WORKERS, CONSUMERS, VOTERS AND POWER

#workers #consumers #voters #power #RobertReich
As a worker, consumer and voter, do you feel powerless?
Do you feel that the world favors those with more than you, and tramples you because you might be in their way?
Robert Reich, the former U.S. secretary of labor and current professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley – and a frequent commentator on TV news programs — discussed this in a May 3, 2015, column in the San Francisco Chronicle.
“A large part of the reason” that people feel their voices don’t count, “is we have fewer choices than we used to have,” Reich writes. “In almost every area of our lives, it’s now take it, or leave it,” he continues.
Companies are treating workers as disposable cogs, and most working people have no choice, he says. The once-powerful private-sector unions have lost much of their clout, he adds.
As consumers, we find that as companies merge and deliberately create fewer choices, we pay the price. “U.S. airlines, for example, have consolidated into a handful of giant carriers that divide up route and collude on fares,” Reich writes. In 2005, there were nine major airlines. Now, there are four, he adds.
Even in the political arena, there is less competition because so many districts have been gerrymandered to be safe for the incumbent – or at least the incumbent’s political party. “(More than) 85 percent of congressional districts are considered ‘safe’ for their incumbents in the 2016 election,” Reich says.
What’s the average person to do? Certainly circumstances have occurred that are beyond the average person’s control. But there is also good news: the average person can take advantage, if he so chooses, of ways to combat the apparent lack of choice.
As consumers, we can, as individuals, adjust our behavior to fight the put-up or shut-up attitudes of the companies that serve us. Using the example of airlines, there isn’t much an individual can do about delays, whether they be caused by a mechanical problem, weather or some other issue. No one would want to fly unsafely just to get to a destination sooner.
But, as an example, to combat the big airlines’ recent policy of charging a fee to check a bag, we can learn to pack more carefully, so that everything fits into smaller luggage that can be carried on the plane. On full flights, if people come prepared to carry on their luggage, airlines will ask that some of the suitcases and other items be checked. Then, they cannot charge you.
As voters, we can vote defensively, if we don’t like the ideology of the candidates most likely to win. How? If your state laws allow, vote in the primary of the political party whose ideology is generally opposite yours. Find the candidate(s) with records of statesmanship, i.e. working with the other party to get things done. Vote for those candidates, even if they would not be your choice in a general election. Negotiation and compromise are the essence of governing. The problem in politics, regardless of one’s political beliefs, is too much ideology and not enough statesmanship.
Finally, as workers, we need not to think of a job as the only way to make an income. There are many other ways out there with which people, regardless of education, background or skills, can earn substantial income without having to put up with an employer’s whim. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau
As for unions, they did wonders for workers and the middle class many decades ago. However, today’s global business world requires companies to have extreme flexibility and efficiency. Unions decrease both of those things, but years ago, productivity gains and other business progress occurred much more slowly. It’s best to presume that no matter what your job, and no matter how good you are at it, it will probably go away before you want it to.
In conclusion, Reich is largely correct about the state of the world, and our place in it. But, just as circumstances we can’t control can hurt us, the world has provided more options for those who choose not to tolerate those circumstances, and want to make their lives much better.
Peter

POWER PLAYS

#powerplay
When you hear the term “power play,” you think of something evil.
But a power play can mean lots of things.
In hockey, a team is on a power play when it is on the ice with a man advantage, after a player on the other team is penalized. The penalized player must sit out for a period of time. The team keeps the power play until the penalty is over, or it scores, whichever comes first.
The power plays we most often think of are when a person gains a slight advantage, and exploits it to the detriment of others. Perhaps you may have known someone who, say, got a promotion and becomes your boss. He or she then has a different relationship with you, and may use it to your disadvantage.
In May 2014, Russia made a power play by disrupting neighboring Ukraine. It used the ethnic Russian population of Ukraine to attempt to take over parts, or, eventually, all of the country. Much of the world has condemned the action and is helping Ukraine fight off this Russian power play.
But what if power plays were gentle, and hurt no one. In fact, what if power plays helped all that witnessed them?
As we’ve discussed before, what if we could use power to empower?
When that occurs, we have to learn not to fear the power play. Once we get past the fear of the power play, we can then embrace it. Once we embrace it, we can perform it on others, who could then ultimately embrace it and do the same.
Everyone would like to have power. The challenge becomes once gaining power, how one uses it. Will it be used for the good, or for evil?
The fear of power often discourages people from seeking it. Therefore, they can become victims of those who gain it.
No matter how much good one can do with power, he may always have naysayers and others who will criticize him because of his power. The benevolent dictator is rare.
We, as individuals, have to learn NOT to fear power. We have to learn how to gain power, even in small ways. We have to learn, once gaining power, how to use it to help others.
Though we talk of power plays, power is not play. It is used for good and evil. It must be used responsibly. It must be used for the benefit of others, not to the detriment of others.
Want to gain power to help others? Visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. If you like what you see, you will learn the art of the gentle power play. You will learn that helping others IS power.
Though evil power is feared, don’t fear gaining power. Power, in the hands of good people, is good for the world. Therefore, when you invited to empower yourself, don’t RSVP with regret. Go for it with enthusiasm.
Seek the gentle, benevolent power play. Let others do it to you, so you can do it to others. It will put an entirely new spin on the Golden Rule. And, ultimately, you, and those who follow you, will rule!
Peter

POWER: IT’S ALL IN HOW YOU USE IT

Every dispute, situation or dynamic is centered around power.
Those that have it tend to want to use it to control others.
Those that don’t have it look to find something they can use as a weapon against those in power.
When terrorists cannot implement their agenda, they use terror tactics to inflict damage against those whom they cannot conquer.
When a criminal wants what someone else has, knowing that person would not give it to him willingly, he gets a weapon to force the exchange.
Our only hope is that those who gain power use it to help others, not hurt others.
Anyone can gain power. Most of those who are successful in business, for example, didn’t get there without hard work, good fortune and some help from others. Now that they have achieved their success, are they using it to take from, or give to, others? And, in the process, are they using, or otherwise taking advantage of others to achieve their goals?
Some see power as evil, unless they have it. Power does not have to be evil. It can be very good, if used properly. Of course, it can be evil if not.
How do we use power for good? We use power to empower. We use power we have achieved to empower others. For example, we use our power as parents to empower our children. How? By acting toward others in ways you would want your children to act toward others.
You see, you can tell children anything, but what you tell them won’t matter unless they see you acting the way you are telling them to act. You can tell a child to stay away from drugs, but if you are taking them yourself, chances are your children will follow your actions.
If you are an employer, you can’t expect your employees to give you their best if they believe you are not giving your best to them. They have to see you act in the way you want them to act, and you have to reward them the best way you can if they perform well.
If you are a teacher, your students will follow what you DO, more than they will follow what you TEACH. Actions are the best teacher. Students can learn from books, but they will learn best when a teacher not only acts professionally, but shows the students respect. A good teacher empowers.
Anyone can get power. Almost no one is powerless. One just has to think right, find what they need to get power, then empower.
You are just a “working person,” you say? Your current job may not give you the power you want, but there are many ways outside of your job that you can gain power. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You may find the classic tool to not only give you power, but give you the power to empower.
We all believe that if we had the power, we would use it wisely, and for the benefit of others. For some, achieving power changes them for the worse. Still others who gain power change for the better.
Some who gain power just want more of it, and will do what they must to get it. Others who gain power just want to give themselves to others and empower.
If you had power, would you distribute it or hoard it? Doing the latter could eventually come back to bury you. Doing the former could change the world for the better.
To paraphrase an adage, power can corrupt. Absolute power can corrupt absolutely. But the opposite can also be true. Power can enhance. Absolute power can enhance absolutely. It all depends who has it.
Peter