Friday, July 13, 2012

Electric Fences, Barney Fife and the X-Men

The sticker, above, was on a car in the lot when I grabbed a cup of coffee this morning.

Generally good advice, and I need to hear it as much as anyone. 

By the way, you look lovely today.  Have you lost weight?  You don't want to get too thin!

A friend of mine says the world needs more applause, and he is right. 

Genuine applause only, of course, but it's really not that hard to find things to applaud about.

We live in an incredible world with marvelously talented, smart, hard-working people.  Let's not focus on the stupid, lazy and crazy more than we should, eh?

That said, I find that if you do not fence up, then you do not fence OUT

The deranged, the psychotic, the criminal and the narcissist are all a bit tone-deaf and, by definition, are people with boundary issues. If you are not clear about what you will not tolerate, then you may find yourself run over by these types

It was my mother that taught me this (though she denies it). 

Some 30 years ago, I had gotten a terrific review from a boss, but he noted that I did not suffer fools well.  I thought that was a genuine criticism, and reported it to my mother (along with my raise and my promotion).  As she stirred the pot on the stove, she replied with solid clarity:


If you tolerate fools well, you're going to be surrounded by them.

Wow!   Hadn't thought of that. That was an alternative take. Clearly I needed to tolerate fools better (my boss was not wrong on that point!), but maybe there was a line to draw somewhere? Where was that?

And, of course, I am still working on that question!

As is the nation.

You see, this question of fencing out bad behavior is one of the Big Questions of our time.  

We have all been ripped, raped and robbed and yet we all seem to be so damn polite, that we think we cannot even say too much about it, much less do anything about it.

Take your own bank account.  I do not need to know anything about you to know you have lost a lot of money and security in recent years.

If you are an average American, about 40 percent of your net worth disappeared between 2007 and 2010 as your home value crashed, your 401-K retirement savings withered on the vine, and fraudsters like Bernie Madoff ran off with the spoon.

I was interviewed about that kind of stuff earlier this week, and in the rough transcript, now online, I reference electric fences, Barney Fife and the X-Men.

My core point is that America has been brought down by fraudsters

Al Queda took down a couple of buildings -- Wall Street took down the nation. 

And yet, we seem confused as to what do about White Collar crime.  Why?

Lying, stealing and cheating is self-rewarding behavior that is not so very different from a dog that leaps up on to the dinner table every night for a bite of steak.

If you allow that kind of behavior to go on for very long, it's going to take some focus to get the dog busted off the bad behavior and moving in a new direction. 

Sometimes, when a wire is truly twisted, you have to pull it across a sharp edge to get it straight.

And, of course, it's not all that different in the world of business, is it?

Consider the Medicaid fraudster, in the video below.   For this fellow, ripping off Medicad -- America's health care program for the oldest, sickest and poorest -- has been a hugely self-rewarding behavior.

Should we now ignore this self-rewarding behavior and hope it goes away?

Should we reward this fraudster for engaging in some other kind of less-destructive behavior?

Is this bad actor depraved because he is deprived?

Is he simply a bored animal?

Should we shake a can of pebbles at him?

How about the State Attorney General's "body block"?  Is simply knocking firmly on the front door and giving him a good stare doing very much?

At what point do we say, "enough is enough" and pull out an e-collar for a little "Edison medicine"?

Are we ready to try something different to stop very bad self-rewarding behavior?  And if so, what setting should we put that e-collar on?   Is "vibrate and tone" going to be enough?


1 comment:

Seahorse said...

Even if they throw the book at this medicaid orthodontist, WHO is going to buy that ridiculous house and grounds to reimburse the tax payers? After all, Celine Dion already has one. Sheeeet...