Of Carrots And Sticks

Attend any sort of leadership forum and you will certainly hear something about carrots and sticks. I think I’ve heard it in conjunction with every leadership role I’ve ever held with the possible exception of in politics. (Perhaps I’d heard it so many times by then that I simply “slept” through that presentation.)

Basically, the theory holds that there are two ways to “motivate” people to achieve a given goal/objective. You can reward them for achievement (the carrot) or punish them for failure (the stick). In business think about a bonus for achievement and termination for failure. Most leaders/managers opt for the carrot route and only go to the stick in the cases where the carrot didn’t work. That is basically where we in America find ourselves with respect to vaccinations.

Several months ago, vaccines – credit for which to some degree may be due to the Trump administration – became available in America. In relatively short order thereafter -certainly due to the good work of the Biden administration – they became readily available. They have proven to be extremely effective and with almost no side effects or consequences except in right wing mythology.

The vaccinations were always free of charge to the individual. As time went on, they became more readily available in many cases they came to the individual. A little further down the line many businesses offered incentives to the vaccinated (i.e. a donut or a beer). After a bit more time elapsed many states got into the incentive business offering substantial lottery prizes that only the vaccinated were eligible to win.

Despite all these carrots vaccination rates still lagged behind the need to vaccinate and predictably a new wave of increased infections came upon us. That is where we are now. (Isn’t it a shame that the fact that the vaccine can save your life was an insufficient incentive?)

The carrots seem to have gone about as far as they can on their own and now the sticks are coming out. I’m sad to see them but equally glad they are with us. They are long overdue; I’ve been calling for them for a few weeks now.

California ordered that all state employees be vaccinated or submit to periodic testing that yields a negative result. Hospitals are increasingly requiring all but medically exempt personnel (about 2% of staffing) to similar standards. Despite being fully vaccinated I still restrict my public interaction. That is simply prudent (rather conservative of this liberal come to think of it.) It is impossible to totally avoid contact with medical personnel and civil servants. I think the public has a right to know that they are not risking their lives by going to a medical professional or interacting with a police officer.

Non-health care and non-government employers are starting to follow suit. (The above examples are not the only ones). Many European countries have what are effectively vaccine passport programs in effect. If you don’t have your vaccine passport you are denied entrance to stores, restaurants and other public facilities. We all breathe the same air, this is an airborne virus and while you can make your personal choice (regardless of how inane it is) you have no right to endanger my life or the lives of those who cannot get vaccinated due to health issues or being underage.

In plain ugly English, I really don’t care if you want to kill yourself but you have no right to kill my grandchild.

Unfortunately because common sense isn’t all that common (especially among the right wing) we need more sticks; too many are too stupid to take the carrots.

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