Welcome to Liberrants, a blog dedicated to editorials, discussions, and studies of all things libertarian. Don't let the title mislead you; it's merely my attempt to be creative in describing myself as a "hopeful curmudgeon" who embraces the goal of the free, peaceful, economically vibrant society envisioned by America's founding fathers. Jump in! Contribute! Enjoy!

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Location: Tucson, Arizona, United States

A critically thinking curmudgeon whose goal, in addition to creatively venting about the imperfect world in which we live, is to induce critical thinking in others. The ultimate goal is to help bring about a peaceful world in which we can all live in freedom.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A "Dilbert" Moment Captured Digitally

I've just returned to my regional office from a meeting at our company headquarters half an hour and fifteen miles away. What should await me on my voicemail when I return? The following message from my project supervisor, with whom I had just sat through a two-hour meeting without the exchange of even five words between us, let alone the communication of anything urgent. Her message, verbatim:

"I really need for you to give me an idea of how many project hours you intend to burn for the remainder of this month, particularly if you aren't planning to use all of the ones that I've given you. We're totally out of money, for everything, including non-task-related incidental charges [travel, supplies, etc.]. By the way, can you support a system demo up at the New Jersey office on Thursday?"

I've just played that message back for the fifth time in about seventy-five seconds. The message should give you a good indication of why I refer to this woman as "blondie." Before even responding to her I already know what she'll say in answer to the two most pressing questions I'll ask: 1) If we're totally out of money, how do you intend to fund my five-hundred-mile round-trip travel to the New Jersey office? 2) Why the hell didn't you bring this up before our meeting this morning when you were standing around gabbing with the wall for half an hour before the meeting started?

But I won't ask these questions because I know I'll get answers along the lines of "Nice weather we're having" and "Guess I need to talk to the client more often, huh?" Instead I'm just going to delete her message, knowing that she'll probably forget all about this little crisis within the next two days, if not much sooner, like she does everything else (my two-and-a-half-year-old grandson has a longer attention span and knows more about information security engineering, to boot).

The scary thing about this woman is that not only is she a retired USAF Lieutenant Colonel who used to administer systems that controlled ICBM targeting and guidance (I'm serious!), she is also power hungry in a way that I've never seen in a simi-moron (never mind that she can barely get out of bed, get dressed, and get herself to work each day without fatally injuring herself in the process). Sadly, her powerlust is inexplicably being accommodated by our group manager, who complains just as loudly about her as I do and definitely should know better. The fact that our client is one of the few clients our company has who knows what's going on and who can and will raise the BS flag isn't going to help things for that poor woman.

I guess the lesson to draw from this is that, contrary to what Scott Adams tells us, the Peter Principle is still very much alive and kicking and that the market sometimes requires a lot of time and pain to weed zoological incompetence out of the workplace. But as I've said before, since the company I work for is basically a treasury-draining welfare queen whose clients are in even sorrier shape than the firm, the rules of the market, as they affect the truly private sector, may not apply here. Let's hope I'm wrong; I can literally feel myself losing IQ points each time I have to engage blondie in a conversation.