truck-leadershipIn leadership class I was taught that effective leadership is driven by example. If you want underlings to follow you, you lead by example. That was driven into our heads from the very first day. Culturally I had been raised in a family and a social edict that is best described as paternalistic. Mexico, like many countries is a paternalistic society. Paternalism is the notion that a person’s freedoms and responsibilities are predetermined by the hierarchy under the notion that the government, or the leaders, know what’s best for the community’s standards. Like everything else, there are different levels of paternalism determined by factors such as access to education, economic standards and even religious values.

The United States prides itself with being a free society, but like Mexico, the citizens of either country really do not understand the yoke of paternalism that governs their social mores. For example, the recent debate over access to toilet facilities by transgendered people is fundamentally being driven by paternalism that tries to set the moral standard for everyone. The Affordable Health Care Act, or Obama Care, is another example of paternalism through forced legislation. There are two underlining issues with healthcare in the United States, the high cost of access to medical care and the reality that many individuals do not understand that it is their own actions that creates many of the infirmities they suffer from. Rather than address the underlining problem, the Obama Administration decided to force everyone to purchase healthcare insurance to address the problem.

A perfect example of paternalistic governance.

El Paso’s vocal social agenda is driven by individuals that have decided that their morals have to be legislated in order to get everyone to live by their standards. El Paso is not unique in this but if you look at the major controversies in the last 10-20 years you will clearly see that the vocal minority is imposing itself on the majority through legislation. Demanding that owners not build on the mountain is a prime example of this.

The problem is not that the moral values driving the legislation is wrong. Rather, the problem is twofold. The first is that a minority is imposing its morality on the majority. That is a dangerous situation that carries with it many unintended consequences. I’ll leave those for a future in depth analysis. Today, I want to focus on the second problem, leading by example.

Those imposing their morality upon the society should practice what they preach. In other words, if someone advocates higher wages, they too should be prepared to support higher wages by paying higher prices for consumer goods. It goes without saying that if you support higher wages you should also pay higher wages.

Legislation is set by governments. Yet, they are the entities that routinely violate their own laws. The debates during the presidential campaigns gives us ample examples at the federal levels. All of you are aware of incidents where police officers routinely speed or forget to use turn signals. Some of you have even witnessed police cruisers using their sirens to bypass traffic although they are not on an emergency call. Some of you have even witnessed worst instances of police abuse.

Governments’ inability to lead by example is demonstrated routinely even by the little things like respect for basic access for the disabled. I would like nothing better than to write that following image is an anomaly.


Unfortunately, it is not an anomaly as city officials feel that restrictions on parking on handicap zones does not pertain to them. The picture of the City of El Paso Department of Transportation vehicle number 06025 was taken by a frequent reader to my blog. According to the reader, it was taken on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 in the Alameda and Delta area. You can clearly see that the driver parked in the handicapped parking space reserved for those that need them the most.

This is a prime example of the mentality of “do as I demand” instead of encouraging adherence to the laws of the community by example. A private citizen would likely receive a ticket, while the city employee is allowed to violate without so much as a reprimand.

Growing up in a highly paternalistic society it was very difficult for me move away from the notion that leadership means enforcing the rule of law through intimidation towards the notion that you get underlings to follow you via your example. I happen to be part of an experiment to test whether empowering people would create better compliance. It did, but, unfortunately, it was short lived because what happens when you empower the citizenry is that they being to comprehend that they have the right to self-determination.

That created fear and as a result we witness the predominance of governments across the world ruling via intimidation rather than through leadership by example. My team, those that went through the experiment, know that leadership by example works but is difficult because both sides, the leaders and the underlings have to follow the same set of rules. Many in my team rebelled against it because it is human nature to take advantage of others. Some of us, though, learned the lessons well and are implementing it as we continue down the road of life. It is difficult because it requires all of us to play be the same set of rules. It equalizes entitlement and therein, lies the problem. Too many individuals want to be entitled at the expense of the others.

This truck tells you all you need to know about leading by example, El Paso style. Now you know why Claudia Ordaz pulled the “do you know who I am card” recently. She likely feels entitled and used it.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

4 replies on “The El Paso Paternalism Example”

  1. The major lead-by-example here is campaign contributions to CC members. The more you give, the more you get. Just ask Paul and Woody how well it works.

  2. Why shouldn’t he park there ? Council members would. If challenged, “do you know who I am” ? Officer, don’t you know the law only applies to the lil people ?

    Free and reserved parked at the airport while on personal trips, free expensive box seats at the stadium we paid to build, choice and free seats at entertainment events, freedom from a traffic citations, arrest or prosecution. Freedom to buy toys with tax dollars, freedom to repeatedly waste money on guaranteed to fail projects. Freedom to smack down any opponents or those that beat them at their game.

    Who said Freedom wasnt Free ?

  3. There’s way too many examples of what that picture shows. How about the abuse of the parking meters downtown, especially by City council offices? Actually all over downtown. Fire Department, and other city departments….Or how about the ability to give citations on private property? Private parking lots? Or maybe the abuse of taxing a fee…don’t believe me, look at your water bill. I always thought to tax on something you had to receive a service or product, but the city PSB taxes your fees. I imagine that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Mayor gave “State of the City” yesterday…hell we all know the state of the city. Miserable and growing.

  4. Martin,

    On one hand you complain about paternalism, but on the other hand, you do not want people using Uber.

    Which is it?



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