Sunday, October 14, 2018

Senator Sasse Cites Loneliness Problem, Misses Abandonment, Manipulation

Senator Ben Sasse blamed American angst on "loneliness" in a Face the Nation segment this morning.  I would use a different term, abandonment.

The former McKinsey consultant seems unaware of the failure of extrinsic motivators.

There's a ton of literature now that shows we're the richest people in the history of humanity. And yet we're some of the most dissatisfied people in the history of humanity. How do you make sense of that?
Pursuit of things outside ourselves can only produce a fleeting impact.  Money does not buy happiness.  Surely ex-consultant Sasse is familiar with Maslow's hierarchy of needs and Dr. W. Edwards Deming's teachings on motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic,

Intrinsic motivation refers to motivation that is driven by an interest or enjoyment in the task itself, and exists within the individual rather than relying on any external pressure.
Extrinsic motivation comes from outside of the individual. Common extrinsic motivations are rewards like money and gold stars on the one hand, and coercion and threat of punishment on the other.
America's leaders are responsible for an extreme over-reliance on extrinsic motivators, turning our country into a failure factory.  Education over relies on testing, rating and reward/punishment systems.  The workplace is rife with scarcity systems.  Raises have been nonexistent in years for many workers.  Executives, in collusion with club boards of directors, reap rewards of a feudal king, all on the back of serf-like workers toiling in cubicle farms.

Workers know the consequence for failure to achieve an arbitrary mark or measure, thus they cheat or lie to save their job.  Executives backdated roughly 30% of stock options, supposedly the most pure form of incentive pay.  Executives effectively stole from shareholders to maximize their pay.  Without these extrinsic reward systems distorting behavior there is little incentive to lie, cheat or steal. 

Former GE CEO Jack Welch imposed benchmarking a person's value relative to their co-worker, eliminating the bottom 10% of his employees every year.  Sasse said firings/job eliminations will get worse, much worse.

50 percent of Americans are going to be primarily freelancers in three years.
Translation:  Half of Americans will have been abandoned by their employer, living in the least committed relationship of freelancer.  We'll call you if we need you, pay you as little as possible, and not provide any benefits.  That's abandonment, not loneliness, Mr. Sasse.

Social media turned the intrinsic possibility for real connection into an extrinsic reward system via friend counts and number of likes.   It took a person's personal information and monetized it for business or political purposes.  It became a high tech tool to use people.

Oddly, Host John Dickerson conflated intrinsic/extrinsic motivators with his recent story on Benign Envy.  Envy is one of the seven deadly sins.

Envy is the intense desire to have an item or experience that someone else possesses.
Dickerson's piece tried to paint someone observing another person doing something good as producing envy in the observer.  That envy then motivates the observer to behave similarly to garner the reward.  His story cites "how selfless actions can inspire all of us" and "service often goes hand-in-hand with sacrifice."

An act driven by envy is not selfless, it is about having or possessing.   

Benign Envy -- The desire to be better when we see someone doing something good.  
I would consider this learning or questioning in a manner that fosters intrinsic motivation.  Acting selfless for selfish reasons does not ring true.    

When I watched the Dickerson piece it felt like society was trying to paint lesser human behaviors, like envy and greed, as noble. Weeks later Dickerson and Sasse hit the same chord.

Work is statistically one of the most significant drivers of whether or not people are happy.-- Senator Sasse on Face the Nation 10-14-18
It is easy to deduce work is a significant cause of widespread dissatisfaction cited earlier by the Senator.  Sasse voted for Trump tax cuts late last year.  Those cuts make the "richest people in the history of humanity" even richer.

Sasse did not challenge corporate executives to shore up their relationship with employees with pay/benefit increases or make commitments to maintain jobs.  Corporations, executives and board members took Trump tax cut windfalls and used it to buy back stock, further enriching themselves.  Envy and greed are widespread among leaders in our country.

Senator Ben Sasse delivered his comments as if he were your next door neighbor, your friend two doors down.  Sasse knows Americans are being abandoned by employers and America's political elite.  Together they further victimize the harmed by discounting their situation as mere loneliness.   Leadership greed and envy are killing our workplaces.

Senator Sasse's comments arise from the sick leadership displayed in corporations and the political world, so unbalanced it verges on the unhinged.  It is hard to detect when envy is benign, greed is lauded and freelance is employment.  Some 40% of Americans cannot afford a surprise $400 expense.

Our leaders care not about the people's suffering as no one is home emotionally.  Executives and politicians have reward systems to manipulate on their behalf.

Update 10-16-18:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell piled on with his call to abandon Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security commitments.  How lonely will these people be after they lose healthcare and retirement?  Tax cuts for the rich got no mention in McConnell's analysis.

Update 10-21-18:  Senator Ben Sasse reframed President Trumps's encouragement of violence as "playful."  Our leaders have abandoned civility and honesty.

Update  10-22-2018:  Companies spend huge amounts on stock buybacks but continue to underfund their pension plans.  This is part of the abandonment employees feel.

Update 10-23-18:  Paul Volker noted the preferential treatment given to the billionaire PEU class.

Update 12-26-18:  NYT ran a piece on McKinsey that raises questions about the consulting firm's motivation in bankruptcy cases.

Update 12-28-18:  McKinsey abandoned a Saudi partner who is yet to be released from the Crown Prince's abusive shakedown.

Update 12-30-18:  McKinsey played a role in an international bribery case.

Update 1-4-19:  Trump political appointees will get huge raises while federal workers continue to work with paychecks.  The blame goes to the bottom while the top rakes it in.  It's enough to make a person very lonely angry.

Update 1-13-19:  McKinsey is a sponsor of the 2019 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.  While the average citizen saw little to no economic gains for the last two decades the greed and leverage boys did very well.  Is anyone lonely for a raise?  That would mean someone would have to share....

Update 2-5-19:  NYT reported:  In 2009, McKinsey wrote a report for Purdue Pharma saying that new sales tactics would increase sales of OxyContin by $200 million to $400 million annually and “suggested sales ‘drivers’ based on the ideas that opioids reduce stress and make patients more optimistic and less isolated.”.

Update 3-23-19:   The United States fell to 19th in a world ranking of happiness.  The culprit was not Ben Sasse's loneliness but addiction. Me?  I'm still waiting for trickle down as executives take and take and take but let not one crumb fall from their table.

Update 12-5-19:  Residents of Sidney, Nebraska would cite lack of good paying jobs as their biggest problem.  Fox News Tucker Carlson did a story about their town and how they were undone by a big Sasse donor.  Senator Ben refused to comment.  Loneliness?

Update 1-13-21:   Professor Wolff has a take on the abandonment and manipulation cited in this piece.

Update 1-17-21:  The average citizen is but a pawn in a battle of the elites.  Politicians Red and Blue love PEU (private equity underwriters).  

Update 2-7-21:  Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote " Many are understandably angry after being left behind in vast enclaves of unemployment and despair."  His piece ignores the role the Blue Team had in selling the average citizen down the road the last two and a half decades.

Update 12-8-22:  Billionaire Elon Musk asked employees to envision themselves as a crime victim to increase productivity.

He also invited Twitter employees to not leave the workplace by providing beds in conference rooms.

Update 3-23-23:  Social media divided the world when it was supposed to unite it.   Artificial intelligence will do similarly.  Bill Gates' says that AI will give everyone a "personal assistant."   No thank you.  Count this person out.  Knowledge grows from real world experimentation.  AI cannot do that.

Update 5-28-23:  Worker mental health plummeted the last six months given growing job cuts and the specter of artificial intelligence eliminating countless jobs.  I wonder how many of those workers are in PEU affiliates?

Update 5-30-23:  HuffPo's "The Golden Age of White Collar Crime" stated:

32 percent of American managers said they were comfortable behaving unethically to meet financial targets.

Update 9-11-23:  University of Florida President Ben Sasse hired his former employer McKinsey to create a vision for the university.  The cost is $4.7 million.

Sasse had a bully pulpit in the Senate and the main problem he found was "loneliness" He missed "abandonment" and "manipulation." That's because he was part of the insider group doing the abandoning and manipulating. 

Update 10-9-23:  Loneliness is now a threat to democracy itself says Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.  Murthy's history as a corporate advisor raises questions given their abandonment of workers. 

Update 10-19-23:  Happiness is now the task for the U.S.  Whew, I was worried about loneliness but Arthur C. Brooks says happiness is the job at hand.  Don't worry, be happy.....

Update 3-4-24:  University of Florida President Ben Sasse added to the loneliness of college students by firing the entire department dedicated to diversity initiatives.  Ben Sasse, leader of FU.

Update 4-23-24:  With Sasse gone from Congress two members have stepped up to address citizens' sour mood.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn. and Utah’s Republican Gov. Spencer Cox are joining forces to try and address a vexing problem plaguing the U.S.: Americans are less and less happy.
They plan to start in earnest next week and break for September and October, the run up to the November election.