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Opinion Editorials

Ideologies at battle: from Kennedy’s era to today

With the upcoming elections, some are looking backwards as a means of looking forward – comparing the ideologies of yesteryear compared to today which is fascinating, especially as it pertains to progressive ideas and pitting people against each other.

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Coining terms

Citizens of TakerNation are of fond of calling their ideology ‘progressive.’ It’s a tactic used by all sides of the political spectrum. Define something as positive in nature so as to effectively demonize those who disagree. A recent historical example was Lyndon Johnson’s now infamous War on Poverty. Those who read history without filters now realize there are more Americans ‘living’ in poverty now than in the mid 1960s when LBJ so bravely declared war.

To be against his ‘war’ was to be for poverty, or at the least against its elimination.

Those against Johnson’s program were, in fact, only objecting to his strategy, not his goal. ‘Course that was never clarified in the press, as it quickly became  ProducerNation’s moral obligation to turn their pockets inside out while simultaneously screaming ‘Come and get it!’ to those who weren’t as ‘lucky’ as they’d obviously been. After all, poverty is almost always a matter of circumstances. It’s never a result of human behavior. The transfer of wealth from Producers to Takers would fix everything. It was so exciting. Blah blah blah.

TakerNation apologists deal with the obvious truth of their ‘war’s’ complete and abject failure by one of two techniques. They either rewrite history — or they say not enough money was thrown at the problem. It never dawns on ’em that it’s human behavior that produces wealth originally, and human behavior that produces poverty. At least that’s true in a relatively free society/culture allowing it’s citizens to choose how the spend their time.

America is such a place.

When limited to fighting in the arena of ideas, Takers are 0-for-history. If they can’t use personal attacks, rewrite history, change the subject, or my all time fav, answer uncomfortable questions with questions, their ideas die ugly deaths. It’s always been so.

An example is how the 20th century proved over and over again how we humans will modify our behavior when government takes significantly less of our hard earned paychecks. The Office of Management and Budget shows empirically that our economy has either flourished, or recovered from recession then flourished, after decent sized income tax cuts. In fact, as a direct consequence of markedly lowered taxes, both personal and business, the actual tax dollars collected by the Treasury increases. It’s happened every time it’s been tried. Don’t believe me, believe OMB. They’ve been irritating both sides for decades with their numbers.

Yet, Takers will argue everything but their own idea and its notable historic failures. They’ll attack their opponent’s idea tooth and nail. They’ll make up ‘facts’ as they go. But they won’t simply enter the arena of ideas and defend their own ideology sans the aforementioned diversions.

Why is that?

The answer is both simple and historically documented. Their ideas about economics fail every time they’ve been tried. They can’t get around that fact, and they know it. It’s failed around the world, and is failing now in our own economy. It’s exactly because they know this to be true, that they cannot and will not ever debate their ideology head to head. It’s like coming to a gunfight with a rubber knife.

Want the most recent empirically historic example?

When President Carter’s initial four years were coming to an end, his TakerNation economic policies had wreaked their inevitable, and therefore easily predictable devastation. Massive unemployment, ruinous double digit inflation, and truly onerous taxes. And still he reprimanded Americans for their ‘malaise’. Yeah, that’s the ticket. It’s malaise causing all this economic pain, not my ideology or its economic policies.

When the 1980 election campaign began in earnest, then Governor Reagan was about 20 points behind President Carter in almost all credible polls. Reagan, focused like a laser beam, insisted the campaign be about nothing BUT ideas. When forced into the arena of ideas, Carter had nothing in retort but his version of, ‘Oh yeah?!’. He was crushed that first Tuesday in November of 1980. Incredibly, he was greatly surprised. Not only was he a Kool-Aid drinker, apparently he also had his own recipe.

Much as JFK did in the summer of 1962, Reagan took the ProducerNation approach, which is raising revenue to the Treasury by seriously reducing both personal and business income taxes. Since the campaign was, for the most part limited to the arena of ideas, American voters discerned the obvious, putting Reagan in the White House via the aforementioned landslide.

Instead of quoting Reagan, or showing some of the debates’ ‘give ‘n takes’, here is one of TakerNation’s iconic leaders making manifest his ideas on what causes downtrodden economies to flourish. JFK was articulately brief in the explanation of his proposed personal and corporate tax cuts. Flourishing his idea-weapons in the televised arena of ideas, he took just over two minutes to rout any and all opponents. He stayed on point, no diversions, no slight of hand, just the facts. He was magnificent.

Here it is — decide for yourself. Oh, and for the record? Kennedy got the results he predicted. 

Ideas strung together make up ideologies.

When ideologies go to battle, mano a mano so to speak, with only ideas to brandish as weapons, there are the victors and the vanquished. Whenever TakerNation ideology has entered the arena of ideas, it hasn’t been pretty. This is why we all know the coming election campaign must include numerous diversions. When you’re wielding rubber knives at a gunfight, you have no choice.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  1. wes moore

    March 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Jeff – you’re terrific. Thank you for this.

  2. Al Lorenz

    March 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    What’s the big idea? Just kidding, nicely put.

  3. Arn

    March 21, 2012 at 12:44 am

    Jeff, right on. Your distinction between goal and strategy is right on the money. As an example, let’s take global warming or climate change. This issue is spoken of in black and white – you either are Green or you are a flat-earther. The argument isn’t whether one acknowledges earth temp and CO2 levels are increasing. Those are facts. The debate is over 1) how dire is the problem? Will the current trend continue? After all Earth climate has been changing since Day 1 way before there were humans. 2) what is the time frame? 3) to what degree do we disrupt our existing economy? 4) how much money should the government spend pushing Green? 5) what is the probability these much ballyhooed Green technologies will provide any significant amount of energy? I believe most people are for cleaner energy technologies. The question is : how much do we invest in unproven technologies? To what degree do the current jobs and economy take precedence over Green? Understanding it may prove that NONE of these technologies work? Or they may have unintended consequences? Electricity is made from coal plants and hydroelectric sources (2 things HATED by Green) If we get rid of gas and go to more electric, demand for electric will go up – can we generate more electricity without negative results. The answer to many of these questions is WE DON’T KNOW. But if one does not buy Green hook line and sinker, you are a flat-earther ie stupid or a DENIER. Time to st this nonsense.

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Opinion Editorials

Strong leaders can use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) In the COVID-19 crisis, some leaders fumbled through it, while others quietly safeguarded their company’s future.

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strong leaders

Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how strong leaders can see their teams, their companies, and their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always but is amplified when a crisis occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve their teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything was disrupted and people are adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when leaders game plan, strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

7 sure-fire ways to carve out alone time when you’re working from home

(EDITORIAL) It can be easy to forget about self-care when you’re working from home, but it’s critical for your mental health, and your work quality.

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Woman in hijab sitting on couch, working from home on a laptop

We are all familiar with the syndrome, getting caught up in work, chores, taking care of others, and neglecting to take care of ourselves in the meantime. This has always been the case, but now, with more people working from home and a seemingly endless lineup of chores, thanks to the pandemic. There is simply so much to do.

The line is thinly drawn between personal and professional time already, with emails, cell phones, and devices relentlessly reaching out around the clock, pulling at us like zombie arms reaching up from the grave. Working from home makes this tendency to always be “on” worse, as living and working take place in such close proximity. We have to turn it off, though.

Our brains and bodies need downtime, me-time, and self-care. Carving out this time is one of the kindest and most important things you can do for yourself. If we can begin to honor ourselves like this, the outcome with not only our mental and physical health but also our productivity at work will be beneficial. When we make the time to do things we love, our mind’s gears slow down that constant grinding. Burnout behooves nobody.

Our work will also benefit. Healthier, happier, more well-rested, and well-treated minds and bodies can work wonders! Our immune systems also need this, and we need our immune systems to be at their peak performance this intense season.

I wanted to write this article because I have such a struggle with this in my own life. I need to print it out and put it in my workspace. Last week, I posted something on my social media pages that so many people shared. It is clear we all need these reminders, so I am paying it forward here. The graphic was a quote from Devyn W.

“If you are reading this, release your shoulders away from your ears, unclench your jaw, and drop your tongue from the roof of your mouth.”

There now, isn’t that remarkable? It is a great first step. Let go of the tension in your body, and check out these ways to make yourself some healing me-time while working from home.

  1. Set aside strict no-work times. This could be any time of day, but set the times and adhere to them strictly. This may look like taking a full hour for lunch, not checking email after a certain hour, or committing to spending that time outdoors, reading, exercising, or enjoying the company of your loved ones. Make this a daily routine, because we need these boundaries. Every. Single. Day.
  2. Remember not to apologize to anyone for taking this me-time. Mentally and physically you need this, and everyone will be better off if you do. It is nothing to apologize for! Building these work-free hours into your daily schedule will feel more normal as time goes on. This giving of time and space to your joy, health, and even basic human needs is what should be the norm, not the other way around.
  3. Give yourself a device-free hour or two every day, especially before bedtime. The pinging, dinging, and blinging keep us on edge. Restful sleep is one of the wonderful ways our bodies and brains heal and putting devices away before bedtime is one of the quick tips for getting better sleep.
  4. Of course, make time for the things you absolutely love. If this is a hot bath, getting a massage, reading books, working out, cooking or eating an extravagant meal, or talking and laughing with a loved one, you have to find a way to get this serotonin boost!
  5. Use the sunshine shortcut. It isn’t a cure-all, but sunlight and Vitamin D are mood boosters. At least when it’s not 107 degrees, like in a Texas summer. But as a general rule, taking in at least a good 10-15 minutes of that sweet, sweet Vitamin D provided by the sun is good for us.
  6. Spend time with animals! Walk your dog, shake that feathery thing at your cat, or snuggle either one. Whatever animals make you smile, spend time with them. If you don’t have pets of your own, you could volunteer to walk them at a local shelter or even watch a cute animal video online. They are shown to reduce stress. Best case scenario is in person if you are able, but thankfully the internet is bursting with adorable animal videos, as a backup.
  7. Give in to a bit of planning or daydreaming about a big future trip. Spending time looking at all the places you will go in the future and even plotting out an itinerary are usually excellent mood-boosters.

I hope we can all improve our lives while working from home by making time for regenerating, healing, and having fun! Gotta run—the sun is out, and my dog is begging for a walk.

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Opinion Editorials

The one easy job interview question that often trips up applicants

(EDITORIAL) The easiest interview questions can be the hardest to answer, don’t let this one trip you up – come prepared!

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Women sitting nervously representing waiting for a remote job interview.

A job interview is tough, and preparing for them can seem impossible. There are some questions you can expect: what is your experience in this position? How would you handle this situation? And so on.

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But what about this question: what makes you happy? Though it may seem straightforward, getting to the right answer is not such an easy path.

Work engagement

According to research, less and less employees feel like they are truly engaged at work. Some blame the work environment but truth be told, it is not a company’s responsibility to make you happy.

Without a passion for what you are doing, you will never enjoy the job.

It is the best case for everyone. More engaged workers are more productive in addition to feeling like they serve a purpose.

Do your due diligence

So before finding yourself in an interview where you have to take an awkward pause before answering this question, the best thing is to do some research. It all starts with the job search.

When looking for a job it is easy to get caught up in high profile company names and perks.

For instance, although “Social Media Coordinator” may not be your thing, the position is open at the cool advertising agency downtown. Or perhaps the company offers flexible hours and free lunch Fridays. The problem is that these perks aren’t worth it in the long run. Working for a cool company can be exciting at first, but it is not sustainable without passion for the position.

It’s important to pay attention to is the position you are applying for.

Is this work that you are passionate about? Take a look at the job responsibilities and functions. Besides figuring out if those are things that you can do, ask yourself if they are things that you want to do. Is this an opportunity that will match your strengths and give you purpose?

Let your passion protrude

With all things considered, when asked “what makes you happy” at the next interview, you will be able to answer honestly. Your passion will be apparent without having to put on an act.

Even if they don’t ask that question, there is no downside to knowing what makes you happy.

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