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!

Pizza can change the world

Pizza Box from Donatos
Pizza Box from Donatos

I ordered a pizza from Donatos today for a couple reasons. One, I was eating alone and pizza, wings and ribs are really the only “alone food” you can eat. Another, I had not eaten pizza is a very long time and lastly, I was driving by Donatos and realized I had not yet supported Kevin. So, I ordered pizza.

The girl who answered did not really understand that I wanted one large pepperoni with extra cheese, light sauce. It could have been iPhone; it could have been me, but she wanted to give me the special with a 2 liter of Diet Coke. OK. I bit. I was driving and didn’t need to think that hard. (yeah, we dogs drive!)

I get the pizza, flip open the lip and start eating. It was a bit hot, so I closed it up and the box top caught my eye. There were words on it. So, I started reading. I read the whole lid. It said:

WE BELIEVE IN GREAT PIZZA, which means we believe in only the finest and the freshest toppings used in abundance. And we believe in getting those toppings in every bite. We believe in pizza making without shortcuts. Because great pizza is a passion, and we believe that passion is contagious. In turn, we believe great pizza can change the world. Yes, we believe in absolutely everything pizza should be. And we invite you to believe the same.

The bold is mine. On the lid, that line is set in the smallest type, but it is probably the most important.

So, of the tens of thousands of people who see the lid, a thousand will read it. Of the thousand who read it, a hundred will think about it. Of the hundred who think about it, two will think it is a really cool thought. Of the two that think it is really cool, one dog will blog about it and make the lid famous, causing other people to start paying attention to their pizza lids.

Hey, it’s only pizza. Or is it?

We may be the change others are waiting for

Rufus finds a new path We have moved into a new office on the other side of the road, just kitty-corner from the old building. But, because we are on the busy side of the street, our old walking route is beyond reach as cars race by on Main St., not allowing us to cross easily. So, we have carved out a new path.

Our walking route takes us down a road that runs along the top of the Englewood Reserve and winds back behind Area Wide Services. The road is freshly paved, but cars sure do go fast when they pass us and we sometimes feel like the turtle in Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath (the lady in the teal car, thank you for the beep-beep… the dude in the red pick up truck, not cool!)

Anyway, as I walk along, I get a rush of all sorts of new smells and race to soak it all in. The bunny poop along the side of the road, the deer that cross from the reserve to the yards, the rock streams that the neighbors have carved out to drain the water away from their front yards into the creek.

I wonder if the people along the old path behind the Englewood government center miss us walking every day? I wonder if the old men we waved to each day notice we no longer walk in front of their houses and pee on their trees? I wonder if us being gone is the change they were waiting for as they sit and rock in front of their wide-open garage doors?

I also wonder if by walking on a new path I am the change the new neighbors crave. Am I exciting? Am I different enough to notice? Will me walking on their street, ratting their dogs to a barking frenzy be noticed? Will they appreciate the change or will they grumble that I am being a nuisance.

Am I the change others are waiting for?

And, in case you are wondering, that photo was taken with my new iPhone. Pretty nice photo quality!

Seeing change…

Dead worms in a gutter

We found a different path today and as I was sniffing around on the ground, I came upon this whole line of dead worms in the gutter along the blacktop. Apparently, at some point, there was a lot of water in the gutter and life was good. But, then the heat of the day came along and dried up the water. The worms died because they could not see change around them and did not move quickly enough to get back underground where it was moist.

What I want

What I want is to go to sleep at the end of each day, knowing that I made the world just a little bit better for being me. Sometimes that takes a bit of watering, some fertilizer, a soft nuzzle, a goofy grin, the “walk dance” or a bit of pouting on rainy days. And sometimes that takes a good, strong bark at someone you love so they get off their ass and do for themselves.

Please remember that I am a dog and I can only be the dog I am. I can’t change my coat, I can’t walk upright on two legs and I can’t talk, no matter how much you wanting me to do these things proves I care.

Appeasing the under-educated white guy

Since Hillary’s win in North Carolina last Tuesday, the “news cycle” has been all about how Barack Obama is going to get the “under-educated, white man” vote. After watching news story after news story on this, a very large question suddenly dawned on me:

When did this country get to the point where the under-educated, white working class decides who gets to be the president of The United States of America in an information-based world-market economy, where the competitive advantage is determined by who has the smartest and most clever on board?

Wow! But the REAL question us dogs are barking about is:

How did we get to the point where the richest country in the world — with the greatest opportunity for individual achievement — produce such a large majority of under-educated people?

Could it be that the public education system is failing us? Could it be the we have become so arrogant and confident in our “place” in the world that we simply quit trying to become better? Could it be that our parents, in their quest to “give us a better life than they had” simply handed us what we needed for two generations instead of making us work for it? Could it be that we value economic contribution more than we value human contribution like art, creativity, knowledge, wisdom, music, love, etc as an end rather than a means? Could be a lot of things. Could be a lot of a lot of things.

I watched an episode of 30 Days by Morgan Spurlock last night where he and his wife tried to live on minimum wage for 30 days. In the richest country in the world, what did them in was a “medical emergency” that cost them $1,200.00 and change. They worked hard, they saved.. but they worked minimum wage jobs. Only their time and labor was valued; their health was something that they could have, if they could afford it. In the richest country in the world. That should anger people everywhere, educated or not. But, it doesn’t seem to. We’re all just living each day, hoping to not get sick or injured.

I suspect that for a lot of under-educated folk in this country, that is their fate. While there are probably many reasons that “white guys in North Carolina” may be under-educated, the argument I’ve been getting around the block is that there is nothing wrong with not having a college degree. There is nothing wrong with wanting to work a blue-collar job.

Except there is EVERYTHING wrong with having a MAJORITY of a population NOT being educated in the richest country in the world, in the middle of a world economy that is fueled by a knowledge workforce. If you want to become a plumber, that is fine, but don’t do it without an education. And don’t allow the media to define “under-educated” as “stupid and provincial”, but that is a whole other argument. Please forgive me if I don’t address that; I can only sniff one topic at a time. I’m a dog.

So, I think we are witnessing the first step in the decline of a great nation, whether we want to or not. There is still time to reverse this trend and make education a top priority; not just for those who can afford it, but by anyone who wants it. Because, if we don’t do that soon, we will soon have a majority of under-educated citizens falling prey to short-term solutions that eventually resolve nothing except our own demise.

We must resolve to become competitive and invest in our human infrastructure. Education for those who want it, regardless of the ability to pay and health care just because we are human beings. That is not socialism as uber-conservatives would like you to believe; that is just plain ol’ common-sense capitalism. Invest in what will make you more. And smart people are now the new machinery and factories.

About Rufus

Some people have wondered about who Rufus really is and wondered if he is really who he says he is on DogWalkBlog (and elsewhere). So, just so you know.. and you know who you are.. everything on this blog is real. Here are some popular questions.

Is Rufus a real dog?
Yes, Rufus is very real. He was born in June 2000 and “rescued” from Jack’s in Trotwood by a very caring family who lives in Englewood, Ohio. There, he has flourished in the lap of near luxury, enjoying a MINIMUM of three walks a day, chasing rabbits, squirrels and playing with a squeaky toy.

Does Rufus really write this blog?
Well… not really,. He is, after all a dog and he has no thumbs. So, typing is very difficult. But, he is the alter-ego of his owner from time to time. At other times, he is a reflection of the world around him. Everything is this blog is a nakedly honest opinion as there really is no reason for a dog to lie or act a part. Rufus may change his mind from time to time or alter an opinion after some reflection, but the writings are a genuine glimpse into his mind.

What is Rufus’ favorite food?
He is a dog, so he has trouble narrowing down his one favorite. But, in order of preference, honey-dipped Tim Bits (but only from the Englewood store), then a double cheeseburger — without ketchup and onions — from McDonalds, Wendy’s vanilla frosty, a Frosty Paws from Captain Freeze and hot dogs from Englewood Indoor Soccer late at night.

Does Rufus vote? Does he have a political affiliation?
Rufus does not vote, but again, he is a dog. He does not have any political affiliation. He does pee on the Englewood Government Center lawn, but he has not yet shared what he really means by that. He has no political affiliation and his only criteria for being critical of any politician is they are acting stupidly.

How about a religion? Does Rufus believe in God?
People, again Rufus is a dog. But he celebrates all major religious holidays as long as they have some sort of food attached to them. Rufus does believe in God because things are way to complicated and designed to be a happy accident.

How do I become a fan of Rufus?
That one is easy. Just comment on his blog or send an email to rufus@dogwalkblog.com and ask to become a Rufus Fan. If you give him a mailing address and your name, he will send you an autographed photo with a personal message.

Last question. Does Rufus really sign his photos?
Yes, that is Rufus’ real paw print on the photo every fan gets.

Last question, for real, I promise. I want to send you something. Can I have your address?
Sure. If you would like to send a card or a letter or something like that, send it to:
DogWalkBlog, PO Box 6, Englewood, OH 45322

If it is larger, like a big box of sweaty money (extra points for naming that movie reference)
DogWalkBlog, 893 S. Main St, Unit 245, Englewood, OH 45322

Footnote I finally added on Dec 14, 2014: Rufus passed away on Oct 7, 2008. I still him terribly.

The real death of the Dayton Daily News

For those of you who may not know, I was with the Dayton Daily News from 1998-2002. It was perhaps the most meaningful period of my life, in which I learned how to write objectively, think independently, treasure really, really talented people around me, learned how to change the world with little more than a thought and a pen, to learn patience, compassion and humility from greater human beings and learned how to find meaning in a job where I was paid almost nothing and expected to accomplish almost everything. I loved every heartache of the 4 1/2 years I spent there.

Yesterday, I visited the DDN building on Ludlow Ave in downtown Dayton. They were having a public sale where furniture, computer equipment, etc was being sold for whatever they could get. I went to walk the halls for one last time, to hear my friends, colleagues and mentors in my head one last time, to reclaim the same excitement I felt coming into the old newspaper building every morning. I was not disappointed.