The government hates change because people hate change.  The government is made up of people.  Simple right?  Actually…no.

Let’s break this down into two categories:  government employees and politics.

First, government employees:

They HATE change.  Just the same as any big corporation hates change so I don’t mean to just pick on them.  Sometimes you can change a big corporation, but many experts say one thing MUST be present to do so…”a burning platform”.  Or in other words, your business is going to fail if you don’t change and everyone will be fired and broke (at least this was true pre-2008, post 2008 the government might bail them out and let them continue to not change, but that’s a different post so I won’t digress).  So, if you have a huge crisis you may be able to change a big company…may, or they may just go out of business.  Doctors say most people when told them must change a habit to avoid death won’t change.  Even facing death, in a majority of cases, people won’t change.

The federal agencies themselves, meaning their leadership, may want to change, talk about change, and sometimes even scream change…but they don’t change.  They never have the “burning platform”.  The leaders may have the “burning platform”, but until you start firing civil servants en masse the employees don’t have a crisis.  They tell them they must change, and they aren’t going to change.  They just wait.  Civil servants are the most patient bunch in the world.  They will wait out any supposed crisis.  They have seen every crisis before them and they are still standing, unchanged.  They pass this wisdom onto the younger set, “don’t worry, these things go in cycles”.  The mentorship of government employees facing crisis usually begins and ends with that line.  And the closest thing the government has to crisis is funding problems.  This will motivate leadership, but not the masses.  To them it is just another cycle to get through.

The latest thing to happen to federal employees regarding change, and by latest I mean in the last decade or so, is their agency is always giving them new computer programs to “increase efficiency”.  This is the worst thing you can ever tell a civil servant!  The last thing they ever want is a software change.  It doesn’t matter if the current process requires them to walk a document eight miles, wait for 12 hours for two signatures, and then fight off alligators in a swamp to submit it they don’t want new software.  That’s how much they hate change.  They would prefer to keep things the exact way they are no matter how much they suck.  I mean if things didn’t suck anymore what would they complain about? Actually, I can answer that question.  Eventually the new software will arrive, usually a year or two later than scheduled, and they will have to use it.  At this point, it is impossible for at least six months to know if the new software actually works or not because the civil servant just complains about how they have to do something different and you can’t get ANY useful feedback out of them.  The only feedback is just moaning about whatever bugs are in the software and how it makes their jobs worse than ever.

Second, politics:

This is the strangest thing.  Voters are always unhappy, at least half the country is always unhappy, and the most reliable platform a politician can run on is change.  Hell, sometimes even Republicans or Democrats will run on change even if it just means change from the currently in charge Republican or Democrat.  Obama hit the “change” motherload in 2008 and got elected President.  Everyone was giddy because we were finally going to get some change.  Today, barely three years later what does everyone want…?  Change.

The most maddening part of all this is when a politician runs on change and actually purposes some semblance of real change what do we do?  Shout them down.  Doesn’t matter what party, everyone, both parties, will shout them down.  Media, opponents, bloggers, their wives and children, foreign countries….  Case in point, Ron Paul.  That dude talks about real change, and if everybody isn’t busy trying to ignore him they are yelling about how stupid, naive, whatever…you pick one, he is and why his ideas will never work.  Another example I have already mentioned on this blog is Cain’s 9-9-9 plan.  So, as a politician the BEST thing you can do is run on a platform of change, yet don’t actually purpose any change.  Sure you can talk about moving this around, moving that around, but if you want to change much more than the decor in the Oval Office you’re asking for trouble.  That’s what the “establishment” wants and the “establishment” is what will determine if you get elected or not.  Voters have very little to do with it.  Voters won’t even know you exist if the “establishment” doesn’t want them too.

Just to illustrate how much politics hates change I will give you one example:  Climate change.  For a gazillion years the climate has been changing…little ice age here, warm up, big ice age here, warm up again, up down, up down.  Everything has survived fine…even flourished, but put the current political establishment in charge and what do you get?  Climate change…NOT ON OUR WATCH!!!

Yes, I’m cynical

Since I have really nailed down the “rich people” argument this week I might as well round it out with Corporations today.  Wish the mood could have been lighter going into the holiday, but this is where we are at.

Corporations are very much like “rich people” in their treatment by government.  Corporations are favorite targets of politicians trying to score points or lay blame away from themselves.  Yet, the very same politicians who throw them under the bus grovel at their feet when it is time for campaign donations.  Some people (occupiers) believe corporations have ruined good government.  I look at pimps and prostitutes and see no innocent parties.  

The last decade has seen one surprising turn…corporations now see social responsibility as a core tenant of their value system.  This is not an accident or without calculation.  They do it because you demand it.  You want to work for socially responsible companies, they want to attract you, so they adopt your views as their own.  Nice really.  Just like in the 70′s when corporations quit polluting rivers and the air because if they didn’t we would stop buying their products.  So corporations do respond to us. 

Also, I want corporations to make money.  If there was no money to be made by Apple, Toyota, General Electric, the list goes on and on where would we be?  Sure life would go on and things might be great without those companies, but we’d certainly have much less great stuff.  Some of that stuff (medical advancements, safer cars, smartphones…) has made our lives better and you can’t convince me otherwise.  Also, when those companies make money…they give me some…because I bought part of the company as stocks.  If you have a 401K then you own part of them too.  You are Apple, you are Toyota….and you’re not evil.  Are you?

People in the military love video games.  It’s just that simple.

Now, keep in mind the demographics of the military is largely male and largely under 30.  The same people who would normally be playing video games even if they weren’t in the military.  But when you concentrate young males in one place and remove women, beer, and pot from the equation…they really only have one thing left.  

With the advancement of US military technology the real fighting and the video games are becoming more and more the same.  In 2009, the military even came out with a shocking discovery!  Kids who were good at video games were Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, aka UAV’s or Drones.  Personally, I don’t know where the surprise comes from…anyone who watched in 1984 already knew that.

I want to do something a little different today, and tell a story.

Suicide is a problem in the US Military.  To combat this problem the government does what it does with most workforce problems, trains the workforce in the most ineffective manner possible that is scale-able to thousands of people.  In this case it gives annual training to the entire force, that’s the entire US military and government civilians, on the topic and they get mixed results for this effort.  Usually, the briefer of the material is some poor Junior Company Grade Officer who was “voluntold” and they look up some stats, gives some tale tell signs, and top it off with what to do and who to call if someone needs help.  Earlier this week I sat in on some of this suicide prevention training.

This time the training started off different right from the beginning.  Instead of launching into the facts and figures of the presentation I was told that suicide wasn’t a numbers problem…it was “a people problem” and instead of looking at numbers we were going to look at people.  We explored the cases of four people, and here is a brief of each.

  • Art, 36, jumps from a bridge in 1935 unable to provide for his wife and three kids.  Leaves his wife a note saying he is “sick”
  • Tom, 45, marries an 18 year old, sales every possession he owns, tours the country visiting all of his long lost relatives.  When he returns home someone intervenes and he is prevented from committing suicide
  • Mary, 50, commits suicide on the day of her 10th divorce.  Leaves a note wondering why nobody in her family called to check on her this day.
  • Greg, 16, son of an abusive father and drug user, tries to commit suicide but is committed to an institution and prevented from carrying it out.
So, we here the story of these four people.  A little bit of everything mixed in there.  Young and old, man and woman, some drug users some clean people.  The one common thread?  They are all related to the person giving the presentation!  Wow!  Imagine the shock of that hitting me as I sat there.  A grandfather, brother, sister and son in that order.  Needless to say this wasn’t a canned government training session.
Now, with my full attention I got some insight on a couple simple things to look for I will quickly pass along here.
  • Substance Abuse
  • Relationship troubles
  • Money troubles
  • Job troubles
  • Missing lots work or other normally routine events
  • Lack of spirituality
  • A mixture of any of the above
The advice given by this person, who had prevented two suicides herself, was to ask them if they were going to commit suicide or if they were thinking of that.  Pretty simple right, but I would imagine VERY difficult.  The military over the past five years has averaged a suicide every 36 hours.  Continued war is certainly contributing to that as it causes all of the things which can lead to suicide.
The only take away I can pass on, and the thing I want to do myself, is to have the strength to ask the uncomfortable question, “have you ever thought about suicide”.
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You might be confused…just yesterday I said everyone hates “rich people” and today I say everyone likes them.  So, what gives?

You see “rich people” are very complicated.  It’s complicated because their rich.  Money complicates EVERYTHING!  People are no different, in fact, money probably only complicates us people and then WE go around complicating everything.  That’s probably what I meant to say.  That’s why is it possible to have it both ways here.

If it wasn’t for “rich people” who would pay for government?  Those welfare checks don’t just send themselves out.  Contrary to what the O-Man would have you believe the “rich” do in fact pay taxes (well sorta, they have all kinds of tax breaks the O-Man and his type have insured they have to keep them from paying too much).  When was the last time a poor person paid taxes?  I don’t know either, but it’s been awhile.  Government needs that money, government has to have that money, and government is going to get that money.  Then it’s going to spend it BABY!  If government had its way their would be WAY WAY more “rich people”.  

Government politicians LOVE “rich people” too…even though they often blame them for everything.  Funny how that works isn’t it.  Hey, we all know the game so I won’t belabor it, but “rich people” (and corporations) fund political winners all the time.  If you don’t have the cash, $$$$$$$$, you don’t have a campaign.  Plain and simple.  So, if you want the power to make others bow you must first get on your knees.  

“Rich people” loved, hated, and everything in between.