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Guest banality

How do Benefits Managers think - ethically as well as legally

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You seem to like to create your own obstacles. The suggestion was made, that you might want to consider distance education teaching. and What do you do? You start limiting yoourself to being an "Instructional Designer" something for which you see a "catch-22" because you have no direct experience. Why not just try for "distance education teaching" and see what that gets you first? It will be much easier to transfer to or dabble in "Instructional Designer" AFTER you have secured a position with an institution. This is part of the "chip" and "bad attitude" of which I spoke. Get the cake first then add the icing when you have taken it home.

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Banality,

I don't know anything about instructional design. I am a former public school teacher, turned lawyer, CFP® certificant and graduate/law faculty member in tax and benefits.

I agree that a positive attitude is helpful, but sometimes it is hard to do at the time. We all have obstacles along the way, except that it seems like yours may be a bit more than the average. Perhaps getting a distance education position and then exploring instructional design consulting opportunities might be a good plan.

You might want to check out these sites:

Higher Education

Directory of Online Schools

Teachers Support Network

Chronicle of Higher Education

If you wish to converse further, feel free to email me privately.

Best wishes with your new endeavors (I think positively--the number of distance learning opportunities is mushrooming currently, so I believe that you will find the right one).

Theresa Lynn

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Guest banality

I use the term "Instructional Designer" because that's a common job title in the area where I live: I've applied for a number of positions with different titles that combine technical skills and teaching/training experience - as well as pursuing both tracks separately. I own up to a massive chip on my shoulder, but I maintain that it's justified by experience.

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Guest banality

Theresa Lynn -

Thank you for the list of consolidated resources. I'm looking for postings for distance learning instructors now. :-)

Edited to add: I have set up a resume account at all these sites, except "Directory of Online Schools". I couldn't find a job-match service associated with that site.

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Guest banality

Veering back on topic: conservatives are trying to slip the derogatory term "Lawsuit Abuse" into the public consciousness in an attempt to get individuals to vote to deprive themselves of their right to sue.

Here is a response that claims the real Lawsuit Abuse is conducted by corporations, not individuals: http://www.consumerwatchdog.org/ftcr/co/co004623.php3

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banality,

When you get past or get over this, how about writing a book about how to triumph over adversity? Better yet. However, about starting the book now, when you still feel passionate about the matter? This could help to transfer your passion to the pages and to the readers. Yeah, I know everybody is writing a book, but then why not you too. It could be inspirational for people who find themselves in similar situations- and therapeutic for you… maybe I will see you on Oprah and other TV programs as you make the book tour :)

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Guest banality

Hi, Appleby -

I do write quite a bit: juggling between coursework, the obligatory unfinished novel, and an equally obligatory unfinished dissertation. I also keep a record of everything that has happened to me in case I do ever have a positive forum to tell my story (which could include a book).

It's a nice fantasy to think of people identifying with my situation and respecting the way I've tried to deal with it. What I'd most like to do is create a world where it's safe to reveal the problems without stirring up massive disapproval and unwarranted character judgment. But I have enough of a grip on reality to realize that's highly unlikely. Mainly, most of the things I want to say are things people don't want to hear. :-p

Anyway, I'm already working on this suggestion - but I don't see any book tours in my future. I'll be lucky to get out of this life without being stoned to death!

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Banality,

I was wondering what topic or instructional areas in which you might be interested in teaching. Since I am involved in a number of professional groups, teach online, and am married to a faculty member of a conventional institution, I might have some ideas of where you might direct your efforts. We all need people who are content experts in certain areas. With the push to get more degrees and certifications, the teaching profession is a booming place to be. I have high confidence that the past obstacles will be in the past and that the rainbow of opportunity is just ahead!

I look forward to hearing more from you and brainstorming together.

Theresa Lynn

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Guest banality

Hi, Theresa Lynn -

I have an M.A. and teaching experience in European and World History. I could also possibly teach Women's Studies. My recent professional experience has been in technical project analysis/coordination and in web programming (lightweight: html, javscript/html). I could probably teach an introductory web programming course for students interested in web-based training or multimedia. I've been taking night classes in web programming and multimedia for five years.

I have been giving your suggestions a lot of thought, and I think that as an ultimate goal, I'd like to pursue test design and measurement . I'm not sure if those are the correct terms, so please let me know if there is a better description for the field I'm talking about.

The reason I'm interested in testing is that I see well-constructed, low cost tests as a way of improving fairness in the workplace. If businesses offered tests for employees, the "slick salesmanship" factor would be taken out of hiring and promotion, and the political factor could be taken out of termination. I'm aware that there are issues involved in testing for government jobs, but I'm not sure what those issues are. I also want to work to make tests fair: to make sure multiple choice options aren't ambiguous, and to make sure the ultimate scoring factors in luck, good and bad. I also find it disturbing that in the technology field a lot of testing is currently conducted by vendors: this places too much burden of cost on job-seekers. I think lower level testing should be paid for by employers. Job-seekers can then invest in their careers once they've had a chance to get started in them.

Also, testing seems like the sort of behind-the-scenes job I would prefer, and people with my level of technical knowledge are probably rare.

Since I have no experience in this field, I'm sure I sound like I'm getting ahead of myself. But the discussion of Distance Education sparked some general soul searching. I think analyzing technology tests for fairness is something I'd enjoy and be good at. I'm not sure whether that field requires an advanced degree in education or something else.

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Banality,

You also might want to look at http://www.thejournal.com/ as a source for some good resources and educational providers. Univerisity of Phoenix is a major educational provider. Also check out ETS, now Chauncey Group, and I hear soon part of Thomson Corporation (Thomson Learning). The companies that administer and test the validity of the SATs, GREs, etc., might be able to use your talents.

Good luck! With your many talents, you should be able to find something that fits with your interests, talents, and needs.

Theresa Lynn

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Guest banality

Thank you for all your advice and good will. :-)

Edited to add: I found an entry level job at Thomson that is ideal for my background. I will let you know what happens with that.

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Guest Kevin A. Wiggins

Banality:

I just read through this post and I am surprised that nobody addressed your original question: "do Benefits Managers ever worry about conflicting pressures of their employer, the law (the spirit as well as the letter), and the right thing to do?"

The answer is that Benefits Manager should be concerned about the conflicting pressures of their employer and the law. A few responses addressed documentation, but there is so much more than that. If you don't believe me, just look at the Enron situation. The fiduciaries of the Enron plan ignored the conflicting pressures of the employer and the law, and they got stuck. Now, post-Enron, more and more boards are pushing down fiduciary authority to people like benefits managers in the hopes of avoiding personal liability themselves. That means the personal liability will pass to those benefits managers. That makes the conflicts all the more difficult to deal with. I don't envy you at all in that regard. I do recommend that, if you find yourself in a truly sticky situation between your employer and the plan, and you think it could mean a lot of money, you keep it to yourself to keep your job, but consider hiring your own counsel (and don't tell your employer that you did).

As for the other matters, I wish you the best.

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I am happy for you and hope that it works out very well. It could be a case of "All good things come to he/she who waits".

Remember to guard the "chip" carefully, you really do not want anyone else to get it. And keep an eye on attitude in case he starts making faces behind your back.

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Guest banality

Hi, Kevin -

The problem with the "hiring outside counsel" option is that isn't available to people below a certain income level. The question becomes: do you have to be wealthy to do the right thing? Or, conversely, can you really claim to have courage if you have positional power, financial stability, and a stable of sycophants behind you?

This is not just a speculative scenario. A good example is pharmaceutical exec Dr. Peter Rost: http://forbes.com/associatedpress/feeds/ap.../ap1540218.html. This man has managed to raise a high profile, dissenting opinion at more than one employer , and yet he has remained employed in a highly lucrative industry.

I want to add an additional "cross pressure problem": political representatives rarely help particular constituents unless they can deliver some bonus, such as an opportunity for good press. Let's say an average employee is trying to decide whether to do the right thing. In the current environment, it will not only be doubtful that they will be able to hire a lawyer to enforce their rights, they won't be able to get a political representative to address the problem of absent lawyers and overloaded state agencies.

To make matters worse, everyone at every level thinks it's ok to lie in their explanation of their lack of action: refusals to help come with pat excuses - "I have too many other cases right now", "I've helped to the greatest extent possible", "the requirements have changed", etc. All of these *could* be the truth, but the recipient of the brush-off usually knows darned well that they are being told that they don't matter. And this boils down to a new sort of class society: people who matter and people who don't.

The point is: how can society expect people to speak up for the right thing if all they can see around them is examples of how society crushes people who do the right thing. People who do the right thing are people without common sense, without discretion, too stubborn to learn their lesson, too much trouble... and a thousand other negative constructions. Under these conditions, the bullies, schemers, and outright criminals will prevail. Society celebrates these people as "winners" and has nothing but good things to say about them because everyone wants to "cultivate a relationship" with a winner.

If I could change just one thing about society, I would strengthen the laws that protect employees and make sure those rights are defended. That way people at every level of society would have the clear choice to do the right thing, without having to consider their ability to support their family or whether their friends will turn on them.

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We do not need any more laws to protect employees etc. What we really need is people to have some guts and stand up for what is right and to support those who do the right thing.

I learned long ago that whenever I stand up for truth, justice or the right thing, I am standing alone, ALL alone. I have been burned badly many times because I tend to forget the past lessons. I now try not to get involved and luckily my line of work tends to allow this, however, I still get sued at least every other year by someone trying to shut me up. I have not lost any but it costs money sometimes.

Even on this Board it happens. A moderator once told me that I should stop trying to police the Board and the Internet, when all that I was trying to do was to point out the inaccuracies in postings by a poster who used to have the habit of giving references and cites, to support his arguments, that were either non-existent, misleading or incorrect. I got the flak instead from fellow posters who were the ones getting the bad cites etc.

Can you imagine what would have happened if this was at a place of employment and jobs were at stake? I would have been physically drawn and quartered by fellow employees wanting to make sure that it was known that they were not my supporters.

Until people stand up en masse for each other, I support the need for labor unions and encourage all to do the same.

By the way, I am wondering if this Thread will be a new record for length, if not in number of posts then lines of postings.

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Guest banality

Hi, GBurns -

I agree that when people take a stand, they not only tend to stand alone, they get burned just for taking a stand. Even if people don't disagree with you, they may feel your actions are putting them at risk or they may resent you because your courage makes them feel guilty.

I don't think people are ever going to change, so that's why I think the people who do stand up need formalize protection. Their actions need to be made less risky. Then they only have to worry about the people who don't agree with them, not the people who are afraid of the consequences of rocking the boat.

In regard to record-setting threads: this has been a very interesting discussion for me. I've only looked at a few other threads because I'm not a Benefits Manager. I was originally looking for ways to make contacts with Benefits Managers to see if there was a way advocacy groups could provide a viewpoint to counterbalance corporate propaganda in Benefits design/purchase. I saw a number of posts with a slice-and-dice tone that shocked me - that's why I came to this thread. I'm surprised no one has come to chide me for being massively off topic, particularly when we got into my personal story. However, I do want to talk about the conflicting pressures between employment, personal integrity, and social responsibility. And I'm happy to keep on talking about it if anyone else wants to!

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banality,

I have found this thread very interesting. I struggle with much of what you discuss. I have worked for a number of employers with ethical standards that do not measure up to my own. I also have turned down jobs where I felt that the ethical and moral code was lower than what I could accept. I also have worked with co-workers that abused me and others and the management refused to acknowledge the improper action, much less do anything about it. After many months of prayer for her to leave, she got an offer at two to three times my pay, but it was bliss. Those who abuse and use are rewarded for their assertiveness and lack of ethics and those who live their ethical standards are punished.

I would love to continue this discussion here or off line, as you might wish.

Theresa Lynn

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Theresa,

While it would be good that some of your more personal things be left to "off Forum" correspondence, please do not forget to make further contributions to this thread.

banality,

The reason why you have not been criticized, is probably because, in their hearts, most people agree with what is being discussed. Notice that as we continue the discussion, more and more people are "coming out". Things like these need to be exposed and too many people are not sure whether or not what happened to them also happens to others and Why etc.

You have not opened a can of worms you have instead opened minds and consciences. I thank you for having started this thread. It is not off topic (unless the Moderator deems it so) and probably deserves it own Topic since many of the issues and problems that are discussed otherwise really have their roots in these issues that we are discussing in this thread. In many cases it is this "attitude" towards work and bosses that creates the problems in the other areas that then have to be solved.

By the way look at the number of "Views". I invite these viewers to join in.

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Guest banality

I'm glad that the conflict between integrity and loyalty in the workplace is one that continues to concern people. Sometimes I get disheartened by the idea that employers are actively trying to screen out people who show signs of integrity. I admit the sort of incidents that raise these concerns for me probably have more to do with the way I respond to questions that probe how I feel about these things - the conflicts and complexities involved confuse me, and such questions bring out indecisiveness, dissatisfaction, and other wishy washy qualities that you don't want to show during an interview.

I read a very interesting article on the Pentagon Papers today: the person who chose to leak the document, Daniel Ellsberg, talks about http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/28/opinion/...a2630c0f6b911ae

It's nice to hear people vouch for the difficulties involved in doing the right thing. I still wish there were more protections in place for people faced with these dilemmas of conscience.

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Guest banality

>Those who abuse and use are rewarded for their assertiveness and lack of ethics and those who live their ethical standards are punished.

I wanted to add that I not only agree with this statement: I think it's a widely held perception. That's why it's so frustrating to me that actions in the workplace continue to support a situation that most people find morally repugnant.

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Having re-read this string, I am struck by how aptly your list name (banality) describes the tenor of many of your comments. This has become an insipid collection of your self-defeatist, woe-is-me ramblings, which is a real shame for someone who, in stark contrast, seems to be a very bright and articulate person with much to offer. As an employer, I would not consider your looks or medical challenges to be among your flaws. However, until you lose the self-pity which you seem to wear so prominently, it is quite unlikely that you will find much satisfaction or acceptance no matter what you choose to do. Certainly I have no need for an employee with such a disagreeable countenance.

One of the most seriously deformed people I have met in my life is also one of the brightest lights shining on this earth. She has an indomitable spirit and exudes grace, compassion, and enthusiasm in whatever she does. Her faith in God and her fellow man are unmatched and her moral compass is straight and uncompromising. Many are put off by her appearance, and they are really quite the poorer for their closemindedness. She would admit there is nothing that she can do about another's attitudes except set an example in her own life. She is surrounded by loved ones and friends, and her sphere of influence continues to grow and positively impact those she encounters.

You have been candid in acknowledging some of the shortcomings you feel you have. Work on the ones that don't show up in the mirror. I promise that YOU can't change me or anyone else, but I'll bet that you can do something about you. I think you will find that acceptance from others will quickly follow.

"History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They finally won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats. Disappointments acted as a challenge. Don't let difficulties discourage you." -- B.C. Forbes

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Although jsb's post may not be judged as the most "compassionate" in the thread, in my opinion it is the most valuable.

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For what it is worth, I don't hear the negativity that jsb, GBurns, and WDIK seem to read in Banality's ability to "let down her guard" and reveal herself--flaws, gifts, and all. Perhaps we all need to be more open to listening without judgment when someone has the self-confidence and honesty to be oneself, like Banality. Perhaps we could all learn from her that we need not put up false walls and show false egos for fear of being criticized for one's honesty and candor. When we re-directed the discussion to looking at what Banality's goals were and how her gifts fit with those goals and actually listened--yes listened--we got to know a very gifted person. If we continue to make quick judgments based on words and not the messages that we explored behind them, we lose out on getting to know a valued individual who is now exploring opportunities ahead. We need to listen with an open mind, not with our own value judgments. For example, I confuse a lot of people because I am driven by how a project makes me feel (is it exciting, does it involve creativity, does it help others), not how much it pays...If you judge me based on "money" I am a failure in your eyes although I feel very blessed.

Thanks for letting me share.

Theresa Lynn

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