Thinking for Ourselves….Part II

Here’s some quick, easy, and helpful tips for self-determination of thought so we can stop relying on TV & Radio pundits to do the thinking for us…

  • Assessing legislation: It’s easy to tell when legislation is designed to help a special interest rather than us (it’s clear in a bill’s language, carved out exceptions, etc.) – what makes this even easier is that pretty much all legislation is designed to help the politicians as much (or more) than their constituents; how would you create that bill (in general terms) so it benefits us, not them?  Now you know how to think/respond to not only the legislation at hand, but your legislators about it…
  • Assessing decisions made by leaders, whether elected or otherwise: Those who have been in a supervisory/decision-making position know first-hand how difficult the job is, and that you can’t please everyone…those who have experienced a variety of supervisors know the difference between a true leader (helps others to do the right job the right way) and a “manager” (tells others what to do/seeks no input); true leadership requires balance – balancing the needs of the many against those of the few, doing the utmost to create a win/win for all concerned and if that’s not possible, ensuring there’s balance between all interests so everyone at least comes away with something they need.   When those at the fringes of both sides of an issue are unhappy with the outcome, that’s a very good sign that the outcome is balanced, that true leadership rather than “management” has taken place, and that the decision is generally a good one
  • Avoiding The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Discovered by Cornell University David Dunning (along with Prof. Kruger) this states that our incompetence masks our ability to recognize our incompetence – wow, that’s a catch 22…and it underpins much of the erroneous thinking we unwittingly do (like letting others do the thinking for us…).  To keep this from happening to you, simply increase your level of competence.  This is easily accomplished by:
    a). some fast fact-checking of claims/opinions/statements made (the internet makes this effort that much easier), thus making sure you form your own thoughts based on fact, not emotion or a situation in process that may not even pan out; and

    b). understand that we all have levels of incompetence and be strong enough to find out what are yours…once you know what they are, you can ensure you don’t fall prey to them…

  • Don’t make decisions when you’re very angry or depressed: When you do, they will most often be bad ones… This is why we see Boomers holding opinions that are self-contradictory (wanting government out of their lives while preparing to collect SS/use Medicare), or choosing to behave badly, from shooting at Census workers to brawling at their children’s sporting events…  That incompetence thing above is fueled by such powerful negative emotion, which masks our ability to think more rationally/use deductive reasoning (or any reasoning at all for that matter…).  These are awfully hard times – making bad decisions that will come back to haunt us later will only make things worse.  Remedy: seek some input/help from someone you trust who isn’t angry/depressed, and listen to them.

As we Boomers, the ones in power and with the greatest influence, wield that power and influence, it is imperative that we live by Spidey’s uncle’s words: “With great power comes great responsibility” – what we do, how we vote, what we say now, will not just make a lasting impression on our young children/grandchildren, but will form the basis of our lives for years if not decades to come.

To do these things with little preparation, in-depth thought, and with too little rationality, is no different that letting a teenager drive with no training and practice (whoa…that’s scary – teens driving with lots of training/practice is scary enough…), seeking a job without a resume let alone a well-written one, or going on vacation without packing for it…

We can do this right.  Let’s start right now.

How Boomers Can Change the Healthcare System

Wow…..that’s quite grandiose, eh?  That we as a generation could CHANGE the healthcare system as we know it?

It isn’t, and we can.  Here’s how.

I’ll start with the problem in the system that is within our control.  A big chunk of what’s wrong with healthcare is not being discussed: that too many doctors have long since abandoned quality care for quantity billable hours.  Here’s the result and how each one harms the system:

  • When we feel that our doctor cares less about us than his/her bottom line, we are more apt to sue when things go wrong – we believe they do not have our best interest/care at the core of their work, as a result it is much easier to believe malpractice, malicious or otherwise;
    Harms the healthcare system through higher levels of frivolous lawsuits
  • When doctors are not taking the time to truly listen, learn about us, automatically get our records from our other doctors and collaborate with them on our care, the result is the need to order tests and lots of them – when you work in a vacuum, you need to gather information to fill that void, information that often can be gleaned from other sources rather than more tests;
    Harms the system through needlessly perpetuating tests, not based on our tendency to sue, but their tendency to do too little discovery on their own, using their medical arts training
  • Speaking of working in a vacuum, doctors today take a full-blown silo approach, attending to only their tiny specialty piece of our personal health-needs puzzle, as though their part of the body is completely disconnected from the other parts (not to mention the emotional/psychological aspects of our physical health) – it isn’t – all of the body’s parts work in concert, and specialists need to consider other systems/parts that impact their specialty’s – but too few do;
    Harms the system by again creating the need to order batteries of tests; also lends to more misdiagnoses, the need to see more doctors until you find someone who might put the pieces together for you, and mistrust that fuels lawsuits
  • Overbooking is the medical mantra – thus doctors expect us to wait for sometimes an hour, before being seen for a pre-scheduled appointment; beyond the facts that if we ran our businesses like that we wouldn’t have one and the practice is clearly disrespectful to us (treat our time as far less valuable than theirs), the most important problem here is that the person making decisions about our healthcare issues is in such a rush, there is simply no way s/he can do a quality job;
    Harm to the system is increased misdiagnoses or no diagnoses (once the most obvious cause for your symptoms has been ruled out, the medical shoulders shrug and you’re left still not knowing what’s wrong with you…or you’re sent to yet another specialist) both of which increase our costs (more doctor visits/tests), and once again, increase the lawsuit tendency.

Now here’s what we can do to fix it because, as I mentioned above, this is within our control:

  • Insist on better care – do not accept poor quality medical practice, as the more we accept it, the more of it we’ll get; let any doctor you see know upfront what you expect from him/her, and be prepared to seek other practitioners if you don’t get it – do not settle for mediocrity as though you have no choice
  • Insist that your doctors talk to each other, that your records be shared, and that your doctor listen to all of your concerns and existing medical needs/issues, regardless of the body part you’re there to address – neither they nor you know what’s impacting what until you discuss it
  • Do not wait more than 15 minutes to be seen – unless the doctor has an emergency or they’re fitting you in on an emergency basis – let the scheduling person know this intention when you make your appointment, and make checking on the doctor’s timeliness a part of your doctor-choosing decision; then follow through if they do make you wait longer than the time you’ve agreed to wait – let them know you’re leaving, and give them one more chance to do it right by making another appointment (if you wish); usually your return visit will be handled much better…
  • Become a well informed consumer/partner in your care – go to your appointments prepared, understand as much about what’s happening to your body as you can rather than fully depending on the doctor whose only half-listening anyway, insist on explanations for their recommendations, benefits/down-sides, etc. rather than blindly accepting what they decide – I have provided my doctors with alternatives they’d not considered as a result of my due diligence
  • Do not agree to tests with which you don’t feel comfortable or, after some research you believe to be unnecessary – you’d be quite surprised by how many tests you’ll find are more about CYA for the doctor vs. your well-being, once you’re more fully informed

We Boomers have no problem asking for what we want, we are the best educated generation so our research skills are excellent, and we are unwilling to accept the “status quo” (these are just 3 of our generational characteristics that come in handy, here) – much more so than any other generation, including our childrens’.  We can use these abilities to change the expectations we have of the medical professionals in our lives, thus changing the way our own doctors work with us.  By using only those doctors who meet all the above criteria, we are putting our dollars to work supporting best medical practice, not worst.  

And with 78 million of us, that will have a huge impact.  Over time, those with the best practice approaches will thrive, the rest will not. 

The resulting reductions in lawsuits, unneeded tests, and additional doctor visits as one specialist no longer automatically sends you to another before doing all s/he can to diagnose your problem him/herself, will make a nice dent in our healthcare costs.

Make cents?

What Are Boomers Worried About the Most?

This question was posed on centerarticles.com, asked of Boomers and all generations, for the purpose of researching our greatest worries in our lives right now.  Here’s mine.

As a Boomer, I have no worries in my own life, other than keeping my 89 y.o. mother as healthy as possible so she can have quality of life until she moves onto that big golf complex in the sky!

Where my greatest worry lies, is with my fellow Boomers, more specifically the “middle Boomers” as I have labeled those, like me, born in the middle of the procreation craze (so, born betw. approx. 1951 & 1958 – I’m 1954) – which is the greatest majority of us.

We are the ones most responsible for being irresponsible.  It was us, much moreso than the “leading edge” Boomers (1946-1950) or the “junior Boomers (1959-1964), who became “the man” we so reviled as youth (e.g. becoming the corporate boogy men we knew were running/ruining our world back then), became so materialistic and wasteful as to undo all the great changes we fought for (environmental primarily), parented by creating “latch-key kids” (yea, us), and made going into deep debt a normal way of living; forget saving, we’ve instead spent so far beyond our means that we as a generation encouraged- and lead corporately – much of the economic shenanigans that caused the melt-down.

Now, we can add to that our on-going status as the “silent majority” – allowing a minority of our vocal but misinformed generational counterparts to get away with mindlessly repeating what they hear on Fox News whether on health care reform or fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan – rather than using that great education for which we are known (yes, we are also the best educated generation ever in the history of this land…) to read, learn the facts for ourselves, and make an INFORMED decision based on real information, not spin (whether that’s from Fox News or CNN…they all spin).

We Boomers are still in charge….and that worries me.  We haven’t done a boffo job thus far, and don’t seem to be willing…or perhaps able, to see the error of our ways so we can fix what we’ve broken.

What worries me even more is that we have the power, the influence, and the sheer numbers to make a huge, positive difference in our country and world, and instead we use it to the detriment of both.

May my worries be short-lived.

A sign of the Times

You know, when I was younger I would curse the bevy of advertisements throughout our newspaper… “Annoying…!” I would mutter to myself. “Look at this, a full page just for an advertisement…disgraceful!” I would exclaim aloud.

Now, I thank every ad-salesperson on my paper’s staff, and every savvy business buying it.  They keep that paper coming to my door every morning, and I am extremely grateful.

Because how happy would we be if our newspapers go away…victim of younger generations’ apathy for the written word held in one’s hand?  With the prospect looming for giants like the Chicago Tribune and LA Times, this is not as far-fetched as we wish it to be.

I teach businesses how to reach the Boomer buyer, as many companies still cling to the last century trend of marketing to the 18-45 crowd (begun, by the way, in the ‘70’s to reach, you guessed it, Boomers…) and then wonder why they’re struggling.  Boomers have the highest levels of disposable income with the greatest willingness to use it, we represent almost 45% of the consumer market, larger than all the other individual market cohorts combined, and we spend a whopping $2.3 trillion annually on goods & services…that’s $400 billion more than any other age cohort.

And it is we Boomers who are the primary subscribers to newspapers/ magazines; the last generation to get our buying information from traditional media (papers, radio, and TV). 

So to you smart companies advertising in the newspaper, you’re doing exactly what it takes to reach us.  Keep it up.  And to my fellow Boomer readers, I ask you to join me in doing the smart thing and spend with these businesses.  We can simply complain that our newspapers are either disappearing or becoming a shell of themselves, or we can help bring them back. 

As a generation we brought the nation civil rights and the world human rights, to name just a few of the society-altering fixes for which we fought and won – we can handle this one easily.

Hang in there, print news…with we Boomers behind you, you’ll be just fine!

Why Obama is in Fact a True Boomer

The headlines and punditry are consistent: The Boomer Generation has had its Presidents (aka Clinton & Bush) and with Barak Obama is passing the mantle to the next generation….which is…still the Boomer Generation.  Born in 1961, President Obama falls within the chronological confines of our generation (b. 1946-64), but more importantly, he really couldn’t be more Boomer in his ideals and characteristics.

Yes, I know, there’s the contrived if not fluctuating configuration called “Generation Jones” made up of junior Boomers and those a few years beyond (GenJ has been noted to start as far back as 1954, and can go up to 1970…I was born in 1954, and I promise you, I’m all Boomer). 

And I understand the drive to find some sort of label for those who are not Boomers, yet not GenXers (e.g. anyone born between 1965 & oh, say around 1967, since thereafter those born to the first boomers, e.g GenX, began arriving).  Finally, I understand, and agree, that there are many born at the end of the Boomer era, say between 1960 & 1964, who look, act and feel more like GenXers than Boomers.

But that’s not Obama.   He personifies all the things Boomers believed in, fought for, and achieved in our youth:

  • A world free of pollution and poverty
  • That all have the same rights that theretofore had been given to only a select few
  • Elimination of the corporate corruptions that keep the poor poorer, make the rich richer, and stain our nation’s policy-making and global credibility
  • Ending a war the conduct of which has damaged our reputation throughout the world

Don’t let the fact that we Boomers strayed from our ideals, mislead you younger folks to think that what Obama believes and instills in you is an idealism of a new generation. 

He is bringing back to you what we started, but alas didn’t continue.  From his mixed race heritage and his decision as a young man to work as a community organizer (Boomers were the first true “activitists” as a generation), to his “laid-back” personna, he lives and breathes all that characterizes Boomers.

As Mike Phillips, a confirmed old White Boomer from Salem MA says so well:

“To those of us who marched (maybe not physically, but at least in spirit), with the leaders of the civil rights movement. With Martin Luther King, Jesse Jackson and all of the un-named others. With those who were killed, assassinated or suffered other injuries because of their beliefs.

But most of all, to the followers. Those of us who are un-named, who endured the violence and repression and vilification. Who weathered the dogs, the police, the fire hoses. To those of us who confronted the bigotry, the racism, the defamation of human beings because of the color of their skin, as we followed.”

Obama is a Boomer who, as an adult is getting it right, something many of the rest of his generation didn’t do.

He’s a Boomer, alright.  Just a Boomer who didn’t lose his youthful ideals as he reached manhood, and used them well even as he struggled to create a career and support a family.

And oh boy I couldn’t be prouder of him!