New Year – Same Ol’ Disaster at the VA! – Are You Disgusted yet?

Angry Wet ChickenWords fail to describe how much I detest seeing the same abuses week-after-week, month-after-month, and year-over-year.  To witness the disaster known colloquially as The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as told from the Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG).  Not merely witnessing but also being abused by the VA leaves such a bitter taste in my mouth.

Matthew C. McPherson of Olathe, Kansas, was sentenced to two years and four months in federal prison without parole for defrauding the government.  From September 2009 to March 2018, McPherson participated in a conspiracy to obtain contracts set aside by the federal government for award to small businesses owned and controlled by veterans, service-disabled veterans, and certified minorities.  McPherson, who is neither a certified minority nor a veteran, owned and operated construction companies that used the veteran or minority status of coconspirators to obtain federal contracts to which the companies would otherwise not be entitled.  The companies received approximately $346 million in federal contracts.  On June 3, 2019, McPherson pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and major program fraud.  In addition to his prison sentence, McPherson has forfeited to the government more than $5.5 million, which represents his share of the fraud proceeds.”

Honest question, how is this fraud any different from an elected official using insider trading to profit off the stock market?  On another note, does this sound like a plea deal?  If so, what was the deal, and who is being targeted?  Plea deals used to be rare; now, they are cropping up anytime the government has a shaky case.  Could Mr. McPherson have beaten the entire crime by using a better lawyer or connecting with a more powerful politician; of course, and that is disgusting!

I have applied for these government contracts, and the paperwork burden is immense, the bureaucrats authoritative and disreputable.  When will the bureaucrats face criminal charges for abuse of power in allowing for the defrauding of government?  Simple question, yet one to which no elected official will address.VA 3

Speaking of fraud and the need for bureaucrats needing to be held accountable:

“Dr. David Bellamah, a vascular surgeon who operates vein and surgery centers in Missoula and Kalispell, Montana, has agreed to pay the federal government $3.7 million to settle alleged False Claims Act violations.  According to the civil complaint, from January 1, 2015, to March 31, 2017, Bellamah performed medically unnecessary surgeries based on improper techniques and submitted fraudulent bills for payment to four federal healthcare programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and CHAMPVA.  The settlement agreement between Bellamah and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Montana, Department of Health and Human Services OIG, Defense Health Agency, VA, and a third party directs Bellamah to pay approximately $1.9 million in restitution and $1.8 million in additional damages.”

The article link is missing from the VA.gov website, reason unknown as of this writing.  I received an email about this story, which is why I know of it, but cannot link someone else to it.  Still, the questions remain, someone in the VA legion of bureaucrats had to have known and contributed to facilitating this fraud, and they are not being held accountable.  Why?

  • Patsy Truglia of Parkland, Florida, was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for his role in two consecutive conspiracies to commit healthcare fraud.  According to a multiagency investigation, from January 2018 to April 2019, Truglia and his coconspirators generated medically unnecessary physicians’ orders via a telemarketing operation for durable medical equipment (DME).”
  • Ramón Julbe-Rosa pleaded guilty to 12 counts including theft of government property and introducing unapproved new drugs into the United States.  His multiple fraud schemes included defrauding the Social Security Administration and Medicare by receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefit payments while working; fraudulently receiving unemployability benefits from VA; and falsely stating that his primary residence—purported to be in Morovis, Puerto Rico—was damaged by Hurricane Maria, leading to the fraudulent approval of a Small Business Administration Disaster loan.”
  • Wayne Bowen of Jacksonville, Florida, has pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft for using his estranged identical twin brother’s name, Social Security card, and military discharge papers to apply for federally subsidized housing benefits.  Due to his fraudulent use of his twin’s identity.”
  • Matthew Smith of Palm Beach, Florida, has pleaded guilty to his role in a compounding pharmacy scheme that defrauded the Department of Defense’s Tricare and VA’s CHAMPVA benefit programs of approximately $88 million.  Smith admitted to his role in fraudulently billing the two insurance providers for expensive, medically unnecessary compound drugs.  To further the scheme, Smith and his coconspirators paid approximately $40 million in kickbacks to patients, patient recruiters, and doctors in exchange for them ordering expensive pain creams, scar creams, and vitamins without regard to the patients’ medical needs.”
  • Seven Texas doctors have agreed to pay more than $1.1 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations involving illegal remuneration in violation of the Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law.  According to a multiagency investigation, from 2015 to 2018, the doctors allegedly received thousands of dollars in illegal remuneration from eight management service organizations (MSOs) in exchange for ordering laboratory tests from Rockdale Hospital doing business as Little River Healthcare, True Health Diagnostics LLC, and Boston Heart Diagnostics Corporation.  Little River funded the illegal remuneration to the doctors in the form of volume-based commissions paid to independent contractor recruiters, who used the MSOs to pay numerous doctors for their referrals.”

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1Take a moment, read the full articles reporting these crimes, and ask yourself, have ALL the guilty parties been held accountable before the law, or are some parties noticeably missing?  If you reach different conclusions, please note this in the comments, and let’s discuss.  Show me your thinking, I want to learn!

Fraud, to succeed, requires willing people in positions of authority not to do their jobs properly.  Yet, for all the rules, mandates, political attention, and legislation, the fraud continues.  Why; because if you are the approving authority and have a plausible excuse, you are never held accountable!  The situation is untenable; the maze of red tape regulations preclude honest people from participating and opens the doors for nefarious actors to swindle, cheat, steal, and profit.  Simple question, when will those legally responsible for not allowing fraudulent activities be held accountable?VA 3

The VA-OIG conducted a Comprehensive Healthcare Inspection (CHIPs) of the Charles George VAMC in Asheville, North Carolina.  Want to understand more about the quagmire of the VA personally?  Read one of these CHIP reports.  Long have I wondered how leadership could be fully measured when the leader of the hospital leadership team has been in their position for two (2) days.  The VA-OIG couches this by claiming the associate director had been in the role for 18-years.  Do you see a problem?VA 3

Where and how are veterans being abused, staff training, and the “Disruptive behavior committee.”  Some might ask, how is staff training an abuse to veterans?  What do you consider “disruptive behavior?”  Did you know if you ask a doctor questions, that doctor can report you as presenting disruptive behavior to the Federal VA Police and get the veteran charged and fined?  If you request to speak to the administrators and they refuse, you can also be charged with presenting disruptive behavior, hindering hospital operations, disturbing patients, being arrested, and fined?  The bureaucrats have designed a self-fulfilling system in the VA that protects wrong-doing and punishes anyone who dares question the status quo, and this is trained into the employees.  Worse, this is about the only training they receive that is competently delivered!

A CHIP was completed at VISN 8, the Sunshine Healthcare Network in St. Petersburg, Florida.  Congratulations are for passing the CHIP with only two recommendations for improvement.  Honestly issued praise.  My concern is the low bar for success that was surpassed, but this is not the fault of VISN 8’s leadership, but the VA leadership in Washington, DC.VA 3

Long have these articles mentioned and decried the designed incompetence found in every single process, procedure, and action taken by the VA.  It is not surprising then that design incompetence is still seen and cost resources.  Nothing new, but you, the taxpayer, need to be aware of this, for the excuses have run so thin you can read contractual mouse print through the excuses!

The history:

“In October 2017, VA entered into an interagency agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to use its Electronic Catalog (ECAT) to order VA medical supplies and equipment not available through existing contracts.  VA created the ECAT Ordering Guide to describe VA policies and procedures for placing orders and outline the ordering officials’ responsibilities.  As of April 1, 2021, VA had spent approximately $592 million on purchases through ECAT.”

The findings:

“The VA-OIG found that the Procurement and Logistics Office (P&LO) did not govern the ECAT program adequately.

    • The ECAT Ordering Guide excludes the requirement for VA ordering officials to consider the Federal Supply Schedule (FSS) contracts for sales orders; purchasing through FSS could have saved VA up to $4.4 million.
    • The guide also incorrectly describes how to apply the Rule of Two, potentially excluding veteran-owned businesses from contracting opportunities.
    • Ordering officials did not follow documentation requirements in the ECAT Ordering Guide, and P&LO did not conduct required annual reviews of the interagency agreement.”

Do you see the designed incompetence?  The VA gets green-lighted to consolidate ordering to save time and money, then develops the processes and procedures to open the door for fraud, theft, and abuse, providing excuses for the VA-OIG to accept when responsibility and auditing occurs.  Hence, roadblocks are launched instead of saving money and reducing the government’s costs.  Instead of bringing order out of chaos, more logs of chaos are added to the fire.VA 3

Worst of all, the VA-OIG has to invest money to tell the VA common-sense solutions, couched as recommendations, to fix the problems the VA purposefully designed into the process.  That is your tax dollars at work, your neighbors losing opportunities, and your employers getting the shaft intentionally by the VA.  Again, only for emphasis, I ask, “When will the bureaucrats be held accountable for their malfeasance and culpability in abusing people, committing fraud and theft, and refusing to do their jobs properly?”

When discussing malfeasance and designed incompetence, the following inspection at the Carl T. Hayden VAMC in Phoenix, Arizona, is applicable as an example.  The VA-OIG conducted an inspection to assess allegations concerning sterile processing services.  The list of findings reveals a lot of bureaucratic shenanigans, and with my knowledge of the leadership, I deduce the shenanigans were driven by leadership at the hospital.

  • The VA-OIG found Sterile Processing Services (SPS) staff failed to don personal protective equipment in decontamination areas.
  • The VA-OIG did not substantiate that SPS staff falsified Resi-Tests by documenting the same lot number for endoscopes.
  • The VA-OIG identified missing documentation of Resi-Test results from October through December 2020 but found that the policy was followed. Leading to a question about the effectiveness of the policies and the designed incompetence in those policies and procedures, which the VA-OIG never addressed as this would have been outside the investigatory scope; more designed incompetence?
  • The VA-OIG found no infection concerns associated with inadequate reprocessing of equipment.
  • The VA-OIG did not substantiate that SPS staff failed to follow validation testing requirements for biological indicators and Bowie-Dick tests for sterilizers.
  • The VA-OIG found that SPS staff followed reprocessing steps according to standard operating procedures and instructions for use.
  • The VA-OIG did not substantiate that SPS staff did not have adequate reprocessing supplies.
  • The VA-OIG found that floor-grade instruments received in decontamination areas were discarded and not reprocessed.
  • The VA-OIG found that SPS staff reviewed instructions for loaner trays upon receipt at the facility.
  • The VA-OIG did not substantiate that SPS staff failed to receive documentation for instruments sterilized at another VA facility.
  • The VA-OIG concluded that SPS leaders were knowledgeable of the practice standards.VA 3

Again, a mixed bag of findings.  After a tumultuous year of sterile scandals, it is refreshing (almost) to observe a sterile facility operating at standard.  Draw your own conclusions about the role of the leadership in this inspection.  To me, the most critical part of sterilization of reusable equipment is the proper use of personal protective equipment, but the VA-OIG did not appear to see this as crucial as I do.  From the inspections I have experienced, failing to use personal protective equipment properly is an automatic failing grade, but the VA-OIG only made a single recommendation for improvement.

quote-mans-inhumanity-2While the above are not all the reports from the VA-OIG launching 2022, they present the bulk of the criticisms and reflect the need for greater scrutiny and improved leadership at the VA.  More to the point, these represent the danger the American public is in from a runaway government that keeps biggering (with a nod to The Lorax and Dr. Seuss)!  The VA is abusing your veteran neighbors, and you are paying for it.  Doesn’t this stir in you feelings motivating to action?  If not, please ask yourself why.  Do veterans deserve to be abused relentlessly?  Do you like being complicit in a crime perpetrated by bureaucrats, cheered on by elected officials, and paid for by your tax dollars and the future of your children through forced taxation and out-of-control debt?  The choice is yours, I know my choice, and I WILL continue to resist the government atrocities every step of the way!

© Copyright 2022 – 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 images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

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Wants vs. Needs – Problems vs. Inconvenience

?u=http2.bp.blogspot.com-BKwWSo412lIUngTRkmSYwIAAAAAAAARd8GqxDhvovmRgs1600salestaxcartoon.jpg&f=1&nofb=1I recently encountered a highly emotionally driven individual who claimed to have a problem but could not identify whether they were experiencing a problem or inconvenience.  This person wanted but could not identify a need.  The heaped emotional hyperbole only added fuel to the fires of hostility.  From this encounter, this article is born.

Wants

Wants are things we wish for, desire strongly, and do almost anything to acquire.  First-world nations generally want material things, and in many parts of the world, food is wished-for in sufficient quantity to silence the hunger pains and provide a good night’s sleep.  Is coffee a want or a need?

Needs

Needs are items that are necessary, indispensable, and required for survival.  Many people claim they need coffee in the morning to “start their day,” but the need is the caffeine, not the coffee.  Coffee is a want as the preferred method for obtaining caffeine.  Lacking coffee, is this a problem or inconvenience?

Problems

Problems cause difficulties, presenting a puzzle requiring solving, people who are difficult to deal with, and personal matters requiring action, not merely words, represent problems.  For example, lacking coffee, the problem becomes how do I obtain sufficient caffeine to begin my day—a problem requiring solving to feel empowered to act.  A want, masquerading as a need, presenting as a problem, is merely an inconvenience in truth.

Inconvenience

Inconvenience is rooted in the word inconvenient, and something inconvenient is merely an annoyance or a disruption in the normal routine.  Walking to the coffee pot and not finding sufficient grounds to make a cup of coffee is an inconvenience as it disrupts a plan.

A simple analogy, but adequate to the purpose of helping to identify the differences between each item under investigation.  Wants are desires embodied; not getting those wants is inconvenient; plotting for a way to obtain that which is desired presents a problem or a puzzle for solving but cannot ever elevate a want to a need.  Needs are more critical problems requiring solving; not obtaining a need is not inconvenient; it is imperative, which if not resolved always leads to a negative consequence.

Exclamation MarkFor example, the Daily Signal is reporting, sourced from the Media Research Center, that the ratio for censoring by big tech is 53 to 1 Republicans to Democrats.  Does this present a problem or an inconvenience?  Is less censorship a want for Republicans or more censorship a need for Democrats?  Some people will erroneously claim, “It depends upon which side of the political aisle you reside.”

Why is this an erroneous claim; for the simple fact that censorship is a denial of liberty and freedom.  When one person is denied their rights and freedoms for political gain, everyone loses all their freedoms and liberties.  The Second Amendment cannot stand with the First Amendment.  Theft of the First Amendment for one person is a roadmap to stealing the First Amendment rights of all people.  The Third and Fourth Amendments to the US Constitution fall apart by removing the First and Second Amendments.  The legal framework of the Rule of Law is forever destroyed when the US Bill of Rights can be controlled by political operators for personal or political gain.  The importance of understanding the interconnectedness of the Rule of Law with morals, values, and the social contract cannot be understated.

What is the Social Contract?

The social contract is an agreement that all capable people living together in a society form with each other, declaring they will abide by a specific set of behaviors, ideals, and shared beliefs codified into law, which undergirds the “social fabric” of a society.  The social contract of the United States of America is found in the US Constitution and the US Bill of Rights, the first amendments to the US Constitution.  By choosing to be labeled an American, we agree to honor the rights of all people to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, so long as their pursuit does not inhibit another person from pursuing the same.President Adams

We understand that the pursuits of life, liberty, and happiness are a path, a journey, not a destination, and not a guarantee.  We respect those who achieve and emulate them to reach the same potential destination.  We Americans possess hope, born of struggle, that we can achieve liberty and happiness fairly and realize the consequences are ours alone to enjoy or curse based upon our decisions individually.

Let me pause here; currently in K-12 education, witnessed in Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Seattle, and many other locations, the public education system is intentionally abusing children.  Stealing their potential by refusing to teach them, and in so doing is raising generations of people who will struggle their entire lives in captivity and ignorance.  These actions by teachers, administrators, and elected political officials are intentional and stand in direct opposition to the social contract.  However, the children, and their parents, retain the ability to choose a different path, even if it means trying to learn how to read, write, and figure independent from the school abuse.  Individual agency to pursue life, liberty, and happiness is the first and quintessential aspect of being an American!

Here’s the rub…

Despite government intervention, the government arbitrarily picks for political gain and personal advancement (through cheating) those which achieve without effort, and Americans inherently despise this aspect of government.  Consider the vitriol thrown at Hunter Biden, who has achieved, lived beyond his means, and benefitted from his family’s political connections.  The Pelosi’s, Kennedy’s, Clinton’s, Obama’s, Romney’s, and so many others who have achieved, living off the backs of pioneers, but have not contributed, breaks the social contract.  Theft, lying, and breach of honor in America are crimes, but when the criminals escape justice, this breeds contempt, copy cats, and empowers others into chasing the same path to a modicum of success through devious and nefarious means—rendering the social contract impotent, sundering any hope of success without government intervention, and placing millions of Americans into captivity.quote-mans-inhumanity

Look at the disgust America has for Big Technology firms.  While these firms have achieved and pioneered success, they have turned monopolistic, oligarchical, and thwarted their competitors, all for personal gain.  How are these companies pursuing keeping their gains?  They are employing the government authority.  They are using mergers to acquire intellectual property to protect their revenues, abusing the power of law, all of which harms competition.  This also breaks the social contract, sundering the social fabric of America and destroying the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness of others.

The want of power is breeding a need for correction in America by the oppressed.  Look at the rising feelings of freedom as expressed in the #FreedomConvoy.  Other examples include the protests against the interminable government mandates, the continued spreading of information deemed by the government, and Big Tech as “misinformation.”  Presenting us with a question is this a problem or inconvenience; the answer is PROBLEM!  This means there is a solution to the problem and a path to fix the rips in the social fabric and mend the social contract in America.

What is the solution?

With a nod to The Lorax and Dr. Seuss:

“I, the Once-ler, felt sad
as I watched them all go.
BUT…
business is business!
And business must grow
regardless of crummies in tummies, you know.

I meant no harm.  I most truly did not.
But I had to grow bigger.  So bigger I got.
I biggered my factory.  I biggered my roads.
I biggered my wagons.  I biggered the loads
of the Thneeds, I shipped out.  I was shipping them forth
to the South!  To the East!  To the West!  To the North!
I went right on biggering… selling more Thneeds.
And I biggered by money, which everyone needs.”

Return to the Rule of Law, smaller government, and stricter adherence to a moral code.  Some will claim, also erroneously, this is not the solution or is only a solution in a “perfect” “utopian” world.  However, I counter with the following, “What has brought America to this precipice?”  The 1880s saw the rise of bureaucrats restricting the ability to read, as a means of controlling the population, born of fear, and as racist an action as enslaving people!  Post-WWI, repeated more severely Post-WWII, the rise in government as a means of “recovering from war.”

Father Mulcahy 4Trace through history, and every time the government has undertaken a path to grow, the industrial complex has more closely tied itself to biggering government as a path to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  However, the growth of government has come at the expense of the electorate through increased laws and legislation, bureaucratic mandate, and larger standing police organizations.  All this while simultaneously reducing the quality of education, restricting the power to read, write, and figure, and calling the advances “progress.”  Restrictions on competition, merging to form larger military-industrial organizations, and increased costs have shut out citizens from politics, thus capturing the reigns of government to keep feeding the growing beast.

Recently Biden has begun pounding the war drums to escape the financial problems, social unrest, and other problems at home.  He is sending congressional representatives out to try and support protecting the national borders of Ukraine while removing and destroying the borders of the USA.  Why take this path of war and destruction; because it has always worked previously.  If Biden can get America focused on war, he can keep biggering the government without scrutiny and with the tacit approval of the electorate.

?u=http3.bp.blogspot.com-CIl2VSm-mmgTZ0wMvH5UGIAAAAAAAAB20QA9_IiyVhYss1600showme_board3.jpg&f=1&nofb=1Look at history, especially recent history, and you will find that the most nefarious, liberty stealing regulations, legislation, and bureaucratic mandates have come while America was focused on 9/11, Afghanistan, Iran, ISIS, and the list goes on and on.  The hellaciously destructive and misnamed “Patriot Act” was born from 9/11, when had we merely focused on enforcing the laws already on the books, Americans inside America would not have lost all constitutional rights within their own country.  The Patriot Act is but one example of the problems created by confusing wants and needs, mistaking a problem for an inconvenience, and using the cudgel of government authority to force behavior changes in the citizenry.

The 9/11 commission found hundreds of places where the bureaucrats enforcing government failed, but were any of these people held accountable?  Were any bureaucrats forced from their cushy jobs and made to pay restitution?  Of course not, because this would have made the American government at fault as a co-conspirator and facilitator of 9/11’s terror attacks.  So, the solution was to avoid culpability, shirk responsibility, and appease the bureaucrats at the expense of all citizens.Gravy Train

COVID-19 is another example of runaway liberty theft, rights reduction, and smoke and mirror charades.  The government seized power from the people, biggered itself, and broke the laws for convenience while the electorate was focused elsewhere.  How’s that bigger government working for you?  Are you tired of being authoritatively ruled, restricted in your pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness?  Do you understand the problem?  If so, what do you need?

COVID-19 is a viral disease, humanity has survived a lot of viral diseases, yet COVID is somehow different, or so we have been told.  Since COVID kills less than .01%, the response has to be the complete and total destruction of the Rule of Law, the restriction of rights, liberties, and the destruction of all we have held dear.  But none of those mandating will answer why or how COVID is different from any other viral disease humanity has survived.

The government needs to bigger itself, or it dies.  In competition with a bigger government, the citizens need to be “… secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects.”  The party winning in this competition must be the citizen, and the citizen must staunchly defend all encroachment to their privacy, rights, freedoms, and liberties under the Rule of Law.  We, the American Citizens, deserve a smaller and less expensive government; this is not a problem or inconvenience; it is a necessity!

LinkedIn ImageIf you believe in the potential of all to pursue life, liberty, and happiness, join me!  If you prefer the thumb of government and the boot of oppression, find me when you tire of being abused, cheated, used as cannon fodder for illicit wars, and robbed from, so a select few government employees and elected representatives can live off your sweat and tears.  This is the stark reality we are living in right now!  We must choose a side and then stand.  As Father Mulchay said, “You can’t miss when you have good material.”  We, those who stand fast in our liberty, cannot miss, we have good material (the US Constitution), and we can win the day!

© Copyright 2022 – 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 images.  Quoted materials remain the property of the original author.

Unconscious Bias – A Fallacy of the Oppressor!

Bobblehead DollA few years ago, I had the unfortunate privilege of having for a manager a homosexual person.  Let me emphasize; I do not care about your personal choices and lifestyle; keep it to yourself and out of the workspace.  Hetero- or homosexual, does not matter; it does not belong in the workplace!  Back to the manager, as he was openly homosexual, he embraced all the biases claptrap and accused me of being racist and homophobic.quote-mans-inhumanity

Of which, I am neither.  When informed that I am neither homophobic nor racist, sexist, genderist, etc., I was told he was observing my unconscious biases and claiming that I was not biased was actually declaring I was heavily biased.  He then went so far as to write me up for being biased.  At the time, I had not studied the research on biases and could not counter his charges.  This manager chose to stand inside personal space for the guys on his team, but not the females, which was sexual harassment, but the business refused to think this was sexual harassment.  That this manager continually rubbed himself against the guys on his team was also rejected as sexual harassment.quote-mans-inhumanity-2

I have learned much since this incident, and I want to help those in similar situations understand a few pieces of the language plasticity that goes into the bias arguments.  I will be clear that if a heterosexual male rubs against a female, which is considered sexual harassment, then the same is true for a homosexual, regardless of gender.  Being uncomfortable with being touched is not an indication of bias, simply an expression of a personal preference.

Unconscious Bias

3-direectional-balanceBog-standard bias is considered as attitudes, behaviors, and actions that are prejudiced in favor or opposition to a person, group, or thing.  But, here is the clincher, bias is judged by others as a projection of themselves when they encounter other people, places, or things.  If you think you have a handle on the language of biases, an unconscious bias is also called an implicit bias.  Implicit bias is described as bias that occurs automatically and unintentionally, that nevertheless affects judgments, decisions, and behaviors, however just to keep you in the dark, implicit biases are also stereotypes.  In social identity theory, an implicit bias or implicit stereotype is the pre-reflective attribution of particular qualities by an individual to a social out-group member. Implicit stereotypes are shaped by experience and learned associations between certain qualities and social categories, including race or gender.

Now, if you think you finally have a grasp on biases, stereotypes, and preferences, we add the final straw to the argument.  Biases and stereotypes are judged by an observer using their understanding, education, experience, and opinions as a projection upon you and your actions, behaviors, and attitudes as a lens to understand the world around them.  Thus, my not saying “Good Morning” to my manager was projecting his own biased thinking and homophobia, declaring my actions are homophobic slurs.  In reality, I am not a morning person and generally do not talk to anyone, spouse included, before 0800.  Walking in at 0400 to begin a shift in a call center meant my cherub-like demeanor had not woken up yet, and silence was the only policy.

Bias Self-AuditingWhy

In my email box, I have an email that includes a self-audit of bias for managers.  Before continuing, consider what you know about bias.  Bias is the thoughts, feelings, ideas, and visions of another person, project upon you and your actions, attitudes, and behaviors, so the person projecting can understand the world.  I cleaned up the obvious grammatical errors, not that this improved the material very much.

How and to whom do you delegate work?

            • By giving specific tasks to one team member, am I depriving another team member of a growth opportunity?
            • Am I giving the same level of detail, and therefore equally setting each team member up for success when I assign projects?

End goal: Ensuring that everyone has an equal chance to take on challenging and meaningful projects

How do you give feedback to different direct reports?

            • Am I delivering feedback casually to some team members and formally to others?
            • Do I soften critiques for some team members more than others?

End goal: Making sure you’re delivering feedback equitably.

Any generalizations you make about team members.

            • What kind of assumptions am I making about team members based on age, ethnic background, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, appearance, or anything else?
            • Do my assumptions impact how I feel about their capability and competency?

End goal: Minimizing the perpetuation of stereotypes while practicing and displaying empathy.

Who do you praise publicly, and who do not praise publicly?

            • Is there a personal motivation behind team members I praise publicly and those for whom I withhold praise?
            • Do I limit the exposure of my compliments for some team members and show my appreciation more widely for others?

End goal: Ensuring that you’re sharing accolades fairly.

How and with whom do you exchange casual banter?

            • Do I have friendly conversations or share memes with some teammates more than others? How might that affect workplace alliances?
            • Do some teammates feel alienated or marginalized by witnessing my apparent affinity for other teammates?

End goal: Avoiding outsized allegiances with people based on your shared perspective to the detriment of developing relationships with others with different viewpoints.

Who do you go to for advice?

            • Do I go to the same people time and time again for mentorship? Do they look like me?
            • Are there people to whom I could go for advice and a more expansive perspective?

End goal: Avoid making decisions based only on the feedback shared in an echo chamber.

Consider these statements with me for a moment as part of a discussion on biases.  Feel free to leave your comments in the space provided below this article.  When I need advice, my manager is younger than I am, but has years of experience in the company.  His boss is older than I am by a little bit.  They both look like me.  Does this automatically mean that I must sacrifice talents, skills, abilities, and tenure because the information comes from someone who looks like I do?  No, logic screams.  But the emotional immaturity of those casting biased aspersion will claim yes.Anton Ego

When I first arrived on my ship USS Barry (DDG 52), my second-class petty officers were two white males, one black male, and one black female.  For competence, I went to the black female as she displayed the most leadership—the two white males were involved in their own relationships and were rarely available to answer questions.  The black male did not possess the maturity to answer questions.  The first-class petty officers were three white males, two of whom embodied immaturity, and our chief… well, let’s not speak ill of the dead.  If I acted as these bias audits claim, my Navy career would have been disastrous, for I would have rejected competency and maturity for race, gender, and incompetence.

Suggestions, Ideas, and Thoughts

Stop seeing race, gender, nationality, and other lines of separation.  These are distractions cast upon everyone by foul oppressors who see these lines of separation and project their inadequacies upon everyone else.  It is perfectly acceptable not to have biases and claim you have no preferences.  I do not care about your gender, race, color, creed, religion, handicap status, or anything else.  I care only about your competency, and if I can help you, or you can help me increase competency, let’s work together!cropped-rocks-in-a-stream-2.jpg

Believe that you are a good person!  I know those projecting their inadequacies and claiming you have biases are profoundly pernicious in their approaches.  But, when you have confidence that you are doing the best you can, you can rest easy when these pernicious oppressors begin to attempt to humiliate you.  In the movie “The Sound of Music,” there is a song called “I Have Confidence.”  When you need reminding of your goodness, play this song, and sing along at the top of your lungs!  I promise you will feel better!

When you treat everyone as you desire to be treated, without fear and with confidence, you will always have loyal people at your back to support you.  If you live by implicit bias and fear, the whole world will never trust you, and you will not have confidence in yourself.  Those who oppress want you miserable; deny them that opportunity!Knowledge Check!

Living without biases is possible, is easy, but is sometimes not very convenient.  But, as Mr. Miagi said in the original “Karate Kid,” “Man who walks in street, gets squished like grape.”  Dr. Seuss is right, “Be the best you, you can be.”  Stop allowing the oppressors into your mind; they are not worth your time.

© 2021 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.

NO MORE BS: You!

Andragogy - The PuzzleThe US Army has several unique and special awards, one of these special awards is called a “Unit Citation Award.”  A unit can win unit citation awards, and if you were a member of that unit when the citation was won, you wear that unit citation permanently.  If you were not a member of that unit when the citation was won, you may temporarily wear the Unit Citation award, but you have to take off that unit citation when you transfer units.  The unit citation award is the method the US Army employs to celebrate all the hands involved in a mission’s success at that mission’s conclusion.

Due to familial connections and from deep love of Maine, I hold in my mind and heart the 20th Maine Regiment, led by Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.  The 20th Maine Regiment held the “Little Roundtop” at the battle of Gettysburg; the unit’s heroism, valor, and dedication are key to the Union obtaining a victory on the bloody fields of Gettysburg.  Col. Chamberlain won a Medal of Honor for his leadership that day, a monument has been raised to the men of the 20th Maine, and a unit citation was awarded for their combined action.  Each member of the 358-man regiment played a crucial role in the battle for the Little Roundtop, and without their combined strength of character, the activities of the 20th Maine would not be the story it is today.

20th MaineThe 20th Maine began as an afterthought, a mistake, or even just a wrong decision.  The 20th Maine was a unit comprised of extra men leftover from other new regiments created in Maine. It was not one of the state’s favorite fighting units — No county claimed it; no city gave it a flag, and there was no send-off at the train station.  Worse, when the two-year enlistees of the 2nd Maine Regiment went home, their three-year enlisted comrades mutinied and claimed since their flag went home, so should they, regardless of their contracts.  These mutineers became the seasoned warriors the new 20th Maine needed to make their heroic stand possible.  A point of reference, Andrew J. Tozier, a mutineer from the 2nd Maine, was made Color Sergeant of the 20th Maine in a ploy to help the mutineers feel more esprit de corps for their new unit, the 20th Maine.  The ploy worked, and Color Sgt. Tozier plays a critical role in holding the middle of the regiment together and securing a victory.

Detective 2Why does this matter?

History across the world hinges upon the individual efforts of one, which inspires many, and greatness ensues after the struggle.  Do you believe that you count in the liberation and freedom of your society?  Do you know that your daily efforts change the world?  Are you conscious of the power for good you possess and exercise daily?

You matter!  Do you believe this?  If not, why?  If so, what do you plan to do today to make a bigger impact?

You are important and worthy of that importance in the life you live.  Dr. Seuss taught us this lesson as kids claiming, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”  Dr. Seuss also said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Life ValuedCol. Chamberlain was under orders to shoot the mutineers of the 2nd Maine; all 150+ of these men had earned their fate for treason.  Col. Chamberlain knew many of these men, had grown up knowing their families; some were even friends and associates.  Instead of shooting them, he worked with them, and they agreed to join and fight with the 20th Maine.  Making the 20th Maine stronger and more able.  Col. Chamberlain’s actions at this moment is the hinge upon which victory would swing in the 20th Maine’s first contact with the South on the battlefield.  Can anyone select just one member of the 20th Maine as non-essential, no; hence you are essential and worthy of importance.

Because we are all connected.

Because we are all connected, you cannot sort out a single life as unimportant without destroying an entire tapestry rich in detail, full of exquisite design, and colorful to the eye.  I was in a Bahrain marketplace; I saw a gorgeous handwoven rug, Arabic in design, flat-out beautiful.  The weaver and his wife were selling the rugs they had made, I did not have the €1700 for the rug, but I loved the rug.  I told the weaver and his wife, we got into a casual conversation, and I learned a cool lesson.  The husband asked, “Pick a single non-essential piece of thread from this beautiful rug.”  I told him I could not.  He said, “that is because the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Persian Rug KnottingThe American tapestry is woven through the lives of many into the grand and glorious tapestry the world looks upon.  The same is true for every country, because of you!  Your story, your efforts, your trials, your sacrifice, your beliefs, and your participation is the story of your country!

LookI would make this point perfectly clear and hope you will consider and begin to believe you are important!  You are essential!  Your actions change your environment, which changes the world.  One raindrop raises the sea; you are the raindrop that raises the sea!  How you learn and apply forms a rich and incredible tapestry your close associates and friends will look upon and model.  Your family is weaving a small portion of a greater whole.  Do you know what your ancestors have done?  If so, can you choose to do less?  If not, would knowing improve how you feel about your efforts?

You!

You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust. You were born with ideals and dreams. You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t!
You have wings.
Learn to use them and fly
.”
― Rumi

But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince [One of my favorite books of all time!]

You are forgiven for your happiness and your successes only if you generously consent to share them.”
― Albert Camus

Every single human soul has more meaning and value than the whole of history.”
― Nikolai Berdyaev

Believe you are important.  Live like you are essential.  You are needed.  Become your dreams!
– Dave Salisbury

© 2021 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.

NO MORE BS: The War Against Dr. Seuss

LookLet me be perfectly clear, Dr. Seuss is not the only victim of the book burning and banning liberals, but as the latest victim and the most egregious victim to date, I am going to use Dr. Seuss as the example.  For the record, I am a bibliophile (book lover; lover of reading books), and I detest any book being castigated, derided, and depublished simply because a political party cannot stand the content.  Of all the dumb and irrational actions of the political left, book shaming is one that sees me get madder than a soaked chicken with a raging case of hemorrhoids.

02 March is my holiday!  In the United States, 02 March is National Read Across America Day, celebrated on Dr. Seuss’s birthday.  As one of my favorite authors, I like to serve green eggs and ham, read about the “Cat in the Hat,” remember all the places I will go and have gone, and enjoy books!  This year, the fraudulent president began by removing Dr. Seuss from National Read Across America Day because some people do not like his illustrations.

ReadingMark Twain has regularly been banned for using language, which in his day was acceptable, and which today is considered “offensive.”  I love Mark Twain’s sense of humor; his stories wrap me in imagination, daring, and fun.  Yet, the political left has deemed him offensive, and millions of children will never know his name.

Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So” stories made up my childhood, taught me important lessons, were a primer for living a better life, and filled my imagination and dreams with excitement.  Aesop’s Fables were classics in my home and also filled my imagination and mind with wonder, excitement and taught me the journey a good story can take a person.  Yet, schools have regularly removed both Aesop’s Fables and Rudyard Kipling from their libraries, the curriculum, and public libraries for various idiotic reasons.

Beauty of LiteratureNow, Dr. Seuss is being added to the banned books, and I could weep!  Shame on the fraudulent president for this foolish and disrespectful political action.  Shame on the political left who will leave Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf on the shelves of libraries but will remove Dr. Seuss, Aesop’s Fables, Mark Twain, Kipling, Roald Dahl, and thousands of other titles and authors, simply because of political choices.

Literary AttitudesDo not choose to misunderstand me; all books are not equal, and some books I detest.  But, I will never support the banning of books!  I will never condone stealing authors’ intellectual offerings from the public simply because politics demands those books be banned.  I read the “Captain Underpants” series; I did not particularly like or dislike the books, but to see the series banned is incomprehensible!  I loved Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, a Brave New World, Of Mice and Men, Goosebumps, The Catcher in the Rye, and so many other books that, as of 2019, have been banned, and I am embarrassed by the idiocy and the shameful behavior of the book police and the thought police.

Detective 4Did you know the Holy Bible is regularly on the banned books list as a popularly forbidden book?  Yet, the Koran is regularly found in public school libraries and public libraries?  I first read the Koran in sixth grade because my school had a copy.  I read Mein Kampf in Junior High School because my school had a copy.  Neither book was mandatory reading; I just found them and decided I wanted to read them.  Plus, reading them made my parents so mad!  My parents are fans of banning “some books” due to content.  Yet, like liberty and freedom, no books will be allowed if all books are not allowed.  You cannot limit free speech and still have free speech.  You cannot restrict warrantless search and seizure without limiting every person’s rights to be safe in their papers and property.  Worse, you cannot grant liberty to one and steal freedom from another, that is the height of tyrannical behavior, and this pattern works just as well for books as it does for music, art, and every other human endeavor and government polity.

Reading - A JourneyMy tastes in books, like music, span the entire written spectrum offered.  Sherlock Holmes, Father Dowling Mysteries, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Mark Twain, Kipling, Roald Dahl, C. S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley, and so many more make-up who I am, why I choose, and how I grow.  I could not ban one book without banning all books, and I will not ban a book!  Books represent the soul of the author; the ideals written should live forever so people may have a choice.  If you are a book banning type, would you ban a book from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe series?  If so, which one?  Would not a ban on one book mean you have to ban the entire series?

What about the Chronicles of Prydain, also known as The Black Cauldron series?  A magic pig features prominently in this series.  Do you ban all the books that have the magical pig not to offend people who view pigs as dirty?  The thought boggles the brain!

Freedom's LightBanning books is wrong, plain, and simple.  Admonishing long-dead authors because you do not like illustrations or phrases used is the height of cowardice and personal insecurity projected onto other people.  Frankly, banning books is the worst abomination of thought police possible, and I, for one, will always oppose your choice of mental disease!

© 2021 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.