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Whiting column: An organization is only as effective as its members

It’s the people, not the organization that can provide a problem.

When trying to find the source of an alleged issue, it is tempting to blame an organization as opposed to the individuals within it. It’s not an illogical occurrence. It’s easier to blame a faceless entity than ourselves. We need to remember that an organization reflects those comprising it. Consequently, the only way to improve the organization is to change or upgrade those within it.

It is tempting to argue problems are “systemic.” There may be occasional instances in which it’s true, but it’s usually a cop-out and generalization. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the system was created by individuals and sustained by them as well. Change or eliminate the offending individuals and the organization will either make necessary changes or cease to exist.



An obvious example would be the movement to “defund” the police. Obviously, there are specific law enforcement individuals whose attitude and behavior are not only unacceptable but abhorrent. Defunding the organization, however, is not the solution. Law enforcement is a necessary element of any civilization if its citizens are to feel safe. Defunding the police will increase crime and vigilantism, which are a detriment to society. The solution is eliminating the offending individuals and determining how to prevent them from being an officer in the first place.

An example would be my experience on the ranch where I grew up. At one time, especially before 4-wheelers became commonplace, we needed a significant number of horses to meet the varied needs of the ranch. So many, we had to both raise and buy them. Occasionally, a horse would never get to the point where it could be ridden safely or be trained to do the job. Some would continue to buck; others couldn’t be trained to handle the roping required. In those cases, we didn’t defund the ranch, we got rid of the horse. We then modified our breeding, purchasing and training procedures to minimize the chance of our acquiring such a horse in the future.



The correlation to law enforcement is evident. Eliminate those with offending attitudes or actions and change recruitment and training procedures to minimize the chance of a similar person becoming an officer. Not easy, but doable.

We do this with ourselves. If someone develops lung cancer, we don’t kill them, but rather do our best to fix them and change the behavior that created the problem.

In many cases, a problem may be better solved by individuals without an organization involved. A group can be the source of inaction, because it can be difficult for those composing the organization to come to agreement. An individual is more likely to think through the solution to a problem because they will be identified with it and have a vested interest in its success. If the group makes a bad decision, the members can blame the group and without fear of being held accountable.

It’s been said the organization is where people who can’t lead go to hide. There’s a reason that if politicians want to kill a bill, they refer it to committee.

It’s also good to remember every time an organization is created it takes money out of the hands of the people; many times, the people needing help. In order to function, an organization creates some sort of bureaucracy, which subsequently chews up time and spends money. Whether this money is generated through taxes or donations, it is consumed by the bureaucracy through wages and expenses. It often appears the main reason an individual desires to develop an organization is to create a job for themselves.

Those within the bureaucracy have a vested interest in not completing their mission. Its accomplishment would end their intended purpose, the organization and hence their paid positions.

The impending election season provides an additional opportunity to affect change as we choose for whom to vote. Sadly, too many politicians have learned that one of the keys to winning an election is to have done as little as possible, because someone will always disagree with whatever they did. Consequently, they have a vested interest in doing nothing. This is especially evident regarding multi-term incumbents seeking re-election. No wonder Congress seems unproductive.

Most politicians have also read and implemented Strategy No. 1 in the “Winning an Election” handbook: Promise to give people something they don’t have, but don’t tell them specifically how you are going to accomplish it or pay for it. Strategy No. 2: Focus on finding problems; it’s not necessary to provide a solution. This attitude demonstrates disrespect for the voter. It assumes we are ignorant and care about implementation and funding. They feel their enthusiasm is enough. Sadly, however, such strategies have historically been effective.

Whether it be an organization or a politician, not every problem is solved by adding enthusiasm. Most of us learned that on our first dates in high school.

It’s our personal responsibility to find, support and focus on individuals if we desire effective change.

Bryan Whiting feels most of our issues are best solved by personal responsibility and an understanding of nonpartisan economics rather than government intervention. Comments and column suggestions to: bwpersonalresponsibility@gmail.com


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