New Jersey, New York, California, Oregon, and Washington – Just Sell Them for Parts!

cropped-laughing-owlWith a nod to Bill Engvall, let’s honestly discuss three complete holes in America where suicide by legislative fiat and executive stupidity has produced catastrophic failure.  Let me be perfectly honest, if either of these states were a business, they would have been forced into receivership, broken up, sold for parts, and their leaders jailed for incompetency and felonious charges of malfeasance long ago!  The charades have ended, the rose-tinted glasses are off, and frankly, the party is over, all the taxpayers are fleeing, and the businesses are closing shop and fleeing for healthier climates.

California this week passed another job-killing piece of legislation.  The bill is targeted at Amazon and is built on hogwash, acrimony, lies, and allegations so thin you could read Apple’s User Agreement through them.  Not the first time California’s legislative body has targeted a specific business for job-killing legislation, not the first time the legislation is built on sand, and the forecast is for torrential rain, not the last time this idiocy is going to happen.  The fact that California keeps killing itself is depressing!Bird of Prey

New Jersey and California hold an interesting title, and 32 other states are 100% insolvent in their Unemployment Compensation Trust Funds.  Business owners, this fact alone should scare the living daylights out of you and every one of your workers right now!  Now, some of you get it; some are scratching your heads and going; why is this important.  For those who got it, feel free to skip the following explanation.

The unemployment trust fund is akin to the social security trust fund managed by, raided, and depleted by the Federal Government.  No money means that the debts in those trust funds cannot be paid, and all the funds being collected right now are not being used for future calamities.  For all you economists out there, yes, this is a very simplified explanation.  Insurance trust funds are expected to be the funds of last resort to ensure payments to investors; those paying premiums for coverage can receive protection.  Not having these trust funds means the state unemployment insurance fund is in deep trouble, and there is only one direction to point the blame, the legislators and executives in government.

Bobblehead DollNow, some are claiming these funds were only depleted due to the COVID pandemic.  Do not believe the hype.  These funds were in trouble long before COVID hit, and the fact that there are funds to replenish these trust funds and government leaders are refusing to invest money in the trust funds should be major red flags for everyone in the state!  State and local governments are spending money like it’s Christmas, and the New Year will never come with the bills from the holidays.  Think drunken-sailor on 7-day liberty here if you prefer that analogy.  Either way, financial troubles are brewing above and beyond the current inflation woes, and the media is deftly NOT reporting this crisis.  Does anyone want to venture why this topic is not being discussed?

The Article from the Tax Foundation lays out the data nicely, and you are left to draw your own conclusions from the data.  But tell me, what happens when you call GEICO, Farmers, All-State, etc., with a claim and the claim is denied because the insurance company has no money?  Now multiply that by every wage-earner and business in your state and tell me if maybe, just maybe, the unemployment insurance trust fund being insolvent should be a more significant issue of discussion.Tax Burden

If your state is insolvent, and your next paycheck is a LOT lighter, remember this tidbit about unemployment tax insurance trust funds.

Unemployment insurance tax rates on businesses rise automatically when trust fund balances are low.”

Do you see the trouble now?  First, the government maliciously raids and spends the funds, then a hidden tax kicks in, depleting your paycheck, and the government does not have to tell you why your paycheck is lighter.  Especially since those in legislative bodies traditionally exempt themselves from having to pay these taxes.  Now add in the other hidden taxes; inflation goes up because when taxes climb, inflation climbs, prices go up to cover the hidden taxes of higher costs to operating a business, and wages stagnate, which crimps your budget even further.Government Largess

The states mentioned are not the states that did not need Federal Intervention, and they are not counted among the states spending money wisely, as discussed by Governing.com.  Please tell me that nobody is surprised by this revelation.  I find it alarming that Governing.com, in their analysis, was able to conclude the following:

Despite predictions that COVID-19 would crush state tax revenues, most of them didn’t need mega-billions in pandemic aid to balance their budgets. But for the most part, they seem to be spending the money wisely.”

Leading me to ask, why did the Federal Government invest our tax dollars, venture into such incredible debts, and shut down a booming economy?  COVID has proven NOT to be worthy of the title “Pandemic.”  Yet, COVID remains an excuse for emergency measures, emergency spending, and emergency police actions.  Will any media representative ask a politician why?  I didn’t like the book, but I read Albert Camus’ book “The Plague” for light reading.  That is a book about a public health crisis, a pandemic worthy of the title pandemic, and several times in world history, the title pandemic has been warranted when survivors are burning corpses in the street.  COVID fits none of the definitions or situations for a Pandemic, except for the politically connected to laugh at the politically abused populations.Angry Wet Chicken

Look at Washington, New York, New Jersey, California, and Oregon across the COVID-19 political mania.  Tell me why COVID is not an exercise in malicious government and politics gone horribly wrong.  Sure, we can add New Mexico, Minnesota, Michigan, and a couple of other states into the mix for fun.  These core states are where politicians made vast sums of money on COVID-Hysteria, and I would like to keep the focus small for the current article.

The House Ways and Means Subcommittee is reporting 32 states are intentionally withholding money from rural governments as a political move.  When you take the top 20 receivers of COVID-Relief money and the 32 states withholding COVID-Relief money, you find some lines of congruence with states with the harshest COVID restrictions, ridiculous COVID mandates, and no correlating data to infection risk avoidance.  Now, why isn’t COVID reported as a political and social experiment gone horribly wrong?  Worse, why was the money borrowed by the Federal Government at extortionate rates and given pell-mell to the states when the majority of those states do not need the money and the states that did need the money have sufficient if their politicians reigned in spending?Angry Grizzly Bear

The five states mentioned are not poor states by any stretch.  They have resources, both human and natural; they have riches galore, they have potential, they used to have favorable business climates, they are committing suicide.  Why should the rest of America bail them out?  Why not break them up into parts, sell assets to cover debts, place them into receivership, and force them on a diet of sanity and logic until the bills are paid?

I close with a word of warning.  Texas, you’re headed to California status faster than you would like to admit!  Your COVID restrictions are particularly heinous and represent the infection found in Austin spreading like fast-moving cancer to steal your state and liberty.  Arizona, Idaho, Wisconsin, Iowa, you are all on a similar track, the speed might not be as noticeable right now, but the infection is there and growing.  Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, both Dakotas, you are all at various places in being terminally sick with the same cancer.  If soft words and political expediency can conquer the Western US, the entire United States is lost.  New Mexico has been lost since it was given statehood in a political move that robbed Arizona and Texas of land!

Image - Eagle & FlagThe time to awake and arise is now!  The fight for liberty and freedom will be fought and won or lost in the American West.  Sure, the coasts of America are well and truly infected.  But, the fight for independence is not on the shores; it is right outside your doors.  The media and politicians like to hyperventilate about the coasts, but the rural communities in the “Fly-Over” states are more important to liberty and freedom surviving than any other local in America.  Awake and Arise!

© 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.

I Have a Question – Texas and Afghanistan

01 September 2021, the BBC ran a story quoting President Biden, “Biden vows ‘whole-of-government response to Texas Abortion Law.”  My question is simple, direct, and easy to ask and answer.  “Why will President Biden fight with “whole-of-government” Texas to kill babies, but will not fight with “whole-of-government” extremists and terrorists in Afghanistan to protect Americans and allies?”  Will someone in the media and press corps please ask this simple question!

I-CareOn the topic of asking questions in my inbox right now, I have two weeks of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General Reports (VA-OIG) where comprehensive healthcare inspections (CHIp) were conducted.  Employee morale from distress contributes to employee churn, and leadership is not being held to task.  Yet, the chief executive will unconstitutionally call out a “whole-of-government” response to Texas exercising state rights on abortion but not help correct veterans being abused.  Why?

America has flooding across the South and North East.  Americans are dead, streets flooded, electricity is out, all from a pretty intense hurricane.  This is a natural disaster; where is the President calling out a “whole-of-government” response for a natural disaster, rallying the bureaucrats to cut red tape, and rushing assistance to these areas?  Yet, a Texan abortion law gets presidential attention.  Why?Angry Grizzly Bear

Private companies got employees and others out of Afghanistan, but the President, who is duty-bound to serve American’s first, refused his job and has so far kept his job.  Where are the House and Senate with impeaching the US President for failure to uphold his oath and carry out his duties?  Where are the US House and Senate leaders picking up the slack and showing leadership in these tumultuous times?  Why are the US House and Senate leadership jumping on the “whole-of-government” fight with Texas instead of ordering a mass military response to rescue Americans and ruin technology and weaponry left in Afghanistan?

Leaving weapons, money, and munitions for the enemy is treasonous and punishable by the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).  Why hasn’t General Milley been arrested for following orders that were clearly illegal and getting troops killed in the process?  The military gave comfort and aid to the enemy by order of the President and military leaders.  This is the absolute definition of treason, and the military leaders should have disobeyed those orders.  Why is Afghanistan such a mess?  The military leaders followed illegal orders!

Knowledge Check!A toddler is orphaned today after a mother and older sibling died of heatstroke, all due to the US President’s incalculably stupid decisions on the US/Mexico border.  We have a humanitarian, national security, and health crisis on the US/Mexico border.  The US President and Vice President cannot be bothered to stop their disastrous decisions and reverse course.  When will the media ask for and demand answers to the simple question, “Why?”  Yet, the US President, House, and Senate leaders will call out a “whole-of-government” oppression response to Texas over a piece of legislation that makes sense on abortion.  Another why question deserving a complete and transparent answer from the President and his handlers.

Before calling out a “whole-of-government” response for Texas and their abortion law, which by the way does nothing to restrict anything, how about we call out the government for an answer to infrastructure failing, tax officials abusing power, corrupt bureaucrats, abuse of veterans, and a president who failed in Afghanistan!  Let’s call out a “whole-of-government” response for states harmed by flooding from a hurricane, get the electricity turned back on, get COVID mandates ended, and get businesses running.  Let’s call for a “whole-of-government” response to investigating the corruption in government, the lack of budgeting, missing trillions of dollars, and the military-industrial complex that continues to cost future generations debt.  How about a “whole-of-government” response to the education farrago that is cursing Americans to run dead last because of functional illiteracy?Duty

With 49 other states and a couple of territories to have an abortion on demand, there is no end to competition to have an abortion on demand in America.  Let’s leave Texas alone and fix some real problems!  Better still, let’s answer questions, get some transparency going, and start holding politicians accountable for selling America up the river!

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the photos displayed.

SCOTUS – The Abortion Decision: Awake Society!

Exclamation MarkI have written about abortion previously.  I have discussed the problems with legislating from the bench and the societal issues when judges take powers unto themselves.  Today, the media is in shock and awe over the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) making an abortion decision not to strike down a law in Texas.  Would it shock and dismay anyone if I explained that SCOTUS still got the decision wrong?  From the pen of Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, we find why the current SCOTUS got the latest decision wrong.

The law is the witness and external deposit of our moral life. Its history is the history of the moral development of the race.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas [and] the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

The history of abortion on demand is fraught with legislative attempts that were superseded by judicial activism.  By judges acting to legislate from the bench and cram new moral authority into American law, without the consent of the governed, problems in governance arose.  The most egregious problem is the dependence upon judges to solve legitimate legislative issues, and therein lay both the destruction and the solution to the current dilemmas of American society.

What are moral issues?

A person smoking is a moral issue, not a legal issue.  Abortion is a moral issue, not a legal issue.  Moral issues deal solely with how a person chooses to live their lives, regardless of how another person thinks they should live their lives.  Drunk driving is a legal issue as it places other members of society in danger when an intoxicated person operates a vehicle impaired.  But, drinking is a moral issue, provided that person is of social/legal age to drink.  Is the distinction clear?  Provided the exercise of a person’s moral choices does not interfere with another person’s ability to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.  The moral decisions of the first individual do not become legal issues of the second person.The Duty of Americans

The feminists of the day wanted to control women’s bodies and control how often men had sex with women.  This was part of a larger social trend to see women gain more rights and privileges in society, a moral issue.  The feminists used friendly judges to chip away at the social fabric until they obtained a legal decision that allowed for abortion on demand.  Fundamentally, the decisions of the feminists to exert control of mass populations of females was a violation of those females’ moral agency as many of them did not join the feminists’ associations before becoming influenced by the consequences of the decisions made in the name of females everywhere.

Social Change Needed

The separation of moral agency and legal rights is thin but distinct; unfortunately, the line has become blurred through social influencing, social media, and judicial activism.  Society has fallen into helicopter parenting, and the courtroom has become both the parent and the potential gold mine.  Find the right case, find a friendly judge, and take the current case to the media to inflame a population and try the case socially before the case is conducted legally.  The other side barely stands a chance anymore.  Even if you lose the case in court, you win socially, which changes minds and hearts, leading to more changes to laws, just a smaller payday.Gavel

As a kid, if you took a decision to a parent and the first one told you no.  Then you went to another parent for a second opinion; how much trouble were you in?  In my family, you got punished by both parents, twice the beating for the same decision.  My buddy, his parents were getting a divorce; he used this tactic to the fullest all the time as a weapon against his parents, as his parents used him (only child) as a weapon against each other.  Only later did I fully appreciate the horror and tragedy my buddy was in during this time in his life.  Worse, it has only been in the last couple of decades that I have realized how terrible this lesson has been for all of American society and what it has done to our courts and legal system.

The Opportunity

Freedom means being responsible for our own actions and their consequences.  Our moral agency allows us the power to act and puts us in the driver’s seat to control our choices in our lives.  But, we do not get to pick the consequences, when the consequences land, or the severity of the consequences.  We can only control what we do with our choices.  I prefer to have unfettered freedom than nanny-state control.  Who controls the government in a nanny-state?  Honestly, look to Cuba, China, Venezuela, the USSR, and ask who controls the nanny-state, as they strive to control every aspect of you?Behavior-Change

In representative governments, we, the people, are responsible and control the government.  We cannot abdicate this responsibility, and the government cannot seize power without our consent.  Herein lays our golden ticket to the chocolate factory; their bounds are set, ours are not!  The government can only go as far as we declare they can.  After leaving American citizens to the ravages of the Taliban in Afghanistan, polluting our shores with an unsecured southern border, and all the other crises we are dealing with, it is time we started restricting the government of consent.

SCOTUS’ decision was still wrong because they should never have issued a decision in the first place.  The decision SCOTUS should have given should have been a single sentence, “Abortion is a moral issue, not a legal issue, and we are removing the courts from this issue and returning it to the legislative bodies of the United States for further decisioning.”  With that single sentence, all legal proceedings, legal determinations, and laws on abortion would have been halted, awaiting a legislative determination.  Then, and only then, would a great injustice have been legally righted in America and the 50 individual states’ legislative bodies being empowered to choose as their citizens saw fit.

Knowledge Check!SCOTUS could then do the same for same-sex marriage and every other moral issue they have legislated from the bench over the last 200 years.  This leads to a dramatic change in and correction of the judicial branch and honoring the legislative and executive branches of government.  When judicial activism ends, people understand that liberty is more precious than gold and silver and then live their lives according to the dictates of their own consciousness, leaving others to do likewise.  Our opportunity is to return to this manner of legal system, seize this golden ticket and return to sanity in freedom!

© 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.

Chronicling the VA – May We Remember the “Pobrecito!”

I-CareA Spanish-speaking Mexican colleague taught me this term, “pobrecito,” meaning “poor little one.”  As I chronicle the VA ineptitudes, failures, criminal behaviors, and abusive actions, I am always conscious of the pobrecito, the poor little one, the poor victim who got harmed.  Too often, the victims never receive any compensation, acknowledgment, or retribution, nothing for having become a victim of the VA.  Too often, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) – Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) investigates long after the abuse has occurred, and the victims are not covered in the scope of the investigation, or worse, the victim was killed, and the family is left to mourn, and nobody can help.

Angry Grizzly BearWhy chronicle the VA abuses; because the needs to be held accountable, speak the language, and have tougher skin and broader shoulders than the VA’s normal victims.  The VA is slowly learning they can harm me, but they cannot shut me up!  I will not stop fighting the VA for humane treatment, honorable service, and dedicated systems.  The VA is sick because apathy and inertia were allowed to replace common sense and decency, leadership was replaced with cost accounting and bureaucratic red tape, and human kindness was eradicated and replaced with drones and robots.  I know how to make the VA better; I do not have all the answers, but I know how to launch the revolution and begin cleaning the VA, and I will not stop calling upon those responsible for fixing the mess they created!

Starting this week’s VA-OIG headlines of crimes and inspections, we find a couple in South Florida who used the system to bilk more than $20 Million in purchase order scams.

Earron Starks was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay over $2.4 million in restitution. Carlicha Starks was sentenced to three years of supervised release, including one year of home confinement, and ordered to pay $501,000 in restitution. They paid kickbacks to VA employees as part of a large-scale bribery scheme, which enabled the Starks couple and other corrupt vendors to receive over $20 million in purchase orders from VA medical centers in West Palm Beach and Miami. Fourteen additional defendants were charged for their roles in this scheme.”VA 3

Who’s the pobrecito in this case; the taxpayers, the veterans, and the United States.  Federal Employees had to not only know the crimes occurring but be complicit in the crimes.  Will they lose their retirement benefits, have to repay their wages, and face criminal charges and jail time for their culpability?  Fourteen additional defendants, how many were supervisors in the know and on the payroll who were promoted during this scheme whose supervisors failed to do their jobs and scrutinize the work of their underlings?  The shadiest part of this entire scheme is encapsulated in the following sentence:

All VA Employees were either terminated or resigned.”

Name me one private-sector employer who could get away with a massive scheme and enjoy similar benefits!Survived the VA

We find another VA employee embroiled in theft of equipment which sold the stolen goods in Ohio.

Kevin Rumph, Jr., of Fairburn, Georgia, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $1.9 million in medical products while employed at a VA community-based outpatient clinic in Atlanta. Between 2013 and 2021, Rumph made hundreds of unauthorized purchases of equipment used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. He then stole and sold the equipment to a vendor in Ohio. Sentencing is scheduled for November 17, 2021.”

I have worked in purchasing in both the US Military and in the private sector.  If I went to my bosses with “hundreds of purchase orders for supplies,” they would naturally be curious.  Repetition of hundreds of similar requests would raise red flags and demand audits of my records and proof of need.  Why did this not occur at the VA?VA 3

In the US Navy, I was in charge of ordering stock and saw requests for certain o-rings spike, as I knew the Chief Engineer would spot this and ask why, I asked why, went to the equipment records, dug up the maintenance reports, and asked questions of the mechanics and technicians.  In doing so, we discovered an unreported problem with machinery.  This is called due diligence; why was it not being practiced by the supervisor of Mr. Rumph?  You cannot tell me a seven-year trend line is something that was an anomaly and easily missed in budget reporting year-over-year!

Exclamation MarkLet’s admit a truth for certain; COVID has been a farrago of gargantuan size from day 1.  In acknowledging this, no blame is being proportioned to the front-line workers in any way, shape, or form.  But, the administrators, policymakers, politicians, and government bureaucrats have certainly proved they could unscrew the inscrutable!  Worse, the bureaucrats proved that their idiocy was highly contagious, infecting more people than COVID, spreading faster than COVID, and killing more people than COVID.  Our proof of this concept arrives from Houston and the Michael DeBakey VAMC.

The VA Office of Inspector General (VA-OIG) conducted a healthcare inspection regarding allegations of incompletely screening for COVID-19 and treatment of a patient with serious mental illness who presented for same-day care at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center (facility).”

Findings:

      • The VA-OIG substantiated that facility staff did not complete the patient’s COVID-19 temperature screening.
      • The VA-OIG substantiated that facility staff failed to manage the patient with COVID-19 symptoms medically.
      • Sent the patient to the drive-through testing area without medical evaluation, did not isolate the patient, complete a care plan, or follow the policy for transporting patients suspected to have COVID-19.
      • The vulnerable patient disappeared while in the facility’s care, was found off-site four days later experiencing a medical emergency, taken back to the facility, and died the following day [emphasis mine]!
      • The VA-OIG determined that the Mental Health Intensive Case Management team failed to address documentation discrepancies related to the patient’s surrogate and educate the family on COVID-19 visitor policy and screening processes.
      • The VA-OIG identified the facility’s noncompliance with the missing patient policy.
      • Facility leaders’ failure to report an adverse event and ensure a timely review of the patient’s episode of care.
      • The VA-OIG identified facility leaders did not timely or accurately disclose to the patient’s family the medical mismanagement that led to the patient’s adverse clinical outcome, e.g., death!
      • The VA-OIG concluded the failure to screen, isolate, and evaluate the patient resulted in potential COVID-19 exposure to staff, patients, and the public when the patient moved through facility grounds.VA 3

What was not covered in the scope of the VA-OIG investigation was whether the staff had proper training on the written policies or if training had been suspended due to the “pandemic health emergency.”  Failure of training has been a running and recurring theme for the VA before the pandemic, and the failures of training have led to thousands of “adverse clinical outcomes” at the VA, up to and even including death.  Yet, as evidenced in this example, small decisions lead to catastrophic events.  The infected patient was mentally unstable and missing for four days; how many people interacted with the patient as a superspreader event?  Who is at blame at this VAMC for this event, the leaders!  They failed their people, failed this patient, and failed this family!

Detective 4Before continuing, we must pause and take a moment to send heartfelt congratulations to two VA Health Care Systems (VAHCS) who passed their comprehensive healthcare inspections (CHIp), if not with flying colors with significant improvement, and are deserving of the highest praise.  Would the leaders of the Fort Harrison VAHCS in Montana and the Western Colorado VAHCS in Grand Junction please stand and take a bow.  Your improvements, conduct, and capacity to achieve reflect that success is possible with good leadership.  Keep up the good work; find ways to improve daily, and may continual success be ever yours!

Finally, we come to a regular topic, the failure of the VA as a whole entity to manage to pass a simple audit on financial matters and the continuing debacle where hiring is concerned during the pandemic.  Let me refresh your memories on the hiring debacle; first, the VA-OIG found that VISN leaders “were generally pleased with the “flexibility” provided during the pandemic for speedier hiring.”  What did the American people get for reduced hiring practices at the VA?  More criminal employees, more employees with shady pasts, more employees with sticky fingers, and more employees who could not find employment in public schools, now working for the federal government.VA 3

How did that relaxing of hiring practices work out for the American people and the veterans receiving care; not very well!  But, let’s all relax; the VISN leaders are “generally pleased.”  Frankly, I would be shocked if anything ruffled the VISN leaders’ feathers long enough for them to care; they are mostly at the top of their career ladders and failing a presidential appointment to Washington, know they are set for life.  So, why rock the boat?!?!

As for financial audits, the VISN leaders know that money continuously is appropriated to carry them and their poor decisions forward.  Just ask the Denver VAMC where the construction cost overruns are still costing the taxpayers, and no one was ever held liable for that boondoggle or any other crime and scheme for that matter.

Question 3Why?  Why are victims left to rot, the assaulters and victimizers promoted, and the VA as an organization left in the hands of disreputable, dishonest, unethical, and immoral people?  Why is the VA a culture of corruption, greed, envy, sloth, and disinterest when the US military is the exact opposite?  America is not what is found in the halls of the VA, why has the VA been allowed to become something anathema to the American people?

Knowledge Check!Great Britain, you find similar in your halls of government.  Your people are amazing; your government workers are just as despicable and deleterious as the American VA, IRS, and DMV.  Australia, great people, absurdly detestable government workers.  France, interesting people, but the government employee seems to have been drug from the bottom of the scum sucked from the Seine.  I have met incredible people in Italy, Greece, Germany, South Korea, etc., but the story rings true everywhere; the government does not represent you.  Pobrecito; what has happened?

© 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.

Juneteenth and Critical Race Theory: A Head Scratching Conundrum!

QuestionI fully admit, every time “Juneteenth” comes around, I have to look up the word and the history to make sure someone is not pulling my leg.  For those like me, Juneteenth is the celebration of the emancipation of slaves in Texas from 19 June 1865.  Apparently, President Biden just made the day an Official U.S. Holiday, the first since Martin Luther King Day in the early 1980s.  There are times I feel like, for all the work I invest in knowing what is happening, I am still living under a rock.

Included at the bottom of this article are references to the source materials and knowledge gleaned.  Unless explicitly linked, the references below can support both my questions and my conclusions.  Feel free to expand your mind and read; be warned, though, once your mind expands, it can never go back!

The historical celebrations of Juneteenth included prayer, new clothes, hymn singing, and expressions of gratitude regarding being made free.  A celebration of freedom by slaves in America also included food.  I have never seen race; plain and simple truth!  Your choice of race is your business; how you act and live is more important than race, culture, creed, religion, handicap, and gender to me.  While working on my MBA degree, I was introduced to two concepts, critical race theory and the fact that the United Nations claims race and culture are a conscious choice.

WhyIf the United Nations can claim that a person’s race is a choice, then I am an American.  I am not distinguished by color, several colors, or even my history.  As a point of reference, America was set up that way for a reason; it releases people from bondage to not be judged by their family, their financial circumstances, historical tribal connections, color, or any other line of separation.  When America as a “Melting Pot” was described to me in school, I cheered because it meant I am not the sum of my family’s actions!

Then along comes Critical Race Theory, and my mind took a sudden jolt.  Critical Race Theory is a loosely organized intellectual movement based upon a shaky legal framework and premise claiming that race is not a natural, biological, or physical distinction separating subgroups of humans.  The intellectualists embrace Critical Race Theory and attempt to make race a sociological invention to oppress other people.  They further adhere to an almost religious belief that America is inherently racist, especially to African Americans.

Question 3Here is where my brain disconnects, the questions asked are honest, and I would appreciate dialog without emotion to attempt to answer the following questions:

    1. If the United Nations is correct, and race is a choice, how does Critical Race Theory have any followers and adherents?
        • Since race is my personal choice, I can be any race I choose, regardless of skin tones, speech, mannerisms, etc. How can anyone claim to be oppressed by another race?
        • How can race be an issue if race is a sociological construct?
        • Under the Rule of Law, there is no distinction of race. The lady of law has a blindfold for a reason, so she cannot judge by sight, only by hearing, and weigh the results on the scale.  Where is the legal justification for Critical Race Theory?
    2. Is Juneteenth a celebration just for black people? If so, doesn’t this upend the Critical Race Theorists?  If not, then what is Juneteenth historically?
        • If Juneteenth is a celebration of liberty, why did we need another holiday when the 4th of July celebrates freedom?
        • When considering people’s kept as slaves across history, race becomes an interesting variable if race is not a choice but a biological, physical, and method of sub-grouping humans. Africa has seen a lot of periods where one tribe conquers another, and the conquered became slaves.  The same pattern has been witnessed across all the different tribes, countries, and human species throughout world history.  Does this mean that Critical Race Theory was just proven invalid as a concept?
    3. If Juneteenth is a holiday only for those emancipated from slavery, does this mean others cannot celebrate humans ending forced servitude?Bob Marley
    4. Why is Critical Race Theory all about black oppression? Didn’t the American Indians have it much worse than black people in early-American history?  Where is the holiday for the American Indians being freed from reservations, empowered, and promoted as a distinct culture worthy of respect and study?
        • Wait, if the United Nations’ supposition is true, that culture and race are a choice, does this mean that the laws against and for American Indians are now in question and under doubt?
        • What about other indigenous tribes across the world facing brutal oppression? Are those laws invalid due to the United Nations or due to Critical Race Theory?
        • Which minority groups are “more equal” and “deserving” than other minority groups under the Critical Race Theory? Why the distinction if race is a choice and not a biological, physical, or cultural tribal distinction in human sub-groups?
    5. Since the American Indians owned slaves, why are the Critical Race Theorists attacking white people only?
        • If the United Nations is correct, then those purporting to be Critical Race Theorists are broadcasting their ignorance by adhering to a group that pushes a lie about race being a factor, right?Commit

I need to understand something, and history, as well as archeology, supports the following:

“White slavery pre-dates black slavery in America. This fact has been verified by forensic evidence from archaeological digs and historical documents uncovered by contemporary scholars, including Don Jordan and Michael Walsh in White Cargo (New York University Press: 2009).”

The stories behind white slavery, indentured servitude, and other means of conveying the purchase and abuse of people are incredibly heartbreaking.  What man has done to their fellow man through all of recorded history is appalling.  Trying to further that oppression through Critical Race Theory is despicable on a level I can not describe.  Yet, what do we see, Critical Race Theorists doing precisely that, getting a person to choose a race, then choose to allow themselves to be victimized and oppressed because of their choice to join a culture, tribe, or race.

Knowledge Check!Hence, my conundrum!  If we accept that race, culture, creed, and religion are choices made by humans without compulsory means, what is Critical Race Theory talking about and preaching?  If we refuse the belief that race, tribe, and culture are not choices, then we still have a logical disconnect between Critical Race Theorists and the history of civilization.  The Critical Race Theorists seem to be missing the forest for the bark they are stuck seeing.  Unfortunately, I still do not understand most holidays, since I prefer to work than rest, I do not need to know to understand the holiday, just save me some food.

Slavery References

Davis, J.B. “Slavery in the Cherokee Nation.”
Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 11, No. 4. December 1993.

Gates Jr., Henry Louis. “Did Black People Own Slaves?”
The Root. 4 March 2013.

Gates Jr., Henry Louis. “How Many Slaves Landed in the U.S.?”
The Root. 6 January 2014.

Hall, Kermit L. The Oxford Companion to American Law.
New York: Oxford University Press USA, 2002. ISBN 0-195-08878-6.

Halliburton Jr., R. “Free Black Owners of Slaves: A Reappraisal of the Woodson Thesis.”
The South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 76, No. 3. July 1975.

Johnson, Michael P., and Roark, James L. Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South.
New York: W. W. Norton, 1986. ISBN 0-393-30314-4.

Mintz, Steven. African-American Voices: A Documentary Reader, 1619-1877.
New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. ISBN 1-444-31077-1.

Rodriguez, Junius P. The Historical Encyclopedia of World Slavery.
Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 1997. ISBN 0-874-36885-5.

Russell, John Henderson. The Free Negro in Virginia, 1619-1865.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1913. ISBN 1-480-03049-X.

Walton, Hanes and Smith, Robert C. American Politics and the African American Quest for Universal Freedom.
London: Routledge, 2015. ISBN 1-317-35045-6.

Critical Race Theory Reference

Crenshaw, K., Gotanda, N., Peller, G., & Thomas, K. (1995). Critical race theory. The Key Writings that Formed the Movement. New York, 276-291.

Delgado, R., & Stefancic, J. (2017). Critical race theory: An introduction (3rd ed.). NYU Press.

Juneteenth References

Donovan, A., & De Bres, K. (2006). Foods of freedom: Juneteenth as a culinary tourist attraction. Tourism Review International, 9(4), 379-389.

Ellison, R. (2021). Juneteenth. Modern Library.

Taylor, C. A. (2002). Juneteenth: A celebration of freedom. Open Hand Publishing, LLC.

© 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.

Defining Customer Service: Some Examples – Shifting the Paradigms

Gitomer’s, “Customer Service is Worthless: Customer Loyalty is Priceless (1998),” customer service has changed in ways that motivate me to investigate, cheer when found, and when negatives are experienced I want to help fix the problems. Several books and research papers in my library confirm every point Gitomer makes; thus, the following four interactions are compared to Gitomer’s text to supply solutions that can be benchmarked as Gitomer is much easier to read. The intent of this article is to power enthusiasm for change in how customer service is found and improved to inspire customer loyalty.

The Chase bank app delivered an error that made no sense. I called the “Mobile Banking Line,” and then was transferred to another department with “tech-savvy people who could assist me further.” Those representatives were not only unable to aid, but they also could not understand the problem as described, and offered a “local branch.” Upon learning that I lived 264 miles to the nearest Chase bank branch in El Paso, Texas, the representative had no other solution, offered no additional explanation, and for being a senior, tech-savvy representative, was less useful than the first representative I spoke with. Thus, I drove the four hours to El Paso, to be at the Chase Bank branch by opening. Not only was the teller having difficulty performing the transaction, the Chase Bank “Customer Service Star” desktop guide posted where I could see and evaluate performance. I was correctly greeted, in the standard big bank demanded-greeting that means nothing and has no humanity, good-job. Everything after that went downhill. When the teller was told that the El Paso branch is the “local” branch for Albuquerque, NM., there was no response. Eventually, the transaction was finally completed, and I was offered a big corporate bank, no humanity farewell, good-job. For a transaction that I can normally complete on my phone, to take 25-minutes in the branch, after a four-hour drive, you would think the teller would have cared, responded, or simply had humanity.

Gitomer offers several suggestions that a customer needs; I offer the most critical customer need, “Response!” When the customer begins a conversation about having to drive from another state to your location, respond. Show an attitude of gratitude, express amazement, ask about the trip, but to ignore the customer and only focus on the transaction, I could have stayed in Albuquerque and gotten that response from the telephone line. Gitomer claims the best customer variable is loyalty. Washington Mutual was my bank; I was loyal from the first thing in the morning to the last thing at night, I told everyone to change to Washington Mutual. Chase acquired Washington Mutual during the banking crisis, and I have been provided a reason to be loyal to Chase to date. I have not been presented a reason to enjoy banking with Chase. Why; because every transaction is ruled by the corporate thinking and inflexibility of big banks who consider themselves “Too big to fail.” Well, lose some more customers, keep ignoring the customers you still have, and another merger to an even bigger corporate bank will be the future.

AT&T, there are several issues in the following story of recent customer service. Frequent readers of my articles will see a common trend, training. Here is another matter where training wins customers. February, I called AT&T looking for a solution; I got a larger price plan and thought all is well. March, I am introduced to the mouse print and discover that “Unlimited Data” has several limits; who knew, obviously not the AT&T telephone representative, or the online Chat representative, I had to visit a local store for an explanation. April more calls to the telephone line, more guesses to close the call. Another visit to the local store for help. Like the shampoo bottle’s instructions, “Wash, Rinse, Repeat” May, June, July, and August will see me going into the local store again on Monday. I promise, my trips to the store are not because I am finding customer service, especially since I must keep dodging sales to get questions answered. AT&T, what is your company training philosophy, procedures, and strategical and tactical reasons for conducting employee training? The current results are not satisfactory, and that problem is not improving.

Gitomer discusses how converted employees become loyal employees. I was a converted and loyal customer to Cingular Wireless, which was bought by AT&T. I was a converted customer of Alltel, which was merged into Verizon and AT&T. I was converted to these companies for the service, clarity, and the lack of mouse-print conditions that the employees do not even know or can explain. Banking and Cellphones have something in common, the product is remarkably similar, and the service provided by employees is the only separating variable between your company and your competition. Chase, AT&T, where is the employee training on distinguishing service and building customer loyalty?

“#6 WOW! Variable: Truthful – Customers want the truth! The customer will find out eventually, so you may as well start with the truth – [especially] if [the truth] hurts” (Gitomer, 1998, p. 97; emphasis mine). AT&T, please heed! Chase, you might want to have the same conversation in your call center as well. When customers start with the telephone line looking for information and receive a lie, you are building a customer event that will cost your company customers! Lying loses customers; this equation should be the number one discussion with every employee. I have spent hours on the phone receiving one piece of information, only to walk into the AT&T store and get handed more mouse print. Thus, when training, emphasize the need for clear, concise, truth; served openly and with conviction.

Like many US Military Veterans, I am regularly stuck between two bureaucracies in dealing with the Veterans Administration. However, there is nothing more frustrating than getting the same issues in non-government health administrations. Corporate medicine began in the late 1980s in America, and since then community hospitals have become giant behemoths where bureaucracies reign.  These establishments have yet to understand they must pay attention to the customer/patient, not the insurance company, and indeed not the voices in their heads. Hospital directors, leaders, and providers, what do you do when a patient/customer walks in with cash and asks for service? I walked into the University of New Mexico, Orthopedics Department, plopped $2000.00 in cash down and asked for 60-minutes of time with any provider who was available for a letter I need. Records were available, x-rays, MRI’s, and a host of data. The letter would take less than 60-minutes, and I do not know anyone who would turn down cash and a payday of $2000.00 for an hour or less of work. Yet, not only was I turned away by the bureaucracy, I was informed I would have to travel an hour to another location instead of where I was, because I had been treated there two-years prior. But, I would still not be able to obtain the letter I needed as the other department is neurology. To receive treatment at the specialist demanded by the VA bureaucracy, I must first find a primary care provider who would refer me to a specific provider in orthopedics, before I could finally discuss the potential to fill my need.

Gitomer talks about this principle. The customer does not care about your processes, procedures, policies, and propaganda. The customer cares about what they need, what they offer, and how to obtain what they need. When I called AT&T this week, the third person I spoke with started every answer with “I apologize.” The UNM representative did the same thing in refusing my money and their services. The UNM representative also pulled the “Let me check” run out the office, reappear, helpless, act, to attempt actually to be helpful. The same act is done by telephone representatives who place a customer on hold to “check with a supervisor.” The customer knows what you are doing, and I, for one, am not impressed! Gitomer emphasizes on this point, and if the apology does not come with a solution that gets the customer to what they need, the apology is an excuse that is lame, weak, and useless.

03 August 2019 email messages were sent to three Federally elected representatives of New Mexico, Congresswoman Debra Haaland (D), Senator Tom Udall (D), Senator Martin Heinrich (D). I asked them if they were interested or cared about the veterans in their districts and what is occurring in the Albuquerque VA Medical Center. Their silence testifies to their disregard to their constituents. Unfortunately, this treatment or abuse of their constituents is not limited to the few representatives from New Mexico. Friday, I received a boilerplate email response from Senator Tom Udall’s staff, auto signed, with wording that clearly claims, I do not care about you or your issue, leave me alone, and stop bothering me. As the sole respondent in three elected officials, as the customer, voter, and citizen, I am not pleased!

Each of the above situations breeds a question; “Why should I remain a customer, patient, voter?”

The solutions are clear:

  1. Train employees. Encourage employees to walk customers through different solutions using the truth mentally. Apologize only when you have a solution and mean you are sorry. False apologies are as useful as a blunt needle, you might get the job done, but you are going to drive yourself and everyone else crazy doing the job. Show why training is occurring. State the strategy, so the tactical actions requested make sense to those being trained.
  2. Respond to the customer. Active listening is only half the communication effort, forming proper responses means building upon what the customer said with your response. Failure to respond appropriately, and the customer situation is worsened for the next person to communicate with this customer.
  3. Gitomer asks the following question, “What will it take to end measuring ‘[customer] satisfaction’ in your business” (Gitomer, 1998, p. 257)? I guarantee that the answer to this question is going to cause significant angst in why and how you communicate with customers. I am fairly certain, the answer to this question is going to disrupt every communication channel’s operations and daily tactical actions requiring a review of operational strategy. Business leaders, do you dare to ask the question? Are you prepared for the answer?
  4. Gitomer, Chapter 16 (p. 234-248) details change and how to make the change effective in your operations. The 10.5 points are useful, but what comes next is the best plan for moving forward successfully.

Leading to the final question:

“What will you do now?”

 

Reference

Gitomer, J. (1998). Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless: How to Make Customers Love You, Keep Them Coming Back and Tell Everyone They Know. Atlanta, GA: Bard Press.

 

© 2019 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.