Wednesday October 16, 2019

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Discussion with education and reason.

Thoughts After the 2016 Election

Posted by Paul Linzmeyer
Paul Linzmeyer
Paul Linzmeyer has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 24 November 2016
in Wisconsin

clinton-trumpWe must start a dialogue now with one another to understand how we can aspire for the goodness in our state and how together we can make our state a model of “we the people…with liberty and justice for all”.


GREEN BAY - This election has torn our country apart.  While many of us are repulsed by the rhetoric of the campaign, there is one silver lining from this election and that is the cancer that has been in this nation forever is finally exposed.  The exposure of bigotry, hatred, marginalization and fear is our “soft under belly”, which could bring down this grand experiment, our democracy.  However, there are really very few truly evil and hateful people in this country.

The Trump and Sanders campaign exposed a strong populist desire for change that the Clinton campaign failed to understand.  Perhaps, the Clinton campaign had no way to actually come to grips with this need for change as they are part of the problem.   But the Trump campaign fed off the cancer and helped it spread its unprecedented debasement of us as people and a nation.

Trump’s election campaign slogan of “make America Great again” is so wrong.  If we reference the democratic standard of “we the people…. with liberty and justice for all”, we have never been “great” as we have continuously and still do have social, economic and environmental injustices for many of our people.  And unfortunately, this trifecta of injustice is spreading to a much greater portion of the population.

As “perfect” is the enemy of “better”, so is “great” the enemy of “good”.  Goodness is defined as integrity, honesty, uprightness, probity.   Goodness, morality, and virtue refer to qualities of character or conduct that entitle the possessor to approval and esteem.  This is what we should aspire, not greatness.  Greatness is a concept of a state of superiority affecting a person or object. Greatness can also be referred to individuals who possess a natural ability to be better than all others.  The concept of greatness should be abhorrent to us as it opposes everything of what our democracy stands.  Rather than pursing greatness, we should aspire to what is good for all us, as people and as a nation.  Rather than the tide of goodness raising all of us, greatness signifies winners and losers.

Wisconsin secured the Trump’s election but it was clearly because the turnout of voters was much lower than in 2008 and 2012.  I believe in the people of Wisconsin and in our “Forward” aspiration and our “can do” spirit.  We need/must start a dialogue with one another to understand how we can aspire for the goodness in our state and how together, we can make our state become a model of “we the people…with liberty and justice for all”.  Now that we see clearly the cancer that could kill us, we should work diligently and passionately to overcome it.  As a cancer survivor, I believe fully that we can do this.  I could not have possible survived by my own greatness (which I would never describe myself), but only because of the goodness that was aspired to by family, medical staff, friends and the community.

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Why Are Some Trying To Destroy Our Education System?

Posted by Paul Linzmeyer
Paul Linzmeyer
Paul Linzmeyer has not set their biography yet
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on Sunday, 21 August 2016
in Wisconsin

uwgb-studentsWhat happens if we turn our educational system into a supply chain of workers to fit our jobs, a place to manufacture workforce competent doers, but not critical thinkers? Company President and former Chair of the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce examines the shortsightedness of business leaders and politicians who attack our K-12 and university systems.


GREEN BAY - Having been in business my whole career, I found most business people to have relatively good intentions. Obviously, there are the bad actors, but the same can be said for any sector in our community.

However, I find that most business people abdicate their voices to organizations like the Chambers of Commerce and the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce when it comes to issues of substance, like education. That is not only unfortunate, but it is done at their peril. When it comes to education, the sustainability of their business future and the future of the communities they serve is at stake if they do not get it right.

I know a bit about what I speak as I was Chair of the Green Bay Chamber of Commerce in 2003. I chaired the Bay Area Workforce Development Board for 8 years, the Employers Workforce Development Network for over 4 years, the Wisconsin Workforce Development Association for about 2 years, and the Wisconsin Council on Workforce Investment for about 4 years.

One of the things that was very clear to me not only as a company president, but also as one deeply immersed in the challenges of our economy was that we have an education system that is only somewhat designed to give the workforce competent “doers”, but was somewhat challenged in creating quality “thinkers”.

It is not that the graduates of our technical colleges and universities didn’t go in with a desire to learn and explore, it is that the system is no longer designed to generate quality thinkers, but rather doers with various levels of quality.

In some cases, the university system really made an error when they made the student the customer, as that resulted in some students with high debt and somewhat worthless degrees (but I digress as this is for another day). In other words, we have designed a system that is intended to feed the workforce needs of employers rather than the various needs of the both the employer, the community, and the environment which supports both.

And, because our government leaders continuously attack the K-12 system and heavily promote ideas like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), we are getting people who only have developed the left side of their brain. Thus, they may be ok at doing, but because they haven’t developed the right side of their brain where innovation and creativity flourish and they never become great thinkers.

Furthermore, even those that are good thinkers are soon institutionalized by the companies and organizations that employ them and soon become completely disengaged. Instead, we need to think of STEAM where we insert the Arts as a very integral part of education. STEAM will give us an innovation economy which will make us globally competitive while supporting the long-term viability and richness of our communities.

The concept of “institutionalizing their people” is important because this may help explain the business leaders’ ambivalence to what our current governor, legislature and WMC are supporting when it comes to education.

When I had my Sustainability consulting company, I would ask my clients in the “C” Suite (CEO, CFO, COO, etc.) what was their most important asset and they would always respond the same “our people”. I would respond “then why do you treat them so poorly if that is the case”. They were genuinely hurt and offended because they truly believed what they said that their people were so important.

I then painted a picture of how it could look. Have you ever had a real two-way dialogue with your employees to determine what they thought was important, what they value in life, what they want to really do. Have you thought of focusing less on profits and more on purpose? Have you ever invested in your employees in things that they want even if it doesn’t have a line item benefit to the company; like running for a school board, or volunteering for a community board, etc. Have you ever considered allowing your employees to be involved in the community in a meaningful way on company time? Have you ever brought in the arts into your organization to rekindle the use of the right side of the brain?

At my last company, they prided themselves on the success they had with process. I had the opportunity to address their board last year, and I said this: “you are ok with process, but terrible with people. If you were great with people, you would blow process out of the water”. This was received well which showed that it clearly fell on deaf ears.

For business to allow Governor Walker and the current legislature to attack K-12 and the university system with funding cuts and other onerous policies is mind boggling. When we need high degrees of innovation and creativity in our economy to be competitive in a global sense, to defund the arts and other right brained curriculum in our public K-12 system and only focus on work related skills is not only troubling, but it is going to further increase the dearth of talent that the community and companies truly need.

And to try to destroy our world class public university system by not only drastically cutting funding, but by denigrating our talented professors and researchers is wrong headed on so many levels and will prove to be disastrous to the Wisconsin Idea. This tacit attack on people who are educated in critical thinking and instead fostering an atmosphere where our education system is only meant to be a supply chain of workers for business is undemocratic, myopic, and dysfunctional.

This kind of thinking and policy will in very short order not only kill our economy and middle class, but it will also lead to a dearth of the leadership that is much needed in our communities; whether volunteer, governmental, business, or NGO.

I am not enough of a conspiracy theorist to think that may be a sinister motive. But, for business and other leaders to sit quietly by and allow this to happen, will create a very negative legacy that will take mega-investments to reverse. We are all better than this.

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Climate Change and Health

Posted by Paul Linzmeyer
Paul Linzmeyer
Paul Linzmeyer has not set their biography yet
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on Monday, 01 August 2016
in Wisconsin

hurricane-sandyHealthcare Must Lead On Climate Change


GREEN BAY - Sustainability and climate change discussion needs a different perspective—human health. Healthcare’s commitment to sustainability principles should not be focused on improving healthcare, but rather improving overall health.  Medical care impacts only about 10% of outcomes that make us healthy.  Life quality and expectancy improvements over the last several hundred years have been made in the basic fundamentals for health: clean air, clean water, enough nutritious food, safe shelter and community, regular physical activity, and stable civilization. Climate change threatens all of these fundamentals through increased air temperature, raised sea levels, and extreme weather, such as drought, flooding, and tropical storms.

Two areas to consider about climate change and health:

  1. Health impacts of climate change – The National Climate Assessment released in May 2014 confirms that changes in climate threaten US human health and well-being in many ways and climate change will amplify some of the existing health threats the nation now faces in the future.
  2. Health impacts of fossil fuel usage, independent of climate change: Fossil fuels contributes to four of the five leading causes of US deaths   including heart disease, cancer, stroke and lung diseases, while putting our children at risk of asthma and delayed mental development. Particulate pollution, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels and biomass, is responsible for over 60,000 US deaths annually.

Already, impoverished areas see worse asthma, lung, and heart diseases. A warmer world will have more hospitalizations and deaths from asthma, COPD, and heart disease. Warmer air with more CO2 creates a longer pollen season with higher pollen concentrations, worsening asthma and other allergic diseases.

Healthcare executives have not looked widely/deeply enough to see the billions of dollars of potential savings by implementing best practices for climate change.  One study projected a conservative estimate of $15 Billion in energy savings for US healthcare alone. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the use of fossil fuels causes $120B in health related damages/year.  Replacing coal alone with efficient/clean energy could save 10,000 lives and $60B annually.

In Wisconsin, the majority of agricultural land is dedicated to the dairy/meat industries, which negatively impact both our greenhouse gas emissions and watersheds. We import most of our fruit and vegetables which contributes needlessly to emissions. Healthcare and public/private educational institutions need to change how they purchase food and create a market for a vibrant year-round local food economy made up of urban and rural agriculture, delivered through an innovative food distribution system. Reducing our intake of meat—especially beef—will help people maintain a healthy weight, prevent heart disease and cancer, and is important in limiting climate change.

Improving the design of our cities/towns with pedestrians, bikes, and mass transit will reduce emissions and help people become more physically active, lose weight, and fight depression and obesity. Replacing short car trips in urban areas of the upper Midwest alone would save over 1200 lives and 8B/year from cleaner air and greater physical activity.

American healthcare organizations need to both support and encourage regional activism in sustainability and better health outcomes, but also climate change, energy alternatives, and healthy food. We can no longer do things the same way and expect different results. Healthcare can and needs to drive the change necessary to achieve sustainable healthy economic, environmental, and social outcomes.

In December, 2014, I joined a group of national healthcare leaders at the White House to announce our commitment to enhance the climate resilience of our facilities, operations, and communities we serve using the Administration’s Climate Action Plan as a foundation. The plan recognizes that even as we take aggressive action to curb the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, we must also prepare for the climate impacts we are already seeing across the country.  A Climate Change Resiliency Assessment is being tested at our facilities and will be rolled out soon for all to collaborate.

The healthcare organizations that met at the White House are prominent in strategizing and implementing climate change and alternative energy policies, but, healthcare as a sector is not unified in these activities. This lack of unity is harming the local, regional, and global communities they are meant to serve. The work of Climate Change Council is to drive all healthcare organizations to engage their communities in climate change action. Otherwise, inaction will prove to be counterproductive and costly to both their brand and bottom line. Healthcare must take a leadership role in driving for alternative energy and climate change strategies.

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