I have never been fired from a job and for that I am very grateful. However, on more occasions than I care to think about I have had to let one of my employees go. I always found that was the worst part of owning a business. I am not sure if it was more traumatic for me or for the employee I had to fire. I almost always considered an employee’s failure not their fault but mine.
My reasoning in making that last statement is quite simple. Either I had made a poor decision in hiring the individual in the first place, or I had failed to educate them sufficiently in the culture of my business so that they could conduct themselves in the manner and meet the high standards I set.
In rare cases, a very competent employee experienced a life-changing personal event which affected his or her performance. In those few cases I always tried to work with that individual, allowing them time to recover from their trauma. All but one of those continued in my employment.
Most companies conduct an annual review of their employees’ performance. As a nation, we conduct that review less frequently – every two years in the case of our employees who are members of the House of Representatives and for one third of those in the Senate; and every four years for the person who runs the American business – the President.
If I were a teacher, I think I would be called an “easy grader.” But in reviewing the performance of our employees in Washington, I would be writing D-minus on their term papers. Frankly, their performance (or more exactly their lack of performance) is simply not acceptable – even by my easy grading standards.
I would love to refer to halcyon days when everything in Washington was wonderful, a day when those we elected to the Congress or the White House truly had the country’s best interests – rather than their own – at heart. There have been a few moments when that was true – but far too few. And the reason for that is one thing – it is our apathy as a people.
I recently spoke with a ninety-three year old friend. I have looked in on him on a regular basis since he lost his wife three years ago. They had been married for over seventy years and he took his wife’s death with understandable difficulty. I bring food over for him since he was totally dependent on her to do the cooking. I was concerned that he wasn’t eating well. He wasn’t.
As we sat chatting one day, somehow we got on the subject of what is happening in America and then we began talking about politics. I was shocked that my friend revealed that he had never voted in his life. As he put it – he left that to his wife.
Making an informed decision about those whom we elect to public office and doing our best to promote their candidacy is one of the fundamental rights – and, I believe – obligations in which we all must participate. The ultimate expression of that is casting our vote in an election.
I admit that as an “employer” I am seldom responsible for hiring those who my fellow citizens ultimately select to represent all of us. The fact that I usually vote for losing candidates will not deter me from doing what I regard as my duty.
I will continue to look for candidates who meet the standards I believe all of us have the right to expect of those who hold public office. And I will continue to vote to fire those who have abrogated their contract with the American people.