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Posts Tagged ‘US

#1 Is the political system broken?

America is big.  America is a fiercely democratic as any place bar India.  So decision making takes time and is hard-work.

Too many people had given up on their ability to get along with others.  Too many people had given up in a two party process that thrashes things out until a decision is made.

America did not give up this time.  That is why we care.  America did not give up on itself.

And if America, large and committed to hearing everyone out, did not give up; then we don’t have to give up either.

That’s why we care.   America you have done it again.  Democracy may be hard work but it works when we work.

#2 We do business with America and your policies affect us

I’m in the HR world and I work with Americans.  You may be my clients.  You may be my competitors.

You angst about pensions and health care.

Employers elsewhere take more responsibility, contribute more to their employees health care, yet interfere with individual decisions less.  You do “get your knickers in a knot”.  You also seem to arrange your affairs so that you have wicked levels of liability that could bankrupt you.

You could learn from us.  But I am not trying to sell you anything.

Rather I know that your policies at home affect the policies of your subsidiaries and your subsidiaries affect our business environment and the competitive landscape.

So we watch you carefully.  We know you angst about insurance.  Carry on!  You spend time & money worrying about what the rest of us get straightened out at the outset.  We like that!  It gives us competitive advantage.

Here is a good link to the health care to what was voted through last night.

#3  A happy America is a stable America

But we care.  Really we do.

We care because we care.  And of course a happy healthy America is an America that will be a good citizen of the world.  We don’t want a country as big and as rich as you descending into civil strife.  And believe me, large disparities in wealth and well-being go in that direction.

Now you have done health care, live with it!  Make it work.  And get back to what you are good at.  Over paid, oversexed and over here!

There’s a life to be lived and more people should be able to live it with vigor.  That should benefit everyone. Even those for find the new schemes unfamiliar.

Anyway.  That’s why we care.  Beyond the human emotion of caring about our friends.

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I sat up till 3.30am to watch the Health Reform Bill pass.  Congratulations, America!

For me, watching the House of Representatives in action was an education.  Even two years’ ago was it possible to watch American law being made across the ocean?  Maybe it was technologically, I don’t know, because it is only this year that the world holds its breath and turns to America to watch its every move.

I’d never seen the House of Representatives in session before.  I imagine most Americans haven’t either.

  • There are set plays and set speeches over 2-3 hours clustered in sections like halves and quarters or innings.  More like American football than European soccer.
  • A sub-leader for each side takes over and calls play allocating 1m, 45secs and even 15secs.
  • Most activity is mostly token asking for “unanimous consent to revise and expand their remarks”.  They change one or two words in this ritual.  Democratics say something like “this historic bill” and the Republicans say “this flawed bill”.  Then it appears the representative hands something to the stenographers.
  • Several Speakers (‘chairmen’) are used for short spells of half-and-hour to an hour.
  • The Speakers’ tone is cold, even hostile.  Language is passive. “The House will be in order.”   Time is strictly, adhered to.
  • When it is time to vote, Representatives are given 15 minutes to enter their vote electronically and CNN kindly gave a running score up on the screen.

Being the early hours of Monday morning here, I was struggling to stay awake and I think I missed a bit but I was there for the last, which was a bit more lively.

  • In short, there is no give-or-take or repartee as there is in the British Parliament.  The House didn’t even feel full.  Not for the Americans is there the Churchillian feeling of knowing something important is happening because the House is crowded.
  • Though prepared in advance and most people where repeating a liturgy “I seek unanimous consent”, the speechs were poor in diction, delivery and content.  I couldn’t see what purpose they served.
  • The on-the-spot decision making was done by the sub-leaders who manage their 15min ‘quarters’ scrupulously interchanging between one party and the other and trying to finish the quarter within seconds of each other.

Of course, you could predict which party someone belongs to with fairly high accuracy.  If they are not male WASPs, they are probably Democrats.  The Republicans have a few women.

How to tell a white male Democrat from a white male Republican?  Well if they are youngish, they are probably Republican (take note of that).  It they have untidy hair, they are probably Democrat (though there were two notable exceptions).  If they dress with a bit of eclan, then they are definitely Democrat!

The speaking style of the various groups also differs markedly.  Republicans rarely show any charisma.  Their persuasive tactic is that “I am right”, “you will see”, and “you are wrong”.

A few black representatives used some oratory.

And Nancy Pelosi allowed her face to express all her emotions.  I am so glad that I am female and allowed to give non-wooden speeches.  Yay.

For me, it was fascinating because it was new to me.  But it is dull.  Representatives are doing other work while they sit through the ritual.  It seems to me that some iphones fitted with the new card reader would dispense with voting in 30 seconds.  Gee, even university lecture rooms can process data that fast.

There you have it. Politics grinds on.

Congratulations, America! You made history.  Again.

And for god’s sake, make it work.  Can you affford not to?

So President Obama has never used Twitter?

Last week, President Obama told Chinese students that he had never used Twitter. Shock! Who sent all those tweets under his name?

I tweet

I am a Tweeter. I enjoy tweeting because I work alone and in a small town. Twitter keeps me in touch with the world beyond my daily existence. It is also a handy diary. I often go back to me tweets to look up something that turned out to be more important than I thought at the time.

But I don’t think everyone must tweet

But I don’t think everyone should tweet just because tweeting is there. I’ve find it strange for example if a surgeon was tweeting. I hope surgeons are concentrating. To tweet about a patient who is unconscious could hardly be done with their consent!

Some people should not tweet, particularly when they are working

I don’t want pilots tweeting while they land a plane. And as a university lecturer, I wouldn’t tweet details about the quality of exam scripts – not because they are private – but because announcing the results is the prerogative of the Registrar. Only the official registry can announce a result.

I don’t expect a President to tweet

Here in lies why President Obama shouldn’t tweet. We voted for Obama, true (or rather Americans did). But we didn’t vote for Obama to do whatever he wants whenever he wants.

We voted him to work within a system and when we voted we assumed that he would be working within a system.

Just as I might ask a pilot to fly a plane, I haven’t asked him to fly any plane. This is a package – you and that plane. Obama and a set of institutions. He becomes part of the institution and it is the institution that is tweeting just as it is the “plane” talking to airtraffic control.

Public office changes the rules

Public office cramps our style! When we accept public office, as President, surgeon, pilot or university lecturer, then we accept that our behaviour is no longer private. And we comport ourselves accordingly. We will say no more on Twitter than we would in the pub. And people are more interested in what our institution does then us personally, it is better not to tweet. Let there be an official tweeter!

Let official tweeters work!

Of course, that means people in high office are not part of the river of information that is available to me and you. Let the official tweeters brief them then! Just as they do about what is being said in newspapers and on the streets.

It is no biggie. But not understanding our institutional role is a biggie. We shouldn’t be in the job if we don’t understand the constraints on our personal lives.

Authenticity means me & my job

And sometimes that means I will be silent


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