An Open Missive to our Federal Elected Officials: Who Polices the Federal Government in Following Hiring Practices?

As a dual-service, disabled veteran, possessing two master-level degrees from accredited colleges and engaged in the pursuit of a Ph.D., I am finding, from personal experience and in speaking to others pursuing employment with disabilities, discrimination is alive and well.  I can understand the discrimination in private sector hiring; I do not like it but understand it.  Risk, costs of health insurance, and costs of doing business increase when hiring those with disabilities.  I do not see government as a “jobs program” in any way; however, the government has taken it upon themselves to enact rules specifically to hire those with disabilities.  Thus, the government should be more open to hiring those of us with disabilities.

People ProcessesFederal Government hiring procedures provide two hiring paths, competitive and non-competitive.  Under competitive, there are several ways of being placed ahead of others and points are awarded for certain hiring preferences, of which being a veteran is but one.  In non-competitive hiring, Schedule A provides for disabled people to sidestep the traditional, or competitive, practices of hiring to have an opportunity of obtaining employment without having to compete with candidates not experiencing the special conditions caused by disability

Disabled people are supposed to be able to employ Schedule A hiring practices for Federal Hiring because disabled people know how difficult it is to be hired for the private sector, city, county, and state government hiring.  Here is where those in hiring positions for the Federal Government are able to bypass the system and not hire disabled people:  no one is policing hiring.  I was informed, very politely, by the Inspector General’s Office that they do not inquire or investigate compliance with regulations for hiring.  The question to you, elected Federal Officials: who polices and ensures compliance with written protocols established by OPM for hiring?

As a disabled veteran, hiring in the private sector has become more difficult as my injuries have become more noticeable, from fall 2010 to present.  Having a disability that is nerve based, causing tics/twitches/spasms, hiring officials acknowledge directly or indirectly that since my cost to employer-based health care will come with a pre-existing condition and higher overall costs in ADA compliance and loss of potential (blue) money, I become the “candidate to beat,” and finally will be told, “you are overqualified,” “you are over-educated,” or my personal favorite “you are not a good fit.”  Thus, after four consecutive years of seeing my ability to be hired in the private sector diminish, I began more heavily pursuing employment with the Federal Government.

In June 2016, I was, finally, awarded a Schedule A letter to add to my documents in Federal Hiring.  With the Schedule A letter, I was provided OPM training on how to be “Direct Hired” and walked through the OPM website governing the policies that govern Schedule A hiring and disability hiring for the Federal Government.  Since the award of the Schedule A letter, I have had a VA hiring official refuse to use the letter claiming VRA and VEOA are both more efficient, and then not hire me for being “overqualified.”  I have experienced hiring managers tell me that “Direct Hire” authority lies with managers, and you need to know those managers to employ Schedule A preference, but the hiring managers cannot tell you who else to speak with to receive Schedule A hiring.  The absolute best excuse has been a hiring manager’s claim that there is no such thing as non-competitive hiring, that all applicants must be hired under competitive hiring standards, and then proceeded to tell me I am not qualified for the position because my degrees were not specifically those desired in the advertisement, even though the advertisement did not specify a specific degree, other than master-level.  Most recently I have been offered positions so far below minimum pay levels only because the government knows that desperation often breeds compliance, even if compliance creates actual harm, all in the name of some future date of possibly being hired for the wages qualified for at the time of hire.

Hence, I emailed the Inspector General’s office regarding these circumstances and received the following reply, “The Inspector General’s Office does not monitor compliance with hiring in the Federal Government.”  Thus, Elected Officials, I ask you, “Who regulates and ensures compliance in hiring for Federal Government positions?”  “Who is accountable for OPM regulations being adhered to by local hiring decision-makers?”  “Where can those who are disabled and trying to work turn for a reconciliation of just grievances?”  You, the elected officials, created this hiring system with preferences for disabled people to find work with the Federal Government, so who is policing the hiring for you?

I have now contacted elected officials in four separate states while living and voting in those areas, Ohio, Arizona, Utah, and Michigan, asking the representatives of elected officials directly the same questions posed in this missive.  Senator McCain’s office was the most oblique and obtuse claiming that if hiring practices are not being followed it is due to a lack of training somewhere, but the issue is not important enough for the senator’s time.  Upon arrival in New Mexico, I asked about hiring at the VA Hospital in Albuquerque and was told by several officials at the VA Hospital that the HR Department was under extra scrutiny due to a significant lack of following the hiring guidelines for Federal Government hiring; but, none of those people could tell me who polices the hiring practices and ensures compliance.

Why is this important; because disabled people are not receiving the kind of hiring support they need.  With the current costs to business operation in the private sector, I can understand, I do not like it, but I can understand, that hiring those with disabilities is going to be a major cash outlay upfront with increased risk.  As a business professional, I understand the risk/cost structure, and I understand that the speed of business dictates finding the lowest cost/risk, candidate.  For the city, county, state, and Federal Government positions, I cannot fathom why disabled people are dragged through such egregious hiring practices.  I did an unofficial survey of 25 Federal Government, NM State, Bernalillo County, and City of Albuquerque employees asking them one simple question, how long did it take for you to be hired initially.  The answers ranged from multiple months to 5 years of constant applying.  If the employee had been promoted, I asked how long did the employee wait for the promotion, and the answers ranged from 3-months in the initial position to 15-years.  As a business professional, I can confidently say this is where enormous amounts of blue (potential) money are being wasted, and as the axiom goes, burn enough blue money and green money, in this case, taxpayer funds, evaporate!

Ways to fix the hiring issue:

  • USAJobs.govEach Federal Government office needs to have a single person solely responsible for Schedule A and all other direct hire authority programs that non-employees can communicate with to apply directly to that organization. All open positions would run through this office first providing the option to request Schedule A preference, and upon that selection, USAJobs.gov would automatically drive the applications to the single person responsible for direct hiring and provide this person’s name and contact information to the applicant.
  • Stop the redundant efforts. Once a background and reference check has completed for one office, make this information available to all offices for 365-days.  With applicants making multiple applications to several different offices, this alleviates contacting those references multiple times, duplicating work, and wasting resources.  The technology to share is already available, and this is a low-cost, high-return option to invoke.
  • Every worker in government expects everything to take an inordinate amount of time to complete work. The longer the waiting game takes, the more potential (Blue) money is wasted exponentially.  Start shaving unproductive hiring practices, processes, and procedures.  Streamlining the hiring process overall is needed!

Blue Money BurningConsider the following as a general guide.  For every five dollars of blue money wasted, fifteen to fifty green taxpayer dollars evaporate.  Thus, when a position is open, the lost potential is the annual salary of the new hire for every month the position remains open and unfilled, and the green money loss is the annual salary of the position open every two months.  Between others having to work harder to cover the open position (Blue), the added strain and stress of working shorthanded (Blue), and the lost productivity of the entire team including the costs of long-term planning (Blue), along with other factors, are “hidden costs” of conducting business.  In the blue money loss, the green money evaporation is found in less time for maintenance, tools, and people are used harder and longer, overtime for important deadlines, and commitments lost are all, but not a complete list, of green money evaporation pits.

  • While not directly a hiring practice, reducing employee churn, training, and promoting more quickly is a best business practice. The people in government make the government, and I am not the only customer service professional pointing to government offices as the epitome of incompetent people wasting resources and destroying morale and customer relationships.

Case in point, at the Regional VA Office in Phoenix, AZ, three people regularly man the front desk and are the face of this VA facility.  Of these three, one person is incompetent and intentionally mean, remarking in demeaning and insulting tones to questions and speaking ill of the veteran they just “helped.”  One is trying and means well.  The third could not be hired to clean road kill off streets and is completely and utterly a drone, for example saying they are working on a task but never accomplishing anything productive.  Several times while being harassed assisted by these individuals, I witnessed the third person asking for help from another employee to staple forms together, asking “where does the staple go in the form again?”  Hence, I was not surprised when Phoenix became the face of incompetent and heartless government workers literally killing veterans.  Clean house of the deadwood, replace with hard-working people and streamline the process of work to reduce the opportunity for drones and hacks to manipulate the system.  Of the 10-15 people that regularly float through the Phoenix VA Regional Office Front-Desk/Waiting Area, I think two might actually be working.  The rest seem to have an amorphous purpose doing ambiguous work in a cloud of confusion taking taxpayer wages for no productivity.

  • Customer service improvement begins internally, employee to employee. Want to slow churn, improve how employees serve each other.  Want to reduce churn significantly, get the supervisors, team leaders, and other organizational leaders out of the office, onto the production floor, and actively exemplifying customer service and professionalism.  Improve employee to employee customer service and departments like the VA and DMV will immediately begin to change their horrendous reputations.

I am not the only person in this country paying taxes and angry about the drones and dregs hired to conduct government business.  It is past time to demand accountability for the taxpayer money waste at all levels of government.  Decreasing waste begins with improved hiring, respect for the government they work for by being honest in their employment, and increased regard for the people they serve.

When an employee commits a crime, they should be able to be fired and never re-hired by the government, then held accountable in a court of law for their crimes.  When an employee does not pay their taxes while working for the government, they should be fired and never re-hired, then held accountable like every other citizen not paying their taxes.  To hear about government computers full of porn, child porn, and online gambling, tells me there are workers that are not being supervised properly, work is not being done, and the supervisor and the offending employee need to be fired and never re-hired, then held accountable in a court of law for their crimes.  Being paid to work and not working is theft!  Child porn is a crime!  Watching porn on a computer while being paid is both sexual harassment and theft, both of which are crimes!

The taxpayer receives a slap to the face when federal, state and county government employees are caught gaming the system for personal profit, are not required to remit the monies ill-gotten, and are not fired, or worse are fired and an obscure union regulation returns them to work at the same salary and position of authority, or worse are promoted after being returned to work.  These are failures in treating people properly, honoring the tax dollars invested, and reflecting a failure of elected officials to supervise government workers needed to run the government.  When will our elected officials become the leaders we are paying them to be, holding those malfeasant characters legally and morally accountable and removing them from employment in government?

Your'e HiredWe hired you, the elected officials, to run the government for us, not to enrich yourselves at our expense, and not to allow nefarious and untrustworthy people to lie, cheat, and steal our tax monies and keep being paid with our tax money!  More egregious still is allowing those who have abused the power of government to cause harm, then allow those abusers to quietly leave the government with their pensions, and no criminal charges are ever pursued, e.g., Lois Lerner among many others.  When you want to know why the approval rating for elected officials is so low, look no further than the issues raised in this missive.  Fix the problems!

Shifting the Employment Paradigm: Stigmas and Leadership

The traditional employee/employer relationship excludes more than it includes. One of the reasons for exclusion lies in risk avoidance of populations of workers. These avoided populations include the disabled, those with mental health diagnoses, and veterans, to name a few. While laws have worked to diversify the workforce, a lack of understanding of value and understanding of personal stigmas continues to perpetuate even though the actions taken remain at best unethical and at worst illegal.

Consider a recent example: a disabled veteran was hired and provided an ADA work accommodation. The lack of understanding of the ADA law, coupled with the personal stigmas of the mid-level managers and the director, constantly jeopardized the veteran’s employment. The veteran’s director claimed, “Since you have received an accommodation, you do not need another accommodation, ever.” Then the director, refusing to become ADA compliant, proceeded to pressure the veteran to terminate employment. The legal technicalities were satisfied since there had already been an accommodation. The written ADA guidelines reflect that ADA compliance is an ongoing and adaptive process as the needs of the employee changes from the disability suffered. Hence, the personal stigmas of the director, coupled with a lack of understanding, closed out a potentially lucrative employee/employer relationship. Although the director’s actions are technically legal, they are certainly unethical and problematic for the veteran and the veteran’s family, along with setting a negative tone for current and future employee relationships and the business’ culture and reputation.

Corrigan (2007) wrote an exciting article on stigma, what stigma does, and the impact of stigma on society. Employees in a particular business organization form a society where the impact of a single stigma, especially from a leader, produces dramatic negative results creating a biased culture and a hostile work environment. Corrigan (2007) cited other professionals in discussing the problems of stigmas, and the results track national research studies that lead to the conclusion that beliefs produce stigmas, stigmas produce opportunities of change, and the smart business leader will use the power of change to effectively manage personal stigmas while combatting stigma breeding grounds in closed-minded individuals.

Actions indicated for overcoming the stigma problem includes opening new opportunities for classes of people through knowledge vending opportunities, not traditional employee/employer employment. Consider the veteran mentioned above. The veteran has value, has needs, and has a disability. If the risk for continued employment reflects too much risk, why not shift the pattern of thinking, or paradigm, and consider options.

  1. Knowledge vending places the impetus upon the vendor to produce results. Dictation of contractual relationship relates to both accommodation and dictation of productivity while leaving freedom to accommodate in the hands of the vendor.
  2. Knowledge vending places the costs for accommodations upon the vendor, not the employer, and removes both an excuse for not hiring and the inherent risks of workstation adaptability costs from the employment paradigm.
  3. Knowledge vending promotes the person to a position of action outside the normal hierarchy, and the outside/inside influence spurs innovative and entrepreneurial thinking throughout all the remaining employees.
  4. Knowledge vending removes the risk for continuing employment, thus spurring opportunities for the vendor to manage and grow alongside the business organization.

Leading to the question, “Why do American business leaders remain reluctant to employ a vendor relationship model for day-to-day services instead of employment in the traditional employee/employer model?” America lags the rest of the industrialized world in offering variety to the traditional employer/employee model. Entire classifications of people are untapped due to the internal stigmas of the intermediate business leaders, mid-level managers, and hiring decision-makers. Risk avoidance is crippling the disabled and veteran communities like no other plague (Haipeter, 2011; Husted, 2002; and Stone, 2012).

Suggested actions to reverse this trend include:

  1. Open the possibility to current ADA qualified staff members to become a knowledge vendor contracted to your branded organization. Contact your best workers. Offer the opportunity to them to become a knowledge vendor contracted for services to your branded organization. This promotes the entrepreneurial spirit in long-term employees that can change the morale, thinking, and more importantly, the attitude of those with genetic organizational knowledge.
  2. Train interested staff members in operating his or her own business or engage a third-party trainer to aid in the transition. In fact, many in the ADA community already have the resources to obtain training to become their own small business. Advise and support in the transition only if the person is open to transitioning. Do not force adapting to vendor knowledge worker as this creates more detrimental problems for the all parties involved.
  3. Change the organizational structure from one of direct reports to one of sharing information. Think horizontal linear instead of vertical linear organizational charts.
  4. Your vendors, especially the current vendors, have a unique perspective on your organization. Tap the vendors regularly as a valuable resource and use the information gleaned to empower organizational change.
  5. Promote leadership and internal customer service over all other business standards and “flavor-of-the-month” quick-fix ideas. Using knowledge vendors taps into additional potential in all employees, and knowledge vendors’ innovating ideas on processes, procedures, and the daily “how” of work is valuable to the business overall. Be willing to change the organization to meet the demands of vendors and you will be surprised at the results.

As education, experience, and genetic knowledge harbored by older, disabled, or veteran employees increases, so too does the pressure to find and use an alternative solution to tap into these resources. Knowledge vendors as independent contractors remain a viable and cost effective solution to current problems and future needs. Innovative thinking on meeting needs generates opportunities, and the leader, who will succeed in the current business environment, will consider knowledge workers an asset to the current problems thus positioning the business for future growth.

References

Corrigan, P. W. (2007). How clinical diagnosis might exacerbate the stigma of mental illness. Social Work, 52(1), 31-9. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/215269747?accountid=458

Haipeter, T. (2011). ‘Unbound’ employers’ associations and derogations: Erosion and renewal of collective bargaining in the German metalworking industry. Industrial Relations Journal, 42(2), 174-194. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2338.2011.00615.x

Husted, K., & Michailova, S. (2002). Diagnosing and Fighting Knowledge-Sharing Hostility. Organizational Dynamics, 31(1), 60-73.

Stone, K. (2012). The Decline in the Standard Employment Contract: Evidence from Ten Advanced Industrial Countries. UCLA: The Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Retrieved from: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/1wj7c2tb

© 2016 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

 

A Contradiction – ‘Or, An Exercise in Restoration.’

Shifting the business paradigm is comparable to shifting the December-placed holiday of Christmas to its rightful place in April.  The enlightenment is a bit distorted at first because of tradition, familial activities, and misguided Christian beliefs.  The enlightenment of shifting the business paradigm is a bit distorted at first because of similar reasons of tradition, company decisions and procedures, Federal and State Government intervention, the de-humanization of business organizations, and misguided employer/employee beliefs.

The history of Christmas is a complex accumulation of events over time originally precipitated by early religious leaders to direct the energies of early Christians away from holidays previously celebrated, specifically, the Roman Holiday of Saturnalia and the Scandinavian holiday, Yuletide.  Thus, a new holiday was created.  The history of business is a complex accumulation of events over time originally precipitated by financial leaders to direct individual craftsmen into organized activities for power with government and other business organizations.  Thus, modern business organizations were created.  Just as the symbols of Christmas stem from the holidays mentioned and were given an acceptable ‘Christ-like’ connection, so did business practices stem from corrupt political practices and were given an acceptable name of democratic enterprise.

Just as Christmas has become a secular as well as Christian potpourri of love, family, religion, greed, frustration, envy, strife, even violence, and other desirable and undesirable characteristics, business practices have evolved into similar characteristics.  Just as craftsmen worked initially because of their love of family, to provide for them in adequate provision, and for their love for their craft, business organizations have morphed into a desire for gain and greed and control.  While de-humanizing, this morph is not bad, simply misguided and easily corrected by returning the ‘Right to Control’ back to the individual employee.

Through the charitable feelings of a person’s heart to “Give good gifts,” the current celebration of Christmas often loses the main component of the professed holiday, Christ.  Well-intentioned people have vainly fought for the rights of the worker with the energies of their hearts only to result in further captivity, the fundamental flaw in the unrecognized logic being not ‘rights’ but individual freedom.  Rights cannot be given by man to man; rights come from a supreme being to man.  Individual freedom can be given from man to man, from business to man, and from government to man.  Since the mid-1600’s, professors of religion and well-intentioned people have been trying to “Put Christ in Christmas” or “Keep Christ in Christmas.”  The problem is a fundamental flaw in the logic of the holiday; Christ does not belong in Christmas.  By celebrating Christmas in a time and season where Christ does not belong, we perpetuate a myth, a sham, and a lie.  Does this mean we should not celebrate Christ’s birth date?  The answer is unequivocally NO!  Labor unions are a lot like Christmas celebrations.  Should we abolish labor unions?  The answer is NO!  Should we condone the violence unleashed when unions are angry, the constant theft of resources, the preparations for something good which ends with legal battles?  NO!  Mixed logic, moral decay, and those who preach ‘Power to the worker,’ and steal that power for personal gain are enemies of individual freedom.

I am not proposing the elimination of Christmas but rather for placing it where it belongs in the month of April when Christ was born, just as I am not proposing the elimination of correct and right business practices but placing it where it belongs in the negotiable hands of free individuals to negotiate a win-win scenario where work is concerned. Moving Christmas does not destroy Christmas, but places the celebration into its proper place and leaves December open for a different holiday.  Mainly, we must choose to celebrate Santa Claus or Jesus Christ.  These are not one and the same; these two people are not and cannot exist in the same holiday without creating confusion, perpetuating lies and deceit.  Power for personal gain and individual freedom cannot exist at the same time without creating captivity, confusion, and the perpetuation of lies and deceit.  An old mentor constantly quoted this axiom, “If the solution is not ‘Win-Win,’ it is a straight loss.”

While St. Nicholas is reported to have been a person or monk who traveled around doing good, he never had a sleigh, reindeer, and magical abilities.  The man celebrated at Christmas as Santa Claus is a myth, and in the same breath as singing ‘Here Comes Santa Claus,’ we want to honor Jesus Christ as the “Reason for the Season.”  The duplicity is a struggle for the conscience and the heart. Just as we inherited and sustained this struggle from the captivity of our fathers, we inherited and sustain a mode of earning a living from our fathers that tries our conscience, our hearts, and wallets.  Consider the problems with being a customer, the dehumanizing influence of the business organization, labor unions, etc.  Many of the problems in business stem from inherited tradition that did not work in times past and continue to not work now, but remain supported simply due to fear of change or because, “That’s now how it is done.”  Holiday celebration and employment conditions are linked in a myopic cycle that is anathema to anything different.  Dauten (2003) talks about this problem extensively and his suggestion of “Killing the status Quo” is excellent.

Tolkien offers wisdom very applicable to our modern world.  “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” Along with, “It’s no bad thing to celebrate a simple Life.”  Ask yourself some questions such as “Do I honor a “Simple Life?”  “Has my holiday celebrations become more about outdoing last year’s celebrations and gift giving for personal achievement?”  “What is the aim of my holidays?”  “Why am I celebrating, what am I celebrating, and/or do I enjoy celebrating?”  If you do not like these answers, change.  Shift the paradigm where holidays are concerned.  The same argument holds for working, ask, “Do I enjoy what I do?”  If yes, “Do I enjoy those I work for?”  If the answer remains yes, consider job security, personal/professional growth, and long-term prospects.  Yet, if at anytime the answer is no, shift the paradigm, consider becoming an independent contractor selling your knowledge and experience.

Just as the Roman calendar and Jewish calendar place the actual birth of Christ in April, the same calendars place the death of Christ in April.  The bible records Christ’s celebrating the Passover before His death.  The Passover was also recorded as occurring during His birth. We can certainly celebrate Christ on His actual birthday, celebrate His death and resurrection more circumspectly, and change how we worship the Savior of the world.  Just as these facts substantiate the birth of Christ, facts of business corruption and coercion substantiate the plight of the individual worker as a craftsman.  We can change that just as we can change when we celebrate the birth of Christ.

With the bustle of Christmas 2012 in the rear-view mirror, with 2013 fast approaching and before the “bills of Christmas” come due, consider the holiday paradigm.  Ponder the feelings of joy, life renewal, and hope that fills the breast in the early days of April.  With the bustle of day-to-day stress, tax seasons approaching, and bills for overextending finances, consider shifting the business paradigm.  Ponder the freedom of negotiating your business life and regaining the control that has been relinquished.

References

Dauten, D. (2003). The laughing warriors: How to enjoy killing the status quo. Richmond, CA: Lumina Media.

© 2012 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

Shifting the Employment Paradigm – Or an Open Letter to the Politician’s of America

Pournelle and Sterling wrote an amazing Military Sci-Fi series of books under the banner of ‘Falkenberg’s Legion’ (1990) collected into a single title called ‘The Prince’ (2002).  In this series an interesting quote appears.

Every soul in his earliest stages of untutored awareness feels that the center of the universe resides within himself [or herself].  To learn that we exist and move for the most part in orbits, rather than preside at the focal point of even a minor cosmic system is a painful and difficult process for most of us…

So far in this series of writing, the origins of the current employment system has been uncovered and commented upon.  During this period of writing, the United States of America, a previously free Republic, has moved inexorably onwards in the path of less freedom, more chains of debt, and further into the dark abyss of history’s failed experiments.  This does not mean that hope is lost; it simply states for the record that leadership is needed very soon.  Toward this end, this missive is given.

The citizenry of the United States is comparable to a herd of anxious cows.  Let me explain.  No offense is intended; please do not choose to take offense.

Fear makes cowherds anxious.  Loud sounds, changes in temperature, atmospheric pressure changes, and even the simple desire to run have spooked entire herds into running, mostly into dangerous territory and always to the disgruntlement of the cow herders, ranchers, and farmers.  Ranchers have learned to make fences stronger, read the lay of the land, and place the herd into as tight an enclosed position as possible when the herd is put to sleep at night to protect the cows from harm.  Just before a herd breaks into a run, the signs of anxiousness are observed; the emptying of bladders and the evacuation of bowels makes quite a mess.  Other signs are apparent; the shaking of heads, the shifting of feet, the eyes roll back in the head, and restlessness or the shuffling of feet in every direction begins.  Finally, the most important sign is a refusal to listen to external leadership, i.e., cowboys/girls tasked to watch the herd.  The final straw before the herd breaks is usually not a major action but a minor inconvenience, which if it had occurred earlier would have been brushed off as nothing; but in the agitated state, the herd sees the minor as major and the herd breaks loose.  Once the herd begins running, those tasked with the herd’s care are forced into running beside the herd to try to turn the leading cows away from danger.  However, herd mentality has taken over.

The citizens of America are as restless as a herd of thunder struck cows right now.  Recent events in Hurricane Sandy, tornadoes in Alabama, the massacre in Newtown, the regulatory nightmare from Washington D.C., Libya, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Israel, China, etc., all are culminating into a nameless fear.  The leaders of the herd, or the politicians at every level, have been entrusted to care for the herd, to take limited resources and spend wisely on that which provides the best for American interests.  The pathways the Federal Government have lead us down are filled with enough good intentions and self interests to pave a four-lane highway from Maine to London and Seattle to Tokyo.  Yet, these same leaders are causing the people to err.  Herein lies the problem.

America was founded upon, has lived upon, and rests upon a single principle, confidence.  The US Dollar is strong because those people, who possess it, trade in it, and bet futures upon it, have confidence in the dollar.  America’s military is strong because the US Soldier/Airman/Marine/Sailor are all possessing confidence individually, in their leaders, and in the political establishment.  The American voter goes to the polls from an overabundance of confidence that the person they have selected is the best choice, but even in a loss, that same voter and nonvoter instills the winner with their confidence.  This confidence forms a sacred trust, an unbreakable vow, an eternal contract, between the politician and the voters.  Breaking this sacred trust hurts every institution in America at the core of confidence.

Look at the abysmal numbers of people who trust the House of Representatives, the Senate, or the President to do the right, plot a correct course for America, or simply to tell the truth, and it becomes apparent that the core has been shook, people are restless, and the herd is about to run.  People need a paycheck, need to know how big the tax bill is going to be, and need to know that the collected taxes are going to reduce the debt, that the politicians elected will honor the contract America made by electing them to office.

Compensatory spending is wrong now and was wrong back in 1946 when passed into law for the euphemistic purpose of ‘Full Employment.’  No government from Ancient Greece to Modern America can provide ‘Full Employment.’  Going into debt does not bring true prosperity.  The only reason compensatory spending was entered into law was to cover up the pain the Federal Government created through fiscal policy failures accrued during the Great Depression.  It took a globe spanning war, millions of deaths, thousands of mutilated bodies, the complete destruction of every civilization on the planet, along with millions of gallons of tears shed in pain and misery to lift the world from the Great Depression, and no society has recovered since.  Our current society is at best a farce, Kabuki Theater, to what it could be if the government left people alone, followed the law, and had not accrued so much debt.

Not once in all the discussion about spending has a single politician offered to apologize for the laws of 1946 allowing compensatory spending and offered to remove this horror from the legal code.  Not a single politician has said, “No more debt, we will live within our means.”  America is a rich country; we are not alone in this label.  The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, China, Brazil, etc., are all rich countries.  Yet all these rich countries share the same problem with Africa, Australia, and New Zealand:  debt, cold, hard, and totally unsustainable.  The politicians tasked with the people’s trust have failed them by running up huge mountains of debt for little or no purpose.  The end result is simple.  More debt equals higher taxes, higher taxes means less freedom to the people and more power to the government.

Another truth, simply expressed; money is power.  Ever since people began forming societies, the need to trade goods and services has required something of value.  Possessing more of that valuable substance automatically equated to power, for the possessor could stop providing the resource valued and the entire economic structure would topple and fall.  A final truth:  actions have consequences.  The creator gave man the unalienable right to choose, whether he chooses right or wrong. While man can choose his thinking and actions, he cannot choose the consequences, and wrong choices cause pain.

Going back to the legislation of 1946, the politicians had chosen to meddle in financial controls.  The consequence was lost value, destroyed confidence, and the crash of the world’s economies.  This brought pain, suffering, despair, and a tremendous backlash.  The answer chosen was to increase the government.  Increasing the government meant more taxes to pay for bigger government.  Bigger government took that which was valuable from those producing valuable tools and gave to others in a vote-buying scheme unparalleled in any society known in history.  Now to retain power, those currently in power have a choice to make:  stop spending at unsustainable levels, reduce the government, and return power to the people where it rightly belongs; or, to try and continue on the unsustainable path and end 200 years of experiment in freedom.  America cannot and will not survive if the debt mountain continues.  The monies must be repaid, the debt satisfied, which will occur in either money or blood.  This is not doomsday scare mongering, but simple truth.

Look to history for this to be unfolded.  A single example:  when Ancient Rome experienced serious debt dilemmas, they conquered their creditors with their armies and navies.  Once Rome could no longer conquer their creditors, fighting began between Roman and Roman, civil war weakened the empire, and external enemies and creditors destroyed that civilization.  This pattern repeats itself time and time again throughout the history of the world.  When a government can no longer conquer their creditors or raise capital to service debt, the debt begins to be serviced by the blood of its citizenry.  The unfunded liabilities must be serviced, the debt must be serviced, and the service of the debt will be painful.  Reducing government to live totally within its means, even during natural disasters and war is the only solution.  This path is difficult, but the more difficult and bitterer pill to swallow is to see civil war break out again in every state of this republic.

By tying employment to economic indicators, the Federal Government placed people in harms way.  Lose your job and suddenly you place the entire country at risk of debt default.  Mass unemployment means fiscal uncertainty for the entire world.  This is not right.  If the government provides more freedom to the electorate, the reward is longer terms in office to keep providing more freedoms to the people.  Be courageous, shift the paradigm, service the debt, and release the power of individuals by untying employment to the economy by annulling the laws of 1946 and 1976 that would free employees to become independent contractors capable of choosing their destiny, choosing those they want to work for, and choosing what they want to do.  Employers should not have by government intervention the ‘Right to Control’ free and independent people.  Employment should be the trading of time for something of value, negotiated between two free and independent parties with the intention of improving both parties.  Act now to rectify a wrong made by previous congresses; free the employee!

© 2012 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

Employee Organization – Or “A Referendum on Knowing Societ[ies]”

Tribus (n.d.) discusses organizational change, the need for education, and the power of learning.  In ‘Changing the Corporate Culture: Some Rules and Tools,’ a principle relating to unintended consequences is discussed herein.  The principle is the difference between a ‘Learning Society’ and a ‘Knowing Society’ as discussed by Tribus (n.d.).  With the ‘Right to Control’ firmly embedded in an employer’s pocket of control, the unintended consequence is that every employee becomes a heavily guarded fortress of knowledge as a means to survive in a corporate organization.  Every employee must ‘know’ his job or risk losing that job.  This mindset has lead to terms like, ‘Group Think,’ ‘Knowledge Management,’ etc., and creates the legal arguments and problems swirling around ‘Intellectual Property.’

One term not found in Tribus (n.d.) is that which I have labeled as ‘Keystone Mentality.’  A keystone is found in architecture when building an arch.  The keystone is the center stone in an arch that provides the balance upon which the entire arch hinges.  A ‘Keystone Mentality’ is found in every business in the world where a single employee hoards knowledge, considers hoarding knowledge appropriate to ensure job security, and never gets sick or takes vacation, as they (the Keystone Mentality) erroneously perceive that the business will suddenly stop if they take a break.  ‘Keystone Mentalities’ gossip, rumormonger, betray fellow employees, and generally take ‘any means necessary’ to protect their position from intruders.  The ‘Keystone Mentality’ is the hallmark of a ‘Knowing Society’ created through employee churn, developed in the fires of adversity, and held in positions of power by those who refuse to learn because there is a ‘Keystone Mentality’ to take the slack or rely upon.  Quid pro quo is the least of the unethical behavior allowed when managers rely upon a ‘Keystone Mentality.’

Another aspect of a ‘Knowing Society’ is nobody learns anything.  Since the expectation is that everyone already knows, why share knowledge.  Where is the incentive to not be a ‘Keystone Mentality?’  Where is the incentive that encourages a person to bend, to be humble, teachable, or to learn?  Learning requires humility, compassion, empathy, and leadership of people.  A consequence from many “Knowing Societ[ies]” not mentioned by Tribus (n.d.) is that ‘Knowing Societ[ies]’ build psychopaths, sycophants, and pathological liars.  ‘Knowing Societ[ies]’ are managed by people, who, if they do not know something, bluff, ‘fake it until they make it,’ and the cloning of Neanderthals becomes accepted practice, this is often referred to as, ‘good corporate politics.’

Young students are instructed to never stop learning.  Why do graduates of high school, college, advanced degrees in business choose to stop learning every facet of the organization to which they are employed; the answer lies in the ‘Right to Control’ and the demands for ‘Knowing Societ[ies] in the places of employment.  Corporate training for a new position mostly entails discovering whom to turn to for answers.  It becomes a game of who do you know, that I know, that they do not know, so we can look good for another boss, who is pulling the same game in the chess match of corporate politics.  The larger the organization, the more frustrating this problem becomes.  Small business and even some mid-size businesses have one or two people, who have been with the company since inception, know everybody, have their fingers in all the pies, and feel all the pulses. Gossip from these people can make and break careers.  Being anathema to change, ‘Keystone Mentalities’ will always act first from a position of corporate survival, then from a position of power to receive quid pro quo, and then, maybe, for the good of the company.  The issues caused by and demonstrated as a result of current principles utilized by ‘Knowing Societ[ies]’ are unquestionably clear.

‘Learning Societ[ies]’ require leaders who know people and are humble enough to teach and be taught.  Learning remains a two-way street with responsibility and accountability flowing from teacher to student and back to teacher in a never-ending circle.  Leaders in a ‘Learning Society’ will ask questions, employees will ask question, the answers come from other leaders and employees, knowledge is shared so everyone wins.  The organizational health is sacrosanct, and when everyone wins, everyone prospers.

Shifting the employment paradigm requires organizations to embrace learning, encourage experimenting, and demand accountability for new learning being applied.  Until the ‘Right to Control’ resides in the individual’s power and not in the organization’s, a true shift from a ‘Knowing Society’ cannot occur.  Some organizations provide lip service to learning being key and crucial to success.  The Federal Government does lip service to reduce spending with the same affect.  Until the individual is free, accountability and responsibility in the workplace, in a society of professionals, and in our communities will continue to diminish.  These principles are not new; Tribus (n.d.) speaks of them, talks about them, and has been insisting this is the path to tread.  Nothing changes until the basic equation shifts.

The time is now for business leaders to encourage employees to become knowledge workers, contractors, and freelance consultants.  The time is now to begin and to embrace the path outlined by Tribus (n.d.); shift the paradigm in employment; and change, lead, and re-discover the power of education.

© 2012 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

Additional Reading:

Tribus, M. (n.d.). Changing the Corporate Culture Some Rules and Tools. Retrieved from: Changing the Corporate Culture Some Rules and Tools Web site: http://deming.eng.clemson.edu/den/change_cult.pdf

Employee Practices – Or ‘More Top Down Government Control’

Over the course of time, the Federal government has exerted control over employment.  Each time control has been exerted, freedoms, money, and precious resources have been squandered, wasted, and lost forever.  The following is a high level overview of the legislation and the costs involved.  There are no political leanings contained herein, simply facts about the costs and the freedoms lost.  Tied to each of these pieces of legislation is the utopian ‘Kool-Aid’ goal of full employment previously discussed.

In brief review, modern employment, as we know it, began with a small change.   Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen coming home after being drafted to go to war, wanted and needed jobs.  Thus, the Federal Government changed some rules, wrote the legislation, and veteran preference in hiring began.  Sounds good, right?  Everyone loves veterans, so this is going to be a good thing all around; not quite.  By carving out exclusions for veterans, other people wanted to possess special treatment.  These people found lawyers to argue their cause, and special classes emerged for all types of people.  Entire industries have been built to identify, find, and pressure for special classes in the law.

This is not to say some of those people desiring special treatment did not need to have awareness of their particular plight become more known.  For example, people with physical disabilities needed awareness raised to advance hiring practices and level the playing field, but this should not have been a matter for federal legislation.  Each state in the Republic of America was considering laws for physically disabled people.  By forcing federal legislation, states lost the power to dictate, employers lost the freedom to act independently, and those with physical disabilities became second-class employees.  Instead of pride in accomplishment, which was desired while raising awareness, serf-like attitudes and complacency have become the order of the day.

Let us review three federal laws that emerged from these circumstances described above and which influenced employer/employee relations.

Americans with Disabilities Act  – 1990

  • Has its seminal beginning in 1973 Section 504 making it illegal to discriminate against those with disabilities if the organization receives Federal Government subsidies.
    • “No otherwise qualified individual with handicaps in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance….”  (ED.gov, 1995)
    • Classifies disabilities by disease.  Includes “Hidden Disease[s],” is changed constantly to update diseases covered, and dictates the only requirement for the disease is that the disease have a material effect on one’s ability to perform a major life activity.”  (Ed.gov, 1995)
    • Costs to business mostly occur in ‘soft’ costs, i.e., changing procedures, reasonable accommodations, etc.  Something to keep in mind though, “… noncompliance can cost an employer. In fiscal year 2006, for example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) resolved 15,045 disability discrimination charges and recovered $48.8 million in monetary benefits for workers who did not receive accommodations to which they are entitled under the ADA…”  (Woog, 2008)  Thus, monetarily speaking, noncompliance costs more than compliance.

Monetary issues are not the only costs involved, and the ‘soft’ discrimination of people with disabilities is reported to remain an ongoing problem.  Regardless of size in the organization, employers report a general consensus:  if the costs of compliance are under $500, it “makes sense” to comply.  If more than $500, the employer and disabled person will be at loggerheads.  The reason so many people have problems with compliance is that disability compliance is difficult to prove in the current employee/employer environment.  Shifting the paradigm and hiring by skill set allows the individual to set the work site accommodations, own the solution, and drive relationship.  Pride in accomplishment is lost when government mandates compliance, forming yet another cost.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

  • Begun with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
    • Foundations are discovered in Executive Order 8802, signed by President F. D. Roosevelt, demanding no discrimination based upon Race, Color, or National Origin.  This is the same president with war camps rounding up Japanese descendants and forcing those of German and Italian descent underground, but I digress.
    • Civil Rights Movement forces onto the worldwide stage the disparity between those of color and national descent.
      • Funded by the USSR and other communist and Islamist nations
      • Feeds into the current mindset that those of color should be coddled
      • Strips pride of accomplishment, desire to improve, and need to become better from people of all color, race, and national origin
      • Age discrimination has been added to protected classes against discrimination and the following statistics are known:

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s (EEOC) Charge Statistics for 2008. Private sector discrimination filings with the EEOC for 2008 (95,402) surpassed 2007 (82,792) by a staggering 15% – the biggest jump in the federal agency’s entire 44-year history.

  • Legal fees for lawyers, litigation costs pre-trial, and costs for compliance monitoring and training are substantial outlays for all business organizations regardless of size.  Compliance costs do not include ‘soft’ expenses and, as shown above, compliance costs are never about money alone, but many companies place total costs for compliance in monetary figures between $100,000 to $500,000 depending upon business organization size per claim.

Societal costs are staggering and unsustainable.  The need to both protect against litigation and meet the hiring quotas has, instead of bringing together a unified melting pot, broken the nation along more racial and national lines, pitted the experienced against the inexperienced, slandered age, and destroyed knowledge attainment for political connections.  The death of merit, honor, and dignity has been pronounced if changes to employment cannot occur soon.

Affirmative Action

  • This disaster has lead to such ambiguous terms as “Reverse Discrimination,” “White Guilt,” etc.  Affirmative Action was expected to be a temporary measure, but like all governments everywhere nothing is more permanent than a temporary measure.
  • Empowering judges to litigate from the bench to “correct wrongs.”  While the courts straddle the line about applying affirmative action and EEO, specific mathematical formulas detailing compliance are frowned upon, making compliance costs soar.
  • Closely tied to the utopian use of money to sway society.  Local, state, and federal government call this “investing in minorities and women” by spending prescribed amounts of money solely on business organizations owned by minorities and located in minority areas, all based upon quotas and political leadership.

Affirmative action, more than any other piece of legislation, accrues higher compliance costs.  Most of the legal problems will end in the Supreme Court where the basic price tag is $1 million.  Again, the entire cost of this legislation is not found in dollars and cents, but in mindsets, attitudes, and societal shifting.  The government costs for abiding by their rules is staggering; yet, the costs for businesses, schools, non-profits, etc., is worse.  Disney produced the movie, “Remember the Titans;” in this movie, the head coach and his assistant coach are having a conversation with direct merit to Affirmative Action.  The head coach tells the assistant that he “… [I]s crippling the young black kids… by coddling them.”  Society, since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 has crippled black society into being what they are currently, crippled white society, and forged iron chains of captivity around the hands and feet of all Americans in and out of the workforce.

These are but three of the many pieces of legislation stemming from the idealistic desire of the ‘Employment Act of 1946’ and the 1976 revision ‘Full Employment and Balanced Growth Bill.’  Top down government mandates only work in the US Military, and then only rarely work well.  America must re-embrace free enterprise, recognize that knowledge builds value, and exercise the freedom to choose including the inherent responsibility and accountability for consequences.  Until then, employers will continue to be forced into compliance, employees will lose, and politicians at the federal and state levels of government will award winners and losers unequally.

We, the citizens of America, must force the issue of change and reign in government spending, both of which can be accomplished through shifting the employment paradigm from employer/employee relations to an employer/independent contractor model.

© 2012 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

References

Ed.gov. (1995, January 01). The civil rights of students with hidden disabilities under section 504 of the rehabilitation act of 1973. Retrieved from http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/hq5269.html

Woog, D. (2008, August 22). What is the real cost of ada compliance?. Retrieved from http://hrpeople.monster.com/news/articles/1073-what-is-the-real-cost-of-ada-compliance

Employee Benefits – A History of Corruption and Coercion

From humble beginnings atrocities begin.  Every action must follow immutable and unalterable laws, consequences follow choices; this article follows the influence of choice pieces of legislation from impetus to current event entanglements.  Only through learning history can proper change produce preferred results.

Modern employment, as we know it, began with a small change from the republic principles of free enterprise morphing into the democratic philosophies of top-down government control.  Soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen coming home from WWII had left jobs and wanted those jobs back; so, the Federal Government changed policies, wrote legislation, and veteran preference in hiring began.  Sounds good, right?  But by carving out exclusions for veterans, other people wanted to possess special treatment.

What occurred in Federal Legislation has caused some serious problems; the first of these problems began with the altruistic ideal of full employment.  Full employment refers to  “the continuing policy and responsibility of the Federal Government . . . to coordinate and utilize all its plans, functions, and resources for the purpose of creating and maintaining . . . conditions under which there will be afforded useful employment opportunities, including self-employment, for those able, willing, and seeking to work, and to promote maximum employment, production, and purchasing power.”  (Scitovszky, 1946)

The Federal Government in 1945, with enough good intentions to pave a super-highway from New York to Beijing, sought to avoid the natural swings which occur in finance and wrote a bill, eventually entitled the ‘Employment Act of 1946’ to avoid future problems experienced between the prosperous 1920’s and the depression of the 1930’s.   To try to improve financial situations for the Federal Government, employment was considered and tied to economic indicators, suggesting low unemployment equates to higher tax revenues and dollar strength.  This reasoning is valid; however, the consequences spinning off these legislative nightmares are self-defeating.

The next time these economic indicators were reviewed was in 1976 with the ‘Full Employment and Balanced Growth Bill.’  Both of these bills, 1946 and 1976, show tremendous influence from Keynes and his theories of being able to spin into prosperity by incurring unsustainable debt.  Sections 2b and 2c of the original bill from 1945 are crucial to understanding the nightmare problem.  In 1945 the legislators declared full employment is possible for all those who desire it, and proposed full employment through federal government spending.  See the problem, especially in the current fiscal cliff negotiations; the Federal Government has become a consumer of goods and exercises a little known principle “Those who pay, control.”  By becoming a consumer of goods and spending money as a customer, the Federal Government can now demand private enterprise obeisance.

Section 3 of the 1945 version of this legislation requires that the president forecasts and writes a budget to increase or decrease spending based upon unemployment numbers and percentages.  The president must forecast spending on a yearly basis to which Congress must then write the underlying legislation as part of the budgeting process.  The president was made directly responsible for the employment of every person in the US who wanted to work, desired to work, was healthy enough to work, and the legislative bodies would produce the needed bills to make it happen.

Flash forward from 1945 to 2012 and the problem is glaringly obvious.  With a disinterested president failing in his legal duties to propose legislation and forecast employment and spending to the House of Representatives and the Senate, a contentious House and Senate that is more interested in internal politics, divisive sound-bites, class warfare and race games, and world economy fluctuating between dead and dying, the problem with this legislation becomes clear.  There is no control mechanism that compensates for the above.  Dictating through top-down government what businesses need to produce and still call it free enterprise is not possible.  The principle of full employment limits choices by forcing people to become employees through inflation, limiting markets, and the over regulation of enterprise.  These laws do not treat people equally because of the definition of employee, which feeds into the description of full employment.  Ranchers, farmers, and other independents suffer because of these laws and the definitions and classifications of the term ‘employee’ and ‘employment’ including ‘self-employment.’  Making the Federal Government a consumer has failed to provide true economic freedom and prosperity.

The nightmare of compensatory finance, as established by Keynes, is the main problem facing America today.  These two little known bills continue to rob America of greatness, steal future generations of prosperity through debt, and keep the Federal Government wasting tax dollars on frivolous projects.  Full employment is a worthy goal, but it is not obtainable due to the following reasons:  Federal Government spending into debt just to buy goods not used; Federal Government spending simply to keep unemployment numbers low; or Federal Government spending to soften financial cycles, all of which are unerringly wrong.

© 2012 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved

References

Barro, R. J. (2011, August 24). Keynesian economics vs. regular economics. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903596904576516412073445854.html

Sanotini, G. J. (1986). The employment act of 1946: Some history notes. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Scitovszky, A. (1946). The employment act of 1946. Social Security Bulletin,