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Guest banality

How do Benefits Managers think - ethically as well as legally

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Perhaps we all need to be more open to listening without judgment when someone has the self-confidence and honesty to be oneself...

we need not put up false walls and show false egos for fear of being criticized for one's honesty and candor...

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...

We need to listen with an open mind, not with our own value judgments...

Might not these same standards be applied to your interpretaion of the comments made by jsb, GBurns and me.

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Perhaps my view is not the most compassionate, but then maybe it is. I will not patronize anyone by attempting to rationalize or placate misplaced frustration.

I reject the relativistic pabulum so many spew forth in lieu of taking a moral stand on issues. There is a bright line in everyone's belief system which cannot be crossed. Whatever you believe, know yourself and know your line. But society is failing badly when it refuses to enforce a standard for itself. This is little more than polite anarchy.

And, frankly, why would anyone be concerned about my, or anyone else's, judgement of them? Have we become so dependent on the validation of others that we are paralyzed without everyone's approval? Sorry, I have neither the time nor inclination to wallow in someone else's limited perception of reality or opportunity. And I feel badly for those good people who are oppressed or put down without cause; I've been there and have the scars. But my sympathy ends when they stay down because it is easier than picking themselves back up. We humans make great victims if we choose that route. Or we can choose to be accountable.

I wish I could attribute the following sentiment but I believe it's a compilation of a number of different ideas from different writers. It hangs on my office wall so I will look at it every day. I put it up to help me through a tough time and have seen no reason to take it down.

"Thousands of people died last night that would gladly take on ALL of the problems that you think you have in exchange for just 5 more minutes of life today. Don't complain about your problems! If you can change it, get to work on it. If you can't, get over it and move on."

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Guest banality

I thank Theresa Lynn for seeing where I'm coming from.

The problem with the string of attitude and character judgments is that they are most internalized by the weakest members of society: i.e., the people who are most likely to be the victims of discrimination and mistreatment. The judgments usually come from people in positions of relative power, and they stick to the people who are least capable of defending themselves.

I'm not claiming to be the weakest member of society: I'm just in the unusual position of being able to combine an understanding of the social pressures on the underclass with the ability to articulate the problems. I stand by my position: it's convenient for the decision makers to justify the people they exclude with character condemnations and attempt to shame them into silence.

I understand all the "gather more flies with honey" platitude, but consider the fact that if everybody internalizes this message of silence, then tremendous inequities and outright crimes will be hidden. This is currently one of the problems with social services: the stigma and interpersonal judgments prevent the people who need them from asking for them. Policy makers are well aware of this: that's why they always worry about people coming "out of the woodwork" whenever they consider new social programs. They know that more people are eligible than the services can serve, so they seek to keep the existence of the service quiet and to send out relentless messages that amount to blaming the victim. Most of the people who are really irresponsible, amoral, and predatory do not require social services. They got where they are by trampling and driving out the people who ended up without any resources for survival.

As for my own issues, I don't think poor attitude is the problem when I interview. The problem is that I have to put on a fake attitude to please the interviewers, and this is so unnatural for me that interviewers pick up on it. They probe and probe to look for what's wrong. My conclusions about visual discrimination are based on the fact that I do fine on the phone, but I get screened out of person-to-person interviews. Also, I have a record of being hired from temp jobs. People recognize I'm good to work with and good at my job after they get to know me. They don't get this vibe from interviews.

I heartily agree that my attitude is currently pessimistic. In my experience of society, I have gathered a lot of evidence that supports pessimism. I do not think the evil resides in individuals: most people are trying to good and to please others - they only turn when a competitive or threatening factor comes into play or if there is some sort of group dynamics that comes into play. Most evil comes from this group dynamics, where people tend to rally against a perceived enemy or outcast. Groups are machines to create exiles, and groups are driven by people who take the initiative (which usually involves a self-serving agenda). The people who think in terms of the good of the group fail to protect themselves (their own good will is used against them), and they are the first to be weeded out. The people who remain are the ones who are best at pretending to be acting for the good of the group: i.e., the best manipulators and liars. There you have my theory of society in a nutshell.

I thus proudly own my defeatism. I see it as the courage to voice the possibility of an unpleasant reality. Since everyone contributes to group dynamics, the problem can't be pinned on anyone in particular and everyone is able to easily deny it. I refuse to deny it - at least in the context of a free Internet forum. I think denying the existence of the dark side of humanity is the biggest blockade in solving those problems.

I also believe my integrity is a good quality. It's not a socially validated quality. HR screeners will want to project all sorts of negative qualities on to me to cover up their own discomfort that they are really quashing integrity. At the same time, one of the biggest complaints people have with the interviewing process is that they feel they are being trained as liars and frauds just to be able to support themselves. I'm sure a lot of people, including the HR screeners, wish that they would be recognized, appreciated, and hired for their integrity. Top executives certainly feel free to own their integrity: they cast it in the positive terms of dissent that enriches the discussion.

Another fortunate aspect of my education and/or upbringing is that I don't internalize the messages of people who are just trying to make me feel bad about telling the truth. So, don't worry Theresa Lynn - I'm still going to make my stand for making a place for ethics in the workplace. :-)

Ps. No word from Thomson Corp yet.

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Guest banality

I thought of an ethical question that is sure to raise some spirited opinions.

I have noticed while reading through job descriptions that there are a lot of attempts to declare up front what the company would consider ethical behavior on the part of the employee: keeping company secrets, speaking well of the company to the community and the media, etc.

I don't know what the legal status of including this statement of ethics in the job description would be. I'm presuming that the letter of employment that the employee receives is a generic at-will employment letter with no customized or specific contract language.

My question is this: if the company then behaves unethically, even ignoring it's own written policies because the situation is expedient for them, then can the company expect any voluntary adherence to it's own ethically-based expectations? It seems to me that informal understandings are based on the concept of the two-way street. If one side breaks the trust, they cannot expect the otherside to keep it.

There are a lot of philosophies that will come into play here. For instance, you could say that a righteous person will turn the other cheek when slapped (or cheated or wronged). You could consider the social ramifications of the cycle of revenge. You could also wonder what happens to the first victim of the broken trust if there are absolutely no consequences for breaking that trust: will that situation, for example, tend to create more victims? There are many ways of looking at this situation, and I'm curious about what other people think.

My own thought is that the company's expectations should be in a signed contract, and that contract should be balanced by rights on the employee side.

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Guest banality

Well, Thomson Corporation sent me a canned email to announce they had already hired someone for the position I attempted to apply for. The particularly discouraging aspect of this is that I spent several hours composing the cover letter for my resume. HR representatives and hiring managers often complain that they don't get cover letters anymore, but from the perspective of the job applicant it's wasteful to spend time to compose cover letters if the odds are against even getting an interview.

I probably wouldn't have gotten very far in the interview process anyway. Though in theory it seems like I would be the ideal person for a career in research, tracking, and testing, the web site made it clear that the corporation is seeking personality traits that are the opposite of what would be most beneficial for the development of their product. They need data-oriented people who value objectivity and internal consistency and would be confortable working alone for extended periods of time. Their cultural fit test indicates, however, that they prefer to hire superficial socialites.

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Banality,

I hadn't been following this message string for quite a while so I missed a lot of the things you said earlier. I have some suggestions with respect to the facial hair that you may want to consider.

First, not all laser treatment programs are the same. There are a number of different machines and methods of treatment. There are also different skill levels among the technicians. I would suggest you speak with other laser clinics and describe the equipment that was used, as much as possible, and your adverse reaction to it. There is probably one treatment method that will work.

You may also want to consider electrolysis. While it is a more time consuming and expensive process than laser, it has better overall results. Laser will remove certain hairs but not others. It is very good as an intitial process as it will remove hair from large areas at one time. Electrolysis will remove hair permanently, but the electrologist generally works over a small area at a time, so it takes a much longer time to show real results. A word of caution - there are differing levels of competence among electrologists and the wrong one can permanently deaden your skin, giving it a gray color. Before you settle on a person, ask to see the results of his or her work. Check the person's skin to see if it has a rosy, healthy color. I have been undergoing electrolysis for almost two years to remove a full beard and am finally almost finished. It's painful but worth it.

Finally, tweezing is one of the worst things you can do. It irritates the skin and does nothing to prevent regrowth. You would be better off shaving and using a heavy foundation to cover the shadow. Most good cosmetic stores can help you with the right foundation.

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Guest banality

Lame Duck -

I thank you for offering many ideas to help me. I did try electrolysis for many years. It was expensive, and it did not work for me. I don't have any money to try laser again because I've been unemployed and without a source of income for over a year and a half. Even if I had the money, though, I would hesitate: the last attempt at laser made the situation worse and moved the problem to more visible areas.

I agree that tweezing is bad: it creates red blotches that never go away. People ask me about them because they are concerned that someone has hit me or I'm having a lot of accidents. Unfortunately that puts me on the spot to explain something I do not want to discuss. If I tell them about my problem, they will think about it every time they look at me. Someone who does not have this problem probably won't see what the big deal is. However, it's a big deal when your cosmetic problems are the material for comedian ugly jokes and there is a history of people being repelled.

I don't know what to do - the red blotches are marginally better than letting stubbly hair grow. I keep hoping that if I tweeze enough the hair will eventually run out of cycles - but I've had this problem for over ten years now.

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Aren't long term unemployed people eligible for medicaid etc?

What programs do the potential providers have for unemployed people?

Is there a teaching hospital in the area? Many have programs for just this type of situation. If you let them try so that they can teach, they do it free.

What is available from the local public hospital district?

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Guest banality

I have not yet applied for Medicaid or any social services. I have strongly internalized the values of society that say someone who is capable and willing to work shouldn't be seeking help from society. I intend to hold out as long as possible before I apply for anything, and even then I might not. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, if I perish on the streets without having begged for a thing, then perhaps society might open it's eyes to the situation - where currently capable people can be denied the ability to support themselves because they don't "fit" any number of subjective evaluations of their looks, attitude, etc. The fact that the workforce is now being filtered through contract agencies and HR departments who have the secret mandate to protect the decision-makers from "undesirables" is a form of fascism.

Even someone with the best supposed "people skills" will only have their own experiences, education, and prejudices to base their evaluation on: they have no way of connecting impressions and seeming attitudes to the real history of the person they are trying to "peg" - especially not in a half-hour interview.

If medicaid is being suggested for my cosmetic problems, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't cover something like that. I used to have a housemate who was in a transitional housing program, and she had some obvious disfigurement from a history of abuse - missing teeth, etc. Even though it would have helped her confidence in interfacing with the world, and her injuries had been the result of crimes of violence, she could not get funding for cosmetic procedures.

I did once find a school for electolysis: they gave discounted treatment - but not free. It still added up after repeated treatment, and the inexperience of the people giving the treatment resulted in burns. It was also an expensive and time-consuming trip to a nearby city. It was a considerable investment, which I made as a grad student - and it didn't work at all. Later, after I got my first full-time job, I tried an established professional: that didn't work, either. I did not try as many treatments because I was conscious of the money I had thrown away earlier. I went for about four months. It didn't work at all.

I have extremely bad luck in this area. I tried the teaching hospital route in hopes of getting some cavities filled, but they wouldn't treat me because unremoved wisdom teeth and changed the contour of my teeth - I wasn't "standard" enough to make a good teaching subject.

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RE: "If medicaid is being suggested for my cosmetic problems, I'm pretty sure they wouldn't cover something like that". "pretty sure" ? Why? Do you have some special expertise in processing Medicaid etc applicants? Why not let an expert who handles applications of this nature decide?

RE: "cosmetic procedures" Your conditions are not necessarily cosmetic. Varicose veins are covered in many cases by many insurance plans, depending on the facts and circumstances of the particular case including scratching, burning, bleeding etc etc. Breast reduction of Big breasts which cause back pain etc would not be cosmetic. The determination should be made by someone expert in making such decisions.

RE: "a school for electolysis". There are cosmetology schools who teach some minor aspects of electrolysis and there are medical schools who teach electrolysis for medical treatment purposes. There is a very big difference. What sort of school did you go to?

RE:"I wasn't "standard" enough to make a good teaching subject. " I wasn't standard enough for baskeball so I played soccer. Not being standard for 1 thing has nothing to do with being standard for some other thing. Why not let them decide?

I have come to the conclusion that you really do not want anything to be changed in your life. You will always have an excuse why something will not work.

You need your problems so that you can use them to justify whatever you do.

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Guest Kevin A. Wiggins

Banality:

My point is you need to address those conflicts. If you don't, you could get burned. If you can't, then you need to reconsider whether you should be in that position. It is true that less wealthy persons often cannot afford their own counsel. I probably couldn't afford myself if I needed to hire me. Nonetheless, when you interview for a position in which you know up front that you are going to be a fiduciary and will be faced with these dilemmas, you should address them up front and require more pay, require indemnification, be guaranteed outside counsel, etc., etc., or you need to ask questions and get comfortable that your duties will not include such fiduciary responsibilities. If you don't want the responsibilities or the risk, don't sit in the chair and take the paycheck. Nobody forces you to do that.

Don't get me wrong. I agree we need more employee protection, even if means just the active enforcement of the current laws. I agree with most of what you are saying. But our society is what it is, and all I can do is tend to my own garden. Speaking of which, I have to run.

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Banality,

The following is an excerpt from an email that I received from Bedford, Freeman & Worth. I thought of you when I read it, based on what you shared about your experience. I hope it is of some help.

Theresa Lynn

----snip

SEEKING CONTENT REVIEWERS!

Are you or anyone on your staff involved in the teaching or decisionmaking in the areas of English/Communications, Testing/Assessment software, Psychology or History? Then consider becoming a Bedford, Freeman & Worth reviewer! You typically receive an honorarium for your feedback and input on our products and you have a hand in helping shape and create better products for your classroom. If interested please contact George Cook at gcook@bfwpub.com

----snip

George Cook

National Accounts Manager

Bedford, Freeman & Worth Publishing Group

tel: (800) 470-4767 x 595

fax: (773) 935-4926

Faculty Services: (800) 446-8923

Tech Support: (800) 936-6899

Website: http://www.bfwpub.com/nationalaccounts

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Guest banality

Gburns - You seemed determined to come to the conclusion that my problem is simply the "wrong" attitude. All I'm going to say is that you are making a lot of assumptions in your post about what I haven't done and about how my attitude developed. I wish you and everyone else who is tempted to automatically negatively construct a person who is trying to point out a social problem would just try to consider, just for a few minutes, that you may be imposing what you *want* me to be over what I actually am.

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Guest banality

Kevin - From my perspective, the employee doesn't have that much power in arranging for the terms of their employment. Every single job I've ever interviewed for has been considered "at will" employment. Each time I was grateful that I ended up with a job at all: I've never even seen the opportunity to negotiate for pay that career articles often discuss. As far as I can see, jobs below a certain level are "take it or leave it" situations. I always have the choice to leave it: but then I don't have an income and ultimately won't be able to pay my rent or meet debt obligations. I don't see this is much of a choice.

One of the reasons I think people at lower levels especially need stronger protections is that a lot of situations are presented as legally as "choices" when the actual consequences of that choice are so bad that it shouldn't count as a choice at all. For instance, employees always have the choice to quit. Career articles often advise people to walk away if they aren't happy in their job. However, what kind of recommendation can a person expect if they quit there job? People mess up their track record when they quit because recruiters and hiring managers will always probe to find out why you might be a bad fit. On the other hand, if we could eliminate recommendations all together (in favor of skills assessments, perhaps?), then employees would be genuinely free to move around. Of course, I realize that I differ from many people who post on this board in believing that there are not huge differences between people: "bad fits" are made, not born.

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Guest banality

Theresa Lynn - Thank you once again for your suggestions. I am going to inquire about the job right now. :-)

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