Archive for January, 2009

I read today about Obama chiding Wall Street for their reported $40 billion dollars in bonuses this year (even though they were down over the past few years).  It does offend one’s sensibilities, I certainly agree.

I mean…if risky mortgages are the source of the problem, then don’t bail out the banks, bail out the people…the banks get the money in the end anyway (since the people still have to pay the mortgage) and the people get to keep their homes.

If you bail out the banks…the banks get the money, the people still lose their homes…which then means the banks get the homes………so the banks get the homes AND the money:  And they were the ones responsible for the mess in the first place (to the losers go the spoils)!

Seems like they’re making out like bandits.  We lose our homes AND we pay to bail them out.  But whatever….that’s another conversation (the gist being that it really ISN’T the bad mortgages that are causing banks trouble, otherwise bailing out the people would be a more logical economic and political solution).

What the continuance of Wall Street bonuses really means is that pay for performance is a myth, and that is what it has to do with my job (HR Consulting).  Pay for performance is the idea that each is paid (in some measure) according to what they contribute.  If you do better, you get more.  A bonus (since it is a BONUS and not part of regular pay) would be linked to some performance measure and if you meet that measure then you get the bonus.

This is where it gets a little human on us:  The bonuses are largely paid out anyway (people set goals attainable within the normal flow of work, or managers “adjust” for externalities, etc.)  In effect, bonuses are not pay for performance (otherwise Wall Street wouldn’t get any)….they are really just a part of base pay.  In a good year you may earn 100% of a potential bonus; in a poor year you may still earn 75%.

Merit pay increases work the same way:  The average salary increase is 3.5% or so a year.  The average merit increase for good performers is 5%; top performers 7%.  In other words, there is only a 4% difference in pay increases between those who are just drawing paychecks, and those who are the best of the best (the best of the best do get promoted though).

Anyone who’s ever worked in corporate America knows the top performers are worth 10x or more than the average worker.

Of course there is the issue of measurement (how do you know how much more someone is worth?), and the issue of fairness (would you work next to someone doing your job that is making 10x more than you?), and the holdover from manufacturing/assembly line era of pay where a warm body is a warm body…anyone can pull a lever or start a machine, so everyone should make the same.  And then there is simplicity:  its easier to largely pay people the same.

Anyway, don’t blame Wall Street for their bonuses for the most part….its just part of salary.

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I don’t know if this is real or a joke, but some SC state senator is trying to outlaw profanity.  I just have no response….

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medical myths dispelled

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It doesn’t get any plainer that this:

There will be a lot of political talk coming up about “changes” in healthcare…to deal with the cost, with the un-insured…about the mandate the election provided for change. I talked about the investment the healthcare industry has in maintaining the status quo here.

No matter what they say do not be fooled that some incremental change will make a difference.  US Healthcare costs are so far out of whack that only structural change will make a difference.

Also, understand what the chart is saying and think about what the end result of healthcare is supposed to be:  A longer life.  You can argue that quality is also important; however, quantity is a good surrogate, as all healthcare improvements should conceivably lengthen life some bit.  Obviously we fail.

The chart is saying:  We pay twice as much as everyone else, and are pretty much LAST in lifespan among developed first-world countries.  We pay the most and get the least.

The opponents of a change in healthcare will make two main points:

1)  The quality of care will be worse under nationalized healthcare:  Really?  Then how do all the countries ahead of us live longer and spend less?  They will say you will have less choice and wait in long lines to get care.  Maybe or maybe not, but that obviously isn’t affecting the life span in those countries ahead of us.  They may (or may not) stand in a line….but it isn’t shortening their life any.

2)  Nationalized care (or basically any change proposed) will cost too much:  Hard to argue with the chart….we are already paying too much.  I will make a comment on that, and it relates to income inequality:  Although I have no data to back this up, I bet the rich in the United States DO have the best healthcare in the world.  The issue is that so few can afford that kind of care.

What do I propose as far as a change (its easy to poke holes in the current system)?  Don’t know.  There is so much mis-information out there about WHY our current system costs so much that I’ve had trouble sorting that out.  I know alot is administation, but not all of it.  I know some of it is too few doctors/health care professionals.  I know some of it is litigation and using emergency room as last resort care.

I do know though that it can be done, because all the countries ahead of us are generally similar to the US in macro-economic conditions.  There is nothing unique about the US that is driving costs so high.

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Many of you….actually some (perhaps few) of you, know that I had a blog at chasingeden.com for about 5 years; then I “archived” those entries for various reasons.  I’ve put the old entries back up here.

On another note, I never really ride the wave of great new websites, since they come and go.  This followed by that, followed by whatever.  Some great new site/service becomes popular and then it goes away.  Those kind of things follow an exponential growth curve, like multi-level marketing or bacteria growth.  It takes a while to ramp up, then everyone is doing it, then it tails off…then trends down.  However, Facebook is pretty cool.  I never thought I would hear from most of those people again and its been nice reminiscing for the most part.

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Posted a bunch of old pictures I scanned on Facebook.

I had this great idea that I would get a bulletin board for Xmas and put a bunch of old travel stuff on it to put in my office.  Maybe it would diffuse some of the emotion?  Maybe it would serve as a nice conversation piece?  It is more like shuffling around the skeletons in the closet.  Everything buried is not treasure.  But they are fun to look at!

Anyway, I went home for Xmas.  I drank so much at Jason’s I blacked-out and threw up on his couch.  I saw Rick Gibson and Marty Price, and felt bad the next day because I probably didn’t make a fool of myself since I’m generally well-behaved when I get drunk….but when you black-out, who knows?

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