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.

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,

G.

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

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.

Will the real Republicans please stand up?

I was listening to the well-paid Fox News folks on Saturday who have health insurance, paid vacation, etc. talking about the health insurance problem in these United States. The topic of fully-employed people having to get their own health insurance because their employers could no longer afford to provide it came up and the undertones were definitely against the employers! What??!?? When did this happen? Excuse me, but if you are going to be a true Republican and claim to have an intimate understanding of the REAL health insurance problem in the US, quit your regular-paying job, build your own company and get your own insurance policy. Until you have scraped and clawed down that ugly, rocky road, don’t claim that you know what is wrong with health care in America! If you do, you’re just a Liberal in a mask, scared to live by the dogma you spew. Relying on an “entitlement” program is the same whether provided by the state or your employer.

Business advice from a 20-something

I was sitting outside the Uptown Cafe in Oxford, Ohio this morning, drinking coffee, watching the sights… and this 20-something unlocked his bike from the meter and asked me if I was with Vanguard (my free computer bag had the Vanguard logo stitched on the front). I told him no, but we entered into a brief conversation about bicycles (he works at BikeWise, kitty-corner to the Uptown. Long story short, we talked about the consolidation of bike shops and his remark was, “Most of these places fail because they fall in love with the bike and forget about the business.”

Well, interesting philosophy with soccer as well. Most of these “think of the children” and “purity of the sport” people who feel that money somehow taints youth soccer need to take a lesson from our Bike Wise friend. Stay focused on the BUSINESS of soccer and that will enable you to enjoy the SPORT of soccer much, much longer.

Political Thoughts on Walks

Some things going through my head on recent walks:
Supreme Court Nominee: I think the message your party is sending you, Mr. Bush, is take the job seriously. We know you are busy with lots of things like the Iraq War, Katrina, Wilma… but this is an appointment for life. Learn a bit from Covey; this is more important than it is urgent. Spend the time doing it right.

Libby Indictment: Ok, CNN, Fox and all other news people. Get smart about this. EVERYONE outside the Beltway should care about this case because it is about abuse of power to silence dissent. Anyone who has voiced an unpopular opinion at a city council meeting and then finds “code violation” letters suddenly being sent to their home; anyone who has been on the wrong side of eminent domain; anyone who finds themselves being tax audited shortly after pissing off a government official.. (yes, news people, this all happens in real life, outside the Beltway). Get it right; this is not about the application of a narrowly-defined law regarding the CIA, blah, blah, blah.. It is no smaller than protecting free speech in America without fear of reprisal. Really.

Oil Companies Gouging: Oooh boy… We are a Market Economy. Nobody was helping the oil companies in the 80s-90s when there was massive mergers, consolidations and bankruptcies… Now that the market has turned, and the oil companies have the advantage, there are howls of gouging. (Ok, maybe a little gouging) but nobody forced you to buy an SUV you can’t afford… I know you have to fill it up to go to work because you are one paycheck away from poverty every week, but… oh, wait… maybe it is a lesson to live within your means…. but I could be wrong….