Article 43


Monday, May 31, 2010

Snitches At Work


A sinner is a soul enclosed in the prison of the self.
-William J Everett, Theologian

More than once this month I’ve been approached by people at work asking for my help to make other team members look bad.

I don’t buy into back stabbing fellow workers, do you?


How to Find and Stop the Workplace Snitch

By Brian Satterfield

One of the first lessons that most people learn in grade school is: “Nobody likes a tattletale.” But some people never get this idea through their heads, and eventually, these pint-sized snitches grow up and join the WORK FORCE, where they make colleagues’ and managers’ lives difficult.

TRUST is a key component of any successful company or team, and it only takes one problem employee to kill the atmosphere. This will naturally lead to decreased PRODUCTIVITY over time. Snitching is also bad for employee morale and camaraderie; who wants to be friendly with people that might stab you in the back? Besides creating an overall dysfunctional workplace, tattletales can also lead to increased employee turnover, costing a business the time and money it takes to recruit new hires.

That said, there is a big difference between being petty and what is commonly known as whistle-blowing exposing a person or company for illegal, dangerous or unethical behaviors and practices. Employees should be encouraged to inform their managers or the HR departments of serious conduct breaches, such as sexual harassment, embezzlement or threats of violence. And if this results in no action, employees should take their complaints to the relevant state regulatory department.

But in general, employees who complain every time a co-worker takes the last doughnut, shows up 10 minutes late or periodically forgets to wear a tie are simply petty - and bad for business.

Here are a few ways that employees can spot potentially divisive co-workers (so that they can give them a wide berth), as well as a few sound strategies for dealing with colleagues or underlings who simply refuse to mind their own business.

Spotting a Snitch

As an employee, it doesn’t bode well for your career prospects to falsely accuse another worker of anything, and that applies to tattling as well. Therefore, you should never attempt to out a suspected office snitch or start rumors about who you think the mole is. However, you may find that it’s a good idea steer clear of an employee:

1. Whose job responsibilities have been marginalized: Employees whose job responsibilities have been gradually taken away from them may be in danger of an eventual layoff. The natural reaction to this is anger and indignation, which may cause some people to lash out at their fellow employees. Workers who feel insecure in their positions may resort to snitching as a way to cast themselves in a more favorable light with management and thus avoid losing their jobs. And of course, there will always be those people who just want revenge and don’t care who has to pay as long as someone does.

2. Who shows disrespect and jealousy toward colleagues: If one of your co-workers constantly talks trash about other employees in public, there’s a better-than-average chance that they’re also doing so behind closed doors with management. Also, someone who was recently denied a promotion or has been stuck in a menial, unsatisfying job for years probably has a good deal of pent-up resentment and may be jealous of other employees that seem to have it better. Such workers may stoop to snitching as a way to drag down other employees and prove once and for all that they should really have that job. However, since most managers dislike a complainer as much as co-workers do, squealing is almost never a successful strategy for ascending the corporate ladder.

3. Who constantly hangs around common areas: All of those old adages about “watercooler gossip” are true; office break rooms, kitchens and other common areas are prime places to overhear the latest workplace rumors or pick up scandalous tidbits about co-workers’ wild weekends. Sure, everyone makes a few trips each day to common areas to eat lunch or exchange pleasantries with colleagues, but most people eventually return to their desks and get back to work. If you’ve never seen one of your co-workers outside of the kitchen, it might just be a harmless coincidence. But then again, it might not.

4. Who is regularly seen sucking up to management: Bootlickers are nearly as reviled in offices as tattletales, so it makes sense that these two personality flaws tend to go hand in hand. Such employees may use any face they get with upper management or executives to point out other employees’ wrongdoings, once again to cast themselves in a more favorable light (and to make sure that the higher-ups are aware of the snitchs’ vigilance and staunch adherence to company policies). Most busy upper managers have much better things to do than listen to childish complaints, but that doesn’t mean that the problem employee won’t keep trying.

5. Who never seems to leave the office: Ninety-nine percent of the time, those who work long hours are actually working hard, and they are probably arriving early or leaving late because they’re on a tight deadline or are overloaded with projects. But long workdays also give a snitch the chance to witness all other workers’ comings, goings and other activities. So if one of your co-workers is a constant office presence and they display all of the aforementioned warning signs, you may have found the offender.

Strategies for Dealing with Snitches

Snitching is a hard habit for some people to break, but fortunately, there are a few steps that employees can take to protect themselves from trifling or unjust accusations. Managers can also do a few things to help nip a tattletale in the bud or minimize the damage that one can do to a team.

For Employees:

1. Stay tight-lipped. Don’t give devious co-workers ammo that they can use against you. While you should be professional and polite to all of your co-workers - even the suspected snitch - avoid revealing too much about your personal life or details about any projects you’re working on. If a person is determined to knock you down the corporate ladder, he or she will find a creative way to use any information you volunteer against you, no matter how insignificant it seems.

2. Exceed performance expectations. If you’ve always gotten stellar performance reviews and have proved your value to the company, your manager will most likely blow off a co-worker’s trivial complaints and tell him or her to stop complaining and get back to work. Conversely, if your job performance has taken a nosedive or you’ve botched a big project, any accusation leveled against you could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

3. Don’t fight fire with fire. Whatever you do, don’t retaliate by gathering unflattering information about other employees and passing it on. You will only lose the respect of your managers and co-workers.

4. Don’t lose your temper. Many divisive employees thrive on attention, and if you angrily confront a suspected informant, you’re letting him or her win. More importantly, reacting defensively to accusations will lead many of your colleagues to believe that you’re guilty or that you actually committed an offense that warranted being turned in for.

5. Use a strong password on your computer. Only the most dedicated backstabber would actually try logging on to a co-worker’s machine to snoop around email and other personal documents. However, stranger things have happened, so it’s a smart idea to protect your workstation with an unbreakable password. You may also want to make a habit of clearing your Web browser’s history; after all, you don’t want a troublemaker telling everyone that you were checking the basketball scores on last Friday afternoon.

For Managers:

1. Never reward a snitch. Rewarding a snitch with a promotion or work on a big project only encourages him or her to continue this destructive behavior. The employee will naturally connect the reward with the tattling and will begin to bombard you with tales of the latest employee indiscretions.

2. Explain why the behavior is counterproductive. As previously mentioned, workers are likely to become paranoid once they know that the team has a divisive member. Explain to the problem employee how he or she is creating animosity and affecting everyone’s happiness and productivity. Lay out repercussions as a proactive measure.

3. Pile on the boring work. Workers who are obsessed with the intricacies of their colleagues’ days clearly have too much time on their hands. So pile on extra work. And who knows? The tattler may even connect the dots and realize that piles of tedious work show up every time they open their mouth.

4. Move the employee to a low-impact location. If your company has a large office, consider moving the problem employee to a location where he or she has minimal access to other employees. This will hopefully convince the individual to mind his or her own business, but if not, it will at least help other employees breathe a little easier.

5. Set up a meeting with HR. When all other strategies have failed, an inveterate busybody should be referred to the HR department, which can issue further warnings or take the appropriate disciplinary measures.

Remember: A work force or team built on trust will be happier, more productive and more effective. So don’t let one person ruin the dynamic for everyone.


Posted by Elvis on 05/31/10 •
Section Dying America • Section Workplace
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Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Next Depression Part 42 - The Worst Is Yet to Come Part 5


A Perfect Storm For Unemployment In June

By gjohnsit
Daily Kos
May 18, 2010

While there is plenty of talk about the economic recovery, there is barely a whisper about what is just a few weeks ahead. It’s not any one thing. It’s a combination of three (and possibly four) different events that will deliver DEVASTATING body-blows to the economy.

They are all being talked about, but no one that I’ve seen has put them all together.

That’s where I come in, the doom-and-gloomer, with the news that no one wants to think about, but you are better off knowing now rather than later.

Losing the lifeline

It’s been well-reported that unemployment benefits can last for 99 weeks (aka the 99’ers). What has been almost completely lacking in the news coverage is that JUNE 2 is the drop-dead date for UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSIONS.

On April 12, 2010, Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio attempted the impossible and “urged an extension on unemployment insurance”. At that time, Senator Brown also stated, “Many of my colleagues had no problem giving tax breaks to companies that shipped jobs overseas, but now balk at extending unemployment insurance.”

Currently there are four “Tiers” of extended unemployment insurance. If you were laid off early in the recession then you were eligible for the full 99 weeks. But let’s say you were laid off in the spring of 2009 and you are on Tier Three of the emergency extended benefits that runs out in July.

If you are in that boat then you are sh*t out of luck. The only way you are eligible for Tier Four is if your benefits expire before the end of May.

This applies to all tiers. Thus if you were laid off only, say, 24 weeks ago, you aren’t eligible for any federal unemployment benefits when the state UI expires after 26 weeks. Not even Tier One. Currently the average duration on unemployment is 8 MONTHS. That’s going to effect around 7 million people.

This means that literally millions of long-term unemployed are going to be losing their last lifeline in the COMING MONTHS.

More than 400,000 jobless workers could run down their federal benefits each month over the next several months, even assuming that Congress continues to renew the expanded benefit period now in place.

There is SOME PROPOSALS for moving the deadline out for a few months, but nothing concrete at this time with only a week to go before the clock strikes midnight. As for those who have actually used up the full 99 weeks of UI, there is almost no hope of a Tier Five being created.

states will approach their June fiscal year-ends and, as a result of staggering budget gaps, soon announce austerity measures that by my estimates will cost between one million to two million jobs for state and local government workers over the next 12 months…

States will raise taxes, but higher taxes alone will not be enough to make up for the vast shortfall in state budgets. Accordingly, 42 states and the District of Columbia have already articulated plans to cut government jobs.

On top of no federal unemployment extensions, we are looking at a million census workers being laid off, plus another million or two state workers, and this all happens in the next couple months.

If you are in that boat then you are sh*t out of luck. The only way you are eligible for Tier Four is if your benefits expire before the end of May.

This applies to all tiers. Thus if you were laid off only, say, 24 weeks ago, you aren’t eligible for any federal unemployment benefits when the state UI expires after 26 weeks. Not even Tier One. Currently the average duration on unemployment is 8 months. That’s going to effect around 7 million people.

This means that literally millions of long-term unemployed are going to be losing their last lifeline in the COMING MONTHS.

More than 400,000 jobless workers could run down their federal benefits each month over the next several months, even assuming that Congress continues to renew the expanded benefit period now in place.

There is SOME PROPOSALS for moving the deadline out for a few months, but nothing concrete at this time with only a week to go before the clock strikes midnight.

The limits of stimulation

From the start of the year until about now, the Census will hire 1.2 MILLION Americans. That’s a lot of people getting jobs at the absolute best time. Unemployment is currently higher during a census period than at any time since 1940.

The problem is that it was never meant to be anything other than a temporary boost for employment, and that boost is COMING TO AN END.

Since 1990 the largest month-over-month growth in Census workers was the 348,000 hired in May 2000 (225,000 were shed the following month).

The May unemployment numbers will probably look pretty good because of the Census, but starting in June those same people are going to be laid off by the hundreds of thousands every month.

As for those who have actually used up the full 99 weeks of UI, there is almost no hope of a Tier Five being created.

Meanwhile, Obama’s stimulus bill is over half spent and is scheduled to be drawn down by the END OF SEPTEMBER.

One of those STIMULUS ITEMS, the homebuyer tax credit, has recently expired. Early effects indicate the slight bounce in HOUSING over the past year is OVER. Also the FHA is TIGHTENING UP on closing cost assistance, and POOR MORTGAGE LENDERS.

States of Crisis

It’s hard to miss all the talk of broke states, California in particular, almost all of whom will need to craft a new austerity budget in the next couple months. The current proposed California budget COMPLETELY ELIMINATES WELFARE, not just cutting it. That should give pause to those hundreds of thousands of people about to lose their UI.

To make matters worse, even after those draconian cuts, Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget is still $7 billion short of balancing the budget, and lawmakers are in NO MOOD to compromise. Thus we can expect to see another political standoff.

“California no longer has low-hanging fruit. In fact, we no longer have any medium-hanging fruit, nor any high-hanging fruit,” Schwarzenegger said.

California is far from alone. The Arizona governor is warning of a COLLAPSE of the government. NEW YORK is running out of money. ILLINOIS is handing out IOU’s and says there are NO GOOD SOLUTIONS.

Elimination of services are NOT the only things worth noting.

states will approach their June fiscal year-ends and, as a result of staggering budget gaps, soon announce austerity measures that by my estimates will cost between one million to two million jobs for state and local government workers over the next 12 months…

States will raise taxes, but higher taxes alone will not be enough to make up for the vast shortfall in state budgets. Accordingly, 42 states and the District of Columbia have already articulated plans to cut government jobs.

As many as 3000.000 of the layoffs are expected to be school teachers.

Will the private sector be able to absorb this labor surplus? Not likely. Small business, the main drivers of the economy, have had their credit cut by Wall Street banks.

Small businesses continue to struggle to gain access to credit and cannot hire in this environment…

Small businesses fund themselves exactly the way consumers do, with credit cards and home equity lines. Over the past two years, more than $1.5 trillion in credit-card lines have been cut, and those cuts are increasing by the day. Due to dramatic declines in home values, home-equity lines as a funding option are effectively off the table.

The solution to this calamity is all too obvious.

The Ouzo Effect

THE GREEK DEBT CRISIS is causing havoc all over Europe. Bank LENDING is drying up and the currency is in freefall. In response, the governments of Europe are dramatically cutting back their SPENDING.

How much of this will spill across the sea to America is uncertain, but you can’t ignore the fact that Europe’s economy is larger than America’s. The shockwaves are already effecting China, where their stock market has dropped more than 20% and home sales dropping off a cliff.

If this crisis isn’t contained very soon, it is likely that it will have a significant and negative impact on the American economy.



Private Pay Shrinks To Historic Lows

By Dennis Cauchon
USA Today
May 25, 2010

Paychecks from private business shrank to their smallest share of personal income in U.S. history during the first quarter of this year, a USA TODAY analysis of government data finds. At the same time, government-provided benefits from Social Security, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other programs ח rose to a record high during the first three months of 2010.

Those records reflect a long-term trend accelerated by the recession and the federal stimulus program to counteract the downturn. The result is a major shift in the source of personal income from private wages to government programs.

The trend is not sustainable, says University of Michigan economist Donald Grimes. Reason: The federal government depends on private wages to generate income taxes to pay for its ever-more-expensive programs. Government-generated income is taxed at lower rates or not at all, he says. “This is really important,” Grimes says.

The recession has erased 8 million private jobs. Even before the downturn, private wages were eroding because of the substitution of health and pension benefits for taxable salaries.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that individuals received income from all sources wages, investments, food stamps, etc. ח at a $12.2 trillion annual rate in the first quarter.

Key shifts in income this year:

· Private wages. A record-low 41.9% of the nation’s personal income came from private wages and salaries in the first quarter, down from 44.6% when the recession began in December 2007.

· Government benefits. Individuals got 17.9% of their income from government programs in the first quarter, up from 14.2% when the recession started. Programs for the elderly, the poor and the unemployed all grew in cost and importance. An additional 9.8% of personal income was paid as wages to government employees.

The shift in income shows that the federal government’s stimulus efforts have been effective, says Paul Van de Water, an economist at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“It’s the system working as it should,” Van de Water says. Government is stimulating growth and helping people in need, he says. As the economy recovers, private wages will rebound, he says.

Economist Veronique de Rugy of the free-market Mercatus Center at George Mason University says the riots in Greece over cutting benefits to close a huge budget deficit are a warning about unsustainable income programs.

Economist David Henderson of the conservative Hoover Institution says a shift from private wages to government benefits saps the economy of dynamism. “People are paid for being rather than for producing,” he says.


Posted by Elvis on 05/29/10 •
Section Dying America • Section Next Recession, Next Depression
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Friday, May 28, 2010

The Scientific Impotence Excuse


Discounting Belief-Threatening Scientific Abstracts

By Geoffrey D Munro, Towson University
Journal of Applied Psychology
May 27, 2010

The scientific impotence discounting hypothesis predicts that people resist belief-disconfirming scientific evidence by concluding that the topic of study is not amenable to scientific investigation. In 2 studies, participants read a series of brief abstracts that either confirmed or disconfirmed their existing beliefs about a stereotype associated with homosexuality. Relative to those reading belief-confirming evidence, participants reading belief-disconfirming evidence indicated more belief that the topic could not be studied scientifically and more belief that a series of other unrelated topics could not be studied scientifically. Thus, being presented with belief-disconfirming scientific evidence may lead to an erosion of belief in the efficacy of scientific methods.


When science clashes with beliefs? Make science impotent

By John Timmer
ARS Technica
May 28, 2010

It’s hardly a secret that large segments of the population choose not to accept scientific data because it conflicts with their PREDEFINED BELIEFS: economic, political, religious, or otherwise. But many studies have indicated that these same people aren’t happy with viewing themselves as anti-science, which can create a state of COGNITIVE DISSONANCE. That has left psychologists pondering the methods that these people use to rationalize the conflict.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology takes a look at one of these methods, which the authors term “scientific impotence"the decision that science can’t actually address the issue at hand properly. It finds evidence that not only supports the scientific impotence model, but suggests that it could be contagious. Once a subject has decided that a given topic is off limits to science, they tend to start applying the same logic to other issues.

The paper is worth reading for the introduction alone, which sets up the problem of science acceptance within the context of persuasive arguments and belief systems. There’s a significant amount of literature that considers how people resist persuasion, and at least seven different strategies have been identified. But the author, Towson University’s Geoffrey Munro, attempts to carve out an exceptional place for scientific information. “Belief-contradicting scientific information may elicit different resistance processes than belief-contradicting information of a nonscientific nature,” he argues. “Source derogation, for example, might be less effective in response to scientific than nonscientific information.”

It might be, but many of the arguments against mainstream science make it clear that it’s not. Evolution doubters present science as an atheistic conspiracy; antivaccination advocates consider the biomedical research community to be hopelessly corrupted by the pharmaceutical industry; and climatologists have been accused of being in it to foster everything from their own funding to global governance. Clearly, source derogation is very much on the table.

If that method of handling things is dismissed a bit abruptly, Munro makes a better case for not addressing an alternative way of dismissing scientific data: identifying perceived methodological flaws. This definitely occurs, as indicated by references cited in the paper, but it’s not an option for everyone. Many people reject scientific information without having access to the methodology that produced it or the ability to understand it if they did. So, although selective attacks on methodology take place, they’re not necessarily available to everyone who chooses to dismiss scientific findings.

What Munro examines here is an alternative approach: the decision that, regardless of the methodological details, a topic is just not accessible to scientific analysis. This approach also has a prominent place among those who disregard scientific information, ranging from the very narrowחpeople who argue that the climate is simply too complicated to understandto the extremely broad, such as those among the creationist movement who argue that the only valid science takes place in the controlled environs of a lab, and thereby dismiss not only evolution, but geology, astronomy, etc.

To get at this issue, Munro polled a set of college students about their feelings about homosexuality, and then exposed them to a series of generic scientific abstracts that presented evidence that it was or wasn’t a mental illness (a control group read the same abstracts with nonsense terms in place of sexual identities). By chance, these either challenged or confirmed the students’ preconceptions. The subjects were then given the chance to state whether they accepted the information in the abstracts and, if not, why not.

Regardless of whether the information presented confirmed or contradicted the students’ existing beliefs, all of them came away from the reading with their beliefs strengthened. As expected, a number of the subjects that had their beliefs challenged chose to indicate that the subject was beyond the ability of science to properly examine. This group then showed a weak tendency to extend that same logic to other areas, like scientific data on astrology and herbal remedies.

A second group went through the same initial abstract-reading process, but were then given an issue to research (the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent to violent crime), and offered various sources of information on the issue. The group that chose to discount scientific information on the human behavior issue were more likely than their peers to evaluate nonscientific material when it came to making a decision about the death penalty.

There are a number of issues with the study: the sample size was small, college students are probably atypical in that they’re constantly being exposed to challenging information, and there was no attempt to determine the students’ scientific literacy on the topic going in. That last point seems rather significant, since the students were recruited from a psychology course, and majors in that field might be expected to already know the state of the field. So, this study would seem to fall in the large category of those that are intriguing, but in need of a more rigorous replication.

It’s probably worth making the effort, however, because it might explain why doubts about mainstream science seem to travel in packs. For example, the Discovery Institute, famed for hosting a petition that questions our understanding of evolution, has recently taken up climate change as an additional issue (they don’t believe the scientific community on that topic, either). The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine is best known for hosting a petition that questions the scientific consensus on climate change, but the people who run it also promote creationism and question the link between HIV and AIDS.

Within the scientific community, there has been substantial debate over how best to deal with the public’s refusal to accept basic scientific findings, with different camps arguing for increasing scientific literacy, challenging beliefs, or emphasizing the compatibility between belief and science. Confirming that the scientific impotence phenomenon is real might induce the scientific community to consider whether any of the public engagement models they’re currently arguing over would actually be effective at addressing this issue.


Posted by Elvis on 05/28/10 •
Section Spiritual Diversions
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Monday, May 24, 2010

The Dropout Economy


By Reihan Salam
May 11, 2010

Middle-class kids are taught from an early age that they should work hard and FINISH SCHOOL. Yet 3 out of 10 students dropped out of high school as recently as 2006, and less than a third of young people have finished college. Many economists attribute the sluggish wage growth in the U.S. to EDUCATIONAL STAGNATION, which is one reason politicians of every stripe call for doubling or tripling the number of college graduates. 

But what if the millions of so-called dropouts are onto something? As conventional high schools and colleges prepare the next generation for jobs that won’t exist, we’re on the cusp of a dropout revolution, one that will spark an era of experimentation in new ways to learn and new ways to live.

It’s important to keep in mind that behavior that seems irrational from a middle-class perspective is perfectly rational in the face of STRAIGHTENED CIRCUMSTANCES. People who feel obsolete in today’s information economy will be joined by millions more in the emerging post-information economy, in which routine professional work and even some high-end services will be more cheaply performed overseas or by machines. This doesn’t mean that work will vanish. It does mean, however, that it will take a new and unfamiliar form.

Look at the projections of fiscal doom emanating from the federal government, and consider the possibility that things could prove both worse and better. Worse because the jobless recovery we all expect could be severe enough to starve the New Deal social programs on which we base our life plans. Better because the millennial generation could prove to be more resilient and creative than its predecessors, abandoning old, familiar and broken institutions in favor of new, strange and flourishing ones.

Imagine a future in which millions of families live off the grid, powering their homes and vehicles with dirt-cheap portable fuel cells. As industrial agriculture sputters under the strain of the spiraling costs of water, gasoline and fertilizer, networks of farmers using sophisticated techniques that combine cutting-edge green technologies with ancient Mayan know-how build an alternative food-distribution system. Faced with the burden of financing the decades-long retirement of aging boomers, many of the young embrace a new underground economy, a largely untaxed archipelago of communes, co-ops, and kibbutzim that passively resist the power of the granny state while building their own little utopias.

Rather than warehouse their children in factory schools invented to instill obedience in the future mill workers of America, bourgeois rebels will educate their kids in virtual schools tailored to different learning styles. Whereas only 1.5 million children were homeschooled in 2007, we can expect the number to explode in future years as distance education blows past the traditional variety in cost and quality. The cultural battle lines of our time, with red America pitted against blue, will be scrambled as Buddhist vegan militia members and evangelical anarchist squatters trade tips on how to build self-sufficient vertical farms from scrap-heap materials. To avoid the tax man, dozens if not hundreds of strongly encrypted digital currencies and barter schemes will crop up, leaving an underresourced IRS to play whack-a-mole with savvy libertarian “hacktivists.”

Work and life will be remixed, as old-style jobs, with long commutes and long hours spent staring at blinking computer screens, vanish thanks to ever increasing productivity levels. New jobs that we can scarcely imagine will take their place, only they’ll tend to be home-based, thus restoring life to bedroom suburbs that today are ghost towns from 9 to 5. Private homes will increasingly give way to cohousing communities, in which singles and nuclear families will build makeshift kinship networks in shared kitchens and common areas and on neighborhood-watch duty. Gated communities will grow larger and more elaborate, effectively seceding from their municipalities and pursuing their own visions of the good life. Whether this future sounds like a nightmare or a dream come true, it’s coming.

This transformation will be not so much political as antipolitical. The decision to turn away from broken and brittle institutions, like conventional schools and conventional jobs, will represent a turn toward what military theorist John Robb calls “resilient communities,” which aspire to self-sufficiency and independence. The left will return to its roots as the champion of mutual aid, cooperative living and what you might call “broadband socialism,” in which local governments take on the task of building high-tech infrastructure owned by the entire community. Assuming today’s libertarian revival endures, it’s easy to imagine the right defending the prerogatives of state and local governments and also of private citizens including the weird ones. This new individualism on the left and the right will begin in the spirit of cynicism and distrust that we see now, the sense that we as a society are incapable of solving pressing problems. It will evolve into a new confidence that citizens working in common can change their lives and in doing so can change the world around them.

We see this individualism in the rise of “freeganism” and in the small but growing handful of “cage-free families” who’ve abandoned their suburban idylls for life on the open road. We also see it in the rising number of high school seniors who take a gap year before college. While the higher-education industry continues to agitate for college for all, many young adults are stubbornly resistant, perhaps because they recognize that for a lot of them, college is an overpriced status marker and little else. In the wake of the downturn, household formation has slowed down. More than one-third of workers under 35 live with their parents.

The hope is that these young people will eventually leave the house when the economy perks up, and doubtless many will. Others, however, will choose to root themselves in their neighborhoods and use social media to create relationships that sustain them as they craft alternatives to the rat race. Somewhere in the suburbs there is an unemployed 23-year-old who is plotting a cultural insurrection, one that will resonate with existing demographic, cultural and economic trends so powerfully that it will knock American society off its axis.

Salam is a policy adviser at the nonpartisan think tank e21, a blogger for the National Review and a columnist for Forbes


Posted by Elvis on 05/24/10 •
Section Dying America • Section Spiritual Diversions
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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Motivate Me Not


Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very brief.
- Stephen Covey

I don’t get no RESPECT.
- Rodney Dangerfield

I was nominated for 2007’s SYSADMIN OF THE YEAR contest by a bunch of people at work.  Although I didn’t win first prize, or management RECOGNITION, the sponsors sent some nice stuff.  My “Sysadmin Rock Star” t-shirt was proudly hanging in the back of the server room until yesterday. 

RATHER THAN POSITIVE FEEDBACK - I got an email filled with negative comments about it from my boss - telling me how unprofessional it is - and I am - for hanging it up back there - forcing me to take it home.

WHAT KIND of manager scolds you for displaying an industry award you got for doing a good job?


Praise is Productive, Criticism Non-productive

By Val Mills
Biz Covering
April 18, 2010

A team LEADER is only as good as the team they are leading. Praise is important when trying to improve productivity.

To some people, praising others for a job well done comes naturally. They see the good things happening and recognise the strengths of their team members. They identify areas that need improvement and give support in overcoming and rectifying problems.  Some people are wise enough to know their own success is only as good as the team they are leading.

OTHER PEOPLE are quick to criticise. Forgetting the positive things, they jump quickly on someone for a job poorly done. Their own INSECURITIES AS LEADERS drives them to criticize in non-productive ways. They are quick to pounce, criticising when something is wrong and maybe telling why, but forgetting to advise how things can be fixed. Being a leader in the workplace is a bit like parenting. Good leaders will catch their team members being good. They’ll also encourage improved team performance. Criticism without constructive feedback gets nowhere.

The performance of team leaders is usually judged by how well their teams are performing. Therefore, they want their teams to do well. It’s easy to fall into the trap of criticising a person for a poor job. Simply criticising mistakes or work that is not up to standard does not improve that team members performance. Often the team member has TRIED THEIR BEST and is not sure how to improve. Constant criticism builds resentment, sometimes even fear. Those criticised no longer want to contribute to the successful development of the team.

On the other hand, if a team member is consistently praised for the things they are doing well, when something isn’t right its easier to accept constructive criticism. Good leaders want their team members to do well. They help team members improve to get the required results. They lead by example.

Obviously team leaders are not going to accept sub-standard work. However, if praise and positive feedback are a part of their daily workplace behaviour, leaders will develop an atmosphere where constructive criticism and advice can be easily accepted. Instead of putting others down, telling them their work is not up to standard and leaving ill feeling, good team leaders will point out shortcomings and work with team members to find ways for improvement.

No-one can improve if they don’t know how to. When leaders praise things that are done well, and suggest ways something can be improved, team members still feel valued within the team. Therefore, they have the motivation to improve. They want to do their best for the good of the team. They know they have the support of others in the team to help improve their performance. They will even feel they can ask for help when its needed.

Team leaders are responsible for all members of their team. The leader’s job is to provide scaffolding for anyone struggling, to put in place support systems that will enable team members to swim rather than sink. Praising at each small step enables performance to grow and improve.

Praise is a powerful strategy for improving the performance of a team. Team leaders who praise, support and guide get results. Results build a successful team. Successful teams are the result of successful leadership.

Praise is far more productive than criticism.



Handling Negative Feedback

Midwest Stress Center

Unfortunately, we all face negativity at one point or another. Since negative feedback is inevitable, it’s important for your mental health to be able to properly handle negative comments from friends, family, coworkers and strangers. Otherwise, an improper ability to manage negative feedback could lead to excessive stress, depression and anxiety.

Understanding Negative Feedback

The first thing to realize is that not all negative feedback is intended to be harmful. In fact, most of the time people who give you negative feedback are actually trying to help you. Sure, it may be hard to accept the fact that someone doesn’t like your idea or suggestion, but it’s important not to immediately go on the offensive or defensive. It can be hard to train yourself to act this way as opposed to the natural defensive way. However, positive change is possible especially with the help of programs like the The Midwest Center’s Attacking Anxiety & Depression Program.

Whether the opposing individual is tactful or not, it’s important to take a second to actively listen to the negative feedback. Rather than simply dismiss the feedback as wrong or irrelevant, try to see if there is a kernel of truth in the individual’s rebuttal. If nothing else, try to see where the person is coming from and why they are confronting you with negative feedback.

Avoiding Knee-Jerk Reactions

Of course, it can be hard to train ourselves not to immediately attack or defend against negative feedback. This is the tricky part, but it can be overcome through tactics such as STRESS MANAGEMENT. By taking a moment to breathe, relax, and think over the feedback provided, it often allows us time avoid our initial knee-jerk reaction. If you feel that you might need help overcoming your reaction to negative feedback, it may be beneficial to seek out psychotherapy. This type of therapy allows you to learn how to cope with stress and negative feedback. In addition to receiving professional help, it’s also a great idea to enroll yourself in a self-help program.

Dealing With Negative Feedback

Once you get past the initial feelings associated with negative feedback, the next step is to learn how to properly process it. That requires that the individual be truthful about themselves and his or her ideas. If the negative feedback is warranted, discuss possible solutions or alternatives with the person providing the feedback.

If you don’t understand why the individual is providing negative feedback, it may be beneficial to ask them to clarify. Oftentimes, simply understanding the motivations and thoughts of the individual can be the healthiest thing to do when handling negative feedback.



Posted by Elvis on 05/22/10 •
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