“Carrion Comfort” Review

I just finished reading “Carrion Comfort” by Dan Simmons today. I really enjoyed it! This was a great recommendation from my rock climbing friend Max. It’s a fascinating horror story built around essentially a cabal of mind control vampires. The concept sounds cheesy, but the execution was really good. The big thing Mr. Simmons did in this book was to really bring the victims to life. In most movies or books, the victims are usually one dimensional. Mr. Simmons really made you care and think about each person that was harmed by the antagonists of the story.

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Thanksgiving with Laurels Family 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Ill play your game…

I am thankful for my awesome wife Laurel, Jordan working with me, Justin and Josh being great brothers, Bestemor and Grandpa having raised me right and still having good health, the rest of my family, my successful business -Coalition Technologies, great friends, Rocket League, programming, books, fun TV shows like Westworld, rock climbing, trips, my good health, and all of the other things in my wonderful life.

Make Managers, Directors & Shareholders Liable

For many years, cigarette companies fraudulently hid evidence that smoking causes a myriad of health issues. Cigarette company managers directly hid the evidence their research teams found, cigarette company boards of directors knew and hid the same information. Enormous human suffering and pain has been knowingly caused by these people. Why did they do it? The managers and directors received huge salaries and bonuses for many years and retired fat and happy.

Is this an isolated incident?

No. The exact same pattern has played out over and over again. Before the 2007 financial crisis, real estate agents, mortgage managers, and bank directors knowingly got people into homes they could not afford then took enormous multi-million dollar bonuses each year.  When the house of cards collapsed, these people kept their ill-gotten gains.

The same thing continues to happen all the time in many businesses ranging from Wells Fargo’s fake accounts, Exxon’s half century of hiding climate change information, Comcast & TWC’s payments to landlords and cities for exclusive monopolies, Volkswagen’s falsifying of environmental data from their diesel cars, and many other areas.

This is a systemic problem that needs a systemic solution.

The reason that these issues have been happening and will continue is that corporate managers, boards of directors, and shareholders can collect enormous financial wins while taking risks with other peoples lives that they will not be held accountable for.

How do we stop systemic abuses like those perpetrated by cigarette company managers, bankers scamming the system for big bonuses, and oil companies hiding climate change research?

Make managers, directors, and shareholders PERSONALLY liable for their actions when in their positions for twenty years. If they commit unethical or illegal acts today, then when they are discovered in ten years we can sue them and take their salary and bonuses back that they had illegitimately earned. Do not allow companies to buy insurance companies to cover this risk. If people are afraid personally, they will not make the business decisions that put someone else’s life below their own personal gains.

Some people have argued that shareholders should not be liable for decisions of boards of directors or managers they can’t directly control. My suggestion is that they can and should be liable so that they seize this control and enforce strict standards on their boards of director and managers.

Others have argued that managers and employees should not be responsible for decisions made higher up. The same argument was made at the Nuremberg trials that the concentration camp guards were just following orders or didn’t really know what was going on. Those people put their own financial / career well being over the very lives of others. If you are asked to do something unethical or if your company is doing something harmful to the world, then you should be obligated to quit and find a better place to work. You should not be able to keep financial gains that you obtained at the expense of other people.

To summarize, make these changes to our law and you will see a lot of the extremely harmful abuses by businesses disappear overnight:

  1. Make company managers, boards of directors, and shareholders directly and personally liable for unethical decisions and actions of their company.
  2. Do not allow companies to buy insurance policies that protect individual managers or directors or shareholders from the effects of unethical behavior.

Tribe

I would really like to build a community of people who get along well and live a bit more like our tribal ancestors.

Our modern society glorifies individualism and encourages isolation from others. Laurel and I’s closest family member is a 45 minute drive away and most are hours away. Our closest friend is 15 minutes away and most are much further.

Social isolation is a major cause of depression for many people. Humans are not meant to live alone without company… we need those we love around us every day.

I have fixed this issue for myself by building a routine where I call a family member or friend every single day. I typically do it during my morning and evening ten minute commutes to work. I think a lot of other people haven’t done something like this though and live in loneliness and isolation and depression.

For awhile now I have been talking to people about the possibility of a “commune” – probably not the right word given the connotations associated with it from the FCLDS, hippies, and other nuts. I think I will call it “tribe”… this is a more attractive term.

The basics of my idea is that I would like to organize a group of family and friends to live within walking distance of one another… this could be in the same apartment building in a city, or in a suburban neighborhood, or something like that.

My brother’s wife’s family actually already do this. They have several adult daughters and their parents each with their own house in the same neighborhood. This works really well for them as they have built in babysitting they can trust and friends and help when they need it.

The biggest challenge I have with this in Los Angeles is the expense of real estate. Another major issue is that people have jobs in different areas of the city and this could create long commutes for some people. A few of my friends are business owners and could possibly do it with me, but they have already purchased homes thus committing themselves to the locations they are now.

I have thought of moving back to Washington to do this there. I could live fairly close to two of my brothers and also my grandparents. The challenge there is that it would be more difficult to run Coalition. I would also need to live in the very uninteresting town of Puyallup rather than a metropolitan city like Seattle.

I do think it will be important to join or build a tribe though soon. I just need to find ways to make it work.

Operations Management

I have spent most of the last four years working in Operations Management for Coalition. Basically, I am trying to make sure that all of the promises we make to our clients are fulfilled. The single biggest area for me for a long time was recruiting. Recruiting continues to be a major time commitment for me most workdays. I also am building tools to help support our teams workflows and make sure that the right items get worked on for each client. For my business, having excellent team members who are well trained and understand what priorities need to be worked on is pretty much the whole of what I am responsible to deliver.

Laurel is a Unicorn!

Inheritance Is Evil And Should Be Abolished

Estate taxes are the taxes the government places upon a person’s wealth after their death and before their decedents inherit it. I suggest that we increase estate taxes to 100%.

My grandparents are fairly wealthy and I stand to gain a substantial inheritance when they pass away. Why would someone like me who stands to gain significantly from lower estate taxes suggest abolishing inheritance and increasing estate taxes to 100%?

Many legal scholars, estate tax experts, and even Thomas Jefferson agree: inheritance of wealth beyond a few minimum areas is undemocratic and harms the free market economy. Inherited wealth tends to create oligarchies and aristocratic classes. Think of the nose in the air, uppity attitude about old money versus new money.

Old money is unearned and the people who get it generally do not contribute to society remotely as much as those who earn their own wealth.  It is common knowledge that inheriting wealth harms those who inherit as it tends to set them up for an easy life where they never work hard and often end up dissolute and unhappy.

There would be certain exemptions – a spouse can inherit without tax, as well as parents or grandparents. Disabled children could inherit a larger amount. You could donate to charity without tax.

I suggest that we follow the Bill Gates model – those who earn a fortune in their lifetimes can use it as they like while they are alive, but anything left beyond a basic amount after death is taxed at 100% to fund the federal government. This would encourage self made wealthy individuals to allocate their wealth in ways good for society before they die… they would set up charities that do things like cure malaria like Gates has done. To prevent people from passing wealth each person should have a limit of wealth that can be transferred to them from all inheritance sources during their lives. Perhaps something like half a million dollars. This would cover both gift taxes (live parents giving money to children) and estate taxes (dead parents passing money to children).

The wealthy would be very happy about this because they would be treated far better by those around them who know that they must give away all of their wealth.

The children of the wealthy would be happier because most things that came to them in life would be earned. I think that you appreciate what you earn far more than what you are given.

The poor would be happy as wealth would no longer be locked up with the rich generation after generation and new opportunities for people to rise on merit would be created.

The political right would be happy as it would turn our country into a true meritocracy, and also greatly reduce the amount of money needed to be collected via income taxes or other tax sources.

The political left would be happy as this would create a true democracy where all people start on a much more level playing field. The enormous wealth currently locked up in several generations of the same family like the Rockefellers would be unlocked for all of society to benefit.

 

Hiring

I have had about 19,000 applicants apply to work at Coalition over the last year. About half of that number have taken my skills test. We have hired probably 70-80 people. I think we have one of the most stringent and effective recruiting processes of any company I have seen; certainly far superior to traditional outsourced recruiting. We have a truly awesome team now.