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Archive for September, 2011

DREAMING MY LIFE AWAY

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 29, 2011

I love a good dream. I don’t remember ever suffering from nightmares, but I have had some great dreams over the years. I’m not sure why we do it other than it might be the way we kick start the brain into action in the morning. Other than being a pleasant escape from our earthly bounds, I have always looked upon dreams as being rather symbolic. I’m sure psychologists would have a field day analyzing mine.

My most common dream is revisiting the homes and places I lived during my youth. Interestingly, there have been few changes made to the houses and I instinctively know where everything is. Sometimes I meet with old friends and relatives who have passed away a long time ago, as well as those still alive. My favorite of this genre is going back to my old high school for a football game where the current coach asks me to suit up to go play my old position on the line. I’m pleasantly surprised by the request, but eagerly ready myself as I relish the opportunity to play again. I know the kids are younger, faster and stronger than I am now, but I surprisingly hold my own in the game.

Since I was young, I’ve experienced Déjà vu dreams. I learned if I awoke and could remember the dream, it would never come true, but if I woke up and couldn’t remember it, the dream would indeed come true. I would see the Déjà vu played out well after I’ve had the dream, sometimes weeks later, sometimes months or even years later. Most of my dreams in this capacity are not significant, I just realize I’ve already experienced the moment. Interestingly, I seem to have had more Déjà vu dreams in my youth, but as I grow older they become fewer and far between. Maybe I’m just running out of ideas.

In my 20’s I experienced a recurring dream of frustration whereby I am running around the old cinder track at my high school’s athletic field whereby I am running into a powerful force of wind pushing against me. To compensate, I ask my body to run as hard as it can, calling on every muscle to work harder, going to the point of seeing my blood vessels pumping from my body. Yet, with every stride I take, my progress is resisted. Then, all of a sudden, I hear the footsteps of another runner coming from behind me. I turn my head only to see a much smaller man rush by me unimpeded by the wind and sprinting away. I then stop and watch him in disbelief. So vivd was this dream that I would often wake up in a sweat. I experienced this for several years but it seemed to disappear around the time I turned 40. I guess this is why I abhor running any long distance, even to this day.

Perhaps the most exhilarating dreams I’ve had are those where I fly. I love my flying dreams and I am actually quite good at taking to the air. In most cases, I just extend my arms, hands and body to form a sort of kite. The wind then gently pushes me up into the air and I find that if I move my hands and body ever so slightly I can move in just about any direction I want. As I live in Florida, I love to fly away from my house and up and over to the beaches and out to a nearby island where I meet my family. Once airborne, I want to stay aloft for hours at a time but inevitably return home. I’m told, dreams of flight are indicative of accomplishment. Regardless of the reason, it is a hoot.

Now in my 50’s I have developed a new recurring dream and I am not certain what it means or why I have it. Nonetheless, I dream I am an exhausted Doughboy in World War I returning to my trench in France. Although there are small rooms dug into the ground which serve as bunk houses for soldiers, I have elected to dig my own hole and line it with two parallel sheets of corrugated steel which I believe will protect me from the Germans. I’ve placed a hinge on one of the steel panels, thereby allowing me to drop one of the panels down and enclose myself in a small room safe from the elements and the enemy. I am wearing a full American uniform, complete with the old flat helmets of the period, along with leggings and boots. This seems a bit strange to me as my grandfather had served in the English Army during the war. Concerned for my safety, I pull out my bayonet and stick it in the ground so I can easily grab it in case of emergency. On it, I hang my gas mask so I can get to it quickly in case of attack. I sleep with my Springfield rifle loaded and near me for protection. I feel dirty and my feet are tired, but as I’m exhausted I am just grateful to be able to fall asleep, which I do. Again, I don’t know how or why this dream developed, as I see it all in meticulous detail, but it has been a regular part of my nightly repertoire for the last few years. Maybe it’s from a former life.

I don’t try to analyze my dreams as I just enjoy them as they come along. I have met a lot of people who tell me they do not dream at all. Frankly, they don’t know what they’re missing.

One last thing; I dream in color.

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

CLASS WARFARE ON THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 27, 2011

Last February, following the takeover of the House of Representatives by the GOP, I wrote an article entitled, “Is the Tea Party Losing Momentum?”

At the time, I made the prediction that, “Over the next two years, as we head into the next presidential election, look for the liberals to apply a full court press against the Tea Party in order to discredit them. Undoubtedly, the Tea Party will be blamed for anything and everything that may go wrong in the country.” Although it was correct, I hardly consider it prophetic as we all saw this coming, at least I hope so.

Since then, the Tea Party has been called “terrorists” by Vice President Joe Biden, “SOB’s” by Teamster President Jimmy Hoffa, Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) compared their policies to those of “Jim Crow,” and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) made it clear they “can go straight to hell.”

Jason Tomcsi, a spokesman for Rep. Carson made the observation, “The Tea Party is protecting its millionaire and oil company friends while gutting critical services that they know protect the livelihood of African-Americans, as well as Latinos and other disadvantaged minorities.” This comment alone denotes the real issue at hand, class warfare whereby the Democrats are trying to align minorities and labor unions against big business and upper and middle income Americans. This is a dangerous tightrope they are walking which will undoubtedly divide the country.

I have met and corresponded with many people in the Tea Party since its inception, both locally and nationally. Whereas I have some liberal friends who adamantly believe the Tea Partiers are racist, I have yet to meet such a person. They may be stubbornly committed to the Constitution and are deeply concerned about the direction of the country, but I have not witnessed any racial slurs, publicly or privately. True, they are adamant about their position, but I have only seen respectable behavior. In fact, my contacts in the Tea Party tell me they are very sensitive to this and police themselves accordingly in order to avoid negative publicity.

When I hear comments such as those by the Vice President, Democratic Congressmen, and the head of the Teamsters, I have to wonder what provokes such outbursts. Frankly, I believe it is the rhetoric of desperation, that they resent losing the control they once held. Civility in discourse, as the President pleaded for following the assassination attempt of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, seems to work only in a unidirectional manner. However, the fact remains, if anyone but a Democrat uses objectionable language, they will be crucified by the main street media.

As I have written in the past, moderate voters are quickly disappearing as the left is forcing a showdown between the haves and the have-nots, a true referendum on class and social issues. An historic amount of money will be spent on the 2012 elections, easily dwarfing that spent in 2008. To the victor goes the spoils, and the losing party will be forced underground to either lick its wounds or plot havoc (I suspect the latter unfortunately).

The language we will hear from now until November 2012 will not be just clever or whimsical barbs, but rather viscous attacks and slander. It is Class Warfare in every sense of the word; a down and dirty knockdown, drag-out fight over ideology.

As I look back on my earlier Tea Party article, I am struck by another comment I made at the time:

“Ironically, the more the left attacks the Tea Party, the greater the party’s influence will grow.”

Maybe I am prophetic after all.

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Politics, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WHAT GOVERNMENT DOESN’T UNDERSTAND ABOUT BUSINESS

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 25, 2011

On September 8th, 2011, President Obama unveiled his “American Jobs Act” to the country in a special joint session of Congress. His intent was to somehow jump-start the economy and put the unemployed back to work. The legislation is now before the Congress for review. I am personally disappointed with the act as I consider it another prime example of how we tend to attack symptoms as opposed to root problems. High unemployment is not the problem, it is only a byproduct of a more deep seated problem, namely lower productivity as evidenced by a paltry Gross Domestic Product of 1.0%. Lawmakers offer little direction primarily because they do not understand how business truly works.

As anyone who has studied production can tell you, there are basically two ways of producing any product, either one at a time or in large quantities. Mass production affords the ability to produce more products at reduced costs. As such, industrial engineers have long known that in situations involving voluminous work products of the same type, an organization needs to observe the five basic elements of mass production as found in just about any industrial text book:

1. Division of Labor – to break the production process into separate tasks performed by workers with different skill sets.

2. Assembly Line – defining the progression and synchronization of work, thereby assuring the workers are performing tasks in the proper sequence (aka, doing the right thing at the right time).

3. Precision Tooling – for mechanical leverage and improved efficiency on the assembly line.

4. Standardization of Parts – for inter changeability and assembly by unskilled and semiskilled workers. Standardization provides the opportunity to share and reuse parts in various products, thereby reducing product costs.

5. Mass Demand – the impetus for mass production and the most critical element. Without it, there is no need for the others.

You will find these five elements in every company who offers repetitious work products, be it an automotive manufacturer, a bank or insurance company, an engineering firm, a restaurant, an I.T. company, and just about any small business you can imagine. The elements are visibly exemplified by such things as assembly lines and formal business methodologies defining “Who” is to perform “What,” “When,” “Where,” “Why,” and “How (aka, “5W+H”). It is a universally applicable concept found in big business as well as small. More organizations operate in accordance with these five elements than those who do not. AND THIS IS WHAT OUR GOVERNMENT DOES NOT UNDERSTAND!

To truly boost our economy, we need to make companies more competitive for the world stage. To do so, it is necessary to maximize all five of these components as they work in a cohesive manner. Of these elements, the president’s “American Jobs Act” only addresses the first element, Labor. Here, the government proposes to cut payroll taxes and provide tax breaks for companies to hire people. There is nothing about sharpening the skills of the work force. From a practical point of view, why should companies hire workers who lack suitable skills? Simply to get a tax break? Hardly.

Let’s consider how the other elements could be influenced by government if they were so inclined; there should be tax incentives for such things as:

* Modernizing and retooling the production process (thereby maximizing the effect of “assembly lines” and “precision tooling”).

* Updating and enhancing worker skills.

* Minimizing waste and reusing resources.

* Attaining levels of quality output.

* Encouraging consumers to buy American products, both domestically and abroad, thereby fueling mass demand. This includes purchasing American parts and raw materials for use in our products.

Regrettably, there is no such thinking in Washington, probably because the lion’s share of lawmakers are attorneys and, as such, have no real concept of production, only legal minutia. The “American Jobs Act” and any other similar proposed legislation are naive attempts to stimulate the economy by attacking the five elements of mass production in piecemeal, rather shallowly I might add.

I am still of the belief that reducing regulatory red tape encourages business, but beyond this, a tax incentive program addressing all of the variables of production, not just one, can truly put the economy back on track and thereby put Americans back to work. To do so though requires lawmakers who understand industry which, unfortunately, is currently in short supply in our capitol. We need leaders who can see the big picture, not just the myopic portions they wish to see for political gain.

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

ROAD WORK – EXPECT DELAYS

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 22, 2011

Over the last year we have been watching a major upgrade to the highway in front of our office. It’s not a large project, just an enhancement of a two-lane highway (three-lanes in some parts) spanning approximately five miles. It is being implemented by the state’s Department of Transportation (DOT), and not by the county, which I guess we should be grateful for. Nonetheless, the project has been a model of bureaucracy and inefficiency. Planners consulted with local property owners to advise them how their establishments would be affected by new curbing and sidewalks. Some of it will likely hinder business and when the merchants complained, the DOT turned a deaf ear to them. They quickly discovered their voices were not being heard and the DOT took the arrogant attitude of presuming they knew what was best for business, not the merchants.

Following the planning phase, work began on the highway’s infrastructure, specifically the sewer system and utility lines. It was at this time when we spotted our first set of orange cones to redirect traffic and protect the workers, a handful at first, which quickly multiplied like rabbits. Next came the installation of the sidewalks which we thought a bit odd as they seemed detached from everything. Again, more orange cones. Interestingly, it seems there are about ten flag men to every true worker; state workers are very safety conscious you know. Of the real workers I don’t think I ever saw more than three working at the same time. There were plenty of supervisors and inspectors checking their work, but only a handful of real workers which probably explains why progress is slow.

In most commercial construction projects, workers are 25% effective which means out of an eight hour work day, they only perform a total of two hours of real work. The remainder of the time is spent on interferences and inconsequential activity. Contractors have known this for years and takes this into consideration as part of their scheduling algorithm. Outsiders may consider 25% rather low, but actually it is not too bad. However, I would wager the DOT workers are at just 10%, if that. You may see a flurry of activity for a few minutes, but most of the time is spent setting up, instructing, supervising, inspecting, moving the orange cones, and worrying about the bureaucratic red tape, but comparatively little time is spent on the actual work itself. The difference between government-run construction projects and similar commercial undertakings is that one is obsessed with adhering to rules and political correctness, while the other is more interested in getting the job done.

Now they are just starting the construction of the highway portion itself, which is already two weeks behind schedule despite all of their planning. Massive trucks, equipment, and materials sit idly next to the highway waiting for operators. When the workers do materialize, we only see them up until noon, but they never seem to return from their lunch break, just the orange cones.

So here we have a highway project where merchants are alarmed and confused about how the road will affect their businesses, lots of equipment and materials sitting idly by the side of the road, workers with a paltry 10% effectiveness rate, and enough orange cones that could easily crisscross the state. Is this anyway to run a project? Well, that’s how we do things down here in the South. I guess we’re more of an Orange Cone city as opposed to Blue Chip.

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in humor, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

NEW “FAIR TAX” COULD CORRECT A LOT OF PROBLEMS

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 20, 2011

I prepared my first IRS 1040 income tax form back when I was in my early 20’s, and it really hasn’t changed too much over the years. Back then, the form looked innocent enough, but the instruction booklet was a bit overwhelming. Nonetheless, I patiently persevered and was able to complete the form, deductions and all. It was quite an experience and I still prepare my own taxes to this day. Over the years I have tried tax preparation software, but frankly I didn’t see what it was saving me. Aside from accountants, the 1040 form is a labyrinth of head scratching instructions. If you study the tax tables closely, you can readily see how the more income you take in, the more taxes you have to pay. It’s no small wonder why people keep receipts and look for any type of deduction imaginable, regardless how minuscule it is. It is overtly complicated and casts a shadow of doubt as to its fairness. This is compounded by stories we hear whereby 50% of U.S. households pay no federal income tax whatsoever. This is probably why we dread the thought of April 15th, Tax Day.

There have been alternatives proposed over the years, particularly the “Flat Tax” concept where everyone pays a single standard rate regardless of your economic standing. Although the concept is certainly “fair and equitable,” there are a lot of people who would find a way to avoid it based on some sort of exemption.

More recently, the concept of a “Fair Tax” has been introduced and is currently being studied by Congress. The first thing you have to understand about the “Fair Tax” is that it represents a complete replacement of the current tax system, meaning there would be no more payroll deductions, no more income taxes, no more deductions from pensions, all loopholes would be closed, no more IRS, thereby no more audits, and April 15th becomes a meaningless date in this country. Sounds great, right? Now here’s the catch; instead, revenues will be collected as an additional sales tax (or “consumption tax”), in other words, payable at checkout by EVERYONE (what could be more “fair and equitable”?).

According to FairTax.org, a web site endorsing the proposal, “The FairTax actually eliminates and reimburses all federal taxes for those below the poverty line. This is accomplished through the universal prebate and by eliminating the highly regressive FICA payroll tax.”

Won’t this be hard on the poor? Not really. As FairTax.org explains, “All valid Social Security cardholders who are U.S. residents receive a monthly prebate equivalent to the FairTax paid on essential goods and services, also known as the poverty level expenditures. The prebate is paid in advance, in equal installments each month. The size of the prebate is determined by the Department of Health & Human Services’ poverty level guideline multiplied by the tax rate. This is a well-accepted, long-used poverty-level calculation that includes food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical care, etc.”

The “Fair Tax” is just that, FAIR, and could finally help us do away with the petty squabbling between classes as it is an equitable solution. The only people who will object to it are the makers of income tax preparation software, tax attorneys and accountants, and the IRS who will have to look for something else to do.

Implementing the “Fair Tax” act as has been reintroduced in Congress ultimately means repealing the 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which allows the Congress to levy an income tax. The Amendment was ratified on February 3, 1913, and I, for one, would like to see it repealed before its 100th anniversary. As an aside, the “Fair Tax” act is referred to as H.R.25 in the House and S.296 in the Senate. Be sure to study this legislation carefully as it affects all of us. For more information on it, please see:

FairTax.org

National Taxpayers Union

To sign a petition in support of the Act, click HERE.

Should this legislation pass, look for a flurry of sales activity on products just before the law goes into effect thereby avoiding the tax. Talk about stimulating the economy. Wow!

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Economics, Government, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

WHAT IS FAIR?

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 18, 2011

Good question. This is something we all demand but I don’t think we really know what fair is; to illustrate:

* In this country we have established an extensive system of jurisprudence involving lawyers, judges, juries, appeals, etc. Yet, when a decision is finally reached, we claim it wasn’t fair. Case in point, the Casey Anthony jury decision. America felt she literally got away with murder.

* In sports, we trust the officials will be fair in regulating the game, but we become unglued when we find an official tampering with the rules. When I coached Little League baseball, I would resent umpires who called balls and strikes one way for a team and different for the other. I didn’t realize the strike zone could change so significantly between innings.

* The news media outlets tout themselves as fair and impartial, but I don’t know anyone who honestly believes it.

* In the work place, we hope our bosses and coworkers will treat us fairly in our working relationships, and feel dejected when we find ourselves on the losing end of a political maneuver. All we want is a fair and even playing field to compete on. Rarely do we get it.

* On the highway, we believe everyone should observe the same rules of the road and are aghast when someone flagrantly violates them, while others get stopped for petty moving violations.

* We want people to pay their fair share of taxes, but argue about how this should be accomplished. Some suggest a flat tax, others want regressive taxation whereby the rich must pay for the poor.

* We believe countries should treat each other equitably and are outraged when we find a violation of agreements thereby threatening peace or disrupting economics.

Being “fair” is an obsession with a lot of people, but only if it is in their favor. As much as we harangue about fairness, deep down we really don’t want it. Fairness is a human interpretation. It is in the eye of the beholder. What one person considers fair, another will consider just the opposite, even if the law, rule or regulation is documented in writing. It takes an impartial and informed person to determine what is equitable for all of the parties concerned. Unfortunately, it seems people today are easily prejudiced and rely more on gossip and spin as opposed to facts.

Fairness is based on who interprets the rules, usually by the person(s) in power, not by plurality of vote. As the power shifts, our interpretation of fairness shifts. This means our sense of fairness changes over time as perspectives and priorities change. For example, what would be considered “fair” by our nation’s founding fathers is certainly not the same as those in government today. In the early days, it was considered “fair” for land owners to be the only people allowed to vote in elections because they were considered responsible citizens, not shiftless rabble. Naturally, this changed over the years so any Tom, Dick, or Mary can vote regardless how “responsible” they were as citizens. Today, elections are won more by media spin than by the true issues of the day. Yet, we believe this is fair.

Our perception of fairness is based on our moralistic makeup which, obviously, varies based on cultural and religious differences. To illustrate, the morals of a Salvation Army Colonel will be substantially different than an atheist gang-banger from the ‘hood. I cannot imagine any commonality between the two. This is what happens when you live in a heterogeneous society. Japan, on the other hand is more homogenous in nature and as such, shares moral values which leads to consistent interpretations of what is right and wrong. The point is, as morality declines or becomes splintered through incompatible interpretations, it compounds the problem of realizing consistent fairness. The greater the uniformity in morality, the more likely fairness will be consistently applied.

Fairness is often defined by a plurality of vote, be it polls, legislatures, or a jury. It is their perception only, not necessarily what is fair. We have all seen too many votes that led to erroneous results primarily because those in judgment are not properly informed or lack the ability to offer an unbiased verdict.

As the populace becomes more disjointed, we write legislation based on poll numbers or elections, but this does not necessarily mean it is fair, only that it is the perception of the plurality, which may be right, but also could be wrong.

So, whether you are on a ball field, in a classroom, in the workplace, or wherever, you must recognize that absolute fairness is a myth. It is based on the interpretation and whims of the people who interpret the rules. Even if we were to automate decisions by computer, we must remember such rules are programmed by humans with all of their frailties. In other words, the computer will only render a decision as programmed by the human-being.

If you are upset that something is unfair, get over it. King Solomon died thousands of years ago. You win some, you lose some. Put your best foot forward and hope you’ll be treated fairly.

“Forget fair. Our world was not designed to be fair.”
– Tom Hopkins
“How to Master the Art of Selling Anything”

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Morality, Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THE DIRECT APPROACH

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 15, 2011

In front of our office, the state is about to start a highway construction project. Over the years I’ve learned such projects take an inordinate amount of time to plan and implement in Florida, seemingly forever, but they usually produce a good roadway when it is finished. What takes weeks or months to do up north, seems to take years in the south. As part of the planning process, we had a county bureaucrat visit our office to ask us about our sewer connection. He hemmed and hawed for a long time before he finally got to the point. I found it rather bothersome that he had no problem wasting my time. Maybe he is used to wasting time, I’m not. I just wanted him to get to the point.

While the county administrator was babbling away I thought back to an incident years ago when we lived in Connecticut. At the time, we resided in a small community where most of the fathers commuted to New York by train. Our next door neighbors were a family of the same age and makeup and we became close friends. Bob, the patriarch of the family, was a good father and his kids respected and loved him. He kept an eye on them to make sure they didn’t get into any mischief and taught them proper manners. He would also have heart-to-heart talks to encourage them on their walk through life.

There came a day on a weekend when the two families were together socializing at Bob’s house, all except his youngest, Andrew, a first grader who was playing in the backyard. Right in the middle of a conversation, Andrew stormed into the house with fire in his eyes, presented himself before his father and demanded to know, “Who pissed on my bike?” The bluntness of the statement caught everyone off guard, particularly Bob who was somewhat embarrassed by the statement. He lectured the youngster patiently, “Andrew, that is not how we should speak, particularly in the presence of company, it is very rude; now say you’re sorry.”

“I’m sorry,” he said reluctantly…, “But who pissed on my bike?”

As it turned out, the family dog had urinated on Andrew’s bike which was propped next to a post. This relieved Andrew somewhat as it was a dog and not a human who had fouled his beloved bicycle.

I found it interesting how Andrew did not hem and haw like the county administrator, but got straight to the point. He may have not been politically correct, but he certainly got to the bottom of his problem, just the antithesis of the bureaucrat before me.

As the county administrator yammered on, I raised my hand to stop him and told him to get to the point, which seemed to mildly irritate him. Sensing this, I gave him a stern look and told him I would look into his problem and get back to him. I then excused myself and went back to work.

You know, I was really tempted to say to him, “Who pissed on my bike?” I do not have the temperament to be politically correct and prefer the direct approach instead. It gets results.

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Communications, Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

LOSING THE WAR ON POVERTY

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 13, 2011

I recently heard a talking head on one of the political talk shows on television make the claim that despite the billions sunk into the “War on Poverty” since the mid-1960’s, the national poverty level has essentially remained unchanged. This really caught me off guard as I assumed money can correct a lot of social ills, particularly poverty. Surely the talking head must have been wrong on this one. As I was to find out, he was correct.

As a preface to my analysis, the “War on Poverty” is the unofficial name for legislation introduced by President Lyndon B. Johnson as part of his “Great Society” series of social reforms patterned after FDR’s “New Deal.” The premise was in order to secure the welfare of the less fortunate, government needs to grow to accommodate those affected. Elimination of poverty was a key objective of LBJ’s and one of the cornerstones of his “Great Society” legislation.

In 1964, an appropriation of $1 billion was granted to start the War on Poverty, followed by another $2 billion over the next two years. By 1980, the country was spending $100 billion on welfare, and by 2009 $400 billion was being spent, and it is projected to rocket past this figure over the next few years. I was able to substantiate this using usgovernmentspending.com, a reliable site with access to government spending data for the last 100 years. See “Government Spending on Welfare” (1960-present).

Finding the number of citizens below the poverty line was a little trickier. Fortunately, I found it at the U.S. Census Bureau’s web site in a chart labeled “Number in Poverty and Poverty Rate: 1959 to 2009.” Here, I discovered the national poverty rate has fluctuated between 11% to $15 over the last 46 years (since 1965) and is currently at 14.3%. Whereas there were 35 million people below the poverty line in 1965, today there is close to 45 million people.

In other words, the talking head was correct; whereas the amount of money we have spent on welfare since 1965 has grown in leaps and bounds, the poverty level has remained relatively static. In fact, there are now more people under the poverty line than when LBJ started his war in 1964. This, of course, is a startling revelation as it means, MONEY ALONE CANNOT SOLVE SOCIAL PROBLEMS. In fact, the statistics would indicate it is immaterial. The only people truly benefiting from these programs are government bureaucrats implementing them. It also means we have found a budget area that can and should be trimmed, but this will be fiercely fought by welfare recipients and their Congressional leaders claiming the reduction of welfare is nothing less than “class warfare.”

This phenomenon makes you wonder why some people remain below the poverty level. Is it perhaps the social programs are run incompetently? Do those qualified to receive welfare prefer to remain off of the radar? Are they too proud to accept help? Perhaps they are too destitute or complacent to seek assistance. Whatever the reason, the fact remains the “War on Poverty” is a dismal failure and this is one war we should definitely rethink and possibly call our troops home.

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

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Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Economics, Politics, Social Issues | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

JOB ENTITLEMENTS

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 11, 2011

I was recently talking to a young man in a local I.T. company who was lamenting how he was overlooked for a promotion. He had been with the company for a year, thought he was doing a good job, and fully expected to be promoted to a job at a higher pay level. He didn’t get it. Somewhat miffed, he was considering jumping ship to look for another job elsewhere. In response, I asked him about the stability of the company and its future potential, which he admitted was good. I then asked what kind of assignments he had worked on over the last year and his success rate. Although he raved about his work effort, he admitted he had been late and over budget on some tasks, but was quick to proclaim, “I work my butt off in there; I put in 45 hours a week.” I replied that managers are more interested in results, not necessarily the amount of time going into it. Frankly, 45 hours doesn’t impress me and I told him so.

I guess it is not surprising to see an entitlement mentality evolve in the workplace. Young people learn this in school as they progress through grades annually. People now expect routine promotions and bonuses regardless if they earned it or not. They shouldn’t. A bonus is just that, a bonus; a little extra for outstanding service. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you do not. However, if the company had a bad year, it may not be able to afford a bonus and, as such, employees should not become dependent on them.

A person is given a job promotion when an opportunity arises and an individual has demonstrated he/she possesses the skills and ability to assume the responsibility. Promotions should not be rewarded by guess or by golly (or by politics for that matter), but for demonstrated ability, a track-record if you will. Even in school, we cannot progress to the next level without adequate grades. This of course means the progress of an employee should be evaluated routinely. Although most major companies have this well defined, there are still a lot of companies who avoid evaluating their employees on a routine basis. I am always surprised when I see companies evaluating employees verbally as opposed to documenting it with a form, thereby making it impossible to accurately remember or track an employee’s progress.

We have used an Employee Evaluation Form for a number of years and have always found it to be a useful means for developing a dialog between the employee and his superior. When it is time to evaluate an employee, we ask both the employee and his manager to prepare the form separately then compare the two side-by-side. This naturally results in an interesting discussion particularly when discrepancies occur. Whereas the employee may perceive his abilities one way, his superior may have an entirely different perspective. Bottom-line, the employee evaluation should be used to clear up such inconsistencies, plot both the strengths and weaknesses of the employee, and develop a plan to improve them. If you do not have a good Employee Evaluation Form, just drop me a line and I will e-mail you the one we use.

Without a defined process to evaluate the performance of employees, they will assume all is going well and therefore feel entitled to receive such things as bonuses and promotions. A constructive employee evaluation process improves communications between the employee and the boss, points the employee in the proper direction for improving his skills thereby making him a more productive and valuable worker, and shatters the problem of job entitlements. The employee has either earned the bonus or job promotion, or he hasn’t.

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Management, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

PICK, POP, PEEL, AND PULL

Posted by Tim Bryce on September 8, 2011

It’s probably not much of a secret that one of the biggest differences between men and women is in the area of grooming and personal hygiene. Women tend to be more fastidious than men in this regard. The male of the species is lucky if he remembers to shave or run a comb through his hair. Whereas men spend no more than 5-10 minutes in the bathroom to get ready in the morning, women can be in there for days. Maybe this has something to do with military training. Nevertheless, women tend to have an eye for imperfections and go to great lengths to correct them. Men couldn’t care less and refer to their imperfections as “character.”

Whereas men only require a couple of things in the bathroom, such as a toothbrush, razor, comb, shave creme, and bar soap, women tend to surround themselves with an extensive myriad of cotton balls, swabs, tissues, cremes, powders, and gels, not to mention an array of mirrors, brushes, combs, etc. I don’t care if a man is 6’5″ and his wife is only 5’2″, she will require four times more space to work in the bathroom than her husband. It is HER domain, men are only guests.

After women have taken care of themselves, their eye is constantly wandering to monitor their offspring and husband. If the slightest thing is out of place, they are quick to “Pick, Pop, Peel, and Pull” (aka “4P”), meaning pick ears, pop skin blemishes (scabs are a favorite), peel dead skin, and pull out unwanted hairs (such as from their husband’s ears). Women cannot help themselves in this regard. To illustrate, on more than one occasion while driving I have spotted motorists where the wife had her finger buried deep in the man’s ear. At cocktail parties, I’ve seen women beckon their husbands to bend down to their level, not to whisper anything of importance, but to pull an unsightly hair from his ear which she spotted out of the corner of her eye.

I also know women who love to peel dead skin resulting from sun burns. I think their mouths begin to water at the very thought of it. The objective is not to flake it off, but pull whole sheets off, kind of like a snake shedding its skin. I tend to believe some women deliberately let their children and husband burn in the sun so they can enjoy peeling the skin later on. Sounds a little twisted doesn’t it?

Interestingly, women are inclined to 4P only members of their family, not outsiders, probably because they consider family members to be an extension of themselves and therefore is fair game. What I find amusing about all of this is that although she may feel free to attack others, she is appalled if others attempt to return the favor. Maybe it’s because she has already worked herself over in the bathroom and cannot believe anything else could possibly be wrong.

Perhaps the reason women spend an inordinate amount of time on their nails, is not just for appearances but to also keep their tools sharp. Craftsmen are like that you know.

Now before you complain to me this column is somewhat sexist in nature, I am willing to concede there are men out there who are particularly meticulous in terms of their appearance, be it their clothes, nails, hair, and skin. This is what we refer to as “freaks of nature.”

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. Bryce & Associates (MBA) 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:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Tune into Tim’s THE BRYCE IS RIGHT! podcast Mondays-Fridays, 7:30am (Eastern).

Copyright © 2011 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Family, humor | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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