Buyer’s Remorse on McCain

As the race tightens, Alexander Mooney over at CNN Political Ticker speculates voters who have not yet voted may be experiencing a kind of buyers remorse:

“It’s possible that McCain will continue to close the gap over the final few days of the campaign,” said CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib. “Presidential elections often tighten up at the end, especially if there’s not an incumbent on the ballot. Voters sometimes experience a degree of ‘buyer’s remorse’ before settling on a new president.”

That doesn’t sound like buyer’s remorse to me.  It sounds like undecided voters still swinging.

Now this on the other hand (via Jesse Taylor at Pandagon), sounds like real buyer’s remorse (Iowa State Daily):

Elborno said even McCain supporters were among those being asked to leave.

“I saw a couple that had been escorted out and they were confused as well, and the girl was crying, so I said ‘Why are you crying? and she said ‘I already voted for McCain, I’m a Republican, and they said we had to leave because we didn’t look right,’” Elborno said. “They were handpicking these people and they had nothing to go off of, besides the way the people looked.”

Do Republicans who support the attacks on our constitutional rights cry when those same policies come back to bite them in the ass?  Do they experience shock, or buyer’s remorse?  I wonder if it is the latter.

Who do you know who buys a crappy used car from a shady dealership, and after going into debt trying to fix it (and getting hurt when the airbags failed to deploy) goes back to the same damn dealer for an older model?

Not In Front of My Retarded Baby!

This photo from the Chicago Tribune appears to be channeling the Onion:

Could you please stop tearing apart my record so loudly? I just put my special needs child down for a nap. You remember my poor, Down syndrome baby, don’t you? The developmentally disabled child I carried to term despite knowing that he had special needs? The child who would be helpless without my constant care and attention? Well, he’s just nodded off, and if you continue to provide such damning evidence of my inexperience in both foreign and domestic policy, you’ll wake him.

You wouldn’t want him to start crying, would you?

The actual article up at the Tribune consists of Palin lamenting the publicity around her $150,000 fashion sense:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin insisted in an interview with the Tribune on Thursday that she did not accept $150,000 worth of designer clothes from the Republican Party and “that is not who we are.”

“That whole thing is just, bad!” she said. “Oh, if people only knew how frugal we are.

“It’s kind of painful to be criticized for something when all the facts are not out there and are not reported,” said Palin, saying the clothes are not worth $150,000 and were bought for the Republican National Convention. Still, she has been wearing pricey clothes at campaign events this fall. She said they will be given back, auctioned off or sent to charity.

Palin appears to be relying on her party faithful’s mistrust of the media and trust in her to override her spending spree.

Most of them, she said, haven’t even left the belly of her campaign plane.

Got that?  Most of them aren’t even being used for the campaign.  They are straight up being wasted, and Govenor Palin is attempting to use that to mollify her supporters.  Nothing calms an irate Republican like wasteful spending.

Shhhhhhhhhhh!

Oh I’m sorry governor, did I say that in front of your little bundle of political opportunity?

I’ll say this next part in just the gentlest whisper:  It appears McCain and the RNC think the money was well spent.

Theocrats: Don’t Tread on Me

I’ve got a post over at Revolutionary Act on Republicans, Gay Marriage, Palin, and Theocracy.  You are all warmly encouraged to drop by and share your voice.

Please Let Palin Speak More

Given Palin’s strong support for Bush/Cheney executive power grabs, it isn’t clear whether this is her usual ignorance or lust for power on display.  Via Think Progress:

Yesterday, Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) sat for an interview with KUSA, an NBC affiliate in Colorado. In response to a question sent to the network by a third grader at a local elementary school about what the Vice President does, Palin erroneously argued that the Vice President is “in charge of the United States Senate“:

Q: Brandon Garcia wants to know, “What does the Vice President do?”

PALIN: That’s something that Piper would ask me! … [T]hey’re in charge of the U.S. Senate so if they want to they can really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes that will make life better for Brandon and his family and his classroom.

She doesn’t belong anywhere near public office.

Every time she speaks she makes this clearer.

Your Job and Your Mind

I once heard an annectdote about a clever lawyer who gave prospective hires a psychological assesment, and only hired those with father issues.  He’d then act paternal enough to manipulate them into competing with each other for scraps, noting “If they knew how much they were worth they’d leave for another firm”.

I don’t know how much truth one can find behind that anectdote, but there is a very clear lesson: It’s easy to be manipulated, and difficult to tell its happening when its happening to you.

My friend Brad left his job with a marked lack of negative emotion.  Why?  In his own words (emphasis mine):

I should have this sadness about me because this was three years of my life. This was three years that I poured myself into my work. Three years that I gave everything I had and then even more to do my part to make this company kick butt in the IT space. Three years that I sacrificed sleep, vacation, health, friends, family, and everything else imaginable to do a job. But aside from missing a handful of people there, I don’t have any sadness at all. You know why? Because after these three years, this company refused to even acknowledge my 2 week notice, refused to pay me out upon leaving, and refused to even acknowledge that me not being there might have a slight impact on them.

There’s two points that stand out here.  One is the above average effort (at one point Brad worked over a 100 hours in a week, and the encompassing weeks were not 40-hour “vacations”).  Two is the lack of recognition from above.

This fits a pattern.  If one talks to a few other folks who leave similar places, one finds in each case that prior to leaving they:

  1. Are incredibly insecure about finding a new job.
  2. Have a low opinion of their technical ability.
  3. Believe they are being properly compensated.
  4. Think the hours they work (45-60+) are industry standard.

After leaving, universally, they:

  1. Are confident they could find another job if they needed to.
  2. Have a solid opinion of their technical and interpersonal abilities.
  3. Know they are being properly compensated by looking at rates in the area and cost of living.
  4. Work a standard 40 hour work week, sometimes a bit less.

This is interesting to me because my friend Nick wrote a blog post about his worth to the company he works for, and he couldn’t be more wrong:

Why do I bring this up? I’m trying say that I had an incredibly inflated vision of my worth to a company. This isn’t to say that it was necessarily innaccurate, although it was it’s irrelevant. All that I am saying is that my personal valuation of what I could provide to a company was fairly high. But, what I didn’t realize how little I was actually bringing.

Catch that?  Now I’ve worked with Nick in the past.  I do hear he’s a bit of a hardass on the people under him.  But as a co-worker he is tireless, skilled, and passionate.  There’s no question he’s a better developer than I am.  Where my heart is in other pursuits, Nick loves software development.  He constantly strives to make himself better, already has a solid knowledge base, and has strong analytical skills that have been proven in very stressful situations.

So his assessment of himself strikes me, immediately, as a load of crap he’s been fed.  The rest of his blog post confirms this:

Think about it this way. A company spends a great deal of time, effort, and resources in both people and materials to hire you, bring you up to speed, and then keep you happy over your time with that company. This isn’t a simple equation, but keeping it basic it looks like this:

recruiting + resources + salary = x

‘x’ is the monetary value that you are supposed to be worth to the company. That’s right, asset value. As with most things in accounting that hold a value, they depreciate unless more money is put into them each year. This is not giving you a raise or doing a review. Instead, this appreciation only comes from you, as an employee, getting better. This could be conferences, books, feeds, or even sitting in on a code review. Otherwise, your value to the company goes down each year.

Its so very wrong I saw it and just had to write about it.  When a company hires someone (even when they specifically target recent college grads who are easier to underpay and manipulate), they have to spend money to recruit you and resources to train you.  Over time, those expenses dissipate (recruiting) or change.  Money spent on training lessens, and becomes more about building individuals or bringing new skills back to share with the rest of the company.  Companies invest in employees, so x isn’t the monetary value of an employee, its the expense of an employee.  The value of the employee goes up with increased experience, skill, and familiarity with the company’s software and process.  That is where raises come from: when expenses go down and value goes up.

A raise is basic market economics at work.  Since the employee has a higher worth, raises are coupled with implied job security to keep the worker from moving to a new job.

I say all of this because it has helped me over the years to realize my actual worth to a company rather than my inflated view. If I never evolved or got any better, then I would still be where I started, which is casting lines into the stream. In fact, I’d be worse than that, because I’d have depreciated.

Nick is right about the importance of personal evolution and self improvement.  That has a tangible impact on one’s worth as an employee, in any field.  But he’s quite wrong about both his own worth, and the idea that one’s worth to a company naturally deprecates over time.  Presuming the employee is competent, the natural progression is more akin to a high yield savings account or a mutual fund: Value goes up.  Because over time a good worker becomes more experienced, and the initial costs of training and recruitment go down.  The company is paying less and getting more.

Paying less for more is precisely what to watch out for when companies play the psychology game.  There isn’t necessarily anything sinister behind it either.  Even good bosses will try to use some manipulative tactics to convince you to act in a way that benefits the company’s goals, rather than your own.  What is slimy is working on a person’s self confidence and self worth.

A company that pays good employees well and asks reasonable amounts of effort and output in return doesn’t have to worry about playing psychology with its workers.  A company that underpays or overworks its employees uses mind games to compensate.

CNN Political Ticker:

(CNN) — Conservative talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh Monday strongly defended his recent remark that Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama largely because of race, and lashed out at members of the media and Democrats for appearing to take issue with his comment.

“So what if it’s race?” Limbaugh said on his radio show. “Why is it so hard to admit that it’s race…What’s so problematic about admitting it?”

Nice reframe.  It isn’t about the problem of “admitting” its about race.  Its about how fucking slimy it is to attempt to cut down the endorsement of a highly respected public official by appealing to paranoid racists.

I can understand why Rush did it.  The endorsement is a final nail in McCain’s coffin.  A very respected Republican who enjoys high approval ratings across party affiliation with a distinguished career of public and military service absolutely gutted McCain’s rationale for running.

The Republicans have nothing left to except finally trot out Palin for a surprise press conference and hope her incoherent babbling distracts us.  Barring that kind of surprise, I suppose Rush though racist appeals were a good stand in.

ObamaBiden Tax Calculator

I think this is a wicked awesome idea.  A website with a tax calculator to let you see how you’d fare under the tax plans for each candidate.

Here’s a few fun figures:

If you are over 65, married (joint file), have a combined income of 20,000, 3+ dependents, are saving for retirement, have childcare expenses, and an outstanding mortgage of $250,000, the results are:

Obama: $3,327    McCain: $0

Ok, so maybe you are filing as the head of the household, make between 50 and 70 thousand a year, have two kids, college expenses, and a mortgage of $50,000:

Obama: $805     McCain: $270

How about you make 75,000-100,000 a year, are single, have no dependents, college expenses, or mortgage?

Obama: $250     McCain: $0

To be fair, it doesn’t calculate taxes for income above $200,000 a year.  For all the Republican faithful like to make noise about Democrats raising taxes, its pretty clear who will actually lower taxes where it counts.