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Congress Is Dumb and Dumber - Let’s Save the Meeting Industry

Posted Mar 05 2009 2:19pm

All this week, I’ve been hearing from other trainers and speakers about a boneheaded bill brought forward by Senator John Kerry (yes, that same  “I voted for it before I voted against it” John Kerry) that would ban firms receiving TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) money from hosting, sponsoring, or paying for conferences, holiday parties and entertainment events.  

If he goes ahead with this, I attribute this to political posturing, a foolish over-reaction to the media coverage of  a golf tournament in San Diego in which a Chicago Bank,  Northern Trust, was caught on film having fun on taxpayer money by that bastion of journalistic credibility TMZ. As the economy continues to shrink in fear, such a move by Kerry, who said “ I’m sick and tired of picking up the newspaper and reading about another idiotic abuse of taxpayer money,” is foolish, reactionary, and dangerous.  Hypocritical, too.  He should check his own spending habits in Congress and that of his cronies before choosing to tee up a bill that drives the spreading economic fear deeper into the marrow of our economic health.  I’ve called Congress dumb before, but this is even dumber.  

Oh, I get why he thinks this is a good idea on its face. 

It seems reasonable that taxpayers’ money (I am, by the way, a taxpayer!) shouldn’t be squandered, wasted or frittered away on silly things of no consequence.  And the media drumbeat is that corporate meetings are somehow of no consequence, so of course it’s a chance to grab some of the limelight.   But, really.  The idea that money spent on training events and attending speeches designed to educate and motivate is ludicrous.  I feel like knocking on his skull and asking, “HELLO?    Is this thing on? ”  I’ve heard people say Kerry is intelligent.  But the intelligent thing to do here is attend a meeting and learn how side effects outpace direct effects (I teach that at meetings!  I call it the Trimtab principle, and it really can be used for good, while Kerry seems eager to use it to make things worse!)   

Here’s a lesson in how to shrink a shrinking economy even faster.  It’s easy.  Promote fear and thoughtless reaction through hasty window dressing decisions that actually make things worse.  Cut people off from the motivational and training resources they need to stay engaged in their work and have their brains switched on when they work.  Turn people who work into pure wage slaves, in which they do the same thing the same way day in and day out because they aren’t encouraged to think, change, adapt.  Get this result by reducing or eliminating training and resource sharing through networking.  

Then, watch the dominoes fall.  First, the travel industry, already struggling to stay alive, will take the immediate hit.  Hotels, airlines, rental car companies, food service providers, taxi drivers, and people who make the products that serve the travel industry (beds, towels, soap and shampoo, cleaning services, etc.)    It is estimated that without the jobs generated by meetings and conventions unemployment would jump from 7.6% to 8.2!  As the layoffs increase, manufacturing and construction go down, leading to more contraction and fewer taxpayers.  You see where this leads.  It appears that Senator Kerry is trying to kill the economy.   

OMG!  How dumb can they be?  How low will this go?  It depends.  If you have a moment, won’t you please contact the government and tell them they should be stimulating the economy instead of killing it?  The money is allocated.  Now’s the time for wise investment.  Congress should no more be managing travel and meetings than they do your diet and nutrition.  Meetings are an important part of the innovation cycle, they promote teamwork, they provide people with valuable and essential skills.   Here’s a link to express your opinion. And here’s a petition you can sign  to Keep American Meetin g.  Last I looked, 10,000 Americans have already signed on, but more is better when trying to get a message to Congress because, um, it’s like talking to the guys in that movie, Dumb and Dumber. 

The Keep America Meeting petition now reports that it has sent the mainstream media and elected officials U.S. Travel Association coalition-backed correspondence explaining the need for meetings. It also has added downloads at its site including print ads, e-mail buttons, logos, and other promo materials.

Keep America Meeting is also constantly updating its Facebook fan page, at www.facebook.com/pages/Keep-America-Meeting/50701582803. Please join!

Yes, I have a stake in this, as a speaker and trainer, because I earn a part of my living providing skills and training to working people and their management across the country.  But I’m also a taxpayer, and that’s my money their using for stimulus money.  I want to see it actually stimulate the economy, not undermine it further.  Thanks for your help with this. 

Be well,

Rick

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