A Message to Readers

He’s not sure he’s mentioned it in this space, but The Curmudgeon works for a small health care consulting company. It’s a pretty dynamic little outfit, and one of the many things it does for its clients is seek help from government, at both the state and federal levels, for a wide variety of things.

And yes, that sometimes means lobbying.

But no, The Curmudgeon is not a lobbyist. No one in their right mind would ever let him speak to a public official on behalf of a client that’s paying good money for professional assistance: he lacks the patience, the polish, and the temperament for such endeavors. As far as he can recall, the last time he spoke to a public official face to face was in 1990, when he was dragged by one of his bosses to a nearly deserted city hall in Philadelphia the day after Christmas to meet with the mayor as part of preparation to write testimony for Philadelphia’s city treasurer about the extent of the city’s financial crisis at the time. This wasn’t even lobbying, it was a writing assignment, and The Curmudgeon was invited to ask questions – but when he did, Mayor Wilson Goode absolutely blew up at him over the questions he asked, and when the mayor finally calmed down he just sat there, smoldering.

If looks could kill, you wouldn’t be reading this today.

And since then, employers have pretty much kept The Curmudgeon away from public officials – and, for the most part, clients as well. Oh, sure, there was the time when The Curmudgeon was doing some human resources consulting and, in response to a question from the CEO of a small company about why his employees didn’t come to him when a certain sensitive problem arose, The Curmudgeon looked him in the eye and said “Because they’re afraid of you,” much to the horror of the more experienced consultant sitting by his side at the time. The client absolutely loved it and called The Curmudgeon’s boss to tell her so, but she was afraid The Curmudgeon had just gotten lucky and was not about to risk alienating a paying client and made sure to steer him clear of clients from that point forward.

Before he started this blog, The Curmudgeon told his employers what he intended to do and said he would write anonymously, so he wouldn’t risk compromising the business. They liked that idea. A lot. The last thing they wanted was for a relatively low-level employee to poison the waters for a paying client – and The Curmudgeon agreed with them. That’s why he told them about the blog in the first place and proposed writing anonymously.

It made sense. There are people in the public sector for whom The Curmudgeon, in this very space, has expressed, shall we say, less than unvarnished enthusiasm, and there may be times when his colleagues may be asking those very people and their friends and partisans to support a law or a regulation or policy change or position that would benefit one of the company’s clients. The last thing the company needed was a political opponent trying to dig up dirt on the company, visiting its web site, finding The Curmudgeon, putting two and two together, and going to some powerful member of Congress and saying “Hey, look at what this jerk from the lobbying firm is writing about you! I say we screw them!”

And you know what they say about biting the hand that feeds you.

Even though he thinks he’s done a reasonably good job of shielding his identity, his employers recently asked The Curmudgeon to strengthen the firewall between the blog and his true identity. The Curmudgeon thinks that’s a reasonable request. After all, he knows which side his bread is buttered on, as another old saying goes.

But the blog, like the show, must go on.

(Good lord, that’s three clichés in the space of three paragraphs. Quick, someone destroy this monster before it clichés again.)

To enable it to do so while also respecting his employer’s wishes, The Curmudgeon will discontinue announcing upcoming posts on his Facebook page as of the end of the year. For those of you who count on Facebook to tell you when something new has been posted, an alternative is to go to the blog, find the little link on the bottom right-hand side of the screen that says “follow,” and hit that link. When you do, a new screen pops up and asks for your email address. If you enter your address there, you’ll receive an email from WordPress, the folks who host The Four-Eyed Curmudgeon, the morning after he posts something new. The Curmudgeon recently tested this and it works just fine.

Or, if you’d rather not, you know by now that seldom does more than a day or two pass without The Curmudgeon posting something new here.

The Curmudgeon – no, for once, let’s say “I” – I appreciate your visits to this page and hope we can continue to get together online occasionally for as long as I can think of things to write about and for as long as you’re willing to put up with some pretty far out there views. It’s a pretty big world, though, so running out of things to write about seems pretty unlikely.

And by the way, if you ever want to use this space to get something off your own chest, feel free to let me know and we can arrange a “guest column” for you.

Finally, just to be sure his vast readership gets this message – just so you know, The Curmudgeon considers any day his total number of visitors reaches double digits to be an excellent day – he will repeat this message every weekend between now and the end of the year.

Again, thanks for your patience and continued support. I enjoy writing for you.

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