“Interests” was a friend’s response to the topic of the meeting: “How can we get Democrats talking to Republicans?”
“Nice job,” I thought of stirring the discussion toward “procedures” and away from the two topics we had agreed were “off-limits” at our first, and only, meeting: politics and religion.
A short time ago a golfer-writer friend had asked the other three of us “golfers-writers” (or some weeks “writers-golfers”) to a breakfast meeting at, where else, the restaurant overlooking the municipal golf course. We were not sure why we might meet, but casual conversation established enough mutual respect for us to agree to meet again.
As our second meeting began, I silently uttered “Whew” when my friend’s response was “Interests,” followed with his involvement with some studies and examples supporting the theory that negotiations starting with stating “positions” was not conducive to reaching agreements.
However, both parties starting with their “interests” had a much higher probability of reaching a mutual interest agreement. I added that this was consistent with my experience for our 29 collective bargaining contracts. We decided to take the risks of violating the National Labor Relations Act, as well as my risk of being blamed if this approach did not lead to an agreement management: I suspect that the union bargaining committees faced similar issues. We used personal credibility and training to establish the necessary trust for what we labeled “mutual interest” bargaining. The results were not only agreements but ones that worked for everybody.
If people act according to their “interests,” consider what the actions of the decision makers in the White House, whoever that may be, indicate are their interests.
1. What are the White House interests in pipelines when it closes the Keystone in the U.S., but it approves the one carrying oil from Russia to Germany? Taking the two decisions together eliminates the interest being climate change or the environment while denying the U.S. the safest means of transporting oil and gas. Is there another possibility besides helping the Russian and German citizens and hurting the U.S. ones?
2. What are the White House interests in reducing the drilling in the U.S. so the energy needs have to be met by sending taxpayers dollars to Saudi Arabia and other Mideast countries, which caused the average price of a gallon to increase by over a dollar? Is the White House saying drilling in other countries does not affect the climate or the environment?
3. What are the White House interests in building walls between countries when it stopped the pre-paid U.S. wall with Mexico while sending taxpayers dollars to help Tajikistan’s build a wall to prevent unvetted entrance from Afghanistan?
4. What are the White House interests in open borders when it opened the southern one but closed the one with Canada?
5. What are the White House interests in vaccinations when it will permit an estimated two million-plus unvaccinated migrants this year to walk into the U.S. from Mexico and contaminate the Border Patrol, resulting in an estimated 25% of the patrol having COVID-19 — before exposing the U.S. military and private contractors to these COVID carriers in order to transport them, in secret, to primarily red states?
How about requiring vaccinations for federal employees but not for the members of the executive branch or Congress?
6. What are the White House interests in departing Afghanistan according to a predetermined date instead of meeting the needs of its soldiers and allies? What are the White House interests in leaving all the taxpayers’ military equipment in Afghanistan for use by the Taliban?
7. What are the White House interests in having Dr. Fauci lecture us on COVID-19 after his own emails show he was instrumental in funding the research for COVID before lying about it to Congress? Does this White House think his lying to Congress is less serious than allegedly lying to the FBI that caused a war of attrition against Michael Flynn, Roger Stone and others?
8. What are the White House interests in 18 months after COVID hit the U.S. having Dr. Fauci and others continue to use studies from Israel and India rather than have the CDC, NIH or any other U.S. agency, conduct their own studies?
9. What are the White House interests in permitting the vice president to travel to California to campaign for the governor rather than pursue her responsibilities for the border? Same question for the presidents’ campaign trip to California.
10. Last but not least, what are the White House interests in trying to pass a bill spending an estimated $5.5 trillion — 26% of the $20.43 trillion GDP in 2019 — which is in addition to the “normal” GDP expenses while the inflation rate for 2021 is already running at +6.3% when the ideal rate is 2.2%?
Do you think the White House interests were to enhance the lives of you, or other U.S. citizens?
It’s a shame the party that promised to unite avoided not only “mutual interest” bargaining but even “positional” bargaining. Heck, even four golfers-writers immediately understood that to “get Democrats taking to Republicans” required that Democrats care about the slightly less than half the voters who voted for the “other” party. Dare I suggest they would benefit from more time on the golf course like, well you know who?
If you do not agree with the White House interests, consider contacting your elected representatives and encourage them to pursue mutual interest bargaining.
Brent Zepke is an attorney and author who lives in Santa Barbara. He has been a faculty member at six universities and numerous professional conferences. He is the author of six books: “One Heart-Two Lives,” “Legal Guide to Human Resources,” “Business Statistics,” “Labor Law,” “Products and the Consumer,” and “Law for Non-Lawyers.”
Brent E. Zepke
The author lives in Santa Barbara.