Thursday, June 28, 2007

Talent Shortage

In one of my posts from February, I predicted that Baby Boomers aren't going to be retiring any time soon. In my current job, I work with a lot of people who are fretting over the coming talent shortage because of the retirement of the older generation. I think that there is a demographic problem in terms of too many older workers and not enough younger workers to backfill, but I don't think that it will be as drastic as the current forecast, which is based on the outdated concept that people retire when they hit 65.

The reason I think this is that most Baby Boomers haven't saved enough for retirement and the government-backed social security system won't give them enough cash each month to support their current lifestyles. Sure, they may change jobs or work part-time, but the talent drain will be mitigated by a shifting view of talent management which deploys older workers into roles they can fill. This may take these roles from younger workers, but they will be re-deployed into the roles that the older workers can't do.

The point of this post is that I opened up the newspaper this morning and there was a story backing up what I predicted: Most boomers not ready to retire.

"...A new Rose Community Foundation study of Denver metro-area residents ranging from 55 to 65 years old suggests that Klein's services will remain in demand. Of the 1,021 people surveyed, only 39 percent plan to retire, with most planning to work either part or full time.

Inadequate retirement savings, stagnating pension benefits and cuts in retirement health benefits will make it necessary for some of them to continue working. Others want to stay active, working in a flexible environment that leaves them time for travel, attending classes and leisure activities. Some want to start their own businesses....

...But the study found that many employers are not recruiting or hiring people in this age group. "Ageism reigns fiercely," the study said..."

The company's that find a place for boomers will be the ones that are able to overcome any talent shortages that might be looming.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Virtual Congress

I've recently decided that the 535 individuals that make up the Congress are collectively the most incompetent group of people on the planet. Most Americans agree with me on this one. I bet I could pick 535 people off the street and find more competence in them as a collective group.

Note that I am not talking about individual incompetence. I believe there are many intelligent, competent members of congress, but as a group, they are useless.

I think a lot of it comes from being in Washington, D.C. Spending all your time with colleagues who are continually congratulating themselves on being Masters of their Universe and with aides who tell you exactly what you want to hear. I've never worked in D.C. so I am only imaging what sort of things must go on in order to cultivate such a group of incompetents.

So I was thinking that Congress should no longer meet in D.C. They should meet virtually, from their home offices in their home states. Instead of having lunches with lobbyists, they can have lunches with constituents everyday before they go to vote on bills. Yeah, the lobbyists will still have access to them, but at least they will have to fan out across the country to get access. The media will have to fan out as well, but it's much more likely that the local paper will be willing to write the story of the local congressman having lunch with the national lobbyist.

Apparently, I am not the first to come up with this idea. I Googled "Virtual Congress" and got this result: Virtual Congress’ Would Weaken Deliberative Process. The Dirksen Congressional Center thinks that this would keep congressmen and women from building the relationships necessary to pass bills.

"Congress could not and should not be at the cutting edge of technology application. The fact that technology can be used for various applications certainly doesn’t mean that it should. That corporate boards may permit meetings or voting via video conference, or that college students may take classes over the Internet, does not mean that these same technologies can be translated into use by Congress — a far different entity in structure, purpose and importance to the very foundation of our form of governance.

As an organization, Congress functions in large part because of the regular and personal interactions among Members as they work to build consensus on issues ranging from procedural matters to the budget and appropriations legislation. This structure varies widely from the military and corporate arenas where action below is taken based on orders from above. In these environments technology is easily applied as an effective method of communication, information sharing, and command and control. In Congress, however, the loss of real, person-to-person interaction among Members, with all its involved emotions that cannot be reproduced via technology, no matter the clarity of the speakerphone or the resolution of the video display, would hit at the very heart of the institution and threaten its very ability to function as a body — the very opposite of what proponents of a “virtual Congress” would argue.

One recent procedural change in the House of Representatives provides an excellent example of the importance and value of personal relationships among Members. Over the past few sessions of Congress, the House has formalized the practice of “rolling votes,” where following debate on a piece of legislation, the actual vote on it is delayed. At a later time, a series of back-to-back votes are held on it and similarly “rolled” items.

Although on its face this practice would seem to weaken the legislative process by divorcing the vote on a bill from floor debate on the item, in reality it serves to provide Members with large amounts of time together on the floor to discuss matters, bargain on issues and build consensus. The practice has been widely praised by Members for providing the “quality time” needed to help develop personal relationships with their colleagues."

So according to these guys, congressmen need "quality time" with each other to get things done. I think they need quality time with their constituents. Building close relationships with each other only serves to draw them away from serving the interests of those who elected them.

Don't tell me that the technology cannot allow these guys to collaborate. Of course, we'd need much more tech savvy congressmen (maybe a litmus test, "Do you know what the "e" in "email" stands for"), but it seems that we could do it.

After all, didn't a U.S. Senator invent the internet?

The Future of Vice

Michael Yon's latest dispatch demonstrates the kind of world we would live in if Al Qaeda was able to spread Sharia Law.

"On the evening of the 24th I spoke with a local Iraqi official, Colonel Faik, who said the Muftis would order the severance of the two fingers used to hold a cigarette for any Iraqis caught smoking. Other reports, from here in Diyala and also in Anbar, allege that smokers are murdered by AQI. Most Iraqis smoke and this particular prohibition appeared to have earned the ire of many locals. After an American unit cleared an apartment complex on the 23rd, LTC Smiley, the battalion commander, reported that residents didn’t ask for food and water, but cigarettes. In other parts of Baqubah, people have been celebrating the routing of AQI by lighting up and smoking cigarettes.

Other AQI edicts included beatings for men who refused to grow beards, and corporal punishments for obscene sexual suggestiveness, defined by such “loose” behavior as carrying tomatoes and cucumbers in the same bag. These fatwas were not eagerly embraced by most Iraqis, and the taint traveled back to the Muftis who sat in supreme judgment. Locals, who are increasingly helpful in pointing out and celebrating the downfall of AQI here, said that during the initial Arrowhead Ripper attack the morning of the 19th, AQI murdered five men. Townsend’s men found the buried corpses behind an AQI prison, exactly where they’d been told to look for the group grave. Locals also directed Townsend’s men to a torture house. Peering through a window, American soldiers saw knives, swords, bindings and drills. AQI is well-known for its macabre eagerness to drill into kneecaps, elbows, ribs, skulls, and other parts of victims."

No smoking or they cut your fingers off. Kind of makes the prohibition of smoking in restaurants look like child's play. Also, you can't carry a cucumber and 2 tomatoes in the same shopping bag because of its sexual suggestiveness. Can you imagine the carnage Al Qaeda would have pursued had they seen something like this at PrideFest?

That's what I don't get. The same people who criticize the U.S. when it is trying to stop the tyranny that is propagating this type of oppression are the exact people that will be systematically killed should Al Qaeda and its fanatics be allowed to live. As Mark Steyn points out in America Alone, if the Islamists take over the world, those of us who are conservatives will pretty much just grow our beards and have a few more wives, but the groups of people backing liberal causes will be the first ones persecuted. The liberal voices speaking out on the war should be the ones decrying the enemy's brutality and oppression.

Of course, we can't imagine Islamists taking over the world. Just like we couldn't imagine 2 airplanes flying into the WTC on September 10th.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Supporting The War

If you can't tell by reading my posts, I support the Iraq War, the troops, and all the reasons we went to war. I support staying until we win and leaving Iraq a better place than it was under Saddam.

However, I often feel a little hypocritical because I am not in the military. The other day, I was listening to Dennis Prager and a caller asked this exact question: How can I say I support the war if I am not in the military?

The answer exhibited Dennis's moral clarity. He said (paraphrased, of course), "Do you support putting out fires? Are you a firefighter? It's possible to support a cause without being a direct fighter for the cause."

It's the same for policemen. I support the law and the enforcement of it by police officers, but that doesn't mean I have to be a police officer.

It did get me thinking. This war is not in jeopardy of being lost in Baghdad. It is in jeopardy of being lost in Washington, D.C. The way I can support the cause is to make more people aware of the mission and the importance of finishing the job.

That's how I copntribute to victory in the Iraq War.

Where I Have Been Blogging

I've started another blog called Employee Engagement and Retention. It's on a topic that is the focus of my current job. I actually really enjoy my job and get to try to help my company help its employees enjoy their jobs.

That's why I haven't been posting here as much lately.