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July 2017

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Government has become just a jobs program

I had the following published at The Daily Caller which you can find here or you can just keep reading… ;-)

As the United States Postal Service (USPS), a quasi-public entity, loses yet another $5.6 billion in fiscal year 2016, I have a suggestion.

I could cut their costs by hundreds of millions with a very simple and relatively painless plan.  Switch all deliveries to every-other-day service.  Some addresses could be delivered Monday, Wednesday, Friday while the others would see service on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.  The impact on the consumers of USPS services, residence or business, would be minimal. 

With this one move hundreds of thousands of unnecessary positions could be eliminated.  Tens of thousands of polluting vehicles would be permanently taken off the road.  This of course will never happen.  Those who call themselves public servants have devised a system where they are pretty much immune from the realities the rest of us face.  Losing one’s job once employed by government?  Generally not going to happen.  Then early gold plated retirement plans follow. 

If present trends continue, in a few decades those of us not in government will see almost no benefit from the taxes we pay, especially at the state and local level; almost all of our tax dollars will be paying for retirement benefits for government workers or pay for current ones.

Modern government, at pretty much all levels, has become simply a jobs program that constantly seeks to increase its members.  And of course 90+% of these members will vote for the Democrat party, the party of government.

Anyone who isn’t a member of one of these jobs programs is a sap for playing along.  They are so confident they don’t even hide their true intentions.  Take the decades long so-called War on Poverty.  At the federal level only about 15% of the money supposedly spent to alleviate poverty actually makes it to the poor.  The other 85% employees a lot of folks.  Even granting them a wide berth for incompetence, this is obviously the true goal of these programs.  No organization truly devoted to helping the poor would consume 85% of its money before helping any poor person.  It is not logical to assume anything else.  

Or how about Veterens Administration hospitals?  Why on earth would we duplicate the entire physical hospital system just to create hospitals solely for veterans?  If it were about quality care for veterans it would make much more sense to simply cover their treatments/cost through present providers.  Veterans would see much improved service and accessibility, all hospitals would become more efficient, and the rest of us would save a ton of money.  That is not done because it would violate the true objective of the VA hospital system, a government-run jobs program. 

Our how about our public schools?  In most states K-12 public schools consume at least half the entire state budget.   According to The Friedman Foundation for Economic Choice, since 1950 the number of K-12 public students has increase by 96 % while the number of administrators has increased 700 %.

Colleges and universities?  The number of non-academic employees at U.S. colleges and universities has more than doubled in the last 25 years, vastly outpacing the growth in the number of students or faculty.  The New England Center for Investigative Reporting notes that universities and colleges collectively added 517,636 administrators and professional employees, or an average of 87 every working day for the last 25 years.

The IRS might add 16,000 new employees to deal with ObamaCare.  I’m a cynic so I’d have to guess it will take even more to repeal ObamaCare.  Across the country small towns that once got along with volunteer fire departments now have staffs of 10 or more paid firefighters.  The small town where I grew up, present population of under 2,000, now has over 6 police officers.

Allowing drivers licenses for illegal immigrants in California will “require” the hiring of an additional 1,000 employees.  War on drugs?  Jobs program.  Tough on crime?  Jobs program.  Tax the rich?  Jobs program.  Pretty much any increase in government spending?  Jobs program. 

Even the military has devolved into a jobs program.  There are over 1.3 million actively enrolled and 800,000 reserves yet it was difficult to staff 250K troops in the Middle East.  What are the other almost 2 million folks doing and what is the true purpose of the military anyhow?

It’s a scam that will sooner or later overwhelm us all.  Poverty reduction, help for veterans, or public safety; these are just feel-good cover to further expand the employment/voting machine.

It is an organizational reality that groups of individuals organized together in some fashion will take on many biologic traits; the primary one being fighting to continue in existence.  This is especially true when the individual’s income is dependent on this organization.  These organizations will all do this without anyone consciously directing it; it is simply the organic nature of organization.  There is no escaping it.

For-profit organizations are disciplined by the marketplace; it they don’t create more value than they consume, they aren’t long to last.  For a lasting for-profit business, $1.00 of input MUST create more than $1.00 in return.  There is no other option.  This is the process of creating wealth.  This positive return drives economic growth and makes us all collectively wealthier.  And it winnows the winners from the losers.

Governments at all levels are immune from these restrictions.  In fact government operates just the opposite; $1.00 of input almost always has a negative return, turning that $1.00 into $0.60 (or less!).  Thus the immutable reality is the more government takes, the poorer we all become.  Governments don’t create wealth, they consume it.  For profit-organizations drive economic growth and wealth while government steals both growth and wealth for the benefit of a chosen few, its members.

These governmental organizations will not contain themselves; it is not possible for them to do so.  The organizational biologic reality is each will behave in its self-interest even if it is not a conscious plan.

Much like an uncontrolled parasite, government is slowly killing the very entity that keeps it alive.  Think this is exaggeration?  Just the federal government today takes, borrows and spends an amount equal to the size of the ENTIRE US economy only 32 years ago.  Include total state and local government expenditures which are over $3 trillion and well over $7 trillion each and every year is sucked out of economy.  That is about the size of the entire US economy only 20 plus years ago.

Can this trajectory continue?  I think not.  Whether a government worker or not, we knowingly let this proceed at our own peril.  It will end poorly for all of us.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He is also President and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.EICEnterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.

Poor Design Will Be The Death of Us All

I recently had this one published in The Daily Caller which you can find here or you can just keep reading…

Archimedes, one of the greatest mathematicians and scientists of all time understood the importance of the design of a system.  Commenting on the incredible power of levers he noted, "Give me a place to stand on, and I will move the Earth."  With a properly designed system almost anything is possible; with a poor one, almost nothing. 

The power and importance of system design is at the core of any attempt to accomplish the desired goal and the societal impact of system design can and does span decades.

During World War II wage and price controls were implemented in a foolish attempt to restrict the unrestrictable.  This led companies to compete for employees by providing tax-free health care for their employees.  This was never a well-thought public policy.  It was not debated and analyzed.  It was simply a response to the flawed thinking behind wage and price controls.

And now a little over 70 years later we are still living with this debacle as it has become only more ingrained in our collective lives.  This decades old response to a bad idea in all likelihood has forever ended any chance we might someday have a free market for health care as we do for almost every other product.  At some point it time it simply becomes “you can’t get there from here.”

Sadly, in all likelihood this one response to a foolish idea will ensure we have socialized medicine forever.  And as many have noted, socialized medicine leads to only more socialism, and socialism has never worked long-term in any society in the history of humans.  We face this bleak reality all because of a poor idea implemented decades ago.

Social security is another example of a poorly designed system that has the potential to dramatically change the course of history.  The primary problem with social security is that at its core it is a Ponzi design, i.e. it only “works” if the base forever continues to grow.  This obviously cannot continue forever.  And when it can no longer continue, what happens then?

 In 1945 there were over 40 workers supporting a single social security beneficiary.  Today it is less than 3.  When it was created the average life expectancy was around 61 years, yet benefits started at 65.  Thus by design at the time, more than half of the population would never see any benefits.  Today life expectancy is over 78 years.  You do the math. 

Much of the mindless immigration policies of the West are a foolish reaction to the need to feed the growing maw of this poorly designed system. And to make matters worse, this is occurring at the same time the number of workers needed to drive our economy is rapidly shrinking, especially for low-skill positions.  This is another quite foreseeable coming train-wreck driven by conflicting, poorly designed systems.

Yet around 59 million get social security benefits each month.  That’s about one in six people!  Does anyone believe it is a good idea to have 1 in four families in the US depending on a system whose very design ensures a catastrophic failure at some point in the future?  Right now that date is 2034, 17 years from now when social security will not be able to meet promised benefits.

Medicaid covers around 70 million people, about 1 in 5 Americans, and it will be broke in 2028.  That’s just 11 years from now.  Medicare, which covers around 49 million hits the wall in the same time frame.  Together these enrollees now exceed the number of full-time private sector workers in the United States.

Notice this isn’t about the desirability and benefit levels of these various programs – we can debate and argue about that -  just that each is built on a design which ultimately leads to catastrophic failure.  Just like the wage and price controls of WWII, each creates unintended waves that flow though time. And waves have an unfortunate habit of crashing at some point upon all in their path.

Can the light of individual freedom and liberty, to say nothing of a functioning society, survive such poorly designed systems?  We are racing to a day where we will discover this answer.  Sadly, individual freedom will most likely be the first victim and alas once lost, freedom is not likely to make a return visit.

We are stewards of this country.  In many ways we have become the stewards of individual freedom across the globe.  Knowingly building and implementing fatally flawed systems upon which millions of people come to depend is not the sign of a wise, caring, and long-lived society.  Rather it is the sign of an immature, childish, and in all likelihood short-lived society.

If we do not accept the importance of far better system design in our various government programs I fear this wonderful experiment in self-government and all the wealth it creates may soon become a distant memory.  And when it falls, no life on the planet will be left unscathed. 

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He is also President and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.EICEnterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.

My Dad’s Left Hand – Part 2 – Let us end the insanity of “transgendered”

I just had this published in The Daily Caller which you can find here or you can just keep reading…

My dad’s left hand is messed up.  It didn’t develop properly in the womb.  It’s an oval-shaped thing with small, dangly, non-working nubs.  This hand is both natural - it occurred, didn’t it? - and unnatural - that’s not how a hand is supposed to be - at the same time.

But in no way is he morally inferior because of this reality. He is not defined by his left hand.  It is an aspect of him, but only one of hundreds, and not a very important one to boot.  I suppose people could use his left hand as the sole means to define him but that would be rather silly.

Approximately 3 percent  of all children born in the U.S. have a major malformation at birth.  We don’t celebrate these issues; we don’t cheer and hope for more babies with birth defects, we just deal with it.  Natural and unnatural at the same time.

Around 1.2 percent of the US population has the disease schizophrenia.  A good friend’s son came down with it while a freshman in college.  He fights the demons it unleashes on a daily basis; it is heartbreaking to witness.  Yet he too is not morally inferior, not somehow “less” simply because he has this terrible disease. 

About 2.6 percent of the US has bi-polar disorder.  A friend too fights this on a daily basis.  Educated as an attorney, he is quite intelligent and out-going yet due to his disorder he has never held a job for more than 2.5 years over the course of decades.

3 percent have some sort of eating disorder.  Without treatment up to 20 percent of those with serious eating disorders die.  Around 1 percent of female adolescents have anorexia. Think about that… one out of every one hundred young women are starving themselves, sometimes to death!  Again, this is natural – it’s happening isn’t it? – and unnatural – they are not fat, they are dying – at the same time

Should we celebrate these poor young women and help further their mental issues by agreeing they are fat and need to lose weight?  Should we assist them in their various methods of self-destruction?  Should we have our public schools celebrate, embrace, and reinforce their mental disorder?  Perhaps install fun-house type mirrors which add weight to their reflections to help them connect with their perceived body condition?  I think most would agree these would be ghoulish to even consider.

Instead we offer them help.  We don’t see them as morally inferior – they aren’t – but rather as simply having a mental disorder that needs to be addressed.

Yet in what can only be called a period of country-wide insanity, we do just the opposite with those who have a transgendered disorder, i.e. they feel as though “they” are not in internal agreement with their birth gender.  The official name is gender dysphoria and somewhere between 0.3 to 0.6 percent of the US population have this disorder.   

Do we offer these people help with their disorder as we do with all those others or do we celebrate and encourage their disorder?  Sadly it seems fashionable to do the later.  Society would rightly be up in arms if more and more babies were being born with left hands like my dad’s yet somehow we are collectively expected to “encourage” this one disorder.

And the obvious reason why it is treated so differently comes down to one sad fact; it’s only because it has to do in some way with sex. This is a sad reflection on our society. 

This collective insanity is ultimately based on an obvious misunderstanding of human life.  We are not some little gods whose very whim can alter realty… like the reality of gender… rather we are the magnificent product of 3.8 billion years of evolution and are thus not infinitely pliable to whatever momentary whim that might be taken as wisdom and truth. 

But what of the poor souls with this disorder?  What of their lives?  I would no more feed these people’s mental disorder than I would agree to tell anorexic young women that they really are looking a little chubby.  Both are vile and disgusting acts and we should hold those who do so accountable. 

Having a brain which doesn’t work quite right is no different than having a pancreas which doesn’t work quite right… neither has ANY moral aspect.  But of course problems with one’s pancreas are generally not outwardly noticeable while problems with one’s brain are almost always noticeable.  Just the way it is.

I hold no animus against folks with this disorder just like I hold no animus towards my bi-polar friend, my friend’s schizophrenic son, or people like my dad who were born not exactly “right”.  They don’t need our pity.

Each is only a single facet in a multiple-faceted life.  You can embrace them or shun them as you desire.  But please, let us end this short-lived insanity that calls for us to celebrate this one, and only this one mental disorder.  These individuals deserve far more from us.

A Father’s Day Salute - My Dad’s Left Hand

I thought I’d let my warm-and-fuzzy side out for a stroll and just had this published in The Daily Caller which you can find here or you can just keep reading…

My dad’s left hand is messed up.  It didn’t develop properly in the womb.  It’s an oval-shaped thing with small, dangly, non-working nubs. 

I have never considered him handicapped.  I’d guess the same is true of most kids whose parents were in some manner not physically “right.”

He was a great athlete in his youth.  He’s also a pretty dang good carpenter, plumber, electrician, mechanic, horseman, farrier, farmer, rancher, hunter and fisher.  And yes, he can do all of those.  Better than I am on all counts, even with my working left hand. 

My dad’s birth defect - yes that’s what it is, it isn’t supposed to be like that - has absolutely no bearing on his moral standing as a human.  He is not somehow morally “less” simply because a hand didn’t develop as designed.  His hand is both natural - it occurred, didn’t it? - and unnatural - that’s not how a hand is supposed to be - at the same time.

But in no way is he morally inferior because of this reality. He is not defined by his left hand.  It is an aspect of him, but only one of hundreds, and not a very important one to boot.  I suppose people could use his left hand as the sole means to define him but that would be rather silly.

Each of us is like a multifaceted cut diamond with hundreds and hundreds of aspects.  As free individuals each of us can choose which aspects of a person are of most importance and judge and discriminate for or against them accordingly.  Not everyone is my cup-of-tea and I am certain I’m not for many others. 

I think of this when I see my college buddy’s 20-something son who has developed a serious brain malfunction.  He visits his personal hell on a regular occurrence.  It is heartbreaking to watch.  But he simply has a brain issue.  Just like my dad’s left hand, his brain simply didn’t develop exactly as designed.  It is again, both natural and unnatural at the same time but in no way is he morally inferior; he is not “less” in any way.

I think of this when I see a friend’s autistic child.  He is not morally defective; he simply got dealt a crappy hand in the development of his brain.  Natural and unnatural at the same time.

And I’ve been thinking about this as I read about the growing movement to more fully accept those whose sexual traits exist outside the norm.  Although many in these movements don’t want to accept it, these are natural and unnatural at the same time.  But not morally inferior.  Not morally defective.  Just different on one aspect of the hundreds that make us who we are.

Each of us has unnatural aspects to ourselves.  Some are small and some are large.  Some are hidden and some stand out.  But each of us is so much more than these quite natural differences.  Each individual is a cornucopia of traits.  Some we might like and some we might not.  We can choose our friends and shun others based on a single trait or the collection of the whole. 

None of us are defined by a single facet of who we are. So, why make judgments that don’t encompass the whole person?

My dad is not defined by his left hand.  We don’t need to celebrate his left hand, simply accept it for what it is; a very small and not very important part of a much larger mosaic. And I am dang lucky to have him as my dad.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He is also President and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.EICEnterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.

Time to Stick a Fork in Conservatism, it's Done

Just had this published in The Daily Caller which you can find here or you can just keep reading…

 

With the Republican nomination and subsequent election of Donald Trump there has been a great deal of hand wringing regarding what it means to be conservative.  Does it mean this or that and who gets to determine which?

Many “conservative” publications have spent more than a few pixels on this topic; and yes, most of the editors believe they get to define it.  They are wrong.

In fact the framing of the entire argument is wrong.  And for all you self-identified conservatives out there please don’t get your panties in a bundle since the same can be said of liberalism.  For both, it is time to move on to something else.

The entire liberal/conservative attempt to frame the world is based on a fundamental falsehood; the falsehood that one’s beliefs and opinions somehow matter when describing reality and that you somehow have the power to pick and choose which to believe, i.e. which is a true representation of reality. 

This is a childish way of thinking.  Yours and my opinions or beliefs matter no more in politics or economics than they do in the hard sciences; which is to say they don’t matter at all.

Rather than attempting to put everything in a conservative versus liberal framework, how about casting that aside and instead building a true versus false framework?  This is what started about 600 years ago in what is now called the hard sciences, in fact this was the birthplace of “science” and look at the results!

We now just need to take the logical steps of extending this way of thinking, this way of looking at and organizing the world to all other areas of our lives - politics and economics included.  No magazine or pundit is required to tell us what it means to be conservative or liberal; instead we all should discard those labels and simply be seekers of the truth.

I can already see the eye rolls; here’s just one more schmoe attempting to tell us his truth, i.e. his opinion.  If you understand the nature of the paradigm shift I am suggesting you will quickly discover this statement makes no sense, it cannot exist in a fact-based worldview.

But I can tell you the truth as discovered over the past couple hundred years.  The first and most fundamental truth is we, humans, evolved on this planet.  Thus we are a part of the natural world and nothing we can do or build can operate outside of the boundaries set by this world.  And please, this fact says nothing about the existence or non-existence of God.

Far too much political and social thought act as though we are infinitely pliable and not the result of 3.8 billion years of evolution.  Those thoughts might have been defensible 100 years ago but not today.

Another truth is statistics.  Einstein once said God doesn’t play dice but on this he was wrong.  Statistics is a primary driver of all things.  Relating this to politics and social systems it means the many will always outperform the few.  Thus individual freedom will always outperform a top-down, hierarchical system.  This is not a political “belief” but an observation of fact and it thus points one towards a limited government way of thinking.  There is no other choice.

Somewhat tied to this is the reality of swarm intelligence and the self-organization it drives.  Swarm intelligence attempts to describe the collective behavior of group animals; think of honey bees, schools of fish, herds of bison, flocks of birds, and yes even good old humans.

The swarm acts as a significant intelligence multiplier.  Rather than relying solely on individual intelligence, this process creates a collective intelligence that is orders of magnitudes beyond that of any individual member.  You can see it in action every day in pretty much every product or service that exists.

This occurs with no leader, no management, and with no one “seeing the big picture”.  In fact having no one in charge is a key ingredient to swarm intelligence.  This incredible increase in intelligence is driven by countless interactions between individual members with each following simple rules of thumb and reacting to their local environment and those members around them.  That’s it.

And although it may be difficult to grasp, this self-organizing behavior has no cause and effect, it simply is.  Almost every advancement in human existence has been driven by this, not those powerful non-profit organizations we call government. 

When we attempt to place leaders in this process the collective intelligence plummets.  This explains why governments and their activities are always going to be far stupider than free individuals going about their daily lives.  This isn’t a political statement but a factual one.

Again, we aren’t talking about knocking off a couple group IQ points but rather magnitudinal increases in stupidity.  This stupidity multiplier isn’t restricted to governments but to all organizations, the larger the worse.  Anyone who has worked in government, the military or other large organizations has seen it every day.

Thus the facts, not some chosen political philosophy, are clear that individual freedom and limited government will always outperform systems of limited freedom and expansive government.

Liberal, conservative?  Those are childish beliefs carried over from the past.  It is time to send them to dustbin of history and to move forward as the hard sciences did centuries ago and to simply become seekers of the truth.  The future of the planet depends upon it.

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change.  He is also President and founder of E.I.C. Enterprises, www.EICEnterprises.org, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world primarily through K-12 education.