The Wonder Wander

06/05/2017

Come on, Weekend Edition!!

Filed under: Government,News Commentary,NPR,Politics — Tom Malley @ 4:05 pm

I listen to NPR. There it is, out in the open. I admit it freely, with no apologies. I know their bias, so it is a source that is outside my echo chamber. It’s a good thing. I also appreciate that I don’t have to listen to manufactured outrage.

However, on last Saturday’s show, host Scott Simon interviewed Senator Dick Durbin about the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord. About one minute into the interview, Mr. Simon asked the Senator, “Should President Obama have submitted the Paris deal to the Senate for ratification…”
Senator Durbin replied that the agreement had no chance for approval in the Senate.

Mr. Simon accepted this non-answer and continued the interview.
First, Mr. Simon, you should have had the Senator answer the question you asked. I have heard you interview conservatives before (kudos for that), and you don’t let them float just any answer to your questions. Why not pursue a direct answer from Senator Durbin.

But more telling is the Senator’s response. Knowing that the agreement had no chance for approval in the Senate, the Obama administration deliberately avoided seeking approval by the duly elected representatives of the people. This was typical of President Obama’s administration, and explains a lot of why people want to undo his “accomplishments.”

Mr. Simon, I hope you do better next time. I will be listening

Advertisements

11/24/2016

On Leonard Pitts and Donald Trump

Filed under: Government,News Commentary,Politics — Tom Malley @ 5:08 pm

I’m not a fan of Leonard Pitts, who writes for the Miami Herald.  I do, however, read his articles.  I suppose it’s inevitable that if I read enough of his writing, I would eventually find something to agree with.  This is it: A conversation with God about the election — and Trump. I think anyone except rabid Trump partisans could read this article without popping a blood vessel.

In Mr. Pitts imagined conversation, he says to God, “So you’re saying the fight to form a more perfect union is always ongoing?”

This points out something that is often overlooked. The Constitution has never been perfect. The framers knew that. We all know that. It will never be perfect. But we can continue to make our union more perfect.

The right and left disagree very much on many things. But we will never make progress if we continue to call each other “evil” or “idiots” or “buttercups”. We need to come out of our bubbles and engage. Listen to what the other side has to say. Evaluate it objectively without dismissing it out of hand. Try to understand the other point of view. You can do that without agreeing with it.

Like Mr. Pitts said, the fight to form a more perfect union is ongoing. It’s worth it.

06/17/2016

The Solution Has to Fit the Problem

Filed under: Government,Politics — Tom Malley @ 5:53 pm

Many industries invest a lot of time investigating problems to make sure their response to those problems will be effective.  In industries such as nuclear power, aviation, and medicine, the consequences of significant problems can be fatal. It is imperative that problems are corrected before they grow into catastrophes.

Problem solving must focus on finding effective solutions. There is no room for posturing in order to look good.  This tendency to adopt a strong posture and propose spurious solutions is found in business as well as in politics.  It is disastrous.

Proposing solutions and putting them in place because “something” must be done is counterproductive. Ineffective problem responses are inefficient and annoying. They don’t fix the problem, and they erode confidence in the system.

So how can we find effective solutions? One article that I read many years ago helped me develop a better approach to problem solving.  I found it on someone’s desk.  It was a photocopy of a photocopy of a photocopy. Some of it could not be read.  I looked for the source, but could not find it. I could not find the author, nor the person mentioned in the article. Still, it helped me focus on what types of solutions are most effective for various types of problems.

The article is reproduced below, as much as I could make out of it.  If you recognize the source of the article, the author, or the person he mentions, please let me know. I hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

COMPLIANCE by ?? Brobst

Everyone seems to be doing studies these days.  They are studying what they are doing, what somebody is doing, or what nobody is doing.  Being closely allied to safety regulatory programs, I have followed for many years a large number of studies on regulatory effectiveness.  Will Jennings has defined a regulation as “a governmental solution to a problem.”  It’s then logical for people to try to see how effective the problem solution really is.

If a regulation is a solution to a problem, then there is no need for a regulation until a problem has been identified.  Once the problem is identified, it must then be clearly defined, or there can be no national regulation.  As soon as he issues a regulation which sets a legal standard of performance, the regulator must turn his attention to getting compliance with the regulation.  Issuance of a regulation does not, in itself, raise the level of performance by persons who are regulated.  It only sets a legal requirement which, if complied with, raises the level of performance.  It is compliance with the regulation which produces the desired result.

Many regulatory studies have identified compliance–or lack of compliance–as one of the very most critical of all regulatory problems.  To the extent that regulations are not followed, they are useless in raising the level of performance.  Regulations which are not followed are useful only for prosecution.  But what we are after is a higher level of com­pliance, not punishment for noncompliance.

Some regulators believe that the best solution to the problem of non­compliance is to issue more voluminous and comprehensive regulations.  Some of these regulators are driven by a conscientious belief that the lack of compliance comes because the regulation is inadequate.  That is often so but that indicates a need for better regulations, not more regulations.  Some regulators are driven by their enforcement officials or legal counsel who want regulations which are easier to enforce or which will allow a firmer basis for prosecution.  Again. this is a valid reason for better regulations, rather than more regulations.

But the key to public safety is compliance.  Without compliance, the regulation-writing efforts are wasted. How do we improve the compliance?

Investigations of accidents in the hazardous material transportation field have clearly shown that the major cause of accidents–leaks, property damage, deaths, injuries–is a failure by one or more people to comply with a regulation.  Who are these people, and why do they fail to com­ply?  What can we do about it?

It has been my experience that violators fall into four categories:

  1. Those who knowingly and criminally violate the regulations (“Crooks”).
  2. Those who liberally interpret the regulations for their own convenience (“Smarties”).
  3. Those who don’t know or understand the regulations (“Ignorants”).
  4. Those who don’t care about the regulations, or who can’t be bothered by them (“Lackadaisicals”).

Most of the compliance programs I have seen attempt to missing text of violators.  This approach usually hinges around an educational program.  This is very useful for the Ignorants, such as new employees, or as refresher training, or for others who don’t know or understand the regulations.  An aggressive training program will bring about a higher level of compliance by the Ignorants, on the assumption that informed people will act responsibly.  Our social structure is built on voluntary compliance with the law, but one cannot comply with the law if he doesn’t know about the law.  Jennings says that education is then the bridge between issuance of a regulation and compliance with it.

But what about the Crooks?  Or the Smarties? Or Lackadaisicals?  They already know what the regulations require, or at least have been exposed to them.  That Crook who violates the regulations for reasons of profit or competitive advantage is not likely to be much influenced by an education program designed to inform him what the requirements are.  He already knows.  What he will be influenced by is an enforcement and prosecution program that will make it unprofitable to violate the rules.  There are those who will willingly accept a $1,000 noncompliance fine if, by doing so, they can make a $5,000 profit.  But if the fine is $10,000, then the Crook will be more likely to comply.  This implies that if an agency wants to go after the Crooks, it needs an effective enforcement program.  Fortunately, this field of enforcement is one that lends itself to cooperative agreements by Federal and State Governments, whereby State attorneys and courts can enforce the Federal regulations.  On the other hand, it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that legal enforcement is the best way to get compliance with the regulations.  The regulating agency should adopt the needed public safety regulations, without regard for that agency’s ability to enforce them.  Then the agency should seek compliance with the regulations through a variety of means, of which enforcement is one, education is another, and surveillance is a third.

The backbone of any compliance program is inspection or surveillance. Inspectors should monitor the regulated activities to find out whether the regulations are being followed. Where the regulations are not being followed, this inspection program then leads to an enforcement action, either to punish the wrongdoers, or to improve compliance, or (hopefully) both.  A good inspection program has another role, however, one that is just as important as sabre-rattling or even head-knocking.  A good inspection program can find out whether the regulations are adequate, whether the education program is adequate, and which problem areas need priority application of agency resources.

Well, there are still two groups of violators remaining.  We have discussed the Ignorants and the Crooks.  How about the Lackadaisicals?  A good compliance program– education, surveillance, and enforcement–will do about as much as can be done for these people, particularly if the compliance program is aimed at their bosses. Their “don’t care” attitude is often a reflection of their management’s attitude, so the compliance program needs to be aimed at the bosses as well as the workers.

How about the Smarties?  They’re also called “Sea Lawyers” and “Nit-Pickers.”  They are experts in finding every possible loophole in the regulations.  They make very liberal interpretations of the rules to suit their own convenience, and are convinced that they can hoodwink an inspector or a jury with their logic.  I fear that this group, fortunately small in size, is essentially unapproachable   missing text clearer regulations for them (not more regulations, just clearer).

So, the three elements of a compliance program are education, inspection (or surveillance), and enforcement.  Teach people the right way to do things, watch them to make sure they do them, and slap their wrists if they persist in doing something else.  And be fair about carrying out the compliance program.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

06/05/2011

N.Y. Schools Can Ban Church Worship Services, Court Rules, Christian News

Filed under: Government,Politics,Religion — Tom Malley @ 12:47 pm

N.Y. Schools Can Ban Church Worship Services, Court Rules, Christian News.

In short, the court said banning an event that includes protected speech is not the same thing as banning protected speech.  Therefore, the school board can refuse to rent space that will be used for worship services.  One of the justifications for this rationale is that people who see worship services being held in a public school building will be led to think that the public school is supporting the event, and therefore the government is promoting religion.

Very well.  I don’t agree that people will draw this conclusion.  But if that’s the way the schools and courts want to play this, then the schools had better not rent their facilities out for any event unless the school is supporting it.

04/30/2011

Health Care Rationing

Filed under: Government,Politics — Tom Malley @ 12:28 pm
Tags:

While we debate health care and talk about rationing, just remember that there has always been health care rationing. When cost is a factor in deciding whether or not to undergo medical treatment you have rationing, and the person paying the bill is the rationer.

For example, consider a time when health insurance was not as common as it is today. In those days some terminally ill patients elected to forgo treatment rather than bankrupt their families. This was especially true when the treatment was expensive and could only hope to prolong life for a short time.

When health insurance became more available, people became more willing to undergo expensive treatment, even if it only provided a few extra months of life. Why not, if the insurance company is paying for it?  However, sometimes the insurance company elects not to pay for it. Now we have corporate rationing instead of self-rationing.

If the government takes over the role of health insurance or even becomes a player in reducing expenditures on health care, then we will move from corporate rationing to government rationing. The more involved the government is with controlling medical expenditures, the more government will be involved in rationing.

That’s just the way it is. That’s the way it has always been.

04/25/2011

Your Social Contract

Filed under: Government — Tom Malley @ 10:57 am

I came across this social contract many years ago.  It was published in 1989, but the idea goes back hundreds of years.  I like it because it makes me think about what it means that I choose to live here in the United States and how that choice affects my relationship with the government of the United States.

As you read, think about the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  In a practical sense, which document better reflects your relationship with the government?

*****

SOCIAL CONTRACT
between an individual and the United States Government

WHEREAS    I wish to reside on the North American Continent, and
WHEREAS    The United States Government controls the area of the continent on which I wish to reside, and
WHEREAS    tacit or implied contracts are vague and therefore unenforceable,

I agree to the following terms:

Section 1:  I will surrender a percentage of my property to the Government.  The actual percentage will be determined by the Government and will be subject to change at any time.  The amount to be surrendered may be based on my income, the value of my property, the value of my purchases, or any other criteria the Government chooses.  To aid the Government in determining the percentage, I will apply for a Government identification number that I will use in all my major financial transactions.

Section 2:  Should the Government demand it, I will surrender my liberty for a period of time determined by the Government and typically no shorter than 2 years.  During that time, I will serve the Government in any way it chooses, including military service in which I may be called upon to sacrifice my life.

Section 3:  I will limit my behavior as demanded by the Government.  I will consume only those drugs permitted by the Government.  I will limit my sexual activities to those permitted by the Government.  I will forsake religious beliefs that conflict with the Government’s determination of propriety.  More limits may be imposed at any time.

Section 4:  In consideration for the above, the Government  will permit me to find employment, subject to limits that will be determined by the Government.  These limits may restrict my choice of career or the wages I may accept.

Section 5:  The Government will permit me to reside in the area of North America that it controls.  Also, the Government will permit me to speak freely, subject to the limits determined by the Government’s Congress and Supreme Court.

Section 6:  The Government will attempt to protect my life and my claim to the property it has allowed me to keep.  I agree not to hold the Government liable if it fails to protect me or my property.

Section 7:  The Government will offer various services to me.  The nature and extent of these services will be determined by the Government and are subject to change at any time.

Section 8:  The Government will determine whether I may vote for certain Government officials.  The influence of my vote will vary inversely with the number of voters, and I understand that it typically will be minuscule.  I agree not to hold any elected Government officials liable for acting against my best interests or for breaking promises, even if those promises motivated me to vote for them.

Section 9:  I agree that the Government may hold me fully liable if I fail to abide by the above terms.  In that event, the Government may confiscate any property that I have not previously surrendered to it, and may imprison me for a period of time to be determined by the Government.  I also agree that the Government may alter the terms of this contract at any time.

___________________________________     __________
Signature                                                            Date

Copyright 1989 by Robert E. Alexander, Liberty, 1989.  May be copied and distributed freely.

Blog at WordPress.com.