Making the USPS Irrelevant One Disastrous Decision at a Time!

The viral post office | Viral post, Post office, Postal policeBy now, it is apparent that the USPS has utterly failed in its primary job of delivering the mail.  That the US PS has been failing for my entire life is a topic the politicians do not want to discuss.  That the business model the USPS is based upon has never been a profitable one, the overhead is disastrously expensive, and the labor costs beyond exorbitant are also not topics the politicians ever want to discuss.  They prefer smoke and mirrors, purple squirrels, and Hollywood celebrity scandals to actually doing their jobs.  But, I digress; last week, the USPS announced that postal service would revert to the slowest it has been since the 1970s, and the cost for that dismal service is going to increase dramatically.

All weekend the reasons for the USPS being in this fix have been stewing in my mind, and I would like your insight as I discuss the main reasons why the USPS is in such bad shape.  Feel free to disagree.  Feel free to comment.  Feel free to ask questions and research further.  To my mind, the most damning problems to the USPS come from the following areas, too much overhead, labor union expenses, business model, and no clear political place in government.Save the US Postal Service! By a zillion dollars comics | Politics Cartoon | TOONPOOL

Labor Union Expenses

Let’s get something clear, the labor unions in government are living high on the hog of taxpayer forced taxation and mandated union dues.  Consider the following comment from Representative Dennis Ross.

“UPS (Union) – about 66% of their total operating costs are labor. FedEx (non-union) – about 45% of their total operating costs are labor. USPS – 80-82%.”

Here’s the rub in comparing UPS, FedEx, and USPS; they are not apples and apples; it’s more like apples to rocks.  Why?  Because UPS and FedEx must show a profit to shareholders at the end of the year; thus, anytime USPS runs into an unprofitable situation, they rely upon USPS to fill the gap.  FedEx operates slightly differently based on its business model. From observation from living in extreme rural areas, it does not appear to rely upon USPS as often to cover the gaps in service.

However, the labor costs at USPS continue to run extremely high, and the excuses for these labor costs continue to run thinner and thinner every year.  Looking at six specific USPS explicit labor union-negotiated labor costs:

      1. Compensation levels – What each employee under the collective bargaining agreement is paid.
      2. Work rules – How often an employee works, who they report to, uniforms, and a host of other processes and procedures, which can and do increase business operating costs.
      3. Contracting – Includes independent contractors, contracts for retail locations, pickup locations, and much more.
      4. Network differences – Differences in the network affect the labor involved in delivery, sortation, transportation, and retail portions of an end-to-end movement.
      5. Capital intensity – Differences in capital requirements affecting the amount of non-labor costs needed to provide services offered.
      6. Congressional requirements – Congressional requirements focus on the aspects of the Postal Service that add more labor costs influencing capital spending.

Hence, if we take Rep. Ross’s statement as accurate, Congress is to blame for some of the added expenses the USPS incurs and the hidden taxes the taxpayer pays to interact with the USPS.  This is why the place in government is such an influential portion of this discussion.  Congress has been pushing the costs of regulating the USPS onto the taxpayer as a hidden tax since the USPS was started. This is unacceptable, especially since the taxpayers did not have a voice in allowing the USPS to become unionized, tripling labor costs year-over-year.P.S.E Context of PA: SWOT Analysis of the United States Postal Service

Please note, when discussing labor costs tripling, we are not just discussing wage earners’ take-home pay.  Labor costs, as shown above, include those six items, plus a host of labor union contracted benefits, plus retirement benefits, plus administrative staff to handle these benefit packages, the regulatory burdens, the reporting burdens, and much more.  Thus, while comparing UPS, FedEx, and USPS is unfair and illogical, the labor costs are pretty close to accurate even though they cannot be compared due to business model, Congressional reporting, and quasi-governmental meddling by politicians.  Any company with 80-82% labor costs will be struggling with labor problems and turning a profit.  Labor costs, fed by a labor union, are a reality that needs rectification and addressing.USPS 2011

Outdated Business Model

2009 the USPS paid a lot of money to have their business model reviewed, and the result was an excellently written document that outlined two potential steps for the USPS to take.  Where is the USPS in adopting either of these actions in 2021; nowhere!  Why has the USPS not taken any action on this document since 2009; Congress!  Item number six in labor costs continues to rear its ugly and monstrous head, and the problem is not so much on USPS; although they indeed share the blame, Congress continues to drag its feet and refuses to scrutinize the government appropriately.Several logos, mottos have represented USPS through the years | PostalReporter.com

When discussing the USPS business model, the industry is discussing “optimizing the last mile” in the supply chain.  That last mile is where the USPS has traditionally filled in the gap and made the final customer delivery.  However, USPS is inefficient, costly, and labor-intensive.  Yet, until science fiction realizes a Star Trek-like replicator in every home, optimizing the last mile is the discussion we need to be having, and solutions are available!

The 2009 business model review offered franchisee options as a business model — what a novel idea.  Imagine getting your mail on your commute route, no more having it delivered to an apartment box, packages waiting on a doorstep for thieves, stop by a convenient place on your regular commute route, and get all your mail.  Why not have your mail delivered to your office?  Then your office mailroom becomes an arm of the post office; it can sell stamps, handling packages, and then you do not have an extra stop at all.  Talk about an employer-based incentive!  Better still, for a fee turning over retail establishments to non-profit groups for work programs.  Guess what; that has the benefit of increasing public outreach and building communities.  Yet, the USPS languishes because Congress refuses to take up serious topics, and our tax dollars are squandered!

Place in Government

Engineering Professor Calculates How Fast The Eagle In The USPS Logo is GoingRead the US Constitution, the US Bill of Rights, other founding documents, wherein is a postal service discussed?  Find me the article claiming we need a Federal Postal Service.  Name me the reason why the Postal Service is required.  Selling stamps, that can be done using a myriad of different methods.  Sending packages, mailing letters, again, many other options are available.  Passports, hundreds of other options are available; why not put that into DMV’s across the US?  Why not simplify the Passport process entirely?

What is the reason for the USPS?  Give me the why and justify the existence for the next 20-years for the USPS.  My entire life, I have been asking why the USPS is needed, and I have been asking this since before email, fax machines, and other technological leaps.

Overhead

USPS TESSWhen was the last time the USPS had personnel layoffs to balance their accounts?  1970, under President Richard Nixon, USPS had a strike, got a unionized workforce, and, as they call it, “a living wage.”  From 1970 to 2021, there has been nothing but problems in the USPS; from retirement benefits costing too much, to labor expenses, to Congressional expenses increasing year-over-year, the overhead does nothing but balloon.  I was recently in a flagship USPS for Phoenix, AZ.  The building is a disgrace, the parking lot is neglected, the lobby is dark and missing half the materials, no forms, no boxes, everything is behind the barred and locked counter, and the retail associates are criminally negligent in their duties.  What’s worse, this was a good USPS office to visit in Phoenix, AZ.

Take an honest appraisal of your local USPS and ask yourself, are your taxpayer dollars represented in your USPS in a manner acceptable to you?  I visited a USPS in Las Cruces, NM.  The design of the building lends a bright feeling to the building atmosphere; the retail area is small and naturally illuminated.  Same problem with retail associates, but not as noticeable.  However, this was also before the latest changes from Washington, where the employees were told it was okay to work slower and charge more.More is Less at the USPS | Freeport Press

It is my personal opinion that the USPS has outlived its usefulness, and it is time for the USPS to be eliminated from quasi-government offices of the United States.  Nothing fruitful can be gained from continuing the charade of the USPS.  Congress needs to return to the states the ability to issue addresses and organize their communities and end the USPS debacle!

© 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.

Glory and Gore go Hand in Hand – Stating the Obvious

Bait & SwitchLorde, from the “Pure Heroine” album, sings the song “Glory and Gore.”  From which both this title and the principle for this article originated.  The obvious is stated many times a day, oftentimes in an ironic accident, and today was no exception.  The headlines on several stories help prove this point and highlight some serious problems facing America.

From The Daily Signal, we find our first instance of stating the obvious when Lindsey Burke announces that “Unions are doubling down on inserting critical race theory (CRT) into education.”  Of course, the labor unions of teacher associations would be doubling- and tripling- down on applying political pressure to advance America, destroying malarkey for K-12 Educators.  Show a single instance when a Marxist labor union has ever done anything to support America, and I will show you the inner workings of liars, thieves, and cheats who will tell a thousand truths to convince you a lie is a truth.

Exclamation MarkCRT is dangerous, it is a lie thought up by academics, and the only people who will benefit from CRT are liars, thieves, cheats, and politicians.  Tell me, of all the people in history who have been enslaved, forced into indentured servitude, harassed, belittled, and betrayed by a different society, why are American Black populations the only ones ever targeted for pampering and coddling?  When you answer this question, you will discover that this population is being treated this way by racist antagonists who know they can rely upon this population for agitation, anger, and terrorism without thought, concern, and care about the consequences.  Why; because they have been intentionally groomed and carefully taught to act in this manner for the political ambitions of the same people pushing CRT.

Ever notice how President Biden and Hillary Clinton only talk at the American Black Populations, and even then only address the leaders of groups dedicated to rousing the population’s emotions, and not the population themselves?  When was President Biden ever in Harlem for a political rally?  When was Hillary ever in Compton, Philly, or Chicago?  What about a visit to Atlanta for a political rally down by the riverside?  The politicians talk to the NAACP and the Black Caucus, who then speak to the religious leaders and social justice minions. They talk to the local neighborhoods, reflecting the cowardice and true colors of the politicians as race agitators and race hustlers, not interested in the population unless it is election time.  What is CRT; trouble!

Theres moreThe Daily Signal also carried a story authored by Hans von Spakovsky, who declared that a former Justice Department lawyer testified that lawyers abuse their power at the Department of Justice.  What a revelation; lawyers were acting unethically, immorally, and illegally for personal gain in government employment.  Color me shocked!  Ever wonder why lawyers and attorneys have the most jokes written about them of any other profession; I never have!  Worse, I cannot believe how many can get elected!

Under the heading of stating the obvious, and how you cannot color me shocked, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) continues to blame inadequate training as the go-to excuse when the Department of Veterans Affairs – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) comes investigating.  In the almost two decades I have been chronicling poor behavior at the VA, VBA, VHA, and National Cemeteries, the number one most often cited excuse for failure is “poor or inadequate training.”  As a point of reference, this lack of training drove my desire to work in training at the VA to improve the training delivered.

Raymmond G. MurphyAs an adult educator with more than 20 years in distance learning and classroom training, I thought I would be a shoo-in for the positions.  Nope, I had not served in pay grades lower to “learn the VA.”  Even though I had more education and experience, was Schedule A, and more skilled than any other candidate, I was deemed not qualified, and internal people filled the open roles.  How do I know these facts, I asked those hired, and they were glad to relate their stories, experience, and time served in the VA to get into a plushy training position where they were grossly inadequate.  Only after leaving was the other reason revealed, the HR Director at the Albuquerque VAMC claimed too many veterans were in employment at the VA and refused to hire a single veteran while she directed the HR department.

Do the VA Leaders ever think that this is the problem? Only the worst of the worst can survive the mental depravity and mind-numbing bureaucracy at the VA to obtain promotion into higher leadership positions.  Worse, those who achieve these positions have agendas, lists of enemies to crush, and power empires to build, so they are never interested in doing the job!

GearsThe result, designed incompetence is bred, excuses that could not hold reality become the accepted verbiage to deflect responsibility and accountability, and if all else fails, make sure your union dues are paid, and the union will defend your pension, your job, and your benefits.  Then you can lie, cheat, steal, and terrorize without prejudice and escape without any problems.

If you ever think that something is too far-fetched to believe, the VA will prove you wrong.  The VA-OIG continues to inspect five VAMC’s for inadequate and improper processes, procedures, and leadership where financial controls and payments to third-party or affiliated non-profit corporations are concerned.  In 2021, two additional VAMC’s have failed sufficiently to make the eternally under investigation list, Albuquerque, NM and Palo Alto, CA.  The original five are Boise, ID., Boston, MA., Cincinnati, OH., Nashville, TN., and San Francisco, CA.

The Albuquerque and Palo Alto medical centers made about $17.9 million in improper payments to affiliated non-profit corporations. The reason for improper payments was the same for all seven VA medical centers reviewed. Specifically, procedures for approving invoices did not satisfy VA policy requirements because they did not require verification that the services were provided. The audit team also noted an absence of required periodic reviews by VA supervisors of approved invoices at all seven medical centers.”

Now, here’s the other side of the coin, the internal controls at both the VA and the non-profits did not identify that their problems were internal or even an issue.  When I have worked in finance, the rule is, “no evidence, no payment!”  When the non-profit I volunteered at failed an audit with 27-pages of audit inconsistencies, I was called in and charged with fixing the problems.  Of those 27-pages of audit findings, 26 pages were for payments where documentation was missing.  Four months later, a follow-up inspection cleared all 27-pages.  Yet, no evidence continues to be the single most glaring problem at seven separate VAMC’s, and nothing has changed since this issue first reared its head in FY 2017-2018.  The VA-OIG has collected reports beginning in Boston, MA VA_OIG report number 18-00711-211, published 02 December 2019, where more than 3700 payments totaling more than $23 Million were made without evidence proving services rendered.Apathy

From the VA-OIG Report:

Of the estimated $1.6 million overpayment, about $1.5 million paid to the Boston non-profit was included in the total $35.7 million improper payments due to lack of evidence that services were received. The entire $1.6 million overpayment was for unallowable or prohibited reimbursements to the non-profit.”

The OIG previously reported a total of about $35.7 million improper payments to five affiliated non-profit corporations as shown in this report.”

VA 3Is it too obvious to declare the leadership in charge at both the non-profits and the VA needs immediate removal, transparent audits conducted, and those leaders held accountable for the money that has been lost?  Recently an author claimed the VA is more of a crime syndicate than the mob.  After reading that two additional VAMC’s have failed gloriously to prove services rendered for payments made, I can agree with this sentiment!

Our final entry today originates, unsurprisingly, with the Department of Veterans Affairs – Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and a VA-OIG inspection where 88% of the claims processed involved lengthy delays in making decisions.  Tell me, if you had an 88% failure rate at your job, how long would you keep your job?  How long would it be before your bosses were shown the door, the company shuttered, and investigated for fraud?  Now, why are government employees treated differently than private-sector employees?  The inexcusable delays have led to more than $232 Million in questionable payments projected for the next two years, while the VBA is “encouraged” to fix the delay problems and “catch up.”

Knowledge Check!For the record, stating the obvious, the entire US Government is sick.  The legislative branch keeps abdicating responsibility to the judicial and executive branches. Bureaucrats and bureaucracy have overcome common sense. The whole process has been rigged to keep the dregs of society in power while the taxpayer suffers.  Let us, the owners of representative governments, remind those supposed to be in charge that they have cause to fear the electorate.  Politicians should fear the ballot box, and they should fear having the electorate hold them personally accountable for the mess they have perpetrated.

© 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.

The Proper and Improper Role of Government – Part 3

Bait & SwitchThere many ideas I embraced as a child that brings me short mentally and cause some discomfort.  The biggest of these was the support of labor unions.  As a kid, I thought labor unions were the best thing since sliced bread.  I learned in K-12 how the labor unions had ended child labor, gave us weekends, Federal holidays, and the 8-hour day, among other tremendous and notable accomplishments.  Until I lost my job to a labor union guy who took four times as long to complete work, complained horribly and sent me to the unemployment line.  I never understood what he had to complain about, times were hard, and I lost a good job to a labor union member.

ApathyBecause of the hold, the Labor Unions have on government, the line between government policy and labor union influence is generally so blurred that confusion is bred as to why things work the way they work in government.  Unfortunately, every country with a representative government and labor unions has the same problem.  Labor unions are entirely Marxist in their ideology, but to keep the masses happy, instead of communism, we get rampant socialism instead.  J. T. Murphy writes specifically eloquently on the ties between socialism and the labor unions.  Frankly, I have never understood how a labor person can swear they love freedom and America while supporting tooth and nail their labor unions’ Marxist and socialist agendas.

Inflation and Socialism, plus the Captivity of Debt

Public Employment Retirement Costs Are At "Tipping Point"Public-sector labor unions are the number one reason many states in America have seen their credit ratings drop.  The debt of the retirement packages and pensions is a millstone around every state’s neck.  This is an absolute reality proven time and time again.  The pension crisis is so large that Forbes keeps coming back to this topic several times a year.  If you would like a primer on the public pension crisis, go here.  The public pension crisis is mentioned solely because it remains the number one budget item for too many states.  With that much money owed, the debt runs the state’s fiscal decisions, not people, and brings up the captivity of debt.

Look up the principle of “usury” in historical texts, and you find usury occurs when interest is charged on money borrowed, which creates captivity.  TheWalletcoach.com eloquently details how debt is captivity.  The oldest of historical texts, the Old Testament, is vehemently against charging usury of brothers and family members, but strangers being in debt captivity was okay.  Today, the confinement of debt, specifically the public pensions, leads the politicians like a goat to slaughter. But, unfortunately, none of the politicians can find the time to formulate a plan, gather their fellow politicians, and fix the problem.  Debt, to the height of the public pension crisis, creates inflation and leads to socialism, as the government runs out of other people’s money to pay for the failures of previous politicians to be fiscally literate and fiscally responsible.  Add in the labor unions’ consistent sticky hands, and the local and state governments are in deep trouble.  Add in the Federal Government’s debt obligations, and money trouble is a catastrophe!  Please note that catastrophe is not an “If” or “when;” it is a current issue right now!National Debt Graph + Bush-Reagan Voodoo Video - zFacts

16 March 2019, Tom Del Beccaro, writing an opinion piece for Fox News, produced the greatest missive I have ever seen tying the principles of debt captivity to inflation and governments becoming socialized!  Historically speaking, Mr. Del Beccaro is 100% correct that the socialization of Greece and the fall of the Roman Republic are both tied to government debts. However, the Founding Fathers in America knew history, were literate, and they feared what would happen to this Free Republic (if we can keep it) when the government is allowed to rack up debts!  Every single publication I have on the Founding Fathers, and the Founding of America, come back to the bondage of debt and the problems with government debt. However, when the population demands “free benefits” from the government and uses their voting power to elect only those who keep the “Gravy Train” coming, socialism has been achieved in all but name!Government Largess

That fact alone should scare every member of the American Experiment into correcting their government!  Yet, what do we find, the exact opposite!  Frightening does not entirely cover my feelings here!

Socialism, Taxes, and The Workplace

Gravy TrainReturning to the pattern discussed on 16 March 2019, Tom Del Beccaro, writing an opinion piece for Fox News, discussed how taxes are a knee-jerk reaction to “keep that gravy train running.”  Therein lay the root causes for how socialism has been promoted in the workplace and how high taxes will eventually go!  I have written about this relationship for a long time, but please allow me to refresh memories.

In the United States, the Government Agency tasked with employment, employment laws, and employer responsibilities is not the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB); by statute, it is the Department of Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  The NLRB is only there to handle labor unions, labor union growth, and labor union law.  The IRS defines what an employee is vs. a contractor or knowledge vendor.  Worse, the IRS rigidly protects this relationship as a key to preserving the government’s interest (tax dollars) in keeping socialism in the workplace.  Some of my earliest articles deal with these exact principles and the socialized employee structures in which each worker and business is demanded to participate.Gravy Train 2

Upset with how your employer treats you, both on and off the employer’s property, there is only one place to put the blame, the IRS.  The IRS states the employer can invade your privacy, in your home, as an extension of “Risk Control” because your employer agreed to the IRS’s demands to pay taxes.  Your rights, freedoms, and liberties are curtailed, culled, and clipped in the workplace because the IRS demands the employer play ball with them, and your liberties are the price you pay for a paycheck.  Every time I see a labor union complaining about how the employer treats them, I want to shake the stuffing out of the leaders, for it is not the employer but the IRS that should be struck down and disbanded!  Yet, the NLRB will always side against the employer, and the labor union, a Marxist organization, wins, the IRS wins, and the employer and non-union employees lose. As a result, socialism in America becomes more powerful and influential.

Socialism and Mothers in the Workplace

As a means to improve the strength of the family in society, several religious organizations would love to see mothers provided the power to stay home.  Yet, socialism, as a fundamental operating principle, that all able bodied people must support the state, K-12 educators can rear kids, and the government acquires drones who do as they are told.  High fuel prices are no longer discussed on the nightly news because the government needs every able-bodied and disabled person working and asked the media to find something else to discuss.Plato 2

Why does the current president keep ducking questions about inflation; because the higher inflation goes, the higher prices are demanded, and the more people will rely upon the “Government Gravy Train.”  Unfunded liabilities (kited checks) are acceptable to socialists as a means of controlling the populace and keeping people in the game.  Higher taxes from inflation are good when it controls those in society who would raise their heads and ask questions under the thumb of totalitarian control.  If mothers returned home, how fast would demands for improved schools become the big issue in local politics, again?Gravy Train 3

My wife, a single mother due to divorce, while raising her two kids, relates stories of gathering mothers in Seattle to fight the school board and win.  Bewitched (1964-1972), the TV show reflects several times where Samantha got involved and changed local politics.  It used to be expected in local politics for mothers to have the ultimate last word on worthy politicians for whom to vote.  Yet, by increasing prices, mothers had to go to work.  It is now standard for politicians to get elected whose only desire is to keep socialism going, stealing liberties and freedoms while pontificating that the other party is at fault for your suffering.

Knowledge Check!I repeat, only for emphasis, the IRS remains the most influential, nefarious, and deadly threat to America.  America, what I am proposing will be a culture shock. It will turn many people onto their heads. It will appear anathema, all because we, the citizens, have watched the government become stronger and us the citizens weaker for so many generations.  But, the reality remains, we own the government, the government has been abusing us, and the time of big government to solve all the problems from a broken shoelace to fixing the weather has to end!  We must believe, gather knowledge, and act as a conjoined whole to make the necessary changes.

© 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: Come, Let Us Reason Together – Chapter 5

Bait & SwitchIn Chapters 2 and 3 of this series, the discussion regarding money and the $350 Billion dollars COVID relief monies were discussed.  As this is a continuing discussion, I would encourage you to read those missives as well for a fuller understanding of the principles being discussed.  Regardless, several facts remain pertinent:

      1. The states accepting this money will be bound to spend it in a manner the Federal Government specifies.
      2. The money being given to the states as a “stimulus for COVID economic growth,” will not spur anything but inflation and poor fiscal policies.
      3. The strings attached to this money are a noose on individual state economic growth long after the deadline to spend the money (31 December 2026) comes and goes.

Doherty (2021) writing for the NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) provides some clarity on the Treasury Department’s rules and regulations regarding this $350 Billion albatross being forced down the state’s throats.  The funds being discussed originate in the $1.9 Trillion American Rescue Plan Act, and the Treasury Department has released operational guidance to the states and cities receiving the funds.  Never forget, while the Treasury Department claims there is an algorithm for sharing the money, politics and political connections will be the final determinant in who receives how much of the funds being doled out.

The Duty of AmericansPensions are the first point of discussion as to where these funds can go; never forget, pensions remain the largest single expense for states in the United States.  Those bloated governmental salaries, negotiated by unions, and put in place by legislative fiat, keep the taxpayer on the hook for poor financial planning long after the initial beneficiaries of the union retirement pyramid scheme and dead and buried.  Read carefully the pension data provided by USAToday for a full and detailed discussion on just how big the pension problem is for the states of the United States.

Millstone of Designed IncompetenceJust as important, look at the total number of government workers as a share of the total workforce, and you will discover just how big your state and local governments have become.  For example, two states selected at random from the 50-state list, New Jersey, and New Mexico are displayed below, and sourced from the article:

New Jersey

  • Funded ratio: 38.4%
  • Total pension shortfall: $130.7 billion shortfall (3rd largest)
  • Gov’t workers as share of total workforce: 13.3% (20th lowest)
  • Avg. annual payout per public retiree: $32,148 (9th highest)

New Mexico

  • Funded ratio: 61%
  • Total pension shortfall: $18.2 billion shortfall (18th largest)
  • Gov’t workers as share of total workforce: 18.6% (4th highest)
  • Avg. annual payout per public retiree: $20,907 (15th lowest)

ApathyConsider New Jersey for a moment, if you met 100 new people in one day, more than 1/10th of those met will work for the state or local government in some capacity, and those 11 people are earning $32,148 taxpayer paid dollars a year for being retired.  Worse, New Jersey is kiting checks on your children’s future to the tune of $130.7 Billion dollars every year.  Raising taxes cannot help closing the funding gap in the pension.  Want more news, the majority of those retired are not living in New Jersey, so all those taxpayer monies are not being recouped in sales taxes, property taxes, and other taxes.

Yet, the Federal Government just borrowed $1.9 Trillion to give the states $350 Billion, and the monies provided will not even pay a years’ worth of pension payments in most cases.  Let alone pay for all the other accounts that have been stripped to pay for the pension gap.  For example, infrastructure (Roads, Bridges, Highways, Broadband Internet, the Electrical Grid, etc.), Teachers, Community Colleges, Unemployment Insurance, Water and Wastewater Treatment facilities, and Health and Human Services, just to name a few cash strapped state programs.

Plato 2A few days ago, I was discussing broadband Internet grids, and there susceptibility to failure with people who work for a major Internet Service Provider.  In Umatilla County, as an example, the Internet either currently, or previously, went down nightly for 5-6 hours at a time.  Read the outage reports and you will find regular large geographic areas of the country suffering with Internet latency and connectivity issues.  Yet, your state legislators must focus not upon the potholes damaging your car, not upon shaky bridges and overpasses prone to failure, but upon pensions for retirees.  All due to labor unions and promises that should never have been made in the first place!

Pensions are the number one reason I, personally, think that government workers should not be able to unionize, and that the government pensions should be as rigidly controlled as the private sectors pensions.  Yet, the inverse is true, unions growing in the public sector, shrinking in the private sector, and the taxpayer is left with the bill.  Since the government can continue to kite checks, our children’s great grandchildren are already up to their necks in debt that is unsustainable.

Plato 3Come, let us reason together for solutions that actually work.  I offer below the following suggestions, feel free to agree, disagree, add more, and discuss openly in the comments.  We, the owners of government, must re-take control of the government, and to do so, we must communicate and act.

      1. Reduce the size of government immediately to the size posted on 31 December 1999. This is an immediate and interim step.  To be followed by a position by position, value discussion, where technological solutions to replace workers is decided.  Eventually culling government size back to a Pre-1930’s level.
      2. Automate as many functions as possible. The processes of how government function are necessarily complicated to justify a jobs program.  This culture of complication must cease forthwith, the processes cleared of unnecessary complications, and streamlined to allow for automation of the processes.
      3. Take the pensions and eradicate the unions. Privatize pensions should be the letter of the law for all, public and private sector employees.  Thus, creating a new market and investment industry.
      4. Privatize public maintenance of roads, the fuel taxes are sufficient to pay for this and improve road maintenance immediately.
      5. Privatize wastewater and water generation and distribution.
      6. Privatize and deregulate all utilities, allowing for maximum competition, and ending the private geographic monopolies the tech companies and Internet providers have established.
      7. Privatize K-12 and Community Colleges changing the pay structures for teachers and reducing the “staff” positions. Get focused on delivering a product, the product is an educated student who can read, write, and do math, thinking logically, and critically.  This means ending the surplus of standardized tests and putting the teacher in charge of the classroom.

PatriotismNever Give Up!Not every child should be forced into college.  Not every job requires a college degree.  Opening the community colleges produces certified, trained, and non-debt laden students that are workforce ready.  Workforce ready means able, willing, and skilled in working, be that in academia for a degree, or in the workforce as a tradesman the requirement is the same and the distinction needs removed from the leaders of K-12 educational leadership.

The aim and the intent of all government programs is to get out of the way and let people act as they think best for themselves and their families.  Not pushing children to college for a degree and a life of debt payments.  Not forcing them into the military because you are too lazy to teach them how to read, write, think, and speak.  Not forcing them into poverty to support a government jobs program.  The government will not go “quietly into that dark night.”  But, with enough insistence the government we currently know can be cut, reduced, and forced to retreat.  We, the citizens, need to take back our government through the ballot box, through the judicial branch, and through demanding change in the legislative and executive branches at all levels of the government.

Knowledge Check!First step, believe it is possible; live like it has already occurred.  Second step, join others to raise the cry and demand the changes.  Third, support only candidates who already live fiscally proper, morally upright, and ethically dedicated.  Fourth, never give up!  Never lose focus, and never relinquish the moral high ground for a bowl of pottage or 30 pieces of silver.

© 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 IRS – The Pernicious and Detestable Federal Agency

Angry Wet ChickenNow that tax season is, for the most part, completed and behind us for another year.  It occurred to me that many people do not know the power and reach of the IRS in their daily lives.  Plato is quoted as saying, “The price of apathy towards  public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”  No truer words can describe the situation with the IRS, and I think it is time every American knows just how destructive the policies of the IRS have been and continue to be.

Employee

UseLegal.com (2012) provides the actual definition of an employee, “An “employee” is defined as “a preference eligible in the excepted service who has completed one year of current continuous service in the same or similar positions” or “an individual in the excepted service (other than a preference eligible)… who is not serving a probationary or trial period under an initial appointment pending conversion to the competitive service.” Ramos v. Merit Sys. Prot. Bd., 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 24378 (Fed. Cir. Nov. 6, 2009)”  Essentially, a person can be hired by an employer, but does not attain employee status and protection until that person has been hired for a continual year by the same employer, is not under a ‘probationary period,’ and or appointment.Apathy

An employee agrees to be controlled by an employer; that person’s production is only one of the controls granted to an employer.  Employee conduct both on and off the job can be controlled, and the means and manner of producing the work specified.  The right to control is the primary determining factor in this relationship.  The right to control is also the deciding line between freelance workers and employees.  Upon this single imperative hang tax law, the responsibility of parties, risk, and every item in employee/employer relationships, hierarchical structures, and will ultimately decide who or which party is in charge, and is entirely governed by the IRS in America!

The Right to Control

The IRS breaks into three categories the essential components where the ‘Right to Control’ hinges, namely, Behavioral Control, Financial Control, and Type of Relationship.

Behavioral Control:  Relates to the questions, what, where, and how work is completed.  Employees have set schedules, tight restrictions about how to think, where to sit, etc., dictated by the employer.

Financial Control:  Relates to all things money.  The employee is forced to accept all terms of the employer without negotiation, from business expenses to taxes.  Where Financial Control is, risk shortly follows; where risk is, the threat of litigation follows.  Therefore, when the employer has financial Control, risk follows the employer, not the employee.  Profit and loss, tools of the trade, and the freedom to offer services to other organizations are all part of the financial controls relinquished by the employee to the employer.  Under Financial Control falls the following, the Americans with Disabilities Act – 1990 (ADA).

    • The ADA’s seminal beginning originate in 1973 Section 504, which made 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 because 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).
          • Classified disabilities by disease; includes “Hidden Disease[s],” is changed constantly to update diseases covered, and dictates the only requirement for the condition is that the disorder “have a material effect on one’s ability to perform a major life activity” (Ed.gov, 1995).
          • Business costs mainly occur in ‘soft’ costs, i.e., changing procedures, reasonable accommodations, etc., something to keep in mind, though, “… noncompliance can cost an employer.  For example, in the fiscal year 2006, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) resolved 15,045 disability discrimination charges.  It 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.

Type of Relationship:  Relates to all things in the interaction of the two independent parties, including written contracts dictating the interaction, risks, penalties, etc.  The extent of the relationship is a significant point and colludes with permanency and benefits to form the marriage between two independent entities.  The employee forfeits Control in this arena to the employer who automatically sets the terms, demands compliance, and exerts totalitarian Control.quote-mans-inhumanity

Employee Surveillance

IRS.gov (2018) sets the standard upon which the premise for employee surveillance rests; the business organization holds the right to control, monitor, insist, and legally demand employee behaviors. Goshray (2013) quoted Cashmore (2009) and is correct; employee privacy is dead, and the origination is social media.  Thus, with the IRS granting legal ability to monitor and control employees, there are no other legal or ethical issues, privacy concerns, or anything else wrong with employee surveillance.  If the employee chooses to take issue with the monitoring, that employee is free to end their relationship with the company; in fact, Lyon (2017) substantiated that with newer employees, who have grown up with the acceptance of digital citizenship, surveillance is expected and no privacy concerns exist in the workplace.Patriotism

Holt, Lang, and Sutton (2017) further inform that employee surveillance does not affect potential employees’ rating of the organization’s ethics, nor the organizational views when monitoring, e.g., employee surveillance is higher than another business in the same industry. Holt et al., (2017) further added that employee surveillance has been, and continues to be, radically changed by the technology available (Waxman & Barile, 2016).  Returning to the organizational “right,” as provided by the government through both edict and legislation, employees have no individual control and relinquish privacy rights upon hire to the employer (IRS.gov, 2018).

Vargas (2017) reviewed a business and found that the employer considers each employee a criminal and that through working for the company, investigated criminalization of employee behaviors is enacted and reproduced.  Essentially, making each employee an automatic suspect anytime a crime occurs, suspecting every transaction, and disciplining for minor changes in expected corporate behaviors. While admittedly, this behavior by the business might be considered extreme, it is not beyond the legal “rights” of the employer.  An argument could be made to treat employees better to reduce churn; in this particular industry (retail), high churn means you pay less in wages because good employees leave quickly and bad employees are fired fast.  Thus, criminalizing the employee is not wrong; employee surveillance is not unethical and should have no consequences for honest employees.The Duty of Americans

However, labor unions vociferously continue to advocate privacy in the workplace and attempt to place limits upon employee surveillance by a company, completely disregarding the fact that the employer has the legal right and ability to demand and enforce all types of direct and indirect employee surveillance programs (Goshray, 2013; Holt, Lang, and Sutton, 2017; IRS.gov, 2018; Leclercq-Vandelannoitte, 2017; Lyon, 2017; Waxman & Barile, 2016; Vargas, 2017).  While Leclercq-Vandelannoitte (2017) attempts to place ethical constraints, prior knowledge, policies, and procedures around employee surveillance, nothing in the IRS.gov (2018) mandates declare an employer has to mention or warn employees that their every keystroke, every conversation, and every action are directly and indirectly monitored as the “right” of the business.

Knowledge Check!Is the pernicious role of the IRS now more understood?  Your Employer/Employee relationship is not governed by the NLRB, but by the IRS, and this was by design to protect tax money!  Every action made in an employment situation is governed by the IRS, and the IRS has given great latitude to the employer, making you the property of the IRS, with control granted to your employer.  The IRS remains a danger to every American, and the globe.  Why is the United States the only industrialized nation to not allow options to the employee/employer relationship, squashing innovation, curtailing small businesses opportunities, and unequally tipping the scales for large organizations, look to the IRS!  Want to point fingers, thank President Woodrow Wilson (D) and his complicit Congress and his executive orders!

References

Effelsberg, D., Solga, M., & Gurt, J. (2013). Getting followers to transcend their self-interest for the benefit of their company: Testing a core assumption of transformational leadership theory. Journal of Business and Psychology, 29(1), 131-143. doi:10.1007/s10869-013-9305-x

Ghoshray, S. (2013). Employer surveillance versus employee privacy: The new reality of social media and the workplace. Northern Kentucky Law Review, 40(3), 593-626. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lgs&AN=90242325&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Holt, M., Lang, B., & Sutton, S. G. (2017). Potential employees’ ethical perceptions of active monitoring: The dark side of data analytics.Journal of Information Systems, 31(2), 107-124. doi:10.2308/isys-51580

Leclercq-Vandelannoitte, A. (2017). An ethical perspective on emerging forms of ubiquitous IT-based Control.Journal of Business Ethics, 142(1), 139-154. doi: http://dx.doi.org.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/10.1007/s10551-015-2708-z

Lyon, D. (2017). Digital Citizenship and Surveillance| Surveillance Culture: Engagement, Exposure, and Ethics in Digital Modernity. International Journal of Communication, 11, 19.

Waxman, S. S., & Barile, F. G. (2016). “Eye in the sky:” Employee surveillance in the public sector. Albany Law Review, 79(1), 131.

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS.gov) (2018). Independent contractor vs. employee. Available from http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,id=99921,00.html

U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS.gov). (2018). The Agency, its Mission, and Statutory Authority. Retrieved from http://www.irs.gov/irs/article/0,,id=98141,00.html

Vargas, T. L. (2017). Employees or Suspects? Surveillance and Scrutinization of Low-Wage Service Workers in U.S. Dollar Stores, 20(2), 207–230. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.contentproxy.phoenix.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eoh&AN=EP123822581&site=ehost-live&scope=site

© 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: LIC – Low-Intensity Conflict – Explained and Expounded

Dont Tread On MeBetween 2012 and 2014, I wrote the first article on Low-Intensity Conflict (LIC).  Somehow this article has been lost in my changing blogs and computers.  Hence, what follows is an in-depth look at LIC.  Please note, several authors have significantly contributed to my understanding of LIC, but none so much as Lt. Colonel Alan J. Tinder, who wrote a paper for the Air War College in 1990, titled: “Low-Intensity Conflict.”  From the Colonel, I have learned much and benchmarked this principle to more thoroughly understand LIC, how to recognize LIC, and how to detail LIC for others.  The other compelling source is L. C. Green’s paper on “Low-Intensity Conflict and the Law.”  My aim here is to synthesize this information into a manageable topic and aid understanding.LIC 2

Too often in America, we do not recognize LIC.  When the Verizon Labor Unions had to be legally restrained from committing LIC against Verizon, the judge seemed to want to call the acts of violence nothing but poor decisions by some people.   Yet, the labor union had begun a tactic of pressuring Verizon by destroying property, scare tactics for third-party contractors, and causing mayhem to obtain their demands.  Hence, the labor union committed LIC and got away with it, no punishment, no accountability, no responsibility.  Never forget, “Barely three percent of violent crimes committed by union members lead to an arrest or conviction. … Most victims of union violence are unemployed workers looking for a job [to] feed their families. “Scabs,” they call them. Subhuman scum. Untouchables. People who, in the minds of unionists and their enablers, are worthy of the same kind of vile abuse that Klu Klux Klansman used to dish out to African Americans that didn’t know their place.”LIC

What is LIC?

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

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

Green (1997) adds a key ingredient to the description of LIC from Tinder (1990).

… Non-international conflict itself is a refined term for what [was] formerly known as revolutions or civil wars, particularly when these have developed into major operations with the likelihood or reality of atrocities being committed against non-combatants.  Whether civilians or those [rendered] hors de combat, a fact that is often more common in non-international … conflicts, especially when ideological, ethnic, or religious differences are in issue.  It is for this reason that it must be borne in mind that the term low-intensity [conflict] has no relation to the severity or violence of the conflict” [emphasis mine].

Some will proclaim loudly, primarily due to affiliation with or money donated from deep-pocketed entities, that LIC is only limited to those more commonly perceived as terrorists, i.e., car bombers, hijackers, etc.; however, paid rioters, looters, and those termed by the media as “violent protesters,” are practicing LIC.  Worse, labor unions have been getting away with LIC since 1892 and the Homestead Strike.  As a point of fact, K-12 educators will only teach the labor union’s side of the story during the Industrial Revolution, leaving out the capitalists providing jobs, businesses that did not need, or want, government intrusion, and the continued depravity the labor unions continually inflict upon America.  Just for the record, in 1991 alone, 4400 acts of violence were committed by labor unions.Apathy

Consider this for a moment, Americans generally despise violence for economic gains; but, due to LIC in K-12 education, the labor unions get special treatment before the law on committing violence.  Imagine for a moment how ugly the media would scream if the KKK dropped nails, broke glass, destroyed property without regard to a minority-owned business.  Oh, wait a minute; we know what the media would do, nothing!  See, when politically correct rage occurs, even when it is a minority on minority, the press closes their mouths or pitches in!  The world saw this in Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Atlanta, Florida, and so many other riots, politely termed “peaceful protests” by the media!

LIC and the Law

I am not a lawyer, and the following is not legal advice.  LIC being punishable under a military court is founded in the Civil War, and President Lincoln desired to regulate the behavior of Union troops and show proper deferment to enemy troops.  While this legal precedent goes further back, the legal precedent begins with President Lincoln in the US.  Controlling troops’ behavior led to the Genocide Convention of 1948, where genocide was created.  A legal standard was set for controlling and describing proper behavior during a conflict and enforceable by third parties.  Hence the reason why, and for, international courts to bring charges against countries and leaders of countries who commit genocide.  Unfortunately, even with the United Nations “maintaining neutrality,” enforcement of genocide continues to be problematic.The Duty of Americans

However, the point is clear, commit acts of LIC, and you do not face a civilian court and judge; you face a military tribunal.  The legal precedent for handling LIC by military tribunal further clarifies that those violent protesters and labor union members using LIC to commit acts of violence are deserving of the label, domestic terrorist.  As a terrorist, those using LIC, including those paying for LIC, lose their US Constitutional Rights, face a military tribunal, and held without Habeas Corpus.  Terrorists do not deserve and have rejected their US Constitutional Rights upon paying for or committing violent LIC actions.  According to the legal dictionary, Habeas Corpusis a writ requiring a person under arrest to be brought before a judge or into court, especially to secure the person’s release unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention.”  If US Troops must follow the Geneva Convention during peace and war, then those paying for or committing LIC are also bound, especially by Article 3:

“… Each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum … [to] persons taking no part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause [certain minimum rights to ensure that they] shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, color, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.”

Since those involved in LIC are terrorists and like criminals, they do not adhere to the law.  The international community should be exerting pressure to capture, hold, and try the individuals involved in LIC anywhere in the world.  For example, Cuba is currently holding a leader of BLM, an internal terrorist organization with roots in Marxism-Leninism.  Other people have found safe haven in the international community and need to answer for their criminal and terrorist activities.  However, since the American government refuses to label paid agitators as the internal terrorists they are, the criminal justice system will continue to be violated.  Those guilty of LIC are allowed to continue their licentious ways to the detriment of America.Patriotism

Labor unions hide behind the lawyers and the criminal justice system to game and play LIC against everyone they consider an enemy.  ANTIFA, BLM, and every other paid agitator group in America burning, looting, rioting, and “protesting” need to be labeled what they are, terrorists.  Their actions need to be classified correctly as acts of terrorism.  A military tribunal called to investigate funding sources and hold accountable those paying and those committing terrorist violence in America.  There is no difference between a  terrorist in the IRA, a terrorist in Afghanistan, and a “protestor” terrorist in Portland, Oregon.  America, we need to understand LIC, and then we need to apply legal precedence to fix the situation America currently finds herself in!

© 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.

Democracy vs. Republic – American Governance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Change is possible with proper legislative support!

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

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

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

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

Desperate Changes Needed at the VA – A Letter to the President

President of the United States
Attn: The Honorable Donald Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

10 May 2020

Dave Salisbury
1947 Edith Blvd SE
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Subject: The Department of Veterans Affairs

Dear Mr. President,

Please forgive my presumptuousness in writing to you directly.  I have made several attempts at raising the issues contained herein at lower levels, to no avail.  As the Chief Executive Officer of the United States of America, I come to you as the person of last resort.  The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), especially Healthcare and Benefits departments are sick, and in desperate need of urgent corrective action.

  1. The VA-OIG has documented multiple times when claims have been improperly been decided, where training was lacking, leadership failed, and the veteran suffered.  Yet, never in the VA-OIG report is a discussion on correcting the past decisions.  The process for a veteran to have a previous decision, more often than not improperly decided by the VA, is to produce new material evidence, and wait interminably for the VA to decide they need to act.  This single issue is a leadership failure of enormous proportions, that Congress refuses to act upon; thus, the leadership failure begins and ends with the House of Representatives and the Senate refusing to do the jobs they were elected to complete.
  2. While the following is specific to the New Mexico VA Healthcare System (NMVAHCS), the problem is rampant throughout the entire VA healthcare system. I witnessed, 11 December 2019, a VA employee tell a veteran that they would not submit paperwork for the veteran, to the doctor, in the clinic unless the paperwork was “processed correctly.”  Meaning that the veteran took an envelope, placed the VA forms inside the envelope, and then mailed that paperwork to the VA Hospital.  The veteran lives a significant distance to the hospital and was trying to do in person what had failed through the USPS, this was made clear to the VA Employee.  The employee went as far as to claim, “If that form is placed on my desk, I will throw it away because it is not being presented to the doctor in a manner acceptable to the employee.”  Never have I witnessed such blatantly disrespectful behavior by a bureaucrat.  In true bureaucrat fashion, he created rules to thwart, obfuscate, and dodge work; unfortunately, this is standard practice with the majority of employees in customer-facing positions in the VA.  The leadership failure, the protected status of termed (beyond first-year) employees at the VA, and the dearth of customer service skills are all aspects to the core problem the VA is terminally suffering from, bureaucratism.
  3. From June 2018 to June 2019 (5-days short of completing my first year) I was an employee of the NMVAHCS, working in the Emergency Room as a Medical Support Assistant (MSA). I was discharged through lies, deceit, and under the auspices of Quid Pro Quo, where my termination was required for two others to be promoted.  While employed, I regularly reported to the leadership team my supervisor, the HAS director, the hospital director, the VISN 21 director, and the VA-OIG problems like HIPAA violations, a physical attack by a senior MSA on my person, fraud, waste, and abuse, as well as potential solutions to improve the ER operations.  All to silence and platitudes from the leadership team.  Did you know there is a loophole in the whistleblower protections if you are under term employment, (1, 2, or 3 years term) you have no whistle-blower protections, and if your job is lost, you have no whistle-blower protections?  The abusers have worked out many angles to protect the dregs of society while allowing malfeasance and misfeasance to proliferate in government employment.  Please allow me to elaborate upon the specific issues witnessed:
  • A 14-year old is being treated in the ER. A 16-year old is turned away.  The difference, the triage nurse who decided who gets seen and who gets bumped because the NMVAHCS cannot treat children.  When asked what age is considered a “child” under the hospital policy, no answer in 12-months of regularly asking.  I saw several times when this repeated, the most egregious was a new military spouse, 17 years old, denied treatment at the ER that services the Air Force Base next door due to being “too young” per the triage nurse.  By the way, under Federal Law, this is illegal for an ER to do; yet, this was regular practice while employed.
  • A health technician supporting ER patient care comes out of the ER and begins to harangue a patient currently being seen, expressing comments that made clear the health technician knew intimate details of that patients’ chart, past care received at the NMVAHCS and other VA Hospitals across the southwester US, and treatment received. Under HIPAA this behavior is illegal, as well as being immoral, unethical, and plain wrong.  Yet, HIPAA is regularly broken by MSA’s, Health Technicians, and other care providers in this VA Hospital.  Every time these HIPAA violations were brought to the attention of the HAS Director, excuses, platitudes, and professional brush-off occurred, including the deletion of emails reporting these problems.  On more than one occasion, the HIPAA violator was promoted to “treat” the problem.  When these issues were brought to the attention of the VISN 21 Director, the problem was pushed back onto the assistant hospital director in NM for further consideration.  When complained of to Congressional Representatives, lame excuses were generated by the Assistant Hospital Director and the HAS Director and accepted by the Congressional Representatives staff.  HIPAA Abuse continues unabated!
  • Homeless veterans regularly received substandard treatment when compared to other veterans. I saw nurses bad-mouth, scream, and yell at homeless patients.  I saw a homeless patient with a broken leg, get delayed treatment for more than four hours because the duty nurse was tired of treating this particular patient and didn’t believe the veteran had broken his leg after a fall.  I saw nurses put patients into treatment rooms and left for anywhere between 45-120 minutes because the shift was changing and the nursing staff did not want to treat another patient before their shifts ended.  The nurses stood outside the patient’s door, joking, carrying on, and gossiping while the patient listened and waited to be seen.  Every time these issues were raised the lamest excuses came from leadership, platitudes, and pie-crust promises were delivered.  I reported these issues and more via both verbal and email, to no avail; yet, when a member of Congress’ staff contacted the hospital, there is no email proof that the leadership was ever made aware of these problems.  If these are examples of “World-Class Care” being delivered to veterans, I shudder to consider what poor service would include.
  • The NMVAHCS has a reputation for killing the employment of term employees all the way up to their last day under the term. For example, a house-cleaner employee, a good worker, well-liked by the staff where she cleaned, got into a disagreement with her supervisor and was terminated at lunch on her 364th day of employment in a 365-day probationary term.  Her supervisor did not need a reason to discharge her and used their disagreement to end her employment.  By the way, the employee was in the right, and the supervisor made the needed changes after discharging the employee.  An MSA male employee, hard worker, came in on his 361st day of term and was terminated, no reason, no excuse, no justification, simply told to scrape his employment parking sticker and leave.  This pattern has repeated so often, that the veteran employment counselor at workforce connections warned me to not accept employment with the VA due to the NMVAHCS’ reputation for ruining people.

The NMVAHCS is one dead veteran from becoming the next Phoenix VA Hospital incident.  I am not without hope, but it will take the House and the Senate to enact the type of change needed in the VA to truly see significant and lasting change.  Towards this end, I suggest the following:

  1. Draft legislation, one a single sheet of paper canceling the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) of all Federal Government Labor Unions immediately, and forever sundering the death grip the labor unions have on policies and procedures that protect the criminal and steal valuable resources from government coffers through direct and indirect means and methods. The cost of labor unions in government is astronomical and removing this single cost will open funds in Federal Budgets that are desperately needed.  I know this is a political hot potato, and I know the impeachment farce continues to be a mental and physical drain.  But, as the German Philosopher has said, “The hard is good.”
  2. Draft on a separate sheet of paper, new legislation giving the Secretary of the VA plenipotentiary power, the likes enjoyed by every CEO in the private sector, to enact change. You have a good VA Secretary, but the staff is a hodgepodge of weak-kneed political cronies that should have been retired years ago!  This legislation also would allow for a cleaning of house at the VA, realigning the entire organization, placing the power to positively affect veteran lives into the hands of the PACT team and out of the hands of the bureaucrats.
  3. Place power into the hands of a roving IG team to have benefit claims immediately reviewed after a lapse in the procedure is discovered. Meaning that the veteran’s claim affected by bad decision-making by the VA is immediately checked by the VA-OIG instead of waiting around in record purgatory for new and material evidence.  Another VA-OIG team should be put to work reviewing past claims where the VA was caught, and getting this backlog cleared out.  The appeals process for benefits claims needs a complete overhaul.  While this legislation and action might require more than a single sheet of paper to enact, it is the right thing to do.
  4. The Mission Act was a good first step, but the entrenched bureaucrats are hindering and hampering the roll-out for personal gain, e.g. retirement. Encourage Congress to take up the legislation proposed, insisting that nothing else is added to these bills to protect the veracity and simplify the approval process.

I appreciate the work you do.  I especially appreciate your classy wife, your well-behaved and intelligent children, and the gains made in “Making America Great Again.”  I know the proposals are difficult; but I also know if we do not attempt the impossible, we can never know the realization of the legacy left to each American by those who have sacrificed before and leave a legacy of hope for our children’s children.  Thank you for your sacrifice and service.

Sincerely,

M. Dave Salisbury

© Copyright 2020 – M. Dave Salisbury

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

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

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