Hands

Give or grab?

I was walking to an appointment this afternoon and thinking about all that is going on in the world. For some reason that translated into a picture of hands in my mind.

Some that give.

Some that grab.

Here is an interesting aside. As I searched for these images, being careful to use images in the public domain, I found lots of public domain “giving” images but the “grabbing” images were mostly commercial and watermarked.

Sure there is a continuum between giving and grabbing but if you are interested in living a values based life or if you care not a whit about values, you will be a giver or a grabber respectively. Most of us have trouble being quite so black and white about our values, hence, the continuum. I also appreciate that there are good and bad values, a value judgement by itself! Phew!

Over the years the public employee unions have learned that they are basically negotiating with themselves for their ever increasing wages and benefits. They vigorously work to elect their bosses who then approve generous wage and benefit increases. Deserved? Not? What value system would you use to gage?

Additionally, not all of the elected officials will be in place when the bill comes due. So the decision becomes an “of the moment” kind of thing. Is this a sustainable approach?

With an economic downturn the resulting contraction hits the private sector hard. Jobs are lost. Wage increases are constrained. As we are now learning, it also hits the public sector as the tax base shrinks or just can’t keep up with the demands of things like contractually guaranteed increases.

In some areas where the value system is stronger things are more balanced. Take a look at some of the new organization structures being tried as some firms pursue more sustainable management practices.

Employee ownership is one of my favorites. In the “nothing is ever simple” category, It is a model that has its own human resource challenges. How much ownership does the new employee have vs. the multi year veteran? Do we lay off an owner in hard times?

One thing for sure, the employee owner is not very apt to stay in the five star hotel on their business trip. Contrast that with the entitled, caretaker managers of some private firms.

In other areas where the style of life is kill or be killed and values are kinda thin, the imbalance is dramatic. Financial Services firms seem great examples of this behavior. How many ways can I charge the credit card customer so I can get my bonus?

I just read about  Elizabeth Warren the Harvard Professor and consumer advocate in today’s Wall Street Journal. As a “consumer advocate” she, “slammed Wall Street chiefs…as the “people who drove the car over the cliff” and “then demanded a bailout.”” Now, as she sets up the new (I am from the federal government and am here to help) Consumer Financial Protection Bureau called for in the Dodd Frank bill, she says she wants to, “make sure that there is a robust financial-services sector.” Is this a values based person? Sounds more like she has an opportunistic bent.

Do you feel comfortable that the Dodd Frank bill will help level the playing field between aggressive financial services firms and their customers? Would we be better off without it?

Good vs. evil will always be tugging at us. Survival instincts live in all of us. How do we achieve a sustainable world when hands are more often grabbing than giving?

I didn’t promise answers…

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