My boss has drilled a very important lesson into my head.
Whenever I come back from a sales call, a meeting, a job site, the first thing he’ll ask is, “What did you learn?”
Whenever I screw something up, he won’t get mad. He’ll ask, “What’s the lesson here?”
I’d always be so focused on sorting out the details and plotting the way forward, it is easy to forget to look down deeper and find what that true lesson that each situation in life offers you.
I’ve seen countless articles and editorials about Delegate Phil Hamilton and his “scandal”. I’ve seen what he did and I’ve read how people are mad, but I haven’t seen anyone ask, “What did we learn”.
I’ve heard politicians cry for his resignations, but I haven’t heard any of them say “There is a lesson that we have learned. This is the way to address it.”
I think it is time to ask those questions and see if there is something to be learned here.
To be honest, I didn’t start ask myself this either until I saw a letter to the editor in the Virginia Pilot. The author felt the reason behind the scandal was that state legislators are underpaid. If they received a higher salary, then there would be less temptation to seek out kick backs and funds from special interests.
I have to disagree with that conclusion.
Yes, state legislators don’t make jack. I don’t blame them one bit for trying to get out and make some extra coin. But, if we paid them more, they would still go out and seek money from businesses lobbyist and special interest in exchange for political favors. The person who wrote the LTE left out one basic human nature, that there is no such thing as enough. We couldn’t find where the bar is. If we paid them, 50K, 100K, a million, it wouldn’t matter. Politics would continue as usual. Del. Hamilton like situations would continue to occur.
So what is the lesson to be learned?
It isn’t that politicians are underpaid, its that they have too much power and influence.
If you start to decentralize power and reduce government intervention in the marketplace, then it becomes less beneficial to an organization to seek out politicians they can put on the payroll. Winner and losers are decided by competitive forces instead of who you bought in Richmond or in Washington.
Things like this pop up, people will get mad and politicians will grand-stand, but we never ask ourselves “what did we learn, what could we have done different”.
Until we start to reduce the size and reduce the power of our government, we will have Phil Hamiltons to read about for years to come.