The resident faculty left a wiffle ball bat outside the mail room, with “NA” written on it in pencil. It had to be a clue…. (More)

First our thanks to last week’s writers.

On Monday, the Squirrel ranted on Now I Can’t Fly?!? in Furthermore, addisnana nurtured her garden and our imaginations with Drip, Drip, Drip in Midday Matinee, and Lake Toba continued his Interview with the Carter Center in Evening Focus.

On Tuesday, Winning Progressive contrasted The Balanced Approach vs. the Wealthy Get Off Free in Morning Feature, JanF highlighted A Striking Similarity in HEMMED In, winterbanyan said Don’t Call Me Dear, Dear in Midday Matinee, and JanF asked Is the Party Over? in Evening Focus.

On Wednesday, Winning Progressive celebrated The Long Steady March to LGBT Equality Continues in Morning Feature, the Squirrel discussed Peas and Passing Trains in Furthermore!, addisnana noted that We Are All Different in Midday Matinee, JanF asked if raising the Medicare eligibility age is Pound Foolish? in Evening Focus, and Deborah Phelan began her Africa famine series with This Is the Children’s Famine in Our Earth.

On Thursday, we began a series on the debt ceiling with What Won’t Happen in Morning Feature, Winning Progressive examined how the GOP Is Out to Destroy Government, Not Reduce the Deficit in Evening Focus, and Deborah Phelan continued her Africa famine series with For the First Time in My Career…I Cried in Our Earth.

On Friday, we continued our debt ceiling series with What May Happen in Morning Feature, and winterbanyan revealed how Medicare Choice(s) hurt seniors in Furthermore!

On Saturday, we concluded our debt ceiling series with What Now? in Morning Feature, JanF offered Saturday Videos in HEMMED In and This Week’s News and Views in Evening Focus, and rb137 picked up the Africa Famine series with Epic Crisis in Our Earth.

And on Sunday, your lowly mail room clerk answered letters about Leadership? in Morning Feature, Winning Progressive shared Weekend Reading in Furthermore!, and JanF celebrated The First Harvest in Midday Matinee and brought our weekly Eco News Roundup in Our Earth. All are worth reading if you missed them.

Tonight in Evening Focus, Lake Toba concludes his interview with a discussion of how The Carter Center respond to Guinea worm outbreaks. JanF will offer Quick Takes in Evening Focus on Tuesday and Wednesday, and This Week’s News and Views in Evening Focus on Friday, and on Saturday BPI will join the African Famine Blogathon to benefit Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) in Our Earth. As always, Chef will here with coffee and bagels, and the Professor of Astrology Janitor will be there with cleaners and buffers.

Please join our Authors! We have Morning Feature openings this Tuesday and Wednesday (August 2nd and 3rd), and Evening Focus openings this Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday (August 4th, 6th, and 7th). We also have openings or our campus soapbox Furthermore!, our afternoon people-watching series Midday Matinee, and our evening environmental series Our Earth. Share your insights with the BPI community!

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Thus we return to the wiffle ball bat left by the resident faculty outside the mail room door, as they made their way from the wine cellar library where they spent the weekend drinking thinking on our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth”) to the hot tub faculty lounge for their weekly game where the underwear goes flying planning conference. The staff are sure it was a clue, though we debated its meaning.

The Professor of Astrology Janitor suggested the “NA” on a wiffle ball bat meant we would not be limited to baseball this fall, because the NFL lockout has ended. Chef noted that the colloquial negation is spelled “Nah,” and that the resident faculty usually spell well. The Squirrel looked up “NA” on his Blewberry, which connects to the Official BPI Googlizationalizator but without the dreaded red button. The staff knew of no Native American link to wiffle ball, and the other search results were not available, not applicable, and no answer, both as acronyms and literally.

“Bat…NA,” Chef muttered … and the metaphorical yet still energy-saving compact fluorescent light bulb clicked on.

The resident faculty left a clue to a still-larger acronym: BATNA, or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. The concept was developed at the Harvard Negotiating Project and explained in their classic book Getting to Yes.

BATNA is mistaken for a “bottom line” or “walkaway point,” a position or set of positions that set out the minimum acceptable outcome, such as “I won’t take less than $100 for that used bureau.” But a BATNA analysis is more subtle than that. It asks what your best outcome would be if you can’t negotiate an agreement:

  • Are there any other interested buyers?
  • If not, can you use that bureau for anything?
  • If not, where would you store it and how much would storage cost?
  • What would its deductible value and your tax savings be if you donated it to a charity?

Simply, you should consider before you begin negotiating – and remember throughout the negotiations – what your best alternative would be if the negotiations fail. If the best possible negotiated outcome is worse than your BATNA, you should reject that outcome.

But remember that most of us overestimate our BATNAs. You may have paid $300 for that bureau a year ago, and you may be convinced it’s worth at least $100. But the the buyer offers a ridiculous $30. If there are no other interested buyers, and you have no use for it and nowhere to store it, and it would cost $15 a month rent a storage room, and a charity would value the bureau at only $100 so the deduction saves you at most $25 in taxes … that “ridiculous” offer of $30 is actually better than your BATNA.

The deal reached yesterday by President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Reid, Senate Minority Leader McConnell, and Speaker Boehner is far less than progressives wanted. If you’re convinced the president could cite the Fourteenth Amendment to raise the debt ceiling on his own and that would satisfy the bond markets and avert default, or that default and a government shutdown would be better than the terms of that deal – i.e.: that our BATNA is better than the deal on offer – you should call House and Senate Democrats and urge them to reject the deal. But be very sure before you make those calls.

This week the resident faculty will discuss Getting to Yes, to better understand how to negotiate in our own lives, and better understand how President Obama negotiates.

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Happy Monday!