Mr. Trump Just Doesn’t Get It

Some of the hard-core Trump supporters think of the 45th president as a Rubik’s Cube: a 3D puzzle which has 43 to the 18th power the nine colored squares can be arranged. And the solution only requires you to learn six tricks.

45 is actually more like a snake oil salesman, a rainmaker, a P.T. Barnum, a John Mabray, a Milli Vanilli.

Consider his tweet this weekend: “It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President.” For many Trumpters, reporting this tweet — which actually happened, isn’t a manufactured story and in which any negativity is inherent because of what was said — is simply another example of the left wing media out to drive the president and his family from office.

An objective, rational, unemotional assessment of this tweet reinforces two perspectives: 1. the 45th’s campaign was never about you or the Carrier factory workers in Ohio or the coal miners in West Virginia or the people who want a wall and immigrants banned and 2. the 45th president has no concept about America, its founding and history, and how government works.

Point 1, if you’re still reading. There were a number of analysts after November 8 last year who suggested that Trump wanted to win the presidency, not be president (Headline, Washington Monthly, December 2016). Why did he run? Ego. Someone said he couldn’t win. He was bored. He thought it would be good for international business.

There’s only one person who knows and that means we’ll never know.

Assume that this proposition is correct. That means he never had a clue about how to or never intended to fulfill the promises being made. After all, he’d won. “Of course I’ll respect you in the morning. I’ve never done anything like this before. And, yes, I’ll leave my wife for you.”

How have all of the promises before you “slept” with the president in the voting booth have worked out? It’s not he Democratic Congressional obstructionists. Fact: both houses of Congress are controlled by whom?

Point 2, if you’re already responding to this post and not reading further. The 45th President’s weekend Tweet: “It’s very sad that Republicans, even some that were carried over the line on my back, do very little to protect their President.” Between the lines, read, “I carried you into Congress on my back, so your JOB is to serve and protect me, be loyal to me and make me look good.” Not to represent the American people whom, according to the Constitution, you represent and to whom you owe loyalty.

Or AG Sessions, who the president said, “. . . takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president. How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.” Unfair to 45. But according to the Constitution, is the attorney general the president’s counsel or is s/he the attorney general of the UNITED STATES, of, for and by the people?

Or former FBI director, James Comey, who wouldn’t swear loyalty to the president. According to law, for whom does the FBI director work, why does the position have a 10-year, two-presidential-term span and to whom does s/he report?

In Trump’s mind, he won a BUSINESS which he owns and can run and demand fealty from those under him, and the customers be damned. “Customers.” That’s us, the American voters. Including those whose votes wasn’t the majority in the popular vote, but provided a majority in the electoral college.

He doesn’t say to Congress, “You’re not protecting the American voters who carried you over the line on their backs.” Or “the attorney general did the right thing because, after all, he represents you, the American voter, not the president.” Or “the FBI doesn’t report to the president by law for a reason and shouldn’t be interfered with. He stays.”

That’s not in he DNA of a snake oil salesman, a rainmaker, a P.T. Barnum, a John Mabray, a Milli Vanilli. Or the 45th president.

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Legal vs. Ethical

Business and ethics are a textbook oxymoron for many customers, both consumers and businesses.
Business practices which flirt with regulations and ethical boundaries contribute as much to the oxymoron, if not more, than those which are flagrantly illegal and unethical.
What’s legal may not be ethical. And what may be ethical isn’t always legal. That’s not a discussion reserved for graduate philosophy classes. It’s at the heart of every company’s core beliefs and practices.
Case in point. A business acquaintance who’d recently formed an LLC received this letter in a legal looking envelope which suggested it was from a government agency two weeks later.

ethical-v-legal_wordpress-11feb17

The name and address of the company was the first red flag. There was no government agency or address.

LABOR LAW COMPLIANCE NOTICE. Failure to comply with posting regulations can lead to fines up to $17,000. (29USC Sec 666(i) & (29 USC Sec. 2605). A dire warning for the first-time business owner. As an aside, “Sec 666” is worrisome enough.

The box below advises about the federal business requirements for posting labor law posters pursuant to and so on. There’s a RESPOND BY date, which is roughly two weeks after the letter was received.

The information about the company is listed below, obtained from State PUBLIC Information. In other words, obtained from open records. The second red flag.

There’s a document ID number. Very official looking, allowing the inference of a government agency dossier if not implying it.

The cost of the poster is filled in. With an additional $4.95 service fee if a credit/debit card is used for payment rather than a check or money order which is immediate cash. A third red flag.

All legal. The company information is a public record with free access to anyone, including this supplier. There are federal labor regulations which must be posted, even in a one-person company. There are printing costs involved, although the economies of scale for this marketer’s operation make these prices arguably comparable to usury.

If the company’s printing costs, mailing and overhead costs were 10% of the $84, it mailed 1,000 of these letters a week and had a 10% response rate, that’s almost 400,000 in revenue year. All legal. For a minimal investment.

Then there’s page two on the back.
Ethical v Legal_Wordpress_2CALLOUT 11Feb17.png

The state and federal — a generous two for the price of one — compliance poster includes seven (7) pieces of information which are required to be posted to avoid the $17,000 fine. ALL UPDATED WITH NEW LAWS FOR 2017.

Then a column explaining the business owner “must post a compliant Employment Poster in a conspicuous place in the workplace where all employees and applications can see it.” With “must include” information. And a bullet list of how the company’s $84 poster set will satisfy all the “must” include. Facts gleaned from public government sites anyone can access.

The right-hand column reiterates the notices required to be posted because of the 2017 federal labor law changes and provides a bullet list of them. Facts gleaned from public government sites anyone can access.

The final paragraph in the left-hand corner of the page is the “dire warnings” reminder. I’m surprised it’s not bold, underlined and bordered. After reading it, I’m ready to order the poster for my friend from this company. Facts gleaned from public government sites anyone can access.

And in the right-hand corner. Aye, there’s the rub.

Bold caps. DISCLAMER. [sic: misspelled] The buried fine print that we’re all warned about reading before we sign anything or send in the money.

“Labor Poster Services is a NON-GOVERNMENT publisher of labor law employment posters. . . . This service has not been approved or endorsed by any agency of the government. INDIVIDUAL PANELS ARE AVAILABLE TO BE REQUESTED BY ANY AGENT OF THE CORPORATION FROM THE GOVERNMENT FREE OF CHARGE. [Emphasis is mine. No clue as to where the data are available. In other words, don’t give away the farm.] This offer is intended as a solicitation and not to be intended as a bill due. [Despite the fact that a Date Notice Sent, official Document Number, tear-off form with a barcode and a SASE makes is intended, in my opinion, to make it appear like one.] Labor Poster Services makes no representations or warranties as to the information provided herein. [In other words, we’re not liable for anything you would infer from our offer or if the information about posting labor laws or the new 2017 labor laws is wrong.]

The disclaimer notwithstanding, everything in this offer is legal.

However, as a former business owner, and a marketing practitioner and strategic marketing consultant for more than 20 years, this company has gone to the dark side and embraced the gray area between what’s legal and what’s ethical, in my opinion.

And represents a classic example of the business ethics oxymoron.

There are four questions I would ask Labor Poster Services if it were a client.

  1. How much of your overhead is tied up in defending yourself from claims of fraud, and processing and making refunds? If it’s more than $1, it’s too much.
  2. Is the service and product you’re offering something which has value for the target market: businesses and business owners, especially LLCs and partnerships? The answer should always be “yes.” Unless you’re selling the Brooklyn Bridge.
  3. What’s the USP (unique selling proposition) benefit you provide to the target with your service and product which offsets the buyer’s cost and creates a positive value ratio for the target market? There should always be one. Otherwise you’re a commodity and anyone could undercut the company’s poster price.
  4. Given the answers for those two questions, why is it necessary to use a borderline unethical, but legal, marketing approach instead of an ethical and legal value offer?

The value of Labor Poster Services product to the customer for an $84 investment is

  1. to perform an important HR function for the customer;
  2. to reduce the customer’s costs in the amount of time, energy and effort it would have to spend to research the federal and state labor regulations and forms to be in compliance;
  3. to eliminate customer’s internal or out-sourced printing costs;
  4. to eliminate the target market’s risk of being in violation of federal and state labor laws — the penalties for which could be huge costs.

These positively affect the customer’s bottom line.

The USP is that Labor Poster Services is a proactive business partner watching out for the best interests of its customers. It guarantees that it spent $00,000 in research to assure that its product does include the latest information required by federal and state labor laws for 2017. And will provide updates free of charge and a replacement poster at 00% of the original $84.

P.T. Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” There are companies which will skirt the boundaries of illegal and unethical business practices.

There’s a Latin axiom: Caveat emptor — let the buyer beware. It’s not necessary for Labor Poster Services or any organization to utilize hidden or fine print, a borderline unethical marketing approach,  and contribute to the general perception that “business ethics” is an oxymoron.


BLOG DISCLAIMER: This is a personal weblog post. If this post is of interest or is helpful, that’s terrific. But this is my personal blog. The views expressed in the post are mine alone and do not represent nor are they intended to represent the opinions WordPress. I am an experienced marketing professional, not an attorney. This weblog post is provided with no warranties and guarantees, and confers no liability for any errors or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use.

 

The Only Group Which Can Fix America Is the One Which Created Its Problems

America’s in trouble. We’re in danger of losing our national identity and unity, of becoming irrelevant to ourselves and to the world, no longer the shining light of freedom and participative government.

And the only group in America which can stop and reverse this authorship of the decline of America is the one which created it.

Here are some facts about the economic, social, political and moral divisions in America today.

  • Only 26 percent of Americans believe the U.S. is headed in the right direction.[1]
  • Almost 80% disapprove of Congress’s performance.[2]
  • The middle class has become a minority. In 2015, for the first time in history, Americans in the middle-income bracket didn’t comprise the majority of the country; the rich above and the poor below the middle class made up half the population.[3]
  • We argue about whose lives matter and whose don’t. Eighty-eight percent of blacks say the country needs to continue making changes for blacks to have equal rights with whites, just 8% say the country has already made the necessary changes, but 43% are skeptical that such changes will ever occur. Only 53% of whites say the country still has work to do for blacks to achieve equal rights with whites, 38% say enough changes have already been made and only 11% express doubt that these changes will come.
  • Billionaires and special interest groups wield donations to control and manipulate elections. PACs from outside of Georgia, for example, spend millions to support our state’s candidates, who accept the money.
  • Citizens are threatening to leave the U.S. if either candidate wins the election.

Scary.

The nominations of Clinton and Trump (in alphabetical order with nothing implied) reflect these divisions in America.

  • Fifty-eight percent of Americans rate both presidential candidates unfavorably.[4]
  • Ninety-four percent of Trump’s backers say he is more honest and trustworthy, 70% of those behind Clinton say she is; 17% believe neither of them are.[5]
  • Eighty-one percent of Americans say they would feel afraid after the election of one of the two polarizing politicians, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. That includes 25% who say it doesn’t matter who wins: They’re terrified of both. I’m in the latter group.
  • Three-quarters of voters say their selection of president in the election roughly two months from now would be motivated more by a desire to keep either Trump or Clinton out of the Oval Office rather than voting for the candidate who shares their views on the issues or is the more qualified to hold the office.[6] It’s a lesser-of-two-evils choice.

Scary.

moderates-missing-in-congress

Congress is gridlocked by partisanship. Moderate members of both parties have been pushed out by special interests with campaign contributions. The group of centrist Democrats, known as Blue Dogs, “have been all but eviscerated from the House over the last few elections.”[7]

Scary.

Our next president will have at least one, but more likely several, vacancies to fill on the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The appointments will determine the direction of the Supreme Court for a generation when it comes to decisions about everything from religious freedom and states’ rights to abortion and same-sex marriage. “There is no more important issue in this election than the Supreme Court.”[8]

Scary.

The group which created this environment of social and political polarization in America, and the only one which can stop and reverse it?

It’s the group whose delegates selected the two presidential candidates at pgo-we-have-met-the-enemytheir parties’ conventions.

Take a selfie. Look at it. You’re looking at a key member of the group – the American voter and non-voter. It’s YOU. I see the same thing in my selfie. It’s ME.

 

We created the problems. We’re the ones who elect people to represent us. We’re the only ones who change the polarization in our country and put it back on track.

Consider this.

“When asked directly about the legality of abortion, 56% of U.S. adults say it should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 41% who say it should be illegal all or most of the time. In both cases, these figures have remained relatively stable for at least two decades.”[9]

QUESTION: If state legislatures and Congress were representing the people, then why aren’t the votes 56% for a woman’s right to choose and 41% against?

“. . . in 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a margin of 57% to 35%. Since then, support for same-sex marriage has steadily grown. Based on polling in 2016, a majority of Americans (55%) support same-sex marriage, compared with 37% who oppose it.”[10]

QUESTION: If state legislatures and Congress were representing the people, then why aren’t the votes for same sex marriage legislation 57% and 37% against?

In 1999, 70% of Americans favored allowing daily prayer to be spoken in the classroom. In 2000, it was 68%, 66% in 2001 and 61% in 2014. Seventy-four percent supported allowing schools to display the Ten Commandments.

QUESTION: If state legislatures and Congress were representing the people, then why aren’t the votes for same allowing more than 60% for allowing prayer in schools?

Arguably, the practice was deemed by the SCOTUS to conflict with the separation of church and state doctrine. Who appointed the SCOTUS justices? The president, with approval of the Senate. Who elects the president and senators? Look again at the selfie. It’s YOU and ME.

If YOU AND I want to save America, wants to eliminate the polarizing and gridlocking insistence that everyone agree to what s/he believes, wants bipartisanship and compromise to be the rule rather than the exception, there’s a solution.

Forget the presidential election. Forget party loyalty.

Focus on the candidates down the tickets – senators and congresswo/men, governors and lieutenant governors, members of the state legislature, county and local governments.

Don’t assume that they’re qualified and willing to represent the views and desires YOU AND I hold just because they’re on the ballot. All that takes is the money to register and filing the papers. Ever voted for someone running unopposed? Why? Because no one opposed them.

And don’t assume that they’re qualified and willing if the process of getting on the ballot required supporters and financial support. Who are the supporters and contributors? Do they share the viewpoints YOU AND I have?

Question them. Examine their backgrounds, their positions, the way they conduct their campaigns. Find moderate candidates who understand the role in our democratic process and will represent YOU AND ME instead of his/her position or those of the special interest groups to which s/he’s obligated. Who practice the skills of listening to those with opposing views and position, and are willing to negotiate and compromise for the greater good.

Work to get them elected.

Register to vote and vote.

Re-electing the same people over and over and over, essentially providing them with a lucrative professional career for life, is the traditional definition of insanity – doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.

If YOU AND I, don’t want to save America, eliminate the polarization and gridlock, bipartisanship and the lack of compromise, however, this entire proposition is moot.

And the threat the future 16th U.S. and first GOP president foretold 178 years ago will come to pass.

“Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! . . . . At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reaches us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.”

ENDNOTES

[1] Direction of the Country. RealClear Politics. Retrieved from http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/direction_of_country-902.html

[2] Congressional Job Approval. RealClear Politics. Retrieved from http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/congressional_job_approval-903.html

[3] The American Middle Class Is Losing Ground: No longer the majority and falling behind financially. (December 9, 2015). Pew Research Center, Social & Demographic Trends. Retrieved from http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

[4] Newport, F. (Jul26,2016). For First Time, Trump’s Image on Par With Clinton’s. Gallup: Opinion. http://www.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/194000/first-time-trump-image-par-clinton.aspx

[5] Agiesta, J., CNN Polling Director. (September 7, 2016).  Poll: Nine weeks out, a near even race. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/06/_politics-zone-injection/trump-vs-clinton-presidential-polls-election-2016/

[6] Steinbuch, Y. (July 14, 2016). News: Most Americans are scared of Clinton or Trump as president. The New York Post. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/gtrdrw3.

[7] Steinhauer, J. (October 8, 2012). Politics: Weighing the Effect of an Exit of Centrists. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/gr8l3kc.

[8] Hatch, O.G. (September 13, 2016.) Opinion/Commentary: A Clinton win would ensure the most liberal Supreme Court in 80 years. The next president’s picks mean the difference between democracy and tyranny. The Washington Times. [Hatch is a Republican senator from Utah, President pro tempore of the Senate.] Retrieved from http://tinyurl.com/jz4go4m.

[9] Lipka, M. (June 27, 2016). 5 facts about abortion. Pew Research: FactTank. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/27/5-facts-about-abortion/.

[10] Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage. (May 12, 2016). Pew Research: Religion & Public Life. Retrieved from http://www.pewforum.org/2016/05/12/changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/

The Waterloo Police Department Patch, Slogan

ia_-_waterloo_policewaterloo-patrol-car_vigilance

Long-time part of the folklore in the black community of Waterloo is that the police department’s patch and patrol cars with a distinctive red ‘dragon” and the word “Vigilance” is a code for a covert policy which over-polices the blacks. The proof often cited is that Waterloo has the highest per capita of black men incarcerated in the state and that the police department has fewer than a half-dozen minority officers in a town which is almost 25% minority.

The patch and the slogan were proposed in 1964 by then police chief Robert Wright. He wanted a patch which would be unique and create an image of the department which was symbolic of police work.
The dragon on the police department patch is actually a “Griffin,” from Greek mythology. Also called “griffon” or “gryphon,” it has the head and wings of an eagle, the king of birds, and the body, tail, and hind legs of a lion, the king of the beasts. It was believed to be stronger than an ox or a horse and had the ability to fly. Myth has it that a griffin pulled the chariot of Apollo, the Greek sun god.
To the Greeks, it was a powerful and majestic creature, a protector from evil, witchcraft, and slander, “the vigilant guardian of treasure and of kings.”
Former Waterloo Courier artist Jack Bender designed the distinctive patch, according to the Waterloo Daily Courier story in 1964 introducing it.
Excerpt from The Bridge Between, by J. Nicholas De Bonis. (Manuscript being completed.)

Letter to a Young GI

GI Joe — Congratulations as you head into your final week of basic training. HOOAAH!!! It’ll be the longest week of your time at Benning. Then at graduation you’ll look back and go “WTH?” Where did the time go?

You won’t recognize them, but others will — the changes in you. Over time, you’ll also recognize and appreciate them.

The next phase awaits as you head to training in your specialization, whatever it is, something you wanted or something for which the Army had a need. Whatever it is, learn as much as you can. Knowledge is power. Remember, people who know how to do something will always end up working for people who know how and WHY it’s been done and being done that way.

Your MOS isn’t your life’s career. It’s your Army job. I spent four years right out of high school in Air Force logistics. Never used it formally after that. But my knowledge and learning was never lost, and provided me with insights in my subsequent careers. What seemed like a small, insignificant part of  my training and job was learning and using computers for inventory management. I was a digital pioneer with skills which have always been helpful, although I couldn’t recognize, anticipate or appreciate it at the time.

You have a huge advantage right now, and all it’s costing you is some time and a committment. A job with a steady paycheck while you make life decisions. Three squares and a cot. Training. PX, enlisted club, recreational facilities, uniforms and allowance, travel . . . and so on.

It’s your time to grow, mature, explore, cut the umbilical cord and wean yourself into life with a secure support system.

The decisions you make are yours. They come with consequences — good, neutral or bad. Whatever happens, move on. Don’t look back and second guess. Nothing will change. Learn from each decision and go forward.

Thank you for serving. You’re now one of a special fraternity of active duty military and veterans, men and women, living and dead. Welcome.

 

Age Is Only a Number

AGE ZONE  I’m ensnared in a personal Twilight Zone of denial and isolation, anger, bargaining and depression, unable to get my head around acceptance. It isn’t real. Damn it, I’m not ready to deal with this. If only . . . . I internalize, withdraw from the ones to whom I should be turning for support.

Commonly accepted truisms have trickled down the millennia. It is what it is. Go with the flow. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. There’s always sunshine after a storm. It’s darkest before the dawn. Tomorrow is another day. Time heals all wounds. When one door closes, another opens. Life goes on. Move ahead without looking back.

A letter two weeks before Christmas informed me that the marketing management program at the technical school had been moved to a subset of business administration. That rendered my position as the marketing instructor unnecessary. I was RIF’d.

Been there, done that. My first feeling was stress reduction. My second was mulling over options, the chapter of my life.

Susan, my wife, involuntarily separated from her career five months earlier, was making some career decisions as well. We were again standing together in life’s woods where roads diverged.

Had a wonderfully relaxing, family oriented Christmas. Many “Honey do” projects, most on my personal bucket list in the procrastination basket too long, were undertaken and some were completed.

Résumé updated. Job searches initiated. Applications submitted. This wasn’t an income sortie. It was a forage for openings which were interesting, something new, where my training and experience could make an immediate contribution, in a new location after almost 24 years in Georgia.

That’s what you do in these circumstances. Get on with life. Collective wisdom says so.

The reality is that my life had been booted into a perfect storm, the combination of two strong undercurrents beyond my control.

The rejections were polite, if sent at all. Overqualified. Couldn’t afford you. Looking for someone with less experience. Do you clearly understand what this position is?

Because age isn’t just a number, after all.

But it always has been. To me. Ask anyone who knows me.

Twenty-two when I started college. So what? Four years in the military including a year in Vietnam provided maturity and life experiences. Priceless.

High school teaching credential and job at 28. So what? Understood, related well with the students. Grad school at 35. So what? Professional experience to contribute to the learning and personal maturity to fulfill the commitment.

Re-married at 36. So what? Susan’s almost a decade younger. Age difference a non-issue for either of us.

First child at 41. So what? Conscious decision. Financially stable. Less likely to be panicked by the unexpected. Susan would have two children to raise.

Second child at 48. So what? Susan now has raise three kids to raise.

Soccer referee at 50. So what? For 15 years, the kids’ legs were the same age. Mine got older every year. Finally sidelined by a foot injury.

In my mind, I’m still in my mid-20s. Termination is what it is. Look ahead, knock on doors ready, willing and able to open one.

Age discrimination. It’s a despicable phrase. Overt, it’s Illegal. Unintentional, inhuman, understandable and impossible to prove. The date of the undergraduate degree is on the résumé. The calculations are quick. As are estimations of longevity, short-term ROI, ability to “fit in.”

The first undercurrent: in the marketplace, I’m already out in the pasture.

Family and friends are caring, well-intentioned when they offer the “R” word: retirement. Social security. That’s what everyone they know who’s my age does. Years before the age I am now.

Doesn’t matter what your mind tells you. I’m reminded that, a dog were my chronological age, it would be 357 years old.

The second undercurrent: I’m not playing by the age rules.

I’ve entered a personal Twilight Zone. Not that old. Don’t make me think chronologically, damn it. I’m not through. Even Susan will tell you that I’m one of Pan’s Lost Boys who never grow up. Depression.

That’s when the grieving cycle began.

I’ve always followed Yogi Berra’s advice: when you come to the fork in the road in the woods where one road is less traveled by, take it. OK, he didn’t include the Robert Frost metaphor, but it fits.

This is a big fork in my life’s road. I’m taking it.

Semi-retirement. Re-launching my consulting and training company. The first policy: age is only a number. And I already know what a kid the boss can be at times.

Filing for social security.

Making a decision with Susan about which beach suits us best and how to work that around her career opportunities or vice versa.

Learning the lyrics to Paul Anka’s anthem, “My Way.”

High Tech & Discrimination

Walking behind a self-propelled mower for roughly three-quarters of an acre on a humid 98-degree Coastal GA day — not complaining, just setting the scene — with my iPod and frequent water breaks provides perhaps too much time for free-association thinking.  I’m channeling Hedley Lamarr from Blazing Saddles: “My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.”

Designing a product improvement in my head for the mower, my thoughts cascaded into the possibility of an automatic mower guided by a joystick or GPS.  Like the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner, Scooba floor scrubber and Braava floor mopper.  The slid into my favorite innovation, the driverless car.  I’ve never been one who had to be “the first,” but having the first driverless car in GA is near  the top of my bucket list.  My own KITT.  And if that reference is obtuse, you weren’t a Knight Rider.

My student millennials discount the concept out of hand, although they accept the reality and practicality of drones being flown against targets in the Middle East by military personnel sitting in a building in Nevada.

Driverless cars have been successfully tested for thousands of miles, from coast to coast, and are street legal in two states.  The main problem with driverless cars?  HUMAN DRIVERS in OTHER cars.   Last month, according to a New York Times story, a Google driverless car approached a crosswalk and stopped to let someone cross.  It was rear-ended by the car behind it with a HUMAN driver.  Another driverless car wouldn’t have made that mistake.

The benefits of driverless cars are tremendous.  First and foremost, it takes the human element out of a dangerous activity.  No more driving tension, worrying about what the idiot behind the wheel of another car is going to do or is distracted by or impaired from.  No more speeding tickets, accidents, having a city with the longest commute due to traffic jams.  No more driver’s license exams or road tests.  No surrendering my license when I’m 90.  No more human-driven taxi cabs or Uber, chauffeurs or charter buses.

The ability to enjoy the scenery or work or text or relax or sleep while traveling.  Meals using both hands with your favorite alcoholic beverage.

I daydream while refueling my mower about being able to program my car to take me to work, go home by itself, pick up the grandkids at school at 3:30, bring them to my office and then drive us home while we play the latest video game.  Or send it to a store or restaurant to pick up something I’d ordered on the internet.

Driverless semis are also being tested and predicted to be on the road before driverless cars.  No more human error which can kill five Georgia Southern nursing students because the driver was allegedly too tired to react quickly enough to stopped traffic.  The impact for logistics is incalculable.

There is a downside.  Stoplights and road signs won’t be needed, which will eliminate the sign industry and need for DOT road crews.  Tickets won’t be written for driving offenses, which will take those revenues out of city and county budgets, and make court clerks and courts unnecessary.  Radar gun companies will lose a major client base.  There’ll be fewer ambulances, EMTs and fire personnel, trauma centers and life flights for vehicle injuries.  Truck drivers, way stations and personnel, truck stops and hitching, and CBs will be historical artifacts.    Taxi and Uber drivers will be out of work.

On the upside, policewo/men, deputies and state patrol will be able to concentrate on crime and prevention.  Firefighters will be able to concentrate on fires and prevention.  Emergency medical personnel and facilities will be able to concentrate on other traumas.  There’ll be a whole new series of career fields for people to design, build and maintain the systems and the vehicles.

Thought cascaded again and realized that I may “haue shufflel’d off this mortall coile” before KITT could be acquired.

OK.  Cascading thought.  How about a car without a steering wheel?  One with a joystick with hand controls for shifting, turning, accelerating, braking?  They’re legal and available.  The only setback: they’re for handicapped drivers.  And here I thought the ADA was the American DISABILITIES Act, not the American HANDICAPPED Act.

Turns out the Act discriminates against someone who’s not disabled.  I could drive a car without using my feet or both hands.  Do it all the time with cruise control and one hand holding my cell phone or on race car games.

Hmmmm. . . . .