With the state of health of the world tending toward being overweight, the area of fitness (to help people take off the excess pounds or maybe add muscle mass) is gaining at an impressive pace. However, the personal trainers that are hired to do the work are in an industry that is completely unregulated; it seems that all one needs is a muscular athletic physique to be a “good trainer”.
On the contrary, I think at the heart of a good personal trainer is a person that is focused on their client and is fully devoted to teaching clients well. The physique of the trainer is mostly irrelevant because the client is there to improve his or her fitness and not to stroke the ego of the trainer. Sadly, it appears that the industry is self-focused–for the gyms (more revenue) and for the trainers (more revenue and, perhaps, an ego boost). For potential clients, it is very much a “let the buyer beware” situation.
I must admit that it is easy to say “caveat emptor”, but it is very hard to do because the information is so confusing and conflicting. From personal experience, the mere fact that a trainer is in great physical condition means absolutely nothing; a client must be focused on achieving his or her own goals exclusively. Many trainers are good at selling themselves; for some of them, it is later when service is expected that problems emerge.
One problem I notice that usually signals the complete failure of the training project is the lack of written records. Without proper records (anthropomorphic measurements, determination of caloric intake, et cetera), it is impossible to determine progress. With the lack of service, the client risks having himself or herself and his or her hard-earned money taken advantage of because without client-focused service and recordkeeping–
- Personal training becomes entertainment in that the trainer comes up with convoluted exercises that require the trainer to be there for the exercise to be done (thereby maintaining the cash flow of the trainer (in theory)).
- Workouts become events that demonstrate the “superiority” of the trainer (at the client’s expense). For example, giving a unconditioned client a very difficult workout (beyond the person’s reasonable capabilities) so that the trainer can present an image of toughness to those who happen to witness the punishing onslaught. [A trainer who does this type of thing should earn a firing not praise.]
- On the contrary, a trainer could provide exercise that is so unchallenging that the client can never hope to meet their goals. This act would again theorhetically ensure a steady cash flow from an unwitting client.
- Workouts are changed so frequently that the client does not have time to acquire proper skills.
- Workouts are geared not for the client but for the purpose of filling up the allotted time period.
People who are considering whether to hire a personal trainer should keep in mind that they are hiring an employee and that employee should be focused on the reasonable improvement of the client.
If I needed confirmation that President Barack Obama is tied to the Wall Street-connected think tank Third Way, I would have that confirmation today. Interestingly, in the Third Way publication “The Case for Taking Up Entitlement Reform“, the following are considered “entitlements”–FICA- funded Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid, and federal employee pensions. I found the President’s statement bracing, yet I was not surprised; he is governing as a liberal Republican anyhow.
I do not believe for a second that cutting these programs will allow time to focus on the items that he mentioned. How can you move to cut spending from the lower income classes, and then have the audacity to use that you will be able to add spending with insufficient revenues? This idea is unwise and fantastical.
A quote at his July 15 press conference appears to have been strongly influenced by a Third Way publication (emphasis for comparision purposes).
And so that’s where I’d have a selling job, Chuck, is trying to sell some of our party that if you are a progressive, you should be concerned about debt and deficit just as much as if you’re a conservative. And the reason is because if the only thing we’re talking about over the next year, two years, five years, is debt and deficits, then it’s very hard to start talking about how do we make investments in community colleges so that our kids are trained, how do we actually rebuild $2 trillion worth of crumbling infrastructure.
If you care about making investments in our kids and making investments in our infrastructure and making investments in basic research, then you should want our fiscal house in order, so that every time we propose a new initiative somebody doesn’t just throw up their hands and say, “Ah, more big spending, more government.”
It would be very helpful for us to be able to say to the American people, our fiscal house is in order. And so now the question is what should we be doing to win the future and make ourselves more competitive and create more jobs, and what aspects of what government is doing are a waste and we should eliminate. And that’s the kind of debate that I’d like to have.
Here’s a quote from a Third Way publication “The Case for Taking Up Entitlement Reform” (compare with bolded words above).
Winning the economic future depends on progressive public investments—in innovation, children’s health, education, pure research, teen pregnancy prevention, space exploration, medical research, infrastructure, school lunches, and the arts and humanities. But left on autopilot, the nation’s budget will be swamped by entitlement and debt obligations that will crowd out everything. Scraps will be left for defense and domestic discretionary spending to fight over, and we know who wins that battle.
A common thread in Third Way publications is that somehow employees of the federal government (also U.S. citizens and taxpayers) should be called to make dramatic sacrifices for symbolic purposes. Yet, the functionaries of Third Way are scions of Wall Street. As the financial sector threw the United States into a recession because of its shady, conflict-of-interest, and casino-like business practices, Third Way does not call for any sacrifices from Wall Street millionaires. Sacrifices are only called for from one group—federal civil service employees (their military service colleagues are exempted from the inane vitriol), a group effectively unable to speak a word in opposition.
Because of this discrepancy, I find Third Way a dishonest and untrustworthy source of advice. Clearly, these opinions sprout from bitter Wall Street types wanting to cast blame for its manifest failures onto innocent people. That President Obama takes advice from this fork-tongued group is galling.
Third Way Publication
Statement Against Federal Employees
|“The Case for Entitlement Reform”
||“Democrats must couple entitlement reform with a credible set of proposals to demonstrate that government is taking the first and the deeper cut. A place to start is the financing of federal pensions, which is completely out-of-kilter with the way private sector retirement works. Voters need to see Washington give its share.” (Page 7)Comment: My question is what “private sector” is being talked about as the sector is not monolithic (it is made of many separate entities). As a result, the federal pension system cannot be compared to the so-called private sector.
Why is it that “Washington’s sacrifice” only consists of federal civil service employees (who are also citizen-taxpayers, a point often forgotten (even by so-called Third Way democrats)).
|“Frequently Asked Questions about Federal Retirement Reform”
||“Doesn’t this amount [5.2% additional FERS contribution] to a pay cut for federal employees?Yes, it does. Federal employees will have to contribute more to a very generous retirement plan. When fully phased in, it would reduce take home pay by 5.2%. The truth is that for the last 25 years, federal employees have gotten a very good deal. In today’s environment, in which everyone is going to have to give something up, it’s a deal the taxpayer can no longer afford.”
Comments: This point (and the others in the memo) reflect a pervasive use of the author’s self-interested calculations as fact (see, e.g., memo’s footnote 11).
The Third Way point also is not in line with the history of FERS (federal employees contribute 7%, not just 0.8% for their pensions (6.2% to Social Security and 0.8% to the pension (both components of FERS). “This landmark legislation resulted in large part from the need to shore up Social Security system by broadening its base (by mandating coverage of the federal civilian work force), along with pressure from then-President Ronald Reagan to reduce federal spending.” (See Jamie Cowen, “Twenty-Five Years after Federal Pension Reform,” page 3).
Also, there is a special case made to single out the federal civil service for particular and sole scorn, a practice that is underhanded and unbecoming.
“ Does the proposal affect veterans and military employees?
No, this proposal covers only those in FERS—federal employees, congressional employees, members of Congress, and judicial branch employees. Military retirees are covered under a separate program administered by the Department of Defense.”
The Wall Street-backed think tank called Third Way has produced a memorandum (“The Case for Taking Up Entitlement Reform”) urging “entitlement reform”. [The word entitlement suggests welfare, but it does not apply to programs that the taxpayer funds through FICA like Social Security and Medicare (and incredibly federal pensions).] I strenuously disagree with the position of Third Way.
Like true scions of wealth, their position is that borrowing the surplus of the FICA-backed funds is essential to keeping the rich from paying their share of taxes. So rather than paying back what the country has borrowed from the lower classes, the theme is to gut the programs such that they continue to collect money from the working classes but remake the programs so that they do not have to pay out as much to those same contributors.
Third Way uses genteel language, but underlying all of those words is the idea expressed above. As such, Third Way is not a group that should be trusted. Higher-level political leadership is also undeserving of any trust to act properly without citizen intervention.
In the Third Way “entitlement” memo, I found all of the assertions to be disingenuous, but the one stating that young voters do not think Social Security will be there for them one of the worst. The use of youth to justify larcenous acts against FICA-funded programs is immoral and contemptible.
- People from their first jobs pay FICA taxes.
- Most people do not earn enough to make a comfortable retirement without Social Security.
- Only the rich benefit from 401(k) programs.
- Retirement for the college aged is far away. How Third Way could make such a broad assertion is irresponsible. Who can think about what life will be 40 to 50 years down the road? No one.
Simply because some decrepit polls supposedly opine some supposition does not mean that that assertion means to destroy the FICA-funded programs. Regardless of any polls, federal politicians have a fiduciary responsibility to administer the FICA-funded programs for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Proposing ways to reduce payments to beneficiaries (while collecting the full FICA payment) is unacceptable and a breach of trust.
If the country is declaring default on repaying their FICA debt, then the Congress should repay the working class citizenry in full immediately.
It is no wonder that the high-level meeting for deficit & debt discussions will be skewed toward preserving the wealthy. Those who sat in the room have for the most part extraordinarily high net worth. The political structure of the United States is on the verge of obsolescence and great injustice.
The end result of the President’s proposal seems very likely to be horrendous program cuts with cosmetic (little) revenue “increases” offset with tax cuts. So the end result is essentially all spending cuts. The think tank, Third Way, is cheerleading the entire event.
Why is the proposal (to be rushed through Congress) so skewed? It is proposed by millionaires (the participants), who do not wish to pass tax increases on themselves. (How’s that for a conflict of interest?)
Deficit & Debt Meeting Participants
Net Worth (range, 2009)
|Pres. Barack Obama
||$2,251,011 to $7,670,000
|Vice Pres. Joe Biden
||$-309,971 to $488,996
|Speaker John Boehner
||$1,801,094 to $5,340,000
|Rep. Eric Cantor
||$2,175,157 to $7,533,999
|Sen. Harry Reid
||$3,062,056 to $6,707,000
|Sen. Richard Durbin
||$258,038 to $1,700,998
|Sen Mitch McConnell
||$7,102,036 to $32,756,000
|Rep. Nancy Pelosi
||$-7,356,915 to $124,229,990
|Rep. Steny Hoyer
||$298,009 to $697,000
|Sec. of Treasury Timothy Geithner
||$274,021 to $6,065,998
|William Daley (Member of Third Way)
Source: Center for Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org.
Wage cuts for lower ranked employees is a simplistic and ineffective method of dealing with a recession because it will cause a downward shift in aggregate demand.
Contrary to the belief of Steven Pearlstein, wages are not the cause of problems in the economy because that money is used to buy goods and services.
There seems to be a troubling belief that labor should be free. Ultimately, opinions like Pearlstein’s lead to arguments for slavery. The United States already tried that and the practice of slavery is contrary to the Constitution. That there is still argument over this fact is disturbing.
Also, the top 1 percent of wealth cannot be protected at the expense of the other 99 percent. This prescription is a recipe for societal dysfunction and economic failure.
In the Washington Post this morning, columnist Steven Pearlstein wrote an article that was off base. Pearlstein states that he is evaluating whether the government or the private sector provides the best value. Somehow, corporate excesses are downplayed or ignored, while Pearlstein viciously attacks civil servants.
This is unjustified because corporate entities (nonhuman) flood out human interests in the nation’s politics. While only narrowly being truly loyal to their shareholders, namely whatever produces a penny more profit determines what they do.
Pearlstein criticizes public servants generously. I guess its easy to pick on people who cannot fight back–we have all seen this in school: Bullies find the most vulnerable to impose their wills on.
The private sector should receive tireless scrutiny for multiple instances of socially destructive behavior. The damaging excesses of the private sector are manifest. Who can forget the financial crisis the private sector financial “titans” caused (yet, glaringly, those titans did not get together to find a private sector solution to the private sector crisis-all of them ran to the government (sad!)).
Additionally, Pearlstein fails to mention the other excesses of the obscenely expensive and bloated corporate bureaucracy. I’ll mention a few.
The manufacturing base in the United States is seriously in peril. Many products are made overseas for trifling amounts per item yet they are sold at gilder prices in the U.S. market. The corporate executives say that they have created wealth when in truth they are taking more from the consumer than is deserved and calling it a profit.
Pensions (defined benefit plans) were replaced with inferior 401(k)’s (defined contribution plans). Pay that was held down to account for the pension remains held down and corporations generally do not contribute to the 401(k) plans unless the employee contributes. The cancellation of pensions with these policies led corporations to realize huge profits without any work (the employee suffers a cut in purchasing power instantaneously however).
Health Care “Reform”
The bills in Congress have become so skewed in favor of health care corporations whose bloated bureaucracies eat up 30% of the health care dollar without providing any value (search for my health care “reform” posts for the link for the 30% figure).
Private sector profit used to be tied to value added products. It seems that now the goal is to profit by any means. Because Pearlstein did not address these or other faults of the private sector, it is easy to disregard his column.