News?

It doesn’t surprise me that newspapers are going out of business.  One way they shoot themselves in the foot is letting editorials contaminate news stories.  This is an example from a recent front page story:

Headline: “Obama proposes tax hike on high incomes to jump-start health-care reform”

Written by:  Jackie Calmes and Robert Pear of The New York Times and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Andrew Taylor of The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Fourth paragraph: “The tax proposal, coming after years in which wealth has become more concentrated at the top of the income scale, puts a politically volatile edge on the congressional debate over the president’s domestic priorities.”

As someone who likes to review such claims on wealth concentration to decide for myself , I was disappointed not to find a source for the statement in the article.   Also, as someone with an open mind who has seen compelling evidence to the contrary of that statement,  I was interested to see if new data might change my mind.   Yet, the statement is there as if it were an indisputable fact, like saying the  Earth revolves around the Sun.

Editing that out of the paragraph doesn’t change the news value of the story one bit: “The tax proposal puts a politically volatile edge on the congressional debate over the president’s domestic priorities.”

We've Been Duped

Rahm Emmanual said in November:

You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

$798 billion later we have the government we have been waiting for.

Hooked on Pain Killers

Our society is addicted to pain killers.  We’ve lost our tolerance to pain so we try to avoid it all costs.  Our addiction isn’t surprising.  We pump kids full of unearned self esteem by not keeping score in little league.  Rather than let Johnny learn to deal with the pain of disappointment, we pretend he did fine. 

We bail out banks whose management made bad decisions, car makers who are getting beat by competitors and homeowners who can’t pay their bills, all to avoid the pain of this (credit freeze), that (job losses) or the other (someone having to give up the nightmare of owning a home they can’t afford).

What is leadership?

Few seem to know. Common descriptions include “inspiring others” or “charisma”, but I find those lacking. Peter Drucker said, “Leadership is doing the right things, management is doing things right.” I like that, but what does it mean? I’ve worked with many leaders who do things right, but not the right things.

I don’t think good leaders and good leadership is as sexy as we would like it to be. Jack Welch wasn’t a good leader because of his charisma. He was a good leader because he hired good teams, held them accountable for achieving the right results, gave them useful feedback that could actually improve their performance if heeded, and fired people and re-loaded when he had an underperfomer on the team.

I’ve seen many in leadership roles who try to compensate for their weak team members and teams (especially their buddies), prescribed actions rather defined results (which makes it hard to hold them accountable, “I did what you told me to”), gave insufficient, spotty or poor feedback based on personal feelings or other wrong things and didn’t fire people who clearly should’ve been fired.

Stimulus

Every so often I come across a clarifying sentence.  Here’s one on the stimulus package:

The problem is that we’re organizing ourselves to produce whatever politicians decree rather than organizing ourselves to produce what we choose to consume.

Credit to commenter Martin Brock, February 13, 2009 commenting on the Cafe Hayek post: “Greed“.

I would add, the deeper problem is that too many people believe politicians know better than us what to produce.  This belief shows up in conversations with phrases such as “give money to rich people and they’ll hoard it” or “building roads and bridges is the right thing to do”.

The Haves and Have Nots

In second grade I heard that if you were to spread all money equally, in a short time the previously rich people would be rich again and the previously poor would be poor again.

This was taught to me to demonstrate the caste system of the haves and have nots.  A better explanation is that in a system of exchange with voluntary, value-based trades the rich people do a better job of creating value for others.

What is money?

“Would you like ketchup,” asked the man in the Burger King drive thru. 

“No thanks.”  I pulled forward then stopped to put the change in my wallet. 

My son asked, “Why are you stopping?”

“To put money away,” I said.

“What is money?”

Great question!  Nobody knows what gravity is or why the speed of light is the speed of light, yet those things are integral to our lives, much like money.  And, like gravity and the speed of light, so few people understand what money is. 

Money allows me to trade the value I create for my employer for things that I value. 

It’s easy to forget, or never learn, that the ability to trade for things of value is earned by creating value for others.  Many people expect to spend the value others create.  There’s only so much  of that to go around.

Stimulus

If government stimulus works , why not do it all the time?  Why has the crowd that lectures us about the world we’re leaving for our grandchildren abandoning that principle by supporting such “stimulus”?   Our government leaders seem to want to make themselves the heroes by spending our money.

Does anybody know that Ford doesn’t want bailout money?  That’s a hero story that deserves more press than it’s been getting.

"Do your job"

I lifted this quote from a message board.  It was attributed to an admired President of an undisclosed company:

“Any time I have to get involved in the day to day affairs of a department, I have a Vice President who isn’t doing his job.”