Thursday, February 7, 2013

Being Unprepared Bites

Change is a simple fact of life, albeit one that many people - including some our staff, at times - aren't always prepared for. It's often not so much the change itself that's disturbing to people, as it is the pace of change.

The United States is going through some pretty rapid changes on many different levels right now. The Republican Party is finding that out the hard way on immigration. President Obama is finding that out as his replacement Cabinet appointees - like John Brennan - run headlong into the stiff political headwinds on Capitol Hill. But the GOP isn't the only organization finding its lack of preparation for the future biting them in the backside.

The Boy Scouts of America - the group whose motto is 'Be Prepared' - have not been prepared to deal with the reality of gay people existing, or wanting to be involved with their group. After a closed-door meeting by the BSA's national board on Wednesday, it was clear the Boy Scouts still aren't prepared to follow through on their proposal to ease their bigoted ban on gay Scouts and scouting leaders.

It doesn't seem to matter to BSA leaders that a solid majority of Americans think there is nothing wrong with openly gay Scouts or scouting leaders.

While the decision has only been postponed temporarily, as Iowan Zach Wahls, founder of the group Scouts for Equality, noted Wednesday, "By postponing this decision, the BSA has caved to those who argue that their anti-gay attitudes trump basic scouting values of kindness, courtesy and bravery."

Another even more iconic American organization isn't waiting to move forward any more.

On Wednesday, the United States Postal Service announced that starting August 1, 2013, they would eliminate Saturday service for all items except packages. This was a tough decision for them to make, but it's one that they've been considering for over a decade, as Esquire's Jesse Lichtenstein pointed out.

In fact, the U.S. postal service has been attempting to modernize and adjust its services and budget since the late 1990s, when it became obvious that the internet was going to change the entire postal business model.

During most of that time, Republicans in Congress, desperately hoping to privatize the Constitutionally established postal service, stood in the way of the Postal Service's modernization plans. In fact, in 2006, the GOP-led Congress made those problems worse with the Orwellian-named 'Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act' - an action that forced the postal service to pre-fund 75 years’ worth of pensions for its employees at a 100% rate, a burden no other public or private institution in America has to match.

As Felix Salmon of Reuters points out, it's unknown if the Postal Service can make the change to weekday only service because - as outlined under current federal law - doing so without Congressional authorization is completely illegal for them. However, as both outside studies and the postal service's own research have proven, if they're not allowed to put into action their plan for self-reliance - a plan that will very likely work - they face the unconstitutional option of obsolescence.

Even if Congress has held them back, at least the Postal Service has been prepared with a plan for the future.

For the Boy Scouts, that lack of preparation - and courage - may yet bite them in the backside.

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