Is MetLife’s Code of Conduct Recklessly Incoherent Bullshit? — An Open Letter to MetLife CEO Steven A. Kandarian

Hello Mr. Kandarian,

Is it possible that MetLife’s so-called “Code of Conduct” is recklessly incoherent bullshit?

I ask this question because I believe my own apparent failure to understand the Code’s “guidelines for appropriate business conduct and ethical decision-making” has brought relentless woe unto me and my family, not the least of which is now the threat of a criminal conviction and all that goes along with it (fines, possible jail time, etc.).

Of course, I do realize that the Code itself might be just fine, and that my failure to understand it nothing more than a unique consequence of my own idiosyncratic manifestation of Autism Spectrum Disorder. But given that I might not be the only person to find this document dangerously confusing, and of course, on the chance that it might just be equally incomprehensible for everyone, here I wish to explain why I strongly suspect it probably is just that, or as I’m inclined to put it: recklessly incoherent bullshit.

To begin with, on page 2 of the Code you personally exhort MetLife employees to “…read, understand and abide by our Code of Conduct and raise awareness of issues that may undermine the public’s trust in our corporate integrity,” [emphasis added].

Then on page 4, all MetLife employees are charged with the “…responsibility to…Disclose or raise concerns about any potential violations of law or policy, or any other potential issues….” [emphasis added].

Now, the way I see it, for the past two years or so I have attempted in various ways to fulfill this Code-mandated “responsibility”. More specifically, I have tried to raise awareness on a variety of issues, not the least of which is a psychologically damaging procedural artifact I think of as The MetLife Meat Grinder, meat_grinder_MetLife_your_brain_750x500by which I mean MetLife’s systematic, for-profit exploitation of people with psychiatric disabilities (Autism, Bipolar Disorder, etc.). But despite my persistent efforts to raise awareness of The MetLife Meat Grinder and other “issues that may undermine the public’s trust in [MetLife’s] corporate integrity”, I must tell you that the company’s reaction toward me has been not just ungrateful, but in fact quite fiercely retaliatory, and thus precariously out of sync with the company’s glossy promise to not retaliate against attempts to fulfill this “responsibility”.

As boasted in MetLife’s Code of Conduct:

Our commitment to non-retaliation

We do not tolerate retaliation for making a report in good faith. MetLife prohibits employees from engaging in any form of retaliation against anyone for raising concerns regarding a violation of any law, rule, regulation, internal policy, this Code, or about unethical activity….

Code of Conduct, page 6

Yet despite this boast, MetLife fired me illegally last year, subsequently lied to EEOC investigators about why I was fired, tried to bribe me with $37,000.00 to keep my mouth shut about what had happened, most recently requested and was granted a No Contact Order against me, and is now pressing criminal charges against me, all in what looks to me exactly like retaliation for my numerous Code-mandated attempts to raise awareness of The MetLife Meat Grinder and other issues.

Did I get that right? Am I overlooking something?

Actually, I’m pretty sure the source of my hapless misunderstanding of the Code can be traced back to one particular sentence, found on page 6, and which I find especially baffling, thus:

“We do not tolerate retaliation for making a report in good faith“…

[emphasis added]. Now, really, what’s baffling for me about this sentence is that I have no idea what is meant by this phrase “in good faith”, although I do think it’s safe to say at this point that MetLife as a company has somehow decided that my many reports have definitely not been made “in good faith”, and also that in such a case retaliation is not only tolerated, but for me at least to be pursued with fanatical zeal.

That much seems obvious, but what isn’t obvious to me at all is who judged my numerous reports as being not “in good faith”, and by what criteria was this judgment made? Was there any sort of objectivity involved in making this judgment? Was my “faith” evaluated against some sort of checklist?

Was the Bible consulted? The Hadith? The Code of Hammurabi? The I Ching? This can’t possibly be a religious thing, can it? Did you all somehow figure out that I’m an atheist and decide to persecute me for my lack of religious belief? I don’t seriously believe that, of course, but then what?

Why have my attempts to report The MetLife Meat Grinder (and other issues) been judged by MetLife as being made in not “good faith”?

Here I wish to submit for your consideration that there is no rational answer to that question. Here I wish to propose that the aforementioned judgment of my “faith” as not “good” was made for no rational reason at all — that it was in fact made whimsically, nonsensically, wholly arbitrarily. Here I will publicly suggest that the human beings who judged my utterly sincere reports did so impulsively, thoughtlessly, and with great and continuing negative consequence to me and my family.

To be clear: I’m not claiming here that these individuals are actually as incompetent as they appear. On the contrary, I think they did what they did because the Code itself is confusing, by which I mean recklessly incoherent bullshit.

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”

The Morally Mature, Civic-Minded, Grown-Up Thing to Do: Yet, Another Open Letter to the Mysterious Mr. Phicks

Dear Mr. Phicks,

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Oh, come now, Mr. Phicks, don’t be that way. Really, there’s nothing to be afraid of!

I know you asked me not to contact you again, but I also know that your request arose from a state of ignorance and cowardly panic. You didn’t have all the facts and mistook your fear as evidence of actual danger. You saw that I got arrested for something, jumped erroneously to the conclusion that I was therefore guilty of something, subsequently forgot that you were an adult, and chose to flee and hide like a frightened child.

Hey, I get it. It happens. Behaving like a morally mature, civic-minded grown-up is often a challenge. But that was a few weeks ago, and you and your client have had a chance to breathe, cool down, come to your senses, get your bearings, pull yourselves together, think things through.

Perhaps by now you’ve recognized that innocent people do get arrested sometimes. Perhaps you’ve taken a closer look at why I got arrested, and why I committed the alleged “crime” (they’re calling it “misdemeanor breaking or entering”). Perhaps you’ve come to see, as I do, that what I actually did was really just what any morally mature, civic-minded grown-up would do in the situation I was in at that time, which is to say:

Perform some alarming (and of course non-violent) gesture in order to draw attention to, and warn the public about The MetLife Meat Grinder

…which is to say, MetLife’s systematic, for-profit exploitation of people with psychiatric disabilities.

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MetLife wants to crush me like an egg for exposing their cruel, for-profit exploitation of people with psychiatric disabilities.

Mr. Phicks, make no mistake: MetLife will stop at nothing to guard the secret of this corrupt and diabolical revenue stream. No doubt the company wishes to crush me like an egg for trying to expose it. If I am successful in doing so, MetLife could face tremendous losses due to litigation, not to mention the effort it will take to revisit millions of previously denied disability claims, and of course all of the benefit payments MetLife will eventually have to disburse as many of those previously denied disability claims are finally approved. Who knows how long MetLife has been cheating and shenanigizing the psychiatrically vulnerable in this way?

The upshot here is that my success will entail an epic financial disaster for MetLife, and I expect the company will spare no expense in order to avert that disaster. Heck, really no one should be shocked or surprised if I die mysteriously or disappear suddenly in the coming weeks or months. At the very least MetLife will try to discredit me, make me look like a criminal, and send me to prison for as long as possible.

I need help here, Mr. Phicks, and by “help” I mean corporate sponsorship. If I am to see this project through to success then I need a corporate ally to have my back on this: one who can match MetLife’s financial muscle. I need at least one major corporation (the more the merrier, really) who can fund my legal defense: a company like your client, I believe, is exactly what I need right now.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s no middle ground here, Mr. Phicks. Last year when MetLife did what they did to me and my family, it was like the company drew a line in the sand and shoved me on one side and themselves on the other, and now absolutely everybody else on Earth must choose a side, including your client. Unfortunately, your client’s expressed wish to “not participate”

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There’s no middle ground here because MetLife captured it from all of us. They invaded it, took it over, built office buildings and parking lots on it, leaving the rest of us with precisely two places to stand: MetLife’s side or mine. Ugh! What a sucky situation!

is simply not an available option. Especially since they have also exploited my psychiatric disability for profit, then to my view they definitely do not have the option of not participating. Of course, your client is definitely not obligated to choose my side, but with just two sides available in this situation, if they refuse to sponsor me in some way in this fight, then by default they ally themselves with MetLife.

Please, Mr. Phicks, perhaps millions of psychiatrically vulnerable people are counting on you and your client to step up and do the right thing here. Please do not turn your back on us like the effete, privilege-bloated cowards who run MetLife. This is your opportunity to do some good for a great many people. I implore you: embrace this opportunity to act like the morally mature, civic-minded, grown-up we both know you can become!

I believe in you Mr. Phicks! You can do it!

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”


Image Credit: (mysterious businessman skulking away in the night) Pixabay

A Cow and 3 Hours of Jazz While I Ponder My Options…

Not quite sure what to say at this point other than that I’m thinking things through and trying to figure out what’s next.

In the meantime, above is a funny picture of a cow (thanks, Pixabay!) and a YouTube Jazz compilation that’s, like, three hours long. Enjoy….

🙂

Blueberry Pie for Dinner!?!? — Yet Another Metaphor for Autism

beef_goulash_331x210You’re sitting in a restaurant with a friend trying to figure out what to eat for dinner. You decide on a savoury beef goulash, and your friend orders a banana split sundae.

“Whoa, what about dinner?” you say. “I thought we came for dinner, no?”

“Oh, right,” your friend says. “OK, I guess I’ll start with the blueberry pie. That looks yummy.”

“Uh…no, that’s not dinner either. Pick dinner food.

“Dinner food, right, yes. Um…well, the carrot cake looks –”

“Nope! Try again.”

“Creme brulee?”

“HOLY COW! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? PICK A STEAK OR SOMETHING!”

Now, unbeknownst to you, the waiter had accidentally given your friend a dessert menu instead of the entree menu, so that’s why your friend keeps making all of these weird choices.

Without pretending to speak for all autistic people, I can tell you that for me the situation with autism is a lot like that. From a perceptual and conceptual standpoint, I live in a world that is quite different from that of so-called “normal” people. But for me at least, and unlike with the restaurant scenario, this perceptual and conceptual “menu” of mine actually overlaps sufficiently with that of everyone else’s so that I’m able to communicate and function under many conditions well-enough. For example, I’m definitely not actually delusional or hallucinating, but under various circumstances my behavior can strike many as bizarre or crazy, as if I were delusional or hallucinating.

So if you ever witness me making choices that strike you as, well, bizarre, it’s just because I’m not choosing from the same menu as you. You’re making your choices off of your Normal Person’s Menu and I’m making my choices off of my Autistic Person’s Menu.

Two different people, two different menus.

I hope that’s helpful!

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Mmmmm, dinner anyone? Image Credit: Pixabay

You Don’t Fear Me; You Fear Your Misunderstanding of Me: An Open Letter to All The Sheeple Who Imagine Me to Be Dangerous

#KeepFamiliesTogether

Note: If you would like to donate to help the 2,500 immigrant children that were recently kidnapped from their families as a result of the Trump Administration’s cruel Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy (protested yesterday by thousands throughout the US), please see the links provided in the following article: Here’s how to help immigrant children separated from parents at U.S. border.

Dear Sheeple,

Everyone who actually knows the real me knows that I am nothing like a threat to your personal safety. I am 54 years old, have no history of violence, have no interest in violence, and own no guns nor weapons of any kind.

I don’t even play violent video games.

Because I know for a fact that I pose no threat to your personal safety, it simply cannot be the case that I am the cause of your fear. If indeed you are afraid of anything, then it is your misunderstanding of me that frightens you.

To be clear: I am not your misunderstanding of me. Your misunderstanding of me is an imaginary bogeyman who doesn’t exist. The person I really am is nothing to fear.

I have almost no control over your misunderstanding of me. Other than pity you, the most I can offer as consolation is the opportunity to get to know the real me. If you can find the courage to do so, then I’ll be happy to sit with you and talk, answer your questions, help you to see that you’ve been afraid of nothing.

Other than that, what can I say? You are on your own.

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”

flying_walrus

 

Mr. Phicks and the Hill o’ Beans

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Uh oh, I think I may have frightened poor Mr. Phicks. Autism strikes again! Image Credit:

Oh, well, so it looks like the whole Mr. Phicks thing has phailed. All of that great “mysterious Mr. Phicks” schtick and it didn’t amount to a hill o’ beans.

Here is his response to my most recent letter to him:

Daniel,

I can’t talk with you anymore. My client has asked me to stop our discussions. My employer has asked me to stop our discussions. And it is clear from your actions leading to your arrest last week that my involvement in your life is counterproductive. We talked about moving on from your obsession with Metlife and you immediately go out and physically invade the Metlife campus. I clearly am not helping matters.

Please do not contact me again.

Ugh! Note the language used:

“…physically invade the MetLife campus….”

Yeah, that’s a great way to describe what I did. Physical invasion. I just totally invaded the MetLife campus. Like in 1945 when the allies invaded the beaches of Normandy, or that time a garbage fly invaded our car and our two-year old daughter screamed hysterically for 20 minutes.

“…physically invade….”

And did he really think he could help me move on from my MetLife obsession with a single phone call? I’ve been obsessed with this MetLife bullshit in one form or another since, like, August 2016.

Oh, Mr. Phicks. Did you really think you were going to phicks this mess that easily?

Listen, amigo, the DSM V is not a book of problems that can be phicksed with a single phone call. The DSM-V is a book of hard problems — e.g. Autism Spectrum Disorder, Bi-polar Disorder, Schizophrenia, etc. These are serious problems that require the training, knowledge, and skill of real experts who are trained to recognize and handle them.

But I guess you realize that now.

In any case, and for the reasons explained in my final letter to you: going forward I will consider you, your client, and your employer to be not my allies, which is to say, by default, that you are all allies of Frederick Fritz T. Smith and his high-schoolish gang of Inappropriate Behavior Police.

Well, at least we cleared that up!

No Fence-sitting Allowed, Part 2: A Second Open Letter to the Mysterious Mr. Phicks

[Note: For background and context, please read No Fence-sitting Allowed, Part 1: A Second Open Letter to the Mysterious Mr. Phicks.]

Hello Mr. Phicks,

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I don’t know if Mr. Phicks is a master of disguise, but if he is, I bet he can make himself look like this dapper fellow. Image Credit: Shutterstock

…In order to understand the point I wish to make in this letter, I first should tell you that this rift that exists between me and the roughly dozen or so folks who colluded to fire me last year has much in common with a gang war.

I’m not even sure that’s a metaphor, actually. Although I personally have no history of violence and will keep it that way, the other gang is now in a position to send me to jail, which is arguably a potential act of aggression they might make against both my person and my family. Also, last year my wife fell quite ill from the intense stress that followed from the psychologically cruel machinations involved in the other gang’s underhanded tactics (I call it the “MetLife Meat Grinder”). Finally, although my daughter has survived it all just fine so far, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been so (autistically) obsessed about this rift that I’ve forgotten to give her her anti-seizure medication. Every time I forget to give her her medication I increase her risk of seizure, and seizures are dangerous — they can cause brain damage or even death.

So, although I certainly don’t expect to be shot or stabbed or have my car blown to smithereens by anyone in the other gang, my family and I do seem to be quite at risk of having to endure even more physical and/or psychological hardship (e.g. jail!) following from decisions the other gang will make.

Although the dozen or so members of this gang all have jobs — most work for MetLife, one is a law partner of Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, and three work for Donald Trump’s now corrupted and worthless “Equal” Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) — for me this really is less about the organizations they work for than it is about the  particular gang members themselves. In fact, my only beef with any of these organizations is that they seem hell-bent on defending the actions of these corporate thugs. To the extent that they do so, I really have little choice but to consider them members of the hostile gang.

Which brings us to your client.

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Is this a picture of the mysterious Mr. Phicks? Nah, it’s just Sherlock Holmes. But if Mr. Phicks is a master of disguise, I bet he can make himself look like Sherlock Holmes, which would be cool! Image Credit: Shutterstock

I hope you can appreciate that for me, at least, this is a highly polarized situation. Again, I’m not even sure that gang war is a really just a metaphor for what’s going on. The whole thing may in fact be an actual gang war, to the extent that one accepts “sending a person to jail” as a true act of aggression against that person. On the other hand, a proper metaphor for this situation is that when Seyfarth Shaw Partner Frederick “Fritz” T. Smith and his MetLife/EEOC Innappropriate Behavior Police did to me what they did to me (and indirectly to my family — my children!), they effectively “drew a line in the sand” (metaphorically speaking), shoved me on one side, stationed themselves on the other, and now everybody  else must pick a side.[1]

I’ll say that again: everybody must pick a side. That’s everybody in the whole world. And the choosing process is really quite simple — most of it actually happens up in my own head and is based mostly on my own perception of the world. The rule is as follows: pretty much everyone on Earth is first assumed by me to be on MetLife’s side of that line, which is to say not my side. That’s the default assumption that I make about everybody. And this includes my own friends and family, of course — everyone (you too).  You are all on MetLife’s side, by assumption, at least at first.

Then, anybody who doesn’t like that for some reason (perhaps because he or she cares about me, our relationship, whatever, and thinks that it sucks that I’m all alone against every human being on all of Planet Earth) — anyone who wishes to come over to my side of the line may, if he or she so wishes to, prove to me his or her loyalty.

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I’m usually a real middle-ground kind of guy, but in this case the middle ground has been completely overtaken by the MetLife/Seyfarth Shaw/EEOC folks who made me a victim of their collusive violation of Federal Statute Title 18 USC Section 241. Image Credit: Shutterstock

The point here is that there’s no middle ground, no neutral territory, no “fence” to sit on, so to speak. The dozen or so people who did this to me and my family captured that hypothetical middle ground, invaded it, turned it into a battlefield (so to speak). Because of what that dozen or so people did, now absolutely everybody is either on my side or theirs.

Yes, it sucks, I know. Tell me about it. And to be clear: it is not my fault. I want to be clear on this point because I’ve met quite a few people who seem to think that I am somehow responsible for causing or perhaps maintaining this rift between us, but that’s not the way I see it. To my view: this mess is entirely on them, not me. I am still and have been all along merely defending myself against their relentless aggression. Believe me, I’m almost always a middle-ground kind of guy. I wish there were a middle-ground in this situation — a nice fence we could all sit on. But there is not.

Now, here’s what happened last Thursday morning when we spoke before my MetLife (so to speak) shooting rampage. First of all, I really enjoyed our conversation, and was quite happy with the topics we discussed, but there was one thing in particular that you told me and which I found quite troubling, and this was that your client — the people who fired me for the second time in a year for being autistic (after MetLife) — you told me that they “didn’t want to participate” in, well, what in the end equates to a situation in which we must all participate.

Like I said: Everybody must choose a side now, including your client.

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No fence-sitting allowed with respect to my gang war with the “Batman” and his “Justice League Gang”. Image Credit: Shutterstock

To “not participate”, as you described it, is simply not an available option. To “not participate” is what you call a “middle-ground” option, and like I said, MetLife destroyed the middle ground. I know it sucks. Please offer them my sympathies.

Please offer them my sympathies, along with a good-faith second chance to re-think what they want to do. MetLife has practically infinite resources and doesn’t need their help. My own allies in this gang war and I could definitely use your client’s help, and would greatly appreciate it.

If they do wish to help,  I think the most cost effective way for them to do so is simply to reinstate me to the job they took from me a couple of months ago now. From my perspective, that would give them and me the most benefit for the least expenditure. But I’m open to other possibilities.

Please let me know soon what they decide, or I will assume they’ve chosen MetLife’s side of this, and treat them accordingly.

Best,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”

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Image Credit: Pixabay


[1]To drop all the colorful metaphors for a moment, what they did literally was to commit against my person a violation of the Federal “Conspiracy-against-Rights Statute”, Title 18 USC Section 241.