You Get What You Elect

You get what you elect.  As Americans we have the opportunity to choose our leadership.  For reasons I will not go into here, we often allow the media and our two-party system to influence who we choose instead of doing our own due diligence.  Anthony Weiner remains a mayoral candidate for the city of New York.  His latest scandal is noted by the New York Times at the bottom of this post.  (The same NYT that profiled Weiner and his wife in a very flattering way in April of this year).  Here are some recent politicians that we as Americans have elected:

In Massachusetts the last three Speaker of The House either are or have served time in prison for their crimes while in office.  Charlie Flaherty, Tom Finneran, Sal DiMassi.

 

Marion Barry

Barry came to national prominence as mayor of the national capital, the first prominent civil-rights activist to become chief executive of a major American city;[2] he gave the presidential nomination speech for Jesse Jackson at the 1984 Democratic National Convention. His celebrity transformed into international notoriety in January 1990, when Barry was videotaped smoking crack cocaine and arrested by FBI officials on drugcharges. The arrest and subsequent trial precluded Barry seeking re-election, and Barry served six months in a federal prison. After his release, however, he was elected to the D.C. city council in 1992 and ultimately returned to the mayoralty in 1994, serving from 1995 to 1999.

Mark Sanford

On June 24, 2009, Sanford resigned as chairman of the Republican Governors Association, after he publicly revealed that he had engaged in anaffair with María Belén Chapur, an Argentine woman to whom he is now engaged.[3][4] He was later censured by the South Carolina General Assembly following a State Ethics Commission investigation into allegations that he had misused state travel funds to conduct his affair.

Anthony Weiner

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/24/nyregion/allegations-surface-of-explicit-exchanges-by-weiner-after-his-resignation.html?hp&_r=0

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Stop. Wait To Be Called.

Went to the Mass Department of Motor Vehicles this morning to grab some forms.  I did not need any interaction with any personnel.  I had already searched online and knew what I needed.  Sadly the forms are not downloadable; I had to go to the DMV to pick them up.

Instead of the forms being freely available, the forms are all kept behind the counter.  I would have to interact with a DMV employee to get the forms.  There was a single person in line in front of me.  And three employees at the counter.  In front of each employee there was a large sign that stated, “STOP.  Wait To Be Called”.  I could go on about the indignity of two of the employees ignoring me and the guy in front of me while one of the three employees dealt with the single customer at the counter.  But I focused on the signs.

STOP.  Wait To Be Called.

Imagine if a private business had a sign like that as the first interaction with a client or prospective client?!?  Would you be willing to stand there in front of a few counter employees who studiously ignored you for a few minutes?  Who would not even acknowledge your existence?

When I got to the front, I asked for my forms, was handed them with no more than 5 words of interaction.  How is it that these employees get away with acting like the customers are a true bother?  Why can (or will) the government not hire better employees as both managers or as hourly workers?

I do not have an answer for my question today.  Its just tough to accept something that is done so poorly when I know it is my money that is the revenues that support the entity.

 

USPS – How a Union Failed it’s Members

Two days ago I had to engage with the US Postal Service, and Amtrak’s call center in a single day.  It made me realize how badly labor unions have failed their missions.

The setting: A USPS office.  Nine people waiting in line, one at the counter, and a USPS “worker” behind the counter.  Its deathly quiet in here.  The clients are all either staring at their phones or staring blankly at the walls.  The “worker” behind the high counter is staring at her screen, and using a hunt & peck method of typing on the keyboard.  She has made no recognition of the people waiting in line.  She asks some muted questions of the person at the counter and she goes back to her hunt and peck attack on the keyboard.  Quietly, an old man who has not shaved in a few days, wearing an ill-fitting USPS shirt ambles up to the counter and begins the process to take his place as a second “worker” behind the too high counter.  No acknowledgement of the people waiting in line, no smile or any sort of emotion.  Just a blank state at his computer screen as he starts to re-organize the things in his workspace.

I can not stand it.  I have been in line for better than 4 minutes, the line is getting longer, it is silent as a coffin, and no one from the USPS has acknowledged the line of people (customers!) waiting to do business with the USPS.  I cut the line, leaned over the counter and spoke loudly into the vast open space behind the two counter “workers”, “IS THERE A MANAGER AVAILABLE?”.  No response from the two counter workers or from anyone else who was in the building.  I turned directly to the old man working the counter (he is still in the process of setting up his workstation), “Is there anyone I can speak to?”  He responded without making eye contact though I was a mere three feet from him, “She is still on break.”  With that I turned and left and watched with pride as a few more of the people in line left with me.

USPS employees, who are part of a very powerful union, have incredible job security and benefits.  There is no need for them to be smart, efficient, or pleasant towards clients.  The USPS still has a large portion of the physical delivery industry here in the US.  But they are dinosaurs and their unions have put their heads on the chopping blocks.  Dinosaurs because they are acting as if the world has not changed from the 1950’s.  As if tomorrow will be like today.  As if customers do not have choices.  And the unions are at fault because they used their power not to promote the best workers, but to protect the worst workers.  Job security comes from continued learning, not defending yesterday’s knowledge.  The world is not what it was and its not today what it will be tomorrow.  The only constant is change.  You can not stop change.  So if you do not willingly change yourself to go along with the change in the outside world, the outside world will leave you behind.

As the USPS union members fight the coming end to Saturday deliveries and the overtime paychecks, don’t blame the competition or the USPS management.  Blame your longtime protector the union.  Shortsighted, protective policies can work in the short run, but never in the long run.