We used to be able to just disagree

January 27, 2012

By Clarke Price, CAE

When did we lose the ability to agree to disagree?

As I observe the goings on (some might say histrionics) in Washington, and particularly among those who are seeking the Republican nomination for president, it seems that the parties can’t simply agree that they have different perspectives and don’t agree. Lately, any disagreement seems to immediately be followed with something bordering on thermonuclear war to discredit the other party and prove that they’re either wrong or stupid. That approach never leads to constructive dialogue. The parties simply dig in and either pout or proclaim to all that they’re right and the other party is wrong.  Saying “we simply disagree” or “we have different perspectives on this issue” has been lost in Washington, and in society!

Lately I’m also experiencing this notion that the opponent has to be proven to be wrong as we’re working on a movement related to streamlining Ohio’s municipal taxation systems. Those who don’t think there’s anything wrong with the current system of almost 600 municipalities applying different definitions, different forms and different rules to the challenge of complying with local taxes are engaging in a campaign to discredit our organization for simply raising the issue of the need for common sense and streamlined processes. The level of mischaracterization of our position, and our motivation, that’s going on today is nothing short of amazing. Rather than engage in constructive dialogue, we’re left with dueling arguments about hidden agendas, selfish motivations and ridiculous rhetoric. But that’s what we accept as the norm in the political process today. We can’t simply disagree and leave it to the legislators to consider the alternative sides and then make a decision.  No . . . the objective is to bury the opposition, regardless of whether the claims being made are true.

Plus, I’m finding it’s not just Washington or the Ohio Statehouse that has this problem. More and more frequently, I find that even the simplest discussion – and disagreement – can lead to a polarized discussion and the same “you’re an idiot” type of response. Simple disagreements about the merits of anything (and I’m not talking about conversations related to clearly controversial issues like social values, religion, etc.) can lead to endless arguments (not intelligent debate) and entrenched attitudes that force us apart. Last summer, I was playing golf with a colleague and we started talking about an issue that affected both of us. After nine holes of endless haranguing on the issue, I finally decided that I couldn’t take it any longer and decided I had to get out of the golf cart. I wasn’t going to subject myself to another nine holes of him continually arguing to prove to me that my view was wrong (or have me admit that I was simply too stupid to understand that he was right). I simply disagreed and was willing to say “let’s move to another subject,” but he was relentless. So I took the easy alternative and got out of the cart. And that was annoying because I normally enjoy the time I spend with this person. But in this instance, it apparently wasn’t meant to be.

When did society change? When did the objective become to win the discussion at all costs, rather than to simply engage in a civilized conversation —– that could end with the parties simply agreeing to disagree? I hate to say, “I long for the old days,” but in this instance, that’s exactly how I feel. cp


2011: What Got Done, What Didn’t, Now What ? « E. Lynn Nichols, CPA

January 9, 2012

Tax expert, E. Lynn Nichols, CPA reflects back on legislative processes and progress in 2011.

2011 is history, but reverberations will continue until after Congressional elections in November 2012. Let’s start with what got done in 2011. Obviously the payroll tax cut and it’s heavily debated extension would be fresh in our memory. The most significant failure, of course, was the descent into partisan bickering of the so-called “super committee.” That was the last hope for meaningful action on over 100 various tax provisions; some now expired, some really creative new proposals, but all doomed to perish in the quagmire of political posturing.

Read more: 2011: What Got Done, What Didn’t, Now What ? « E. Lynn Nichols, CPA.

Red Tape – New virus raids your bank account – but you won’t notice

January 6, 2012

New viruses pop up every day, but periodically a new one comes out that warrants pointing out.

A new version of a current Trojan Horse virus called SpyEye allows thieves to steal your bank information, make fraudulent purchases and then hides those purchases and modifies your balance in your online banking so you don’t know that it has happened.

Find out how it works and how to protect yourself with this article from MSNBC.com: Red Tape – New virus raids your bank account – but you won’t notice

The best way to protect yourself from an online financial scam is to diligently check your bank accounts. At least, until now.

Israeli-based Security firm Trusteer has found an elaborate new computer virus that not only helps fraudsters steal money from bank accounts — it also covers its tracks.

Think of a crime plot involving a spy who plans to break into a high-security building and begins by swapping out security camera video so guards don’t notice anything is amiss. Known as a surveillance camera hack, the technique has been used in dozens of movies.

As always make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and you have a firewall installed and turned on on your computer. Always know the sites you are going to and if something doesn’t look right just close the browser. Never install any software that you did not expressly start the install for yourself.

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