another person an enemy, and then stops communicating with them civilly, there is danger that must be addressed appropriately.  When this is occurring across an entire nation, that nation is in a very dangerous moment.

Unfortunately, very few people are recognizing this danger and calling for civility.  Across the Spring, Summer, and fall of 2020, America has witnessed incivility, mob violence, terrorism, as nightly rituals where political leaders from all parties refused to renounce and vocally condemn the violence.  The media played their part in silencing the few who tried to speak up or speak out, while simultaneously cheering on and even participating in the violence.

Lack of communicating is a direct correlation to a lack of trust.  A lack of trust is further compounded by theft, non-transparency in government processes, and by the use of law to punish the innocent and free the guilty.  Where has this been witnessed; mask discrimination and criminalization, terrorists caught and released after causing damage and harm to a society Portland, Oregon and New York City, New York both come readily to mind.

Now, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are broadcasting calls to unify and heal the country.  Why make these calls now, when they were begged to do so during the presidential campaign and they refused?  Where was the need for civil discourse when CHAZ/CHOP was being erected and people’s rights violated?  Where have Biden/Harris been while Portland, Minneapolis, and how many other cities burned, property was destroyed, businesses destroyed, and terror reigned?

America, we are in a dangerous moment!  But, this is one of those historic moments where either we rise together against the forces of tyranny and destruction or fall an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.  How we, as a country, leave this dangerous moment is up to the individual citizens, banding together, putting aside the differences that forces would use to divide us, and standing up for our rights, our freedoms, and our families.

I choose to stand against this oppressive force which threatens to choke the life out of America and feast upon her remains.  I choose to stand with anyone who chooses to stand and not go quietly into the night of tyranny and oppression.  I choose to stand and defend that which I love, the United States of America, a free republic, under God!  Join me?

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.
All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

 

Where is the Patient Advocate? – A Story in 3-Emails

Three secure messages, sent through the My Health eVet secure messaging system, all related to a need for VA Hospital services, and all reflecting something in common, the VA’s refusal to act.

First Email: Good Morning,

I have but one question, I would appreciate a timely and thorough response, within 24-hours. “Where is the advocacy from the patient advocates?”

Last Wednesday I needed to discuss the problems I am having with pharmacy refills, but was bounced off VA property because I can NOT Physically. Wear. A. mask! This is for patient safety concerns. Why am I being discriminated against and refused care at the VA Hospital and the patient advocates office is doing nothing to help improve this situation?

I was promised a letter from the VA Hospital Director over the incidents from June and July, still no response from the director or advocacy from the patient advocates. Why?

I need to be able to access the VA Hospitals services and cannot do so when the VA Police are enforcing a mask policy that puts my life in jeopardy! Without an adequate workaround to the mask policy, I suffer from refills that are delayed, and without the drive thru pharmacy, now have no recourse to develop a solution!

Why? Where are the Patient Advocates in standing up against the bureaucracy and demanding solutions for patient problems? Where are the Patient Advocates regarding the incidents from June and July, using hard evidence to improve VA Hospital performance?

Enough is enough! Where do I find a patient advocate?

Thank you!
Dr. Dave Salisbury

Second Email: Hello,

Is there a reason the drive-thru pharmacy is no longer?  I must get refills and the refill process through the mail is taking 3-5 times longer than normal; thus, reordering when you have a 10-day supply remaining is not good advice as I keep running out before the delivery is made.   Only because of the drive-thru pharmacy have I been able to stay ahead of medication emergencies with the refill process being broken.

Why? How do I get refills; when, because I cannot physically wear a mask, I cannot be seen in the VA ER or walk into the VA Pharmacy for refills?

I am thoroughly and completely out of two medications, they have both been reordered and I have no word on when they will arrive. The last refill on a diabetic medication took longer than normal (7-10 business days) to be received and I wonder when I should schedule reordering that medication with the added slowdowns and longer delivery times.

How do I gain refills when I have zero access to the VA Hospital and the refill process has failed to delivery on time?

Thank You!
Dave Salisbury

Third Email: Dr.

I do not know what is happening with pharmacy, but something must give! I reordered my refills with plenty of time since March 2020 through the Phoenix, VAMC, and I keep running out before the meds arrive!

Due to the continued increased symptoms, usage of medication increased, but the refill process has slowed, and without the drive-thru pharmacy I am stuck without access to pharmacy.  Especially, since I can never get a straight answer when trying to use the phone.

As of this morning, I had to wake up, and take the remaining dosage and two Advil for the crushing, horrible light sensitivity, facial pain, twitch bordering, headache! How do I get this refilled with the drive thru pharmacy out of operation, and the VA Hospital off limits because I cannot physically wear a mask?

I have, as if this writing 0330 27 October 2020, been out of one medication for two days, having taken the last pill on Sunday (25 October 2020)! One of the reasons why I had 90-day supplies, instead of the VA (policy?) 30-day supply in Albuquerque was because of this exact reason, I kept running out before the deliveries were made. I must be able to trust the VA Pharmacy Refill process, and the pharmacy refill process is untrustworthy, and currently in disarray.

I showed up at the hospital last week (21 October 2020) trying to have this conversation with pharmacy and was first kicked out of the hospital, then escorted off property because I cannot safely wear a mask and asked why.  I also asked for a copy of the mask policy, and had a supervisor turn himself into a pretzel trying to explain why he cannot produce a policy upon request. What do I do?

Thank you!
Dave Salisbury

Before leaving Albuquerque, NM., I had the privilege of being able to discuss certain topics with local hospital representatives.  I had the ability to talk to directors, medical department heads, patient advocates, and so many more dedicated healthcare professionals who work in in non-VA or government run hospitals.  Every one of them stated categorically that if their hospital was run like the VA Hospital system, they would have been fired, and more than likely legally charged with malpractice, shut down, and sued.

Let that sink in for a moment.  The VA Hospital purports to be doing a service for veterans, but the biggest problem in veterans receiving care is too often the VA Hospital system, and if a non-VA Hospital was run in a similar manner, criminal, legal, and other repercussions would sink that hospital system forcing the government to take over to “rectify the situation.”  Yet, this atrocious behavior is tolerated where the veteran’s hospital system is concerned; I can only ask why?

“The VA Hospital purports to be doing a service for veterans, but the biggest problem in veterans receiving care is too often the VA Hospital system!”

Why is it that every time a solution begins to show the promise of working, the VA bureaucracy stifles the momentum, destroys the people involved, and the veterans keep suffering?  A recent VA Advertisement on LinkedIn talked about how the VA is available with a ready hand to help, it was very well marketed, the advertisement was full of great phrases, sound bite captions, and solemnity; except too often the marketing hype does not reflect reality. Yet, the veteran, the spouse, and the dependents suffer!

Want reality in a VA Hospital, if you and your symptoms do not meet a predetermined checklist of boxes, you are considered the problem and the VA Hospital cannot/will not help you.  The VA Physician cannot issue a diagnosis, nor can the records of patient interactions have sway with the Veterans Benefits Administration for a claim determination.  America sends troops all over the world, places them in literally thousands of crazy environments, but the Department of Veterans Administration still demands cookbook medicine, checklists, and cookie-cutter one-size-fits-most medical practices.

Want reality in a VA Hospital, ask a bureaucrat behind a desk why the patient is being inconvenienced, and watch how fast that veteran is labeled as “The Problem,” and the veteran gets surrounded by the VA Police who then threaten, attempt to intimidate, and arrest/fine that veteran.  Average current time is less than 2-minutes!

Want reality in a VA Hospital, look at the lack of cleanliness, everywhere, and monitor how long spills, blood on walls, black “gunk” stuck in corners, etc. stays around.  I have personally witnessed blood spots lasting on doors and walls for months before being removed, even after complaining about the mess multiple times.  One incident, on an ER treatment room door, there was a roughly 2″ blood spot, dried, sticking to the back of the door, was there for 18-months before finally being removed. Yet, the VA Hospital system will always cheer, about cleanliness, friendliness, and helpfulness of VA Staffing.

Want reality in a VA Hospital, depending upon the tier upon service conclusion originally assigned to, you will experience a significantly different VA Hospital experience.  Even if the Veterans Benefits Administration changes your disability rating, you do not change treatment tiers, and receive reduced medical care accordingly.

Need hospital records, run the leviathan and draconian process of filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, and wait.  Need to understand policies and procedures, there is a FOIA for that as well, but do not expect anything written down; because, the VA operates upon the philosophy that if it is written down, then you can be punished for not complying.  Not having operational procedures, patient care processes, standards of behavior, etc. written down provides a ready-made excuse for when the VA Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) calls investigating.  In over 10-years of reading and commenting upon VA-OIG reports, this remains the number one excuse for failures to comply, dead veterans, and incompetence masquerading around as leadership.

Where is the media, the watchdog of society?  Where are the elected officials whose job it is to monitor the actions of the bureaucrats to ensure these problems do not begin, let alone thrive?  Where is the patient advocate’s whose job is to stand between the bureaucracy, and the patient, to aid the patient in completing tasks that the patient cannot do for themselves?  Where are the patient advocates who are supposed to be making suggestions for improvement based upon the data they collect from complaints and failures of hospital bureaucracy?  Where are the patient advocates in improving operational policies to protect the health and safety of patients, before that patient ever arrives at the hospital facility?

The VA has removed my access to the VA-OIG reports, it has been two-months since I saw a VA-OIG report in my email box.  This is standard practice for the VA, when problems arise, shoot the messenger instead of working to find and fix the problems, and this too is a reality at the VA!

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

America: Unity is Our Strength

President Lincoln, quoted the New Testament, and said, “A house divided cannot stand.”

Since the 1960s cultural rebellions by the children of the day, America has been slowly and inexorably torn asunder.  We have been split along racial lines, in the name of racial equality.  We have been split along sex lines, in the name of love, peace, and harmony.  We have seen rabid separation along political lines to the point where a sitting president can feel safe in physically threatening the lives of political opponents and never be held accountable.  We have seen the dumbing down of America’s children through K-12 Education, and then the propagandization of those minds in colleges.  We have seen neighbors trying to help neighbors and had the fist of government, wielded by petty authoritarians, create angst and trouble.  We have witnessed a complicit and biased media throw away common sense for political power, and openly aid and abet criminals in their work of destroying America.

Worst of all, we have seen activist judges usurp power from the legislative and executive branches and creating laws for America from whole cloth.  Members of the House and Senate, the legislative branch, now regularly feel they can usurp the powers of the executive with the help of the judicial branch and their media cheerleaders.  We have seen the executive branch crumble, and American’s have died with no help ever arriving.

Social Justice Warrior 3All these problems and more have torn at the basic and fundamental power American’s have always held, unity.  Unity born of hope, fed a diet of accomplishment, nurtured with education and exposure to work.  The unity of farmers has seen America fed.  The unity of churches has seen America support religious freedoms and become a bulwark to religious beliefs.  The unity of schools of higher education kept standards for academic performance that paved the way for great minds to leave academia prepared to lead industries and stand against tyranny and oppression.  The unity of the states has allowed America to weather fires, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and every other natural disaster.

Unity of being “AMERICAN,” UN-hyphenated, whole, and linked with other American’s has seen compassion thrive, poverty fought, and hunger abated.  Americans, (Ah Me I Can) is a statement of power. The power of “I can” built the Panama Canal and changed the world.  When hundreds of people committed, who were and accustomed to the motivating power of “I Can” and stood shoulder to shoulder, two World Wars were fought and won, hundreds of brush-fire wars were scuttled and despots removed for the betterment of society.

When America forgot the power of “I Can” Vietnam fell into disarray and ruin and those who lost lives never came home.  Cuba and Venezuela have been lost to communism and tyranny.  The Ukraine has all but become a territory of Russia.  Alliances have been written off, red-lines crossed with impunity, and more people have lost their lives.  The political left was able to force shame upon the body of America, and in so doing captured power that never should have been theirs.  Refusing America, the ability of coming together and unifying after Vietnam, the political left kept pushing new powers of separation, new lines of contention, and new causes for concern until chaos reigns and terrorists can be called “peaceful protestors.”

Religion Quote 2America has suffered since the 1960s from the disease of disunity.  We have failed to grasp the power we all possess, which is exponentially greater than the sum of our individual numbers, when we boldly stand and commit to “I Can” America’s enemies quake and pale.  Combined, “I Can” does not become “We Can.”  Combined, the power of “I Can,” is a force greater than “We” because each person shoulders their own load, looks after their own families and friends first, and in doing so multiplies the power of “I Can” into the wonder and majesty that has lured millions of people to come to America and become citizens; that is unity in action!

        • A house divided cannot stand.  A house divided cannot long endure.  A house divided is weak and ready to be pushed over and destroyed.
        • A unified house can stand.  A unified house can long endure.  A unified house is strong and pushes back against all the winds that blow.

A principle that the political left has failed to grasp and refuses to believe, we can have differences in opinion and still be unified in purpose.  Americans have always been contentiously unified, we have regularly disagreed about ways and means, but until the 1960s cultural revolutions we remained unified in purpose, unified in belief, and unified under the rule of law.  America, we must return to being unified or we will lose this the Republic of the United States of America!

Consider how normal it has become to castigate California and New York for pushing America ever progressively leftist, socialist, and communist.  While states like Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, and others are quietly moving socialist at the same or faster rates.  Instead of fighting back against this intrusion, the political leaders have embraced something that is fundamentally anathema to the majority of Americans, the loss of America.  But, these politicians could do this, because the citizenry have been so wrapped up in petty separations foisted upon us by the same people trying to destroy us.  We have lost our purpose, had our unity shredded, and remain in danger of losing America.

The Duty of AmericansAn example, illegal immigration.  If you support the rule of law, and fair play, you would see illegal immigration closed for the good of all current and future immigrants.  But, between rabid and hostile factions, a complicit media, the person opposed to illegal immigration is castigated, denigrated, and derided; while, those who are for illegal immigration, law breaking, and chaos are heralded as heroes.  Simple right and wrong, many of us were taught at our parent’s knee, but the issue has been twisted and warped until confusion reigns and the issue now divides homes, families, and communities.

One might ask, what is the purpose of America; the US Constitution’s preamble gives this answer clearly.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America” [Emphasis Mine].

That is why America was created, the US Constitution written, and blood shed to establish this country. Establish justice, create domestic tranquility, improve the general welfare, secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our children, and provide a common defense, which leads to a more perfect union.  All this is possible through unity in purpose, where we the citizens of America understand the rule of law is a tool to meet our obligations.

Want to know how far we have fallen from being unified in purpose, look at the hostility heaped upon a person not wearing a mask in a grocery store.  Look at the vile and pernicious comments left when a police officer is killed.  Check out the hate and discontent when you simply praise on social media the sitting president for accomplishing peace deals in the Middle East.  That is where disunity and all the petty lines of separation have left America.

PatriotismToday’s America is full of hyphenated Americans, “Black-American,” “Irish-American,” “Mexican-American,” and the list goes on.  Today’s America is full of petty and pernicious lines of separation, Republican, Democrat, Atheist, Catholic, Protestant, and so many more.  Today’s America is full of hate, spite, envy, malice, and every type of egotistical maelstrom possible to keep feeding the fires that separate, divide, and destroy.  It has gotten to a point that what one watches, or does not watch on TV is now prey for creating and casting aspersions, insults, derogatory commentary, or worse physical/mental abuse and violence.

Why is America different, because our unity has always been our strength.  But, the strength of unity is like a muscle, if not used regularly it begins to shrink and atrophy.  President Lincoln said,

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other.
Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as newNorth as well as South.”

Right now, America is in the same place as when President Lincoln made these remarks.  We are divided; make no mistake.  Either the opponents of America will destroy America, shred the Constitution, and remake the laws to fit their own idiocy catapulting America in socialism and thence to communism.  Or.  America will unify, rediscover her purpose, discover she is strong, and begin to thwart the evil plans of her opponents who have been elected as political leaders, placed into professorships, and held in other offices of power by the enemies of the state.

Image - Eagle & FlagPresident Lincoln’s full address can be found here and represents a blueprint for how America found herself in the first Civil War.  Pray that we quickly learn the lessons of unity, that a second Civil War is not necessary!  America must put on her strength, what strength must she put on, unity of purpose.  Casting off the chains of separation, classification, and division, and embracing unity to conquer the political will and wiles of the socialists, communists, anarchists, and fascists who have taken advantage of America’s hospitality.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.
All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Remember the Captivity of your Fathers: A Paradigm for Freedom!

RememberTo remember is to do something that is necessary or advisable which brings honor to the past and freedom to the present.  Remembering is the power of becoming aware that you are more than the singular person and many others have held a hand in making you, your personality, your strengths, and your weaknesses.  A greeting card reads, “I am a strong person, because a strong person raised me.”  Remembering is also the power that propels the person from their starting point into a glorious future.  Ralph Marston has the last word on remembering, “Remember why you started, remember where you are headed, think how great it will be to get there, and keep going.”

The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints, revers as scripture “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” in which the reader is encouraged to “Remember the captivity of your fathers” (Mosiah: 27:16; Alma: 5: 6; Alma 29:11-12; 36:2, 29).  The captivity originally spoken of was physical captivity, where a group of people had been militarily taken over by their enemies and were in physical bondage, slaves pressed into cruel service.  But, as this theme evolves the reader is encouraged to remember other types of captivity their fathers have been subjected to, as a means of more fully enjoying the freedoms and opportunities they possess, because of their father’s captivity and release from captivity.

To the person escaping Cuba as Castro came to power, the captivity of communism and the celebration of freedom in America is a tangible memory, and powers many a child to act.  The release from concentration camp captivity powered and motivates even to this day the children and communities where freedom now rings.  The captivity of those in the USSR powers the minds and freedoms of those living in Russia.  Problems still exist, but the freedom from captivity is worth remembering, and by remembering, honor is paid to those who suffered that captivity, by the growth and development of those present and in the future.

CaptivityCaptivity comes in many shapes, by many names, and is visible only through the suffering of those held captive.  For example, during a conversation with several older adults, I asked a question about the captivity of illiteracy and asked how many generations back in their families does it take to find an illiterate family member.  One very lucky person it was more than 8 generations, another said three, a couple said four, but a very elderly person in the back said 1, his parents never learned to read or write in their own native language or English.  This man is a Native American from a tribe in Northern Arizona, when I met him he was in his late 80’s.

As a child of 8, he was separated from his tribe, his family, and the reservation he knew, loaded onto a bus, and sent to Oklahoma for education.  He spent 10-months of every year for the next 10-years, going to school in Oklahoma.  During which time he never received a single letter from his parents.  Was not allowed to speak his native language, and all native culture was forbidden.  He credits this traumatic period of his life as the crucible for all the good that has come to him through education.  His children and grandchildren, all successfully completed college becoming engineers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, and more.  He had two great-grandchildren just entering college, and his first great-great-grandchild was soon to be delivered.

On the topic of remembering the captivity of his fathers, their illiteracy, he remembers every day in gratitude, even though his parents’ thirst for learning meant he endured such harrowing experiences to go to school.  The captivity of his fathers, drove and motivated him to ensure his progeny would not suffer the same captivity.

Another example, similar question about the captivity of their fathers, how many generations back before your fathers never left a small plot of land, whose only views of the world were restricted to that single plot of land.  One answered, his grandfather had been hated by his family for leaving a place of comfort in Scotland, for a rough life in the western states of America.  Many of his family only ever saw the titles, the land, the benefits, and wanted those things.  The family desiring these things never saw the captivity and the family remains broken and separate to this day.

What was the captivity the grandfather escaped from if he had land, titles, money, servants, etc.; freedom to grow, change, and become.  As long as his family stuck to the same life and ways of his fathers, they would have a comfortable physical life.  Herein lay the captivity and this gentleman tells his story as a caution about researching family history.  I have always held this story, not as a caution, but as a parable regarding individual choices.  Born into freedom and plenty, but requiring ceaseless toil, members of this gentleman’s family preferred captivity and luxury to hard work and accomplishment.

Government Largess 2I see the welfare state in America that strips pride and accomplishment and replaces it with appetite suppression, and I see millions in captivity.  A captivity that breeds wasted and blasted lives, people who have potential dying under government handouts, forever stuck in subsistence living and not knowing how to escape the captivity of their choices.  Where for the work requirement for welfare that same person would know and understand different lessons and potentially choose a different path; thus, discovering that through work captivity is broken.

I see the captivity of thought, children raised in homes as rigidly controlled as Nazi Propaganda, controlled by the captivity of hate and choices of parents, and becoming leeches and vermin to America’s health.  Consider upon the state of these children and weep for their lost innocence and America’s future.  These are the children in the streets since May throwing bricks, lighting fires, attacking helpless victims, and causing such tremendous violence upon the American Soul.  Look upon these children in mental captivity and remember, “But for the grace of God go I” (John Bradford).

Government Largess 4Other types of captivity our fathers suffered, and our children are suffering includes, mental/physical/sexual abuse, drugs and alcohol, criminal activity, gangs, single-parenthood, the loss of the nuclear family, technology, and so much more.  Why should a person remember the captivity of their fathers?  Because by remembering by recommit to not passing along that captivity to our children or communities.

The Old Testament carries a similar theme to remembering the captivity of our fathers, when the children of Israel were commanded to remember the Passover.  Yom HaShoah (יום השואה) and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is another holiday set apart for remembering the captivity of our fathers and recommitting to freedom from oppression.  Buddhism has Bodhi Day upon which the full day is set apart for remembrance and meditation.  Catholics have All Souls’ Day as a day for remembering the past, honoring the lives of loved ones lost, and recommitting to a brighter future.

LiberationThese holidays are mentioned, and more exist, to aid the reader in understanding the importance of remembering the captivity of our fathers.  America’s fathers have fought much, and bled much, suffering incredible injuries, all to make the future better.  Can we, the recipients of these sacrifices to shed captivity, do less and lose this great Republic, without suffering the indignation of our fathers in ages past?

Consider the frozen feet and fingers of Valley Forge; what was a little frost bite when compared with the glorious vision of freedom to the soldiers on duty there?  Consider the bloody battles of the Civil War, the fear, the anger, the soul shattering pounding of the guns; both sides consider themselves correct, both sides wanted a vision of freedom, but only one side could win, and in winning bring complete freedom to all the people of America.  Consider the soldiers, sailors, airman, and marines in Afghanistan, South Korea, Africa, and every other place America sends her military might, can we sit at home comfortable and not feel gratitude for their sacrifices, the cold they suffer, the wounds, the physical and mental strain?

Image - Eagle & FlagRemembering is an action, a thought process with impetus power to drive commitment and action in an individual.  Let us not forget the captivity of our fathers and by remembering act in a method that will secure liberty, justice, and freedom for our children’s children.  America is in danger of being lost; this great republic, blessed with a Constitutional form of government is in danger.  I for one, refuse to sit idly by and lose this precious country; I implore you to remember the captivity of your fathers, and join me in voting intelligently, join me in throwing off the shackles which threaten to bind us down in captivity to communist and socialist styles of governance.  Join me in taking back America!

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

 

Republican Government: The Judicial, the Executive, and the Legislative

Disclaimer:  Calling America a Republic is the correct form of language to describe America’s Governmental system, it does not refer to the political party of the same name.  Referring to America’s government operations as democratic, does not refer to the political party of the same name.

The US Constitution set forth three separate and equal branches of government, possessing their own powers, authority, and processes for governing America.  The problem America is facing right now, the legislative especially, and the executive too frequently, have abnegated their powers to the judicial branch until it is quite common and acceptable for a Speaker of the House of Representatives to rely upon the judicial branch to ascertain intent of a piece of legislation, instead of fixing the legislation in the House of Representatives and the Senate.  So, since America’s schools have refused to teach this coequal system of government, and have bastardized the US Constitution, the following is produced.

The executive branch of government is where a person finds all the bureaucrats, or government employees, who exert the government influence through their decision-making authority granted them by elected officials.  This is one of the reasons why certain offices in government need both the Mayor, Governor, or President’s approval and the approval of an elected governing body, city council, State or Federal Senate.  The US Constitution put in place multiple checks and balances between the three coequal branches of government to ensure that no single branch could dominate all the branches or government.

The legislative branch, which includes city councils, state Houses of Representatives and Senators, and Federal House of Representatives and Senators, write the laws the executive branch is mandated to uphold and serve.  Thus, the will of the people in establishing laws through representation was established.  Therefore, legislators and senators have such tremendous power as to attract the special interest groups in our representative government.

The judicial branch does nothing more, or less, than interpret the constitutionality of a problem brought before a judge.  Criminal judges have a slightly different and more expansive role, but the constitutionality of an action remains the core and the boundaries of their power.

Inherent in the republican form of America’s government is the fundamental belief that there are boundaries and restrictions to action.  This is called the US Constitution.  Not to be confused with Federal, State, and Local rules, laws, and procedures.  A city ordinance is not the US Constitution and if that city ordinance is deemed unconstitutional for the state or federal constitution’s, a judge should declare as much and return the core issues to either the executive or legislative branch for correction.

We must be clear on this issue, the judicial branch can levy fines to encourage behavioral changes, but cannot, and should not, legislate from the bench.  Yet, when the legislatures refuse to enact laws that are fair, just, and timely, it has become common practice to run to a judge and get a judicial ruling.  Thus, causing chaos in the citizenry, and developing a new term for legal scholars, Lawfare.

Judicial Activism is where a judge declares that the US Constitution is a “living document” that should bend to every conceivable contemporary value.  Judicial activism removes the voice of the people from the legislative branches of government and interposes the opinions of a couple of judges as being more valuable than the will of the citizens.

Judicial restraint requires intestinal fortitude and limits the powers of judges to the US Constitution and state constitutions.  Judicial restraint is not popular and as such is regularly castigated by the media and those showing judicial restraint have aspersions, insults, and problems set before them.

Here are several examples of judicial overreach, e.g. judicial activism, that support the problem of legislatures or executives writing bad laws or executing poor policies, and demanding the judicial branch sort out the problems.  Where chaos in the citizenry ensued.

  • June 2015 – Horne v. Department of Agriculture, the Court ruled that a federal program requiring raisin growers to set aside a percentage of their crops for government redistribution was an unconstitutional “taking” under the Fifth Amendment.
    • An extension of judicial overreach from In United States v. Rock Royal Co-operative, Inc., 307 U.S. 533 (1939), the Court sustained an order under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, 50 Stat. 246, regulating the price of milk in certain instances.
    • The Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 was a New-Deal Agricultural order that allowed the government to seize personal property from farmers, dairymen, etc. and give it away, to regulate prices across America. This is the same time where the power of the USDA began to rise and property began to change its definition as elaborated by Charles Reich in the 1960s.
    • Judicial activism allowed the government to break the fifth amendment of the US Constitution, and the practice continues to this very day by bureaucrat’s hell bent on destroying personal property safeguards in the US Constitution.
    • The legal precedent was set by another case of judicial activism in the Pennsylvania Coal Co. v. Mahon 260 U.S. 393 (1922), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that whether a regulatory act constitutes a taking requiring compensation depends on the extent of diminution in the value of the property. This decision started the doctrine of regulatory taking and features prominently in the legal grounds for Eminent Domain.
  • June 2005 – Eminent Domain, Kelo v. City of New London by a 5-4 majority, it affirmed the city’s right to seize private land as part of an economic development plan—a redefinition of the “Takings Clause” under the Fifth Amendment. The US Constitution states clearly that, “private property [shall not] be taken for public use, without just compensation.”
    • Until this decision the Eminent Domain and Taking Clause had been strictly and rigidly defined. Five judges who believe in judicial activism opened this “Pandora’s Box,” and the havoc has been nonstop ever since.
    • What was in the “Pandora Box;” before Kelo, eminent domain had been limited to direct government ownership, excluding property transfers to private corporations. With Kelo, the question of whether economic gain, resulting from a “taking” for corporate interests, constituted “public use” finally came under Supreme Court scrutiny, and five judges declared that if a corporation has interests, those interests are the same as government interests.
    • As proven by Eminent Domain, corporate interests change with economies and when corporate interests change, the property holder does not get their property back, and if seized under eminent domain, the government can choose what the value of the property is worth.
    • Ever want to see the power of bureaucrats in action, look at the abuses that property owners have suffered through eminent domain. Ever want to see why judicial restraint is critical, look no further than the still undeveloped land in the Kelo case!
  • January 2011 – Obamacare, everyone should remember all the chaos that ensued in this political tug-of-war between the legislative branch and the judicial branch, with a healthy dose of political grandstanding thrown in for good measure by the executive branch.
    • A judge in Florida issued a decision in a case filed by 25 Republican Attorneys General and Governors striking down the Affordable Care Act.
    • Twelve federal judges have already dismissed challenges to the constitutionality of the health reform law, and two judges – in the Eastern District of Michigan and Western District of Virginia – have upheld the law. In one other case, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia issued a very narrow ruling on the constitutionality of the health reform law’s “individual responsibility” provision and upheld the rest of the law.
    • Worse, there remain multiple issues in Obamacare yet to be decided by the courts because the legislature refuses to clarify, act, or even respond to judicial opinions.
  • Continuous Issue (1973) – Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.
    • A little history on this subject, 1820s and 1830s abortions were common through the fourth month of pregnancy and herbs, pills, and other home remedies were prevalent for use. Then, the physicians of America and the government stepped in to prevent poisoning and assert control over home remedies, midwives, and other medical opinion providers of the time.
    • New York was the first state to legalize, or codify into law abortion, as a public health measure to improve the lives of women. But, the abortion industry had not begun targeting black and non-white communities.  The first women getting abortions mainstream were, a middle- or upper-class white married women.
    • Original feminists opposed abortion practices and wanted only voluntary motherhood through the “right of women to control sex with their husbands.”
    • The original laws banning abortion were enacted to humiliate women who had to discuss their bedroom affairs with the executive and judicial branch representatives.
    • Judges made the decisions to outlaw abortion, through judicial activism because it was taking the legislative branch too long to enact laws the special interest groups, the American Medical Association (AMA), wanted.
    • Judges then made the decision to make abortion on demand legal, through judicial activism, because again it was taking too long for the legislative branch to act and enact the appropriate laws.
    • Thus, judicial activism and abortion have a long and sordid history of causing chaos in America since at least the 1840s. Hence, when a person discusses Roe v. Wade they are only discussing the abortion on demand industry, and not the whole problem of judicial activism on this issue.
  • June 2015 – Homosexual Marriage. The executive branch of government, almost as soon as America was codified into law, began regulating marriage between a man and a woman, based upon Judaeo-Christian understandings of marriage.  By regulating marriage, the government gained a revenue source, a control mechanism for the behavior of the population, and set legal precedents for what is and is not considered a marriage by the state.  Each state adopted their own legal precedents, guidelines, rules, laws, and so forth leading eventually to 50-different opinions on marriage.
    • Important to note, nothing in the US Constitution requires the definition of marriage for all 50 states, nothing in the US Constitution prohibits the state executive branch to regulate marriage. The executive branch acted to regulate marriage licensing as a control measure on individual morality, e.g. the number of wives of husbands a person may have, marriage to animals being forbidden, etc.
    • Five judicial activists decided that all 50-states need to adopt homosexual marriage and exerted their opinion accordingly through the courts. This decision has trumped the executive and legislative branches of government, stolen the individual citizen’s voice, and created untold havoc and uncountable expenses for every person in America.
    • A marriage license and a driver’s license are both executive controls on the population through government setting rules, regulations, and policies. The definition of marriage is a state right’s issue, as the individual states claimed they have the right to regulate marriage when they individually began issuing licenses to marry or drive.
    • For or against homosexual marriage is a state right’s issue, not a Supreme Court, or Federal Government Issue. Hence, the judicial activism that drove this decision is the problem, not necessarily how the judges expressed their opinions.  This decision is a clear-cut example of needing to return a judicial decision to the states to decide through legislative action.

Judicial activism has been carefully cultivated into America, so that every time there is a problem, the solution is to grab a judge and demand a decision.  However, as shown herein, the courts are a gamble, and the worst that occurs is more societal chaos because a judge has overstepped their authority and made unequal the three branches of republican government.  Worse, that judge has rendered the democratic processes of the people’s rights to self-rule invalid, null, and void.

For example, Kelo should have been referred to the legislative and executive branches for a decision, as the “Taking Clause” was constitutional, but rigidly controlled.  But, because the judicial stepped in to “solve the problem,” through adjudication, chaos has ensued, which has forced, at a minimum, 40 different interpretations of the “Taking Clause.”  Which opens a minimum of 80-different potential decisions if the courts decide to take up the Eminent Domain issue again.  Talk about chaos!

The executive branch and the legislative branch must be held accountable for abnegating their duties.  This accountability occurs at the ballot box where the lazy and recalcitrant lawmaker is returned to being a private citizen.  Then, launching a judicially correct investigation into why that person abnegated their duties; especially, if personal enrichment occurred.  Judges are supposed to be held accountable through the actions of the legislative and executive branch taking firm action, not creating new laws.  The judicial branch oversees executive and legislative investigations only to ensure the US Constitution is properly followed.  Proper checks and balances!

However, there is a caveat to the US Constitution provided by the second president of the United States, John Adams.  “Our Constitution, [which includes all the separate state constitutions,] [were] made only for a moral and religious people.  It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other [type of person].”  Why has the executive and legislative branches abdicated their duties to the judicial; they are not inherently moral or religious.  Why has judicial activism exploded; the people in office are not moral or religious.

Thus, the solution for America is to begin hiring through the election process morally upright and religious people.  Every vote, in every election, matters.  Those on the political left understand this policy and use it as a weapon to create enmity and negate the power of the people to self-government and republican rule through democratic processes.  Make the time, get knowledgeable about candidates and issues, and then vote!

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.
All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

August VA-OIG Updates: More SHAMEFUL VA Conduct.

I-CareDue to personal issues with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), specifically the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Phoenix, AZ I fell a little behind in June/July/August of 2020.  As I work to clear the backlog of completed Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports from August, please keep in mind solutions to these problems are available. The failure of leadership to be held accountable, by the elected officials is staggering, and the lack of accountability and responsibility boggles the mind.  Without exception, I know the VA can be improved, developed, and saved.

August 2020 begins with an individual employee making a decision regarding healthcare decisions for a veteran at the Robley Rex VAMC in Louisville, Kentucky.  The VA has a process where individuals can be allowed to be surrogate decision-makers for a veteran who needs additional assistance.  This process works is legal and is a great tool for family and friends of veterans to play a significant role in the healthcare process of the veteran.  In this instance, the process failed, not because the process was bad, but because people did not do their jobs properly.

The VA-OIG assessed an allegation that providers permitted an individual with no legal authority to make medical decisions on behalf of a patient, and a host of other patient rights were trampled as documented.  “The patient experienced a three-week medical and mental health hospitalization with repeated episodes of confusion, agitation, and combative behavior. The patient was transferred to hospice care and died five days later.  The VA-OIG found that facility staff did not take the required appropriate steps to identify and confirm the eligibility of this surrogate.  The VA-OIG determined records did not contain sufficient documentation of physicians’ clinical assessments to support diagnoses and treatment decisions. Clinical communication and collaboration were inconsistent, insufficient, and negatively impacted the patient’s continuity and quality of care. Providers did not consistently document medication monitoring and oversight activities to ensure safe patient care. The patient’s transfer to hospice was completed without fully pursuing other diagnoses and treatment options and staff did not ensure the patient’s rights were upheld regarding involuntary admission and behavioral restraints. Facility leaders did not complete a thorough quality of care review to understand the reasons for the patient’s atypical hospital course and outcome” [Emphasis Mine].

Many times, the VA-OIG reports do not clarify all root causes due to employee privacy; however, from the report, the employees who repeatedly allowed the neighbor to make healthcare decisions were exceeding their legal bounds and made decisions that harmed the patient.  This veteran died and from the report, it is clear the veteran died confused, possibly due to medication changes, and the family was not notified in a timely manner because the neighbor, without legal and written authority, was allowed to make healthcare decisions for the veteran, even though there was written healthcare directives on file for a family member to make these decisions.  Utterly shameful behavior!

PatriotismThe Veteran Integrated Service Network (VISN), is a geographical grouping of VA Healthcare Systems, e.g. hospitals and clinics, under a combined leadership plan.  One of the tools the VA-OIG uses to monitor the quality of patient care inside VISN’s is called a “Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection Program (CHIP).  CHIP covers selected clinical and administrative processes all of which are deemed consistent with promoting quality patient care.  The CHIP occurs on a rotational 3-year periodicity and the focus is shifted slightly each 3-year cycle to, theoretically, encompass all administrative processes over time.  The VA reports the following are the specific areas that lead to quality patient care through administrative practices:

  1. Quality, safety, and value;
  2. Medical staff privileging;
  3. The environment of care;
  4. Medication management (specifically the controlled substances inspection program);
  5. Mental health (focusing on military sexual trauma follow-up and staff training);
  6. Geriatric care (spotlighting antidepressant use for elderly veterans);
  7. Women’s health (particularly abnormal cervical pathology result notification and follow-up); and
  8. High-risk processes (specifically the emergency department and urgent care center operations and management).

All of which is mentioned as an explanation providing details for the following VA-OIG inspection reports of CHIP received in August 2020.  A total of seven CHIP reports were received in August recording performance from inspections carried out.  These reports, while somewhat individualized for the specific VAHCS, reads like a carbon copy.  Repeatedly written procedures for standard operation are missing, staff training is inadequate or antiquated, risk analysis is not able to be competently and correctly conducted, patient safety issues abound, and the proper utilization of management processes remains glaring!

Root Cause AnalysisThe CHIP reports are so repetitive in nature, the VA-OIG recommendations are grouped, conveniently, into the eight administrative areas listed above.  According to proper management techniques, the VA-OIG then “encourages” the leadership team to select one or two areas for improvement and focus their efforts on leading change in those areas.  For example, if the VAHCS wants to improve in risk analysis, the leaders can begin by promoting training on properly conducting risk analysis online, hold meetings to review risk analysis procedures and begin to train and develop staff on improving n this area.

However, here is where reality meets theory, without written standard operating procedures risk analysis cannot be completed properly.  The bureaucracy protects itself and will thwart the implementation of written standard operating procedures as this removes designed incompetence that keeps the bureaucrat in power at the VA.  Thus, the root cause of improving root cause analysis is the lack of written procedures that measure performance against a single written standard.

CHIP Report after CHIP Report the same issues arise, are noted, recommendations from the VA-OIG are documented, and the same response is supplied; this represents the epitome of designed incompetence and the root of the problem the VA is facing.  Recommendations for improvement have been repeatedly provided and change can occur; but, not without dedicated leadership, not management, to thwart the bureaucratic quagmire that the VA has fallen into.

Leadership CartoonAnother regular entry on the CHIP reports is the following: “Employee satisfaction scores revealed opportunities for the Associate Director for Patient Care Services to improve employee attitudes towards senior leaders.”  Here is the problem, how many of the “senior leaders” are less than managers, promoted beyond their maximum level of incompetence, solely because they were the next warm body in line; too many!  When staff training is a repeated issue on CHIP reports, one must ask how employees are being measured?  Where are the written scorecards that reflect a process that was used to measure employee performance fairly and equitably?  Was the employee trained on how to perform their role according to the standards published?  Do the scorecards reflect that all employees have been trained, measured, and reported equally?

Guess what, since staff training remains a consistent problem, the staff leaders are the problem!  A major part of “Quality, Safety, and Value” is “Leadership and Organizational Risks.”  A lack of training in properly, timely, and correctly performing one’s role as hired is both a leadership and an organizational risk.  Failing to train employees is the absolute worst comment a leader should be informed of by a third-party inspection team.  Yet, the training of staff is consistently the root cause after a lack of standardized operating procedures.  Every mid-level supervisor, trainer, manager, director, etc. titled individual at the VA should be embarrassed when told their staff is untrained; but, it appears these same leaders do not care!

The Duty of AmericansHow can a person draw the conclusions that the VA appears to not care about improvement, or that the lack of caring is rampant across the entire VA structure; look no further than the site visit VA-OIG inspection report of the Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).  The deputy undersecretary for field operations expected regional office managers to be aware of issues raised in other regional office site visit reports, but there was no written policy for addressing frequently identified errors.  So, the mid-level regional office managers must be told to investigate internal websites to gather lessons learned and apply those lessons in their regional offices.  What an incredibly inept excuse; shameful conduct by a senior leader, and how much worse does this attitude become as it filters down to the troops?  The behavior that claims a new policy is needed to improve performance is utterly bereft of logic and demonstrates the lackadaisical attitude being discussed.  Then these same leaders wonder why their staff is disengaged, disconnected, and distrusting of leadership; unbelievable!

One of the first lessons I learned in becoming a business professional was, “If you have to write your ethics down, you have already lost.”  The VA policies on ethics, ethical conduct, and ethical behavior are voluminous, trying to cover every detail, every loophole, every issue, and mostly the VA-OIG reports on ethical breaches reflect individual poor judgment at best, and designed incompetence at worst.  Yet, still, the VA tries to implement ethics without a source, moral behavior without a purpose, and the individual employee is left with plenty of excuses for not behaving in a properly ethical manner.  This is the topic of another article; but it must be made clear here and now, ethical lapses continue to abound at the VA.  From the nurse not giving drugs to patients and selling the drugs on the street, to hospital directors not disclosing what appears to be a conflict of interest, the VA remains afloat on a sea of ethical violations.

The remaining reports in August reflected an investigation that the VA-OIG was unable to substantiate due to a lack of reports filed in a timely and proper manner.  More designed incompetence on the part of the VA.  Also included in these final reports were more repetitions of issues discussed where staff training was the root cause for ethical violations, failure to properly perform duties as hired, and staff training was the problem with adherence and compliance issues.

The disconnect is obvious, and the direction forward is clear.  Hospital Directors, write the standard operating procedures, using the resources of how the work is performed currently as the baseline.  Then begin correcting and amending the written procedures over the following year to improve performance to a written standard.  Once the written standard is completed, e.g. the baseline, begin training of staff.  You cannot measure individual performance without standards, and standards cannot be followed without written operating procedures for conducting business.

Behavior-Change© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

July Updates: OIG Reports That Should SHAME the VA!

Survived the VALate last week, I received a call from the Chief of police at the Phoenix VA Medical Center.  In July, I had been arrested for not wearing a mask.  By late August, I had figured the Phoenix VA Medical Center Director was going to just “forget me” and hope I go away, then the call comes in.  The Chief of police begins by stating, “I do not know why I am calling you, but I was requested to call and see what I can do to help.”

This response of the chiefs can be viewed two ways, he honestly does not know and needs to be updated, or he is using this as a conversation starter and does know.  I choose to see the best in people and gave the chief the benefit of the doubt.  I explained the situation, the multiple different stories regarding “VA Policy on Mask Wearing,” my multiple visits where I was not hassled about not wearing a mask, the confusion with the face shield, and the behavior of his officers in trying to implement poor policy.  To which the chief replied, I cannot help here and will return this issue to the director’s office where I had initially filed the complaint.

I do not blame the VA Police for arresting me.  They are tools of policy, as I have discussed previously and you can review here.  The police in my situation are stuck in the middle between a ridiculously inept hospital director, and the need to enforce the policies which issue forth.  At the beginning of COVID-19 hysteria, the director received a memo from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) regarding how to handle COVID-19.  The director did not adapt the policy to the local hospital, placing patients at risk who wears a mask in Phoenix summer conditions; nor, did the director include the ability for individual adaptation to individual patient health concerns, SAIL Metrics.  Thus, the VA Police are stuck, they cannot allow exceptions, they cannot allow for individual accommodations, and this places more burden upon the veterans seeking and requiring care at the Phoenix VA Medical Center and clinics.

The VA provides the rating of VA’s and the following website: Why not the best VA which will easily explain in a numeric format the indicators of problems with each VA.  What I find interesting is how many times the worst VA hospitals find themselves on the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) for egregious breaches of common sense, customer service, and common decency.  The Phoenix VA Medical Center is in VISN 22, and knowing the various hospitals intimately in VISN 22, the only conclusion possible in reviewing the data is that the 8 different hospitals in VISN 22 are in a dead heat race to the bottom, and the Albuquerque NM VA Medical Center is the best of the worst.

Carl T. HaydenThe VA-OIG conducted a healthcare inspection at the Atlanta VA Health Care System (VAHCS) in Decatur, Georgia, and found they had a backlog of open community care consults, and the OIG found deficiencies in processing, scheduling, and timeliness of these consults. Important to note, the contributory factors included but were not limited to, inconsistent scheduling processes, inconsistent oversight, and deficiencies with third-party administrator scheduling oversight, shortages of scheduling staff, and lack of training and supervision for scheduling staff. The facility did not consistently meet facility process requirements for scheduling audits and lacked a process to identify consults that were missing documentation after administrative closure.  While the Decatur VAHCS should be praised for not having any critical patient concerns due to the scheduling failures, this appears to be more luck on the patient’s part, than efficiency on the scheduling staff part.

The VA-OIG conducted a healthcare inspection at the Nashville VA Medical Center in Tennessee to evaluate alleged deficiencies in cardiac telemetry monitoring services including policies, staffing, and communication.  The facility should be praised for its progress in fixing deficiencies without the recommendations of the VA-OIG investigatory team.  The facility leaders also deserve praise for their attention to details, improvements in communication, and other facility improvements made since Feb 2019.  The last time this facility made the VA-OIG inspection report, the investigation was not pretty and their improvement needs to be praised; while more progress is needed, congratulations on the progress made.

Speaking of providing praise where praise is due, the VA-OIG conducted a comprehensive healthcare inspection of the Kansas City VA Medical Center (VAMC) and multiple outpatient clinics in Kansas and Missouri.  While this VAMC and outpatient clinics still have significant growth in improving SAIL metrics, they have progressed and growth is happening.  I send my regards, and sincere congratulations on the progress made.  I also wish them the best in continuing to improve.  This VAMC has a long road to recovering, but I know with patience, improved organizational design, and better staff training, they can get where they need to be.

ProblemsImagine you’re a patient, or worse a family member escorting the patient, with suicidal ideation, and you hear the doctor say, “the patient can go shoot themselves. I do not care,”  How would you feel about the 12-hour stay in the Emergency Room, after seeing seven different providers who did not read the notes, complete adequate patient handoff between the ER and outpatient mental health, which also includes deficiencies in the hand-off processes, and providers’ failure to read the outpatient psychiatrist’s notes, which led to a compromised understanding of the patient’s medical needs and a failure to enact the outpatient psychiatrist’s recommended treatment plan.  Completing six-days later in the veteran taking their life.  This exact scenario should NEVER have occurred but did at the Washington DC VA Medical Center.  Now, the physician making that detestable comment had previously made similar comments about other patients; crickets from leadership.  The ER physician making this incredibly obtuse statement has a history of making “inappropriate comments” about patients in the ER, and this has been known to leadership since Feb 2019.  No action, no investigation, no remediation, and now we have a dead veteran because the representative of the VA had the gall to say, “the patient can go shoot themselves. I do not care.”

I-CareWhen any veteran dies by their own hand, it is a tragedy.  But, when the VA has any responsibility in that veteran committing suicide, heads should roll, individual people should be held accountable, and in this case, especially, criminal proceedings should commence!  I worked in the VA ER, I know what the providers, nurses, and other staff providing patient interactions say.  I have reported several inappropriate comments that the patients heard to no avail, no recourse, and no action by hospital leadership.  I know, intimately, the political chicanery that occurs at the VA, and I can tell you, this IS a pet issue with me, and I am unapologetic in calling for criminal charges on these providers who are abusing veterans and their families!

Leadership CartoonThe VA-OIG inspected the VA Illiana Health Care System (VAHCS) and multiple outpatient clinics in Illinois.  The VA-OIG also inspected the William S. Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital and multiple outpatient clinics in Illinois and Wisconsin.  I have been in both and I can say unequivocally, more progress is needed and the leadership desperately needs to improve professionalism among staff, improve patient safety from the bureaucrats not providing care, staff competencies, and staff training.  All of which were among deficiencies mentioned by the VA-OIG.  There is great potential in these VAHCS’ for achieving greatness, but the bureaucrats need deep cleaned, and removed!

What continues to astound me is the replication of excuses and issues between VAMC’s and VAHCS’ when these comprehensive healthcare inspections are conducted.  On average, I can expect 3-5 comprehensive healthcare inspection results from VA-OIG per week in my email box.  Yet, the same exact issues and excuses are used time after time, location after location.  Those VAMC’s and VAHCS’ who are failing know they are failing, and the lack of care witnessed by the inaction of the hospital leadership infuriates this veteran.  Leaving me asking, “Who will care enough to demand change and cease allowing these tepid and weak excuses to be allowed?”  Are the elected officials even looking at the repetitive nature of the issues and asking follow-up questions, demanding answers, or even bothered by failures in comprehensive healthcare inspections?

I have not personally visited or been a patient in the following VAMC; however, the stories I hear from my friends and colleagues tell me the VA-OIG might have missed a few indicators of problems in this inspection and bought the excuses for designed incompetence.  The VA-OIG conducted a review at the Ioannis A. Lougaris VA Medical Center in Reno, Nevada. The review proactively identified and evaluated declining performance metrics that could affect the quality of care and patient safety.  The staff blamed the falling metrics on “losing focus, staff pay, other change initiatives, inefficient processes, which all contributed to performance deficits.  These are standard excuses for designed incompetence and I refuse to accept these conclusions by the VA-OIG.  Will the Ioannis A. Lougaris VA Medical Center in Reno, Nevada be the next Phoenix, AZ VAMC to kill a couple hundred veterans before these excuses are no longer accepted?

VA SealThe behavior of the VA as recorded in these VA-OIG investigations and inspections continues to reveal significant problems with staff, where the staff has designed processes and procedures to allow a ready excuse for any problems that arise and continues to prove that a veteran takes their life in their hands when visiting the VA.  These actions must cease forthwith.  There is no excuse for the behavior investigated and reported.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Apathy, Empathy, and Sympathy: The Emotions of Ruination

Of all the titles I have been branded as a professional, one that holds the most truth is that I am heartless.  I do not share your emotional choices; thus, to you, I am heartless, and I will not invest my time to dissuade you otherwise.  Emotional outbursts have somehow become popular, and it is my intent to reduce the amount of emotional blather found in the workplace, as an extension of real emotional intelligence.

Empathy v ApathyApathy is all about a lack of enthused concern.  Being apathetic is a choice to show no concern, emotional connection to an issue, or interest.  The choice to be apathetic is personal and does not indicate that a person is heartless; simply, that the person being apathetic is making different choices where emotion is concerned on a topic.

Empathy, of all the emotional pitfalls empathy, is the most devious of the emotional tools on this list.  Empathy is all about acting like you understand the emotions of another person, and you have a personal desire to share in those emotions.  Empathy is fake; empathy is a choice one exercises in an attempt to control a person or situation through emotion.  Being empathetic is a skill set learned as a manner of defense or, for the more nefarious, to control others.  Empathy is nothing more than faking concern, justifying the emoter’s emotional responses.

Sympathy is a process of coming to a common feeling.  The emotional pathway journeyed by people or groups, to feel the same sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.  Sympathy is the most dangerous of the emotional tools on this list, not for the one experiencing the sorrow or misfortune, but for those who jump in with the person feeling the sorrow or experiencing misfortune.  Understand, the sympathetic person attracts other sympathetic people, like moths to a flame, or lemmings to a cliff.

Sympathy v Empathy v ApathyHere is the problem with all three emotional tools above, they are emotional responses to external situations.  Jean-Paul Sartre is quoted thus:

For the idea which I have never ceased to develop is that in the end one is always responsible for what is made of one.  Even if one can do nothing else besides assume this responsibility.”

Robert Solomon made Sartre’s quote above more meaningful when a person considers that, “Emotions involve social narratives as well as physical responses, and an analysis of emotions is an account of our being-in-the-world.”  The freedom to “make of one” does not include showing no emotion, nor does it mean that one must partake of every emotional current that swirls and eddies around a person during a typical day.  Solomon continued by empathetically stating, and supporting that, “Emotions are not occurrences and do not happen to us… emotions are rational and purposive rather than irrational and disruptive, are very much like actions, and that we choose an emotion as we choose a course of action” [Emphasis mine].

Therein is the crux of the entire argument, the summum bonum (the ultimate goal according to which values and priorities are established in an ethical system) if you will where apathy, empathy, and sympathy are concerned; emotions are as easily selected.  Emotions are as purposefully chosen as the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and every other course of action undertaken.  Emotional selection is always cognitive, and represents a system of beliefs and personal desires, which includes appetites, hopes, expectations of reward, behavioral standard programming, and has as a core an object to emote about.

Girls ListeningConsider the announcement that someone’s cat has died.  What does society say one should do in this situation; take visual cues and match the emotions of the person whose cat died to the environmental situation, and respond in a similar manner.  Feel sad the cat died; why it was not your cat that died.  What if the owner is feeling relief because the cat had suffered from health or physical defects; do we still emote sadness?  What if the owner inherited the cat and is relieved they never have to clean the cat box again, step in wet hairballs, or take as much allergy medicine; do we emote sadness when the owner emotes joy?  Thus, one can more easily see, and understand that emotions are a choice, and empathy and sympathy are emotional traps.

Carrying the dead cat analogy one step further, what if the owner is only reporting their cat died to gain attention?  Emotional responses from others in the social environment feed the control this person now has over the group.  If the cat owner reporting a cat has died uses the situation to get out of mundane tasks, is this acceptable, warranted, or allowed; if so, the control through emotional responses is complete, and the behavior will repeat.  Hence the danger and deviousness of empathy and sympathy as emotional tools in social settings.  Solomon reports on this topic that the cognitive nature of emotions allows for pride to remain intact.  Thus, we conclude that emotions are formed around beliefs and judgments, just like the atomic particle must have neutrons, protons, and electrons.

By comparing emotional creation to the atomic particle, it is not reducing the human emotion to a mathematical formula, nor does it demean any true emotional response to a situation.  The comparison is simply acknowledging the complex nature and elements that are required when the emotion is selected.

Pride 2Pride, is an interesting element of emotional response and centers around self-elevation and enmity (being actively opposed or hostile to someone). The proud person will say, I am better than someone else and be violently opposed to any influencers who are perceived to threaten the superiority of the person emoting pride.  The proud person will always use emotions as a tool for controlling others, which is one of the most compelling arguments against the current business fad, emotional intelligence.  Pride, with its underlying core of enmity, is the root of the common conception of, and popularity for, emotional intelligence. Real emotional intelligence recognizes the cognitive, judgmental, and social aspects of emotions, and works to control oneself.

My best friend has no appreciation for jokes, puns, wordplay, etc.; in fact, my best friend has such an interesting sense of humor, one can often ask why they laughed and receive a logical and cognitively reasoned response.  Yet, my best friend has never been called heartless, unemotional, or the reverse emotional, apathetic, empathetic, or sympathetic.  People interact with my friend and always leave knowing they were listened to, cared for, and appreciated for the good they perform in the world.  My friend has spoken with governors and politicians, homeless people, the sick and afflicted, the whole and happy, and all are treated equally.  How does my friend do this; buy not taking the easy road of emotional connection, but forming a truer relationship through logic, as a cognitive choice.

CourageConsider the anger people chose over the death of Rayshard Brooks earlier this year in Georgia.  Many people chose to be angry and then expressed that anger in burning down a Wendy’s restaurant franchise, rioting, lootings, clogging traffic, stopping commerce, and other actions considered acceptable expressions of anger by the media who reported the events.

In no specific order, the following must be recognized in the Rayshard Brooks event.  First, the expressions of anger were chosen and were considered acceptable by a third party in a social environment.  Second, the actions (visible signs of anger) were an outward display of an inner emotion that was also chosen cognitively as a response to a situation (Rayshard Brooks being shot).  Third, the third-party involved, the media, expected to see these types of actions to justify their time in reporting the incident.  By being a vocal third-party, cheerleaders, if you will, the third-party fed the expected response.  This accelerated and expanded the violence and other deprivations, the same as what occurs in any sports contest where fans are invited to watch and participate vicariously through cheering their team on.

The problem with using my friend’s pattern of living, where the same anger could have been communicated but without all the violence, looting, theft, destruction of private property, and a better community would have ensued, is that of control.  The media would not have reported this event because they could not be a vocal and invested third-party feeding the emotional actions and receiving a return on their investment of time and other resources.  Thus, added to the emotional atomic particle analogy, are the elements of social acceptance, social expectation, and a vocal third-party to justify the actions taken in the name of the emotion granting those actions acceptability.

On a smaller, and thus more socially acceptable scale, the same can be witnessed every day, where the justification for emotional responses, is granted by a third-party expressing sympathy or empathy for those emoting.  Leading to a question, what does the third-party gain from justifying another person’s emotional responses; the power to control.  The emoting person will return to the third-party for justification after each emotional outburst for approval until the third-party deems the actions are no longer acceptable at that given period.

Emotional OutburstFurther emotional outbursts and increased levels of emotional criminology might occur later.  Still, at the moment, those actions have reached the limit of justification and the emoter will choose differently to gain favor and approval from the third-party.  As witnessed in the Missouri riots that spawned the political group “Black Lives Matter (BLM).”  Further, the third-party that controls the justification can turn-on and turn-off those emoting at will, by telling them how they should be responding to a given situation.  The third-party possesses considerable power through the justification of emotional outbursts, the same influence as exerted by an owner or a league over a sports team.

Thus, the paths and dangers of emotion.  Hence one can see the connections between emotions as a choice, a judgment, and a tool.  The sword of emotions is more dangerous to the wielder than to those affected by the emotional outburst, for those wielding emotions are never free of the control-justification cycle, and will remain subservient until they individually cognitively choose different emotions and emotional responses to social situations.

The danger in America right now is that of a vocal and invested third-party, and the justified actions of the minority by the third-party for political ends.  The overabundance of emotions, emotional responses, which include apathy, empathy, and sympathy, and the deprecation of logic and reasoned responses, are doing significant harm to the society called America.  Too much emotion is driving road rage incidents, mobs, destruction of private property, looting, theft, and so much more.  The solution is two-fold, not in any particular order of priority:

  1. Hold the vocal third-party accountable for the actions their minions are taking.
  2. Recognize the cognitive power in choosing emotional responses differently as an individual.

America can heal from these events and be stronger for it, provided we first capture our emotional responses, and eradicate the cheerleading section who grants justification for emotional outbursts not tolerated in children.

Not Passion's Slave - Emotions and ChoiceFor more on the connection between emotion and choice, please read Solomon’s book, “Not Passion’s Slave: Emotions and Choice.”  It is a masterpiece of logic and aids the cognitive person in choosing their emotions more purposefully and intentionally.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury
The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.
All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/.

Call Center Chaos and Appreciative Inquiry

While this article discusses government call centers generally, and New Mexico (NM) Government call centers specifically, please do not think the problems described are specific only to, or lessons could not be applied to, many other call centers.  New Mexico Government call centers all have a common problem, they are purposefully designed to not help or serve the customer.  Worse, the work processes are convoluted to the point that work takes anywhere from 10 – 15% longer than it should, costing 30 – 50% more than it should.  Worse, if a customer gets connected to an “Escalation Department,” the workers in that department have no authority, no tools, and nothing they can do but repeat marketing materials, and hope the customer goes away.

Cute CalfEssentially, the NM Government call centers, at the city and state levels of government are as emasculated as a spring-born calf!  Let that sink in for a moment.  No tools, no authority, no support, and only their verbal wits to make the customer go away.  If you think this problem is only apparent in government call centers; well, you are wrong.

AT&T has a very similar, though not as endemic issue.  Sprint, the problem is both apparent and not considered a problem.  AIU, COX, Comcast/Xfinity, FEDEX, UPS, UoPX, and more, you all have very similar issues where the work processes and the customer service are disconnected, leaving employees emasculated and stuck spouting marketing lines in the hope of appeasing the customer.  Sure, some of you have better call escalation processes, but these escalation processes only show the emasculation of your people more exactly.

For example, take today’s interactions with a NM Government Call Center.  The representative on the call escalation line could very easily reach out to their supervisor and take the criticisms and ideas from the customer’s call, put them forth as their own ideas, and improve the call center and customer attentiveness of the organization.  Unfortunately, sad experience has shown that new ideas in NM Government Call Centers are anathema to the good order and discipline of the call center.  Thus, proving that the endemic lack of customer attentiveness is systematic in NM Government Call Centers and considered a benefit to the customer/taxpayer using the government service.

Purposeful customer abuse is not appreciated, not acceptable, and eventually leads the call center to ruin.  Which is a monumental waste of the potential in your employees, as well as being ruinously expensive for some future disaster.  In speaking with retail associates at Comcast/Xfinity and COX Communications, one learns from frontline representatives what to expect from calling the call centers.  If the retail associates are frustrated with the inability to be served, this is automatically passed to the customer.  Bank of America has this problem in spades!

Appreciative InquiryAppreciative inquiry is a growth mechanism that states that what a business organization needs, they already have enough of, provided they listen to their employees.  Appreciative inquiry and common sense tells leaders who want to know and change their organization, how, and where to go to begin.  Appreciative inquiry-based leadership is 6-continuous steps that start small, and cycle to larger problems as momentum for excellence permeates through an organization.  But the first step, just like in defeating a disabling addiction, is admitting there is a problem.

Coming back to the NM Government Call Center, the front-line supervisor upon hearing about this representative’s experience, chooses to believe there is a problem.  Knowing that the problems are endemic and systematic in the organization, decides, “For my team, we will be the core of excellence.”  Thus, this supervisor is now motivated to take the second step in the appreciative inquiry cycle, “Define.”

The supervisor defines what they can change, and then from that list of items that they can control will select the first item to change by asking themselves and their team, “Which item on this list can we tackle first?”  Thus, leading to the third step in appreciative inquiry, “Discover.”

Imperative at this step is the focus upon what is already going right on the topic selected.  Not focusing upon what is wrong, or upon what cannot be controlled or influenced by the team.  Focus on the positive, list the best of what is going right!  For example, if the inquiry will be reducing hold times, and the team has been trending down from multiple hours to single hours of hold time, focus on the positive, and get ideas about tips used from those who are successful in reducing hold times.

The idea in discovery is to create the motivation for the next step in appreciative inquiry, “Dream.”  But, do not dream small!  Remember, when you shoot for the sun and miss, you still land among the stars.  Dream BIG!  Dreaming is all about setting your sights on what currently is considered impossible, that your team can make possible.  Going back to reducing hold times, set the dream at 30-minutes.  You can always come back and dream bigger or repeat the appreciative inquiry cycle on this topic again in the future.

Next, “Design,” design the future and it becomes your destiny; which also happens to be the remaining two steps in the appreciative inquiry cycle.  President Thomas Monson is quoted as saying, “Decisions DO Determine Destiny” [emphasis in original].  If you decide the status quo is acceptable, that decision determines the destiny, and ruination will follow.  If you decide to pursue excellence, this decision will determine how successful you and your team can be.  Design the future you desire, state the goal, write it down, post the goal, speak positively about the goal, and build momentum through accomplishing small steps towards the goal.

Thus, the destiny is born into fruition and what today is impossible, is tomorrow’s reality.  Destiny in the appreciative inquiry cycle is defined as creating what the future will be.  Positive growth occurs through incremental steps and changes the destination.

A pilot friend of mine loves the story about a new pilot who is making their first cross-country flight with a more experienced pilot.  The young pilot is close to being able to solo, and the experienced pilot knows the route, the weather, and decides to let the young pilot fly solo for a few hours.  The new pilot gets bored holding a single course and wavers a little to the left, and a little to the right of the base course and does not think anything of the consequences.  Several hours go by and the experienced pilot returns to the flight deck to discover bad weather is moving in fast, the small lane cannot fly in the weather that is coming necessitating an unscheduled landing, and the plane is 400-miles off base course.  The young pilot said, I only moved a few degrees left and right, we cannot be that far off course.  Later the experienced pilot shows a track of the airplane on a map to the young pilot and reality sinks in, by a matter of a few degrees, over time, the plane got in trouble.

A few DegreesAppreciative inquiry is exactly like the plane, by having a destination, defined according to positive desires, through the process of discovery, dreaming of the possible future, while designing the future, the appreciative inquiry leader can make the small changes today that move the destination from ruination to success.

The first step is admitting there is a problem, and desire to fix that problem at all costs.  What are you passionate enough about to fix at all costs?  Whether you are a representative or a company director, the same question applies and the answer will determine your ultimate destiny.  The key is action at all costs.  The efforts, time, resources, etc. will be spent to achieve does not matter, the new destination does matter.

A call center supervisor friend of mine had three stellar and highly experienced employees on their team.  My friend also had some young talent with incredible potential.  Because the three stellar employees did not want to become supervisors, this effectively blocked the new employees from achieving potential.  My friend had to make a choice, lose the new potential, or reorganize the team.  My friend chooses to keep the experienced people, and shortly after this decision was made, two quit for other opportunities, the new potential quit because they longed for professional growth, my friend was promoted, and the new supervisor had no depth of experience left on the team.

Some would blame the new employees for quitting too soon, others would lay the blame on the supervisor for not developing the talent pool, others might express dismay at the senior talent leaving; honestly, they are all right, and all wrong!  My friend decided to hang the costs, and the decision was a tremendous learning experience.  Using appreciative inquiry will provide similar learning experiences, prepare, and commit, now to learn first and stay focused on the positive.

Appreciative inquiry can help; there are six operational steps:

  1. Admit there is a problem and commit to change.
  2. Define the problem.
  3. Discover the variables and stay focused on the positive.
  4. Dream BIG!
  5. Design the future and outline the steps to that future.
  6. Destiny, create the destination you desire.

Follow the instructions on a shampoo bottle, “Wash, Rinse, Repeat.”  The appreciative inquiry model can be scaled, can be repeated, can be implemented into small or large teams, and produce motivated members who then become the force to producing change.  Allow yourself and your team to learn, this takes time, but through a building motivation for excellence, time can be captured to perform.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

 

Updated Inspector General Reports – Department of Veterans Affairs: These Actions Must Cease!

I-CareLong have I written about the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports which cross my inbox.  Long have I been utterly disgusted with the waste, fraudulent behavior, and the utter disregard for the patient witnessed in the VA Medical Centers across America.  As a veteran and taxpayer, it is past time to begin to see action to rectify these types of issues.

The VA-OIG conducted an inspection to evaluate concerns related to a Virtual Pharmacy Services (VPS) pharmacist’s discontinuation of antidepressant medication for a patient of the Minneapolis VA Health Care System, which resulted in the patient not having prescribed antidepressant medication for approximately six weeks before dying by suicide.  The VA-OIG found that the pharmacist never notified the psychologist, never checked the patient’s record, simply discontinued the medication.  While the VA-OIG found process and procedure issue, the fact that a medication could be arbitrarily discontinued without a “Red Flag” being raised with the provider and the patient is deeply troubling.  Worse, the quality control processes in the pharmacy did not trigger a problem when a medication was discontinued without a provider order; why?

There is a dead veteran, and a pharmacist who claimed they did not know they could access a patient file; and the excuses do not hold water!  This incident is a tragedy of epic proportion and I must ask, how many more veterans will die because medications are arbitrarily turned off?

ProblemsThe next VA-OIG inspection is a bit of a pretzel, there is another dead veteran by suicide, and processes and procedures were recommended by the VA-OIG to correct some small issues in bariatric surgery patients.  Reading this report, it appears that this veterans’ suicide was not directly connected to preoperative counseling for bariatric surgery which was essentially the scope of the VA-OIG investigation.  If there is a connection between the bariatric surgery and the suicide, it was beyond the VA-OIG investigatory scope.  Hence, the VA might not be at fault for the suicide, but the VA-OIG recommendations indicate more can and should be done in the future to decrease the risks postoperatively.

Let me be clear, room for improvement to decrease risk does not assign or negate blame in this situation.  The death of a veteran through suicide remains a tragedy and the VA can and should be doing more to help reduce veterans committing suicide.  With the convoluted processes and the contradictory bureaucracies inside the VA, much more can be done as an organization to streamline and bring efficiency, transparency, and responsibility to the employees making patient decisions.

Chinese CrisisAnother VA-OIG report does clearly reflect the responsibility and lack of care a patient received at the VA.  The Tennessee Valley Healthcare System in Nashville is responsible for test results still not being properly communicated to the veteran in a timely manner, which delays treatment and care.  Fall 2018, a patient went undiagnosed and untreated for pancreatic cancer due to failures in communicating test results, collaborating with the primary care providers, and for the electronic health records not containing a system of alerting providers that an adverse test result occurred.  Hence, this patient’s problems have three root causes:

  1. Failure to notify the patient.
  2. Failure to collaborate between different hospital units for patient care and safety.
  3. Failure of the electronic health records programming to include alerts.

From personal experience, I must wonder if any patient notification would have made a difference.  The patient notifications are simply the results, not definitions, no descriptions, just ranges, and results.  Hence, the patient notification process must include clarity of the results so non-medical people can understand what was found and the implications.

While I applaud the VA-OIG for insisting that an internal review is conducted and problems rectified, I have significant doubts that change will occur.  It appears that unless the VA-OIG is following up on their recommendations; which is outside the VA-OIG’s authority, the change will not occur.  A truly unfortunate series of events occurred in this patient’s life and the bureaucracy of the VA will prevent anyone from being held accountable for the failures, nor will change occur to protect another veteran.

The W.G. (Bill) Hefner VA Medical Center in Salisbury, North Carolina, was recently inspected for concerns regarding anesthesia provider’s practice.  While no issues were found under the VA-OIG scope regarding the provider’s practices, other issues were discovered.  The problems found were all administrative in nature and included the usual training, timely record keeping, following the policies established by VHA, etc.  Juran’s Rule states that “When there is a problem, 90% of the time the problem lies with policies and procedures, not people.”  How, and when, a person does their job is more often the root of the problem and is evidenced again with this VA-OIG investigation report.  The fact that this problem continues at all VA Medical Centers (VAMC) across America is indicative of a systematic issue in poor organizational design, then in the individual employee.  The VA must address these organizational issues that breed complacency in employee adherence!

LinkedIn VA ImageWith confirmed cases of nepotism still occurring in the VA, this time in Miami.  With continued issues regarding ethics violations and the proper use of time and materials for teleworking employees.  With the continued employee obstruction witnessed in so many cases of records not being readily available to VA-OIG inspectors.  The VA desperately needs to have a deep cleaning and reorganization.  Why has the VA not adopted ISO-9001 for Hospitals?  Why hasn’t the VA adopted ISO-9001 for the VBA or National Cemetery as a coherent process for organizational change and improvement?

Consider that there remains a dearth of written processes, procedures, and policies in the VA.  So much so that more than one VA Hospital operates on “Gentlemen’s Agreements” between departments, instead of official policy statements and procedural plans.  This lack of written policies and procedures is the excuse and the general recommendation of so many VA-OIG inspection reports that I am shocked Congress has not begun asking about this single issue.  The first rule I learned as an EMT was, “If it is not written down, it never happened.”  I was told this is the first rule of medicine; yet, somehow the VA can escape without writing down how to perform work.  Doesn’t that seem strange to anyone else?

Where the lack of written procedures is most noticeable, is at the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), where the quality control people missed 35% of the errors routinely, never checked each other’s work, never learned lessons to improve performance, and were not properly supervised.  Yet, training, communication, and written procedures are routinely used as excuses, and corrective action is outside the VA-OIG investigatory scope.  So, while the problems are being identified, the leaders are refusing to do their jobs!  From the VA-OIG report comes the following details:

“The VA-OIG estimated that during the review period, regional office managers inappropriately overturned errors in 430 of 870 quality reviews (about 50 percent) where claims processors requested a reconsideration from a quality review specialist- identified errors. The VBA has not established adequate oversight or accountability to ensure the timeliness of error corrections. The OIG estimated that during the review period 2,000 of 4,400 identified errors (45 percent) were not corrected in a timely manner and 810 of 4,400 identified errors (18 percent) were not corrected at all.” [Emphasis Mine]

Again, I ask, where are the written procedures that form the standards of work which are used to hold employees accountable?  With an 18% error rate never being addressed by quality control, this means that veterans are being underpaid or overpaid for their benefits, and the VBA does not care that these issues are killing veterans.

Survived the VAPersonally, I experienced a VA overpayment that took more than 3-years to payoff.  Three years where my benefits were docked for an administrative mistake that was not found until the next decision was made on my claim several years after the original mistake was made.  What is worse, the mistake I paid for, was not a mistake at all, and the funds were later returned as another quality person found the error and corrected the documents accordingly, but the discovery took another VBA claim decision to catch, from beginning to end this issue of overpayment took three different decisions by the VBA and more than 8 calendar years from beginning to end.

Every single taxpayer in America has a personal stake in seeing the VBA do their jobs timely, efficiently, and correctly.  Every single veteran in America has a vested interest in seeing the VBA perform their roles with fewer rates of error than those reported by the VA-OIG.  Every elected official in America benefits in some way from the decisions of the VBA and should be able to demand higher quality decisions, better performance, and more transparency from the VBA.  Consider, if the problems of performance are this bad for a spot check analysis by the VA-OIG, how bad are the real numbers?

The VBA was also investigated for improper payments to schools through the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program (VR&E) to the tune of $554,998.  Most of the errors were in transcribing numbers and the electronic program did not raise any alerts or attempt to rectify the problems, and no quality control system is in place to protect against human error.  The VA-OIG investigatory scope included 1.8 million payment transactions from 01 Jan 2014 to 30 Dec 2019.  While this is a much better error rate; the fact that the technology and the work processes were not catching these errors timelier, which means more billing issues, more wasted resources, and more problems for the VA, the VBA, the VR&E program, the taxpayer, the colleges and universities, and the impact goes on and on.

The VBA was also recently inspected for failing to accurately decide service-connected heart diseases.  The root cause was the questionnaire developed to ascertain what and when regarding the heart diseases experienced.  Six months, 01 Nov 2018 through 30 Apr 2019, were selected and 12% of the claims were improperly decided which totals $5.6 Million in improper payments where a veteran either received too much or too little for their claim.  Necessitating repayments or backdated payments once new and material evidence was procured to force the VBA to make a new determination.  Inaccurate decisions on claims involve a lengthy appeals process, expenses for testing, and the veteran is always responsible for the mistakes made on their claim.  Thus, the exasperation of these mistakes on the families, friends, and communities of the veteran involved in a VBA mistake.

When the VA-OIG finds errors made by the VBA the veterans affected are not notified that the VBA made an error in their determinations.  The VBA does not form a task force to evaluate these errors and correct them internally unless money is owed and then the collections department is left to muddle through the decision, not the VBA.  Thus, when veterans ask for transparency in the VBA processes, we are asking for the VBA to own their mistakes, fix the problems they are creating, and correct the errors in a timely fashion.  It should not require new and material evidence to trigger the VBA to make a new determination when the VBA made the original mistake in determining eligibility in the first place!

All because the quality controllers do not have written procedures to measure standards of performance against.  All these errors are due to improper organizational design and old computer systems, which are ready-made excuses for not performing work in a timely and efficient manner.  All because the leadership fails to delegate, monitor, observe, and function.  Why are the leaders missing, because they are all in meetings, all day, every day, and not at their desks!

Military CrestsJust like the labor union provided bumper sticker proclaims, “SAVE the VA!” [Emphasis in original], it is time to “SAVE the VA!”

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

The Power of Tiger Teams – Shifting the VA Paradigms

I-CareA key aspect of Tiger Teams is their ability to stress test, beta test, and routinely check how operations are performing and recommend changes from the position of the customer.  Recently the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA_OIG) investigated a critical piece of the Mission Act of 2018, the health information exchanges.  While the VA-OIG received useful and valuable information from the VA and the community provider side, the customer/patient side was not included. From experience, I can affirm this is broken!

Recently, a veteran needed emergency care and received that care through the community providers under the Mission Act of 2018.  The records from the community care provider never transferred to the VA, the billing has been a mess of letters and notifications, and the patient’s issues were never followed up with the VA provider until the patient called and made it an issue.  One of the main selling points for community providers was to share electronic health information easily with the VA, which included notifying the primary care providers when a patient was seen in the community.  This aspect remains a “pie-crust promise” as well as a frustrating issue for patients and VA providers alike.

Before the Mission Act of 2018, if the veteran patient was sent to a community provider, the patient transferred manually all records to and from the VA and the community provider.  Allowing for lost records, duplicated records, and a host of problems in bureaucracy.  One of the issues the veteran experienced in seeking community care was the historicity of medical records to reduce costs and not duplicate tests; however, the community provider was never able to obtain that historicity and the emergency room costs were greater for the VA.

Thus, the need to operationally check the system, processes, and patient experiences using Tiger Teams.  A Tiger Team is a group of experienced people who interact with the business as customers, who have been granted the authority to make changes and see those changes implemented.  These are a selected group who work from a central office and are dedicated to improving business performance.  While I applaud the progress made with conforming to the Mission Act of 2018, there remains significant work in the patient experience to be completed and currently, the situation is not the roses and rainbows the VA-OIG is portraying.

ProblemsTiger Teams are also helpful in another way, that of “bird-dogging,” or acting as the researchers, and developers of ideas towards making improvements.  The VA-OIG recently brought to light that the VA needs to expand retail pharmacy drug discounts.  With the number of prescriptions filled by the VA hourly, the fact that the VA does not have volume discounts was surprising, but unfortunately, not unexpected.  The VA-OIG estimated that of the $181 million spent on retail drugs in fiscal year (FY) 2018, $69 Million would have been saved.  From the VA-OIG report:

“VA is one of four federal agencies eligible by law to receive at least a 24 percent discount for prescription drugs purchased for its facilities and dispensed directly to patients. However, for prescription drugs purchased through retail pharmacies for beneficiaries, VA pays the higher average contracted wholesale price because it does not have the authority to require drug manufacturers to provide the drugs at discounted prices.”  [Emphasis Mine]

Unfortunately, the program inspected for savings on retail pharmacy prescription was but one of several VA drug programs lacking statutory authority to save the taxpayers from being gouged on prescription drugs dispensed through retail programs at the hands of the VA.  Hence, the findings are surprising, but not unexpected.  How long before the VA secretary will collaborate with the Office of Regulatory and Administrative Affairs to pursue whatever changes are required to give VA the appropriate legal authority to purchase all prescription drugs through retail pharmacies at discounted prices?  At the tune of one program saving $69 Million a year, the benefits add up in a hurry.

How would Tiger Teams help in this situation; by doing the legal leg work, establishing relationships, initiating inquiries, and discovering all the other programs where the statutory authority is missing to close a gap and save money.  While the VA Secretary is responsible, delegating this authority to a Tiger Team saves time and improves the patient and taxpayer experiences.  This is why the Tiger Team must work from the VA Secretary’s Office, endowed with the power of the secretary, to make and affect change for the good of VA.

Leadership CartoonFinally, the power of Tiger Teams is also manifested to the VA in another way, returning to a situation after the VA-OIG has made recommendations to ensure compliance occurs.  Another recent VA-OIG report shows that after a scathing VA-OIG inspection, the Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), was still out of compliance in their internal quality control procedures, systems, and processes.  While some improvement had been made to spot errors, the procedures and processes that allowed those errors to occur were receiving zero attention by the internal quality inspectors.  Which is akin to noticing the horse is out of the barn, but not shutting and locking the door to keep the horse in the barn.  There is no valid excuse for the VBA quality controllers to not have been doing their jobs since the last VA-OIG Inspection.

The Tiger Team, with sufficient and specific authority, has the power to cut through the excuses, the red tape, and the intransigence of federal employees to root out the why, and establish a path to correction.  Yet, the VA Secretary is not using the Tiger Team concept as a tool to effect change, power compliance, and intervene to improve the veteran experience with the VA, the VBA, the VHA, and the National Cemetery.

Suggestions for improving the processes at the VA continue to include:

  1. Establish forthwith a roving Tiger Team, provide these employees with proper authority, and set them to work fixing the VA.  Allow the Tiger Team to establish flying squads inside the agency, hospital, medical center, etc. to report back on compliance issues, and any pushback they receive in correcting errors.
  2. Cut the bureaucracy that intransigent employees are using as a tool to stop or slow down change. The VA’s internal bureaucracy is the tail that wags the dog and since it is out of control, it requires an external force to regain control and proper order.
  3. Imbue the Tiger Team with an active mission statement, purpose, and organizational design. The Tiger Team is an active, not passive, tool that requires people dedicated to making change and seeing results.

VA SealNever has the axiom, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” been less true.  The VA is broken and desperately needs fixing.  With the help of those dedicated VA Employees, the proper leadership, and a Tiger Team to aid, the VA can be fixed and fixed quickly!

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Revisiting LIC – Know the Paradigm

Tucker Carlson brought up a very important point on 16 Aug 2020 regarding District Attorneys who are refusing to do their jobs and are being bankrolled by rich and powerful people.

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-democrats-media-americas-dying-cities

Low-Intensity Conflict (LIC) is the official name for what happens when individuals or governments hire intermediaries to conduct violent operations, from a position of security.  LIC is a misnomer; those who have become a victim of the barbarous cruelty of those practicing LIC find nothing “Low” about the experience.  The conflict is intense, the actions brutal, and the practitioners remain cunning adversaries using and employing willing dupes to hide the true depths of moral decay inherent in the societal destructions and depravations the practitioners are enacting.  Many confuse LIC in trying to describe the actions of unbridled violence committed by ideologues under the banner of terrorism.  The US Military Joint Chiefs of Staff define LIC as:

“A limited political-military struggle to achieve political, social, economic, or psychological objectives. It is often protracted and ranges from diplomatic, economic, and psychological pressures through terrorism and insurgency. Low-intensity conflict is generally confined to a geographic area and is often characterized by constraints on the weaponry, tactics, and levels of violence (Tinder 1990).”

Some will proclaim loudly, mostly due to affiliation with or money donated from deep-pocketed entities, that LIC is only limited to those more commonly perceived as terrorists, i.e., car bombers, hijackers, etc.; however, paid rioters, looters, and those termed by the media as “violent protesters,” are practicing LIC.

Since May 2020, America, and the world has seen explosive violence hardly ever witnessed previously without a global war as a backdrop.  Those unhinged aspects of society who are always upset with something and ready to destroy others have been bankrolled by deep-pocketed entities charges reduced or dropped by District Attorneys who have relationships with deep-pocketed entities, and then we have organizations like Black Lives Matter and ANTIFA, among many others.

LICUp until May 2020, the following aspect of LIC was generally accepted:

“Low-intensity conflict is generally confined to a geographic area and is often characterized by constraints on the weaponry, tactics, and levels of violence (Tinder, 1990).”

Except, this is no longer the case, as entitled entities who are hellbent on destroying their societies have crossed international boundaries, establishing branches in foreign countries, and sharing the wealth generated in one nation to support the anarchy in other nations.  If you do not believe this is true, look to the BLM expansion into Europe as a perfect example of LIC spreading through a branded organization with monetary influence.

BLM has received donations totaling billions of dollars, based upon the media reports of large companies making donations, and the total refusal of BLM to forthrightly declare where the money is going and why.  ANTIFA has been investigated, or are still being investigated, for ties to ISIS.  The money trail paying for violence, or helping the perpetrators to avoid justice, is all LIC.  Somewhere, there is a party who is enjoying the violence, mayhem, and criminal actions immensely that considers themselves above prosecution, beyond political and moral rules and restraints, and these entities need to be held accountable.

A misnomer in LIC is that only nation-states can participate as parties in LIC.  While many nations do participate in LIC to their neighbors’ demise; the power of money to purchase intermediaries to break the law is not new in history.  The following resource remains imperative to understand what is being observed and the connections to LIC:

https://forwardobserver.com/breaking-down-the-conflict-of-low-intensity-conflict/

It cannot be stressed enough, there ARE entities inside America that will use LIC as a means of distracting people to achieve political aims, social change, or simply to cause chaos and destruction.  Knowing the enemy is critical to stopping the enemy!

LIC 2Reference:

Tinder, A. J. L. (. (1990). Low-intensity conflict. Informally published manuscript, Air War College – Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. Retrieved from http://oai.dtic.mil/oai/oai?verb=getRecord&metadataPrefix=html&identifier=ADA241060

 

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Democracy vs. Republic – American Governance

Please note: A republican method of governance does not mean everyone belongs to and votes the “Republican Party” ticket.  Nor, does the democratic governance method mean everyone adhering belongs to the “Democratic Party” ticket.  The political party is not the style of governance, and this is the first distinction that must be realized.  No political party deserves your support, unless they espouse, and live, what you want them to espouse and live.  America has had good and poor elected officials from both major political parties.  America has even changed major political parties; and this is a good thing!

The Duty of AmericansToo often people are confusing democracy, democratic governance, and the American Republic.  Talking heads in the media get this wrong all the time.  Hollywood has never gotten the distinction correct, ever.  But, this ignorance might be by design as Hollywood has always been a breeding ground for disinformation, propaganda, and elitist posturing.  Regardless of the political party, or lack of political party, every American citizen should be able to recognize Democracy from Republican styles of governance.  The following uses real events to help distinguish the line.

A democracy, at its most basic level, can be described and defined by the control of an organization by the majority of its members.  A simple majority is all it takes to gain the high ground and punish the loser.  A simple majority is if 100 people gather in a room, they need 51 to agree to support a single idea.  Democracies are full of simple majorities who then try to proclaim a moral high ground, and then attempt to extrapolate the single simple majority into a system of keeping the simple majority.

A republic begins with the philosophy and doctrine that embraces equality between its members as the ideal in governance.  Recognizing that today’s majority is tomorrow’s minority, rules provide equality between people, and all titles are transitory.  A republic is messy; equality in treatment under the law allows for every person to have the same opportunity because their inalienable rights have provided them with eternal potential to become anything they desire.  This is especially true when a person desires through their actions, attitudes, and behaviors, which is not desired by the rest of the society, provided the individual does not break the law.  However, laws are not changed to outlaw behaviors, curb ideas, or infringe upon inalienable rights as laid out and codified in the Bill of Rights.

Lady JusticeFor example, The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG), recently sent a report regarding an investigation of Peter Shelby, the previous VA Assistant Secretary for Human Resources and Administration (HR&A), who steered a $5 million contract for the benefit of individuals with whom he had a personal relationship.  This is a prime example of democracy in action.  The person in charge had to pay for the simple majority that kept him in power.  Consider the following direct consequences of Mr. Shelby’s actions.

“The contract … included talent assessment services for evaluating whether to hire or promote candidates. When the contract concluded in August 2019, it became evident that VA had purchased services far in excess of what it could use. VA used only 232 of the 17,000 one-year training licenses it purchased for $3.8 million and VA received no value whatsoever for the talent assessment services because required privacy and security certifications were not obtained.”

Mr. Shelby was allowed to resign when he discovered he was about to be fired from Government service.  Thus, he keeps all his retirement, all his Federal benefits, and the money gained from his ill-gotten ventures.  In many countries around the world, these actions are considered, “Realpolitik.”  Realpolitik is politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises.  In America, Mr. Shelby’s actions are illegal and should have been punished accordingly.

Government Largess 3The American Public has witnessed the same political gamesmanship (realpolitik) in the US House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Presidency, for a long time.  All because, the line between a Republic and a Democracy has been intentionally blurred by those in power, to stay in power.  Never does realpolitik benefit the rule of law, or provide equality as a basic and fundamental position of governance.  Bringing into the conversation the critical quality of genetic behavior and the exponential growth of behavior from one generation to the next.  If Mr. Shelby’s actions can be traced upwards through the behavior of elected officials; how many more unethical behaviors are hiding inside the government workforce waiting for their opportunity to practice realpolitik at the expense of the veterans, taxpayers, and citizenry of America?

Genetic behavioral growth is witnessed when a congressional member is allowed to bend an ethical rule in the name of politics so the simple majority can be sustained.  The next generations are the governors and state legislatures who then replicate and advance that unethical behavior to one that is blatantly illegal, but not “really bad.”  Extramarital affairs, drug use or abuse, alcohol abuse, spouse abuse, homosexuality, etc., are all not “really bad,” laws that are regularly shattered and overlooked to maintain the simple majority.  This then leads employees of governments to act in a looser and more illegal or unethical manner, stealing the public money, misusing government tools and supplies, or in the case of Peter Shelby, forming a relationship and then steering a $5 Million-dollar contract to the entity that most benefits him.

Behavior-ChangeIn a republic, those in power recognize the genetic nature of their behavior, understand that any lapses in good judgment are dangerous, and work to live in a manner that first allows for equality among all.  Even if they must tell another person no.  Consider how much corruption is in Washington, D.C., and every state capital in America, all because the simple majority has lured good people into acting against their principles, against the Republican form of American governance, and against the law established and maintained by the people, for the people, and of the people.  The simple majority will always, to maintain power, refuse to say no, set boundaries, and live by rules and laws.  The republican form of government lives by nothing else but the rules and the laws because equality only occurs under the rule of law.

Notice something important, the first rule of realpolitik is to disconnect the equality of everyone for the power of ruling.  Just as in the book “1984” we see some are more equal than others; which is an extension of democracy.  Then, realpolitik disconnects explicit notions of morality and ethics from actions and behaviors.  Thus, equality is the first casualty in the hostile takeover of democracy.

Consider labor unions for a moment.  Disney produced the movie, “Invincible,” or the story of Vince Papale and the NFL Eagles.  In the movie, there is a union striking, and one sign is made clear, “Striking is DEMOCRACY IN ACTION” [emphasis in original].  The truth in this lie is that strikes are selfish, and represents democracy perfectly.  But, the strike is not democracy in action, the labor union is democracy in action as a legal “pyramid scheme.”  The strike of a labor union, along with all the other work slowdowns, bureaucracies, and other silly games played to thwart republic governance are but tools of democratic leaders to exercise their power.

Religious ThoughtThe labor union spouts a lot of good democratic styled speeches; but acts like thugs, for the benefit of the elected few, at the cost of the dues-paying members.  Proving that democracy is the last thing a labor union wants as the labor union remains a Marxist method of governance.  Take any labor union, anywhere in the world, and you will find the elected officials living large on the backs, sweat, and labor of the dues-paying members.  The fewest of the few long-term dues-paying members will be provided benefits and a lifestyle to be desired, but never obtained, even though the dues have been paid, the labor performed, and the sacrifices made.  The Wall Street Journal has covered the loss of benefits paid for through dues payments, and while the Wall Street Journal does it’s best to keep the union out of the picture, it is not the company’s filing lawsuits, but the unions.

Always, the same principle determines the separation between democracy and republican governance, equality under the law.  The solution is not found in more government programs to “level the playing field,” which is a democratic principle that has never worked!  The solution is found in less government.  Equality under the law is not found in government force; but, in less government potential to exercise that force.  In the 1980s President Reagan was heralded for his nationalizing of the air traffic controllers; thus, ending a strike of the national air traffic controllers.  But, the air traffic controllers still have the same inequalities, same problems, and the same issues as experienced under the air traffic control unions.  Nothing changed fundamentally, and this overreach of government, “for public safety,” has kept the air traffic controller in bondage.  Sure, the cage is nicer, but the cage is still a cage; only now, there is no possible way of escaping the cage.  The same is true of railroad workers, teachers, and so many other employees kept under a labor union’s thumb, or government mandate.

In a democracy, it is perfectly acceptable to maintain the simple majority through nefarious means and ends.  Whereas in a republic, the equality that keeps everyone equally refuses the nefarious types every society produces from having a purchase hold to establish themselves.  Consider the violence that has rocked America since May 2020.  Consider also, all the violence that has shocked and dismayed America since the Watts Riots in 1965.  The Watts Riots are a perfect template reflecting the problems of democracy.

The media, and many people in government including most of the judicial branch, allowed personal anger over issues to become a violent outpouring, where the victim was the community and not the actual target of the violence.  People acted in a selfish manner, with a total lack of self-control, and the community of Watts burned to the ground.  The land is barren, dreams destroyed and lives ruined.  Since the Watts Riots, the community has reached out for more democratic solutions, as if this was not the reason the Watts Riots happened in the first place.  Fast forward from 1965, and every riot since has been glorified for their anger levels, because this helps feed the democratic solutions, keeping people unequal, refusing people their eternal potential, and denying inalienable rights to maintain power and authority.

America, we need to stop the lies that democracy is the “American Way.”  Superman was correct, “Truth and Justice” are the American Way, which is the Republican manner of governance.  America was established upon the fundamental principle that ALL are first equal under the law.  Sure, we have not always lived up to the ideal; but, we are human.  Our humanness is allowing us to falter, not fail.  We fail the great American Republic every time we allow a democratic solution that forces people onto unequal terms.  We stumble, we fall, when we forget that equality is precious and considering all to have the same equality means allowing people to suffer consequences of attitudes and behaviors.

President AdamsWhen one person can be supported in their immorality because of their money (Jackson, Kennedy, Epstein, Clinton, Weinstein, etc.) when others are punished for the same crimes (pedophiles, murderers, thieves, rapists, etc.) we have a democracy.  When all, regardless of money, titles, political power, etc. are held to the same laws and legal standards the great American Republic survives and gains strength.  To rebuild the American Republic, we must first cleanse the inward vessel, removing from public office all those who refuse the blessings and work of a republic for the ease and captivity of a democracy.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Moving Past Active Listening to Facilitate Communication: Shifting the Paradigm

GearsIn several previous professional positions, especially those in call centers, there has been considerable time spent training people to actively listen.  The problem; active listening can be faked, and fake active listening is as useful as a shower without soap or shampoo.  You might get wet, but you do not feel clean.

Listening has four distinct levels, these are:

  • Inactive listening – Hearing words, seeing written communication, zero impact mentally. Mostly because your internal voices drown out the possibility for communication.
  • Selective listening – Hearing only that which confirms your own voices, opinions, and biases. While others are speaking, you are already forming your response.
  • Active listening – Show the other person you are paying attention, engage with meaning in a reply. Focused upon removing barriers to get your point across.
  • Reflective listening – Paying attention to intent and content, reducing emotion, two-direction as both parties are engaged in achieving mutual understanding.

Tools for listening effectively, which for all intents and purposes, means listening reflectively, requires several tools, along with considerable experience in using these tools.  Customer service focus – not sales in disguise, not having a hidden agenda, and not covertly looking for opportunities to turn the conversation back to you.  The attitude of service – is all about what your intention is after listening.  Sales are all about attitude and winning over someone else; however, how many sales require first being able to reflectively listen; every single one.  Desire – desire determines your choices, your choices form decisions, and decisions determine destiny!

ElectionConsider the press conferences at the White House.  A room is full of people who would claim they are professional listeners, who then report what is being said.  Yet, how many times do you see questions asked with an agenda, personal opinions warping what is said into what they desired to hear, and then reporting what they erroneously heard to satisfy their desires politically; every single time.  Hence, the problems with active listening and how active listening can be faked.  Desire and attitude of service are not being applied to improve customer service focus.

Communication occurs in two different modalities, verbal and non-verbal.  Good communicators adapt their message to the audience.  Adapting the message requires first a choice, determining who the primary and secondary audience is, then focus the message onto the primary audience.  Next, adaptation requires prior planning, which includes mental preparation, practice, and channels for feedback.  Finally, adaptation requires listening to achieve mutual understanding, careful observation, asking questions designed to lead to mutual understanding, and clarifying what is being said to achieve mutual understanding.

Too often, those labeled as “good communicators” cannot listen reflectively.  They have never learned how to use the tools of desire and attitude of service, in a manner that builds customer service focus into reflectively listening.

Leadership CartoonConsider two people the media has proclaimed as great communicators, Presidents Reagan (R) and Obama (D).  President Reagan was listened reflectively, asked good questions, listened to the answers, asked more questions, and then listened some more.  In listening and asking questions, President Reagan built people (customer service focus) and was respected by enemies and friends for his ability to communicate (personal desire determined destiny).  President Obama has been labeled by the media as a good communicator; but by all accounts, he never listened, his questions showed he desired to be heard, and his focus was all on him as the smartest person in the room.  Desire builds an attitude of service, which then forms the customer service focus, which then reflects a desire to reflectively listen and achieve mutual understanding with those being communicated with.

One of the most despicable problems in customer service today is a theme established by Stephen Covey, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”  On a recent issue, a letter was sent to Senator Martha McSally (D) of Arizona, the response has formed the epitome for not listening in written communication as the response had nothing of the original issue even discussed.  The response was a form letter, on a different topic, and lacked any response that the sender had been heard; but, the letter advertised Sen. Martha McSally and her commitment to listening to her constituents.  But, you might say, a Senator is too busy to respond to every communication delivered, a few other examples of both verbal and non-verbal communication failures.

  • Two lieutenants, representing the Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Police Service, stationed at the Phoenix VA Hospital. Engage a person not wearing a mask.  Body language clearly states they are the authority and will broker no resistance.  The officers spend 45-minutes haranguing the patient before cuffing and frog-marching the patient to a holding cell, where the patient who was seeking services in the emergency room, waits for an additional 60-minutes before being forced off Federal Property.  The patient informed the officers multiple times of their pre-existing condition and inability to physically wear a mask.  The hospital mask policy allowed for a face shield to be worn instead of a mask, and after the patient put the face shield on, the officers continued to verbally engage without listening, until the foregone conclusion of arresting the patient could be justified.  The patient was fined $360.00 (USD) for “disorderly conduct” by refusing to wear a mask.
  • Calling a major cellular phone provider (AT&T) with questions about the price plan. The representative answered every question but needed to make a sale, and their focus was on making that sale, not on assisting the customer.  Not the agent’s fault, the policy of the call center is to up-sale on every call.  If the agent does not up-sale, the call is automatically downgraded in quality assurance and the agent gets in trouble.  Hence policy dictates that the customer not be listened too reflectively as the sale must come before the customer.
  • Hotel check-in, online registration was made specifically for a particular sized bed, but due to late check-in, the customer is not provided what was asked for, and the attitude of the clerk is one of disgust at being bothered. Verbal and nonverbal cues are sending messages that the customer is the problem and is interrupting the life of the clerk.
  • A patient receives a call to make an urgent appointment with a VA medical provider in general surgery. The medical provider has demanded the patient be seen in the clinic, thus negating a phone or video styled appointment.  The patient’s record clearly states the patient has trouble complying with mandatory masking for patients seen in the clinic.  The provider arrives 20+ minutes late to the appointment, and because the patient is not wearing a mask immediately refuses to see the patient, wasting 90-minutes of the patient’s day.  The provider gets off in 10-minutes, and seeing the patient will make the provider late getting off.  Was the mask really the problem; not likely.

Social Justice Warrior 2Not listening is probably the largest social problem in the world today.  Everywhere fake active listening is observed, along with copious amounts of observable inactive, selective, and active refusals to listen.  Some of the problems in improving listening are policies and procedures that do not allow for individual adaptation or situational understanding.  However, too often, the individual choices to grab power, exercise authority, and pass along inconvenience are the real problems in not listening.  Harvey Mackay is reported to have said, “Easy listening is a style of music, not an attribute of communication.”  Proving again that listening is a choice, a personal choice, borne from desire, bred on attitude and reflected in verbal and non-verbal patterns of communication.

The following are some launch points for improving listening in society:

  1. Understand your desire.  Know that your desire choices are determining your destiny.  If your destiny is not one, you appreciate, return to the desire and make different choices.
  2. Practice mental preparation, based upon previous situations, to make different choices. Listening is a voyage of discovery to reach a mutual understanding, but mental preparation is key to safely reach the destination.  Prepare, use a mirror, practice until what currently feels alien becomes familiar.
  3. Reduce emotion. The principle of empathy and sympathy are destroying listening and only reflect the internal voices.  The volume of internal voices is silencing the ability to reflectively listen, necessitating the need to fake actively listening for employment’s sake.
  4. Listen as you would have others listen to you. This is an adaptation of the “Golden Rule” and remains applicable as a personal choice.  How you choose to listen will determine your destiny.
  5. Listening remains the number one tool you control and has application to written communication and verbal communication channels. Body language is a non-verbal communication channel that can be heard as well as seen.  How are you communicating non-verbally, which is interfering with your written and verbal communication attempts?

Listening is a choice.  Listening is hard.  Yet, many people have pointed out that we have two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as often as we speak.  Choose to reflectively listen, choose to reach a mutual understanding, watch your destiny change.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

The US Bill of Rights – Knowing the Paradigm

GI JoeDuring much of the 1980s G. I. Joe cartoons had a commercial that ended, “Knowing is half the battle.”  In the spirit of “knowing,” the following is a discussion on the US Bill of Rights.  The US Bill of Rights is the first 10 amendments to the US Constitution.  Many people think that the US Constitution begins with these 10 amendments, and there remains significant ignorance over what is said, and what is meant, in the US Bill of Rights.  Finally, the US Bill of Rights, or the first 10 amendments, was passed by the US Congress and ratified by the states too, “… Prevent misconstruction or abuse of its (US Government) powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added, and as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”

Never forget, the preamble to the US Constitution describe why governments are formed stating, “… In order to form a more perfect Union (government), establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

Amendment 1 states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  There is much to discuss regarding what is being witnessed in America right now where the First Amendment is concerned.  Peaceable assembly does not include throwing rocks, blocking traffic, interrupting the free flow of commerce into or out of a building, starting fires, shouting, screaming, or anything else like unto the behavior witnessed in America by radicalized youth and adults.  How does one tell the difference between peaceably assembly and protests; the answer is simple and comes down to one word, respect.

Aretha Franklin (1967) taught America about R-E-S-P-E-C-T and just following the basics she sang about, will differentiate between mobs and peaceably assembling.  But, do not forget, there is a purpose to peaceably assembling, to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”  Petitioning does not include screaming, using a megaphone, “sit-ins,” and other actions that disrupt the working of the government.  The actions of those in Portland, Seattle, New York, and several other cities where fires burn, private and public property is destroyed, commerce interrupted, business halted, and fear is spread, is the work of anarchists, terrorists, and villains, not people peacefully assembling to petition for redress.  Politicians take note, if you cannot tell the difference between a peaceful assembly and a riot, I am sure there are several police officers who can make the difference perfectly clear.

Respect is a two-directional path leading to communication, improvement, and the betterment of society.  If the respect flows out but is not returned, then the problem is with the receiver being selfish and communication will never occur.  If the sender is not sending out respect, the problem is a selfish sender, and contempt is all that will be returned.  Why is respect important; because in today’s political environment there is no respect.  Contempt for the voter, contempt for the other political side, contempt for law and order, contempt is running rampant and the fruits of contempt are a bitter fruit indeed.

Politicians, ask yourself, what do you do to reflect respect to the people you represent?  What do you do to reflect respect for the office you hold and the heritage left you as you fill the duties of that office?  What does your staff do to reflect respect back to those who hired you, through an election process, and pays for your staff through forced taxation?  If you only represent the big business and big donors who helped elect you, you are not respecting anything or anyone, especially yourself.  The first amendment to the US Constitution reveals much about a person, almost as good as holding up a mirror of the soul.

Amendment 2 states: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”  Much continues to be said and written about this amendment.  Many have tried to wrestle meaning from this amendment that runs contrary to the specially selected wording in the amendment, covering their actions by calling their shenanigans “the intent of the authors.”  Each citizen of America was considered a member of the militia, and as such the security of the American Republic, rested first in the hands of freedom-loving, gun-toting, people.  Stop selling snake oil, start accepting the fact that those who try to “judge intent” of the US Constitution are the problems in America.

kpiAmendment 3 states: “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”  The language of this amendment, particularly, never ceases to amaze me.  In order to protect the liberty of individuals, soldiers cannot be housed in a citizen’s home; thus, protecting the ability and freedoms of thought and property from unlawful government intrusion.

Since fourth grade, it has amazed me to no end that the second amendment needed to be understood through the intent of the authors, but the first and third amendments needed no “intent” clarification.  This is not irony; this is blatant bias and opinion masquerading as benevolence.  I reject utterly and completely any and every argument based upon the “intentions” of the authors in understanding the US Constitution.

Amendment 4 states: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”  Speaking of “intentionality arguments,” the fourth amendment continues to be replete with interpretations by judges, lawyers, interfered with by bad case law, and weak-kneed Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decisions.  Like the third amendment, the fourth is all about keeping the government out of a person’s home, properties, papers, and so forth.  If there is anything more egregious in modern America, the abuse of the US Constitution must rank first, and foremost, in the minds of every American.  Several current issues are before the court and the lawyers will make more money, and the judges will make more money, but the citizens of America will be abused.

Lady JusticeConsider how the Patriot Act, a horribly misnamed piece of legislation, allows for warrantless searches in the name of protecting America.  Like the Affordable Care Act produced the reverse and increased the cost of health care while reducing the quality of health care, the Patriot Act has stripped patriots of safety in their property, papers, and so forth.  2018 had two cases argued before SCOTUS regarding warrantless searches and seizures; warrantless search and seizure is unconstitutional, yet they occur.  The two cases of warrantless searches were both decided by SCOTUS in the petitioner’s favor (Collins v. Virginia & Byrd v. Government).  SCOTUS has ruled on cellphone data, and many regarded that law as dangerous due to the argument that survives that since the government owns the technology the cell phone providers use, then the individual users have no right to privacy or constitutional protections by using cellular phones, cellular data, and where that user goes is able to be scrutinized without warrants.

Now, enter the lawyers, attorneys, and armchair lawyers who will argue and complain about my ignorance of the law, throwing up arguments, and muddying the issues.  Yet, the ACLU is making the arguments that the Patriot Act has reduced the American Citizen’s rights to the fourth amendment.  FISA Courts have been discussed due to the role they played in obtaining warrants to illegally spy on political opponents.  FISA Courts should scare the hell out of every American!  Yet, the Patriot Act passed with no debate, no discussion, and many legislators never read the bill before or after voting.

Amendment 5 states: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”  FISA courts empowered the FBI to be the politician’s best friend and the freedom-loving person’s worst enemy.  The taking of private land for public use continues to be abused beyond measure.  Eminent domain abuses abound, and one axiom of law I have come to appreciate is as follows, “Bad cases make bad case law!”  Where the concept of “eminent domain” is concerned this axiom remains telling, and the abuses of government unabated.  Between the principle of eminent domain and the Patriot Act, the fourth and fifth amendments have been stripped, the power shifted to the bureaucrats and politicians, and the abused American Citizen left without recourse.

LinkedIn ImageAmendment 6 states: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.”  When it comes to legalese muddying the intelligence of an issue, I have not found anything more convoluted than the definition of a “speedy trial.”  Worse, with the FISA Courts not having to inform the accused, a person could be accused of a crime and never know they have been accused.

Amendment 7 states: “In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.”  The seventh amendment remains important specifically for the re-trial in a different court of an issue settled by a jury trial.  Enter the convolution of “small claims court” as a method of settling matters between people or businesses (under $10,000).  To be frank, you can have a jury trial in small claims court, and some issues are worth having a jury hear evidence.

Amendment 8 states: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”  What does excessive mean according to a dictionary; “more than is necessary, normal, or desirable; immoderate.”  Bail is all about incentivizing a person to appear in court.  Excessive bail used to be set in England as a means of keeping a prisoner in jail, to work.  Thus, the founding fathers desired bail to be reformed to prevent people from wasting away in jail from poor living conditions, harsh work conditions, and languishing in prison for a considerable time without trial.  Modern America has seen the abuse of language, the plasticization of terminology, and the convolution of excessive, into decreasing bail to nothing.  New York and California both have laws representative of these practices, to the detriment of law enforcement, the revolving doors of prisons, and the decrease in safety for the citizens affected.

ScalesAmendment 9 states: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  Rights of the people, the US Constitution, and the individual constitutions of each state and commonwealth in the American Union, cannot infringe upon other rights of the people as they individually dictate.  How did we American Citizens lose sight of this amendment and what it means?  How did we lose the US Constitution?  Under Amendment nine FISA Courts should never have been established.  The right to die without health care intervention is encapsulated in the ninth amendment, but somehow this has been lost.  I remember distinctly losing the classroom debate that assisted suicide is a right under the ninth amendment; I also remember the day when states started passing laws to counter assisted suicide.  Consider the case of Boston Children’s Hospital v. Justina Pelletier, and you will find the ninth amendment abused and tattered by the hospital bureaucracy, as well as horrible malpractice.

Amendment 10 states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  Yet, America is replete with Federal and State laws which represent government overreach.  Yet, America is inundated with bureaucracies who design new rules without the consent of the legislative branch that empower the executive branch to trample individual rights, state’s rights, and liberties.  America, you have been abused by a runaway government, powered with politicians and bureaucrats who strive to “keep the gravy train running,” at your expense.

According to the US Constitution can a person choose to live in poverty; yes!  According to the US Constitution does the government have the power to pass out government benefits, which are nothing but taxpayer funds; no!  Yet, the US Government and the various states and commonwealth continue to choose who to pass out government funds to and interfere in people’s lives and choices.  How many times in American History has the actions of government improved a situation; zero!  War on poverty; lost!  War on drugs; failed.

Whale in OceanThe politicians, from both major parties, are guilty of government overreach and unconstitutional power grabs at the city, county, state, and federal government levels.  America must stand, to survive America must return to the roots established by the US Constitution.  Yes; this means getting the government out of Social Security, Welfare, and butting its nose into the rights and liberties of the individual citizen.  Consider the following, a whale and the ocean.  Does the government represent the whale or the ocean?  For if the government is the ocean, then the wale is reliant upon the government.  But, if the whale is the government, then we the citizens of America are the ocean and the government is dependent upon us.  The US Constitution claims the government is the whale and we the citizens are the ocean, and the government depends entirely upon the consent of the governed.

Well, I am revoking my consent!  The government has abused me enough.  I am done with government and bureaucratic overreach.  I reject the thought posited by Charles Reich that I am the property of the government.  Until the government is placed upon a strict constitutional diet, I revoke my consent to be governed.  We, the American Citizens, can retake control from the bloated feck beasts in government and correct the course of this Republic through the powers provided to us in the US Constitution.

The Duty of AmericansI speak by way of invitation; join me, revoke your consent to be governed by these totalitarians!

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.  All text quoted from another source set in italics and is not the property of the author.  Minor punctuation and spelling changes made.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

The US Constitution – Understanding the Paradigm

Since February 2020, to date America, and the world has witnessed the cruel and unyielding hand of mobocracy practiced.  Mobocracy is the rule of the mob transformed into governance.  Consider the actions of several city councils and state legislatures where defunding the police has become the hottest political topic.  The mob screams for changes to the law, politicians pander, politicians pay “Dane-Geld,” and the laws change to satisfy the appetites of the mob.  Thus, mobocracy is being practiced.

To everyone who reads this post, I will without doubt or fear maintain that the actions of the politicians to allow mobocracy in America, state for the record that, “You are committing an illegal act; must be held accountable before the bar of justice for your heinous crimes!”  Make no mistake, the actions of politicians to appease the mob, to rule through mobocracy, and to thwart the will of the governed to the masses of screaming mobsters is treason, the calumny of the blackest sort, and a rejection of your oath of office rendering you and your authority moot!

LinkedIn ImageBeginning with the US Constitution’s Preamble, a person will find why the government was instituted.  “… in order to form a more perfect Union (government), establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”  The politicians who have sworn an oath to uphold the US Constitution who deny these statements are already guilty of treason and breach of office.  Domestic tranquility cannot be achieved through the rule of the mob.  Domestic tranquility cannot magically appear, it must be built through law and order, through justice and mercy before the bar of justice, and must be fought for when tyranny rears its ugly head.  The general welfare of the population can only be established by obedience to the just laws of the society to which a person belongs.  Defunding the police tramples the welfare of society, domestic tranquility, and calls for the defense of the rule of law by every freedom-loving person in that society.

Article 1 Section 1: Established for every government in America the separation of powers, where legislation is equally shared between a house of representatives and a senate, who must work together in their separate but equal duties to fulfill the actions dictated in the preamble.  Sections 2 and 3 establish the finer points regarding the house of representatives, the senate, the powers of the executive branch in filling vacancies and establishing the terms of office.

Article 1 Sections 4-8: Establish taxes, the military forces, the day of elections, when a term begins for an elected officer to the Congress and other details of government.  Nowhere in these articles does it allow for one branch to dominate another branch.  Nowhere in these articles does it allow for the senate of the house of representatives to do the others job.  Each establishment of government has a specific job to perform, and those politicians who refuse to do their job are in fact breaching their oaths of office.

Consider the actions of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  Nowhere in the US Constitution is she allowed to meddle in world politics, write letters to foreign governments, or pass legislation that has not been read.  Yet, all these and more are regularly being done, instead of doing her job as outlined in the preamble, to the improvement of the American people, she is duly sworn to support.  Her failure to represent all her district is the most egregious example because she is also third in line for the President, she has been re-elected so many times, and is the speaker of the US House of Representatives.  Thus, not only does she speak for her district, but she also represents all the US House of Representatives, of all parties.

Root Cause AnalysisOne of the clearest lessons discovered in life is that of genetic behavior, usually to the shame of the person witnessing their behavior being acted upon by others.  We pass behavior onto our children, our acquaintances, and our circles of influence.  The problem with genetic behavior is that of exponentialism or the exponential growth between generations.  Research supports that cheating behavior in high school is found in cheating an employer later in life.  Research also relates that those witnessing the cheating behavior will then steal.  The third generation of people the behavior is passed onto will steal bigger items, cheat more, and commit more crimes.  The cycle just keeps building until the criminal justice system is full of hard crimes committed.

In the political realm, we see the same exponential growth of behavior.  Speaker Pelosi is witnessed by her party, who then act as she does, and commits larger or worse actions than the Speaker.  If you look at those termed “The Squad,” the representatives are by far worse than Speaker Pelosi, but they learned how to be detestable to freedom-loving peoples from the Speaker, and the second-generation politicians that surround Speaker Pelosi.  Want another example, look at any recent (2000 to present) presidential election and you will still find traces of previous President Clinton in the candidates of both parties.  Consider Mitt Romney’s candidacy, he is very Bill Clinton in his politics and speech mannerisms, which remains the main reason he failed as a candidate for president.

Grit - DefinedThus, freedom-loving people, who support justice, desire domestic tranquility, seek to provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and well-being of others, and work tirelessly to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, witness these politicians and want them removed, and held accountable for their crimes.  Not to punish without cause, but to support the common good in America.  The reason we have courts, lawyers, judges, etc. is to separate the crimes committed from the criminal committing.  This is the epitome of the word justice.  The US Criminal Justice System is imperfect, without doubt, but it remains the best system the world has ever seen and deserves support from law-abiding and freedom-loving people.

Article 1 Section 9:  Deals with two legal precedents that have been much maligned and abused.  Immigration and the Writ of Habeas Corpus.  Immigration is a topic for a different post.  However, the Writ of Habeas Corpus is crucial to this discussion.  Simply stated Habeas Corpus is, “… The legal procedure that keeps the government from holding you indefinitely without showing cause. When you challenge your detention by filing a habeas corpus petition, the executive branch must explain to a neutral judge its justification for holding you.”  The Writ of Habeas Corpus can be suspended, and American History including recent history has provided examples of when and why habeas corpus has been denied, suspended, or revoked.  The riots and acts of domestic terrorism are a clear example as to why the Writ of Habeas Corpus can be and should be suspended.  Rebellion and the breach of public safety are two separate excuses for denying habeas corpus and rioters and terrorists deserve to have habeas corpus suspended.

Finest HourMake no mistake, I am not advocating for the refusal of these people to have their day in court, before an impartial judge, to be sentenced for their crimes, and held accountable before the bar of justice.  I am advocating that until their trials can be arranged, they deserve to be held in prison awaiting the slow turning of the wheels of justice.  When you break the peace of society, you give up your rights and liberties; thus, these mob members deserve to be held and witness their rights to habeas corpus rescinded.

Article 1 Section 10:  Has several items that pertain to the illegality of state governors during the current COVID-19 health crisis, reflecting that these governors do not know the law, and are in breach of their oaths of office.  When the governor of New Mexico made a law stating that all the citizens of Arizona must be quarantined, interrupting the free flow of commerce from state-to-state, the governor forfeited her authority for political points, and the US Congress should have been demanding corrective behavior.  Yet, not a peep has been witnessed.

The Duty of AmericansCOVID-19 does not represent a sufficient “imminent danger” to refuse or interfere with commerce passing between states.  The “public health measures” enacted by the various state governors are a travesty of justice, unconstitutional, interferes with the rights and liberties of the people, and damaging the commerce and economy of the United States.  Where are the politicians at the Federal Level to correct these abuses?

Articles 2 and 3: establish the executive and judicial branches of American governance.  These articles remain critical to freedom-loving people as the articles clearly dictate terms in office, how to perform their duties, and establishes the various courts in the judicial system.  The jury trial is set forth without restriction and remains a key component in all trials.  Section 3 of Article 3 contains two items of note.  Item 1 defines treason narrowly and specifically; item 2 discusses the penalty of treason.  “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them (the United States), or in adhering to their enemies (following an enemy’s directions), giving them aid and comfort (monetary means, housing, food, or other transferable goods).”

PatriotismA legal dictionary provides a slightly broader definition of treason, “The offense of attempting by overt [or covert] acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance or to kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign’s family.  The betrayal of a trust: treachery.”  Therein lies the justification for labeling the actions of politicians who breach the public trust with treason, the politician who breaks their oath of office to support and defend the US Constitution is committing treason.

Articles 5-7: Deal with how the US Constitution can be amended, national debt, the supremacy of the US Constitution in America, oaths of office, and ratification of the US Constitution.  With these final words, the US Constitution closed, “Done in convention by the unanimous consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty-seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our Names.”

Military CrestsEvery member of the US Military swears an eternal commitment to upholding this document, to securing the rights and laws of the United States as prescribed therein, and to follow the orders of the commander in chief before God.  I have had the privilege of taking that oath six times in my life.

The Oath of Enlistment: “I, [State your full legal name], do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So, help me, God.”

I will not allow the US Constitution to be thrown down and mobocracy, meritocracy, democracy, communism, socialism, or any other form of government to supersede the US Constitution.  To those politicians working hand-in-hand with the mobs and others for the destruction of America, you are committing treason and will one day answer for your crimes before the bar of justice.

Image - Eagle & FlagDuring my military service, I read a quote, applicable to the relationship between politicians working to destroy America and freedom lovers who support the US Constitution “No truer friend; no fiercer enemy!”  No truer friend can be found than I in the support of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  No fiercer enemy can be found than I to those working to suppress the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights; “So, help me, God!”.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

COVID-19 – The Paradigm We are Choosing is Incorrect

Since February 2020, I have asked one question more than any other, “Why are we responding to COVID-19 with hysteria, emotional hyperbole, and ridiculous virtue signaling?”  It is estimated that there are 320,000 different viruses that inhabited planet earth.  Consider the following sourced from the Virology Blog:

To estimate unknown viral diversity in mammals, 1,897 samples (urine, throat swabs, feces, roost urine) were collected from the Indian flying fox, Pteropus giganteus, and analyzed for viral sequences by consensus polymerase chain reaction.  This bat species was selected for the study because it is known to harbor zoonotic pathogens such as Nipah virus. PCR assays were designed to detect viruses from nine viral families. A total of 985 viral sequences from members of 7 viral families were obtained.  These included 11 paramyxoviruses (including Nipah virus and 10 new viruses), 14 adenoviruses (13 novel), 8 novel astroviruses, 4 distinct coronaviruses, 3 novel polyomaviruses, 2 bocaviruses, and many new herpesviruses.”

Now, consider the following:

Varicella-zoster is a herpes virus that causes chickenpox, a common childhood illness. It is highly contagious.  After a person has had chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus can remain inactive in the body for many years.”

Since chickenpox is a viral disease, let us compare methodologies of treatment for chickenpox to COVID-19.  For chickenpox, we isolate those infected, we keep them comfortable, and we treat the symptoms until the virus runs out of steam.  We use logic, known remedies, and we vaccinate.  We do not force entire populations to self-isolate, wear masks, halt economies, cease business, or tolerate rioting and pillaging by domestic terrorists.

Why is COVID-19 being treated differently than every other virus known to man?  Why are we treating COVID-19 like Bubonic Plague instead of like the chickenpox?  While I understand that Bubonic Plague is a bacterial infection, I mention Bubonic Plague due to that bacterial infection being highly contagious and significantly deadly, to aid in clearing vision.  The world has lived with bacterial infections and viruses since man began walking the earth.  Yet, suddenly, COVID-19 is cooked up in a Chinese lab and the world is expected to cease.

There must be another reason than medical science and health of populations for the response to COVID-19.  I worked in an ER before COVID-19 came on the scene.  If you had a cough, a cold, a fever, or suspected you might be sick, you were encouraged to wear a mask.  No fines for not wearing a mask, no arrests for not wearing a mask, if you were in an ER, and caught an infection from another patient; well, that is a risk of going to a hospital.  Why is COVID-19 being responded to with fear, chaos, and a lack of scientific approaches?

The following image is a Johari Window.  A Johari Window, “is a technique that helps people better understand relationships. It was created by psychologists Joseph Luft (1916–2014) and Harrington Ingham (1916–1995) in 1955.”  The following Johari Window is intended to be an aid in understanding COVID-19 and the response from the government.

Johari Window for Control

Hence, if the response to COVID-19, was purely scientific, the Johari Window would look like the following:

JJohari Window - Control

The same would be true for any of the purely single-dimensional Johari Windows.  One source would dominate them all.  In a normal situation, a person should be able to expect some of each category of response would be melded together to achieve the greatest good, for the greatest number of people when looking at the four main responses to illness as represented in the Johari Window.  However, as a hysterical surgeon at the VA reminded me, “COVID-19 is NOT normal times” [emphasis his.]

Why is COVID-19 different?  Why is COVID-19 allowed to create such abnormal responses?  Was there an edict passed by a world body that said everyone had to lose their minds over this particular Chinese disease?  The WHO continues to relate that COVID-19 is a SARS-like respiratory disease.  Well, the world has dealt with MERS (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome) and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) now for over a decade (2002), and none of the previous president’s or governors lost their minds and allowed America to come to an indefinite screeching halt over a virus.  In fact, both SARS and MERS are viral infections, SARS originates in China, both are prevalent in the United States, and both are in the same family as COVID-19.  Hence, why are we losing our freedoms, our lifestyles, our economies, and lives over another viral infection?  The entire US was not ordered to wear masks when SARS and MERS first arrived; as a point of fact, over a million people had to die from SARS before President Obama even took notice of the viral infection.

I have heard it postulated that the only reason COVID-19 is being responded in such brutally malignant methods was due to politics and how 2020 is a presidential election year.  Consider Avian Flu, beginning in China in the 1990s, Avian Flu began spreading and was rampant from 2004 to 2014, no political points were made on Avian Flu during those presidential elections (1990 through 2014).  As a point of reference, Avian Flu is still producing new strands and variants (2020), was also labeled a pandemic, just in time for the 2008 election cycle, and no significant political hay was made over the Avian Flu Pandemic, even though the Democratic Party made pandemic response a talking point for their platform.

Swine Flu (2009), the first global pandemic in 40-years, made huge waves in politics, originated in China, is still a major problem with Chinese pork leading to the demise of millions of pigs annually.  Swine flu was a politically polarizing disease when it came to vaccinating and expanding the government’s health budget to prevent more outbreaks. Swine Flu affected Americans directly and led to preventive legislation, but again during election cycles, no political hay was made over the government’s response, and the government’s response was ludicrously useless for a long time.  Worse yet, the governors of NY and CA sold crucial medical equipment and further frustrated their state’s abilities to respond to COVID-19.

Ebola, a highly infectious, very deadly viral disease, makes the human-to-human jump very easily.  Multiple large-scale infections have been almost continuous in Africa since 1995.  Infection is spread through all infected human bodily fluids, and in 2014 both American political parties made a test run to politicize Ebola to increase government control.  However, by 2018, neither party was trying to make political hay on the disease.

The list of viral diseases and the lack of wide-spread draconian measure goes on and on.  The forced mandates made during COVID-19 remind one of the opposites of the instructions provided by Kipling.  Government officials losing their heads, blaming it on the president and everyone else, and still clinging bitterly to power.

If—

By Rudyard Kipling
(‘Brother Square-Toes’—Rewards and Fairies)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: 

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: 

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’ 

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse (1943)

I submit that the government forced mandates are illegal, immoral, unethical, and criminal.  To force edicts, when legislatures are in session is abominable behavior where those governors should be held accountable.  Law in America begins in the legislature, passes to the executive, and if signed, onto the population.  If vetoed, the legislation could be overridden by the legislature according to strict policy and law.  However, the executive cannot, and should not, be allowed to run roughshod over the legislative; nor should the executive be allowed to run roughshod over by the legislative.  All three branches of government (executive, legislative, and judicial) must work together; why is COVID-19 being allowed to change this 200+-year-old dynamic in America?

Daily I see mayors enacting personal bias and edicts over the citizens in their cities and towns.  I see a disparity between those who consider themselves above the law not following their own edicts, demands, and dictates.  America has always been a country where the “Rule of Law,” was found in full force upon every person.  Why are those who write edicts and dictates, and making demands, not being held accountable for their refusal to follow their edicts, dictates, and demands?  Why is the response to COVD-19 any different than the myriad of other viral and bacterial diseases that plague mammals?  Why is the media being allowed to fan the flames of rioters’ discontent and government hysteria?

The response to COVID-19 by governors and mayors has been and continues to be not only incorrect but dangerously incorrect.  Consider the waste of money caused by hysteria in New York City, where upwards of $21 Million dollars was spent on outdoor hospitals and the USNS Comfort.  As a point of reference, where the USNS Comfort was concerned, the bureaucracy that kept patients from being seen was almost as bad as the bureaucracy at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  Thus, not all the blame for the USNS Comfort being wasted can be foisted upon the city of New York.  Consider the financial ties the governor of California has to a mask manufacturer in China, who signed the deal, then could not qualify for federal certification producing the masks.  While the company has finally certified, the debacle remains highly suspect.  These are but two different states issues where COVID-19 is concerned that require answers from those in charge.

From forced mask mandates that were never considered by the state legislatures, to draconian social distancing, and other mandates about how a business can operate, to the state government and city hall acting maliciously against individuals and businesses, the response to COVID-19 has been unprecedented, unreliable, and unforgivingly hostile.  Having discussed COVID-19 with many people a frequent question is “When will this nightmare end?”  Yet, would the better question be, “Why was this government-produced drama allowed to propagate in the first place?”

When the governors of NM and MN can interrupt free-travel and commerce between the states, which is against federal law, many people should have been up in arms.  Instead, like lemmings running for a cliff, the governors have been praised and followed blindly.  When Seattle, Portland, New York, Detroit, and so many towns and cities in between have been mercilessly attacked by rioters, pillagers, and domestic terrorists, I expected a swift, decisive, and vigorous response, and instead was greeted with weak knees, yellow spines, and craven virtue signaling.  Of all the COVID-19 responses, the threat to public safety by mobs and terrorists is of greater concern than the illegality of the actions of the governors and mayors, but not by much.

From February 2020 to the date of this writing, the response to COVID-19 has been a farce, a rejection of sound scientific thinking, and a lawless and egregious drama, worthy of the lowest Kabuki Theaters.  It is time to end the farce, stop the drama, and open America to business.  Recovering from the failed follies of COVID-19 government edicts will require at least a decade of hard work.  Thus, I am calling upon every American Citizen to stand and demand the COVID-19 drama, government overreach, and government made disaster to cease immediately.  We the voters must hold the elected officials accountable for their thievery, their hysteria, and their inappropriate actions at the earliest opportunity.  The bureaucrats who have made political hay while America suffered, also need to be held accountable to the society they were hired to serve.

Make no mistake, the response to COVID-19 has been nothing but a bad case of emotional hyperbole and government power grabs, and this must cease forthwith!

 

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

 

Realities and Uncertainties – The Paradigm at the VA

I-CareThe Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) reports they are returning to a more regular schedule of release for the inspection reports with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recovering from COVID-19.  Congratulations are in order, to the VA, as they begin returning to normal operations and procedures.  The reality is that standard operating procedures (SOP) are regularly missing at the VA, this absence causes uncertainty, and forms the crux of this report. A question for the VA-OIG, “How can you assess employee competency without SOPs?”  To the VA VISN leaders, “How can your directors and supervisors, conduct employee evaluations without written SOPs?”  The short answer is you cannot!

Congratulations are in order, for the Marion VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Illinois.  The Marion VAMC experienced a “comprehensive healthcare inspection” and were generally praised for the excellent work being conducted, the happiness of the patients, and the overall condition of the facilities.  While there were recommendations made by the VA-OIG (29 in 8 different areas), the overall report was satisfactory, and this is mentionable.  Hence, my heartfelt congratulations for your success in this inspection.

VA SealThe Marion VAMC VA-OIG report raises a common theme, and this is a reality the VA appears to be incapable of addressing training and two-directional communication.  From the hospital director to the patient-facing staff, training always appears as a significant issue in VA operations.  Having experienced the training provided by the VA for employees, and as an adult educator, I know the uselessness of the training program and have several suggestions.  Perhaps the problem would be best addressed if more evidence was provided of a systemic failure in training employees at the VA.

In 2017 Congress mandated a change in research operations for the VA, specifically where canine research was concerned.

The OIG found VHA conducted eight studies without the former or current Secretary’s direct approval, resulting in the unauthorized use of $393,606 in appropriated funds.VA continued research using canines after the passage of the funding restrictions, in part, because VHA executives perceived that then VA Secretary David Shulkin had approved the continuation of the studies before his departure.”

The cause of the problem, the VA-OIG discovered was, “Unclear communication, inadequate recordkeeping, and failure to ensure approval decisions were accurately recorded and verified all contributing to VHA’s noncompliance.”  The researchers and executives relied upon two leading causes for not following regulations, designed incompetence, and a lack of training through clear and concise communications.

Congress mandated the documentation to assure approval was obtained before research commenced; yet, the researchers and administrative staff collectively failed to do their jobs and were able to hide behind the bureaucracy they established to excuse their poor behavior.  Loopholes for designed incompetence and lack of training need closed; but, two incidents do not clearly illustrate the reality of the problem.

ProblemsThe VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System in North Las Vegas, in response to a referral from the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), was investigated by the VA-OIG after a community healthcare worker was attacked.  The VA-OIG findings are appalling, but the reasons for the problem are worse.

The OIG determined that facility managers failed to timely respond after the social worker reported an assault during a home visit and did not address the social worker’s health needs after the assault. The social worker’s supervisor failed to immediately report the incident to the community and VA police. The facility’s policies lacked specific guidance regarding employee emotional and mental health injuries. Further, the OIG substantiated that the social worker was not informed by a supervisor of a homicidal threat, occurring subsequent to the assault, until two weeks after facility leaders became aware of the threat.”

The facility leaders knew there was a problem, yet did nothing before or after the event, that could have cost this healthcare worker their life!  VA-OIG recommendations boil down to a need for clear communication and staff training.  The recommendations highlighted another issue entirely that forms the reality and creates uncertainty at the VA, communication is not a two-directional opportunity to share information.  Single directional communication is useless, and those leaders supporting the bureaucracy to only allow communication to flow in, need immediate removal from the VA.  During my time at the VA as an employee on the front-lines, facing patients, I regularly experienced the lack of communication, and this issue is systemic to the entire VA as witnessed and observed at VA Medical Centers across the United States.

The Nevada incident is deplorable, reprehensible, and the potential for loss of life cannot be overlooked by VA leadership in Washington, at the VISN, or at the Medical Center any longer!  The problems of communication cannot explain this incident, and failure for training cannot excuse this behavior!  Since the OSC initiated the complaint, I am left to wonder, did the employee reporting this incident get fired and needed to appeal to the OSC for remediation?  I ask because the knee-jerk reaction to problems at the VA is to fire the person reporting the issue, as previously observed and personally experienced, and as described to Congressional representatives during televised hearings.  A more thorough investigation into causation needs to be concluded and reported to Congress for this incident reeks of politics and CYA.

Leadership CartoonThe Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, and multiple outpatient clinics was recently provided a comprehensive healthcare inspection, and the leadership team provided 14 recommendations in 7 different areas for improvement.  While congratulations are in order, for the patient scores, the employee scores, and the overall conditions discovered.  Yet, again staff competency, e.g., training and communication, remain critical articles requiring targeted improvement.  Is the pattern emerging discernable; in Nevada, an employee is assaulted and training and communication are blamed, comprehensive healthcare inspections are conducted in three different geographic areas and the same causation factors discovered; training and communication are systemically failing at the VA.  But, the evidence continues.

The John J. Pershing VA Medical Center in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, recently underwent a comprehensive healthcare inspection.  The VA-OIG issued 17 recommendations in 6 fundamental areas, including staff competency assessments, e.g., training and communication, as well as the inadequate written standard operating procedures.  When discussing designed incompetence, the first step to correcting this problem is writing down the standards, operating methods, and procedures.  Then the medical center leaders can begin training to those standards.  Barring written instructions and published standards, employees are left to ask, “What is my job? and “How do I perform my job to a standard?”

The Oscar G. Johnson VA medical center, and multiple outpatient clinics in Michigan and Wisconsin recently underwent a comprehensive healthcare inspection, 11 recommendations in 3 critical areas.  As did the Tomah VA Medical Center and multiple outpatient clinics in Wisconsin, 4 recommendations in 3 crucial areas.  Both facilities are to be congratulated for their continual improvement and their success during the inspections.  In case you were wondering, staff competency assessments, e.g. training and communication, are vital findings and variables in improving further for both facilities.

The VA has what it calls “S.A.I.L” metrics that form the core standard for performance.  S.A.I.L. stands for Strategic Analytic (sic) for Improvement and Learning.  Learning is a critical component in how the facility is measured and yet remains a constant theme in the struggles for improvement.  Thus, not only is two-directional communication a systemic failure, but so is the poor training results found on all the comprehensive healthcare inspections performed by the VA-OIG.  Poor communication almost cost a healthcare worker their life, and staff training was a key component for recovering from this incident in Nevada.  How can the VA consistently fail at two-directional communication and training, designed incompetence?  Those in charge require an excuse for not doing their jobs, and the most common excuse provided is a lack of training and poor communication.

I-CareIt is time for these petulant and puerile excuses to be banished and extinguished.  The following are suggestions to beginning to address the problems.

  1. Easy listening is a musical style, not an action in communication.  By this, it is meant that the VA needs to stop faking active listening and engage reflective listening.  Reflective listening requires reaching a mutual understanding and is critical to two-directional communications.  In the world of technology, not responding to email, not responding to text messages, and untimely responses to staff communication are inexcusable on the part of the leaders.
  2. Staff training remains a core concept, but before staff can be properly and adequately trained, standards for performance, operational guidelines, and procedural actions must be clearly written down. The first question I asked upon hire was, “Where are the SOPs for this position?”  I was told, “Do not mention SOPs as the director hates them and prefers to work without them.”  Do you know why that director preferred to work at the VA without SOPs because she used it as an excuse to get out of trouble, to fire those she deemed trouble makers, and to escape with her pension and cushy job to another VA medical center?  A repeatable pattern for poor leaders to spread their infamy.  Shame on the VA Leaders for promoting this director to a level beyond her incompetence.  Worse, shame on you for creating an environment where many like her have excelled and done damage to the VA reputation, mission, and patients, including killing them while they awaited care.
  3. From the VA Secretary to the front-line patient-facing employee, cease accepting excuses. The private sector cannot hide behind immunity from litigation and act in a more responsible manner.  Thus, the VA needs to benchmark what private hospitals do where staff training and SOP’s are concerned.  Benchmark from the best and the worst hospitals for an average, then implement that average as the standard.  One thing discovered in writing SOPs for the NMVAMC, the committee for approving SOPs, and the process for writing SOPs were so convoluted and time-intensive that the SOP was outdated by the time it could be implemented.  Shame on you VA leadership for creating this environment!
  4. Training should be an extension of an organizational effort and university. The VA is not properly training the next generation of leaders; thus, the problems multiply and exponentially grow from generation to generation.  Launch the VA Learning University concept, staff that university with adult educators, and allow lessons learned from the university to trickle into operational excellence.
  5. Form an independent tiger team in the VA Secretary’s Office who has the authority to travel anywhere in the VA System to conduct investigations with the ability to enact change and demand obeisance. The Nevada incident was a failure of leadership and needs a thorough reporting and cleansing of the bad actors who allowed that situation to occur.  Worse, in my travels, I have heard many similar stories.  I heard of a patient getting their ear chopped off when a veteran assaulted another veteran after becoming irate at waiting times in the VA ER.  I have heard and witnessed multiple incidents of furniture being thrown, employees being assaulted, employees harassing and assaulting patients, staff property trashed, and so much more.  These incidents need direct intervention and investigation by a party not affiliated with that affected VAMC and the leadership’s political policies.

Carl T. Hayden04 October 2016, the VA-OIG released a report on dead veterans after the comprehensive investigation into the Carl T. Hayden VAMC in Phoenix, Arizona.  The same event occurred in 2014, at the same hospital, with the same causes and the same conclusions.  The core causes for the dead veterans, no written procedures, poor to no training, and reprehensible communication practices.  The Phoenix VAMC went out of their way to fire all the employees who reported problems at the Phoenix VAMC before the veterans began dying in 2014, I can only speculate that the same occurred in 2016.  Staff was frightened in 2014; they are demoralized in 2020.  Nothing has changed at the Carl T. Hayden VAMC in Phoenix, Arizona, after two successive hospital directors, if anything the problems have worsened.  The problems worsened because leadership failed to act, failed to write down SOPs, failed to communicate, and failed to train.  The hospital directors since 2014 have been appointed from the same pool of candidates who created dead veterans in the first place, and that is a central failure of the VA Secretary and Congressionally elected representatives’ failure to act!

How many more veterans or staff must die before the VA is willing to act?

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Patient Health and Safety Concerns – Phoenix, VA Medical Center

Alyshia Smith
Medical Center Director
Carl T. Hayden VA Hospital
650 E Indian School Rd
Phoenix, AZ 85012

08 July 2020

Dr. M. Dave Salisbury Ph.D.
10002 N 7th St
APT 1125
Phoenix, AX 85020

Subject: Healthcare policies that endanger patients.

Dear Ms. Smith,

I have been a patient of the Carl T. Hayden VA Hospital since 1998 when my family first moved to Phoenix.  I was a witness to the award-winning days, and have been a witness to the dead veterans, paper waiting lists, and incredible fall of the Phoenix VA Medical Center.  I want to help fix this VA Medical Center and moved back to Phoenix specifically for this purpose.  As an organizational psychologist, I have made a careful study of the VA, as a patient, as a previous employee, and as a concerned citizen.  I blog about VA issues because “I-Care” about the VA.

One of the first lessons taught me in new hire orientation training, concerned the Emergency Room and the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA; 1986), a federal law that requires anyone coming to an emergency department to be stabilized and treated, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.  EMTALA was being abused in the hospital I worked at and I reported this issue.  EMTALA is being abused at the Phoenix, VA Medical Center.  Twice I have followed my primary care providers’ instructions to report to the VA ER for treatment, and twice I have been refused service.

30 June 2020, I was refused service at the VA ER because I cannot wear a mask due to breathing issues.  I was informed upon entering that I could hold the mask in front of my face and this is an acceptable workaround.  Upon entering the ER to be checked in, the office staff refused the information provided at the entrance, and said: “If the mask is not worn, we are refusing service.”  I have had shortness of breath, not lung-related, for many years now and cannot wear a mask.  This information is noted in my VA Medical records.  I have been through several rounds of breathing tests which confirm my lungs work great, but I remain short of breath, and when I wear any mask my problems breathing include lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea, and eventually my vision grays and I pass out.  The original problem was diagnosed at the Salt Lake City VA Medical Center (2010/2011).

08 July 2020, I walked into the VA through the South Entrance.  Not wearing a mask and those performing the COVID check did not offer a mask, offer a face shield, or say anything.  I walked to the ER, the admitting person did not mention my need for a mask, nor did they ask why I was not wearing a mask, I was checked in to be seen in the ER.  I was triaged and the triage nurse did not say anything about a mask.  I sat in the ER for 3-hours and none of the medical staff, hospital staff, employees, or Federal Officers walking past ever mentioned the need for a mask.  I walked to the Patriot Store feeling sick because of diabetes and needing food.  On my way, an employee whines about me not wearing a mask, and I ignore this person as my medical information is private and I should not have to explain to every nosy-nelly about why I am not wearing a mask.  I go to complete my purchases and suddenly the VA Police, who were called by the unknown VA Employee, are there insisting I need to wear a mask.  I explained, for the first of at least 40-times that I cannot physically wear a mask to protect my health and safety.

I realize the VA Police are executioners of policies that they have no say in forming and I refused to be anything less than professional as we walked back to the ER.  By the time I arrive back in the ER, my police escort has grown from 2 to 7 or 8, led by one plainclothes person claiming to be a Lieutenant and the other was a uniformed Lieutenant.  My intransigence at wearing a mask was not disorderly conduct, but a patient safety issue. I have a hard time breathing and when I must speak, this exacerbates my breathing condition.  I was accused of yelling, and before I could explain, I am being threatened with being arrested, cited, and thrown out of the VA ER.  By this time, I am in trouble physically and neurologically, between diabetes and my need for food, and the neurological condition I suffer through, my stress levels are making a bad situation worse.

A person identifying themselves as a doctor handed me a face shield and my wearing of the face shield did not stop the harassment from the VA Police over not wearing a mask.  During my conversations with Timothy Mikulski from the Patient Advocates Office after the last time, I was refused care illegally at the VA ER, I was told wearing a face shield is acceptable.  Thus, when I put the face shield on, I was expecting to be left alone.  Instead, I was demanded to either wear a mask or be arrested.  My third threat in less than 5-minutes for not wearing a mask, even though I now had the face shield properly worn for the same 5-minutes.

Eventually, I am arrested, I experience a seizure where I fell to the floor and injured my knee, then was hit repeatedly in the spine while being “patted down,” which continued to collapse my legs and increase my pain.  I was handcuffed to a bench in a holding cell where I bruised my right wrist because my seizures include my arms jerking and with one arm handcuffed to an immovable bench, I could not control my body and the handcuff was not allowing my involuntary movements increasing patient harm.  I have a bruise and scratches from the handcuff on my right wrist.

Here is the problem, the policy for wearing a mask does not have exclusions for those of us who cannot wear a mask.  Thus, wearing a mask creates more health problems, the potential for injury, and issues for the medical staff who are already overworked.  If a face shield is acceptable as a replacement for a mask, why was my wearing the face shield insufficient to closing the police issue?  If a face shield is not acceptable as a replacement for the mask, why is the patient advocates claiming this is acceptable?  If wearing a mask is so important, why was no one bothered by my not wearing a mask until the nosy employee called the Federal Police?

I sat in the bench seat beside the bookshelf in the ER.  Multiple officers, staff, and more walked past and no one was bothered, no one said anything, no one made any fuss over my not wearing a mask for three full hours while I was waiting in the ER.  Even when I interacted with the employee’s passing nobody made any comments.  This is a failure of policy, or it is the unfair harassment of a single person by overzealous police officers.

Let us talk about access to medical records.  The Federal Officers harassing me, sent one of their own to view my medical record for a statement from my PCP regarding my inability to wear a mask for health reasons.  I told the officers what they would find, “Records pertaining to my being diagnosed with shortness of breath and difficulty breathing.”  They claimed that since those records were from my time in Albuquerque, I was “blowing rainbows up their butts.”  Hence, even if my medical records had reported a message from my PCP, I would still have been in the wrong.

From my time as an employee, Medical Support Assistant, VA ER, Albuquerque, I know that the police do not have a reason to be surfing my medical records.  Yet, in the holding cell, I heard them discussing my medical records, my mental health diagnosis and cracking wise about details in my medical folder.  How did they get my medical records?  Why did they have possession of my medical records?  What is the purpose of the police having access to my personal medical files?

I freely admit, by the time the VA Police handcuffed me, my “cherub-like demeanor” had melted away.  When I am in extensive pain, I cannot think clearly, speak coherently, and my ability to suffer fools and liars is non-existent.  But this entire affair was brought about by a policy that does not make sense, a nosy employee who does not need to know my medical history and two overzealous lieutenants who need their ego’s clipped!

Another issue, why is my full SSN, DOB, and Full Name printed on the triage wrist bands?  Why are all VA ER patient’s data displayed in human-readable data on the wristbands?  This is a HIPPA and PII security issue that was supposed to have been corrected back in 2014.  Human readable data being bandied about places patients at greater risk for having their identity stolen.  This is especially true on an item regularly thrown away.  As someone who has followed the VA problems with protecting veterans, protecting data, and adhering to rules and regulations, I find this lapse highly questionable.

The following is requested:

  1. Remove the arrest and cancel the citations.
  2. Correct the policy.
  3. Train so the policy is properly applied, fairly communicated, and a standard is set. Removing individual adaptation and personal interpretation.
  4. Correct the PII on the wrist bands and other printed patient documents to protect the identity of the veterans. This is a simple fix of programming and your IT department should be able to complete this task easily.

Thank you for your prompt response in this regard.

Sincerely,

Dr. M. Dave Salisbury Ph.D./MBA

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

America – Let’s Elect a Few More Bastards

Non est vivere sed valere in vobis …. merentur melius quam tu tibi semper sit.

Finest HourPersonally, I am tired of soft speakers who speak platitudes and inwardly are ravening wolves.  Pres. Obama spoke softly, carried no sticks, drew red lines without consequences, and America is far worse for having had him as a president.  President Clinton also spoke well; but, severely lacked morals, courage, a sense of honor, and America suffered.  Both President’s Bush spoke well but lacked intestinal fortitude, grit, backbone, and ultimately were bad presidents for America.  President Reagan had grit, spoke eloquently, was respected, and was a bastard whose enemies honored him and feared him.  President Trump for all his good qualities is plain and abrupt.  But, inwardly he has a spine of iron, and demands accountability first from himself, and then from those around him.  Recently, I heard President Trump referred to as a “Bastard of a Bully!”  I think we need to elect a few more bastards.  People with grit in their teeth, iron in their spines, tongues that can lash and whip, and hands with calluses from doing actual work.

Anthony Liccione is quoted as saying, “A company of wolves, is better than a company of wolves in sheep’s clothing.”  For too long America has been electing legions of wolves in sheep’s clothing.  People who can utter pleasing words, but lack a spine, morals, convictions, and calluses from doing hard work.  We have elected the political poison we currently suffer because they make a good speech.  I remember an election, in fact, it is the only time I ever voted for Senator John McCain.  His opponent was lackluster, the race was a non-presidential year, and I had heard a couple of speeches and thought Senator McCain was worthy of my vote.  Not two days after McCain’s victory, I witnessed how spineless and useless McCain truly was and my eyes opened.  McCain was a traitor to America, and unfortunately, he had excellent company in the long-term emplaced members of Congress on both sides of the political aisle.  I am glad to say, I never made the mistake of voting for McCain ever again.

Grit is a MarathonAs an independent thinker, armchair historian, and a morally upright citizen, I have been doing more work every election to scrape the shield of whipping cream off the crap sundae the electorate is handed, and know who is being offered for election.  The more I scrape, the more worthless those running for office appear.  Terry Pratchet is quoted as saying, “He was the sort of person who stood on mountaintops during thunderstorms in wet copper armour shouting ‘All the Gods are bastards.’”  That is the type of person America needs in political office.  Not the namby-pamby, wishy-washy, flim-flam artists, but people who insist that the government needs to be smaller, thus consequentially more flexible in crisis.  We need people who have suffered under the rule of bureaucrats and beat the hell out of them to achieve, despite the bureaucracy.  We need more grit!

Grit - DefinedWhat is “Grit” you might ask; well, since America has not seen a lot of grit, please allow me the opportunity to describe this precious commodity. Grit is a positive, cognitive trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a specific long-term goal or end state.  At least, that is what the academics call grit.  Of all the people America remembers who have had a positive and long-lasting influence upon American culture, John Wayne is near the top, and if anyone embodied grit, it was John Wayne who is quoted thusly, “True grit is making a decision and standing by it, doing what must be done.  No moral man can have peace of mind if he leaves undone what he knows they should have done.”  In understanding grit, I have oft called upon T. S. Eliot, “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

As a child, I once watched the Boston Marathon, it was as interesting to me as watching a dandelion grow, only the finish line really mattered.  As an adult, I saw nonedited pictures of runners during a marathon and understood that which I could not see as a child.  I saw men and women who had bowel movements, torn large pieces of skin away and were bleeding copiously, or thrown up on themselves and still kept running, and I came to understand why grit involves the mindset of living life as a marathon and not a sprint.  Marathon runners are not pretty at the finish line, they know about heartache, failure, blisters, torn muscles, dog bites, shoes failing, weather changes, and so much more.  The marathon is effort incarnate, planning that fails, sorrow, misery, and a finish line.  A marathon is grit embodied, sticking to a plan day in and day out, not for a small period of time days/weeks/months, but months/years/decades, because the goal is worth the effort.

On the Maine coastline, just south of Belfast, is a marina called Bayside.  As a child, I spent time delivering the Bangor Daily News to Bayside homes and got the honor to meet and talk to several of the lobstermen who came and went through Bayside’s docks.  I never expected to see professional lobstermen and fishermen in Bayside.  I was told Bayside was where the rich Boston people had summer homes and playboats.  One very senior lobsterman taught me a lesson one day about grit that I never forgot, “Without grit, pearls are impossible.”  He talked about how small amounts of grit wore down large rocks, that lobsters used grit to clean, and how grit polished.  My grandfather a few summers later taught me how to polish steel until it shined using grit.  I look at President Trump, and for all his faults, I can also see how grit has polished him until he shines.  Maybe a little more grit, that comes with 4-more years as President, can soften more of his abrasive character; but, when I see the growth that the first 4-years has brought, I cheer for President Trump!

PatriotismAmerica, I think it is time we learned a valuable lesson where the selection of politicians is concerned, “Be a good enough person to forgive the losers elected in the past, and smart enough to never trust them again with political office.”  America has lived the words of Soren Kierkegaard, “There are two ways to be fooled.  One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to accept what is true.”  It is true, at all levels of government, poor choices have been made, rotten and unintelligent boobs have been placed in power above their ability.  In the military, we called this “being promoted to a person’s maximum level of incompetence.”  Well, this is an election year, and we will have another next year and the year after.  We have been cheated and abused by the smooth-talkers long enough.  Let us elect some true bastards!

Let us elect people who buck the system, who take the bureaucrats on and win.  Let us elect some people who have grit, backbone, and knowledge from experience, not just a degree from a wealthy school and experience as a lobbyist.  We need police officers who know about laws, we need farmers who know about growing things, ranchers, and dairymen who know about long days and short pay because of taxes and dumb decisions made in capitals that kill their businesses.  We need manufacturers who make things, and we need people who do not want to live their lives in the capitals of America feeding off the work of others as a parasite, but who work while elected and long to return to doing what they love.

The Duty of AmericansGeneral George Patton was a bastard; but, he is remembered for being the biggest bastard of them all in WWII, and when the chips were down, he won by being the biggest, grittiest, most hated bastard America had ever sent to war.  I suggest ripping a few pages from General George Patton and Ayn Rand’s book, and electing people who have trod the gristmills of life with bloody feet and callused hands, who live the following: “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me!”

America, you are the superheroes in your own story, rise!

Thomas Watson said the following about friends, but it applies to politicians desiring to lead just as well, “Don’t make friends who are comfortable to be with.  Make friends who will force you to lever yourself up!”  Politicians should be forcing us to leverage ourselves up, to rely upon ourselves, not the government, and the politicians America needs, know that government is a necessary evil and nothing else!

Lever Up

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

What is a Statue? – Knowing the Paradigm

Fallen Soldier StatueIt seems fitting that on the Fourth of July, a remembrance of what a statue is should be described, and penned for all the world to see, to read, and remember.  The world has recently witnessed the violent and unhinged protestors tearing down statues.  Witnessed spineless elected officials taking statues down for every reason but the truth, and we have seen violence when the ignorant mob has been refused.  Like spoiled children without a stern parent to correct behavior, the world has watched; but, does the world remember what a statue is?

A statue is made of bronze, stone, iron, usually a combination of all three, intent to remind the passerby of greatness achieved.  The mob in all its anger and horrible glory would have Confederate statues pulled down as “symbols of racism.”  When in reality, those symbols, were erected to remind us of both the good and the ill found in each human heart.  The Confederate Soldier who fought for his home, his friends, his family, and his way of life.  The Confederate Soldier fought gallantly, bravely, and the American Union is better, stronger, and more powerful with the reminder than without; thus, in times past a statue was built to remember, lest we forget and must suffer a repeat of history.

Pres. Lincoln StatueThe statue of Christopher Columbus so hatefully despised, rudely treated by mob violence and elected official stupidity was erected not as a monument to a man, but to commemorate the birth of an idea and an ideal that became these United States of America, a Free Republic if we can keep it.  Christopher Columbus was a man, the same as those in the mob, he had light and dark inside him.  Who is his judge, who is his jury pool, who has the power to judge his actions; not I, nor the mob who despises and defaces the likeness of a person who achieved greatness through sacrifice.  Thus, through sacrifice, the Great American Experiment was launched.  Throughout time immemorial, the current generation has built monuments, statues, to honor the sacrifice that has brought about greatness.

The sad truth of the matter, the mob in its anger deems themselves powerful enough to pull down those sacrifices remembered, to throw away those sacrifices as if they did not matter, and then has the effrontery to suggest they know better than the entire rest of a civilized body.  The spineless Dane-Geld paying politician deems themselves not the protector of the honor of those sacrifices remembered, but the arbitrator of the masses and the statue is blamed.

Washington at Valley Forge

The statue is blamed and then torn down, cast forever from the minds and memory, no longer an artifact to be remembered, to have stories told, and kept alive from generation to generation as a means of learning history.  No longer to be a symbol of remembrance for sacrifices that led to greatness.  No longer to lift and inspire hearts and minds.  But, the media talking heads will say, “Those statues torn down can be erected some other place, out of sight, in an area where the mob cannot choose to become inflamed.”  In telling this lie, a single truth was sacrificed, but the ignorance and lie remain, to the shame and the derision of those who know what a statue truly is, and why that statue was needed.

The truth is, the mob chose to become angry, to vent their anger as domestic terrorists, not protestors.  The truth is people protest, but when the protest interrupts daily commerce, blocks traffic, starts fires, using the fear of the mob to cause damage and mayhem the people are no longer protestors, but terrorists.  Consider some of the first terrorists in American History, many have been called upon by the media and the mob to justify their actions.  The Boston Tea Party has been called upon to justify the actions of the mob.  However, the Boston Tea Party is but one of the first acts of war that sundered, forever, the hold of the British Empire upon America.  Another act of domestic terrorism, the firing upon of Fort Sumter by Confederate ships as the opening salvo of the American Civil War.  Consider Francis “The Swamp Fox” Marion during the Revolutionary War.  Commander Marion led a guerilla war against the British across Carolina.

Confederate Soldier Statue 2The difference between these early domestic terrorists and today’s domestic terrorists, is not that they won, but that they sacrificed for the idea, they gave all not for a statue or a holiday, they gave all for something better and hoped their sacrifice would be remembered.  Look at the riots in Watts, no statues were erected, the land is blighted, the area almost ungovernable, and nobody remembers the names of those domestic terrorists that started the riots in Watts.

The difference is clear when the statue of General George Washington is looked upon, do you see the first President of America, or do you remember the sacrifice of sitting amongst his men at Valley Forge, having his soul and body scourged by weather alongside how many countless others, but staying the course because he was the leader, and his Army loved him?  Do you choose to remember General Washington as the man who could have been King and the death of the American Experiment had he not refused the third presidency; or do you choose to belittle and bemoan because the General had just as many faults as you or I?  Would you tear down the memory of his sacrifice, which is wrapped in the sacrifices of the entire American Army from the earliest days of America to date, or will you choose to remember?

Columbus StatueJust as the mob chooses to be angry, indifferent, and ignorant, so we must choose at this hour in America.  Do we choose to stand, remember, and honor, or do we allow this American Republic to end like Rome before it when faced with a similar threat from domestic terrorists?  What is a statue, it is a visible commitment that declares for all the world, “Not on my watch will your sacrifice be forgotten, your heritage besmirched, and your honor be for naught!”  Not on my watch will America fall to the byzantines amongst us, who have chosen ignorance and passion over logic and reason!  Not on my watch will your statue fall without mourning and a burning desire to see your statue returned to its place of prominence and glory!

A statue is not to remember a single individual, but a moment when people pulled together to achieve greatness, sacrificed personal interest, using character and fortitude to stay until the job was done.  Christopher Columbus would have never left Spain with the sailors doing their tasks individually, and together they achieved greatness.  The statues of Christopher Columbus are not erected to a man, they were erected to a memory, an event, and a promise of desiring to discover, learn, and grow.

What is a statue; it is a commitment, it is a pledge, it is a solemn vow, it is a means of remembering.  A statue is not the property of the government, it is the hearts of the people displayed.  A statue is the reminder of the good that comes from reaching ever upward, for desiring our children to be better today, then we were yesterday, so their children may attain greatness tomorrow.  What is a statue; it is a visible reminder of all the good one man, woman, or child can do when they believe in something bigger than they are.

What is a statue; it is America, the individual citizens, promising…

We Will Not Forget!

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Let’s Talk About the VA – The Insanity Must Cease!

I-CareWhen the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) does something good, I praise them.  The VA recently had a good report come from the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG), apparently there was progress made in improving performance once policies were written down, training of employees occurred, and over time there has been an improvement, however small and seemingly insignificant.  I offer my sincerest congratulations on making progress and change on this issue.

Carl T. HaydenHowever, I will castigate and deride all abuses of veterans, myself included.  At the Phoenix VA Medical Center, the Carl T. Hayden VA Hospital remains a hotbed of bureaucrats on a power trip weekend from Dante’s first ring.  The abuses at this hospital continue and the leadership needs to be corrected!

For those who do not remember, the Carl T. Hayden VA Hospital in Phoenix, AZ used to be an award-winning hospital, a pillar of good performance, and an example of how VA Hospitals could be run.  Then, the director was changed, the hospital staff changed, awards stopped coming, and veterans started dying.  Leading to the fiasco of dead veterans on paper waiting lists, during Pres. Obama’s reign.  CNN reported on April 30, 2014, that at least 40 United States Armed Forces veterans died while waiting for care at the Phoenix, Arizona, Veterans Health Administration facilities.

On 29 June 2020, I reported to the VA ER sick and in desperate need of assistance.  The assistance was refused because I cannot physically wear a mask.  In my medical records, it is noted that I suffer from shortness of breath and any mask exasperates this problem.  In direct violation of Federal Law that commands all emergency rooms to see whoever walks in, the ER staff refused me service due to the “Mask Policy” as part of their “Covid-19 response.”  No options, no exceptions, no excuses, I as the patient could either endanger my health or find a different hospital ER.

The Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA; 1986) is a federal law that requires anyone coming to an emergency department to be stabilized and treated, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay.  EMATALA also dictates that no person can be refused treatment in any Emergency Room.  The EMTALA is not new and is part of the training from day one for all staff at the VA.  For ER staff, this is the golden ticket and special care is taken to ensure this law is followed to the letter; rather, this law is supposed to be the premier standard from which good health care policy is built for emergency rooms.  Except, the Carl T. Hayden VA Hospital in Phoenix, AZ., and the Raymond G. Murphy VA Hospital in Albuquerque, NM., both appear to be the exception to EMTALA, by order of the staff bureaucrats, who are supported in their illegal and nefarious behavior by the hospital administration collectively, and the hospital leadership specifically.

Raymmond G. MurphyI have written previously of the patient abuse I witnessed, and reported, at the Raymond G. Murphy VA Hospital, in Albuquerque, NM.  I have written about the patients turned away by nurses and other staff because these staff members refused to follow the law.  I reported the risks and problems being run by refusing patients in the ER, and this all fell on deaf ears.  Well, I will not stop raising this illegal practice as a major concern for the hospital leadership all the way to Secretary Wilkie and the elected officials in Congress who refuse to act to improve the toxic culture found in the VA.

You, the bureaucrats in the VA cannot break the law with impunity and your actions are leading to major patient safety concerns, increased hospital operating costs, and putting real people in real harm!  I spent more than an hour in the VA Parking lot trying to calm my breathing down to safely operate a motor vehicle, so as to drive to a different hospital emergency room, where I was treated without ever having to deal with the mask issue.  While in the VA Parking lot, I was attended to by three Federal Police Officers who were willing to try and get me seen at the ER but were stuck trying to force the “Mask Policy,” regardless of my physical inability to wear a mask without causing additional harm and injury.  The Federal Officers were called because the ER staff reported a violent and non-responsive patient had just left the building.  I was both responsive and never violent in the ER.  Regardless of the fact that I was extremely short of breath, unable to walk, and unable to be seen at the VA.  When the officers found me in the parking lot, I could barely breathe and was so weak from lack of oxygen that I was graying out in vision and other major issues; thus, how the ER staff can say I was violent and non-responsive is beyond my comprehension.

The behavior of the ER Staff at the Carl T. Hayden VA Hospital in Phoenix is beyond the pale and bordering on obscene, as well as illegal!  Where is the accountability?  Where is the patient advocate?  Where is the Administrator on Duty who has the power to demand corrective action?  Where is the rightful opposition; well, I know where the rightful opposition is, it is buried with the dead veterans, who died awaiting care at the hands of the VA!

VA SealWhere is the patient advocate in this problem; well, that night after being refused care I reported the problem to the patient advocates office via secure message, and the following morning, the patient advocate replies that “It is VA policy to mandate all people wear masks if they desire treatment.”  Not caring about the federal laws governing ER visits, not even bothering to mention that the treatment by the staff as reported was ludicrous and vile, and not even to bother to ask if I was seen elsewhere.  Just a brief, less than 100-word, statement telling me my concerns for my safety and health are not important and policy must come first.  The perfect bureaucrat, with the most detestable response it has been my displeasure to experience since the last time I visited the DMV.

I am sorry but everyone is required to wear a mask at the VA Facility. I understand you may have shortness of breath but you can wear a mask and undo one side every couple of minutes. This is for your safety and the others around you.

T. C. M. [Name Shortened for Privacy]
Patient Advocate

Will someone please explain how this can occur?  Will an elected official please demand a behavior change at the VA, and remain interested long enough to facilitate the solutions Sec. Wilkie needs to effect change?  How many veterans will have to die needlessly at the hands of the VA before the elected officials decide that veterans’ lives matter and the VA is taking our lives?

I get it, there are a lot of problems in America, and more in the world.  But, the US House of Representatives, instead of passing a budget, which they are statutorily mandated to do, is writing letters, and meddling in Israel’s business.  If the US House has the time to meddle and jump down every rabbit hole on the political landscape, they must have time to assist the veterans and improve the VA.  If the US Senate has the time to meddle, postulate, and pander, then they have the time to review the plethora of VA-OIG reports and begin assisting the VA Secretary in correcting the problems in the VA.

The saga continued this over the first two days of July and forms the bitter cherry on top of the crap sundae the VA is trying to serve the veterans.  I received a call from my primary care provider’s nurse who has the attitude of supreme petty authoritarian to a lesser subject, reminding me several times that the mask policy was political, trying to blame all hospitals in the region of implementing a similar policy (which is fake), and then trying to excuse himself by claiming he was just a messenger and not involved in the policy implementation.  Concluding the call, with the temerity to tell me that I was in the wrong to not follow VA policy.  The patient advocate had the effrontery of sending a message to me stating that I should have asked for a full-face shield instead of a mask.  Seeing as no face shields were offered as a workaround, seeing as the policy enforcers demanding only a mask as the single viable and allowed option, and seeing as I spent more than an hour while in extreme pain trying to be seen to no avail, none of that mattered, the patient was at fault, per the patient advocate.

LinkedIn VA ImageMy cherub-like demeanor has taken a bloody beating over this incident.  Worse, my health has suffered tremendously and I have had to question myself and my advocacy of the VA.  The behavior of the bureaucrats and petty authoritarians of the VA at the Carl T. Hayden VA Hospital in Phoenix, AZ is detestable, and I can only conclude and wonder if I am having these problems, what are less outspoken and less knowledgeable veterans suffering?  I will not be the quiet little mouse in the corner where my safety and the safety of other veterans are being endangered by the politics and illegal actions of Federal Employees.  The policy is wrong and needs immediate revision before more veterans die at the hands of the VA!I-Care

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Insane Abuse – The VA Edition: The Leaders of the VA Must Shift the Paradigm

I-CareDuring new hire training for working at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) New Mexico Medical Center (NMVAMC), the first day contains a lot of warnings about what you can and cannot do as a Federal Employee.  Annually, there are mandatory classes that must be passed to remind an employee of their obligations as a Federal Employee.  Leading to a question, “How could an attorney for the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of General Counsel (OGC), be allowed to break the law for eight years?”  The department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) investigated after a second complaint about the same person was received, and only then did the OGC take action.  The attorney in question was released from government employment, but where is 8 years’ worth of wages being requested back?  Did the attorney lose anything other than an undemanding job and title where they could be paid for not working for the Federal Government while advancing their private practice, violating ethical laws, and breaking several Federal Statutes along the way?

What this attorney has done is insane, it is an abuse of trust, and for it to go reported and not acted by the senior leaders at OGC represents inexcusable abuse!

ProblemsOn the topic of insane and inexcusable abuse of the VA, the VA-OIG investigated the Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System in California and found a supervisor in an “other than spouse” relationship with a vendor and they used the VA property to improperly conduct business on contracts the supervisor oversaw.  These actions are a clear and blatant violation of the Federal Statutes on contracting as a Federal Employee, even if these consenting adults were married, it would remain illegal, unethical, immoral, and inexcusable!  Yet, because the supervisor quit during the investigation, the VA-OIG has no power to take any action.

Federal Employees are blatantly breaking the law, abusing the trust and honor of their stations, flagrantly flaunting ethical, moral, and legal regulations with impunity.  Why?

From the VA San Diego Healthcare System, California, we find another VA-OIG inspection. Staff manipulated time cards for seven fee-basis medical providers to pay these individuals on a salary or wage basis rather than a per-procedure basis.  While the medical center took appropriate action and no VA-OIG recommendations were made, the question remains, “Why was this behavior allowed in the first place?”  Another supervisor, improperly acting in their office, and abusing the VA; this behavior is inexcusable!

moral-valuesThe VA-OIG performed an audit, also referred to as a “data review.” “The data review consisted of a sample of 45 employees and found the employees were paid an estimated $11.6 million for overtime hours for which there was no evidence of claims-related activity in the Fee Basis Claims System in fiscal years 2017 and 2018, representing almost half of the total overtime paid. Significantly, 16 of the 45 employees each received more than $10,000 in overtime for hours during which there was no claims-related activity.”  The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Community Care (OCC) is backlogged and this is leading to late payments to providers, delays in care, and is generally a bad thing.  However, the sole reason for the overtime being abused was due to a lack of processes, poor supervision, and training.  These are the same three excuses that are used by the Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and is designed incompetence at its most disdainful and egregious level.  Worse, this was a sample of employee misconduct on overtime pay.  How many more cases are floating in the OCC that were not included in the audit that will pass unresearched because the VA-OIG did not refer the cases for disciplinary recommendations?

The VA-OIG cannot be everywhere and clean every hole in the VA organizational tapestry.  This is why supervisors and leaders are in place to execute organizational rules, regulations, policies, and monitor employee performance.  Why are the supervisors and mid-level leaders not being held accountable for failing to perform their jobs?  If overtime pay is going to be clawed back from the employee, the managers, team leaders, and supervisors need first to write and train to a policy standard.

Root Cause AnalysisThe VA-OIG conducted a comprehensive inspection of the Eastern Kansas Health Care System, Kansas, and Missouri.  The findings are startling for several reasons, one of which being the deficient lack of leadership leading to poor employee satisfaction, patient care issues, lack of knowledge in managers and supervisors, and minimally knowledgeable about strategic analytics.  Essentially, there is a lack of leadership in this healthcare system.  The director has been working with a team for 2-months, but the director has been in charge in 2012.  Leading to questions about long-term staffing replacement, staff training, building the next generation of leaders, and why this long-term director can brush off the criticisms of leadership failure because the team has only been in place for two months at the time of the inspection.

Again, the VA-OIG audited a system and found a lack of training, lack of oversight, lack of leadership, and made recommendations to “close the barn door, after the horses got out.”  From the VA-OIG report we find:

“The VA-OIG found that VA lacked an effective strategy or action plan to update its police information system [emphasis mine]. In September 2015, the VA Law Enforcement Training Center (LETC) acquired Report Exec, a replacement records management system, for police officers at all medical facilities. Inadequate planning and contract administration mismanagement caused the system implementation to stall for more than two years [emphasis mine]. LETC spent approximately $2.8 million on the system by the fiscal year 2019 [emphasis mine], but police officers experienced frequent performance issues and had to use different systems that did not share information. As of April 2019, only 63 percent of medical facility police units were reportedly using the Report Exec system, while 37 percent were still using an incompatible legacy system. As a result, administrators and law enforcement personnel at multiple levels could not adequately track and oversee facility incidents involving VA police or make informed decisions on risks and resource allocations. The audit also revealed that information security controls were not in place for the Report Exec system that put individuals’ sensitive personal information at risk [emphasis mine].”

Behavior-ChangeNo controls, no direction, no strategy, no tactical action, losing money, and not even scraping an F in performance.  The repetition in these VA-OIG investigations is appalling!  Where is the accountability?  Where is the responsibility and commitment to the veterans, their dependents, and the taxpayers?  Where is the US House of Representatives and Senate in demanding improvement in employee behavior?  Talk about a culture of corruption; the VA has corruption in spades, and no one is taking the VA to task and demanding improvement.

The VA is referred to as a cesspit of indecent and inappropriate people acting in a manner to enrich themselves on the pain of veterans, spouses, widows, and orphans.  There have been comments on several articles I authored which would make a non-veteran blush in describing the VA.  These actions by supervisors and those possessing advanced degrees do not help in trying to curb or correct the poor image the VA has well and truly earned.  A behavior change is needed, culture-wide, at the VA for the tarnished reputation of the VA to begin recovering.

Only for emphasis do I repeat previous recommendations for a culture-wide improvement:

  1. Start a VA University.  If you want better people, you must build them!  Thus, they must be trained, they must be challenged to act, and they must be empowered from day one in the classroom to be making a difference to the VA.
  2. Immediately launch Tiger Teams and Flying Squads from the VA. Secretary’s Office, empowered to build, train, and correct behavior. These groups must be able to cut through the bureaucratic red tape and make changes, then monitor those changes until behavior and culture change.
  3. Implement ISO 9000 for hospitals. If a person does not know their job but has held that job for over a year, every person in that employee’s chain of command is responsible for training failures.  Employees need better training, see recommendation 1, need clearer guidelines and written policies.  Hence, with the VA University training, each process, procedure, rule, regulation needs written down, and then trained exhaustively, so employees can be held accountable.

There is a theory in the private sector called appreciative inquiry.  Appreciative inquiry is the position that whatever a business needs to succeed, it already has in abundance, the leaders simply need to tap into that reservoir and pull out the gems therein.  Having traveled this country and witnessed many good and great employees in the VA Medical Centers from Augusta ME to Seattle WA, and from Phoenix AZ to Missoula MT I know that appreciative inquiry can help and promote a cultural change in the VA.  I do not advocate a “one-size fits most” policy for the VA, as each VISN and Regional Medical Center has a different culture of patients, thus requiring differing approaches.  However, the recommendations listed above can improve where the VA is now, and form a launch point into the future.Military Crests

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Let us Open the Dialogue – Black Lives Matters Edition

BLMI want to begin with a question, knowing the controversy over Black Lives Matters Websites, is the following website the official BLM website: https://blacklivesmatter.com/?  If this is not the official website, where is the official website?  Does this website represent another false BLM website?

I want to point out, here in the beginning that when you know justice, you know peace.  When there is no justice, there is no peace.  This single principle, “Know Justice, Know Peace” is the foundational variable upon which every successful society has risen, and upon which every failed society has suffered and fallen.  I begin with my first honest questions; would you please describe the image used and the purpose of the symbols and language?  What does “winning look like?  Does the definition of winning depend upon which color a person was born with?  Why the raised fists?  Why the color scheme?

The following article is based directly from Black Lives Matter’s Website, mentioned above, under the subheading “What we Believe,” the honest researcher can find some interesting points that matter in the ongoing conversation about the group, Black Lives Matter (BLM).  I find the final paragraph a most interesting place to start.

We embody and practice justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.”

PeaceHow can an organization believe in and practice peace among their fellow men, when members are looting, rioting, burning, attacking, and destroying?  Consider for a moment what this statement is saying, practicing peace means disowning the violent fringe, demanding your name be stripped from those acting in such a disreputable manner, and demanding the “Rule of Law” be applied, so that peace, which is the freedom to live without disturbances like riots, attacks by looters, and the tranquility of seeing tomorrow be better than today, become achievable for all.

LiberationLiberation is defined around the idea of setting someone free, releasing a person from oppression, and imprisonment.  Liberation and freedom can only be accomplished under the “Rule of Law,” where all peoples are held to the same standards, rules, and social behaviors.  Without regard to race, color, creed, religion, and lifestyle choices.  Who is BLM dedicated to liberating?  Why is BLM dedicated to liberating that population?  How does BLM plan to go about executing a plan to liberate?  All valid questions, but not discussed anywhere on the website.

ScalesJustice is the act, behavior, and the treatment of all according to a moral code.  For example, one of the earliest moral codes known to man is recorded as, “Doing unto others as you would have done unto you.”  The mainstream media has reported on BLM rioters and looters, destroying the businesses, shops, and employment of fellow black people, in traditionally black neighborhoods.  How is this tactic practicing justice?

Throughout history there have been groups dedicated to improving the lives of their fellow men.  Personally, I support these groups, when the fruits of their actions are evident in promoting a better society for the community they claim to represent.  Personally, I despise and loath any group claiming to be for a specific population and that group does nothing but enrich themselves at the expense of the populations that claim to serve.  Hence, BLM, which are you?  I cannot honestly tell that good is being done by your organization to the support of your community.  This is especially true when the mainstream media is reporting your members are pillaging, looting, and thieving at the expense of the community you purport to serve.

With all the disparity between action and published written claims, I am left to ask, “What type of group are you?”

Bob MarleyWhat do the following mean, in practice and daily application?

We are guided by the fact that all Black lives matter, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.”

For example, history has shown where skin color and personal beliefs are different if a person believes they are black, are they allowed to be members in full standing?  If a person looks to possess one skin tone but believes themselves to not belong to that skin color’s purported race, does this disqualify them?  How does this statement equal the actions purportedly by BLM members in the pillaging seen in America recently?

SocksWhat does the following mean in daily application?

We practice empathy. We engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.”

Does this empathy extend to police officers or other people of authority?  Why?  What does being empathetic do for your group?  How are the current methods of engagement with “comrades,” working?  How does empathy improve connection and context arguments to improve the black communities?  How are those efforts working?  Personally, I do not see any empathy, and the context of engagement tends to be negative.  Hence, I am asking honest questions, looking to open dialogue.

Content of their CharacterWhy this particular statement, and what is it doing to support child-rearing, and ending the practices that have been harming the black community since 1960?

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.”

What evidence is being used to justify this path of child-rearing will build a stronger black community?  Where is the time-tested research reflecting that the nuclear family structure is harming or causing a disservice to the black community?  In my youth, I was privileged to know many older black Americans who discussed black community problems, failures of politicians, and honestly looked for answers to pass onto their children.  In none of these conversations was the “village” methodology mentioned ascribed as a good method for improving the black communities.  In fact, the opposite was true and the older members of the black community were quite vociferous in their arguments against this practice.  What has changed?  When did it change?  Where is the proof?

I recently read several articles by economists who looked at nuclear families in all types of races, colors, creeds, religions, and non-nuclear families in the same races, creeds, religions, and the economic impact of not having a nuclear family was distinct and clear.  From only an economic perspective, those children raised in nuclear families, without experiencing a divorce, were multiple times more likely to be successful themselves, when race, religion, creed, color, and so forth were controlled.  I am not asking for convincing evidence, I simply want to know how this conclusion was drawn and understand the process for making this decision.

What is “public justice work?”  One of the major problems in current society is that of plastic language.  Plastic language uses words that sound good and stretches them into something that means one thing, but in practice is something completely different.  For example, “fair” is often bandied about as a term.  Fair means that all are equal and receive equally.  Yet, many times fair is plasticized to mean a slanted proportion of a population gives more, where another slanted population receives less.  Fair in this instance has been abused and plasticized into meaning in practice something it does not mean.

CommitIn reading the “What We Believe” section multiple times, I am struck by the frequent mention of the homosexual communities.  Without regard for race, America has roughly 4.5% of the population as identifying as homosexual.  According to the same Gallup Poll, without regard for sex, approximately 3.7% of the black community identifies as homosexual.  Leaving some questions about beliefs unanswered.  A recent research study on traditional beliefs in sexual prejudice and race found that the black community of males tended to be more traditional towards the role of men in society, and less open in their biases towards homosexuals in general.  BLM has been reported to represent the black community, has been reported to have their finger on the pulse of what makes a person black, and knows the black community as its members are the black community.  Hence, why would the black community report one thing to researchers and another to BLM regarding the tolerance of the community towards homosexual people?  Especially to the point of repeating multiple times the opposite of traditionally reported views.

Let me be clear, I do not care what you believe as an organization.  I do not care what you believe individually as people.  Provided those beliefs do not infringe upon another person’s US Constitutionally guaranteed rights, you may believe and act according to your beliefs without any qualms from me.  When your beliefs infringe upon another person’s rights, liberties, and ability to pursue happiness, you have now crossed the line and I will oppose you.  I swore this as an oath to become a Soldier and a Sailor and I would be dishonest before God if I acted any differently.

Action is a different matter entirely.  If your action support society, even I might not personally approve, I will give you a pass because your beliefs have become a positive action in a community.  If your actions are negative towards any portion or segment of society, I will oppose you to my last breath.  Again, this was an oath taken before God and I will not change to fit a social narrative!  Any act of violence is inappropriate and detrimental to society as a whole and the community’s aims and goals.  I do not care if that violence is taken by a KKK, BLM, Antifa, ISIS, Catholic, Protestant, etc. it is violent in nature and deserves nothing less than a violent conclusion.

Lady JusticeLady Justice is blind and armed for a reason.  Not to kill without cause, not to judge with the balance of mercy, and not to use her eyes to allow one to escape the same crime another would be punished for, that is true justice, under the law.  I support the “Rule of Law,” and as such will not see the US Constitutional Republic be destroyed on my watch.  The questions asked above are honest questions.  What does BLM believe and where are the actions supporting those beliefs?

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Tiger Teams – A Potential Solution to VA Issues: An Open Letter to Secretary Wilkie

I-CareTo the Honorable Secretary Robert Wilkie
Department of Veterans Affairs
Washington D.C.

Dear Sir,

For almost a decade, I have read and studied the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) from the position of patient, employee, concerned citizen, and now as an organizational psychologist.  During this time, I have read many Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) investigation reports, and yearned to be of fundamental assistance in improving the VA.  I have an idea with potential for your consideration, “Tiger Teams.”

In the US Navy, we used “Tiger Teams” as “flying squads” of people, dedicated to a specific task, and able to complete work quickly.  The teams included parts people, technicians, specialists, and carried the authority of competence and dedication to quickly fixing whatever had gone wrong during an evolution, an inspection, or even in regular operation.  It is my belief that if your office employed a “Tiger Team” approach for speedy response, your job in fixing core problems the VA is experiencing would be easier.  Please allow me to explain.

Tiger TeamThe VA-OIG recently released a report regarding deficiencies in nursing care and management in the Community Living Center (CLC) at the Coatesville VA Medical Center, Pennsylvania.  The inspection team validated some complaints and were unable to validate all complaints because of poor complainant documentation.  Having a Tiger Team able to dispatch from your office, carrying your authority, would provide expert guidance in rectifying the situation, monitoring the CLC, and updating you with knowledge needed to answer the legislator’s questions regarding what is happening.  The VA-OIG found other issues in their investigation that were not covered under the scope of the investigation, leaving the VA-OIG in a difficult position.  Hence, another reason for a Tiger Team being created, to back stop and support the VA-OIG in correcting issues found outside their investigatory scope.

Fishbone DiagramFor a decade now, I have been reading how the VA-OIG makes recommendations, but where is the follow-up from the VA-OIG to determine if those recommendations are being followed and applied?  Too often there is no return and report feature built into the VA-OIG investigation, as these investigators just do not have the time.  Again, this is what a Tiger Team can be doing.  Taking action, training leaders, building a better VA, monitoring and reporting, building holistic solutions, and being an extension of your office on the front lines.  Essentially using the tools from your office to improve the operations locally, which builds trust between the patients and the care providers, building trust between the families and the VA, and delivering upon the Congressional mandate and VA Mission.

Another recent VA-OIG report also supports the need for a fast response Tiger Team.  Coordination of care and employee satisfaction concerns at the Community Living Center (CLC), Loch Raven VA Medical Center, in Baltimore, Maryland.  In geographic terms, this incident is in your backyard.  While the VA-OIG inspection was rather inconclusive, and recommendations were made, it appears some things are working in this CLC and other things are not working as well as they should.  By using a Tiger Team as a flying squad, intermittent and unannounced inspections by the Tiger Team can aid in discovering more than the VA-OIG could investigate, monitoring the situation, and reporting on progress made in improving performance.

As an employee, too often the director of HAS would claim, “That problem is too hard to fix because it requires too many people to come together and agree on the solution.”  Or, “The solution is feasible, but not worth the effort to implement because it would require coordination.”  Getting the doctors and nurses talking to and working with administration is a leadership role, providing support to leaders is one of the best tools a Tiger Team possesses one authority is delegated.  The Tiger Team presents the data, presents different potential solutions, and the aids the leadership locally in implementation.  As an employee I never found a problem in the VA that could not be resolved with a little attention, getting people to work together, and opening lines of communication.  Thus, I know the VA can be fixed.

Root Cause AnalysisThe Tiger Teams need to be led by an organizational psychologist possessing a Ph.D. and a personal stake in seeing the VA improve.  The organizational psychologist can build a team of like-minded people to be on the flying squad, and these team members should be subject matter experts in VA policies, procedures, and methods of operation, and should change from time to time.  I have met many people from the VA who not only possess the passion, but are endowed with the knowledge of how to help the VA, and I would see the VA succeed.  Yet, I am concerned that the VA is not changing, not growing, and not developing the processes and procedures needed to survive, and this is damaging the VA, which leads to wasted money and dead veterans.

Why not have a flying squad for each VISN, who can meet to benchmark, compare notes, and best practices.  Who work from home and visit the local offices in the VISN, reporting directly to your office with a copy to the VISN leadership.  Whose job is to build the Tiger teams needed to oversee, provide expert support, and practical analysis.  The idea is to help you gather real time data, improve implementation of VA-OIG recommendations, and meet the demands of Congress.  If a Tiger Team, with the functioning Flying Squad, can save one VA-OIG inspection in each VISN, by improving that VISN, medical center, CLC, etc. before it becomes a major problem on the sSix O’clock News, then the Tiger Teams have paid for themselves.

All veterans know of the Phoenix VA Medical Center debacle, where veterans died while waiting for appointments.  I fully believe that had the VA Secretary had a Tiger Team in place, the root causes of that incident would have triggered the necessary flags to save lives and avoid or mitigate the catastrophe.  Flying squads are the Tiger Team in action, and action should be the keyword for every member of the team.  The mission of the Tiger Team should be to find and fix root causes, repair trust, and implement change needed to improve VA operations at the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), and the National Cemeteries.

The VBA is especially vulnerable, and in need of outside resources to support change.  Recently the VBA was involved in another scandal involving improper processing of claims for veterans in hospital over 21-days, resulting in millions of dollars either overpaid or underpaid to the veterans.  Training, managerial oversight, and proper performance of tasks was reportedly the excuse the VBA used, again, to shirk responsibility.  Tiger Teams can provide the support needed to monitor for, and encourage the adoption of, rectifying measures and VA-OIG recommendations, not just at the VBA, but across the full VA spectrum of operations.

Please, consider implementing Tiger Teams, from your office, assigned to a specific VISN, possessing the authority delegated to run the needed analysis, build support in local offices, and iron out the inefficiencies that keep killing veterans, wasting money, and creating problems.  I firmly believe the VA can be saved and improved, built to become more flexible, while at the same time delivering on the promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.”

I-CareThank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Dave Salisbury
Veteran/Organizational Psychologist

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Dane-Geld: A Warning to the Mayors and Governors of America

Dane-GeldDane-Geld is “a land tax levied in medieval England, originally to raise funds for protection against Danish invaders.”  The 11th Century saw many frightened landowners who wanted peace raised money to pay-off the warring tribes of the north, called Danes.  From across the land, the rulers gathered penny and pound to buy protection from these warring tribes.  When the Dane’s saw how easy it was to obtain gold, they moved in and took the lands, and whole civilizations dropped into barbarianism, and the only reason we know these stories today, were the warring tribes of the Dane’s met cold steel in a furious fist and were beaten back.

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem on this topic, called coincidently enough, “Dane-Geld.”

“It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
To call upon a neighbour and to say: —
“We invaded you last night–we are quite prepared to fight,
Unless you pay us cash to go away.”

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
And the people who ask it explain
That you’ve only to pay ’em the Dane-geld
And then you’ll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
To puff and look important and to say: —
“Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
We will therefore pay you cash to go away.”

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
But we’ve proved it again and again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So, when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: —

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!”

Who, pray tell, is the modern Dane’s?  We currently call them Black Lives Matter (BLM), Antifa, and other extremist factions in American Society.  We call them ISIS, we call them terrorists.  For terrorists they are, and terrorist history has called them from day one.  Requiring a fearful reputation for violence, these people come to disrupt society, damage business, destroy goods, and wreak untold havoc and destruction.

Gadsden FlagMayors, Governors, you have a choice, to pay the Dane his pound of gold, or to fight the terror in society and be remembered.  The Mayor in Philadelphia during the riots past gave up entire city blocks for the Dane’s of her city to destroy, the Dane’s were not appeased, they moved in, and now control larger sections of the city than ever before.  Seattle’s mayor recently paid the Dane’s and has become the laughingstock of America over CHAZ.  Minneapolis, Detroit, Chicago, and so many other cities across America have bent the knee, paid the gold, and will never be rid of the Dane.

You can try and appease a mob.  You can fight a mob.  These are your only two options.  There is not third selection possible, for the mob, you fear today will be your rulers in captivity tomorrow.  Ask the city of Philadelphia if they like their new rulers.  Ask the community of Watts in LA if they like their rulers post LA Riots.  You can break a mob into individuals and hold them accountable, and you can try to pay off a mob, but you cannot do both, and you will lose short-term or long when you act against the mob.  Better to lose short term and win, then appease and lose everything to the rule of a mob.

For those city councils crying to appease the mob with defunding the police, I would that you would take a hard look at the closing stanza from Kipling.

“We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!”


If you replace the word “nation” with city and county, you will understand the stakes you are suffering under currently.  I cannot stress enough the need for you to rise up, put some backbone on, tie on your work boots, and go to war against the powers of oppression and tyranny.  Call in the National Guard, the State Militias, we the sheepdogs of war will respond.  Do not allow America to fall on your watch because you think paying Dane-Geld is easier and more respectable.  For I promise you, if you do not stand against the tyrants today, the rest of America will have to stand against a stronger and more violent tyrant tomorrow!

The mobs, the rioters, and the looters currently rampaging are domestic terrorists, and make no mistake their sole aim is to destroy your town, your city, your county, your state, and your country!  Quoting from President Roosevelt, “We, too, born to freedom, and believing in freedom, are willing to fight to maintain freedom. We, and all others who believe as deeply as we do, would rather die on our feet than [to] live on our knees.

National GuardJoin us, ye politicians, who tremble!  Military Crests

 

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Structured Incompetence – The Department of Veterans Affairs and Congress

I-CareThe Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is allowed the ability to govern themselves, provided they meet specific guidelines and legislated goals and directions.  The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) was established to provide legislators and the VA with tools and processes to improve, as well as to investigate root causes, and make recommendations for improvement.  But, here is the rub, the VA-OIG has no teeth to help their recommendations hold the attention of those in charge to make changes.

In December 2014, the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), passed Congress and was signed into law by the president; FITARA is a historic law that represents the first major overhaul of Federal information technology (IT) in almost 20 years. Since FITARA’s enactment, OMB published guidance to agencies to ensure that this law is applied consistently governmentwide in a way that is both workable and effective.  2014 saw the VA slow the loss of private data from the VA, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Data Breach is gaining momentum and will crest in 2015, and in case memory has failed 2014 saw an explosion in VA malfeasance get uncovered starting with the Carl T. Hayden VA Hospital in Phoenix, AZ.

December 2020 will mark the sixth anniversary of FITARA, and President Trump signed a five-year FITARA bill in May 2018.  The VA-OIG in reporting progress on FITARA at the VA has this to report,

“… The audit team evaluated two groups of requirements involving the role of the VA chief information officer during [the] fiscal year 2018. They related to the CIO (1) reviewing and approving all information technology (IT) asset and service acquisitions across the VA enterprise and (2) planning, programming, budgeting, and executing the functions for IT, including governance, oversight, and reporting. The audit team found that [the] VA did not meet FITARA requirements and identified several causes.”

The number one reason for non-compliance after almost six-years was, “VA policies and processes that limited the chief information officer’s (sic) review of IT investments and the oversight of IT resources.”  Not mentioned in the VA-OIG report is how many of these processes and policies had been enacted since 2014.  The VA’s own processes and policies reflect structured incompetence, making a ready excuse to be out of legal compliance with legislated obligations.  If this was a private business, and the legislated obligations were not being followed exactly, no excuse could keep the leadership team out of jail and the business in operation.  Hence, Congress why do you allow this egregious behavior by public servants?

On the topic of structured incompetence, foot-dragging, and legislated obedience, the VA-OIG issued a glowing report of compliance because the VA was found to be in compliance with three of the five recommendations from a VA-OIG inspection on the Mission Act from June 2019.  The progress made was on all aspects of the Mission Act except mandatory disclosure.  Why does this not surprise me; of course, the VA has had, and continues to suffer from, a horrible case of refusing to report, disclose, and communicate without severe prodding and legislated mandates.  Thus, I congratulate the VA on being in compliance with the Mission Act for the last three consecutive quarters on a total of three recommendations from the VA-OIG; this is a good beginning, when can we expect improvement on mandatory disclosure?  Structured incompetence relies upon disclosure malfeasance, collective misfeasance, and leadership shenanigans.

On the topic of structured incompetence, the VA-OIG reported that the Northport VA Medical Center in Northport, New York, prior medical center leaders did not plan effectively to address deficiencies in aging infrastructure.  Which is the polite way of saying, the buildings are old and maintenance has been creatively haphazard, so when steam erupts from fittings and contaminates patient treatment rooms with asbestos, lead paint, live steam, and other construction debris, a small problem becomes a multi-month catastrophe.  Thankfully, the VA-OIG reported no harm to the patients or patient care restrictions from this episode.  Unfortunately, the VA-OIG cannot hold the managers and directors of engineering services responsible.  Having worked in several capacities in engineering I am astounded at the following recommendation from the VA-OIG, and covered under creatively structured incompetence:

“… The OIG recommended that the medical center director develop processes and procedures for submitting work orders—including for notifications when work orders are assigned and reviewed for accuracy and consistency—to help the center’s engineering service prioritize work and manage [the] resource.”

Will the VA-OIG please answer the following questions, “Why is this the hospital directors’ job?”  You have an entire engineering plant, with a supposedly competent director to oversee engineering operations, why and how should the hospital director be focusing such extensive amounts of time on the job that rightly belongs to the engineering plant director?  There are several technology-based programs and options that can perform this work, and form reports automatically based upon performance by engineering staff in completing work orders.  Why is the VA-OIG recommendation not including an automated process to improve performance?  The lack of oversight in the engineering department is both creatively and structured incompetence, because the VA-OIG report recommended following the master plan, reporting progress to the master plan, and suggested that the director of the engineering plant needs to be doing the job they are collecting a wage to perform.

Behavior-ChangeOn the topic of creatively structured incompetence, we find the following from the Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).  A veteran patient that spends more than 21-days in hospital for treatment is supposed to be placed on 100% disability, and be paid at the higher disability amount.  Those veterans with mental health concerns are supposed to have additional support to aid them in managing their benefits from the VA.

The VA-OIG estimated VA Regional Office employees did not adjust or incorrectly adjusted disability compensation benefits in about 2,500 of the estimated 5,800 cases eligible for adjustments, creating an estimated $8 million in improper payments in the calendar year 2018. The OIG estimated 1,900 cases did not have competency determinations documented for service-connected mental health conditions.”

Why is this another case of creatively structured incompetence, because every time the VBA gets caught not doing their job, the reason is training, reports not properly filed, and lack of managerial oversight.  I could have predicted these reasons for structured incompetence before the investigation began.  That managerial oversight, employees not filing proper and timely reports, and training not occurring for employees has been an ongoing and repeated theme in VBA incompetence since early 2000 when magically the VBA was behind in processing veterans’ claims for disability.  This theme stretches to the VBA inappropriately deciding claims for spine issues.  The same theme was reported in the VBA improperly paying benefits.  The list of offenses by the VBA is long, and the excuse is tiresome.  The VA-OIG reported:

Employees who processed benefit adjustments also lacked proficiency. They lacked sufficient ongoing experience and training to maintain requisite knowledge. This is also why employees were unclear on the requirement to document the relevant competency of veterans admitted for service-connected mental health conditions.”

ProblemsHow ironic that the root causes of a VA-OIG inspection would find people being paid to perform a job, but are not actually doing the job because they lack proficiency, training, managerial oversight, and are unclear on what they are expected to do in their jobs.

To the elected officials of the US House of Representatives and the Senate, the following are posed:

  1. If you hired a carpenter to enter your home, perform work, and you discover that the carpenter does not know the job they were hired and contracted to perform, what would be your response?  If your answer is to keep that non-working carpenter in that position, in your home, I must wonder about your intellect.
  2. How can you allow this structured incompetence to live from one VA-OIG report to the next? How can you justify this behavior at the VA?  How many other offices of inspectors general reports are reporting the same structured incompetence in Federal Employment and you are not taking immediate action to correct these deficiencies?
  3. Why should anyone re-elect you; when we the taxpayers endure this incompetence, paying you and them to abuse us. You were elected to oversee and manage that which we cannot; yet, you continually strive to perform everything but this essential role.  Why should we re-elect you to public office?

GearsThe following suggestions are offered as starting points to curb structured incompetence, improve performance, and effect positive change at the Department of Veterans Affairs, which includes the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemeteries.

  1. Implement ISO as a quality control system where processes, procedures, and policies are written down. The lack of written policies and procedures feeds structured incompetence and allows for creativity in being out of compliance with legislated mandates.
  2. Eliminate labor union protection. Government employees have negotiated plentiful benefits, working conditions, and pay without union representation, and the ability for the union to get criminal complaints dropped and worthless people their jobs back is an ultimate disgrace upon the Magna Charta of this The United States of America generally, and upon the seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs specifically.
  3. Give the VA-OIG power to enact change when cause and effect analysis shows a person is the problem specifically. Right now, the office of inspector general has the power to make recommendations, that are generally, sometimes, potentially, considered, and possible remediations adopted, maybe at some future point in time, provided a different course of action is not discovered and acted upon, or a new VA-OIG investigation commenced.  This insipid flim-flam charade must end.  People need to be held liable and accountable for how they perform their duties!
  4. Launch a VA University for employees and prospective employees to attend to gain the skills, education, and practical experience needed to be effective in their role. I know from sad experience just how worthless the training provided to new hire employees is and this is a critical issue.  You cannot hold front-line employees liable until it can be proven they know their job.  Employee training cannot occur and be effective without leadership dedicated to learning the job the right way and then performing that job in absolute compliance with the laws, policies, and procedures governing that role.  Training is a leadership function; how can supervisors be promoted and not know the role they are overseeing; a process which is too frequent in government employment.

I-CareI – Care about the VA!

When will the elected officials show you care and begin to assist in improving the plight of veterans, their dependents, and their families?

 

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

 

Customer Service Begins with Employees – Knowing the Paradigm

During the last 60 days, I have had the ability to see two different companies and their training programs up close and personal.  Both companies provide call center employees, and currently, both companies are employing a home shored or remote agent to conduct call center operations.  Neither company is handling remote agents very well; and, while both companies have excellent credentials for providing exterior customers with excellent customer service, both companies fail the first customer, the employee.

ProblemsCompany A thinks that games, contests, prizes, swag, and commissions adequately cover their inherent lack of customer service to employees.  Company B does not offer its employees any type of added compensation to its employees and treats their employees like cattle in a slaughterhouse yard.  Both companies talk an excellent game regarding treating their employees in a manner that promotes healthy exterior customer relations, but there is no substance, no action, no commitment to the employee.  Company B has an exceedingly high employee churn rate, and discounts that rate because of employees working from home and not being able to take the loneliness of an office atmosphere.  Company A has several large sites and is looking forward to having employees back on the call center campus.

When the conclusions for employee dissatisfaction were shared, the question was raised, “How does the leadership team know when the employees are not feeling served by their employer?”  The answer can be found in the same manner that the voice of the customer is found, mainly by asking the employees.  Neither company has an employee feedback process to capture the employee’s thoughts, ideas, feelings, and suggestions; relying solely upon the leadership team to provide these items.  Neither company overtly treats its employees poorly, Company A does have a mechanism to capture why employees leave the organization.  Company A was asked what they do with this information and refused to disclose, which is an acceptable answer.

Consider an example from Company A, a new hire has been in the hiring process since January, was informed they were hired around the first of April but was also told the next start date/new hire training class has not been scheduled due to COVID-19.  The employee is finally scheduled for a new hire class starting the first week of June.  Between the time of being hired and the start date, the employee begins taking classes Mon thru Fri, 1800-2100 (6:00pm to 9:pm).  The employee is scheduled to begin work at 1030 in the morning and work until 1900 (7:00pm).  The new hire asks for help with the schedule, the classes being taken will improve the employee’s skills upon graduation on the first of August.  Training is six weeks long, but the overlap is only 9 working days.  Company A’s response, either drop the classes or quit the job.

Internal-CS-Attitude-Low-ResThus, the attitude towards employee customer service is exposed to sunshine, and regardless of the games, prizes, food, swag, commissions, etc., the employee-customer service fails to keep highly talented employees.  This example is not new, and is not a one-off, unfortunately.  The example is regular business for employee treatment, and as the trainer stated, there are always more people for positions than positions open, so why should we change operations?  Since January Company A has been working unlimited overtime to fill the gap in open positions.

Company B informed all new hires that training is four-days long, and upon completion on the job training commences.  On day 3, training is extended to five days, on day 4 training is extended, and on Saturday, training is extended to a mandatory Sunday.  No excuses, no time off, no notice, and no reasonable accommodation is provided to make other accommodations for children, medical appointments, etc., and by the time Sunday arrives, the new hire class has already logged 60-hours in a week that began on Tuesday.  Several employees are unable to make Sunday and as such are now kicked out of training, and will lose their jobs once HR gets around to giving them the ax.

Neither employer offers reasonable accommodation to employees working from home, as working from home is an accommodation already.  Marking the first area of risk; if an employee works for your organization, regardless of the attitude of employee treatment, reasonable accommodation is the law in America, and similar laws are on the books across the world.  Yet, both companies were able to eschew the law and deny reasonable accommodation.  Company B did it by never responding to the employees after they missed a day of work during training.  Company A did it by forcing the employee to decide without the aid of HR, claiming HR does not have any power in the decisions of training.

Now, many people will advise the employees hindered in their job search that the company does not serve them.  That fit into a new organization is more important than money.  That if an employer does not serve their employees, that employer has no value and the ex-employee is better off.  Yet, the companies hired these people, went to great expense to onboard these people, and now must spend more money to hire more people to fill the gap.  Both companies will have to pay overtime and other incentives to get the newest new hires through training.  All because of the disconnect between serving internal customers and external customers.  Many business writers have said, the only customer business has, are the employees.

Leadership CartoonMyron Tribus used a water spigot to help explain the choices of business leaders where employees are concerned.  A business is either a money spigot and customers, employees, vendors, stakeholders, do not matter, so long as the money keeps rolling in to pay off the shareholders.  Or business is a spigot with a hose on it to direct the efforts of the business through the relationships with employees, customers, vendors, stakeholders, and shareholders, to a productive and community-building long-term goal of improvement.  Either a business is a money spigot or a community building operation, the business cannot do both.

With this analogy in mind, the following four suggestions are provided for businesses that either want to change spigots or need help building the only customer relationship with value.

  1.  Decide what type of business you want to be, and then act accordingly.  No judgment about the decision is being made.  Just remember, the greatest sin a business can commit is to fail to show a profit.  Employee costs can make and break employers and profits.
  2. Provide a feedback loop. Employees are a business’s greatest asset, the greatest source for new products, new procedures, new methods of performing the work, and new modes of operation, and until the leadership team decides the employees have value, the business cannot change to meet market demands.  In fact, that business that does not value employees, cannot change at all, ever!
  3. Be “Tank Man.” As a child, I remember watching the Tiananmen Square incident unfold in China.  I remember watching a man, stand in front of a tank and bring that tank, and several more behind it, to a standstill.  Nobody knows this man’s name, but many remember his stand.  Be the example of world-changing customer service, even if no one will ever know your name.Tank Man - Tiananmen Square
  4. Many parents have told their children, “Actions speak louder than words.” At no other time has these words been truer.  Act; do not talk!  Show your employees’ customer service and they will conquer the world for you.  Actions to take might not mean expending any money.  Showing someone you care is as simple as listening, and then helping.  LinkedIn daily has examples of hero employees who do more, serve better, and act all because their leader acted on the employee’s behalf.
    • Blue Money BurningConsider Company A for a moment, the time of class overlap was 1-hour. The number of days the overlap was going to affect that employee, 9.  Thus, for the cost of nine hours at $17.00 per hour, or $153.00 USD total, an employee was lost.  How much blue and green money was lost getting that employee hired, just to see that employee leave within two days of starting?  How much more blue and green money will be lost to replace that lost employee?

No longer can employer hope to treat employees poorly and still achieve financial success, between social media and modern communication, the word gets out that an employer does not care about their employees.  No longer can labor unions abuse non-union members autonomously.  No longer can a business walk away from social and community abuses with impunity.  The choice to treat people as valuable assets is an easy choice to make, choose wisely!

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

The Role of the Military in American Society – Knowing the Paradigms

Military CrestsAccording to the US Constitution, the President is the Commander in Chief of all the US Military branches including the National Guard and Coast Guard.  Article II of the U.S. Constitution endows the President with this power.  Article I of the Constitution gives the U.S. Congress the power to declare war; a purposeful separation of powers instituted by the Founding Fathers that underscored a fear of large standing armies and their potential to impede a free and republican society.  The term “reserve component” collectively refers to two organizations—the Reserves and the National Guard.  The Reserves are a Federal reserve force that augments the active component as personnel requirements dictate.

The reserve force is controlled by the US President and can be mobilized to meet the Federal Government’s needs.  The purpose of the reserves is to provide trained persons, available for active duty, in time of war and national emergency, and to fill the ranks of active forces when the mission demands.

National GuardThe National Guard has two missions—a Federal mission and a State mission.  The Guard’s primary mission is to support the States in times of natural and human-made disasters.  Guard units in each state can be mobilized by the Governor to provide support within the state or, under certain conditions, across state lines.  This occurs when the Governor declares a state of emergency following civil unrest or natural disaster.  The U.S. Constitution places control of the National Guard firmly in the hands of the Governors of each state, there are legal provisions that allow the President to mobilize National Guard units for Federal service.  The National Guard can be mobilized in whole or in part to support the nation in times of emergency, in response to national disasters, or in times of war.  The State Governors are subservient to the US President, and the Secretary of Defense, but answer as the Commander in Chief for the National Guard in their states.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 forbids the use of U.S. Armed Forces in law enforcement activities on U.S. soil, except for the purpose of putting down rebellions or enforcing constitutional rights if state authorities fail to do so. The President can invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 and go above a Governor’s head to activate National Guard troops if the Commander in Chief believes the response requires this action.  For example, school desegregation in 1957 following the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision, and again in 1992 during the riots in Los Angeles following the acquittal of police officers charged with beating Rodney King.

The PrinceWhere the role of the military is concerned, J. Pournelle and S. M. Stirling wrote a series of books that when combined form the compendium “The Prince” (Baen Books).  The stories discuss the role of government and the role of the military in government as a tool.  When things get screwed up enough, the military is forced to be the janitor.  The military is never the best solution, as the military solution is akin to the largest hammer in the toolbox for correcting societal behavior.  The military is not a scalpel, you cannot perform surgery with a bomb.  Thus, there are always innocent casualties when the military option is exercised, much to the chagrin and disappointment of the citizen population on the receiving end of the military action.

The US Constitution as originally drafted provided the American people the US House of Representatives as the house of the people.  The governors of the individual states received their own house as a means of keeping control of the Federal Government, the Senate.  The US Constitution was drafted to see the American Citizen on top of, and control, all the government entities with the Federal subservient to the states through the Senate, the people through the House, the judicial branch independent of the executive, and the legislative able to exert influence upon the executive.  The US Constitution had local governments to protect the citizen from the county, the county to protect the citizen from the state, the states to protect from the Federal, and all governmental bodies controlled by the individual citizen through legislatures.  The roles of governors and the power of the Federal Government have been corroded since the passing of the 17th Amendment 08 April 1913.

The 17th Amendment changed a constitutional dynamic and in so doing allowed the Federal Government to dominate the states, the House of Representatives lost the consensus of the people, and the growth of the government at all levels has been usurping the rights, freedoms, privileges, and power of the independent citizen for over 100-years.  But, before anything can be changed, the American Citizen needs to understand the role of government and the role of the citizen in government.

In discussing the role of the law enforcement official, (part one of this series), is as a community peace monitoring and behavior-modifying official, and tool of government.  A Military is a tool of the government, can command behavior changes, and uses force to empower obedience to the Government.  Consider the Tiananmen Square incident in China.  The local enforcement officials could not command the protests to break up; thus, the military was called in from the borders of China, to break up the demonstrations.

LDS ImageThe Doctrine and Covenants, Section (Chapter) 134, of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints (2013), provides clarification on the role of the citizen in government and remains a go-to treatise on government, law, and the citizen’s responsibility.  It must be recognized that governments are expected to be for the benefit and use of man, to create a good and safe society.  Governments use the law to dictate behavior, as agreed upon by the consent of the governed.  However, the government cannot and should not violate the “free exercise of conscience, the right, and control of the property, or harm the protection of life.”  The civil magistrate (law enforcement officials) are required to restrain crime, punish guilt, but never suppress or interfere with the freedom of the soul.

The role of the citizen in government is to support their governments, showing deference to the officials of that government, not support sedition, rebellion, riots, and so forth as destroy the peace and safety of the society in which they reside.  The role of the citizen is to be a vocal participant in their government is provided this opportunity, but nothing allows for, or excuses, rebellion, sedition, tyranny, or other such actions that destroy the common peace of that society.  The citizen requesting the laws be changed have a process for changing those laws and should make their petitions known to the government.  Hence, if a law enforcement official does something deemed improper, there is a system in place to review the situation and act if warranted.  The citizen does not have the right to take matters into their own hands.  Informed and proper action is spelled out in law; thus, use the law to improve the conditions, do not become a hooligan, and place yourself outside the protection of the law!

I would like to thank and acknowledge the work of SAMHSA for their contributions to this article.  As a precursor to the study of the military in society, I recommend J. Pournelle and S. M. Stirling’s book “The Prince.”  Truly this primer should be required reading for anyone desiring to learn the proper role of government, the military, and the association with the citizen.  Finally, the treatise on belief as discussed from The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints is a marvelous document that sits beside and compliments my copy of the US Constitution, Bill of Rights, and other American Founding Documents.

Military Crests

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Society Needs the Family – Knowing the Paradigms That Shape American Society

School of DarknessA colleague said I should read a book, “The School of Darkness,” by Bella V. Dodd.  As an immigrant in the early 1900s, the book is discussing coming to America, losing one’s belief structure with its tenets, traditions, and ties that bind, and discovering the emptiness of society, which tried desperately to replace the family and religion.  The author only discovers this emptiness and the need for family and religion after a lifetime of fighting against the influence.

The ideal family, found in many cultures, religions, and communities across the world is of one father, loving one mother, and raising children in what is called a nuclear family.  Early in the 1900s, the families with close ties as a family, who kept the traditions of religion, found in America plentiful opportunities and made strong the American Society.  Those nuclear families without strong ties to a belief structure weakened American Society, but not in ways or methods cognizant at the time, and only understood through historical observation and dissection.Nuclear Family

Consider, for a moment, James Hardy’s writings (2015) on divorce in America; in the Colony of Massachusetts Bay, there was created a judicial tribunal that solely settled divorce matters in 1629. “This legislative body could grant divorces based on adultery, desertion, bigamy and in many cases impotence. In the North, the colonies adopted their own approaches that made divorce available, whereas the southern colonies did all they could to prevent the act even if they did have legislation in place.”  Notice the distinction between North and South that was apparent in pre-Revolutionary and Civil War society supporting both conclusions needed for a strong community, family, and a common religious belief structure.

Fast forward to 2020, and the current divorce rate is 2.9:1000 reporting from 45 states and the District of Columbia.  With the medium marriage lasting 11 years and falling, and around 30% of marriages suffering disruptions leading to divorce.  The future of the nuclear family in America remains grim, unless fundamental changes in, and desires of, people change; America is soon to disappear.  The American Civil War taught this lesson well, the need for strong families, based upon a core belief structure that lifts the human mind from pettiness, selfishness, and authoritarianism, remains the two keys an individual will control to keep the American Republic safe from enemies foreign and domestic.

Role of ReligionWhich religions lift the soul, I do not speculate; however, I can tell how you can tell.  The answer is the same from generation to generation, first know yourself.  Second, research the religion’s works.  Finally, seek religions that bring light to the world sickened mind.  I have known great and good people in all the different sects of religion in this world.  The key I have found comes in living the religion, not just professing that religion.  As one lives that religion the tenets of that religion will either inspire, uplift, edify, and grow the spirit and the soul, or it is time to find a new religious structure.  Regardless, before the traditions of religion, the traditions of the family must be understood and cemented together.

Religion QuoteThe Jewish religious tenets are deeply respected by this author for the blend of family and religion that is born from the belief structure.  Some Catholic tenets speak to the same family and religious mixture, several Christian religions also speak to this mixture of home-based family-centered religion.  The Muslim faith tends to support a community based around the mosque, and not as much on the individual family.  The religious foundations and actions of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints are very like the Jewish religious beliefs, the Amish, Quakers, Dutch Calvinists, and more who also carry a strong family first, religion second, approach to building strong communities through strong religious traditions, by first focusing upon the family and home-based religious practices, building into strong religious communities, and then to strong and morally upright citizens.  Yet, I have witnessed the same in Atheist communities, where the beliefs of non-belief led to strong families asking questions, seeking truth and developing the person through strong familial bonds.

Building a child, with strong familial bonds, which will then build a community, a state, and a country, is the work of two parents in a nuclear family.  But what supports the parents in the difficult job of rearing children, the local community and the extended family are helpful and needful, but most important traditions of belief.  Dodd in, her book, reflects this lesson as she taught freshmen in college, generally from tearing the student from improperly rooted belief structures and transplanting them into the heady and hedonistic thoughts of social families replacing nuclear families, shucking religious traditions in the process.

Religion Quote 2Why is Communism doomed; because it attempts to replace the family with the government.  Why is Socialism doomed; it expands the power of government until the government becomes Communist and tries to replace the family with the government.  Why has Capitalism been such a breath of fresh air to the world through the American Republic; because it leaves the family alone from the fingers of government intrusion.  Government intrusion, which chokes the agency of man for the mind control of the government.  Fascism was doomed to failure, for it worked hard to replace the family with social groups, social families, and corroded the human spirit until nothing but violence and rage remained.  Does this sound familiar; it should, for this is the same path being used in education in 2020, learned in the early 1900s, and dedicated to the eradication of America through slow corrosion.

Religious ThoughtAs an older child in a large family, with a large extended family, I once asked, “Why do we gather as an extended family with all the expense, the work, the travel, the hard feelings, etc.?”  The answer never made sense to me then, and makes less sense now; yet, there is a truth in the answer that is more felt than understood, “We do it for family.”  In the movie “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye sings about “Tradition” and how familial and religious tradition extends into confidence and strength for the individual to understand who they are in society, and by extension in a country.

From the nuclear family comes confidence in knowing one’s self.  Does this mean that non-nuclear families are inferior; no!  It simply means there is a larger role for extended families and the community to render assistance.  Yet, the extended family and community cannot replace or render invalid the responsibilities of the parents.

Consider two families.  Family A loses their father as the oldest is just entering high school, the youngest daughter is just barely 18-months.  The mother is left to raise the family having married her high school sweetheart.  Family B is a product of divorce, the mother has custody of the children, and she and her new boyfriend work two jobs apiece, leaving the children to fend for themselves except when the grandparents can “take the kids.”  Family A the children continue to heal from their father’s abrupt passing and are strong in family and faith.  Family B the children have no roots, and they struggle with the religion of the parents and grandparents.  They struggle because their mother has no religious connections due to both employment and lifestyle choices.  The children are good kids, but they are confused, and the person who could settle their confusion, has abdicated the responsibility, and the grandparents can only do so much as partial parent replacements.  While the extended families and communities surrounding both families help and support as they can, the lack of parental responsibility and awareness of the mother in Family B, and the awareness and devotion in Family A, makes all the difference between these two families.

ReligionsHaving traveled across America for the last 25years, and ¾’s of the way around the world, I have a few observations that can strengthen the family.  I share the following as a warning, for if the family is not supported, the actions seen by the domestic terrorists in recent days, as evidenced by the riotings and lootings will only grow until America is lost forever.

  1. How much is enough? America is a capitalist and materialistic country; yet, for all that, there remains much good in America worth preserving.  Answering this simple question determines where standards, limits, and lines are drawn.  For example, how much sports watching is enough?  How much money is enough?
  2. We sacrifice for that which we love. It is a simple axiom, but the truth in a simple sentence.  Do we sacrifice that which is good for the better?  Do we sacrifice that which is better for the more desirable right now?  Do we sacrifice the best in us to fill an appetite?  Consider Family B, the mother chooses to never marry again and remains quite vocal about her decision; but, what is the cost for the sacrifice and the consequences of the decision?  Of her children, the first two are girls, who are confused.  Her young son struggles between the men of her mother’s life setting an example, and what he sees of his grandfather’s life and social circle.
  3. Social societies cannot replace the family. Social prominence cannot, and never will, fill the emptiness at the end of life.  My wife played for the funeral of a man who was politically well known, so much in fact, that the governor of AZ came to the man’s funeral, as well as many in the AZ State Legislature.  A couple of mayors of Phoenix were in attendance, some people with ambitions for federally elected posts were in attendance, and more.  Yet, I wonder today, 5years after his passing, if these same people remember the man.  My wife is still in touch with his wife, but I cannot help but wonder regarding this man’s children and grandchildren.
  4. Allow religious belief systems to change you personally, and your family collectively, through living a religious and moral centered life. President Adams, in discussing the US Constitution stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”  Look from the 1900s to 2020 and one inescapable fact emerges, the loss of the nuclear family has led to a degeneration of social values, morals, ethics, and people.  While the law has attempted to curb this dilemma, President Adams’ quote becomes ever more applicable.  America was founded upon a Judeo-Christian foundation of philosophies and the loss of religion is tearing America apart at its foundational core.

Martin Luther King in discussing individuals and society, morals, and religion, stated the following, “… you have got to change the heart and you cannot change the heart through legislation. You cannot legislate morals. The job must be done through education and religion.”  While the rest of the quote goes onto try and validate the opposite, Rev. King has a point, the law can only go so far in dictating behavior, legislating morals, and decreeing standards.  Without a moral and religious society, America has nothing, is nothing, and falls a failed experiment in improving the human condition.

moral-valuesAmerica needs strong families, which possess a core of religious traditions, practiced in the home, and acted upon in society.  The days of allowing truancy due to race, the communist teachings in schools and the lies that society can replace the family must be fought and won by families informed.  America can survive the current attacks but needs every citizen fighting for the survival of this set of ideals embodied in the US Constitution.  We need morality and religion to return as the core that motivates people to action for America to survive.  It is possible to win against the forces arrayed against America domestically and foreign, but we need nuclear families, and those families need a religious core; there is no other way.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Plasticization of Words and the American Political Left – Shifting the Paradigm

Non Sequitur - Plasticity of LanguageI love words; I was taught from a young age three invaluable lessons:

  1. Speak the King’s English with exactness.
  2. Correctly pronounce and enunciate your words.
  3. If you do not know what a word means, and misuse it, you are wrong and must correct your mistake immediately.

Growing up, these rules were inviolable.  You could use any word you knew the definition of; but, you had better pronounce that word, enunciate, and be able to defend yourself when asked.  Since 1990, I have become detested with two things the American Political Left has chosen to do that is atrocious and worthy of the vilest condemnation, racism, and the plasticization of words.

As a student of history, the American Political Left has, from the inception of political parties, been telling lies to hide political skullduggery and shenanigans, to obfuscate issues, and derail issues.  The plasticization of words has shamed many a person, has cast doubts that have ruined elections, and been exercised tirelessly to tear America apart.

Pentagon BureaucracyConsider a term oft used to describe the political left, “Social-Justice Warriors.”  Long have I asked my political left-leaning colleagues what this term means, how it applies, and the veracity of the term as a description of societal action.  Breaking down the term, we find three definitions taken from Dictionary.com:

Social: Adjective – relating to society and its organization; Noun – informal social gathering

Justice: Noun – just behavior or treatment; administration of law or authority

Warrior: Noun – an experienced soldier or fighter

Social Justice WarriorThus, to extrapolate meaning from the definitions, one would conclude a social justice warrior is “a person in society, looking for the social administration of law, who has experience fighting for the proper administration of law.”  Yet, the definition from the dictionary for this term is 180-degrees different and is termed derogatory, “a person who expresses or promotes socially progressive views.”  Those rioting and looting in the streets got there because a social justice warrior enraged the community on an issue that is racist, one-sided, and emotionally driven.  Lest it is forgotten, the term being applied to the people driven by emotion to launch protests that become mob violence is derogatory in nature, critically disrespectful of the person calling themselves a social justice warrior.  But, the social justice warrior carries this title as if it were a compliment and a badge of the highest esteem.

Thus, language is plasticized to confuse, interfere, and claim moral superiority, while at the same time damaging the basic fiber of America, destroying small businesses, and ruining commerce.  In reviewing the historical records of riots in America, the term social justice warrior appears to have cropped up as a neutral or possibly positive term in the 1990s, but by 2011 the term had gained its derogatory connotations with the rise of social media.  Many victims of social justice warriors claim they have been “thought policed,” “word policed,” attacked for not being appropriately centered on progressive politics.  The social justice warrior is often extremely biased, self-aggrandizing, sanctimonious, but first, last, and always puerilely unreasonable!

Social Just Warriors 5A recent attack by a social justice warrior regarded the inability of poor black people to have government-issued photo ID, and that without that photo ID, the poor black person would be disenfranchised in exercising voting rights.  My response was that holding any person down by race was racist, and the social just warrior preceded to become unhinged.  Let us be clear, anytime a person’s race is the sole reason that person, or group of people, cannot take part in something, is racism, and the person espousing that opinionated garbage is racist.

In fourth grade, shortly after the Christmas Break, Governor Anderson Elementary School, Belfast Maine.  The teacher is Mrs. Ohlund, I am repeating fourth grade because I was accused of being socially unprepared for fifth grade.  I express doubts about Martin Luther King and a negative opinion regarding “Black History Month.”  Then I am falsely accused, for the first of many times, of being racist.  I lost three recesses, had to write a paper by way of apology, and was forced to spend the rest of “Black History Month” not participating in the events planned and scheduled.

Social Justice Warriors 4From that day to this, I have been attacked for not seeing race, not being sensitive to the race of others, and refusing to allow a person’s race to be an excuse for poor performance, bad language, and infantile public and private behavior.  I remain unapologetic; I am not a racist!  I hold myself to the highest standards publicly and privately as my first obligation to society.  Without regard to race, color, creed, etc. I hold others to the same standards.  I am willing to teach and remain willing to learn as my second obligation to society.

Senior Chief Cloud (DCCS) gave me a tongue lashing in the US Navy because I could not understand the verbal interlocution of a second-class petty officer.  The second-class petty officer used “Ebonics,” while on duty as a form of speech, and I had no idea what he was saying.  Off-duty, this same second-class petty officer spoke differently and I was able to understand him, just fine.  I was accused of being racist, disrespectful, and obstinate for not understanding the intentional speech patterns of a higher-ranking person.

Social Justice Warrior 2I quickly learned that if any other race of person employed “Ebonics” they were told to speak properly, but there was a pass for black people.  When I pointed out this was racism, I was sent up on charges for being disrespectful to see the Commanding Officer.  In the US Army, I was the only white person in my squad in S. Korea.  I was never invited to squad parties, social get-togethers, or allowed into training.  I asked why I was being excluded and was told it was because the squad leader did not understand white people.  The command structure supported the exclusion, and I was left without support as a new soldier in the US Army.

When white people treat black people in a manner that segregates, separates, or allows lower standards based upon race, this is considered racism, and rightly so.  Yet, when black people reflect the exact same behaviors, the socially progressive elements in America rush to defend this behavior, and it is still racism.  The term racism sees no colors, understands no race, and cannot distinguish between people.  The term racism has been plasticized and forced into seeing colors and races, but only when directed in one direction towards black people; and, this is wrong!

In S. Korea, I met some of the most amazing people, gifted, talented, intellectually brilliant.  In S. Korea, I never felt I was a foreigner; the people accepted my small gestures to learn the language and were very kind.  Yet, in South Chicago, South Detroit, Bakersfield, Palisades, and other traditionally black neighborhoods, I am a foreigner, and the people not only treated me like scum on their blocks but insisted I did not belong.  How is it, I can feel more welcome in a foreign country, than on American soil, simply because of my race; this is racism!  The same is true when I visited Bahrain, and the Rock of Gibraltar, highly integrated societies, where I was the foreigner but was never treated as a foreigner or an outsider.  But, travel to Jersey City, Burlington, or Baychester and I was told to wear armor because I was going to be shot.  As a point of interest, Bruce Willis has this same problem in the movie Die Hard 3, and Hollywood treated that overt racism as a movie plot; this is wrong!

Social Justice Warrior 3In the name of racial equality, America has been taught since the early 1980s that words create problems, and some words cannot be used by “white people.”  This behavior is inherently racist and spreads the problems of race, not improving racial relationships.  During President Obama’s reign, America learned that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are racist.  Fluffernutter sandwiches are racist.  But, this is not so, they are sandwiches, food, and delicious.  Yet, through plasticization and a social justice warrior, suddenly, a staple of millions of people is now “off-limits” and cannot be consumed.  My local sandwich shop had to stop selling a peanut butter honey spread on bagels as a sandwich option because the owners feared being picketed.

It is time for Americans to stand together against the tyranny of plastic words.  Terms see no race, color, creed, and can do nothing but form expressions in communicating ideas.  People see colors, race, creeds, handicaps, and more, words do not.  The plastic words employed by the political left need to be called out every single time a new term arises, and the following are some suggestions for reducing plastic words.

  1. Get to know words and their definitions. It is okay to look up new words and use them in daily vocabulary.  It is okay to have a vocabulary to fall upon to describe, detail, and inform your communication.
  2. When in doubt, ask for clear definitions for terms. If this is the second or more instance, compare definitions from previous explanations, and every time the definitions do not match the intent, call that person out.
  3. Insist upon pronunciation and proper annunciation of words. The English language is beautiful when properly used, and the proper usage of language improves the world.  Be the speaker that makes flowers bloom in another person’s mind through language.
  4. Swearing, cursing, and vile imprecations do nothing but degrade the speaker and lower the speaker’s intelligence. Insist that speakers improve their language usage before speaking as a sign of respect.  I show my respect to you by guarding my tongue, you show your appreciation and respect to me by guarding your tongue, and communication advances both of us.
  5. Plastic words are a social disease and a tool of weak and untested minds. Remember, emotional outbursts are not tolerated by parents from children, and are even less tolerated by adults towards other adults.  Teenagers should be able to get away with back-talking and emotional hyperbole, why do we allow these same outbursts from adults?

Words DefinedImproving communication is all about knowing and using language succinctly and precisely, and then supporting proper social behaviors through courage and tenacity.  There is no reason the grocery store, the restaurant, and other social and community gatherings should be an atmosphere of foul deprecations, excuses for small minds to emotionally lose control, or for adults to imitate the worst childish behaviors.  Standards promote freedom, and the US Republic is all about personal freedom through responsibility and accountability for one’s self.

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Symptoms Not Cause – Shifting the Paradigm at the Department of Veterans Affairs

I-CareFor Memorial Day (2020), the National Cemetery, through the directive of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), restricted the placing of flags at several national cemeteries, upsetting the plans of Boy Scouts, and angering countless veterans, survivors, dependents, and extended families.  However, the intransigence of the VA on this matter is but a symptom of a larger problem.

ProblemsThe Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) recently released two additional reports on behavior unbecoming at the VA.  The first report concerns the delays in diagnosis and treatment in dialysis patients, as well as patient transport at the Fayetteville VA Medical Center in North Carolina.  The second is another death of a patient, as well as deficiencies in domiciliary safety and security at the Northeast Ohio Healthcare System in Cleveland.

The VA report from North Carolina includes significant patient issues, especially since two veterans died while in the care of the VA.  Significant issues are generally code words for incredibly lax processes, and procedures that are easily avoided, provided people care enough to do their jobs correctly, succinctly, and thoroughly.  Where patients are concerned a dead patient is pretty significant.  Two dead patients are beyond the comprehension of a reasonable person to not ask, “Who lost their jobs over these incidents?”

Patient A, has leukemia, and from the VA-OIG’s report we find the following responsible parties:

“… A primary care provider failed to act on Patient A’s abnormal laboratory results and pathologists’ recommendations for follow-up testing and hematology consultation. Community Care staff did not process a consult and schedule Patient A’s appointment.

Patient A died from a gastrointestinal bleed while waiting for transport to a hospital from a (VA Contracted) [long-term] care facility.  Patient A’s delays in care led to death in hospital, and the failure of a hospitalist to initiate emergency procedures contributed to the veteran’s passing.  Patient A’s death is a tragical farce of bureaucratic inaction, compounded by the same symptoms as that allowed for Memorial Day (2020) to come and go without the honored dead of America being remembered.  Symptoms not cause.

Patient B, was also in a (VA Contracted) [long-term] care facility, in need of transport back to the hospital, and the administrative staff’s delays had Patient B arrive at the hospital in cardiac failure, where the patient subsequently died.  In the case of both patient’s facility leaders did not initiate comprehensive analyses of events surrounding the patients’ deaths or related processes. But, this is excusable behavior at the VA due to frequent executive leadership changes impeding the resolution of systemic issues.  I have been covering the VA-OIG reports for the better part of a decade and this excuse is always an acceptable excuse for bureaucratic inaction.  Hence, the first question in this madness is to the VA-OIG and it needs to answer, “Why is this an allowable excuse?”  Don’t the people remaining know their positions sufficiently to carry on when the executive team is in flux?  Again, symptoms not cause.

The patient death in Northeast Ohio, started with the domiciliary, on a VA Contract care facility.  Essentially, the patient died because of methadone being provided without first gaining an electrocardiogram.  Oversight of the contracted domiciliary did not include accuracy checks on paperwork, but the VA-OIG found that for the most part, the contracted domiciliary was following VA Contracting guidelines.  From the report, no gross negligence led to the veterans passing, and for the most part risk analysis and other post mortem analysis were conducted properly.  Why is this case mentioned; symptoms not cause.

When I worked at the New Mexico VA Medical Center (NMVAMC) I diagnosed a problem and was told, repeatedly, to not mention the problem as the director would be furious.  The problem is bureaucratic inertia.  Bureaucratic inertia is commonly defined as, “the supposed inevitable tendency of bureaucratic organizations to perpetuate the established procedures and modes, even if they are counterproductive and/or diametrically opposed to established organizational goals.”  Except, the bureaucratic inertia I witnessed daily was not “supposedly inevitable,” it was a real and cogent variable in every single action from most of the employees.

I spent 12 months without proper access to systems, but the process to gain access was convoluted, unknown, ever-changing, and so twisted that unraveling the proper methods to complete the process and gain access was never corrected, and this was a major issue for patient care in an Emergency Department.  Why was the process so bad; bureaucratic inertia.  Obtaining information about the problem took two different assistant directors, two different directors, a senior leader, and the problem was identified that licensing requirements were the sticking point in the problem.

InertiaBureaucratic inertia is the cause of too many issues, problems, and dead veterans, at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The symptoms include delays in administrative tasks that lead to patients dying for lack of transport to a hospital.  The symptoms include cost overrun on every construction project the VA commences.  The symptoms include abuse of employees, creating a revolving door in human resources where good people come in with enthusiasm, and leave with anger and contempt, generally at the insistence of a leader who refuses to change.  The symptoms include a bureaucrat making a decision that has no logical sense, costs too much and is never held accountable for the harm because the decision-maker can prove they met the byzantine labyrinth of rules, regulations, and policies of the VA.

Veterans are dying at the VA regularly because of bureaucratic inertia.  Hence, as bureaucratic inertia is the problem, and the symptoms are prevalent, it must needs be that a solution is found to eradicate bureaucratic inertia.  While not a full solution, the following will help curb most of the problem, and begin the process for the eradication of bureaucratic inertia.

  1. Give the VA-OIG power to enact change when cause and effect analysis shows a person is “the” problem in that chain of events. Right now, the office of inspector general has the power to make recommendations, that are generally, sometimes, potentially, considered, and possible remediations adopted, provided a different course of action is discovered.
  2. Give the executive committee, of which the head is Secretary Wilkie, legislative power to fire and hold people accountable for not doing the jobs they were hired, and vetted at $110,000+ per employee, to perform. Background checks on new employees cost the taxpayer $110,000+, and the revolving door in human resources is unacceptable.  But worse is when the leaders refuse to perform their jobs and remain employed.
  3. Implement ISO as a quality control system where processes, procedures, and policies are written down. The ability for management to change the rules on a whim costs money, time, patient confidence, trust in leadership and organization, and is a nuisance that permeates the VA absolutely.  The lack of written policies and procedures is the second most common excuse for bureaucratic inertia.  The first being, the ability to blame changing leadership for dead patients!
  4. Eliminate labor union protection. Government employees have negotiated plentiful benefits, conditions, and pay without union representation and the ability for the union to get criminal complaints dropped, and worthless people their jobs back is an ultimate disgrace upon the Magna Charta of the United States of America generally, and upon the seal of the Department of Veterans Affairs specifically.

Leadership CartoonSecretary Wilkie, until you can overcome the bureaucratic inertia prevalent in the ranks of the leadership between the front-line veteran facing employee and your office, lasting change remains improbable.  Real people are dying from bureaucratic inertia.  Real veterans are spending their entire lives in the appeal process for benefits and dying without proper treatment.  Real families are being torn asunder from the stress of untreated veterans because the bureaucratic inertia cannot be overcome from the outside.  I know you need legislative assistance to enact real change and improve the VA.  By way of petition, I write this missive to the American citizen asking for your help in providing Sec. Wilkie the tools he needs to fix the VA.

The VA can be fixed, but the solution will require fundamental change.

Change is possible with proper legislative support!

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Fiscal Insanity is not Fiscal Responsibility – Reports From the VA

I-CareConsider your home finances, you and your significant other are working hard for the paycheck.  Your significant other comes in and reports they have improperly paid the mortgage company, the electric company, the car loan, the gas company, and the credit cards over the last year to the tune of $100,000.  These funds are not recoverable, did not reduce your balances, did not pay ahead, did not apply to your account, and your significant other expects to be praised for improperly paying the bills.  What is your response?

The Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) released a report on how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) remains out of compliance with the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (2010) for fiscal year (FY) 2019.  The report is replete with the obvious, the VA refuses to be fiscally responsible for American Taxpayer dollars.  Consider the following from the VA-OIG report:

In FY 2019, VA reported improper payment estimates totaling $11.99 billion for 14 programs and activities, $2.74 billion less than the total reported in FY 2018 for 12 programs and activities.

The quote is supposed to be good news, and a major gain, and deserving of applause.  Except, two programs were added between FY 2018 and 2019, thus reducing the overall performance.  The VA-OIG report states something that should be obvious to every household in America, “Improper payments are any payments that should not have been made or were made in an incorrect amount.”  Please keep in mind, the VA is not being tasked with eliminating improper payments, simply following the legislation, and reducing those payments.  The VA has legislatively mandated targets they are “strongly suggested” to meet.

VA did not meet annual reduction targets for a program considered at risk for improper payments and did not report a gross improper payment rate of less than 10 percent for six programs and activities as required. VA satisfied the other four IPERA requirements.”

The VA-OIG inspection for improper payments was not an audit, does not demand full and open books to be reviewed by third-party auditors for accountability of taxpayer dollars, reading the VA-OIG report is simply looks like the VA, including the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemeteries, self-report compliance estimates for meeting the targets.

Wrapped up in the VA-OIG report is the following gem of bureaucrat complicity.

“… Identified that four programs and activities have been noncompliant for five consecutive fiscal years, and two activities were noncompliant for three years.”

Thus, further reducing the overall adherence to Congressional oversight and fiscal sanity in properly handling the American Taxpayer money.  The VA-OIG reported that the VA is required to submit to Congress plans to come into compliance, and it was considered good news that the VA was able to do this for two high-priority programs with a monetary annual loss of $100 Million; but overall, I have to rate the VA’s ability to self-identify and self-correct fiscal problems at a very low F-.  The audacity of the VA Bureaucrats to not even follow all the VA-OIG recommendations, on such a softball legislative requirement mystifies.  From FY 2018 to FY 2019, the VA refused to comply with a VA-OIG recommendation, and this same recommendation has been carried over into FY 2020 in the hopes that the VA will come into compliance.

Blue Money BurningReturning the original analogy, if your significant other was reporting these failures to comply, how long would that person remain a significant other?  Yet, somehow, we, the American Taxpayer, accepts this type of poor performance from government bureaucrats.  The legislation is not working to improve performance after 10 consecutive fiscal years of trying.  Leading to the following recommendations for immediate Congressional action.

  1. Order a full, open, and transparent audit of the VA.  I don’t care what is found in FY 2019, just perform a complete audit and bring all the books and budgets of the VA into a single source.
  2. Set mandates for compliance with hard deadlines to meet. Without accountability built into a system for improvement, you cannot expect improvement.  Deadlines insist upon compliance.
  3. Start holding actual people accountable for not acting fiscally responsible. The charade has to end, the suggestions for improvement should never have started, and you, the elected Congressional Representatives, are responsible for correcting the fiscal ship of state!
  4. Insist upon adherence through personal liability. If a bureaucrat cannot handle the position they have been hired to hold, they need to be removed.  Not coddled, not protected, not another paycheck!

Congress demands every business in America be held accountable to basic accounting practices; why then does the VA get a pass?

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

The author holds no claims for the art used herein, the pictures were obtained in the public domain, and the intellectual property belongs to those who created the pictures.

All rights reserved.  For copies, reprints, or sharing, please contact through LinkedIn:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/davesalisbury/

Word Plasticity – The Scourge of the Modern World

Non Sequitur - Plasticity of Language

Consider the following term ‘Flaccid,’ which is often mispronounced as “flassid” instead of the proper pronouncement “Flakcid” (Calvert, 2008).  Whereas, the term ‘Decimate’ does not mean extreme destruction, but the death of every tenth man and originates from Roman Military punishment (Calvert, 2008).  These are but two popular terms that are regularly plasticized in English communication through mispronunciation, lack of understanding the definition, and always with a hidden agenda.  Everywhere in all societies, and throughout all of recorded history, we find intentional misconception being passed as intellectual depth, through the plasticization of words.  Plasticization of words is nothing more than disconnecting words from standard definitions for a personal political agenda.  Many engaged in the intentional plasticization of words are “thought terrorists” who are trying to run their plan and break the mental will of people, demonizing those with knowledge of words as ignorant, and using the court of public opinion to employ emotions as a means to kill debate.

Plasticized words make the most trouble and unfortunately, public education in America does not appear to care; in fact, public educators are some of the worst abusers of words, disconnecting words from meanings to achieve an agenda, again mental terrorism.  Poerksen (1995) discusses this phenomenon in some detail, and the need to be more cognizant of the problem is but a small part of the solution.  Poerksen (1995) for example brings up the term ‘strategy’ the context might not be clear, and without specifying the intention and meaning, the audience becomes lost very quickly, but be confident they know and are doing what they understood.

Hitler’s Germany was famous for plasticizing words to make socially unacceptable actions, to be understood as acceptable with no negative consequences.  Consider how cattle cars were used in the transportation of Jewish Citizens, by plasticizing the term “cattle” the Jews could be eliminated, society could consider what they were doing as acceptable, and the political agenda of Hitler was pushed forward, because a human of different religion, handicap, and so forth has been reduced to cattle.

Poerksen (1995) is correct in labeling those who intentionally destroy language through plastic words as tyrants and their actions tyrannical.  Mao was an excellent speaker, but his methods of deceiving included making words plastic to cover abuses of people, destruction of lives, and to help his followers feel good about what they were doing.  Ex-President Obama used a TelePrompTer because extemporaneous speaking is not his forte, and because of the plastic words which were bent, twisted, and molded to deceive.  We all remember the promises of Ex-President Obama where ObamaCare is concerned.  However, what is fading from the collective public memory are the plastic expressions lauded upon Bergdahl to justify nefarious actions.  Bergdahl is but one small example of how Ex-President Obama manipulated language to hide, obfuscate, denigrate, and deride the American People.

Stretched Words

Shakespeare (2016) uses Hamlet to relate a line that applies to frequently; especially when communicating online, “… thou doth protest too much, methinks.”  Too often, those intent on misusing words are the ones protesting too much about something and now every communication, every interaction, and every person is a threat that must be lorded over by the intellect of the one protesting.  A recent example of this the world witnessed during Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation process, where the judge’s children were physically and verbally assaulted, but a warping of legal rights and guarantees justified the assault.  A careful review of any newspaper, news broadcast, and many politicians speaking will evidence the plasticization of words to justify actions, e.g. President Clinton, “Depends on what your definition of “is” is,” words to couch a threat while seeming to be helpful and friendly, or worst of all hide abuses of others through twisted logic.  Every time words become disconnected from standard meanings, society crumbles, language becomes useless, and the consequences are multi-generational.  Exactly as what transpired in recovering Germany after Hitler’s demise.

I had the great personal pleasure of speaking to a senior from Germany who lived through Hitler’s oppression and the recovery of Germany post-WWII, and the person I spoke with affirmed the most difficult social problem was relearning words and definitions to communicate without the taint of Hitler’s Germanic Language.  Hence, we can draw several lessons from this experience, language is trained and can be retrained, relearning language is a social problem fixed through social interactions and personal knowledge, and personal responsibility and accountability remain pre-eminent in communicating correctly.  Another lesson from my experience, history repeats itself and those with dastardly designs will always corrupt language to gain the advantage, before showing their true colors.  Every single despot in recorded history has employed plastic language to lull the population into acquiescence, before demanding loyalty.

What is a person to do in these difficult times?

Words Defined

  1. Know words and their definitions. Accurately knowing and using language supports society and improves communication. Do not be afraid of dictionaries, thesauruses’, and asking for help in making sure word selection is the best it possibly can.
  2. Ask questions about words used when unsure. If you know a word’s definition and the context appears to be off, be brave, ask questions, and insist upon the other person either clarifying or using more simple language to prove their point.
  3. Stop all use of emotion in communication. The people who insist upon employing passion do so to thwart logic, stop debate, and ruin lives.  If the sender wants to use emotion, stop talking, stop listening, and let the sender belittle themselves.
  4. Speak simply. Write simply.  Language and punctuation are excellent tools to communicate, use them, not emotion, not complicated terms, and know your intent in communicating.
  5. Speak and write specifically. Pronunciation, annunciation, and clarity come with simplicity and desire to build value for others through communicating correctly.  Know the intent of your communications.  Know and understand the purpose.  Answer through the message, “What do I want the receiver to do or know?”
  6. Listen. Forget active listening; active listening is not satisfactory to the societies we currently live in.  Commit to listening reflectively, for in listening reflectively we take active listening skills and add the desire to achieve mutual understanding.  Lacking mutual understanding means communication remains unsettled and unsettled communication breeds areas to abuse words, meanings, and intentions.

Please note, this does not mean someone becomes a communication police officer or communication stormtrooper.  Fighting plastic words is all about the individuals knowing, doing, and being better as a communication sender and receiver.  Aware of the duality of the roles in communicating effectively, with a desire to be the communicator of choice others follow.  Plastic words are intentional, and the person creating plastic words knows full well their fraud and deception, e.g., Ex-Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton.  In choosing to de-plasticize words, we choose to respect those who plasticize words but not speak with them until they become honest communicators while monitoring through listening.

References

Calvert, J. B. (2008, June 13). Words, words. Retrieved April 25, 2015, from https://mysite.du.edu/~jcalvert/humor/words.htm

Poerksen, U. (1995). Plastic words: The tyranny of modular language (J. Mason, & D. Cayley, Trans.). University Park, PA: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Shakespeare, W. (2016). Hamlet [Kindle].

© 2018 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain, this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

Shifting the Paradigms: A Hybrid Leadership Theory Plan – Allowing One’s Self to Create a Leadership Theory Template

Man, as defined as a species, learns by doing; this principle of learning is best showcased by the poem “What man may learn, What man may do” penned by Robert Louis Stevenson.  First, we see, and then we do; if “Imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery,” as proclaimed, then leaders are neither born nor made; thus, leaders are formed through the flattery of perception and emulation (Martin, 2012) [Emphasis Mine].  For example, a new recruit in the military, any military, learns how to be a leader by following, perceiving, and copying those placed above them.  The same pattern is copied time and time again until the top of the leadership pile is obtained or until something drastic happens to the top rung, i.e., premature death, elections, and other influences. This theory of leadership evolution places the training of the leader squarely upon the individual aspiring to lead.  The aspiring leader must choose whom to emulate, and in choosing, form decisions about why he chose that leader over another of equal or greater rank to emulate.

Emulation as a leadership theory places personality, emotional intelligence, preferred organizational culture and environment, and every other aspect of the leadership environment into the hands of the person aspiring to lead as choices of preference, while also removing excuses and leaving the leader fully responsible, accountable, and liable for the consequences.  As a species, we not only mimic those we hold in esteem, we magnify them.  Thus, a learner emulates certain behaviors and increases those behaviors (Coloroso, 2008).  Just as a child is taught to hit by watching his parents beat each other and the child, the child will not only hit but also will not understand hitting is unacceptable and will increase violence past hitting to using weapons other than fists.  The third generation of being taught hitting is acceptable generally moves to murder and incarceration.  Upon emulation, magnification occurs, and patterns will continue until stopped.

More often than not, leadership through emulation theory is interconnected to spiritual leadership theory. Fry (2005) claims spiritual leadership theory “… was developed within an intrinsic motivation model that incorporates vision, hope/faith, and altruistic love, theories of workplace spirituality, and spiritual survival through calling and membership.”  While Fry (2005) continues to justify this position, leadership through emulation remains a great-uncharted unknown or only researched through the bias of religious lenses and discounted.  Yet, the great truth remains; humans learn through seeing and doing, and thus, leadership occurs through emulation and agency.

Religion is merely a set of beliefs and practices people adhere to voluntarily.  The term spiritual discusses closely related character interests, attitudes, and outlooks.  While not devoid of religion, spiritual leadership theory does not entirely apply to the reality of life with enough applicable strength to overcome individual zealots or the anti-religious zealotry found in many organizations.  Many people do not realize that allowing religious freedom means accepting the term religion without feeling encumbered to onboard a religious theory.  Fry (2003) expounds upon the spiritual leadership theory, and while this theory includes many aspects of corporate responsibility personally held dear, the reliance upon religion can be a hindrance for those followers who might choose to lead but remain anti-religious.  Wren (1995) discusses leadership theories but focuses too much on a few while denigrating those not mentioned.  By relying too heavily upon charismatic, transactional, and transformational leadership, Wren (1995) loses the forest grandeur by focusing on seeds, not that this diminishes seeds, but there is so much more to see and experience.  The following leadership plan relies heavily upon what works and includes pieces of spiritual leadership for the active moral and ethical code, emulation leadership theory, and flexible thinking in organizational structure design.  The result is a highly trained, experienced, effective leader, capable of creating success in many different industries, environments, and situations.

All successful leaders like Presidents Lincoln, Jefferson, and Washington, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, among others emulate moral fortitude and character as well as personal integrity to leadership principles and existence in productive work efforts.  These leaders stood firm for core beliefs including truth, justice, mercy in the face of war, and built followers, who could then lead in difficult times and lead well.  The primary chain linking all these leaders remains a single item: when faced with a decision, they acted with no hesitation, no spinelessness, and no hypocrisy.  By choosing whom to emulate, in emulation leadership theory, the best can be onboared, magnified, and broadcast back into the organization forming a bulwark anchoring other people aspiring to become leaders.  Brady (2005) discusses levels of influence in launching a leadership revolution.  Part of the first level requires the aspiring leader to know the environment, history, basics of the organizational culture, and much more.  The main point in the plan is to emulate the best, choose new principles to include, discover new ideas that work, and employ this knowledge in direct personalized solution.  Due to the high amount of emotional intelligence inherent in the current employer organization, transactional and charismatic leadership are of limited functionality.  Transformational leadership theory has more application but does not include many elements needed to enforce the plan or to achieve success.  Leadership requires follow-on levels of influence that include preparation, desire, understanding the role of learning and adversaries, loving people, and developing people, who will choose to develop others.  Of particular importance is the principle of loyal opposition, also known as a courageous follower.  Building upon Chaleff’s (1995) discussion about the “Courageous follower” becoming a courageous leader, who can influence change, lead-in difficulty, and conquer, it remains imperative for followers to become those they emulate or the entire period of training is not valued by followers (Yukl, 2006, p. 134-139).

Personal strengths include a vast repertoire of benchmarks, successes and failures, working knowledge of psychology, depth as being a follower in stressful situations, and the drive of a bloodhound to find and fix.  Skills and talents under constant construction include communication, manners, modesty, and developing interpersonal skills between peers and current leaders without causing insult.  Personal weaknesses include a distrust of followers leading to problems with the delegation of authority, a reluctance to allow failure in followers, and an own abhorrence to perform tasks a second time after a failure.

The leader currently in existence needs experience to improve as described by Brady (2005), Jossey-Bass (2003), and others.  The leader imagined and envisioned for the future needs seasoning to become a reality; thus, allow yourself or your followers time to build into the leadership plan outlined.  The gaps are minor, and the weaknesses cannot improve without more experience in handling complicated situations.  In vague terms, the timeline might look something like this.  Within the next year, advancement would be from customer care professional in fraud to a curriculum designer or teacher/trainer/coach of adults for the current employer.  Within the next three years, or by the conclusion of an academic degree program, advancement would be from designer/coach/trainer into leading other coaches/designers. Within the next eight years, progress would be to a service delivery leader guiding leaders of other coaches/designers/trainers and eventually be advanced to a director of corporate training or vice president of training delivery and human resources.  Keeping this euphemistic plan on track requires sticking with a single employer, building a solid personal brand based upon successes, leveraging educational degrees while maximizing the previous experience and new experiences into solutions for the employer.

Recognizing that attitude, failures, and other people acting as variables on this plan requires communicating intent, working with people to convince them that end goals are attainable and the change needed to realize the end result.  Until this plan launches, it remains imperative to exemplify Chaleff’s (1995) descriptions of a “Courageous follower.”  This type of follower can emulate those in leadership positions while supporting the good and learning from current leadership mistakes.  In a seamless transition, the “courageous follower” employs emulation theories of leadership and gains the advantage while building the needed personal brand and accomplishments and preparing for future leadership (Yukl, 2006, p. 134-139).

Avolio (2008), Brady (2005). Paine (1995), and Wren (1995) among others, discuss another aspect of being a good follower and future leader, liberty.  America throughout history has provided excellent examples of what occurs when free people band into a society dedicated to liberty, freedom, and individuals empowered to choose their destiny.  Being a courageous follower requires freedom of choice, and all future leaders, regardless of theories espoused, need to remember the power of freedom when leading.  While some leadership writers discuss empowerment as a panacea term for everything from agency to low-level decision making, empowerment merely is freedom by a different name.  Free followers are naturally empowered to choose, and with training, proper guidance, and organizational support choose with confidence.  This is known as agency or the power to choose with responsibility and accountability for the consequences.  Honing this power to choose wisely, while protecting the opportunity to succeed and fail, promotes a level of trust and commitment to current leaders that improve morale, lifts people, and builds robust organizations.

While less than bare bones in many aspects, the leadership plan described remains flexible enough for significant changes in future prospects while being detailed enough to fit into the current lifestyle of potential interested leaders.  Experience has taught that detailed plans tend to force a locked down mentality in thinking, creating a box that hinders, hampers, and delays.  While some details must be included, a delicate balance is preferred when dealing with the vicissitudes of life.  Staying on track with this plan requires courage, fortitude, and emulation of the best and brightest to become a reality.

References

Avolio, B. J., & Yammarino, F. J. (2008). Transformational and charismatic leadership: The road ahead. Vol 2. Bingley, United Kingdom: JAI Press – Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Brady, C., & Woodward, O. (2005). Launching a leadership revolution: Mastering the five levels of influence. New York, NY: Business Plus – Hachette Book Group.

Coloroso, B. (2008). The bully, the bullied, and the bystander. (Living ed.) New York, NY: Harper Collins.

Fry, L. W. (2005). Positive psychology in business ethics and corporate responsibility. (pp. 47-83). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.iispiritualleadership.com/resources/publications.php

Jossey-Bass, R. (2003). Business leadership: A jossey-bass reader. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Martin, G. (2012). The phrase finder: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Retrieved from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/imitation-is-the-sincerest-form-of-flattery.html

Stevenson, R. L. (n.d.). What man may learn, what man may do. Retrieved from http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/stevenson/what_man_may_learn.html

Wren, J. T. (1995). The leader’s companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: The Free Press.

Yukl, G. (2006). Leadership in Organizations. 6th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

© 2018 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein were obtained in the public domain, this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

The Johari Window: A Tool of Incredible Proportion – Understanding a Key Psychology Tool in Call Center Relations

The Interest GridTo understand a principle takes time; to apply that principle involves experience; but to indeed change a person, the principle must be absorbed into the very fiber or essence of an individual, reaching comprehension through mental, physical, and spiritual understanding, some might even say the soul of the individual.  Freedom is one such principle; the tool for remaining free is the ability to choose, or agency.  When applied to organizations, the same path to success must be tread, but with many individuals onboarding the principles is a challenge.  Many people believing the same way is often described as a culture (Greenwald, 2008, p 192-195), or society, and when belief turns into dedicated and repetitive action, a paradigm is created (Kuhn, 1996), also called business processes and procedures.

Agency theory is a tool for understanding how organizational cultures become cultures.  Individuals apply agency, and when many make the same choices, the creation of an organizational culture occurs.  Emirbayer & Mische (1998) expand the term agency that gives reason why Tosi (2009) and Ekanayake (2004) both classify agency theory as an “economic theory” and how agency theory “… shapes social action [p 963].”  If Emirbayer and Mische (1998) are correct, placing more emphasis upon individual agency opens doors into re-shaping controls, control mechanisms, and affects the entire organization.  The power of agency to change people, organizations, and societies is immense.  Recognizing that people will always exercise agency, guiding that agency exercise is not so much a discussion of control, but of harnessing energy and momentum to develop individuals into a cohesive whole.

Johari WindowThe Johari Window is a tool for quickly assessing a situation before making a choice.  Consider the job of a call center agent; they must be technically savvy, adept at handling multiple tasks while engaging in productive conversation, and must be able to keep a caller enthusiastically engaged in reaching a solution quickly so that the agent ay meet business set metrics and production goals.  The Johari Window is suggested as a desktop guide in promoting self-knowledge in the call center agent to improve performance.  Having personally employed the Johari Window as part of logical thinking, I explicitly recommend, that before handing an agent this tool, training must be accomplished to help allow for clearer thinking that often leads to more speedy action.  The first Johari Window represented links to a .pdf that contains additional specific information for improving training in the Johari Window principles.

Open Area

Of all the locations in the window, the open area position is where the majority of people want to stay; wherein everybody and everything knows and is known. The unknown is frightening, and change in this location comes the slowest, if at all.  Each call center agent wants to, and needs to, feel confident in what is known and where they go when they do not know; hence, training as a continual process remains the catchword in this location, even though it might not be well received.

While the location is desirable, rarely will customers call in because they already know something.  Agents in a call center should leave new hire and continual employment training and start every working day from this location where they are known and know.  The open area could also be referred to as the preparation location.

Hidden Area

The hidden area is where business in a call center will occur most effectively.  The customer knows what they want, and the call center agent knows how to deliver what is wanted and through reflective communication mutual understanding is achieved to make the hidden area become known.  Imperative to understanding in this area is the power of choice, agency, to choose to reveal only pieces of what is wanted.  If the customer chooses not to disclose what is wanted, it is not poor service when the customer’s wants are not fulfilled. This point is especially important in understanding the voice of the customer (VOC) survey results and quality call review.  The only time the agent is in the wrong, in this location, is when the agent cannot choose and thereby communicates less effectively to the customer, delivering a poor performance in need of remediation.  Both the agent and the customer have something hidden and something known.  The importance of clear communication remains pre-eminent in this location.

For instance, two top call center agents were continally competing with each other for first place evaluation. The agent who routinely came in second asked why. The answer to improving performance is found in the hidden area, opportunities that guided the agent to drop AHT/ACW and increase VOC into productive communication towards a solution.  There is power in the hidden area to capture and employ. Train agents to be alert for hidden areas to gain improved performance, not through active listening, but through reflective listening where mutual understanding between the customer and the agent is reached.

Blind Area

Of all the locations in the Johari Window, the blind area is the most dangerous for call center agents.  When the customer has information the agent does not know, the result is lost resources, productivity, and customers.  Of course, the reverse is also true.  When the agent has information about the customer and does not voluntarily devolve the information, the customer is surprised upon becoming aware and is lost because of this blind area.  Then organizational reputation damage is complete.

For example, I was working in a credit card call center and regularly saw agents not bother to bring up account issues to save AHT/VOC and other metrics.  Hence, the customer upon learning of the negative actions would call back because opportunity in the blind area was sacrificed for potential short-term gains.  Operating blind means the agent and the customer are in danger.

Unknown Area

Chinese CrisisOf all the locations in the Johari Window, the unknown area possesses the most opportunity for delivering upon a service commitment.  Consider the Chinese character for a crisis that includes danger and opportunity as equals.  The unknown always combines danger and opportunity.  Danger is risk, risk of losing a customer, risk of saying the wrong thing and insulting, etc.  Opportunity lies in making the unknown known.  In the Johari Window, when the unknown becomes known, the unknown quadrant shrinks and the known quadrant grows.  The unknown quadrant could be considered the crisis quadrant.  Good skills in mastering the unknown to thwart a crisis, eliminate danger, and win the opportunity to create a powerful customer interaction.  The unknown area is where confidence in training overlaps with the customer’s crisis to maximize opportunities for service excellence.  If there is a single shred of doubt communicated to the customer in crisis, the opportunity is lost forever because the danger was not ameliorated. The unknown has many hidden dangers to be wary, but fear is not one of them because of excellence in training.

Working as an agent in customer retention was very lucrative.  When we could probe, dig, and investigate, generally we could save a customer and generate new business.  While the company spoke about, preached around, and dictated the use of active listening, the retention department was using reflective listening to glean details and save customers through reaching mutual understanding. In the unknown area, both parties struggle with not knowing and being unknown. Therein lies the opportunity for increasing business by becoming known and learning knowledge that is not currently possessed.

While the current Johari Window reflects proportional space for each location, reality rarely allows for such clarity.  Many times, an agent’s Johari Window will look like any one of the following, none of the following, or a mixture of all:

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The key for call center leaders is to train the call center representatives to first understand themselves and then to visualize who they are in the Johari Window in each call.  The more familiar the agent is with data gleaned from knowing themselves and the business, the more power each agent will have to handle the calls more effectively and efficiently.  In teaching the Johari Window, one of the many lessons I have learned is that people do not understand and second guess their limitations.  If a person has, or considers having, a small blind area, do they know their equally important unknown or open areas.  More than likely the answer is no; why, because of the need to invest time and other resources into improving themselves and their approach to others.

When discussing the agents understanding themselves, the call center trainer, first line supervisor, and managers will employ the eleven principles of change as discussed by Luft.  The agent will need to understand the energy lost in hiding, deceiving themselves, and the problems this causes them.  Cause and effect play a significant role in visually attuning the Johari Window to daily work activities.  The call center trainer, first line supervisors, and managers will need to be able to answer clearly and effectively “why” based questions about processes and procedures, while exemplifying the Johari Window principles.  Luft’s Point No. 5point number five is critical in this process, “Interpersonal learning means a change [is taking] place so that Quadrant 1 is larger, and one or more of the other quadrants has grown smaller.”  Do we understand what this means; as leaders, we exemplify making Quadrant 1 (Open Area) larger by learning.  Leaders are teachers, teachers are leaders, but both teachers and leaders must remain loyal to learning.

Consider Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter.  Gilderoy Lockhart considered himself highly capable, gifted, and talented, but reality proved his ineffectiveness and limitations.  His example opens a second issue when using the Johari Window tool in a call center:  personal perception versus reality.  Gilderoy Lockhart would see his Johari Window as thus:

Johari Window - GL 1

Reality would suggest the following might be truer:

Johari Window - GL 2

The disparity between a person’s perceived understanding and reality causes significant problems in interactions in all types of societies.  In the call center, the agent will interact with various kinds of personalities; hence, the need to train agents in this tool and to understand themselves, including their likes, dislikes, triggers, emotional hooks, and talents brought to each call.  For the best opportunities for your agents to interact successfully, training them in understanding themselves is just as important as training the agent in organizational policies, business products, services, and sales techniques.

Ongoing, regular training remains a key component to highly effective call centers and capable workforces.  Without refresher training, regular training for new products, and annual training, the capable employee gets into a rut, the rut becomes a paradigm, and the employee becomes lost to attrition and slower productivity; but most especially, lost customer interactions hamper all levels of business performance.  One employee working slow can ruin a business, and the first indicator something is wrong is the higher cost of doing business.  Win the employee through training and then treat them respectfully to reduce operational costs and increase sales through training.

In conclusion, never stop asking why, encourage learning, and never fear using the answer, “At this time, I do not know, but I will find out and report back.”  When the discovery loop is closed with the individual, everyone learns, Quadrant 1 grows, and other quadrants reduce perceptibly.  Proving once again the veracity of the axiom, “Train people well enough to leave; treat people well enough to stay; and grow together as an act of personal commitment to the team.”

References

Ekanayake, S. (2004). Agency theory, national culture, and management control systems. Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, 4(1), 49-54. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/222857814?accountid=35812

Emirbayer, M., & Mische, A. (1998). What is agency? The American Journal of Sociology, 103(4), 962-1023. Retrieved from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2782934

Greenwald, H. P. (2008). Organizations: Management without control. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Kuhn, T. S. (1996). The structure of scientific revolutions. (Third ed., Vol. VIII). Chicago, ILL: The University of Chicago Press.

Tosi, H. L. (2009), Theories of organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

© 2017 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

The images used herein, obtained from the public domain, this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.