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40TH ANNIVERSARY OF NIXON’S RESIGNATION

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 30, 2014

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- Did Watergate teach us anything?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

August 9th represents the 40th anniversary of the resignation of President Richard Nixon. It seems like yesterday. Nixon was under intense pressure to resign for his involvement in the Watergate scandal. For those of you too young to remember, 1972 was a presidential election year and members of the Committee for the Re-Election of the President (CRP) burglarized the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters at the Watergate Complex in Washington, D.C. with the intent of searching through papers for intelligence and bugging the offices with listening devices. A security guard noticed something unusual and called the police who captured the burglars. Nixon’s role was primarily concerned with the cover up of the break-in. The incident attracted international attention from the press and the country wallowed in outrage and despair for two years.

Former Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee, who just recently passed away, succinctly framed the issue at hand by asking, “What did the president know and when did he know it?” This brought up the subject of tape recordings of conversations in Nixon’s White House. The president made the recordings for historical purposes, but now they became the center of attention for what they might contain. At first, the president invoked “executive privilege” over the tapes, but the US Supreme Court overruled and ordered him to turn the tapes over to government investigators. The tapes ultimately revealed the president’s involvement in the cover-up. However, there was a gap in one of the tapes. Rose Mary Woods, Nixon’s long-time secretary, claimed responsibility for inadvertently erasing up to five minutes in a key audio tape (June 20, 1972).

At the time, both chambers of Congress were controlled by the Democrats. As it became obvious the House was going to file articles of impeachment based on obstruction of justice, the president received a delegation of senior GOP Congressional leaders in the Oval Office on August 7th, including Senator Barry Goldwater. The group told the president his position was untenable and impeachment was likely. Instead of prolonging the problem, and putting the country through a messy impeachment trial, Nixon resigned, thereby elevating Gerald Ford to president.

Three things come to mind when I think back to this affair:

First, Richard Nixon resigned as opposed to burdening the country with more scandal. Bill Clinton did not. Clinton’s scandal was just as messy and embarrassing, maybe more so. Nonetheless, he suffered the embarrassment of impeachment, but escaped prosecution in the Senate trial. American politics hasn’t been quite the same since then.

Second, Rose Mary Wood was accused of deleting five minutes from Nixon’s Watergate tapes which was considered alarming at the time and proof of Nixon’s involvement in the cover-up. Recently, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen revealed two years worth of e-mails of former IRS Director Lois Lerner and six others were lost allegedly due to malfunctioning computer backup equipment. Lerner was key to the IRS scandal which targeted Tea Party groups for auditing by the IRS. The deletion of the e-mails was considered too “coincidental” for Congressional investigators. Suddenly, Wood’s five minute gap seems miniscule when compared to the loss of thousands of e-mails.

Third, the press went after Nixon viciously in 1974. They had despised him since he was vice president under Eisenhower in the 1950’s (see “Checkers speech”). Remarkably, the mainstream media of today shows little interest in the IRS scandal, just the antithesis of the Watergate investigation. One can only ask why? Is it possible the press favors one political party over another? Hmm…

Finally, when I traveled overseas on business years ago, I had several clients ask me about Nixon and Watergate. They thought Nixon was a good president and were stunned we had turned him out for something they considered trivial and insignificant. Whether I was in the UK, Norway, Spain, Brazil, Japan or wherever, they all thought Nixon should have taken the tapes and burned them on the White House lawn.

I wonder what their take would be today on such things as the IRS and VA scandals, Benghazi, Fast & Furious, etc. Knowing their unfavorable disposition about Mr. Obama, I believe I know what their answer would be.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE WHITE LINE – What does this parable tell us about ourselves?

LAST TIME:  SENATORS AND THE 17TH AMENDMENT  – No Virginia, senators were not always elected “by the people.”

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

SENATORS AND THE 17TH AMENDMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 28, 2014

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- No Virginia, senators were not always elected “by the people.”

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Most Americans today are unaware U.S. Senators were not always elected by the people. According to the articles of the Constitution, senators were elected by state legislators, not the people or governor. This all changed with the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913, just over one hundred years ago. Why the change? Believe it or not, corruption in our electoral process. Sound familiar?

Let’s begin by understanding the purpose of the Senate. Our bicameral Congress consists of two chambers, the House of Representatives is intended to represent the people. Their term limit is just two years. The Senate though was modeled after the Senate of Ancient Rome, whereby the elders and affluent citizens would take a more global view of the problems at hand. This is similar to Parliament in the United Kingdom where there is a House of Commons (for the people) and a House of Lords (representing affluence). Senators are elected to six year terms as opposed to two years.

In addition to reviewing and approving the laws as passed by the House, the Senate also reviews and approves treaties, and confirms appointments of the cabinet, ambassadors, judges, and various other federal officials, all as part of the “checks and balances” of our government. They also conduct trials of impeached federal officials, such as the president, with the last being in 1999 with the impeachment of President Clinton.

On paper, the concept of Senators being elected by state legislatures is a good one. As the legislatures changed in political makeup, from Democrat to Republican for example, the senators will inevitably change. In the early days there were a few senators who served multiple terms, but not like today’s senators who serve upwards to fifty years (e.g., Byrd and Kennedy). In other words, term limits were not necessary. Further, it was believed senators would be more inclined to serve the best interests of their states as they were elected by their own state assemblies. At least, that was the theory.

Throughout most of the 19th century though, corruption crept into the senate electoral process. Some people tried to buy the office by giving gifts and favors to members of the state legislatures. This included some of the big monopolies of the day who wanted to have “their man” elected, who would be expected to return favors. The 17th Amendment though changed all of this by turning the vote over to the people. By doing so, state legislators were cut out of the money bonanza. It should be noted, the amendment was also used to fill senate vacancies, which is now done by temporary appointment of the governor.

So, what has changed in the last 100 years? Whereas the state legislators were the target for bribery, now it can be argued it is just the senators who are the object of desire by lobbyists, not just at the state level either, but by national and multinational corporations. In other words, not much has really changed with the passing of the 17th Amendment other than a redirection of payola.

Somehow, I still prefer the concept of having the state legislatures electing the Senators, if for no other reason than to assure they will change over time as the state assemblies change, thereby thwarting the concept of professional politicians. As to the corruption issue, this will remain a constant problem until such time as the American people get serious about electoral reform, which will probably be never. At least the payola can be spread around the state as opposed to just one person.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  40TH ANNIVERSARY OF NIXON’S RESIGNATION – Did Watergate teach us anything?

LAST TIME:  PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY’S EFFECT ON AIR TRAVEL  – What I discovered on my flight from Asheville.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Government, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 7 Comments »

PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY’S EFFECT ON AIR TRAVEL

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 25, 2014

BRYCE ON TECHNOLOGY

- What I discovered on my flight from Asheville.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I recently took a short trip to North Carolina to do a little fly-fishing with an old friend. It was a brief trip and we only had modest success, but it was a wonderful getaway. The mountains were beautiful, the air smelled delicious, and the streams were cold and clear. It was just the tonic I needed.

I came home on a Sunday morning via the Asheville airport. After checking in I proceeded to go through TSA security. It was still relatively early and there weren’t too many people in line. I think I caught the TSA agent off-guard by saying, “Good Morning,” to her. I observed what a nice day it was, and she responded by asking me how my trip had been. I explained I went fishing and had a great time in the mountains. She then asked me about my fishing pole, which I was carrying, and we chatted a few scant minutes about rainbow trout. She seemed to be pleased that someone had taken the time to talk to her. Maybe it’s because people generally do not think of TSA agents as human beings. I suppose they do not put on their pants one leg at a time.

After clearing security, I approached my gate where I found it eerily quiet. As I looked around, the passengers awaiting the flight were all busy either on their smart phones or Kindles. Some were playing games, others were listening to music, reading, or texting. All I saw were people gently tapping or swiping their fingers over the screen. In the corner of the room was a television set featuring a Sunday morning political talk show. The volume was turned down low, but I could hear it clear as a bell from the other side of the room. After all, tapping and swiping doesn’t exactly make a lot of racket.

Interestingly, I saw a boy and a girl sitting next to each other in the waiting area, both were teenagers who didn’t appear to know each other. Both were attractive, but neither acknowledged the presence of the other. From what I saw, they didn’t even exchange glances, they just played with their smart phones instead. What a pity.

When we finally boarded the aircraft, I sat next to a lady just a few years older than myself and an Asheville native. Everyone else continued with their tapping and swiping. As I sat down, I introduced myself to the woman, and we struck up a conversation which ranged over several subjects. She gave me some background information on Asheville, how she had recently attended a High School reunion, what books she was reading, and we even talked a little about moonshine up in the mountains. I described my fishing trip, life in Tampa Bay, the books I was reading, and a few other things.

It was a short flight, but my co-passenger made it interesting and lively. It started when she noticed I was carrying a regular hard covered book, as was she, as opposed to an electronic reader. Although we spoke quietly to maintain our privacy, every now and then another passenger would stop tapping and swiping only to give us a dirty look as if we were loud and boisterous and disturbing the harmony of the flight. At this time I noticed none of the other passengers were talking as they were all transfixed on their electronic devices.

In a way, my conversation with my co-passenger reminded me of air travel of yesteryear where passengers socialized and made new contacts. However, it occurred to me that we were now the oddballs, we were now the ones not using the latest technology, and we were the ones who had to communicate face-to-face. Frankly, we had a great time and became good friends.

The Asheville flight went to Atlanta where I made a connecting flight to Tampa. On this leg, I sat next to a gentleman I judged to be in his 40’s. Although I said hello and tried to introduce myself, the man pulled out his Kindle and immersed himself in reading. I pulled out my clunky book and began reading a few pages. After awhile, I looked up to see a woman across the aisle working on a jigsaw puzzle on her tablet computer, two other gentlemen were playing games on their smart phones, and another listened to music on his headphones. Nobody talked and you could hear a pin drop in the cabin.

After the flight, everyone rushed to the luggage carrousel in a spirit of competition, not cooperation or courtesy. Frankly, it was rather ugly. It then occurred to me technology was one of the reasons I no longer enjoy flying, and I suspect others might feel likewise. Bottom-line, it re-enforced my Bryce’s Law, “As the use of technology increases, social skills decreases.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  SENATORS AND THE 17TH AMENDMENT – No Virginia, senators were not always elected “by the people.”

LAST TIME:  THE OBAMA JUKEBOX  – The president’s rhetoric has become rather predictable.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Social Issues, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

THE OBAMA JUKEBOX

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 23, 2014

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- The president’s rhetoric has become rather predictable.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

President Obama’s speeches have become rather routine and predictable. They remind me of a jukebox, a device from a bygone era, whereby you put in a quarter, press a numbered button, and hear your selected tune. Smart phones, MP3 players and iPods have since replaced the jukebox, but you get the idea.

I do not believe I have heard anything original from the president in a long time, basically recycled talking points written to illicit Pavlovian responses from his audiences. However, I do not believe people are drooling anymore, at least not according to his recent popularity polls.

To prove my point, I have gone back through many of the president’s speeches and noted his more popular talking points. I am sure you have heard them all before, but what do they mean or how does he use them?

1. OBAMA – “The American people’s hopes and dreams are what matters, not ours. Our obligations are to them. Our regard for them compels us all, Democrats and Republicans, to cooperate, and compromise, and act in the best interests of our nation –- one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
TRANSLATION – “Once I’ve hooked them, I can have my way with them.”

2. OBAMA – “We can’t wait for Congress to do its job. So where they won’t act, I will. We’re going to look every single day to figure out what we can do without Congress.”
TRANSLATION – “I refuse to talk to those idiots in the Congress.”

3. OBAMA – “I’m happy to get good ideas from across the political spectrum, from Democrats and Republicans. What I won’t do is return to the failed theories of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place, because those theories have been tested, and they have failed.”
TRANSLATION – “It’s Bush’s fault.”

4. OBAMA – “We can’t change the way Washington works unless we first change how Congress works.”
TRANSLATION – “It’s not me, it’s them, right?”

5. OBAMA – “Our government should work for us, not against us. It should help us, not hurt us. It should ensure opportunity not just for those with the most money and influence, but for every American who’s willing to work. There is the fundamental belief that I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.”
TRANSLATION – “I’m going to make government so big, it will take years and a truckload of elephant guns to bring it back down.”

6. OBAMA – “What our friends on the other side of the aisle do not accept is the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.”
TRANSLATION – “I am the all-knowing Meteorologist-in-Chief, and don’t you forget it.”

7. OBAMA – “We live in a culture that discourages empathy. A culture that too often tells us our principle goal in life is to be rich, thin, young, famous, safe, and entertained.”
TRANSLATION – “Only I understand the American people, not the evil Republicans.”

8. OBAMA – “Let’s remember that our leadership is defined not just by our defense against threats, but by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe.”
TRANSLATION – “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

9. OBAMA – “I have studied the Constitution as a student; I have taught it as a teacher; I have been bound by it as a lawyer and legislator. America must demonstrate that our values and institutions are more resilient than a hateful ideology.”
TRANSLATION – “And I could really screw up the country more if I didn’t have this hanging around my neck.”

10. OBAMA – “It’s not just enough to change the players. We’ve gotta change the game.”
TRANSLATION – “Constitution be damned.”

11. OBAMA – “We will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists – because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger.”
TRANSLATION – “Whenever it is politically expedient for me to do so.”

12. OBAMA – “I think the American people have a generous instinct. They understand that we’re a nation of immigrants. But if those folks are going to live in this country, they have to be put on a pathway to citizenship that involves them paying a fine, making sure that they are at the back of the line and not cutting in front of people who applied legally to come into the country.”
TRANSLATION – “Actually, we’re just going to open the floodgates and make them all Democratic voters.”

13. OBAMA – “I’ll be a President who finally brings Democrats and Republicans together to make health care affordable for every single American.”
TRANSLATION – “The check is in the mail.”

14. OBAMA – “As President, I’ll invest in renewable energies like wind power, solar power, and the next generation of homegrown bio fuels.”
TRANSLATION – “And neglect our natural resources thereby making us more dependent on external energy resources than ever before.”

15. OBAMA – “Any strategy to reduce intergenerational poverty has to be centered on work, not welfare–not only because work provides independence and income but also because work provides order, structure, dignity, and opportunities for growth in people’s lives.”
TRANSLATION – “I’m going to quadruple the welfare state and let you pay for it.”

16. OBAMA – “The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth.”
TRANSLATION – “I want to tax you to death.”

17. OBAMA – “In a world that’s more and more interconnected, we all have responsibilities to work together to solve common challenges.”
TRANSLATION – “I’m going to let the terrorists have Iraq.”

18. OBAMA – “Opponents of health reform warn that this is all some big plot for socialized medicine or government-run health care with long lines and rationed care. That’s not true either. I don’t believe that government can or should run health care.”
TRANSLATION – “Thank you, thank you; you’re a great audience. Now, did you hear the one about…”

19. OBAMA – “We cannot build the 21st-century military we need, and maintain the fiscal responsibility that America demands, unless we fundamentally reform the way our defense establishment does business.”
TRANSLATION – “I love it when they salute me and I don’t return it.”

20. OBAMA – “It’s just plain wrong that millions of middle-class Americans pay a higher share of their income in taxes than some millionaires and billionaires.”
TRANSLATION – “There, I’ve said it; I’m a Socialist.”

In addition to being predictable, the president’s speeches seem to be saying, “The Congress is a bunch of unreasonable idiots. I am the only one who knows what he is doing. Trust me and I’ll take care of all of your problems, you cattle.” This says a lot about his powers of negotiation.

The president probably doesn’t believe half of what he says, but these are sound bites which have been polished and are easy to remember. The fact they are predictable though, reflects his disregard for the American people. They are also useful as a means to distract people. The only problem is we will likely hear these reruns until the end of his presidency. That’s still two years away.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  PERSONAL TECHNOLOGY’S EFFECT ON AIR TRAVEL – What I discovered on my flight from Asheville.

LAST TIME:  DRESS FOR SUCCESS OR FAILURE?  – What would happen if we instituted a dress code in school…for the teachers?

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 6 Comments »

DRESS FOR SUCCESS OR FAILURE?

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 21, 2014

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

- What would happen if we instituted a dress code in school…for the teachers?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I recently had the opportunity to visit a local elementary school where I attended their assembly for a presentation. I’ve known the school and principal for a long time. The school is modern in design and impressive to visit. Students there should be proud of it.

As the children filed into the assembly hall, the standard dress appeared to be t-shirts, shorts, socks and gym shoes. The teachers lined the outside perimeter to keep an eye on their respective classes. One of the first things I noticed was how poorly the teachers dressed. I counted only three teachers, out of dozens, who dressed professionally. The remainder looked rather slovenly and didn’t seem to care. I saw at least two teachers wearing faded Superman t-shirts and shorts which didn’t look particularly clean. Some wore jeans, and there were lots of t-shirts. Aside from the three teachers, the rest looked unprofessional. Frankly, I was surprised how badly they looked. I was expecting, at least, a “business casual” dress with collared shirts and slacks on the men, and something clean and feminine for the ladies. Instead, I got the uneasy feeling nobody really cared how they looked, and it showed. It is pretty bad when the students look better than the teachers.

It has been my experience that teachers are an important role model for our youth. If they say or do something, the kids are likely to follow suit. This caused me to wonder what messages the teachers were sending by their dress. Is it, “To succeed in life, you must look like a slob?”

The school was located in a middle-class neighborhood, certainly not a ghetto. The students represent a cultural diversity consisting of whites, blacks, Latinos, with a few Asians also in the mix. Although some may require food assistance, there didn’t appear to be any below the poverty line. The kids seemed to respect the faculty and, as such, the students likely respond to the image the teachers project.

We’ve been talking about dress codes for several years, only to be rebuffed by parents who believe it stifles the creativity of their children. Instead, maybe the dress code should be devised for the teachers who represent authority figures to the students.

Shortly after visiting the elementary school, I had an occasion to drop a friend off at an auto collision shop. His car had been in an accident and he was taking it in for service. While my friend was inside processing paperwork, I waited outside and observed some of the company’s estimators working with customers. This was a standard procedure whereby they prepare estimates for approval by the customers. As the face of the company, and wanting to project a professional image, the estimators were dressed better than the other employees, but not much better. The service technicians worked in clean jumpsuit uniforms. One estimator wore a collared shirt and slacks. However, I noticed the shirt was faded, and the trousers looked like they had been balled up as opposed to hung-up. They certainly were not pressed and cleaned. The other estimator was a woman who wore a rather tight skirt which wasn’t exactly flattering. In their mind, they looked presentable; in mine, they looked like bums.

This may come as a news flash to some, but customers want to have confidence in the vendors they are doing business with. It is in the vendor’s best interests to project a professional image in order to attain and keep the customer’s loyalty. It is just plain good business.

As the one estimator looked to be in his late twenties, I started to consider why he thought he was presentable. Three influences came to mind: his boss, his parents, and his teachers. You could also blame the media, but I was looking at the authority figures in the person’s life. Maybe his boss thought the estimator was presentable. If so, this doesn’t speak well for the company. Maybe his parents dressed him when he was younger. If so, this doesn’t speak well for the parents. Or maybe it was the teachers that influenced his taste in clothes. Hmm…quite possibly.

From what I saw at the school’s assembly, a whole generation of poorly clothed workers are in the offing. It could all change if the school’s management insisted the teachers clean up their act and display some pride in their appearance, which would then influence the students, and the rest of us.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  THE OBAMA JUKEBOX – The president’s rhetoric has become rather predictable.

LAST TIME:  BIG FISH IN SMALL PONDS  – Beware of the egos involved with big fish.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

BIG FISH IN SMALL PONDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 18, 2014

BRYCE ON SOCIETY

- Beware of the egos involved with big fish.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)

To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

Do you remember the Dr. Seuss classic, “Yertle the Turtle”? In it, Yertle was the king of the turtles in a pond who demanded his subjects elevate him higher than the moon. The story was intended to make a mockery of ultimate power. There are still a lot of Yertles out there living separately in small ponds and I’m sure we all know a few of them. You can find them in companies, nonprofit groups, schools, even in our neighborhoods. They may not have been officially anointed king, but they very much try to play the role. It is what we commonly refer to as the “Big Fish in a Small Pond” phenomenon.

Titles and material objects are very important to the Big Fish, such as the biggest house in the neighborhood, the sportiest car, the largest boat, or whatever. They flaunt their extravagance as opposed to modestly concealing it. It thereby becomes a game with them to give the illusion they are somehow superior to everyone else. They basically want to be considered some sort of local power broker or social elitist, but in reality, they are essentially no different than anyone else, perhaps even weaker. True, people are impressed with such materialism at first, but I find the Big Fish tend to have serious character flaws and insecurities and, as such, are trying to purchase admiration and prestige as opposed to earning it through simple social skills.

The flaw in the Big Fish concept though is that size is relative. Whereas the fish may be big in one pond, it may very well be small in another wherein it’s limitations and insecurities are easily detected. Their ego is quickly deflated when this is brought to their attention. One has to ask if they are truly a big fish, why aren’t they living among their own kind? Why do they find it necessary to live among people they admittedly consider their inferiors?

The antithesis to this phenomenon is someone like Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the world (and a very BIG fish), yet lives in the same house in Omaha, Nebraska he bought in 1958 for $31,500 (although some modification/improvements have certainly been made over the years). Nonetheless, I’m led to believe he has tried to lead a peaceful and unassuming life in his neighborhood for over 50 years.

I tend to be suspicious of Big Fish in Little Ponds. To me, they are trying to divert attention away from some other weakness they are hiding or have some ulterior motive. Eventually they are unmasked for what they truly are and their kingdom comes crumbling down. Just remember, Yertle the turtle may have been king for a while, but his subjects ultimately did him in.

Originally published: August 7, 2009

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  DRESS FOR SUCCESS OR FAILURE? – What would happen if we instituted a dress code in school…for the teachers?

LAST TIME:  OBAMA’S SCORECARD  – An excellent representation of the president’s record.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

OBAMA’S SCORECARD

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 16, 2014

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- An excellent representation of the president’s record.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

As you may remember, I spent many years in Little League, coaching boys baseball and girls softball. I also served as an umpire and on the local board of directors. My emphasis was to teach the mechanics of the game, teamwork, and the general love of the game. Most of the time, I kept score of the game myself, but I also taught several of my kids to do so. Keeping score is actually not too difficult and is good for keeping the game fair and the other team honest. It is also helpful to track where the batter has hitting the ball in prior innings.

Every game requires a good scorekeeper, including American politics. Using my scoring capabilities I decided to develop a baseball scorecard to record Mr. Obama’s play while in office. It is a true record of his performance. Those of you baseball aficionados who understand a scorecard will quickly figure it out. For the rest of you, consider this a lesson.

The only other item I might add to the scorecard is the president’s relationship with the main street media, for which he would obviously get an “Intentional Walk.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  BIG FISH IN SMALL PONDS – Beware of the egos involved with big fish.

LAST TIME:  WHO IS DESIGNING YOUR SYSTEMS?  – Hopefully not your programmers.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

WHO IS DESIGNING YOUR SYSTEMS?

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 14, 2014

BRYCE ON SYSTEMS

- Hopefully not your programmers.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

I have seen a lot of Information Systems in my lifetime. Most are rather simple if you take the time to study the problem, and create the logical design, then determine the most suitable physical implementation and develop the specifications for the software and manual steps. It’s actually a rather simple process, regardless of the intricacies of the data involved.

Problems arise though when the critical front-end work is performed by programmers who are more in tune with technology than business. From their perspective, they see everything in terms of zeroes and ones, not in dollars and cents. Not surprising, they only think in terms of elegant technical solutions, not necessarily what is practical from a business perspective. Let me give you two stories to illustrate my point.

First, we had a large manufacturing customer who designed a new “state-of-the-art” shop-floor control system whereby they wanted to spot errors along the assembly line and then quickly correct the hiccup. From a software perspective, it was a well thought-out and elegant solution coupled with an integrated data base. There was just one problem; it didn’t work. Consequently, we were called in on a consulting basis to try and determine what was wrong. We carefully examined the architecture of the system overall, not just the software components, and quickly found the problem; Whenever an error occurred on the shop-floor, an error message was displayed on a computer screen for the shop-floor supervisor to act on. Unfortunately, nobody instructed the supervisor about the computer screen, the messages, or procedurally how to respond to them. We wrote a simple administrative procedure for the supervisor who then read and responded to the errors properly and the system ran perfectly.

The programmers of the system were thunderstruck as to how quickly we found the problem and devised such a simple solution. They were convinced something was wrong with the logic of the software and focused their energies there to find the problem. In contrast, we stepped back and looked at the overall system architecture and found the problem in the basic design of the system.

Then there is the story of how simple data calculations can upset systems. Les Matthies, the legendary Dean of Systems, was fond of telling this story:

According to Les, a widow one day received a bill in the mail that read:

FIRST NOTICE – You are in arrears in the amount of $0.00, please make restitution as soon as possible. Have a nice day.

“This is stupid,” she thought to herself, and discarded the bill.

One month later, she received another bill from the same company:

SECOND NOTICE – You are in arrears in the amount of $0.00; to avoid problems, please make restitution as soon as possible.

Again, she thought this was silly and discarded the bill.

One month later, she received yet another bill from the same company:

THIRD AND FINAL NOTICE – You are in arrears in the amount of $0.00. If you do not make restitution as soon as possible, we will be forced to turn this matter over to our bill collectors.

Although she still thought it was ridiculous, the widow didn’t want any trouble, nor did she want a blemish on her credit report. Consequently, she wrote a check to the company in the amount of $0.00.

“There, that should take care of the problem,” or so she thought.

One month later, she received a form letter from the company:

Thank you for your recent payment of $0.00. However, you failed to pay the interest penalty of $0.00 …

Although Les loved to tell this as a system parable, there are many instances of such miscalculations in corporate systems which ultimately drive end-users bananas, for two reasons; lack of adequate system testing, and because of the focus on programming as opposed to systems.

Whenever systems are designed by programmers, you will likely see:

* Poorly defined information requirements as programmers are not trained in how to study the actions and decisions of the business, only computing requirements.

* Superficial data definitions thereby resulting in erroneous information, not to mention considerable data redundancy.

* Lack of documentation defining the overall system architecture, just basic programming specifications.

* Insufficient design reviews and testing which leads to product defects thereby causing problems in quality.

* Project Management delays and cost overruns as many parts of the system have to be redeveloped due to the lack of the other elements mentioned herein.

To prove my point, ask your systems people to design a manually implemented system. If they cannot, they are programmers and should not be serving as a systems analyst. As I keep insisting, it is not that system design projects are complicated, it’s because we have the wrong people trying to perform the task. As a perfect example, consider the recent Obamacare system which was delivered late, was fraught with bugs, and cost the taxpayers well over $600 million, an outrageous amount of money.

What this points out is there are significant differences between systems analysts and programmers. Their emphasis and interests are simply different. Whereas the analyst is more of a generalist who understands business, the programmer is rightfully more in tune with technical detail. One tends to be an extrovert, the other is an introvert. The interests and skill sets are simply different. It is difficult, if not impossible to do one, when you are a master of the other; they are that different.

To illustrate, we have always subscribed to the following formula:

Good Systems Design + Good Programming = Great Systems

Good Systems Design + Bad Programming = Good Systems (it may not be elegant, but it serves the business needs)

Bad Systems Design + Good Programming = Bad Systems

Bad Systems Design + Bad Programming = Chaos

The common denominator for success is “Good Systems Design” which happens to be an area most companies neglect. Consequently, programmers are asked to compensate for poor specifications.

“If we built bridges the same way we build systems in this country, this would be a nation run by ferryboats.” – Bryce’s Law

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  OBAMA’S SCORECARD – An excellent representation of the president’s record.

LAST TIME:  SOME MORE CULTURAL CHANGES  – Strange things affecting our culture.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Systems, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

SOME MORE CULTURAL CHANGES

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 11, 2014

BRYCE ON LIFE

- Strange things affecting our culture.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

A few months ago I noted changes emerging in our culture, primarily by youth who appear to be gravitating towards extreme sports (see “Youth Will Have Its Day”). A few other trends have emerged since I wrote that column, and I believe they are somehow related.

In fashion, we are witnessing the emergence of the “Short Suit” in business. Basically, someone has taken a regular men’s suit, and turned the trousers into shorts, and made short sleeves in the coat. No matter how you slice it, it is like nothing I have seen in corporate America. When I visited Australia years ago during the summer time, I noticed shorts were allowed on men, but executives still wore full suits. Frankly, it looks like something Jethro Bodine of the “Beverly Hillbillies” wore when he tried to enroll in a special school. It simply looked ridiculous and was good for laughs on the show. The same is true with today’s “Short Suit.” How can you have a serious discussion with someone whose hand you want to hold when crossing the street? I haven’t seen the suit yet in a corporate setting, and hopefully I won’t, for if I do I am sure I won’t be able to control myself from bursting out laughing. I also understand there is a women’s version which looks equally ridiculous.

Next, we have body piercings, the concept of which has been around for a long time. We’ve seen ears pierced, belly buttons, tongues, eyebrows, noses, arms, legs, backs, stomachs, even genitalia (which I still do not comprehend). Nevertheless, the latest craze appears to be eye piercings. Some people are adding tiny metallic hearts and other such icons right into the eyeball.

There is also one guy I recently saw who drilled tiny bars over his eyes to make it look like he was wearing a mask. Very strange, all of which borders on mutilation. I’m not sure why they do it as eyesight is something to be cherished, not put into jeopardy. No matter how you slice it though, such piercings are useful for identifying the mentally challenged of the world.

Finally, we have a new phenomenon, “Divorce Parties” (aka “Freedom Fests”) which is essentially a wedding in reverse. Following the termination of the marriage, the bride and groom typically split the cost of the party celebrating the divorce. Most are catered affairs with lavish food and libations. This is rather surprising as I do not hear of too many divorces where anybody has any money left over as the lawyers have taken it all. Perhaps the attorneys pays for it as part of his/her bill. Yea, sure.

Some divorce parties are arranged according to ritual, whereby the father of the bride walks up to the front of the procession where the couple is waiting, and escorts his daughter back down the isle, as a symbol of bringing her home. I can assure you this will not be done in my family where it has been a long standing tradition that, “We do not take daughters back” (or sons for that matter).

The most disturbing thing about Divorce Parties to me, is it is a celebration of failure. It’s not bad enough the divorce rate has skyrocketed over the years in this country, now we are celebrating it thereby discouraging such things as honor, responsibility, and commitment. It would be an ironic twist if it turns out homosexual weddings are more successful and binding than heterosexual affairs.

This is all about low self-esteem and gaining attention to compensate, but I cannot help but think there are better ways of doing so, such as working hard for your company, being a loving and responsible parent and spouse, and trying just a little harder to make the world a better place. However, I suppose these are values from another century, right? I guess it is easier to pierce your eyeball or wear some absurd suit.

Maybe people wouldn’t suffer from low self-esteem if they quit trying to impress the losers they surround themselves with. Maybe it is time to find some new friends. Better yet, take a road trip out of Fantasy Land and see how the real world works. It may just change your perspective and priorities.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHO IS DESIGNING YOUR SYSTEMS? – Hopefully not your programmers.

LAST TIME:  BREAKING BUREAUCRACIES  – Cleaning up government bureaucracies should be a relatively simple task to perform. Ooops…

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

BREAKING BUREAUCRACIES

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 9, 2014

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- Cleaning up government bureaucracies should be a relatively simple task to perform. Ooops…

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

When we think of a bureaucracy, we tend to associate it with frustration. A mental image of excessive paperwork and rules (aka “red tape”) comes to mind, along with overbearing peons emboldened with a sense of power over the people they are charged to serve. Their inclination to create work as opposed to solving problems stifles business as opposed to running interference for them. It tests our tolerance, but what can be done about it?

Although we primarily associate bureaucracies with government, they also emerge in corporations and nonprofit organizations. It seems the bigger the organization, the slower the service and the greater the frustration. As Parkinson correctly observed, “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” When work decreases, either due to volume or changes in policy or technology, few organizations take the time to reconfigure job assignments and, in the process, creates work to maintain the size of the organizational hierarchy and keep people busy (aka “Make work”). This occurs more frequently in government and nonprofits as opposed to commercial enterprises. However, give me a smaller organization armed with productive systems and focused workers, and I’ll show you happier customers and an influx of business.

The secret to flattening organizations is an understanding of the basic business functions of the enterprise, of which there are only three fundamental layers: Policy, Control, and Operational.

POLICY LEVEL – At the top of the hierarchy is the Policy level representing executive decisions regarding such things as corporate strategies and directions, acquisitions, benefits, etc.

CONTROL LEVEL – represents the level where Middle Management is charged with overseeing operations in order to fulfill policy. This is where we consider such things as manufacturing volume, sales quotas, accounts receivable/payable, employment reviews, etc.

OPERATIONAL LEVEL – At the bottom of the hierarchy is the day-to-day operations of the enterprise, such as building products and performing services for clients.

These business functions are organized into a simple hierarchy representing the logical model of the business. The logical model is a stable representation of the purpose of the enterprise, noting its actions and decisions. This will be substantially different than the physical model which is typically depicted using an organization chart, which can be massive and convoluted in appearance, particularly when massive bureaucracies are involved. When the physical model eclipses the logical model, Parkinson’s Law kicks in and the organization becomes lethargic and less responsive. Not surprising, in such bureaucracies, the Peter Principle emerges where people rise above their level of competency. Under this scenario, we find people more interested in corporate gamesmanship as opposed to serving their constituents.

To overcome this problem, it is necessary to first define the logical model, then determine the jobs and number of human/machine resources needed to fulfill it (the physical model). When excessive layers of management are required to perform a business function, it is time to chop off the dead wood. This is precisely what Jack Welch did when he was the CEO at GE in the 1980’s and 90’s. In Welch’s case, he examined each GE business unit and peeled back the excessive layers of management to make each unit leaner. This was done in three purges; the first purge was to eliminate the obvious non-performers of the business. This actually produced little affect; if anything, people were relieved to dispose of the dead wood. The second purge was more noticeable and included administrative staff and productive employees on the verge of retirement. However, it was the third purge which ultimately hurt and revealed the real work effort of the business. By purging the company, Welch was able to eliminate excessive layers of management, and discover the genuine duties and responsibilities of the business unit, thereby reversing Parkinson’s Law.

This approach can be performed on any bureaucracy, particularly government. As I mentioned in my article, “Enterprise Engineering the Federal Government,” the government has become bloated and overbearing. Consequently, the American public is losing faith in the government’s ability to manage social security, tend to the care of our military veterans, establish cost control measures, and, in general, adequately serve the country’s citizens. Because of government bureaucracies, be it at the federal, state of local levels, the citizens have lost faith in their government, that they appear to be out-of-control, and frankly, nobody in power seems to care. Until such time as government cleans up its act, the American people will continue to be suspicious of its motives and never trust it.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  SOME MORE CULTURAL CHANGES – Strange things affecting our culture.

LAST TIME:  BIRTH OF A NATION  – An Islamic state America helped to create.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern), and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

Posted in Government, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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