Archive for May, 2012

Rules are certainly necessary to maintain some sense of order in organizations and in society itself.  But too often rules are enforced without any regard to intent.  Also too often rules seem to be put into place just for the sake of having rules without any thought about whether the rules are even necessary.  For some reason, schools seem to be the worst about this sort of thing.  Here are a few examples:

  • A 17 year-old was thrown into jail for missing/being late for school too often.  So what if both parents have left her to fend for herself.  So what if she is working two jobs to help support herself and two siblings.  So what that despite that, she is still an HONOR student taking advanced placement courses and courses which will also earn her college credit.  As the judge put it, “If you let one run loose, what are you going to do with the rest of ’em?”  That’s right, we risk having more of these vagrants working hard toward college!  But hey, who is he to judge?  He’s just a…um….judge?  Rules are rules.
  • A middle school student was suspended for a day when he held the door open for a women who had her hands full.  You see, the school has a strict policy that you can’t hold a door open for any adult that hasn’t first been vetted by a security camera.  So what if the student knew her and knew she wasn’t a threat.  As the superintendent explained, “”You have to have a system, and that system has to be consistent. We have to stay within the rules and stay secure.”  That’s right, one day a kid is being polite.  The next day the League Of Doom is setting up shop in your school.  Slippery slope you know.  Rules are rules.
  • A high school student was suspended for growing his hair too long.  Oh, did I mention that he is a leukemia survivor?  Or that he was growing his hair long in order to donate that hair to Locks Of Hair, a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients?  Or that he is going that in honor of his friend’s sister that was diagnosed with cancer?  Well I didn’t mention those things because they don’t matter!  Cancer is bad.  But not half as bad as the cancer that is boys with long hair!  Damn hippies!  Rules are rules.
  • A middle school student was given a 10-day suspension for sharing a fish oil pill.  You see, this makes him a drug pusher!  Just say no to LSD, cocaine, marijuana, and fish oil pills!  Fortunately he did have the option to have that suspension cut in half if he sought out drug counseling.  I hope they can end his nasty fish oil pill pushing ways!  Rules are rules.

Suspensions for hugging…and singing….45 days reform school for a 6-year-old that had a camping utensil on him (omg, it’s a weapon!!!!!!!)….it just goes on and on.  I would even go on and add simple things that I remember from when I was going to school, like not being able to talk during lunch (oh, you can talk quietly but as soon as it actually sounds like a room of children talking….oh we have to nip that in the bud! NO TALKING!).  I kind of assumed those things would have changed, but talking to friends who are sending kids to school, it doesn’t sound like it has changed much.  Is there any thought about why we are trying to make kids not act like kids even during free time like during lunch and between classes?

Fortunately people are beginning to question such things as “zero tolerance” policies.  Hopefully we will realize that having rules for the sake of having rules and also not exercising discretion when enforcing those rules is just plain dumb.  We make the rules in the first place, no one should be able to just shrug their shoulders when something that is plainly dumb happens and say ‘hey, it’s a rule, nothing I can do about it.’

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Grab a chair everyone! Computer operator is up for grabs! Losers go into the janitor pool!

No, they are not actually using musical chairs.  Though that would actually make as much sense.  The personnel process that actually gets used during layoffs is called “bumping and rifting”.

What is “bumping and rifting” you may ask?  No, it’s not some new and possibly vulgar dance.  Let me see if I can explain it.  When the county needs to downsize, they eliminate positions, not individuals.  Anyone who has had his or her position eliminated can then invoke their “bumping rights”.  At that point, the personnel board will look at the person’s qualification file based on the exam they took when they were first hired and if this person is deemed to meet the minimum qualifications for another lower position and have more years of experience with the county than the person currently holding that person, the “bumped” person replaces the current holder of the job.  Yes, even if the person currently holding the job has years of experience doing that job and are very good at it while the “bumper” may have no relevant experience for that position at all.

Now the person who just lost his/her job to the “bumper” due to, well frankly, shitty luck, is considered to have been “rifted”.  The “rifter” can now invoke HIS/HER “bumping rights” and the whole process begins again until either everyone who is left gives up or you reach the bottom of the barrel of the job hierarchy making “bumping” impossible.  (What’s more crazy is that a “rifted” employee remains “rifted” even if the “bumper” decides to quit instead of accepting his/her new position.  Once you’re “bumped”, you’re “bumped”.)  Anyway, as you can imagine, when you have a high number of layoffs like you have when a county is bankrupt, with this system not only do you lose employees but you also force a lot of people into new positions they are not trained for even if the job that they ARE trained for still exists.  Smart, right?

But before you go away thinking ‘yep, more stupid government’, let me tell you that this is NOT the government’s doing.  The state mandates that an independent board oversees the county’s personnel decisions.  The Jefferson County personnel board is run by a 3 member board that is appointed by a commission made up of 17 ‘civic leaders’ from the community.  So this is actually just a case of the county following the rules, but not making them.  And it proves that people outside of the government framework are fully capable of creating just as dumb and inefficient policies (or maybe even more dumb).

If it’s going to be this dumb, may I suggest alternatives?  Maybe we could put positions up for grabs in games of dodgeball?  How about a game of H.O.R.S.E?  Maybe though give everyone H.O.R.S. and make it sudden-death style!  Let’s bring some fun into the dumb process!

Read more here:  Bumping And Rifting Leaves Jefferson County In A Lurch

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Political “gaffes”, as defined by the media, comes in two forms.  The first form is when a politician gets tongue-tied and says something that he/she doesn’t really mean.  These are such things as when then candidate Obama referenced the “57 states” he had visited or when the way McCain worded a speech in support of Romney in such a way that it made it sound like Romney supported earmarks when McCain actually meant the opposite.  We don’t need more of these “gaffes” (though since getting tongue-tied is human nature, they will continue to happen and continue to get too much media coverage.)  But there is a second form of “gaffe” that we do need.

The other form of “gaffe” is when a politician actually tells the truth but it isn’t something that he/she is supposed to say.  Examples that come to mind are when Romney’s campaign spokesman mentioned that when it comes to the general election that the campaign can shake things up like an etch-a-sketch (everyone seems to accept that campaigns have to lean toward the left or the right during the primary and then come back to the center for the general election, but I guess anyone associated with an actual campaign has to play stupid to that) or when, though not truth in words but instead in emotion, Howard Dean actually had an audacity to show genuine excitement about his upcoming campaign stops during his 2004 campaign (because politicians have to be ‘Presidential’ and not human).  Vice President Joe Biden had such a “gaffe” moment last Sunday on Meet The Press.

On that program, Joe Biden was asked about gay marriage.  He honestly answered the question by saying he had no issue with gay/lesbian marriage.  Simple answer to a  simple question, right?  Oh no, not that simple.  He was not supposed to answer that question.  Why?  Because his boss, Barack Obama, has refused to answer that question, choosing instead to say that his view on that issue was “evolving”, a non-answer answer that probably even had Bill Clinton shaking his head.   So, boom, you have a “gaffe”, can’t make the President look bad you know.

But a funny thing happened.  Now all of a sudden the question of gay marriage becomes an issue.  The President (or more exactly, his press secretary) was getting asked the question, and the whole “evolving” answer was exposed as being lame.  Obama was forced to take a position.  As a result, we have, for the first time ever, a sitting President willing to take a public position in support of gay marriage.  Make no mistake, while some argue that Obama doesn’t go far enough because he also said he thinks the issue should be resolved at the state level instead of federal level, the fact that a sitting President is willing to make such a public stance is, to paraphrase Biden, a pretty big f’n deal.  No other President was willing go this far, and one only has to look to North Carolina to know that this could have political consequences.

None of this happens without Biden’s “gaffe”.  But what really happened here is one politician told the truth forcing another politician to tell the truth (or at least take an actual position on an issue).  Why is this a regarded as a “gaffe” or mistake by the media?  Shouldn’t we WANT our politicians telling the truth, for better or worse?  Everyone wins, whether we agree on a policy position or not, if we actually know what those positions are, and you would think the media would consider reporting these positions as a key part of their job.

I think it really comes back to the media covering politics like sports, where everything is looked at from the perspective of the election scoreboards, and sometimes the truth can hurt those chances.  So the media doesn’t actually view an honest answer as ‘wow, he actually answered the question, good to be able to relay to the people where he/she stands’.  It’s more, ‘oh no, he told the truth, what an idiot!  That’s going to cost him some points…er…I mean votes!’  (You know, media, just as a ‘for instance’, what is more important, what impact the high unemployment rate has on Obama’s or Romney’s election chances, or the fact that there’s a lot of people out of work and how that impacts the all the rest of us that don’t happen to be running for President?  This is not a game!)

Personally I would rather hear the truth and think that should be encouraged.  So Biden, you just keep up with your “gaffing” ways!  Don’t you change for anyone!  We need a little more (by which I mean a lot more) honesty in politics.

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Forget everything you have heard from those lamestream media folks about Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and the like.  I have the real scoop on who Mitt Romney is considering as a potential running mate!

Why considering?  The Scream and Mitt Romney share much in common.  For instance, Mitt earned around $20 million in 2011.  The Scream earned $120 million just last week.  So clearly they are both job creators that know how the economy works!

Potential Drawback:  The Scream is too emotional for Mitt.  By which I mean The Scream shows signs of actually having emotions.

Why considering?  The Donald shares Mitt’s appreciation of the entertaining value of firing people!  Mitt loves to tell the stories about people getting fired, like that time his dad shut down that plant in Michigan to move it to Wisconsin.  Hilarious!  Meanwhile, Trump’s whole career pretty much revolves around producing a show where he fires people.

Potential Drawback:  Mitt’s perfect hair does not get along with Donald’s….well whatever he calls what he has on his head.

Why considering?  Some people think Mitt should choose a woman to help narrow the gender gap in his support.  But he knows that is a lost cause.  Only thing to do is to make sure he just kills it with the male vote!  This is Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.  She is Megan Fox’s replacement in the Transformer movies and was rated numero uno in Maxim’s Hot 100.  She is clearly very qualified!

Potential Drawback:  She cannot see Russia from her house.  Also, she is British, so she cannot run.  Stupid rules.

Why considered?  There are those horrible rumors that Mitt Romney mistreated his own pet on a family vacation.  So what better way to help dispel those rumors and get pet lovers back on his side than tapping one of American’s most beloved beagles, Snoopy?

Potential Drawback:  Counterintuitively, while Snoopy likes to sleep on top of his doghouse, he refuses to ride on top of a car.

Why considered?  Only because it is simply brilliant!  Why would Joe Biden switch over to Mitt’s side?  Simple.  Mitt is crazy loaded with money.  Everyone has their price.  He is simply going to buy him.  Obama can’t run without a Veep.  Mitt wins by default!  That’s how Mitt rolls, Bain Capital style!

Potential Drawback:  What possible drawback could there be?  It’s the perfect plan!

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