Confidence in Hard Economic Times

Hard times are inevitable in every life, but their are ways to weather them.

The chattering class in Washington DC and elsewhere is abuzz with concern about the “fiscal cliff”, involving legislation passed in the summer of 2011 requiring tax increases and spending cuts to decrease the exploding US Federal deficit. The Washington Post suggests that this “fiscal cliff” would raise taxes over $2,000 per year on many middle income families, decrease spending, fray the safety net, and push the US economy into another recession. The “fiscal cliff” is simply the latest in a series of financial troubles that have plagued man throughout history, including such the Dutch Tulip Mania of 1720, the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Great Recession of 2008, and countless others. As always, the media is convulsed with worry, ordinary people differ in their responses, with some feeling helpless, others ambivalent, and a few confident.

Though I have not done formal interviews, those who feel helpless seem to believe that they will lose their jobs, their expenses will skyrocket, and there is nothing that they can do about it. These people wring their hands in fear and impotence and find it harder to function in their day to day lives. Those who are ambivalent usually don’t know what is going on. A few have confidence based on their assumption that everything will turn out fine because it always has in the past.

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Using the Military Decision Making Process in Civilian Organizations

One of the hardest tasks in any organization is to know your strategy, align actions to it, and equip people to perform the actions. Making decisions is the first step, and the MDMP can help. 

The vocabulary of the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) is not typical for civilian organizations, but the concepts are germane.  Translating MDMP into health care can be very useful for process improvement.

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Discrimination

Whether discrimination is good or bad depends entirely on the basis for making the choice. Groups, employers, and individuals rightly choose to avoid the indolent and the violent. The wrong comes when we discriminate against someone solely on the basis of race, sex, or something like that.

I was having dinner with two Caucasian women in the division dining tent in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2004. One was the division JAG (legal) officer and the other was another staff officer. One of them turned the conversation to discrimination and racial profiling, with the women relating stories from their experience. Our warm joviality cooled like hot cider on a snowy day. The staffer related a time when, while in the Miami airport, someone spoke to her in Spanish. She replied with exasperation, “couldn’t he just have looked at me and known that I couldn’t speak Spanish”. Growing weary of the conversation I replied, “No, because that would have been racial profiling.” The cooling relations froze like dry ice and we departed. We got along famously before and after, but that topic was relational poison.

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