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A Dream about the Healthcare Debate?
I haven't really analyzed this dream that I woke up with this morning. it might be about the healthcare debate, because yesterday I passed over several links and comments on Facebook regarding it, because I didn't have the time or emotional energy to get into it. But also because I also didn't think it would do any good, because cooler heads rarely prevail in the midst of a hot political debate.

This dream left me feeling sad:

I am sitting at a small desk in a corporate presentation room or class room with a bunch of other employees. B___ (one of the best managers I've ever worked with) is conducting the meeting. We are reviewing a design critique by a consultant, Sam --- (I didn't recognize the name), who also used to work there.

In one section of the critique report, he pointed out a number of things wrong with a circuit-board design on the project, as shown in Figure 4. One of the so-called problems that he identified was that the circuit board was "cheap," meaning it was of low quality. I think that it was probably a good thing that it was cheap. What's wrong with that? I wonder, as I analyze the situation in my mind. On the surface, it would seem that cheap is bad, because you only get what you pay for, but I reason, cheap could be the right thing, even if it's unpopular.

I see that this so-called problems he lists in the text are probably not really problems at all, but I want to confirm my intuition by looking at Figure 4. At first I can't even find it, but then I notice it's on the next page, after Fgures 1-3. Figure 4 is just a layout diagram of the circuit board, with complains called out. I wonder if he also included call-out lines, so that I could see what on the board each complaint referred to, and at first I can't see them. I think how incompetent Sam has been to include such a useless diagram in his report. But then I rotate the page and suddenly see the call-out lines, and I feel a little let down, because I really want Sam to be as incompetent as possible, because I already know I disagree with some aspects of his critique.

One of the things he complains about is that the designer stored "her husband's information" on the board. I gather that her husband was also an engineer at the company and that they were working on the project together. I could see that if the information had nothing to do with the functions of this board, then putting another chip on the board to store it was indeed probably a poor design choice.

But other things he mentioned were empty complaints, or just plain wrong. I went back to the "too cheap" complaint.

B___ was taking comments and questions from the floor, and I spoke up before my opportunity to speak lapsed. "B___?" I said. She recognized me, and I patiently explained in some areas, Sam just seemed to be grousing. I talked about his "too cheap" complaint, and said that while it's true that you only get what you pay for, getting less is not necessarily bad, if it's what you need. I pointed out that in the new design, if you're getting the same or a greater level of features and quality than in the previous design, and on schedule for no more cost than you had before, then that's probably a good thing. You can't just assume that because something costs more, that it's better for you, because you may need something cheaper. And in that case, satisfying your design requirements, at the same or lesser cost, is what you want. So it might be, I explained, that Sam is just grousing here, and not making a real, substantive point against the project design.

I realized that Sam was diluting the effectiveness of his report by grousing in an ill-informed way, and that this could even mute the bona fide complaints that he had regarding the design.

I realized, however, that I may have called Sam a "grouser," in substance, and I didn't really know whether that was his personality. I wanted to make it clear that my statements were just conjecture, based on what I was reading.

While the other people in the room flipped the pages on their copies of the report, in order to verify what I was saying, B___ nodded her head. "Did you ever meet Sam?" she asked.

"No, I don't know him," I said, and I clarified that I didn't know whether he was the kind of man to grouse all the time, but that he may just be grousing in this report, for some reason.

She said that, yes, she had said the same thing regarding costs, but that the executive board didn't want to hear it. And I knew that Sam in his ill-informed complaining had been given precedence, and that cooler heads had gotten short shrift, and that the designers on the project had gotten blamed instead of congratulated.

I marveled that B___ was so adept, that even though the executive board completely dismissed her informed notes on the critique, that she could still go on with her job. I knew I would never have been able to accept it.



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