Primary Reflections

So last night, before joining a group of Canadians and Brits at the Hudson in West Hollywood to watch the Lakers’ game, I popped over to my local polling station and did my due diligence, voting in the primary.  Because I’m a Democrat, there wasn’t too much to vote for, but what the heck…I worked hard to get my American citizenship and I’m proud to vote.  So I do it every chance I get.  (Unlike Meg Whitman who never registered to vote before 2002…oops…did I say that?)

Just bear with me…because I don’t get it.  I’m always for women in politics (well, except for Sarah Palin)…but Meg Whitman just rubs me wrong for the governorship for a number of reasons. 

First of all, it feels so out of touch with the regular folk for someone to spend $81M ($71 of her own funds) on a political PRIMARY campaign in a state where there is well above 12% unemployment.  Maybe she could have quietly created 2500 one year positions instead at $30K salaries and let grass roots buzz carry her.  I know.  Just a drop in the bucket, but somehow that might have generated a great positive feeling about how she was going to create jobs, rather than spending oodles on creating just ONE job for herself. 

Second, she was the CEO of E-Bay after  progressive career hops throughout the 90’s.  At the helm, there is no question that she took a very small business and turned it into one of the most successful companies ever.  She is a brilliant business woman.  She created a structure that allowed for a unique and successful branding exercise and as a result the company experienced exponential growth.  Personally, I worked for 10 years for a company that also experienced exponential growth.  In growth mode, it is easy to be creative, grow, and aim for bigger, better more.  It is worth noting that many of  Whitman’s career gains came after the dot com bubble burst and she left e-Bay before this new great depression/recession.  

Third, she did take one company from financial ruin to success (FTD).  It has been  reported that her methods met with a great deal of in-fighting and problems in her dealings with subordinates, employees and flower vendors, which is an indicator of a company cultural conflict.  The culture of the company held one position and the change required dictated a cultural change that was not accepted by her staff.  She resigned after 4 years.  So she was able to make the tough decisions for the financial solvency and growth of the company, but at the cost of the people.  That is truly a corporate big business approach.  It is different when your salary comes from the taxpayers and when all the people in the government are taxpayer paid.  People are not quite as expendable in pursuit of profitability. 

Traditional growth restructure doesn’t work in this new economic world.  And the government machine isn’t about profits, even though it should break even more than it can be in the red and California is in a terrible fiscal position.  Cutting the 40,000 jobs she intends to cut will help government spending, but also result in 40,000 more unemployed workers.  I’ve been on both ends of the change management cycle.  I’ve been the one to come in and give the ax and I’ve also been axed as a result of change structure.   There is nothing morale-building on either end of change.  

So, yes, I’m questioning her ability to handle a non-corporate budget crisis in a horrible econonomy coupled with polarized government (yes… the government that allows “secret holds” at federal level to block Obama appointees from being inducted into their positions…but that’s ANOTHER post.)

Would I want Whitman as an advisor?  Yes.  Even though I’m a Democrat, her experience at a wide range of companies and her meteoric reshaping of e-Bay would make me want to have her experience as a sounding board.  Although it would likely never happen, I’d like to see Jerry Brown give the state a shot again and see what he can do, with Whitman as business advisor.  Improbable because they’d never see eye to eye, but possibly unique enough to impact both the political and economic impasses.  Just a little primary reflecting.

One thought on “Primary Reflections

  1. Dear Janet – I think the thing with politics is an inner desire to be in the limelight, which varies very much in motive. People who ‘can’ are not always obvious for the role; so people one would think can, sometimes cannot.
    To be a politician, one has to get the voters to
    a/ believe in oneself & b/ get them sufficiently enthused actually to vote. Because there is no such thing as a rational belief, this means that all sorts of irrationality goes. Straight into the bog – squelch. So – don’t vote for witless people who do not pay attention to the minutest detail. But I would want a ‘can do’ person. So Ms Whitman would get my vote – by my being in UK, you are spared that !
    You all have to make cuts somehow – by their nature they will be painful. Bring on Jack the Knife. Got to – but cut the right things, try not to cut people.
    The nature of business is inherently evil ( Saint Augustine ); but it is possible to do business honestly, but only with extreme difficulty ( Mahatma Ghandi ).
    Which brings me full circle to the Gulf oil crisis.
    It appears that my comments so far are correct. They are so simple, they would have to be.
    The problem is to remove the debris from the bore, which would increase the rate of escape – I would have thought that to stem the flow with the detritis remaining in position would be quite difficult ( i.e. extremely ). One cannot tell – detailed photos are not available to the public. I have seen none except a very brief flash –
    It is fascinating to observe ‘experts’ demonstrating their expertise. Why is not Trans-Ocean not on the rack also ?
    The remark by the media that centralisers were not used in sufficient number sounds a garbled report on a probably true situation – the deeper the well, the tighter the drill string owing to its own weight, and it is the bottom section that needs the support and guidance, not the top, for the reasons given in my first comment ( the bottom of the string is in compression, the top is in tension. ) To support the bottom is exceedingly difficult, so things which are less difficult tend to be done.
    For example:- On one occasion, I pointed out that the stresses on a particular fleet of oilrigs’ legs were maximum on jacking down, not up. The oil company management said ‘Nonsense’ – so I gave them the calculations, and set about a test.
    We made a huge caliper. Jacking up, no problem – jacking down, the legs reduced on the diagonal by 0.3 cms, about 1/10″, on each occasion. QED – whole fleet sent to Singapore – PDQ – for hydraulic ram re-sizing ( push them back into shape ) plus internal struts ( to keep them in shape. ) So I said, please do not send them back in SW monsoon. ‘Rubbish’ – So rigs came back in the SW monsoon ( again PDQ ), the heavy lift ships rolled, the leg housings all cracked and the rigs had to spend another year in Bahrein drydock. The reason was that I was a lowly person, so it was not what was written but who it was written by that was listened to. Result, a relatively minor disaster.
    The legs also machined off the surface of the teeth. I pointed out that the only way around that was to put 2 extra motors on each leg – 8 motors in all. Too expensive, so it was not done. Wrong decision.
    Then Saddam floated mines down on us, so the rigs were taken out of harms way; and I went back deep sea – it would have been interesting to stay, but one said truth.
    You will possibly find that the same thing obtains here – it is the culture of politics and of oil companies. The people with the power usually do not have the direct knowledge, so they have to rely on advice. It is difficult if one is totally ignorant to assess essentials from non-essentials. So advice is taken from the most forceful, loud, elbowing people because such are the ones who get their ear, but not necessarily the people who think the problem out in minute detail. Genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains, we are told – well, yes; but after you have had the new idea in the first place.
    I have some other examples of this effect, but that is sufficient to get the idea across. None of this will be news to you, I am quite sure.
    So, for anyone to help more needs unfiltered information, and correct action. This means detailed information.
    Recrimination can come later.

    Yours sincerely,
    Allan McDowall
    ( retired tanker captain & engineer )

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