On Downsizing Government I

Our governmental system, top to bottom, tends to reward people with pay levels, bonuses and amounts of bonuses, promotions and tenure based on how many people are subordinate in the organizational chart. [Note that by “tenure” I include, academic tenure, union-driven untouchables and civil service rules precluding termination of employment.] Several things are apparent.

  • There is no incentive to reduce the size of any organization, anywhere, anytime.

  • Searches, both open and furtive, for continuing tasks indefinitely and making additions to original “charters” are rewarded.

  • Any tasks or goals in those charters not achieved are immediately and continually attributed to lack of funding and resources.

  • Political appointees to superior positions in the hierarchy (unencumbered by experience, training or education in the position to which appointed) are easily prevented from downsizing. Their senior permanent staff are experienced, trained and educated to do exactly that.  

  • That same senior permanent staff are, by nature and the rewards systems mentioned, prone to aggrandizing increasing authority into government and are, almost by definition, statists.

Unless we are willing to take this system on and defeat it, downsizing government is a dream.  

Plan to be like Jesus

  1. Plan BackwardsWe must articulate the “end state” of whatever we undertake, with the characteristics of that end state defined, in order to know whether we are “progressing” or merely moving, consuming time, energy and materials, but getting no closer to satisfactory conclusions.

If we are serious about being conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29), we must describe that “end state”.

A few considerations, however. We must discern the difference between His divine characteristics and our mortal ones.

  • Christ is a title. (in Latin, Christus.) Christus is an approximation of the Jewish awesome, larger-than-life concept of Messiah. I would like to be more like Jesus, but not “Christ-like”:

    • There is only one Christ.

    • I’m not it.

    • To strive to be that, or like that, is presumptuous.

    • Nor does He need my (pitifully poor) help to be It.

  • On the other hand, to follow Jesus and try to emulate Him as the role model (He did say He was The Way – John 14:6) is what we should say – and do.

2. Attempting to emulate the divine qualities or characteristics is both inappropriate and pulls us away from what can and should be done. 

The Adversary takes great delight in

  • watching us attempt what is not ours to do…

  • while not doing what is ours to do!

What are the characteristics of Jesus we should not emulate?

  • Sinless: Oops. Too late. Yet the world (and Father of Lies) will tell us two lies.

    • Lie #1: We are born sinless but are made sinful by society, or whatever unliked political party, or philosophy or whatever.

    • Lie #2: To be sinless is our primary goal, and if we don’t get this right, the rest doesn’t matter. In that way we stop before we really get started.

  • Know-It-All: He does. We don’t. Get over it. Thinking (and communicating) we do undermines our commission before it starts.

3. What are the characteristics of Jesus we should emulate? 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 seems a good place to start. Love (Jesus) is

4 Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or 5 rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. 6 Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. 7 Love is always supportive,
loyal, hopeful, and trusting. 8 Love never fails! (Contemporary English Version)

Can I substitute my name for “love”?

If not, can I start?

Things worth doing are… worth doing, whether we do them well or not. 

A Needle in a Needlestack

When I was on active duty in the Air Force, we had an office called the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) office. When anyone had a complaint that they were being discriminated against based on gender, or race, or whatever, that office would independently research, investigate and report findings. While a squadron commander could request an EEO investigation, the EEO reported to the next higher commander.

The system reached a point of overload pretty quickly. People blamed supervisors and commanders for their not being promoted, or their drinking problems, or marital issues and filed EEO complaints. If a squadron commander would not approve a young airman’s request to go to another squadron to which her current boyfriend was assigned, the situation was OBVIOUSLY due to sexual harassment and warranted EEO investigation. The system was overloaded.

After the Tailhook Scandal in the 1980s and 1990s, if any charge was alleged against a commander they were assumed guilty and fired because it was less expensive to do that than it was to investigate. The system got so overloaded with spurious and minor complaints, the real ones were obscured.

Now, there were (and still are) undoubtedly real injustices occurring that deserved investigation and eventual punishment. Did anyone ever think the Hollywood casting couch really just disappeared? Did anyone ever think a politician’s lust for power would not include a lust for interns? Did anyone ever think moral relativism would arrive at bedrock truth?

Could this be the same situation with the NFL kneeling when the National Anthem is played? Or the Black Lives Matter sense of injustice? Has the choice of protest venues and behaviors obscured the intended message?

Does our culture really enjoy looking for a needle in a needlestack?

Separation of authority and responsibility.

We hear from our politicians and media of all sorts how crucial the separation of church and state is to the very survival of our Republic. Curiously, the concern is to keep Christianity out of the state but not (a) any other religious groups or (b) keeping the state out of churches, as in The Little Sisters of the Poor or anyone not celebrating LGBT… xyz preferential rights.

These quarrels might be interesting, especially during election times, but there are other issues more immediately malignant. And we’re not likely to hear politicians talking about them.

We hear of executive orders that may or may not invade legislative authority. We hear executive candidates promising to “rein in” judicial or legislative alleged overreaching of their constitutional authority constraints. And, we see judicial decisions based on some obscure legal reasoning both contradicting and befuddling to both the other branches and citizens.  

But, think both local and national level:

  • When has a parole board had any “price” to pay for recidivism?

  • Has a school board or administration paid a price for poorly educated “graduates”?

  • How do laws addressing being an accomplice before or after a crime apply to sanctuary cities, their mayors, or city councils? If not, why not?

  • Why do laws (such as the Affordable Care Act) not apply to the people who passed the laws, or their families or staff?

  • Why can legislatures continue to put provisions (a.k.a. riders) into bills having nothing to do with the primary purpose, and costing a lot of money, but would never pass alone? An example would be a 700 square mile park for a certain flower inserted into a national security bill that must be signed by a certain date.

  • Conversely, perhaps, why did we not adopt the line item veto at the federal level?

  • Why did we not adopt term limits?

  • Does a “taxpayer bailout” help the entity that cannot repay loans or the lenders that made stupid loans? How does an average citizen distinguish between an economic liability and a toxic asset? Why is that citizen left holding the bag?

In all these instances, and more, the people with the authority don’t bear responsibility for any “unintended consequences”.

The separation of authority and responsibility must be fixed.


A Consultant’s Rule Number One

A Consultant’s Rule Number One

I am a consultant. Clients hire my company, and me, to advise them on problems they may have and design solutions to those problems. Sometimes they hire us to implement those solutions, and other times they want us long-term to do the work as well.

Rule number one of consulting is this: Never criticize your client for needing you.

On the surface, it seems silly to have to state this. After all, the client is paying you, and criticism for not possessing your skill(s) is not likely to motivate the client to ask (or pay) you again. It would be as if a barber criticized you for letting your hair grow, or the gas station owner getting upset about you driving too much, or a real estate agent pleading for people to stop buying and selling property so much. Going deeper, it still seems silly to have to state this rule. But, alas, it is necessary, because it’s all too easy to become arrogant about whatever skills you possess, secrets you know, or mistake past good luck for your unique gifts. It is all too easy to become ungraceful. That’s why this rule is Number One.

Violating this rule is economic suicide, and you become irrelevant to clients.

Churches are often perceived as being judgmental. Unfortunately, the perception is often right. But Jesus said not to do that. How did the Boss treat the woman at the well, or the adulteress about to be stoned? Did He attract thousands of people who wanted to hear Him (even without snacks) by berating them? The only groups he criticized consistently were the self-satisfied Pharisees who figured they needed no help. If we, consultants representing the firm of Jesus Inc., view the non-believer as a client, why should we criticize the client for needing what we have found? After all, we were once there as well.

Violating this rule is spiritual suicide, and you become irrelevant to clients.


Everyone has a Worldview

  • Not everyone has a religion but everyone has a worldview.
    • The concept of worldview, or Weltanschauung, has become a sort of fundamental, if unarticulated, assumption in Western society. According to :
      • “A worldview is a conceptual framework and a set of beliefs used to make sense out of a complex, seemingly chaotic Reality based on  your perceptions, experience and learning.  Besides incorporating a purpose or “raison d’etre,” it provides an outlook or expectation for the world as it exists or is perceived to exist–one that you base predictions about the future on.  It continually evolves–indeed, you spend the rest of your life testing and refining it, based on feedback you get.  As it develops, it increasingly becomes the source of your goals and desires, and as such it shapes your behavior and values.”
    • Our churches often think they are competing with other religions or denominations or even sects, and maybe they are, but more often the worldview differences are in the way. When spreading our good news, we really need to identify how someone perceives the world. For example:
    • From “Finding Truth” by Nancy Pearcy:
      • Enlightenment rationalists made a god of reason;
      • Romantics deify the imagination;
      • Nationalists idolize the nations;
      • Marxists offer an economic version of sin and salvation;
    • Others:
      • Humanists pursue the perfectibility of man with nothing divine;
      • Progressives pursue perfection as a political deity
      • Islam seeks world domination under Allah and the Koran
      • Judeo-Christians seek revelation applicable to all people
      • Postmodernists declare there is no overarching truth (while stating what they perceive as an overarching truth).
    • The question then arises: What is God’s worldview? What does He say the world needs?
      • John 1:14 “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

God’s worldview is we need grace and truth. So He sent Jesus.


Tolerance, anyone?

Is it just me, or do you get confused about how the word “intolerant” is being used, or abused, these days? If we don’t agree with someone’s political agenda, we are accused of being “intolerant”. It is more than just left versus right, however. It inhibits, if not forbids, rational discourse. And, rational discourse is the foundation of a representative government.

We don’t tolerate those with whom we agree. We simply agree. To tolerate a behavior or opinion seems to require a disagreement as a pre-condition. Thus, to accuse someone of being intolerant when that person disagrees with an opinion or behavior betrays a marked lack of understanding of what the term means. It also betrays that the accuser is unable to tolerate opinions or behaviors of others if different from his own.

Perhaps this is one – not the only one, of course – contributing factor to the current acrimony in virtually all our political activities. We can’t rationally discuss things because we can’t even define our terms!


​Buffoonery 101

One night, my wife and I watched a series of television shows from A&E that depicted a woman’s departure from the Church of Scientology. During the third installment, she pointed out that Scientology people seem to have the same kind of devotion that the North Koreans do for that silly leader of theirs. She had a profound observation.

This morning I have been thinking about that more and more, and what an appropriate analogy it was. But it seems like we’ve been attracted to buffoons for many, many, many years. We see the films of Mussolini and his buffoonery on the balcony of a building in his uniform. We see the tyrannical rages of Hitler. We see the smug smiles of Stalin. And then we see the horrors associated with World Wars 1 and 2, Vietnam, Idi Amin and others throughout Africa and Pol Pot in Cambodia. Lately, only slightly less violent, it’s been those who are fanatical followers of Trump and fanatical haters of Trump. And then we see the fanatical followers and fanatical haters of Hillary.  We see people attracted to liars, unethical practices, and on and on. It makes me think that half the world, if not the majority, is addicted to buffoonery and the Stockholm Syndrome. And this doesn’t even yet include the fanatical followers of Islam. 

If there were ever any proof that this world is governed by the Prince of Darkness and Father of Lies, this must be part of it, if not the main part. 

“Observe, my son, with what little wisdom the world is run.” Baron von Oxenstierna, author, as quoted by Ben Stein


Truth Exists

  • Truth exists.
    • Whether we know it or not, agree or not, or understand or not, there are truths that exist.
    • My inability to understand something – a language, quantum mechanics, brain surgery or consciousness – does not mean it does not exist.
    • To say there is no overarching truth is self-contradictory. Despite the very intelligent and high-minded sounds of the post-modem humanists in our culture who recite, “There are no overarching truths”, there are real truths.
      • If truth does not exist, then those high-minded statements are true, a clear contradiction.
      • What they really mean is there is no truth “except this one”, so there “is” one. It is similar to the “Liar’s Paradox” in logic – “This statement is false”.
    • No one who claims all things are relative actually lives that way. To claim there is no truth outside my realm of awareness is supreme arrogance.
    • Many times our churches have adopted postmodern ideas such as “everything is relative”, or “whatever”.
      • They may think this necessary to be attractive to the “unchurched”. This is not surprising since we are submerged in a sea of postmodern propaganda in our schools, media and political environments all day and night, 365 days/ year.
      • When the “whatever” attitude concerns a Christian truth, however, we may be more slothful than clever.
    • After being abused and drug around Jerusalem all night, Pilate asked Jesus if He was a king. Jesus answered in part, “…You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth…”.

Truth is not relative, and Jesus thought highly of truth. Shouldn’t we?


What is “my truth” about?

From time to time I hear curious things about what truth is or is not. I hear these things from normal, thoughtful people who are mainstream, law-abiding citizens. They are neither political fringe members of either direction, nor are they cloistered academics with only casual encounters with reality. Things I hear from them are something like these:

 “There are no absolute truths.”
 “I have the right to believe anything I want, and you must allow for that.”
 “You have your truth; I have mine.”

To the first, that there are no absolute truths, the statement is internally inconsistent. The statement would be an exception in and of itself.
To the second, the American right to free speech certainly allows one to believe anything one wants. To conclude, however, that all ideas are equal is not a valid conclusion. You may, if you wish, write a spirited defense of pedophilia or slavery, but it will not convince me of its truth. The equal right to express ideas does not mean ideas are equal. You may call me intolerant, but that is a whole other question addressed elsewhere.

To the third, and more common, declaration about truth, there are several concerns.

 Firstly, we are inundated with data in our Western society through radio, television and the internet. And, we tend to believe what we hear, or at least provide benefit of doubt, when we see or hear it. If we reword what we hear, see or read it becomes “ours” and we assume it true. But, rewording is not analysis, and we seem to not have, or take, time for analysis.

 Secondly, since the idea is now “ours”, we rarely realize we are relying on some authority – a politician, or web site, or news conglomerate, or talk show host – as the idea generator. “This is my truth”, we think. Disagreement with the idea is now taken to be a personal affront. The results are loss of dialogue, isolation of people, and focus on trivial and irrelevant issues.

 Thirdly, thinking highly of ourselves for all this “truth” to which we have sole access, we begin to think there is no truth outside what we know, personally, to be true. This may be just laziness, but this also requires me to claim a certain level of intellectual confidence, perhaps even arrogance, to which I am unqualified to claim. To think millions of people, and billions through history, are wrong is, well, absurd.