Success is ACTION

In this episode of Audio Tidbits Podcast, my podcasting friends and I share a simple perspective on success. Success is ACTION but not all action is success. I think you will find the perspective of my friends interesting and very much on point.

Kicked Out of the Castle?

To my surprise, my podcasting associates on the podcasting team had a very negative reaction to the new approach to Audio Tidbits Podcast. They listened and concluded that I was kicking them out of the castle. I quickly switched from my plan for the episode to consider their fears and to talk through what our plan should be moving on. Please listen. I think it brings a perspective that may go beyond podcasting. It causes me to wonder who else I have been kicking out of the castle. You may see that you have kicked out someone along your way.

Why Is Mitch McConnell Such A Wimp?

In this episode of Audio Tidbits Podcast, I share some new insight into what is causing part if not most of my struggle with my new approach to podcasting. I then get into the heart of my pondering for today. I am wondering why Mitch McConnell is such a wimp. He says he won’t bring anything up for a vote unless President Trump gives him the green light. That makes Mitch the President’s man-servant in the US Senate. He is there to do the President’s bidding and nothing else.

I doubt if that is what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they required a Senate. I think that what we are seeing is Mitch being a wimp instead of being a Senator. Were he being a Senator, he would be giving us his considered view on a border wall and the government shut-down and not deferring to the President. I doubt that the folks who elected him thought it was so he could be the President’s lackey. Whether you agree or not, have a listen. I definitely think you will have an opinion.

Struggling To Succeed

In this episode of Audio Tidbits Podcast, I am struggling to succeed, along with many others who have a goal but who are spending more time thinking about success than time succeeding. Getting down to the business of success is much harder than it seems like it should be. Please join me to see how the struggle is going.

Getting Into It

As the New Year starts, it’s time to think about getting into it. The “it” is the Audio Tidbits Podcast. I thought it was time to change my approach to the podcast and today seemed like the perfect time to take the new path. Please listen and see what you think. I hope the new path works for you. Perhaps once we both get into it, we will wonder why I haven’t been doing it that way all along. So Happy New Year and enjoy.

Party Talk

If you weren’t invited to the party and are feeling left out, I thought I could share a brief sample of the stimulating conversation you are missing. This is what you are concerned you missed, along with the after-party hangover.

The Cost of “I Don’t Care.”

A few years ago, I was sitting at the negotiation table with the staff negotiator for the UAW who was representing most of the staff of the human services agency I directed. We both knew where the final agreement would settle within a fairly narrow range, so the negotiation was somewhere between proforma at one end and details that didn’t matter all that much one way or another at the other end. As expected, the union made some proposals that we both knew weren’t going to be accepted and a few that were both reasonable and acceptable. The negotiation was to sort out those details and issues. We both knew that labor and management can have big issues at times but also knew that this was not one of those times; or so I thought.

In this round of negotiations, the agency would have been fine continuing the current contract but was quite willing to sweeten the deal some. Here is the problem. The UAW negotiator made the first offer from the union that he knew, and I knew would not be accepted. The agency then made its first counter offer that I knew, and he knew would not be accepted. We were setting the outside limits within which the negotiation was expected to focus.

To my surprise, the UAW negotiator immediately brought out his only real weapon. Instead of making a modified offer, he said that they would take an immediate strike vote if their first offer wasn’t accepted in full. What do you think my response should have been?

I admit that the temptation to play his version of hard ball was nearly overwhelming. Although I was far from speechless, the range of possible responses was flowing past so rapidly that I was temporarily dumbfounded. I finally said, “I doubt if that would be a very good outcome for either of us.”

His response was even more surprising than his starting the negotiation by refusing to negotiate. They would not negotiate. Either they got everything they wanted, or they would strike. To my suggestion that striking would not be a good outcome for either of us, he said, “I don’t care. I just don’t care what you think about the outcome.”

Political Bridge Burning

For the past few posts, our focus has been on the southern border with Mexico. You may think that the kerfuffle is all about border security, but that interpretation doesn’t hold up very well. Both President Trump and the opposition publicly agree that enhanced border security is important and would be a worthy outcome. So, what is the issue?

Is it the cost? Probably not. Both sides agree that appropriating funds for enhanced border security is necessary. Yes, they are apart on how much funding, but the difference is only thirty seconds or so of the total cost of operating the Federal government. That doesn’t seem like enough difference to justify major disruption in the lives of nearly a million Federal workers and related non-government employment, along with the disruption in government services and responsibilities. The negative effect of the stalemate is just too far out of proportion to the funding gap.

In months past, President Trump proclaimed that the cost was neither an issue nor going to be an issue. Mexico would be paying for the needed enhanced security. Now, that pipedream has faded, and both sides agree that it will be paid for by our Federal government. Even so, the cost is not the cause of the kerfuffle.

Both sides appear to be digging in over a wall versus no wall. It also seems unlikely that this is at the heart of the impasse. The two-thousand-mile border, (the distance from Chicago to Los Angeles,) likely needs a wall or at least a better fence along some stretches but building a wall that stretches uninterrupted from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico is likely not even possible. At least part of it would need to be secured with electronic detection and drones. Even were it possible, building the wall would probably take many years. It would not enhance security much for quite some time.

Closing California

It seems as if there was once a time when the right and good, the moral and just were guiding principles for the United States. It may be that it was never as true as it appeared, but at least it seemed as if it were truer than not. That may be little more than wishful nostalgia, more fantasy than reality. Even so, it’s easy to consider the daily news and conclude that morality and ethics have nothing to do with how decisions are made, how resources are distributed, how the public’s business is conducted.

Let’s play a little mind game. It’s sort of like playing musical chairs. The population of all of Central America is only slightly more than the population of California: about forty million. Let’s suppose that people concluded that California is no longer a fit place to stay and raise a family. Staying is just not possible. Let’s further assume that the only reasonable decision is to close California. The migration into the rest of the United States would be extremely disruptive for a while; but if we look ahead five years, the population of California would be absorbed, and life would go on.

Okay, closing all of California may be a bit excessive. Let’s suppose that It’s only necessary to close Berkeley. Now we only need to assimilate about one hundred and twenty thousand people. That sounds a lot more manageable. It may be that none of them has to actually leave California.

Sure, we’re back to discussing the border with Mexico. That’s the border that is about the same distance as it is from Chicago to Los Angeles. President Trump is threatening to close the border, letting no one into the United States by way of that border. His only announced goal that I have heard is to prevent an influx of criminals and hooligans. But here is the problem with that. The current border policy is probably reducing but not eliminating the influx of criminals and hooligans. That would be a good thing were it not for the reality that it is also preventing thousands of law-abiding adults and children from peacefully entering the United States.

Politicians Playing King-of-the-Hill

You likely heard that the Federal government is partially shut-down. It’s not like a private company shutting down part of its operation and laying off some of its employees. For those employees, it’s no job, no pay. For the Federal employees who are off work for now, it’s no job but you most likely get paid later.

It’s not so harm-free for private contractors and all of the businesses who depend on the thousands of Federal employees to shop and buy. The point is that the partial government shut-down is causing real problems for thousands of real people.

All of those Federal employees who are off work had real jobs and provided real services that many people, businesses and organizations depend on to function. The result of the partial government shut-down is that there is major disruption that is seriously interfering with the economic and transactional life of the country. And the longer the partial shut-down continues, the more harmful the disruption.

Why is the Federal government partially shut-down? That’s an easy question to answer. It’s a tried-and-true negotiating strategy. President Trump wants to build a wall long enough to run from Chicago to Los Angeles but built along the border with Mexico. The final cost of his wall would likely be ten million dollars a mile, but a less expensive wall might be acceptable. Maybe two and a half million dollars a mile would work for him. We can call that solution 1.

The opposition will not agree to the wall but may be fine with a technological barrier that is yet to be clearly explained. We don’t know how much that type of barrier would cost but it would presumably be less than two and a half million dollars a mile. We can call that solution 2.

As we see, both sides agree that some type of enhanced barrier should be put in place. The Federal government is shut down because the two sides can’t agree about the type of barrier and how much it should cost. There is no disagreement about the need for an enhanced barrier nor that it will be expensive. How expensive? It will cost about as much as it costs to fund the Federal government for thirty seconds. President Trump wants about forty-five seconds and the opposition is offering only fifteen. The Federal government is partially shut-down over about thirty seconds of disputed funding.

Snake Oil and Border Security

I have been trying to avoid spending any time thinking about politics, economics and the current state of things in the United States. Despite my sincere effort, I keep drifting back into the morass of commentators and politicians. It makes me wonder about how any of us can distinguish the true from the fake, the actual from snake oil.

My thought process seems to be more than random but less than objective. I am somehow pulled and pushed in ways that are confusing and hard to track. The border with Mexico is a prime example. Is it merely a boundary between two countries, the door to opportunity for many of our southern neighbors, the dividing line between us and them or the entry portal for criminals and hooligans? My rational self thinks the border is a mix of all of these. The political jousting tends to focus on the criminals and hooligans, of which there are certainly some. Nearly everyone agrees that keeping them out is a very good idea. We definitely do not want more criminals and hooligans to add to the home-grown variety we already have.

According to the Google guy, the US Mexico border is just short of two thousand miles. It’s about the same as the distance from Cleveland in Ohio to Las Vegas in Nevada; or about the same as from Chicago to Los Angeles. With that perspective, imagine building and maintaining a thirty-foot-high wall or a shorter fence for the full two thousand miles. Additionally, you need to make sure no one breaches the barrier.

President Trump and those on Team Trump tell us that the only way to keep the criminals and hooligans out is to build and maintain the two-thousand-mile wall. Our fear of the invading criminals and hooligans should be a sufficient motivation to build it now. The opposition team tells us that there are better and less expensive ways of keeping the criminals and hooligans out, although so far, I haven’t heard much about what those better and less expensive ways are. They seem to have something to do with electronics and drones.

My rational self tells me that either approach would probably work equally well. Either the old-style wall or the new-style technology would likely stop most but not all of the illegal border crossing. Either would be particularly effective at stopping children and families. The real issue is how well either would be at stopping criminals and hooligans. I suspect either approach would slow down the influx of criminals and hooligans but many if not most determined criminals and hooligans would be up to the challenge of either type of barrier. I doubt that either approach would actually reduce the number of criminals and hooligans all that much who get from there to here. Even so, either approach would likely reduce the number of good people looking for a better life who make the passage.

Christmas Wisdom Concludes

It seems fitting to initiate (compliments of – edited for audio format) the conclusion of our Christmas wisdom with the thoughts of an anonymous philosopher who said, The message of Christmas is that the visible material world is bound to the invisible spiritual world.

Robert Lynd, who is admittedly not a philosopher said, Were I a philosopher, I should write a philosophy of toys, showing that nothing else in life need be taken seriously, and that Christmas Day in the company of children is one of the few occasions on which men become entirely alive.

Pope John 23rd added, Mankind is a great, an immense family. This is proved by what we feel in our hearts at Christmas.

Carolyn Wells is a little more down to Earth with her perspective on gifts, I love the Christmas-tide, and yet, I notice this, each year I live; I always like the gifts I get, But how I love the gifts I give!

She followed up on her wisdom with, ‘Tis blessed to bestow, and yet, Could we bestow the gifts we get, And keep the ones we give away, How happy were our Christmas day!

P J O’Rourke lightens the discourse when he points out, There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime.  Mature, responsible grown men wear neck ties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them.

Our 30th President, Calvin Coolidge was again a bit more philosophical, Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.

Robert Kirby is a little more practical, No matter how carefully you stored the lights last year, they will be snarled again this Christmas.

Christmas Wisdom Continued

Let’s start down the Christmas trail (again compliments of – formatting omitted) with a tradition from Betsy Cañas Garmon’s family. She sits with her husband in a room lit only by tree lights and wants us to remember that our blessings outnumber the lights. Happy Christmas to all.

Thomas Tusser also has advice for the season. At Christmas play and make good cheer, for Christmas comes but once a year.

Lenora Mattingly Weber is here as well to focus our perspective. Christmas is for children. But it is for grown-ups too. Even if it is a headache, a chore, and nightmare, it is a period of necessary defrosting of chill and hide-bound hearts.

Sing hey! Sing hey! For Christmas Day; Twine mistletoe and holly. For a friendship glows In winter snows, And so let’s all be jolly! No one is quite sure who first said it but there’s little doubt that we can all give it a hey! hey! of our own.

Gertrude Tooley Buckingham is joining in, Christmas is coming; it is almost here! With Santa and presents, good will and cheer! Now that may be even better than one of those Hey! heys!

In steps the realist to keep us from getting too carried away. Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money. It’s not surprising that no one takes credit for that one.

Fortunately, May Sarton is here to keep us on the Christmas rails, I can understand people simply fleeing the mountainous effort Christmas has become but there are always a few saving graces and finally they make up for all the bother and distress.