Saturday, December 16, 2017

A Chinese Look at American Business Culture

Puzhong Yao was born and raised in China. Having a difficult time in Chinese schools he was dispatched to Great Britain and eventually landed in Cambridge University.  From there he went to work at Goldman Sachs and then attended Stanford’s prestigious Graduate School of Business.

In a recent article (via Maggie’s Farm) he offered a view of American business through the eyes of someone who was brought up in China... in a filial piety culture, but also in a culture that values hard work. He disavowed the comparison with Alexis de Tocqueville, but he did allow us to hold a mirror up to our quirks and idiosyncrasies.

As it happens, it’s worse than that. Yao did not say it, perhaps because he is too polite, but at the summit of the American business education he found weakness, softness and whiny self-righteous do gooders. If he were in China asking how he can compete against America, he would have concluded that America is quickly becoming non-competitive… because it cares more about therapy than about business.

You have heard this story on this blog more often than perhaps you would care to recall. Even though Yao’s descriptions sound like caricatures, they should not be suprising. Nothing prevents the great minds of the Stanford Graduate School of Business from becoming caricatures of themselves.

For instance, Yao showed us what was taught in a GSB class about business strategy. The professor was trying to teach which corporate mottos could best inspire people to do their best. Strangely enough, making money and getting rich are not acceptable mottos or missions. What really mattered to the professor and the students was do-goodism, healing the world and making people feel better about themselves.

You might perhaps doubt my word. If so, here’s Yao’s description:

One class was about strategy. It focused on how corporate mottos and logos could inspire employees. Many of the students had worked for nonprofits or health care or tech companies, all of which had mottos about changing the world, saving lives, saving the planet, etc. The professor seemed to like these mottos. I told him that at Goldman our motto was “be long-term greedy.” The professor couldn’t understand this motto or why it was inspiring. I explained to him that everyone else in the market was short-term greedy and, as a result, we took all their money. Since traders like money, this was inspiring. He asked if perhaps there was another motto or logo that my other classmates might connect with. I told him about the black swan I kept on my desk as a reminder that low probability events happen with high frequency. He didn’t like that motto either and decided to call on another student, who had worked at Pfizer. Their motto was “all people deserve to live healthy lives.” The professor thought this was much better. I didn’t understand how it would motivate employees, but this was exactly why I had come to Stanford: to learn the key lessons of interpersonal communication and leadership.

Irony, anyone.  America’s future business leaders are only motivated by the notion that they can help people live healthy lives. It’s not about working hard to succeed. Giving alms to the needy makes them feel good about themselves. Yao is correct to note that nothing about this health craze was going to motivate anyone, but he did get to see how Americans were removing themselves from the arena of international competition.

And then there was the course about feeling your feelings. You think that I was kidding when I ridiculed this mindless exercise in learning how to wallow in emotion. Apparently, this mantra has contaminated the Stanford GSB. You might have thought that business school and Stanford in particular would have avoided this cultural poison. You would have been wrong.

Anyway, Pao likes his class where he is being taught to be more touchy feely:

My favorite class was called “Interpersonal Dynamics” or, as students referred to it, “Touchy Feely.” In “Touchy Feely,” students get very candid feedback on how their words and actions affect others in a small group that meets several hours per week for a whole quarter.

It wasn’t just about feeling your feelings. It was about empathy and microaggressions and every last piece of stupidity that we had hoped and prayed  had been quarantined in Humanities courses.

When Pao took the course, he discovered that he was not very good at feeling his feelings… because he had no feelings.

We talked about microaggressions and feelings and empathy and listening. Sometimes in class the professor would say things to me like “Puzhong, when Mary said that, I could see you were really feeling something,” or “Puzhong, I could see in your eyes that Peter’s story affected you.” And I would tell them I didn’t feel anything. I was quite confused.

But, the therapy culture has taught these professors that people who do not feel their feelings are repressing their feelings. That is why they need to learn to feel their feelings. Surely, the emotions are there, lying dormant in the depths of everyone’s soul, awaiting liberation:

One of the papers we studied mentioned that subjects are often not conscious of their own feelings when fully immersed in a situation. But body indicators such as heart rate would show whether the person is experiencing strong emotions. I thought that I generally didn’t have a lot of emotions and decided that this might be a good way for me to discover my hidden emotions that the professor kept asking about.

Not knowing any better, Pao decided to test the theory. He bought a heart rate monitor, to see whether he had real feelings that he was ignoring. Here is what happened:

So I bought a heart rate monitor and checked my resting heart rate. Right around 78. And when the professor said to me in class “Puzhong, I can see that story brought up some emotions in you,” I rolled up my sleeve and checked my heart rate. It was about 77.  And so I said, “nope, no emotion.” The experiment seemed to confirm my prior belief: my heart rate hardly moved, even when I was criticized, though it did jump when I became excited or laughed.

As you might imagine, Pao’s classmates were not amused. They were feeling their feelings and he was saying that he did not have feelings. If he was right, that made them dupes of political correctness:

This didn’t land well on some of my classmates. They felt I was not treating these matters with the seriousness that they deserved. The professor was very angry. My takeaway was that my interpersonal skills were so bad that I could easily offend people unintentionally, so I concluded that after graduation I should do something that involved as little human interaction as possible.

Pao concluded by comparing the work ethic prevalent in Communist China and the therapy culture that has even infested America’s best business schools:

In Communist China, I was taught that hard work would bring success. In the land of the American dream, I learned that success comes through good luck, the right slogans, and monitoring your own—and others’—emotions.

Yao does not consider it a total loss. He finds a glimmer of hope in the existence of his favorite store: Costco. What is the secret to Costco's success? They don't hire MBAs.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Our Illiberal Democracy

We Americans take great pride in our liberal democracy. We understand that the world is turning against it, but we soldier on, convinced that our way is the best way.We would probably do better to  make our democracy work better, set a better example and show what it can do. We prefer to persuade everyone to believe that our liberal democracy is the best.

In this context, we present an observation of one Sam Altman, a Silicon Valley innovator:

Earlier this year, I noticed something in China that really surprised me.  I realized I felt more comfortable discussing controversial ideas in Beijing than in San Francisco.  I didn’t feel completely comfortable—this was China, after all—just more comfortable than at home.

That showed me just how bad things have become, and how much things have changed since I first got started here in 2005.

It seems easier to accidentally speak heresies in San Francisco every year.  Debating a controversial idea, even if you 95% agree with the consensus side, seems ill-advised.

Altman is concerned about business innovation, but clearly nothing in our society is going to work very well if we are walking around worrying about the thought police.

Palestinian Grifters

Kevin Williamson does not run America’s foreign policy. Yet, considering the bumbling ineptitude of the current Secretary of State, we could do worse than Kevin Williamson.

Yesterday, Williamson offered a sage analysis of the Arab-Israeli situation, in particular, of the Palestinian reaction to President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. I confess that Williamson’s view closely mirrors my own… to its eternal credit.

As one might have expected Trump’s decision has elicited the usual bout of impotent rage from Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. Apparently, he has the received the full support of Turkish President Erdogan, but beyond that the response has been tepid.

Even though he has no cards to play, Abbas is happy to play them. So he has declared that the United States can no longer be part of the non-existent peace negotiations. Williamson explains:

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas says he will no longer accept a role for the United States in the ongoing Arab–Israeli peace negotiations, which have produced little in the way of negotiation and nothing in the way of meaningful peace.

If President Abbas desires to end diplomatic relations with the United States, the United States should think seriously about obliging him.

There were apocalyptic intimations, but in reality the response was more or less what one would expect, and if the Olympic committee ever recognizes rock-throwing as a legitimate sport, the Palestinian people will finally have found their national calling.

This is a familiar and tedious piece of performance art. The Palestinian statelet is in no way viable, and the Palestinian cause is less and less useful to the Islamic powers with each passing year. … and the Palestinian cause has in no small part devolved from instrument of civilizational conflict to instrument of ordinary grift, a phony jihad used to fortify the alliance between fanatics and financial interests that is the default model of government throughout much of the Muslim Middle East.

Performance art… grifting… a cause that has outlived its usefulness. Check, check, check.

Of course, the greatest fiction of them all is the peace process:

Whatever sympathy one may feel for the Palestinian people themselves, their leaders and the leaders of their allies are not good-faith negotiating partners and are not likely to become good-faith negotiating partners. It is difficult to negotiate a lasting peace when one side does not want peace at all.

How best to deal with this situation. Williamson is right here. Surely, our State Department will recoil in horror, but in truth we should stop our indirect support of the Palestinian Authority. Who, with a brain, supports a terrorist group that despises it?

…the United States should consider accommodating President Abbas’s demand and stepping away from the situation for a while, taking our aid money with us. If President Abbas must have his obstinacy and his cheap theatrics, then let him pay the full price for them. Let’s see how much loose change Erdogan can scramble up from the cushions of his ottoman. The haul is likely to be disappointing.

As a sidelight, we turn to an important reaction to Trump’s announcement about Jerusalem. This time, from the government of India. As it happened, the Indian government of Narendra Modi issued a perfunctory statement that it was not very happy, but that was all.

Al-jazeera has the story. For its part it does not like this turn in Indian-Israeli relations:

India's two-sentence response to the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital last week elicited mixed reactions after New Delhi for decades strongly backed the Palestinian cause….

Anguished, Al-Jazeera recounts the thaw in relations between India and Israel. As it happens, we have pointed this out on this very blog:

India-Israel ties have flourished since a ground-breaking trip by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July this year. Modi's predecessors had kept Israel at arm's length with New Delhi being a vocal supporter of the Palestinians.

Modi, however, has spoken of his personal affinity for Israel and his visit to the country before he became prime minister. He pointedly missed visiting Ramallah this year, the seat of the Palestine Authority and a customary stop for visiting leaders trying to maintain a balance in political ties.

But Sreeram Chaulia, dean at the Jindal School of International Affairs, said India's evolving ties with Israel are based on pragmatism.

"I don't think the fact that we are increasing our strategic cooperation with Israel should in any way come at the expense of the Palestinians. Our cooperation is based on pragmatic mutual benefit," Chaulia told Al Jazeera.

"We are independent, not influenced by outsiders. Similarly on this issue, we have an embassy of Palestine in Delhi. India is a major contributor to the Palestinian authority and its institutions… If India was a major political player in the Middle East, we would have been forced to take a stand, but we are not."

India and Israel have deep military ties. In 2017, India signed two arms deals, spending $2.6bn on Israeli missile defence systems.

So, the Indian government does not want to hurt the delicate feelings of the Palestinians. But, it is more interested in doing business with Israel. Can you blame it?

Besides, I have heard tell that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu will be the honored guest of the Narendra Modi at Indian Independence Day celebrations.

Muslim Anti-Semitism in Sweden and Germany

Have you signed up with the Resistance yet? Have you rushed out to join the disloyal opposition in the name of democracy? Are you ready to fight against creeping American right wing crypto-Nazism?

If you have, you have a problem. True enough, anti-Semitism exists. In particular, it exists in Europe. Most especially, it exists in European countries that have opened their doors to the largest number of Muslim refugees. But, if you are a citizen of the world, you dare not call it by its name. You dare not connect the word Islam with anti-Semitism and terrorism.

Because that would be uncomfortable. It would be so uncomfortable that the New York Times, in a story reported by Paulina Neuding, goes on for paragraph after paragraph before it mentions that recent outbursts of anti-Semitism in Sweden were not produced by right wing extremists. In truth, most of them were produced by Muslims. The rest were the work of left wing extremists. The last two groups account for 78% of anti-Semitic attacks. Only 5% were the work of the far right. It’s a good reason to go to war against Nazis.

Neuding reports:

This past Saturday, a Hanukkah party at a synagogue in Goteborg, Sweden, was abruptly interrupted by Molotov cocktails. They were hurled by a gang of men in masks at the Jews, mostly teenagers, who had gathered to celebrate the holiday.

Two days later, two fire bombs were discovered outside the Jewish burial chapel in the southern Swedish city of Malmo.

Who knows what tomorrow may bring?

For Sweden’s 18,000 Jews, sadly, none of this comes as a surprise. They are by now used to anti-Semitic threats and attacks — especially during periods of unrest in the Middle East, which provide cover to those whose actual goal has little to do with Israel and much to do with harming Jews.

Both of these recent attacks followed days of incitement against Jews. Last Friday, 200 people protested in Malmo against President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The protesters called for an intifada and promised “we will shoot the Jews.” A day later, during a demonstration in Stockholm, a speaker called Jews “apes and pigs.” There were promises of martyrdom.

Malmo’s sole Hasidic rabbi has reported being the victim of more than 100 incidents of hostility ranging from hate speech to physical assault. In response to such attacks, the Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a travel warning in 2010 advising “extreme caution when visiting southern Sweden” because of officials’ failure to act against the “serial harassment” of Jews in Malmo.

Today, entering a synagogue anywhere in Sweden usually requires going through security checks, including airport-like questioning. At times of high alert, police officers with machine guns guard Jewish schools. Children at the Jewish kindergarten in Malmo play behind bulletproof glass. Not even funerals are safe from harassment.

Jewish schoolteachers have reported hiding their identity. A teacher who wouldn’t even share the city where she teaches for fear of her safety told a Swedish news outlet: “I hear students shouting in the hallway about killing Jews.” Henryk Grynfeld, a teacher at a high school in a mostly immigrant neighborhood in Malmo, was told by a student: “We’re going to kill all Jews.” He said other students yell “yahoud,” the Arabic word for Jew, at him.

A spokesman for Malmo’s Jewish community put the situation starkly. You “don’t want to display the Star of David around your neck,” he said. Or as spokesman for the Goteborg synagogue put it, “It’s a constant battle to live a normal life, and not to give in to the threats, but still be able to feel safe.”

The question that has dogged Jews throughout the centuries is now an urgent one for Sweden’s Jewish community. Is it time to leave?

Did you notice, not a word about the religion or ethnicity of the perpetrators of the anti-Semitic attacks. These Muslims are making it impossible for Jews to live in Sweden.

What are Swedish politicians doing about it? Nothing. What did you think they would do? They say that they do not want to be accused of Islamophobia but, in truth, they are sniveling cowards. They are good feminists and have gotten in touch with their feminine side. They are hiding under their desks and hoping that it will not come for them. To be fair they are also unconcerned about the rapes that these refugees are committing against their wives, daughters and sisters.

You have to force Swedish politicians to acknowledge the threat. They are afraid of speaking ill against Islam—it must have something to do with blasphemy laws:

In an interview in June, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven was asked whether Sweden had been naïve about the link between immigration and anti-Semitism. His response was typical of the way in which leading politicians have avoided giving straight answers about the threat against the country’s Jews: “We have a problem in Sweden with anti-Semitism, and it doesn’t matter who expresses it, it’s still as darn wrong.”

But the problem has grown so dire that it finally forced Mr. Lofven to admit in an interview this month: “We will not ignore the fact that many people have come here from the Middle East, where anti-Semitism is a widespread idea, almost part of the ideology. We must become even clearer, dare to talk more about it.”

Neuding adds that the leftist Swedish press often foments anti-Semitic sentiment:

… the Swedish press often crosses the line into vilification of the Jewish state and regularly insinuates that events in the Middle East are directed by powerful Jews in the West. This risks stoking already dangerously high anti-Jewish sentiment.

What can be done about it? Neuding proposes this:

It is also vital for Sweden to adopt a coherent strategy to combat radical Islamism. The country has become one of Europe’s richest recruiting grounds for Islamic State fighters. Five people were killed in an Islamist attack in downtown Stockholm in April, and Swedish Islamists have been involved in other deadly attacks in Europe, including in Paris and Brussels.

One aspect of this strategy must be for the authorities to regain control over immigrant neighborhoods, where organized crime is rampant. In addition, Sweden has had a laissez-faire attitude toward religious schools, tax-funded through a voucher system. This has allowed extremists to exert influence over the minds of young people. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to fund radicalization.

The government should also do more to counter attempts by foreign clerics to radicalize its Muslim community with a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam, including the insidious idea that the Holocaust is a lie. In Sweden, as in other European countries, radicalization of Muslims is often funded and organized by foreign entities.

So far so good. Unfortunately, Neuding felt obliged to close her article with a reference to the man who led the world in cowardly submission to Islam. That would be Barack Obama. Isn’t Sweden’s failure to address the real problem coincident with Obama’s failure to acknowledge the threat Islamist anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism posed.

After suggesting that Sweden failed to see the Islamist roots of anti-Semitism, Neuding writes this piece of swill:

During his state visit to Sweden in 2013, President Barack Obama didn’t hesitate to call out the country’s anti-Semitism problem. Speaking at Stockholm’s main synagogue, he included a subtle but unmistakable criticism of the attitude among Swedish politicians: ”We will stand against anti-Semitism and hatred, in all its forms.” Swedish leaders should heed his words.

Apparently, our president's stentorian declamations produced absolutely no effect. They were empty words. If they empowered anyone they empowered Islamist anti-Semitism.

Of course, it’s not just limited to Sweden. In Angela Merkel’s Germany, protest marchers are now chanting: Death to the Jews.

Muslim demonstrators in Berlin shout “death to Jews” and “Jews, remember Khaybar, army of Muhammad is coming again” during weekend protests.

After two days of silence, German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned antisemitic demonstrations that took place in Germany during the weekend. “We oppose all forms of antisemitism and xenophobia.” she told reporters on Monday. “The state has to use all available legal measures” against such acts, she added.

Merkel’s condemnation failed to address the issue of the Muslim demonstrators shouting “death to Jews” and “Jews, remember Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is coming again” in Arabic — alluding to the annihilation of the Jewish population of Khaybar, an oasis in Saudi Arabia, at the hands of Muhammad and his conquering army. The main demonstration took place at Berlin’s historic Brandenburg Gates, just a stone’s throw away from the Holocaust Memorial.

What did Angela do about the protests? Nothing, of course:

While Chancellor Merkel promised to “use all available legal measures”, the leading German newspaper Die Welt reported that no action was being taken against those who chanted “death to Jews” in Berlin over the weekend, claiming the local police were ‘helpless’.

As it happens, Muslim anti-Semitism in Germany has become the rule, no longer the exception. Ulf Poschardt writes in Die Welt:

With the migration of tens and thousands of refugees from the Middle- and Near East, antisemitic attitudes have received new and powerful resonating spaces. Not a week goes by in which Jews — who are not wearing Kippah — are attacked, spat at, kicked and humiliated. “Jew” is a “normal” term of abuse in underprivileged neighborhoods.

Kids with Jewish roots deny these or must change schools after a process of tortuous bullying. This is relativized in a macabre way by teachers and parent representatives, who blame it partially on the situation in the Middle East.

It’s all happening near the place where Barack Obama declared himself to be a citizen of the world. And it has all been orchestrated by Obama’s most important European supporter, Angela Merkel.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Steaming Pile of Human Garbage

Apparently, she does not have very high self-esteem. A letter writer who dubs herself Anxious and Lost writes to New York Magazine’s advice column, Ask Polly, to confess that she feels like a “steaming pile of human garbage.” She feels like she is a bullshitter and that she might just be bullshit. At least she feels her feelings.

Since Polly herself has mastered the art of bullshit, AL has come to the right place. Clearly, if AL had wanted to get over her tendency to bullshit and especially to whine and complain she would not have written to Polly… a kindred spirit if ever there was one.

At first glance, AL is suffering from a distinctly modern condition. It does not take too much imagination to figure out where she ever got the idea, but she believes that without a career her life is worthless. Does she need career counseling? The last time she sought it out she found it in the words of a psychic. Naturally, she followed the psychic’s advice and, would you believe, it worked out badly.

It turns out that AL has a boyfriend. She has friends and family. She says that she whines to them all the time. Might it not be better for her to stop whining to her sweet boyfriend so that perhaps he might want to marry her? Then, she might find her true calling as a wife and mother. Yes, I understand that such thoughts are anathema, but what are blogs for if not to speak the unspeakable.

Anyway, her priorities are out of whack. And she feels even worse since she has a twin sister who is an overachiever and who apparently does not spend her days and nights complaining about everything that is wrong with her life.

Want to hear AL’s version of her tale of woe? Here it is:

For most of my 20s, I dreamed about doing my Ph.D. I worked a couple of well-paying, practical office jobs that I hated, and I was miserable. I paid off my loans. I saved. Every few months, I would have an existential crisis where I would try to think of the career paths that might lead me to happiness, and every time I was convinced that doing a Ph.D. was the only way to go. I wanted someone to tell me what to do, or to give me permission to do what seemed crazy but felt right. On my 28th birthday, my wish came true. I saw a psychic who told me that I was a teacher, and I burst out laughing with relief. Finally, someone who saw me! She told me that I would be accepted to two schools to do my Ph.D. I applied to two schools and got into both.

Before proceeding, note the phrase: she is looking to find a career path that will lead her to happiness. 

In any case, I recommend that AL go easier on the scatology. It isn’t ladylike.

I do think it was important for me to try grad school for myself and realize that I hated it. But, Polly, I feel like a steaming pile of human garbage, and when I look into the future, it just feels bleak. I can’t stop comparing myself to other people my age. It feels like everyone has their shit figured out, or at least enough that they are doing jobs that don’t make them want to kill themselves and are making enough money that they can afford to pay rent, save a bit, take vacations, and do nice things for the people they love. I know comparing yourself to others is a recipe for disaster, but it’s impossible for me not to, considering I have an identical twin sister (whom I love and am very close to) who has never been unemployed, never made a wrong career move, and makes more money than I can ever imagine earning. I’ve gone back to work part time at a service-industry job, but I’m only getting two shifts a week and I’m terrified of what the next few months will look like. I feel like an infant. I had no backup plan. I had grad school on a pedestal for so long that I don’t know how to imagine anything else.

As one reads this, one gets the impression that AL is out there on her own, detached from other people, living a solitary life. As it happens, she has a boyfriend… so we are puzzled to hear her whining about how she seems to want to do it all by herself.

I don’t know how to get rid of this belief that other people can see me better than I see myself. My whole life I’ve just wanted people to tell me who I am and what I should do. I just want to be at the part where I don’t have to worry anymore. I want the career that feels life-affirming. I want to be financially comfortable. I want to have disposable income again so I can take piano lessons or a writing class. I want to love myself and be healed from my stupid traumatic upbringing. I want to settle down. Going through the mess of figuring it all out just feels exhausting and unfair. I thought I would have had it all sorted out by now. I don’t know how much more uncertainty my self-esteem can endure.

This paragraph tells us that she has done too much therapy. In truth, as research, especially that of Tasha Eurich, has pointed out, other people always see us more clearly than we see ourselves.

One can question precisely how traumatic her upbringing was, since her twin sister does not seem to have suffered from it. Anyway, the paragraph is pure psychobabble. One suspects that her anguish and despair have been fostered, if not produced, by a dumbass therapist.

Naturally, AL’s friends are trying to help her out. They recommend that she regress to her girlhood and ask what she liked doing at the time. It feels like good advice, but it’s really bad advice. Still, Polly lights on it and sees AL as a creative, emotional person who loves beauty. AL does not know what to do with her love of beauty, and Polly will tell her to become an artist or something. In truth, if you love beauty you can also go to work in a flower shop, but I digress.

Anyway, here’s the rest of the letter:

Recently someone close to me asked me what I liked doing when I was a kid. The things that really mattered to me then still really matter to me now: books, music, and art. I think I’m obsessed with beauty, and I think there’s something there. But how do I turn that into … well, anything? My résumé is a fucking mess. I have no experience being paid to do the things I care about. I don’t even make time for them as hobbies anymore, not even with all the free time I have since dropping out of school. Lately, I’ve been considering going back to school to become a therapist, but the thought of spending more money on school makes me feel queasy. And the question of which jobs to work while I save up to be able to do that just makes me feel like crawling into bed and sleeping for six months. I feel bad for still not having my shit together. I feel bad for my sweet boyfriend, who has to put up with me, and for my family and friends, who have listened to me whine incessantly for YEARS about how every job sucks and then had to listen to me gush for a year about how grad school was going to save me, only to have to watch me go through the crisis of realizing that that was also bullshit. What do I do now that everything feels like bullshit? What if all of this means that I’m bullshit?

Telling this woman to enter into a creative field is genuinely bad advice. It’s what you would expect from Polly. The therapy world has persuaded far too many people that they should become artists. It is extremely difficult to have a career as an artist. Better to work in a flower shop.

Yet, the one question that AL is not asking is the only real question that she should be asking. You may recall, or perhaps you do not, that famed management consultant Peter Drucker wrote a pamphlet called Managing Oneself. It offers serious guidance to young people who are looking for career success.  In many corners of the therapy world it should be required reading.

What does Drucker say? He does not tell people to agonize over finding their passion. He does not tell them to find out what they really, really want to do. As AL points out so clearly, that approach leads nowhere. Instead, Drucker recommends that people ask themselves what they are good at, where their talent lies. Good question that. You gain more satisfaction from having greater success. And you achieve greater success if you are pursuing a career in something that you are good at.

Interestingly, if you want to find out what you are good at, you should not search your soul. You should look at your relative performance, on different activities. You should ask yourself what other people have told you about what you are good at. You see, it’s all in other people. They see you more clearly than you see yourself. And they know what you are really good at better than you do.

Rationing Health Care in Great Britain

One recalls the evening of November 8, 2016 when famed prognosticator Paul Krugman assured us that the stock market, which had reacted to the Trump election victory by falling precipitously, would never recover.

Being a Nobel prize-winning economist means never having to admit you are wrong.

I probably do not need to remind you that the same Krugman assured us, during the Obamacare debate in 2010 that we should all adopt the British National Health Service model… and that the horror stories about it were all lies.

Well, here we go again. The Times of London reports that the head of Britain’s NHS has announced that there will be more rationing of health care and further delays before receiving non-emergency surgery. In fact, physicians will refuse to treat many conditions that they consider minor… like indigestion. Apparently, funds are so tight that the NHS bureaucrats failed to notice that sometimes indigestion can be a sign of something worse. And, it will no longer treat hearing loss… which again can signal something worse. And the NHS will no longer treat coughs… which, but I do not want to keep repeating myself.

The Times reports:

The health service will curb treatment for conditions such as hearing loss and dementia after its head set out the first explicit limits on what patients should expect.
Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, effectively ripped up waiting-time targets for routine surgery, rebuffing demands from ministers as he said that cancer, mental health and GP care should take priority.

Patients were told to stop expecting the NHS to treat coughs, indigestion and other minor conditions, with GPs encouraged to send people away without prescriptions for medicines they could buy over the counter.

If you are British and have a sore throat, you are on your own. And if it’s strep… then what?

As for non-urgent surgery, you’re pretty much out of luck:

The goal of treating 92 per cent of patients waiting for non-urgent surgery within 18 weeks has not been met for more than a year and internal NHS calculations suggest that it will cost £2.5 billion to clear waiting lists. Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, said there were “serious questions about the legality of effectively abandoning a standard of care enshrined in the NHS constitution”.

For your edification, here’s the list of ailments that will no longer be treated by the NHS:

Aches and sprains such as headaches and period pains
Cold sores
Colic in babies
Coughs, colds and blocked noses
Insect bites
Mild acne
Mild to moderate hay fever
Mouth ulcers
Sore throat
Travel sickness
Warts and verrucas

You do not need to be a physician to find this concerning. No longer treat insect bites… have they ever heard about Lyme disease?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Kirsten Gillibrand's Lament

True, Trump’s tweet about New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was demeaning. It did not befit a gentleman. It disrespected and dishonored a lady. In a better world, a world where we actually had gentlemen and ladies, it would not have happened.

You know which tweet I am talking about. After Gillibrand said that Trump should resign because he was accused of sexual harassment, Trump shot back with a tweet saying that she was a lightweight—no arguing with that—and that she had begged him for campaign contributions. And then he added: “she would do anything for them.”

Gillibrand shot back that it was a sexist smear, which it wasn’t. Then Elizabeth Warren chimed in that Trump was “slut-shaming” the senator, as though Gillibrand had engaged in behavior that some retrograde moralists would have called slutty. Clearly, Warren did not know what she was saying. In any case, we have no evidence that Gillibrand did or did not do what Trump accused her of doing. 

Trump's tweet was more suggestive than explicit, but we all know precisely what he meant.

Now, the political/media outrage machine is doing its darndest to blind us to the obvious question: Was Trump telling the truth? Did KG beg for a campaign donation and did she offer to provide a sexual service in return? 

We do not know the truth. KG has not said that it did not happen. She just said that it was a sexist smear. These are not the same thing.

So we are back with the same consideration that we evoked when judging the charges against Roy Moore. Given what we know about the senator, is the charge plausible? At the least, we know that KG has accomplished nothing of consequence in her time in the senate. Were it not for her rants against sexism and for transgender restrooms, we would not even know who she is. As a proud New Yorker, I am persuaded that she is simply wasting a senate seat.

True enough, KG has taken positions on all sides of most issues. She is looking to advance her career, possibly even the first female president from New York. For my part, I don’t think she will make it. Because there is no there there. There is no substance behind the carefully made-up bleach-blonde persona.

Had Trump leveled the same ungentlemanly charge against Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton or Susan Collins, we would all have laughed it off. In those cases, it is completely implausible. Yet, with Kirsten Gillibrand it is far more difficult to dismiss out of hand. Which is why her supporters are out screaming and yelling and ranting and raving about the sexism of it all.

The standard is not truth, but plausibility. Unfortunately for KG Trump's charge meets that standard.