Question the mantras you hear at work and in life.

Let’s start with a definition of what a mantra is because you may associate it with meditation.

“A statement repeated frequently”

Whether you realize it or not, you hear a lot of mantras at work and in life. Those mantras have a way of seeping into your subconscious and becoming part of your believe system.

One of the mantra that seeped into my subconscious early in my career was the need to “maximize shareholder value.” There is nothing wrong with that statement but sometimes there is something wrong with how that statement gets executed.

Why do I raise this now?

I watched an episode of Cold Case this week about the closing of manufacturing plants in America that did a good job of depicting the desperation of those impacted. Seeing and feeling the impact even if through a show is different than reading about it.

It made me reflect on my hometown that was affected in a similar way during the offshoring era. My hometown had a cute downtown with flower boxes lining the streets, several nice restaurants for outings with friends and family and a variety of small businesses serving the community. All of which was walkable and contributed to the wellbeing of the community.

Unfortunately, much of that charm is gone. It’s been replaced by Walmart and fast food restaurants to meet the current need for more affordable goods and services. With the growing obesity epidemic [Canada, US Stats] and desire to address it with the new weightloss drugs, we need to be looking more closely at community changes to understand the true need.

Before and After

We all have the opportunity now to look at the impact within our own communities and to better understand the before and after experience and to reimagine something better.

Something better to me restores the parts of the past that nurtures community development and supports healthy living. People often think it’s a government responsibility or role but it could also be a role for big business like Walmart and Amazon if the mantra to maximize shareholder wealth evolved with the current times.

Companies like Walmart and Amazon often extend opportunities to employees to work in their communities because it improves wellbeing. What would happen if those companies extended the initiative further to empower small businesses to recreate the main streets of North American that we all love. Doesn’t walking to and shopping a pretty downtown seem nicer than driving to and wandering the isles of a big box store.

Latest Economic Theory

The trickle down theory is over 50 years old and the theory has not panned out as expected. The easiest way to see that it has not worked is to look at the widening wealth gap [Canada, US stats], the number of foundations redistributing wealth and the increasing crime and deaths of despair. A trickle down strategy now will cut government spending to the bone, widen the gap and consolidate power.

Current economic theory says that we need to rebuild from the bottom up to address the wealth gap. That means spending to fund programs, improve infrastructure and seed business that will help to rebuild the middle class and grow the economy. If current economic theory plays out as expected, everyone benefits from having healthier communities and a more productive economy.

How do we benefit from healthy communities

It’s easy to forget how your tax dollars have improved your life and how paying tax continues to do so. When people complain about their taxes, I always ask:

1/ Did you or someone in your family attend public school?

2/ Did you or someone in your family get a subsidized university education?

3/ Did you receive research grants or get a grant to start a company?

4/ Did you receive government loans or get a tax break to sustain or expand your company?

5/ Did you drive to work on a paved road without paying a toll?

6/ Did you take public transportation?

7/ Do you walk on sidewalks or use bike lanes?

Most of us, even the wealthiest like Elon Musk, are answering yes to many of these questions. However, the biggest benefit of your tax dollars that often comes later in life is healthcare. It’s not something fully appreciated until you or a loved one needs it.

Healthcare

Axios published an article this week on the two tiered healthcare system emerging in the US which is worth reading. Every developed country is struggling to fund healthcare.

In the US, the industry has been trying to address the role of primary care and shift demand off emergency rooms for decades. In the 90’s we called it integrated delivery and have been tweaking the payment models ever since. The challenge that I still see:

1/ Providers don’t get paid enough under a captivated model due to demand which results in access issues.

2/ Employers want to ensure access so they change the payment and/or delivery model for their employees which contributes to a fragmented system

3/ Lack of housing for the most vulnerable results in emergency rooms being overrun with preventable and addiction related problems.

4/ Compliance issues, home care services that are not being utilized and lack of planning for assisted living accommodations are increasing the risk of hospitalization for the elderly.

Everyone should reach out to their parents and other loved ones to create a plan and ensure they have the resources and services needed to live independent as long as possible. There are a lot of government funded resources available and there is no shame in accessing them.

Why you need to be aware of the mantras

 

Our attention spans are short.

Professional Economist, Yurly Gorodnichenko acknowledged that central bankers would be better off having Taylor Swift make a 10 second statement about the state of the economy than doing a 1 hour presentation.

Our perception may not reflect the state of the economy.

He also pointed to the gap in how central bankers measure economic recovery and how you perceive it. Grocery prices are not a factor in their analysis of inflation or the economy. They consider broader stats.

Listen, question and discuss what you’re hearing with others even if they don’t share your beliefs. We need a shared understanding of the issues so that the best ideas surface and are implemented to address the problems we face now.

 

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