Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Raw Deal

(or Shell Game Passes For Tough Love)

Big Politician Guy: Listen, I’m going to give it to you straight. This federal income tax system is dumb. It’s your hard earned money. You have a right to spend it the way you see fit. You know how to spend it better then the government. Forget about federal income tax and use your money to be happy..…… Actually, the government will need some money… Of course we’re not going to tax the people… Oh wait, I know… We’ll just impose a spending tax. That sounds fair. We’ll have a national sales tax on gas and clothing and food and stuff like that. . But why should you worry? You can afford a few extra cents with all those 1000’s of dollars you’re saving from not having to pay income tax.

Local Politician Guy: Since the taxes were cut the Federal government doesn’t have any money to give to supplement state programs so we’re going to have to increase your property taxes and also add a few more cents to the tax on goods. But why should you worry? You can afford a few extra cents with all those 1000’s of dollars you’re saving from not having to pay income tax.

Local Doctor or Pharmacist : The government is cutting back on Medicare and drug programs, so you’re going have to pay for your own drugs and treatment. But why should you worry? You can afford it with all those 1000’s of dollars you’re saving from not having to pay income tax.

Big Politician Guy: What! You need some help? Why turn to the government? The government is not a charity. . Don’t expect the government to bail you out… What?… Well, sure… the government created the New Deal to help people in the depression….. And that’s right, after WW II there was the GI Bill where the government helped millions of GI’s go to college and get an education. And sure the government bailed out a lot of corporations. And what if the government gave amnesty to a bunch of illegal immigrants back in the 80’s. What does all that got to do with you? Listen, times have changed. Your better than that. We believe in you. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Keep your eye on the ball. Put your nose to the grind stone. Study hard. Then go into heavy debt and live the American dream. Of course, you can always move to China and get a good job there.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Deconstructing Obama In Iowa

This last week the media was buzzing with the results of Iowa caucuses. Ten months earlier, Rory Steele, a 29 year old former marine, had arrived in the state. He was a man on a mission, sent there to organize the Barack Obama campaign in 21 counties. He did whatever it took. No job was too big nor too small for him. Steele, a friendly guy who can talk with anyone, says, “We don’t give up on people.” On January 3rd his efforts paid off. A New York Times article from back on Nov 26th , entitled In West Iowa, Obama’s Man Thinks Locally, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/26/us/politics/26organizer.html
reveals how Steele helped organize and lay the foundation that culminated in Obama’s Iowa victory.

This brief article is a whole mini-course in itself. It glimpses Steele’s methodology and is chock full of important lessons that can be applied to our own lives and undertakings. The points below emerge as the article unfolds:

1) Think like a local - anticipate, understand and address people’s needs and concerns
2) Build networks based on person to person contact
3) Listen to people to get their advice and feedback
4) Be a problem solver, but don't be overwhelmed and move forward. Internally depend on divine intervention (Steele admits there are things and situations beyond his control - “I can only control what I can control, or I’d spend all day freaking out.”)
5) Focus on your work at hand
6) Delegate responsibility – empower others
7) Inspire people by your words and actions
8) Acknowledge people’s efforts and contributions
9) Study and understand the philosophy you live by
10) Don’t speak ill of people (you might need their help in the future)
11) Pay attention to community movers and leaders who can help get others involved (warning: this does not imply that those who don’t appear to be “leaders” should be ignored)
12) Take notes and be sure to follow up