Friday, May 27, 2011

Is "Now Hiring" the new "We do our part" sign of the Depression?

Why are there "Now Hiring" signs in front of so many businesses these days when so many people are complaining about not finding a job? Everywhere I go in Knoxville, there are generic "Now Hiring" signs from the hotels to the car dealerships to the stores at the mall.

Is it just a slogan to make people feel better about the business? Are they truly hiring? Or are they just waiting for the perfect person to show up and taking applications from the rest? I find it puzzling because if businesses were really that desperate to hire, so much so that they are all putting up signs, why are so many people saying they are having trouble finding work?

During the Depression, businesses showed their compliance with New Deal programs by putting up the "Blue Eagle," with the motto "We do our part." "The eagle, which had been modeled on an Indian thunderbird, was displayed in windows and stamped on products to show a business's compliance." Consumers were encouraged to only shop at the businesses that displayed the blue Eagle logo. It seems that I remember also reading something about this in Amity Shlae's terrific book The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Facing Violence

I received a couple of copies of Rory Miller's new book Facing Violence: Preparing for the Unexpected from the publisher and immediately started reading the book. What I like about the authors of violence prevention books at YMAA Publication is that they focus a lot on the psychology of violence, preparing your mind and understanding what violence is and isn't. However, I often feel that they offer up similar advice to those who are thuggish types who tend to escalate violence and those who are minding their own business and encounter violence out of the blue. In my opinion, the psychology between these two is immensely different and should be reflected in how to think and respond.

In the first chapter and throughout the book, Miller discusses the legal and ethical aspects of violence. He talks about how laws set the standard for behavior and you will be held to it. "You must know how the law limits what you can and cannot do--and then you must adapt your training to work within those limits."

Miller goes on in the book to discuss how most middle class types have little idea about how criminals think (true enough) but focusing on how to defend yourself constantly to a jury is not exactly the best mindset for what to do when facing unexpected violence. Say you are coming out of a movie and someone jumps you with a knife? "Gee, what would the law say to do here?" is not going to help you survive. Knowing when to fight and when to flee is paramount here, not second guessing jury decisions. Sorry Mr. Miller, but as the saying goes, "I would rather be judged by a jury of twelve than carried by six."

I think regular people have enough problems displaying or even thinking about violence. Overcoming that in this culture is hard. As much as experts lament the "culture of violence" that we have in our society, the truth is, in our day to day lives, most normal people are not used to violence and have no idea what to do when it strikes unexpectedly.

Miller does a good job in this regard. He discusses the ethics of knowing where your line is before you come in contact with violence. He talks a lot about "breaking the Freeze." Freezing is "the state of not moving when you are in danger." Miller does a great job here of describing how to practice getting out of a freeze. He tells the reader to practice doing hard things and gives other suggestions.

Overall, a very good book for learning specific techniques when confronted with violence and a good manual for young guys (or older ones) who tend to be hot-headed and need to learn to manage their anger. However, the real people who need this book will never read it. They will be too busy disregarding the law, not worrying about the legalities of what they are doing and clearing their minds of anything but their next criminal act. For those who are not criminals and predators, but just innocent potential victims, a clear mind allows focus and forethought on the task in front of you. If it is unexpected violence, a plan is good, a head clouded with legal fears is not.

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