ObamaCare is Our Own Dang Fault

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” — President John F. Kennedy, inaugural address, 1961

I have been thinking a lot about Kennedy’s admonition as Americans are waking up and smelling the ObamaCare coffee. I am wondering why are Americans so shocked.

Americans had been warned by health insurance experts. They told us such promises were impossible to achieve. The experts told us that you could not socialize medicine and extend the same level of health care for all. The resources do not exist. If nothing else, there are not enough doctors.

But you didn’t have to be a healthcare expert to know this. Even common sense would dictate that expanding healthcare coverage for more people would cost everyone more. Of course employers would rather pay a fine that is cheaper than paying ever-rising health insurance premiums. You like to save money too, don’t you?

ObamaCare would have never gotten off the ground in Kennedy’s day. Americans were still too much against anything that smacked of socialism.

But we are a different America now. Kennedy’s 1961 audience was made up mostly of those who had lived through the depression and at least one world war. If they were young enough to have no memory of such trying events, they had parents who did — and they talked about it. Such collective experience has been buried in our nation’s cemeteries.

We have forgotten that those who lived through those events sacrificed more than most of us have. My Grandmother Webbe, who was born 104 years ago, was coming of age during the depression. It left an indelible mark on her and her peers. They never took prosperity for granted. They saved everything because they never knew when a time of need would happen again.

­­_______________
Even common sense would dictate that expanding healthcare coverage
for more people would cost everyone more.
_______________

Kennedy’s statement was offered to a people who understood that individual rights meant individual responsibilities. These were a people who believed in the Judeo-Christian God to whom they were accountable. They did not see jobs as a right but a privilege they worked hard to achieve and maintain. They did not rely on government but the strength of family and community. Some people fell through the cracks, so government got involved. Some will fall through the ObamaCare cracks as well.

But the audience is different now. Our rights do not stem from a creator to whom we owe an account of our lives. That presumed creator in the Declaration of Independence’s who endowed us with rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has been substituted by the government. The freedom of assembly, religion and expression now extends to the right to personal offense and lawsuits that censor Americans from speaking truth.

And we don’t ask ourselves what we can do for our country. We expect more from others than we do ourselves.

As a result, the question of what we can do for our country has been answered for us. Doing for our country means paying higher taxes and accepting a lower standard of living. These are taxes necessary to finance our high expectations from governmental programs promised by politicians to get elected.

And this is our fault. Rising health care costs is a direct result of Americans having greater expectations to live unhealthy lives without having to pay much of the health care tab.

_______________
Kennedy’s statement was offered to a people
who understood that individual rights meant individual responsibilities.
_______________

ObamaCare is also the result of a civil war taking place in this country, but of a different kind.

It is not one being fought with guns, but something less obvious and perhaps more sinister: propaganda. We are surprised by the effects of ObamaCare because we wanted to believe the promises it made to us.

Recently I gained new perspective on the War Between the States by reading the southern states’ perspective. It turns out my great, great grandfather, Henry H. Gill, fought in the civil war for the Confederacy. I felt I owed it to Henry H. Gill of the 1st Northern Virginia Infantry to see the war through his eyes.

Growing up in Cleveland, I already knew the north’s perspective. Of proud Yankee blood, I felt great that my ancestors were on the right side of history. Another ancestral line is made up of Quakers who left Virginia in 1799 to live in the slave-free Northwest Territory.

When it came to slavery, the north was right. But when it came to state’s rights, the Confederacy was right.

From their perspective, their own country went to war against them. Many Americans who are being forced into ObamaCare feel their government is imposing on them. ObamaCare won political support even though about half of Americans were against it. We are a country divided about health care.

The confederacy fought back. Most soldiers were not fighting to maintain slavery. Frankly, most of them could not afford slaves anyway.

The confederate states wanted liberty from the federal government forcing its agenda on them. This is no different than the genesis of the Declaration of Independence, which came about because Mother England was doing the same. My ancestors fought in the Revolutionary war as well.

But we are a different people now. Our expectations are different. We ask what our country to do for us instead of the other way around. Such expectancy paved the way for ObamaCare. This is our own dang fault.

This is no longer the country for which my ancestors fought. I don’t think they would have felt comfortable here anyway.

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Know Thy Competitors

Professional football players literally go head-to-head against their competition.

To win, they and their coaches have to know their competitors as intimately as possible. They take notes on play patterns and the strengths and weaknesses of each player on the other team.

Too often, however, business professionals become so focused on the greatness of their product, service or concept that they lose sight of the playing field.

I often remind my readers and clients that knowing your audience is the most important rule of effective communications and marketing.

But to beat your competitors, you need to know them as well. This includes indirect competitors too.

We all know this, but I have seen too many business plans and marketing strategies so focused product/service/concept greatness that they do not pay enough attention to the “others” who are trying to reach the same buyers.

You can’t develop a strong value proposition, which states uniqueness, without knowing the playing field.

You cannot develop effective messaging without knowing what others are saying.

You cannot know which features to sell without knowing what is selling for the  “others.”

_______________

 …business professionals become so focused
on the greatness of their product, service or concept
they lose sight of the playing field.

______________

And perhaps most importantly, you cannot outsell the competition without knowing why buyers are purchasing from them.

You need to know their customers as well.

Finding out all of this requires dedicated research time, but often, business professionals go off the marketing strategy tangent, so in love with the hot “it” that they lose perspective.

But remember, it’s far more important that potential buyers believe it is hot. Knowing the competition helps you to show how your product will help clients be more competitive.

How do you research the competition?

Pretend you are a student who has to write a report on the competition. Check out everything you can from the customer’s point of view.

Since I have an investigative reporting background and am a rabid genealogist, I first exhaust written every source possible because sometimes the smallest piece of information that does not seem useful at first can be very important later.

When doing genealogical research, you don’t just write down family members’ names and ages. You keep a copy of the whole page because neighbors can matter. When discovering a new ancestor, I noticed an older woman who was living with the family. Gathering other clues, I was able to go back another generation.

For business-to-business competitive research, start with the Internet. Search news articles. Give more than a quick look at websites. Be sure you know their messaging, value proposition, pricing and top features.

Find the key players on the Internet. Collecting annual reports, marketing materials and, when possible, buy the competitors’ stuff and try it out.

Don’t forget outreach. The best outreachers are well connected in the industry who are not necessarily direct salespeople. Show up at conferences, meetings and parties and for goodness sakes, use social media to ask questions or glean more information.

And be sure to find the customers of your competitors. If you have a well-connected source and you are doing business-to-business marketing, this does not have to be difficult.

Call me old-fashioned, but I am still a big believer in focus groups, doing lunch and offering questionnaires because they work. Since human contact has been sacrificed to the immediacy of mobile technology, I believe personal interaction makes a more lasting impression.

Is it a lot of work to be sure, but if professional football teams invest in due diligence for the sweet taste of victory, so should you.

How do you research your competitors? Please leave a comment. Browns fans are especially welcome!

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Return to Work Tips from the Experts

Most of what I know about return to work comes from experts I have interviewed over the years. Even though returning injured employees back to the job requires effort, they contend that return-to-work is always better than allowing employees to just sit around collecting benefits.

Besides, returning injured workers to work is simply the right thing to do. Return to work is as humane as providing immediate appropriate medical care because workers who do not return to the job face lower salary potential in the future.

There are several reasons for this. The most important reasons, in my view, are that the longer workers are away from the job and feel disconnected from their employer, the harder returning to work becomes and the greater the likelihood they will get help from attorneys.

“Return to work is as humane as providing
immediate appropriate medical care…”

They should also consider paying employees their full salaries instead of state-required workers’ compensation benefit level.

I know that some people will disagree, but I have interviewed employers that do this effectively because they have a strong return-to-work program. Paying employees their salary even when they are off from work also sends an important message to workers that their employers care about them, which can also discourage litigation.

At a basic level, these successful employers maintain contact with injured employees and believe that finding work for them during recovery can be more important than saving compensation dollars. They prepare for return to work before an injury occurs, set clear expectations, consistently monitor employees on modified duty and more.

Here’s more ideas from the experts:

Consider taking the long view. Since workers who spend years loading and unloading heavy objects are more likely to sustain an injury, consider developing career paths for blue-collar workers. Potential career progression jobs include fork life operator or inspector.

Identify modified duty jobs before an injury occurs. Approach each department of your organization to find out what work can be done by someone on limited duty. Constantly update the job list. Each job should include the position’s physical demands to appropriately match the injured employee to the job.

Have a formal written early return-to-work policy. Consider including language limiting the time frames for the light duty as well as cautioning how transitional duty must meet relevant medical restrictions.

Clearly communicate to employees about workers’ compensation. For more advice on this, please click here.

After injury, contact the injured worker as soon as possible. When the immediate supervisor learns of the incident or the claim, whichever comes first, he or she should contact the injured worker within 24 hours. The supervisor can point to assistance for filing a workers’ compensation claim and tell workers they are missed and that accommodations will be made for a transitional job as soon as possible. One employer I wrote about sent flowers to the worker’s home or hospital room. (For more information about the supervisor’s role, please click here.)

Visit the injured worker’s home, after receiving permission from an injured worker, deliver a fruit basket. This personal touch can be more effective than telephone conversations for answering questions about benefits and the process and explaining how family members can support reaching maximum medical improvement (MMI) and returning to work.

Involve the injured worker’s doctor when developing a modified duty job with multiple restrictions. Rather than merely telling the worker about the modified job, put together a team that includes human resources, the supervisor, engineer and employee to work together to anticipate potential glitches.

Informally gather the crew, supervisor, and the employee before putting him or her on transitional duty. This will make it easier to follow the doctor’s orders when everyone is aware of the worker’s restrictions as the employee works up to their MMI.

Ensure supervisors are accommodating rehabilitation plans by granting injured workers permission to elevate their feet, stretch and walk as recommended by the doctor.

To discourage re-injury, require managers to record workers’ activities when they return to the job. Include not only workers’ accomplishments but also tasks that they refuse. A detailed record of abilities and accomplishments could deter non-compliance and discrimination claims.

Encourage workers on modified duty jobs to spend their free time practicing safety exercises instead of sending workers home when they finish their work early. Injured workers can also get more safety training by watching videos or taking safety quizzes.  Perhaps they can share what they learned at a safety meeting. (For more safety tips, please click here.)

Have other tips to share? Please add them in the comments section.

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If You Have Mesothelioma, Lawyers Are Available to Help

Yesterday a blogger named Barbara O’Brien contacted me and requested that I run her blog on mesothelioma.

I don’t know Barbara, but I did read her blog, which describes an executive who knowingly sent workers in harm’s way to make a buck. We all hate cases like this and want to see the book thrown at this guy.

The blog post, which ran on the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog, is part of Mesothelioma.com, which is supported by a law firm that represents employees suffering from this terrible lung disease. If you want to check out her blog, please click here.

It’s a great website, filled with tools and support for suffers of mesothelioma. But it seems to be missing some important information injured workers should know that I covered in a two-part series called, Workers Need to Know the Real Truth about Workers’ Compensation.” 

Injured workers might consider filing for workers’ compensation benefits directly as an attorney is not necessary to file for benefits. Two, injured workers might also consider asking attorneys up front how much of their benefit amount the attorneys will receive.

If I was an injured worker, I would like know that.

Just saying….




The Latest Trends in B2B Content

More evidence that providing quality content is the name of the social media marketing game.

This is a great infographic available on a Hubspot blog, How Does Your Company Stack Up? The Latest Trends in B2B Content. To check it out, click here.

Here’s the beginning of the blog:

One of my favorite things in grade school was that whole “gold star” system. Remember it? You do something well in the classroom and you get a shiny gold star next to your name on a chart of your whole classmates. So, at any given time, you can look around and see how you’re stacking up against the rest of the class.

But once you get out of that grade-school classroom, the gold-star system often goes away. You can’t see how you stack up against your competitors and peers because you don’t have access to their data.

That’s why benchmark studies, like one recently released by Content Marketing Institute, Marketing Profs, and Brightcove about the current state of content marketing, are just so darn awesome.

Take a look at the latest trends to find out if your company deserves a gold star or not. Trust me — it’ll be just as exciting as the time you got a gold star in the fourth grade.