Posts Tagged ‘law’

Merry Christmas! 2012 will be an Interesting Year!

December 26, 2011

I’ll also say, “Happy Holidays!”, but, you know, I just prefer “Merry Christmas!” It is what has rolled off my tongue since I was a child. I sincerely hope everyone I know has a really great 2012 – and for that matter, I hope that everyone I Don’t know has a great year, too. I think that 2012 will be a very interesting year to watch pass.

I haven’t blogged for several months – just realized that my last post was in October – SHAME on ME…

I still have my nose pressed against the TV watching the politics parade pass us. This is theatre. President Obama has cleverly let frustrations fester among the voters – he couldn’t point at an ineffective Congress for 24 months, or he would  sound tired, and his message would be lost at election time. He has timed his attention to the problems at hand to suit the short attention span of average voters, and he will not only point to an ineffective Congress throughout 2012, but he will prove that they are ineffective when they accomplish nothing of note in the months leading up to the election. This may be a very effective strategy – perhaps the only effective strategy for him in his reelection campaign.

In the Republican “tent” of this circus, we still have a side show worth watching as the Republicans point to the “obvious” failures of the Democrats, though I don’t see it in the same light. Gingrich isn’t registered for the Virginia primary? What were his people doing? Perry, too? My forecast is that Perry will drop from sight, and Gingrich will find some wily way to climb back into the Virginia primaries. Just you watch! Mr. Paul doesn’t mince words, and he sticks honorably to his principles – he is still refreshing, but his views are much too far from the main stream for any affect. In this right wing of the circus tent, I still like Mr. Huntsman, but I am afraid that his cause is ultimately lost. My money is still on Mr. Romney to survive the primaries contest – he has nice hair.

Just the political fro of the Presidential elections will make 2012 an interesting year. And Congressional contenders have yet to make a peep… I’m listening…

Zakaria’s Christmas day program segment on CNN about leaders with an interesting Pulitzer price author raised a few ponderous thoughts in my mind and a friend’s in Palo Alto:

1) Four years is a long time to suffer a bad leader when the rest of the world spins so fast around us – do we need a Lack of Confidence vote mechanism like Canada and many other democracies in the world have?

2) Congress and much of the rest of the Federal government struggles to assure a failure and not a success as the parties fight each other (Boehner said he “fought the good fight”) for influence and affect. A leader would find a significant common cause worthy of all of Congress passionately fighting for a success.

3) The value of human life and the role of the United States in the world has changed wildly over the centuries since the founding fathers wrote the Constitution, and that makes the Tea Party’s call to return to the values of the founding fathers highly questionable and naively ill thought. We wonder what the Tea Partiers talk about over dinner (the days before the Modet T?)…

4) Law is “additive” – Congress creates new law continuously – that seems to be their present day mission, and Congress does not easily or often abolish law – and every law has a price or a burden, and the total burden of our laws is mounting! Should every law expire?

Not much leadership is required to “sail the present course”, but a leader of exceptional quality is required to change course and transition society to avoid a crisis or respond to one.  Zakariah’s commentary on leadership said that History has a kinder view, and that is quite correct, but he didn’t address the recognition of or solution to poor leadership in the present. That’s the problem of the average voter, and I am reminded of an old saying I have:

“The average person is very average.”

Well, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 2012 will be an interesting year, indeed. I sincerely hope we all have a great year!

Rescuing the Economy – Proposal #5

April 29, 2011

The US needs a “turn-around artist” to focus on the mission of the country and to reconcile the costs of laws with the benefits those laws provide. Abolish existing laws that fail the hurdles of mission and cost-benefit, and establish those quality hurdles for new laws going forward. Start with an overhaul of our tax code.

Flashback 25 Years

When Rockwell International was selling the Network Transmissions Systems Division in the 1980’s, the Board of Directors dispatched their “turn-around artist” to “polish their apple.” This fellow immediately refocused us all on the “mission” of the company as his first lever to control costs and improve performance – he eliminated products and activities that were not close enough to the mission. Next, he looked at policies and procedures and challenged unnecessary requirements to conduct business by demanding to know the “fully accounted cost” of the policy or procedure he didn’t like so that he could justify changes and improve performance across the board. I am confident that this fellow added more than 10% to the bottom line of the company and enhanced the value of the company and  its image in the industry substantially. This fellow was pretty clever…

It was his mantra: Mission and Cost-Benefit!   Mission and Cost-Benefit!

Back to the “Here and Now”

In the April 11 Newsweek magazine, Mark Cuban is quoted:

Streamline entrepreneurial paperwork

… Today, it’s impossible to start a business without professional help. Between local, county, state, and federal filings, it can easily cost as much time and capital to deal with administrivia as the business itself. Paperwork strangles small businesses before they start—this country’s greatest inhibitor to job growth. That could be fixed with a simplified startup legal structure (understandable in a pamphlet) that would reduce the friction involved in starting a business.

I recently spent thousands of dollars on attorneys and more than one hundred hours of my time to insure that my company organization and standing documents and agreements were sound and satisfied all the legal requirements that I was exposed to. Next stop is my CPA… While I don’t hold Mr. Cuban in especially high regard, he is certainly nobody’s fool. I think he sees this all pretty clearly – his terms “administrivia” and “frictionless” surely resonate with me!

Recently, I phoned the Texas Workforce Commission to be sure I was prepared to display all the legally required signs and notices in office space I was considering.  The TWC responded, “We aren’t sure we know what all the required signs and notices are anymore. We lost track of all that a few years ago. Here is a list of websites where you can find out most of what is required. It is reasonably complete. Good luck!” Administrivia and friction galore.

What is the Mission of the United States Government?

I am no historian; nor am I an activist or subversive. Here is what I believe the core mission of the government is:

To assure our unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness promoted in the Declaration of Independence and provided for in the Constitution explicitly by the Bill of Rights and the other articles and amendments.

Every law passed by Congress should affirm this mission and satisfy some mission-centric need. If a law fails this test to support the mission, it should be challenged!

What is the Cost of our Laws?

Every law has a cost. It costs time and money to write a law, publish a law, communicate a law to the people, enforce a law, and punish a law breaker. Many laws demand the performance of a function or a require a deliverable, and these laws have a measurable direct cost. Many laws require that compliance is documented in some way – another direct cost. Further, every law has an opportunity cost associated with it – law beakers become less valuable in society and contribute less to further society over their lifetimes through hard work and paid taxes. Every proposed legislation has a cost that should be computed in some way and compared to the benefits that it seeks to provide for before the legislation can be passed by Congress, signed into law by the President, and considered by the Supreme Court.

The Economy is the “Game”

I generally hold the “body of law” in high regard – by that, I mean that I have respect for the law. The more laws there are, though, the less regard each law can muster in the population one-by-one. “Too many rules, and you can’t play the game. When you can no longer play the game, it’s time to tip the board off the table and start over (press the reset button),” and that generally creates an ugly confrontation… Recall my elementary school experience from an earlier post?

In this case, the “game” is participating in the US economy. Mr. Cuban is right on the money. I agree – 100%. Too many laws translate into unproductive administrivia and friction. Perhaps Mr. Cuban deserves more credit from me than he has gotten in the past…

My Proposal #5 to Rescue the Economy

  1. Our Congressional representatives should become activists and challenge established  law and abolish it if there is a misalignment with the country’s mission to assure our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and all that entails. Congress should challenge laws with costs that obviously exeed benefits.
  2. Congress should become focused on legislative quality to insure that new law is mission-centric, and that each new law’s benefits exceed its costs by a wide margin.

Where to start?  Well, most of my friction and administrivia is associated with taxes – start right there! This is “Eco-Pillar” #6 from this previous post:

Further Thoughts on the Economy – the China Playbook

I don’t object to paying my fair share of taxes. The less time I spend doing tax admisnistrivia, and the less money I spend on services to do that correctly and cover my _ss properly, the more time and money I have for the mission of my business.  Overhaul the tax code for personal and business taxes to reestablish fairness and dramatically reduce the complexity and the administrative burden – the administrivia and friction – of compliance with the law, and let me get on with the business of my small business.

And after taxes? Intellectual property law – patents, trademarks and copyrights (“Eco-Pillar” #5)…

Programmers are like lawyers

June 17, 2009

I work closely with a number excellent software programmers and also with a number of shrewd attorneys. I think that these two careers draw upon many of the same skills, and the best performers in each field have remarkably similar personalities.

“Huh,” you say? “What have you been smoking?” Well, let me “peel the onion” for you.

The law is additive – software is additive. No foundation of law or software really becomes obsolete. The body of knowledge increases continuously, and the best in law and software just “soak it up.”

The law is based upon precedence – modern software that is object oriented relies upon inheritance. While the authors of law have never adopted a rigor to continuously define and document the inheritance (and programmers have), the interpreters of the law are ever mindful of the principles of inheritance in the law.

The lawyer refers to libraries of pleadings and rulings, and the programmer refers to libraries of functions – both do a terrific amount of research in their jobs day to day, and both are detail oriented to the extreme.

Lawyers and programmers communicate with their peers openly and honestly, and they both seriously regard a similar code of ethics.

Both lawyers and programmers are annoyingly sure of themselves.

Yes, in many ways, I think that an excellent programmer would have made a shrewd lawyer in an alternative universe – their brains are much alike.