We are creating our own nanny state and them is us


The photo above in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye this morning and sent me into a tizzy. For the record, I am a bit upset at the direction the health care reform bill is taking. It favors the preservation of the insurance company system by forcing us to buy the same crap that got us into this mess and rewards job-holders (folks who choose security) over entrepreneurs. In short, it is re-establishing a job-based, status-quo economy instead of an entrepreneurial one where innovation and risk produces growth. I am very disappointed at the turn of events.

But the point that is sending me over the edge is the fifth “right” that says you have a right to stay on your parents’ health insurance policy until you are 27 26. I say it here now and when MSNBC starts saying it, you know you heard it here first.

The unintended consequence of this provision is insurance companies will not provide health insurance to anyone under twenty-six who have living parents. But an even worse consequence is the expansion of a parent-sponsored nanny state in our culture as a whole.

A quick conversation with my 24-year old son reveals that most of his friends with freshly-minted college degrees expect to be able to move back with their parents and live there rent-free and guilt-free indefinitely.

The FAFSA will not allow anyone under twenty-four to get financial aid without parents disclosing their financial resources. Despite almost no benefit to the parents, they are expected to pay a large chunk of an inflated tuition bill by leveraging the equity in their homes.

Almost all landlords in college towns will not rent/lease to a student without parents co-signing, even though the students are over eighteen and legally able to enter into a contract AND be sued in a court of law.

And now insurance companies and the Federal Government want to strap parents even more by obligating them to provide for health insurance for their kids until they are 27, nine years after they have legally become an adult.

What they should do is obligate kids to accepting and embracing their adulthood at eighteen. When parents have no legal right to their children, they should also have no corresponding legal responsibility. Either these kids are adults or they are not.

If they are, start treating them like adults. They should have a right to their own health insurance when they turn eighteen, not the obligation to be parasitic for the next nine years. And parents need to start expecting they act like the adults they are, regardless of how painful self-reliance is.

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Why banking pay bonuses piss people off, how spanking is a good thing, what just compensation really is in Eminent Domain and why the military is meeting their recruiting goals

There was just so much stuff today that made this puppy’s head spin. Amazing how the news media can be given all the facts and come to the wrong conclusion simply by assuming the story HAS to be more complicated than the simplest explanation.

Banking bonuses getting paid to incompetent employees
Jim Cramer came on Morning Joe this morning with an opinion on why banking employees should get their bonuses. Revenue is up, stock prices are up, etc, etc. — everything that indicates that these are stellar performers and deserve the compensation. But, here is the kicker: in the dip, when the lack of liquidity would have sunk you, me and any other small business, these guys reached out for the duct tape called the Federal Government and took the money to bridge. Had the TARP money not been there, they would have crashed and burned, like lots of other small business and families do when they run out of cash. They only deserve bonuses if they had been able to pull their banks out of the nosedive without TARP. By accepting TARP, they failed. Who cares if they are able to pay it back, without TARP they would not be alive to be successful.

Spanking and cognitive development
The WSJ wrote an article about spanking. Perhaps the years of spanking I got as a puppy destroyed my cognitive abilities, but it is hard to figure out what conclusions they are drawing and overall, what they are actually saying in the article. It was be a more interesting study to show the generational spanking trends and the results of what kind of people they grow up to be. Spanking has been on a rapid decline the past 40 or so years in favor of “explaining and reasoning” with kids and in that time, we have produced 1 1/2 generations of the most spoiled, entitled adults ever. I’m not saying there is a connection, but worth exploring. Also worth noting that the generations that were spanked went on to invent the Internet and other cool stuff.

Just compensation in Eminent Domain
The WSJ ran an article on a Brooklyn neighborhood being torn down to build a stadium. The usual suspects emerged and the argument that Kelo “settled” between “public good” and “public use” is still being stretched. Why is nobody examining “just compensation” beyond “fair market value?” Being paid $50,000 for a piece of run-down, blighted property in Brooklyn is not “just compensation” whereas getting a share of the tickets sales on a new NBA stadium or a portion of the sales receipts of the local Walmart that was erected on your former “blighted” home is. “Fair market value” does not equal “just compensation.”

If private developers are going to benefit financially as well for property acquired through eminent domain, fair compensation should include a portion of the profits from the development.

The military is meeting its recruitment goals in spite of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
True headline read by Robin Meade on CNN’s HLN this morning. WTH? It is the ECONOMY, stupid! The economy and job market is so bad that the people for whom the military is an option, the risk of deployment is miniscule compared to the risk of starvation and homelessness.

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Is social media a fad?

I think the difference between Social Media channels and traditional channels is on SM, users rally around the tools, not the message. Most users are too busy yelling out their own message — because they can — that they no longer become part of the community in which they are yelling. Instead of a community of 50 million, we are all becoming 50 million communities of one.

Just thinking out loud. You?

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A good lawn is a better lawn

zacksholaThe title of this post is also the positioning statement for the Zack and Shola Lawn Service. Zack and Shola are two enterprising neighborhood boys who figured out they can make money off us older folks by mowing our lawns.

A couple weeks ago, Zack and Shola knocked on my door with the flyer in hand. They had noticed that my lawn was getting a bit long and the edges were a bit rag-tag. They had the solution, the message and the price. In fact, they could mow my lawn that very day if I was willing. I did not have the heart to tell them I was intentionally growing my lawn long on the advice of a friend who was in the professional lawn care business. We had removed a tree the year before and apparently, growing grass longer and cutting it long works!

Anyway, I am running late with the back yard and as I was walking today, I met these two gentlemen at another client down the block. “Could you fit me in today for a back yard mow?” I asked. They could, we agreed 3:00 was the perfect time.

They showed up, they went right to work and 15 minutes later, I had a professionally mowed lawn. Zack even offered to check my lawn in a week and return to mow if needed. Would I like that? He also reminded me that they shovel snow when the weather turned cold.

If I ever started doubting the entrepreneurial spirit and the get-up-and-go of today’s youth, Zack and Shola put that to rest today.

The kids are just fine.

PS If you live in Englewood, Ohio and want Zack and Shola to mow your lawn, send me a DM on twitter. I’ll hook you up.

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I remember that feeling

Peggy Noonan hits hope home with a recovery plan that taps into the real and only assets we each have; the human spirit. She says things a whole lot better than I could even paraphrase, so I won’t except to share the last paragraph with you.

Dynamism has been leached from our system for now, but not from the human brain or heart. Just as our political regeneration will happen locally, in counties and states that learn how to control themselves and demonstrate how to govern effectively in a time of limits, so will our economic regeneration. That will begin in someone’s garage, somebody’s kitchen, as it did in the case of Messrs. Jobs and Wozniak. The comeback will be from the ground up and will start with innovation. No one trusts big anymore. In the future everything will be local. That’s where the magic will be. And no amount of pessimism will stop it once it starts.

Please read the entire article and think on it for a few days. Then decide how much you take for granted and how much of what you have is a foothold someone else gave you.

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Is this entertainment or opportunity

na-av674a_goofo_d_20090202191213The Wall Street Journal published an article on Tuesday about how many unemployed people are turning to Twitter, blogs and online games to take their minds off their money anxieties. They compared spending several hours a day playing games and using social networks to the 5-cent movie houses of the Great Depression when unemployed workers spent the afternoon watching Charlie Chaplin movies.

What an incredible opportunity to get some practice time in. The really smart folks will spend the extra time honing their blogging and twittering skills, all the while connecting with people who may be able to help them out when the economy takes an upswing. The smart people will craft their writing, experiment a little boldly, edit tighter and be able to offer employers the benefit of their practice time. The smart people are building a portfolio of writing samples for when opportunity knocks.

And then, of course, we will have those who will know how to play online games better, will have tweeted out banal crap and will emerge out of this recession/depression with no more marketable skills than when they went in.

Which are you?

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Blame the terrorists.. again

41nhb5qfrl_sl500_aa240_Generation Y isn’t lazy, impatient, demanding, high-maintenance and self-absorbed. They are just living life fully, in the moment, every day. Why? Because of terrorism.


Yes, says Tamara Erickson in a recent podcast posted on Bnet.com. GenY came of age during the era of terrorism and that affected them so much that they seek to be in the moment just in case everything comes crashing down around them in a single, unpredictable moment.

Perhaps they seek to be in the moment because they have been handed everything by their Boomer parents? Perhaps they don’t know how to delay gratification. Maybe? Even just a little bit? Is there no depth to which GenY will not stoop to blame someone or something else for their failing?

There are all sorts of other tangents that Erickson goes down that are flawed reasoning. For example, she suggests that corporations give them a task, but don’t over-train them, let them figure it out. The problem there is GenY really has no skills nor do they have any sense of when a project is complete or well done. The conclusion most would draw is “If my boss has a problem with the quality of my work, he will give me feedback. Otherwise, its all good.”

Sounds like a theory being backed into a book.

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Extra blogging stuff pulled from my brain

Brain dump
Brain dump

I collect newspaper clippings for blog ideas. Mostly, the articles are things that sent my blood pressure over the edge or got me wondering “what if it were different” or just things that make me go “hmmmmmmmmmm..”

These clippings sit on my desk, tugging at me to write a blog post about them. But there just isn’t enough brain material for an entire blog post. So, they stack up, hoping to bump into other clippings that glue them together in this big “human condition” context. And, sometimes, it just doesn’t happen.

And all the while they are tugging and screaming at me to do something with them, often culminating to a deafening roar. So, to quiet the clippings, sweep them off my desk and hopefully into a discussion with you, I am going to just knock out short thoughts of each and then let them go. Hopefully my readers will take off where I could not.

Nov 28, 2008, WSJ, Page A13
Breakfast with St. Peter My thoughts on this article are conflicted. I at once want to find a St. Peter for myself, but mostly I want to be a good enough person to be a St. Peter for others. I hope I am lucky enough to be one or the other before I meet the real St. Peter.

Dec 30, 2008, WSJ, Page B1
Claiborne CEO Flies Commercial to Cut Costs This was supposed to have been a blog post about the value of TIME and how important it is for a CEO or any leader of any multi-million dollar company, hospital emergency room or Oval Office to have enough sleep to be able to function. I know the “perception” of using a private jet to the average Joe is like burning dollar bills while dancing on a grave, but do we really want our leaders — corporate or otherwise — flying the crappy skies? I don’t. Read the article and decide for yourself.

Dec 21, 2008, DDN, Page C5
Motor City’s woes extend beyond auto industry One passage made me pause and think about my own retirement plan in America.

“…I’m seeing guys make a conscious decision they’ll be better off in prison than in the community, homeless and hungry…. In prison, they’ve got three hots and a cot…”

Here’s my retirement plan, given the current state of my 401(k) and less than 20 years left of a working career: On my 65th birthday, I will commit some sort of Federal crime bad enough that will get me sent to prison for life, but not death row. There, I will not have to worry about getting my medication, food or deciding between heat and food. If I am good enough, they may even let me keep a canine pet with me. That is the plan, unless Obama can turn around this “all for me and me alone” culture we have created for ourselves. Or, some foreign country will let me expatriate.

Jan 2, 2009, WSJ, Opinion Page
Treasury to Ford: Drop Dead Part of me wants to scream out, “Jesus H. Christ, Mulally, did you not see the GMAC bank thing coming? What the hell is wrong with you?” and another part wants to slap Mulally on the back and congratulate him for doing the right thing, for taking an ethical stand. I’m conflicted, but am almost certain Ford Motor Company is toast.

And my last clipping…

Jan 3, 2009, WSJ, Opinion Page
Blame Television for the Bubble Just when I begin to wonder where all the common sense, level-headed real people are, they do something crazy like write an opinion article in the WSJ. Yeah, I’m sick of all these 20-something yucks buying $500,000+ houses.. Where the HELL do they get the money, assuming that to make the kind of money they need to be making to afford a house that expensive at their age they had to go to one hell of a good school and have student loans coming out their butts. I have owned my home for 23 years and I STILL find home ownership expensive. What the heck am I doing wrong?

Ok, that is it. The clipping tray is now empty and I have dumped my thoughts out onto this blog post like Dumbledore’s thoughts into a pensieve.

What, can’t a dog be a Harry Potter fan?

You’re such a muggle.

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What would you do if you had $1 million dollars?

Dear President-elect Barack Obama;

I am a small business owner. I do quite well for myself as I am in a knowledge-based business servicing the youth sporting market and the retail services industries. I also dabble a bit in coffee and Web 2.0 consulting.

I was running some numbers this afternoon on the bail-out plans that have been proposed to date. As I look back on my college days some 20 plus years ago and my classes in English Literature — specifically with regard to American literature of the mid to late 1800s (Hawthorne, Dreiser, Meliville, etc) — I was struck with what is to me a strangely obvious fact. Modern capitalism has run its course and the current financial crisis is the front wave of a new economy.

At its basics, capitalism is providing money to build infrastructure for making goods and to a certain degree, providing services with the promise of a return on its sale or sale of the goods produced. Having been in a service industry all my life, I am not unaccustomed to “cramming” a product economic model (“making widgets”) into a service model. It really doesn’t work but we lied to ourselves just the same.

This country no longer makes things. We provide services; we assemble components. The old capitalist model where we invest in machinery, buildings, factories, etc for making goods is dead. It has been dying for a very long time. As such, funding the economy from the top down is not a viable option. There will be no trickle-down benefit as the economy will only swell and move if the bottom tiers start spending and buying goods and services. Yet, they can’t because they have no ready cash.

Capitalists talk in billions of dollars. Ordinary citizens talk about hundreds each week. Investment banks talk millions in transaction per day. Small business talks about hundred of thousands in revenue. When you pour $700 billion into Wall Street, it is like dumping a gallon of water into the Pacific Ocean. When you pour $1 million into a small business, it is like filling a bathtub with a fire hose.

Here is my proposal:
– Establish a fund of $400 Billion dollars.
– Give $1 Million dollar grants to 400,000 business that are ready, able and willing to provide services to a service-based economy.
– Each business can then afford to hire 6 people at a salary of $40,000. With health care, taxes, equipment, etc. that should equal about $60,000 investment for each employee.
– That leaves about $640,000 left for materials, computers, advertising, marketing, etc.
– Encourage a strong multi-generation team, such as Gen Y, Xers, Boomers and beyond. Working together, we make a difference we all want to experience.

That puts about 2.4 Million people to work, building knowledge centers for teachers, creating software to better manage health care systems, providing new event marketing systems for brands, creating better time balance management systems for new parents, perhaps even finding a cure for some diseases. The infrastructure of services you will jump-start will sustain itself well past the year the US Government will fund.

Your campaign proved the model. Small amounts of money spread across millions of people who are motivated to creating a better world than was left them works. We are ready, willing and able to make the change.

Lead us and help us say, “Yes, we can” one small voice at a time until it becomes a thunderous, mighty roar.

Warm regards,


PS I look forward to seeing the new puppy Malia and Sasha pick out!

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You suck! Your comment sucks!

You write a blog post and post it. Someone comes onto your blog and has an alternative point of view. But, instead of engaging this commenter in a logical argument, you lash out at him, belittling his point of view and then using sarcastic remarks in subsequent comments. Is that smart?

This happened recently to me. (I won’t mention the blog because that would result in more traffic.) When I first read the author’s post, I thought it was insightful, but lacking in a couple of key areas. After reading the author’s immature response to my observations, I now think the author is a bit immature, perhaps even an idiot. I won’t be back to his blog — not because I got my feeling hurt — but because there is probably not much else I can learn from someone who does not have the skills to engage in an argument without resorting to ridicule and sarcasm.

Attacking a commenter might get you some momentary traffic, but is probably unwise in the long run. A blog works best when there are contributing points of view that are different from yours. If all you want is your friends and family agreeing with you, that is probably ok on a personal journal. But, I suspect many authors want their ideas challenged by the readers who find holes in their arguments.

Any dissenting opinions? If you agree with me, please don’t post a comment. But, if you have an alternative point of view, please share it.

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Don’t call me a geezer on twitter

Yesterday, I read a tweet from a young someone I’m following who had jury duty. She tweeted:

The judge just told us we are not allowed to create a blog about the trial. The geezers in the room laughed. I twittered it our.

My first reaction was annoyance with the blatant disregard of the judge’s order (yes, Twitter IS a blog.. a micro-blog, but technically, a blog!) and putting the Sixth Amendment rights of the defendant in jeopardy AND risking a mis-trial AND risking jail time AND a fine for contempt. Small things, but as long as this non-geezer, GenY got to tweet out something, that is all that mattered.

All that aside, I got to thinking about what a geezer is. Someone over 30? 40? 50? Is it age-based or is it based on our behaviors and values? I argue the latter.

I Twitter. I write blogs, several. I have an iPhone and use more features on it than just the big keypad (thank you Apple for making the keys big enough for geezer fingers.) I think Alltop.com is a vacation spot. I have a Facebook account AND a LinkedIn account. Am I an anomaly?

Turns out I’m not really that odd. Many of my generation is getting it and are online in pretty significant numbers. In an article that appeared in www.emarketer.com (Dec. 1, 2008)

Look at the following graph of usage by age. Notice also that Boomers have been split into older and newer Boomers (about time someone did)

Note that the percentage difference between Young Boomers-GenY and Young Boomers-Old Boomers is about the same, 11/12%. Even older Boomers and Silent Generations are online at numbers greater than 50%.

So, GenY, us “geezers” are online and in fairly big numbers. We understand a lot of this Web 2.0 stuff you believe to be your own playground. And, while we’re not out there flouting our personal whims, disdain, hubris, sobriety (or lack thereof) and other attention-getting boas (that’s a metaphor) we are here and we’re watching you.

The next time you have the urge to make a general statement about a generation, think about the last time a geezer said something stereotypical of GenY and how you felt when it did not apply to you.

Age brings wisdom, tolerance, patience and understanding, not just old age.

And, age also brings the discretion that is the better part of valor. Like not tweeting out an opinion about a trial that a “geezer” judge trusts you to take seriously.

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Me, me, me, me, me, me, me

I see this ad in the OMMA Show magazine. If this kid walked into your office, looking like this and said, “It’s all about me…” what would you do? Yeah, me too. And I’d make sure he skidded across the pavement a bit so that his hair would shave off. Free haircut.

Seriously, does this ad work? It starts out by saying “here’s me and here’s why I think I’m so important and you need to do this for me and that for me….” And, then it asks, “Don’t you think we should work together?”

Work together? Why would I believe you had any of MY interests at heart when working with you? You just spent the last 10 minutes of my life telling me why you are more important than me!

Get the hell out of here and come back when you realize what a pompous, arrogance ass you really are. Then we’ll talk.

Oh, and next time, start the conversation with “Can we work together?”

Click here to see the whole ad.

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We didn’t start the fire either

A couple weeks ago, Ryan Healy wrote a blog post about how Baby Boomers screwed up the world and how GenY is going to “fix” it. After turning it over in my 40+ brain a bit (Boomers like to think things through before yapping off; part of our charm) here are some observations about the article and the point of view GenY has of us.

The world we inherited was screwed up too
The country was scared of the Godless communists who were going to ravage the countryside, stealing our resources, forcing Americans to bend to the will of Stalin and Khrushchev. If you grew up Catholic, the world was even worse because you had the US Government scaring you as well as the Vatican. We had fall-out shelter drills, we were shown films of nuclear holocaust and crazy Khrushchev beating his shoe on the desk at the UN. It was scary.

And, it was REAL because a greater percentage of our parents fought in WWII and Korea. They saw evil up close and were determined not to let us see that much evil that close up. But, many of the Boomers did see evil in Vietnam that was more savage than WWI and revolted in the only way they knew how; protest and civil disobedience.

Most GenYers don’t have parents who did active duty in any war. Most GenYers did not know rationing or very high unemployment or home mortgages that were 20% or higher. While you may know high debt, the debt as a ratio of income and assets is about the same as the Boomers cause we didn’t have as much “stuff” (iPods, laptops, DVD collections…..)

Technology did not exist
I find it ironic that GenYers are complaining about the mess that Boomers left for them to clean up using WiFi networks, laptop computers and open source software that was carved out of nothing by a Boomer generation. Interesting.

To find out how Boomers used to learn, rent The Paper Chase. It’s ok. You can Google it and then rent it on NetFlix.com. We Boomers won’t care that much that you don’t have it on VHS.

I don’t want this post to spiral into a “we used to walk three miles uphill in the snow” article, but for GenY to say they are inheriting a mess they need to clean up to to admit to not having a sense of history and perspective. Most things that GenY complains about are consequences of the human condition, not a product of what Boomers did to them.

Boomers were crapped on just as badly back in the day. Just different crap.

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