Friday, November 27, 2015

Causes of the Great Recession


Discourse on the Great Recession
 Causal Elements 

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Civil Society - Why monolithic institutions are hurting us

How “civil” is “civil society”? There is no cohesive entity here, the interpretation of the term "civil society" which describes civil society as “individuals and organizations in a society which are independent of the government.” is perhaps the most desirable. The fact is, these groups of formal and informal elements that are civil society, are what make our society what it is. When the state’s influence gains control, or a "critical mass" of influence over civil society OR when the inverse is true OR when the interface is entwined, bad things happen. 

As civil society is a collection of entities, each of which has interests, it is inherent that they become competitive for influence, often this competition becomes heated and then there is uncivil society. If this competition becomes excessively heated, fissures form in society and factions emerge then discord follows. Democracy offers some offsetting influence in that it has systematized disruption, discord quelling discord if you will; it has been ostensibly enough to have the two societal entities – government and civil society maintaining order in most western democracies for some time. Government detachment from civil society is important because, absent detachment, state power tends to be set to work against elements of civil society - this is a corrupting influence.
Influence pools – in the physical world big things attract little things and hold them in their orbit, so it is true of influence or power. Unique to influence however, when it pools or concentrates too much, it loses numbers - with fewer numbers influence diminishes and disruption occurs. When government and civil society co-exist over an extended period of time the distinction between them blurs and the state becomes an instrument of private interest, rather than an administrative agency that supports a vibrant and diversified society. The extent to which civil society is diverse, the extent to which it resides distanced from government and the extent to which government remains neutral in its administration, is the extent to which freedom will exist. When government has distance between itself and civil society it permits 1000 flowers to bloom; when it is the most advantageous and in whatever configuration is favourable.

There are a lot of things antagonistic to a vibrant civil society, in fact, many of the things we do to build a cohesive population under flag, are antagonistic to a vibrant civil society. There are trends in society that threaten a diverse civil society, like the evolution of mass media and the emergence of a strong common narrative in society, government itself as it attempts to define itself relative other nations, the reintegration organized religion with government, the monopolization of services by big institutions and the wide spread communization of our education system. The finer the gradation in civil society, the greater the diversity of life practices and a richer pool from which to draw for solution. Mass media has distilled the human complex down to a few stereotypes, massive monolithic institutions offer the same basket of solutions in “one size fits all”, the reemergence of religious factionalism is impairing government response to diversity (all religion is valid in government until it detracts from widely held societal consensus disproportionally to population and or impinges on a large minority) and a single education system is quickly limiting us to a single school of thought. There is a high degree of fragility in societies that are monolithic and resist the vibrancy that disruption brings. They say that society rots from within; the rot is really stagnation or the absence of disruption or most importantly the vibrancy of influence that is provided by managing and embracing disruption.

What difference can one person make against the masses, very little, this is the reality that causes the massing of interest groups in civil society – mass forms around the successful and the people exterior to sources of success and / or by competing successful entities. What determines success in society is that there is provision for the individual to inform themselves and choose as an autonomous agent what to support. The critical element common to us all is the right to autonomy. The government needs to hold paramount the support of the individual.

Disruption always comes, never has any source of dominance lasted forever, the longer the period absent disruption, the greater the magnitude of disruption. Paradoxically, by managing society in a way that seeks a perpetual state of disruption we are provided a circumstance of stability. The more fragmented and clearly defined civil society is, the more short cycle disruption we will experience, the more diversified our response to the living environment will be and from this a healthier the long term reality.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Ajax Mine - Response to Kamloops Strong & Klean

Since the Ajax Mine proposal was introduced into the Kamloops narrative the “NO” side has been extremely vocal; to their credit many have spoken out clearly on what they believe and valid points have been made. Many on the other hand have engaged in rhetoric that is as hyperbolic as it is inaccurate; that is where I have been challenged with the discourse. I am unsure how the numbers shake out for or against, but it was my perception many in the business community want it and remain “silent” to avoid the ire of the no side.
The British Columbia mining industry has been a very successful industry when benchmarked to world standards. The mining act and accompanying regulation are very sensitive to environmental concern. I am unsure how you define self-regulated? I think the fact that there are provincial inspection personnel and requirements for a plethora of government personal to oversee the creation and operation of a mine suggests government oversight. The Prosperity mine invested in the neighborhood of $500 million in processing their application only to have it refused.
Mining is a provincial jurisdictional concern; this has been the case since we joined confederation. We need to ensure that we retain the right to manage our own backyard. The last thing we need is to have another layer of government impairing us from doing what we want, people turn to extra review processes to obstruct rather than seek rightful process. I know you’re in the real estate business, look what is required for a subdivision, mines are much more difficult to process. The environmental processes in place now are effective and for the most part the industry has an excellent track record.
One takes your point regarding image for the city, the fact is we had Afton operate for years and hardly knew it was there. The reclamation work done at Afton is excellent, and with new technologies and planning for the future, we could do a better job.
It helps some times to begin with the end in mind - imagine if you will a time line requirement of, say, 25 years, from the beginning of mining to full extraction of all valued minerals; at the close of mining activates the city can plan for a residential development to replace the mine site. With this in mind, a model residential development site could be part and parcel of the mining process. So rather than a rectangular pile of rock as a tailings pile, the site could be sculpted perfectly to suite residential lots. Lots, with the perfect southern exposure, a sculpted lake, a geothermal complex for community heating and perhaps a nine hole executive golf course. The point here is, that what some perceive as destruction can be managed to provision a superior outcome if that outcome is planned for. I offer the residential development for thought, only because, that is what likely would have happened anyway.
It is about a hell of a lot more than “Jobs”, it is about providing lives for young families – in Kamloops we under perform in providing strong employment for young people. I frequent a fast food restaurant because it is the only one open at 4 am, the caliber of young people there in the middle of the night tells me we have to do better. I can assure you, if we are aggressive in holding the mining company to account, if we instate a long term operating agreement that protects our interests and we narrow the extracting window, we can have the prosperity from the mine AND something of value at the end.    
Thank you for taking an interest in the issue, it is an important one.

Additional Comments

Mount Polley was a unfortunate occurrence, it was also anomalous. The vast majority of the 1000s of tailing facilities used over BC history have been sound and well engineered. With respect to Ajax, the sensitivity to the issue is higher now than before and the lay of the land is different - the tailing facility offers very little risk. I would never suggest anyone trust anyone with important interests, that is why since the proposal first came to my attention I advocated for a long term operating agreement between the mine and the city, so the city could hold in effect a operational veto should agreed practices be breached. I am unable to speculate on what Kelowna might do, what is relevant to me is whether we can extract the benefit from the operation for the region, have an agreeable circumstance through as limited operating duration as possible and be left with an asset - I believe we can. We need to be aggressive in seeing to our interests.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Islam & the West – World Peace - Recent Events Belgium

"All that's necessary for the triumph of evil is for enough good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke.

It has been the case since the dawn of time that those with the might make the rules; I have no evidence to the contrary in contemporary times. So what to do, always make sure that might resides with those intent on good. Good is a somewhat nebulous term, plenty of opportunity for interpretation. Here is one definition for good people – people who are seeking to provide liberty to people, people who seek to influence human behavior through a process of enlightening others, people who actually believe love matters, people who can look at the truths of others and accept them as being as valid as their own truths, people who hold humanitarian concern as paramount and people who have the strength to protect these goods by whatever means necessary.

All faiths, all humanitarians, all people who are enlightened, have the capacity to pursue these goods and to withstand dogma that would have them venture into a violent sphere to promote one dogma over another dogma. The challenge is that the world’s population is made up mostly of the indoctrinated rather than the enlightened; even personally, I hold a Christian bias due to my exposure to the Canadian narrative and my family history – and I make an effort every day to see the other side. When one is faced with tribalism, dogma and survival in the life equation, reason is no longer an option – one is faced with calculations like, conform to the immediate dogma totally or all that one loves is destroyed – conformity at this point is the only way forward. People who want to control populations always want conformity to dogma, this is the antithesis to democracy, secularism or pluralism. The desire for compliance is in no way peculiar to Islam, it resides in the hearts of many in western democracies, in the hearts of people who would rather impose belief rather than to let belief develop as people are exposed to the cultural tapestry there to teach us all. One needs grounding, mine was Christian and as such, all other thinking is held juxtaposed to Christian teaching – the difference between being a bigot and enlightened resides in one’s ability to permit belief to migrate as the facts change. The challenge with extremists is they are locked into one belief and they will kill to keep it or forward it; for them the only solution is to subdue them and the only mechanism to do so is to be in possession of greater might.

Josip Broz Tito ruled Yugoslavia with an iron hand, an iron hand that insisted that factions got along – an enforced pluralism if you will. Under his leadership the various factions, Muslims to Christians lived in close quarters, across the street from one another, peacefully. Absent the presence of Tito’s hegemony, Yugoslavia “balkanized” into several states and factional war resulted in a massive human tragedy. What is the moral of this story, having a Hegemon works, even when the hegemon is a benevolent dictator. Yugoslavia disintegrated before the very eyes of the present day United Nations, why, because the United Nations is a place of talking as opposed to a place of action. One human tragedy of massive proportions after another transpires while United Nations watches, why, because the United Nations is a place of talking as opposed to action. Winston Churchill said, there is no use in having Judges and Magistrates absent a constabulary – passing judgement is a mere thought, acting on that judgement changes outcomes.

The Hegemony in the world now is NATO, the military might of a collection of the most progressive and prosperous nations in human history. Is NATO flawed, certainly, do we need to be able to kick nations out as easily as they are brought to membership. NATO – or a military force – that has as its master human choice is the Hegemony we need to support, build and improve. There are a cross-section of Nations that are members of NATO, Turkey is one of note given recent events, the organization is clearly dominated by the secular democratic imperative. The world hegemon now, from a single nation perspective, is the United States, the United States hegemony commenced shortly after WW2, please make an objective assessment of our world now and post WW2, and exercise judgement.  

The point here is this, we have a responsibility to protect the downtrodden, those that are affected by tyranny, those seeking a better life – the only way we can do that is to possess might sufficient to impose our will, the will that is driven by the desire to permit people to live with love, peace and prosperity. NATO has a multitude of influences at play, and it has taken some hits that have challenged its position as hegemon lately. If however, we develop it properly, if we give the NATO’s ear to United Nations, it can be the force we need for good – it, in large measure, has been the reason we’ve have enjoyed the peace we have in my generation – I am hoping it does for my grandchildren as well. The events in France are in no way of France, they are occurring because we have failed to get at the roots of challenge – one root is ISSI, there are many more. The paradox of peace has always been it must be fought for.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Past Initiatives – Current Opportunities - Human & Capital Resources Required

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Some thoughts on the Bonaparte Plateau Fishery Management

Some Thoughts on the Bonaparte Plateau Fishery, from the perspective of the sport fishing industry. 

In lakes with Squaw Fish populations challenging the Squaw Fish population worked, there was a marked improvement in size of fish in a couple years after the process started. The challenge remains however, that the traps only get a portion of the population, even once we trapped, I still saw them “balling” up in large numbers. I believe this is the portion of the population that “shore spawns”, apparently they are prolific. I know people who have had success with “spot” applications of Rotenone, when one sees the fish “balling up”, applying Rotenone to the surface kills a major portion of the population – it ends up being targeted and with very little damage to the overall biology of the lake, in contrast to typical applications of Rotenone. There was an old time operator on in the area, who shall remain unnamed, who enjoyed success with this process; he also would wait until the creeks were full of squaw fish in the spring, with few trout, and used the same technique.
It is an interesting outcome that in using triploids, that the fish population in the mixed specie test lakes decreased in size and quality after the introduction of the triploids. This in conjunction with the  pure culture Lake reality which had triploids gaining in size rapidly in a pure culture lake, makes for some interesting contemplation. It maybe the mix specie situation is a product of other fish management stopping, trapping, slot limit and the like.  Blackwaters, while piscivorous fish, eat insects; it maybe that they are just eating insects and leaving the Squaw Fish unfettered; reflecting on the pure lake circumstance of rapid growth of the triploid fish stocks.   
The thing that seems to be missing in the management of fish by the government, is what ranchers lay awake at night thinking about, how to make livestock bigger – like begets like bible says. So at the risk of oversimplifying, if you kill the big ones, the little ones breed. Like my animal science mentor use to say, “select for what you want and cull what you want to avoid”.  In the context of a pure culture lake, slot limits are likely to work because you take the immature fish and the small, the larger fish have opportunity to mate.  I believe this to be true of the mixed culture test lake, there was a marked improvement in size of fish after the trapping program – and if my memory serves – another improvement after the slot limit was used.  The mixed culture test lake having a Squaw Fish infestation adds to the complexity of assessing this challenge, culling what you want to avoid begins to have a broader application. 
If there were a way to select for larger fish and introduce them to the population, from a “sport fishing” perspective you would enjoy better success. The fish breeding management for sport fishing's  “end in mind” is to have really big, dumb, hungry and angry fish.  

As I know many aware, XXXXXX Lake is likely the best fishery on the Bonaparte Plateau. There is commonality in weed specie types between XXXXXX  and the very productive lakes south of Kamloops. There can be a number of contributing factors affecting weed species, one I think may hold prominence is PH. I am unsure what the optimum weed specie complex is and what PH contributes to the complex, I do know however, lakes in areas with PH nearing Alkali tend to be more productive. The plateau lakes are more acidic, as is characterized by the tea coloured water, Lilly pads and the like. It is on this basis that I would contemplate liming the lake in winter by applying lime to the ice as late in the winter as possible.  My observations support this as a course of action. It is interesting also that there has been a generalized degradation in fishery since the “bug Killed” pine have shed their needles (acid in nature) -  it seems possible this could be a part of the complex of influencing factors.  
There is likely merit also in fertilizing key weed beds. Having altered the PH,spurring the growth of plant species conducive to a richer aquatic ecosphere, it seems rational to encourage growth, the mixed culture test lake, as is the case in many of the lakes up there, is “undernourished” from the viewpoint of optimizing the fishery.

I hate to be critical of the present choice to maintain a catch and release fishery, while counter intuitive, taking trout improves the overall experience, especially if it is done with care – slot limits and the like.  It seems the experience with the mixed culture test lake is supporting this.  On the pure culture lakes this is especially true, they really do need some fish taken. XXXXXX may be one exception, although, a slot limit would likely be okay. I share the view, that the data from stomach contents is critical as well.
This is some preliminary thinking, there would a little work to do before executing.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fixing Africa - Aid People Never Governments

What is the cause of the consternation that exists in helping Africa find prosperity, the people are intelligent, the land rich, the climate excellent. It would seem that a constellation of resources and circumstances has emerged to produce the wealthiest continent earth, and yet Africa remains the poorest. Contrast most of Africa with Canada, my home, Canada is sparsely populated cold with a limited growing season. Canada is sending food to Africa’s people, when any objective assessment of bioclimatic realities would indicate it should be the other way round. Everybody knows the answer, Canada has been blessed with governance that in the main responds to the people and is relatively free of corruption. Often people bemoan the influence of the European colonization and its exploitation of Africa as the cause of Africa’s ills, if you witness the flow of Canada’s resources you might say Canada is exploited as well; once again making the point that governance influenced by the people generates good results for people over time. Once again everyone knows the answer to helping Africa find prosperity, we need to empower and envalue the people and circumvent inept and corrupt governance. The assertion that it will take time for governance to evolve in Africa is true, but having traveled that evolutions path, the west can accelerate the process.
There are many people screaming for FUNDS as though money poured into Africa is the solution. The present mode of aiding with money has had as many ill effects as it has had good. It is apparent that as more and more money flows through corrupt channels, those channels gain strength with the perverse effect of enriching the corrupt in a greater proportion than empowering the people requiring a hand up; exacerbating the negative situation. Additionally, as people in need are provided aid in the form of goods and services, often local channels for goods and services are disrupted or made permanently unviable by the requirement to compete with free goods and services; effecting dependence on the population. What’s required is that the population is put in situation where, by possessing resources, the African people attract goods and services to them. We have Viagra because there is a population able to pay for it; we are absent a drug for Malaria largely because the people who get Malaria have no money. If every citizen of Africa was a millionaire, we would be over there cutting their grass for $125 / hour.


In business we refer to a business reaching critical mass, the point at which a business has sufficient resources to fully capitalise on the opportunities a given environment provides. Poverty is a state of critical masslessness or depletion, where there are insufficient resources to respond to the opportunities a given environment provides. Often a company, when provided with a proportionally small amount of capital leavers that capital to generate exceptional results. Capital and knowledge combine to generate results, assuming there isn’t a corrupt official stealing the proceeds. As western economies evolved, the populace has become envalued, they have garnered the ability to accumulate sufficient wealth to attract goods and services. As the populace has become increasingly more prosperous creating goods and services they’ve attracted provide more goods and services; a virtuous cycle has emerged. There is strong support, as one views the various information sources related to the Africa situation, for priming the pump of human endeavour. For support to the population to be successful three things must be satisfied, resources must be isolated from corruption, the funds must be supported by information and funds must envalue people directly.


As is often the case, one lives so close to the solution it is difficult to see. Wireless technologies offer the opportunity to direct information and resources directly to people and circumvent government all together. Electronic currency is ubiquitous in our world now, as are the electronic means of exchange. Cell-phones can purchase food from a vending machine, and via the internet I can transfer funds from my to my daughters account. We take these developments for granted, but these developments dispersed to Africans, in a manner that tailors technology to the Africa circumstance, gives us the means to prime the pump of human endeavour in Africa by empowering the people’s action.


Imagine and electronic device, provided to people cast to the riggers of the environment, war and corruption, that would provide a means to receive a daily stipend directly circumventing corrupt officials, that would provide them with pertinent information on whereabouts of food, that would provide them with a secure means of exchange, that would provide them with means to safely accumulate money, that would provide them with reputation systems that put societal bullies at the people’s whim as opposed to the other way round, that would provide information peculiar to their given endeavour. This device exists now in so many forms, is it only a matter of consolidating technologies, developing a functional organizational model to build and deliver them, and garnering the appropriate support for the venture.


To appreciate the value of a device of this nature it is useful to imagine how it could be utilized by people in their daily lives. Consider an African mother going to a market in which the devices were utilized, she would interface with the various vendors by purchasing goods and transferring funds to their “device” electronically; she has no worry about her money being stolen as it is electronically “held”; her device is biometrically protected so it is useless in the hands of another person; if a corrupt office requests a bribe on her way home and compels her to transfer funds to his device, she can anonymously activate a reputation system that flags this transaction as a bribe, identifying the official and providing the contributing organization the ability to track the number of bribes a given official has taken and or reversing the transactions or engaging is some other corrective action; given that she is geo located regionally sensitive information can be directed to her perhaps on the best time and types of crop to plant; now that she has been envalued by having a secure source of funds services will travel to her, perhaps a vender with a $.99 aids test or some other medical service; now with a secure means to accumulate money she can accumulate the money her actions generate; now that she has a track record of having funds flowing in she can request a loan. This device then facilitates her life by; empowering and envaluing her; isolating her resources to her hence protecting them from others; helping to secure her ongoing existence as the only way others can access her daily resources is by her being there to distribute them; gives her the means to police her government by providing the means to record the actions of its officials. This is a device of empowerment, as it puts the entire panoply of modern technologies in accessible form, right in the hands of the world’s most vulnerable.   


Many people yearn to bring change to populations of Africa who are disadvantaged by circumstances largely created by dysfunctional institutions. Yet the solutions they turn to involve either creating more institutions who are hampered by the existing dysfunctional institutions or somehow trying to access the people through dysfunctional institutions. Clearly, a better course of action is to make institutions responsive to the people who need help. By creating a channel for information and resources to flow to people, regardless of the condition of the state, people become empowered. Rather than the government being given lump sums of money from international institutions, moneys are disbursed to their populations who can choose to support the government or not. Inherent in this approach is the strengthening of democratising forces and the ability for populations to pull services and governmental responsiveness to them.


This proposal of creatively utilising new technologies needs to be done on a massive enough scale to ensure that no individual state can influence its function. I envisage these devices functioning under a continent wide satellite umbrella. The devices themselves being broadly distributed for free to the populations. Once designed the manufacture of millions of them will drive their unit cost to very low levels. The free provision of this devices and the information and resources they will provide, will ensure immediate penetration of this technology. Now having considered the benefit and opportunity to democratise that the broad distribution of these devices would provide, one needs to consider an organisational model to deliver both the device and the supporting services.


Presently one of the challenges of the African aid landscape is the fractured response to societal challenges. Consider for a moment the millions of religious, NGO, corporate and government organizations, in good spirit, working to help the impoverished inhabitants of Africa. They are doing some good but, the duplication of service and effort costs valuable resources. The device based continent wide system being proposed here would provide a single unifying platform on which all organizations could facilitate their efforts on a common logistical substrate.


Jeffery Sacks suggests that the number for bringing the African continent on toward the rich worlds living standards is $125 Billion US annually. The challenge presently is there is an absence of an effective channel for those funds to be distributed. The device system proposed here provides such a channel. Given the proper development of the appropriate organization, the rich world would gain confidence enough to provide its support as the entire project has the focus of shifting all benefit away from governments and directly to the people.

The ability to circumvent state barriers has such great value, consider this proposal in the context of Zimbabwe. The world wants to help the people but the present government is corrupt and antagonistic to the aid process. Any aid the does arrive is either expropriated by the state or in some way shores up a corrupt state. Direct distribution of funds to the populace via an international organization or special purpose corporation managing this device based system provides the ability to access the population directly.

There is a broad requirement or aid in Africa, additionally this is thriving industry across the continent. The device system itself and the supporting satellite network offers opportunity for a revenue stream very likely sufficient is size to support the charitable components of the system. Charitable components of the system being the functional equipment and servicing of the that equipment. The description of all the possibilities for revenue for a system such of this is outside the scope to this letter, but when you consider a continent wide telecom linked to the world, opportunities for revenue are endless. We know that this model is viable as there are thousands of profitable services of this nature functioning the world over.

Technology really does hold the answers for liberating the impoverished of Africa, this simple service in collaboration NGOs, corporations and governments gives a direct and unencumbered channel to the people in need. In providing a direct flow of funds in conjunction with information, corruption is largely circumvented and people of little worth now will at least be valued at their stipend. Even the spending value of a modest stipend will cause the emergence of services from local and regional sources by inciting local entrepreneurs to respond to a new market, existing market systems will be enhanced rather than diminished. Perhaps most importantly, this system provides means (monetary, informational and communications) to people who are in extremely exploitable circumstances, turning the tables on oppressive or inept and corrupt governments, by truly making them accountable to people. When you look at the African situation from thirty thousand feet the present incoherence of the total aid effort is disheartening, as duplication and uncoordinated action steal valuable resources; the provision of a widespread device based distribution system provides a vital substrate for collective action on the part of the aid providers.                    

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Who aspires to ordinary?


I’ve wanted to be a lot of things in my life, but ordinary, never – I take comfort in never having had anyone accuse me of being ordinary. The challenge with people who espouse about “ordinary” is that I think they see themselves as ordinary absent any clear definition of ordinary, except perhaps the juxtaposing to extra-ordinary. There are some who voice support for ordinary people; they want to build policy for “ordinary” people so government serves the ordinary, ordinarily. The challenge I have is that in all my time on earth I have never met an ordinary person, in the very middle of the societal bell curve, I have never encountered “ordinary” people – there I have found the extra-ordinary amongst the “ordinary”.
I spent most of my life at the altar of exceptionalism, reading Winston Churchill speeches and the like, it was my first and only wife, that taught me about the extra-ordinary amongst the ordinary. When I was reading about Mr. Churchill, she would be talking about a neighbor. She had the capacity to admire the people who filled her everyday life, to see and appreciate a quality that a person possessed – save perhaps the person who left their socks on the floor one too many times. This is a lesson I got from one that considered herself from the ranks of the ordinary, it was a good one.


The point here is that the only time there can be ordinary people is when you’re looking at a “herd” of people, the moment you take person out of the “herd” they become exceptional. Therein lays the evil in collectivism. Whenever you aggregate human existence, an ill-defined blob is born where an individual use to be, where there was once a thousand flowers to bloom, there is now no flower to be noticed. The tall poppy syndrome comes to play, it is necessary only because collectivism wants people to be the same, treated the same, having the same – no exceptional individuals. My wife’s lesson was that all people are exceptional; my observation is they get lost in a crowd. 

Cub Scouts to C Suites – Culture starts at Initiation


In his book The Anatomy of Power, John Kenneth Galbraith offers “conditioning” as the most powerful element in the administration of power. The more I spend time observing human behavior, the more I realize how true his assertion is. It seems at every turn you witness the emergence of the past, we are inextricably linked to intergenerational meams that are the product of intergenerational conditioning; some good and some bad.

As a boy, I attended Boy Scouts, our “troop” leader had as a practice “running the mill”. When you did something that fell short or miss behaved, you would be instructed to “run the mill”. A line was formed with each individual about three feet apart, standing with their legs apart so as to facilitate plenty of room to swing one’s hand. The subject was instructed to get on their hands and knees and crawl on all fours down the “tunnel” formed by their peer’s legs. As the subject crawled along, the people in the line would swat the behind of the subject, open hand was the requirement.


It is highly unlikely you would find this practice in Boy Scouts now; I think generally that is a good thing. It did however, serve several purposes, the one most important purpose was to reveal the character of your peers. Some in the line would merely make the motion so that their "swat" delivered no pain to the subject, others would take glee in the process and make sure when their opportunity to swat came, it hurt. It was curious to me, that the behavior of an individual which had no effect on another specific individual would be met with vigour at the opportunity to inflict pain; they would seek to hurt only because the forum to hurt was provided. When you find people who will exercise themselves in this way, people who hurt only because there is a forum to hurt, remember them, because they are the one’s who are likely to become an institutional zealot. One understands that organization has inherent in it the forfeiting of “self” to some degree, but a zealot in the midst of the rational is institutional poison.

Wikipedia Definition ““Hazing is the practice of rituals and other activities involving harassmentabuse or humiliation used as a way of initiating a person into agroup. Hazing is seen in many different types of social groups, including gangssports teams, schools, military units, and fraternities and sororities. The initiation rites can range from relatively benign pranks, to protracted patterns of behavior that rise to the level of abuse or criminal misconduct. Hazing is often prohibited by law and may comprise either physical or psychological abuse. It may also include nudity and/or sexually based offences.”

“Fundamental Attribution Error” comes to mind here, the process of placing too much weight on innate character and under weighting the environment that people are exercising themselves in. We need to remember, when you introduce competition between peers and add to that processes of initiation, we are creating circumstance where the ensconced insecure can seek to eliminate completion from the yet to be initiated or those yet to be through the induction process. This seems obvious enough, what is less obvious is why we persist with the process. Peer based selection is more effective when it is criteria based rather than the product of multi-party assessment, human assessment is very subjective and is most often influenced by things unrelated to the organization’s mission.

One understands the necessity to determine the nature of a person at the point they come to an organization; can we count on this person or not in any given situation. The question is, is the process you’ve built to determine this really giving you that information and what is the downstream effect on the overall culture of an organization and its performance.  There are few things as pernicious to an organization as “intra” organizational competition, because in competition there are winners and losers and an organization is a product of the “some” of its parts. It is better to define the mission, set the objectives, have clarity in performance metrics and let knowledge rule rather than “gangs”.