99% does not mean 99 things #OccupyWallStreet

#occupywallstreet

I read the #OccupyWallStreet story in the New York Times this morning and kinda just shook my head slowly. They reported this as if it were a 2011 version of Woodstock, complete with hippy-chicks and guitar-slinging beatniks.

Yay. Or should I say “bully* for them.”

It’s not that the New York Times didn’t get it. I think they do. It may be because the protest is making itself hard to get.

Here is my advice to the #OccupyWallStreet folks. Do with it what you will.

Get simple. Fast.
Know what you want. Demand something short and easy for the media to understand in under nine seconds and something that even Chuck Todd won’t misunderstand and mangle (though I’m not entirely sure how you can do that.) It is really hard to get what you want when you can’t define it in 140 characters or less. Human dignity? Universal health care? Free universal education? Free checking? A specific banking bill that a Congressman wrote? (e.g. SB-5 in Ohio got over a million signatures because we were able to point to a specific bill.) If you can’t answer the question: “What do you want?” quickly, you are just creating a mob, not a group of lawfully-assembing citizens who demand that their grievances be met. (Example powdered wigs worked for the Tea Party!)

Unite
The worst thing you need media to call you is hodge-podge, rag-tag, unorganized and that sort of thing. The easiest way to organize is to get a slogan and have everyone wear the same t-shirt. Green would be delicious irony. Print a big 99% on the front and silk-screen a large block of white on the back where each person can write his/her own story.

Kickstarter
Get a Kickstarter going and start raising money. You are gonna need a lot of it. A Kickstarter helps those of us in Dayton, Ohio who can’t be in NYC to participate. That would also force you to think specifically about how you will spend the funds which will lead you to define your goals.

Website, Social Media
You have a good start at occupywallst.org/, but there is way too much on your site. Photos of people, just like this. And quit with the fist-pumping anger. Us older people still remember the Black Panthers and you are scaring us.

This is not an event
Quit scheduling things. There is no “agenda.” Do-nothing corporations have an agenda for meetings that nobody likes but go to anyway because there is almost always free muffins. The 99% are not corporate offices. And keep celebrities out of your group. Susan Sarandon and Cornell West are not helping your image. They are even less of the 1% those in your group will never be. When they show up, the media focuses their cameras on them and away from the crowd. Who does that serve? The celebrity. Only.

Produce your own media
Have your own reporters and writers. Use studio media techniques to deliver your own stories. Issue media credentials to people at NBC, CBS, Times, etc. Make them come to you. (They won’t and the credentials will mean nothing, but it will send a message to corporate-owned media… who are part of Wall Street… which you knew, right?)

Shut up
Do not chant. Do not talk to the media. Say nothing. Ask everyone there to say nothing to media, the police, hecklers, etc. The medium of silence will be your message. You are the 99% who are not being heard.

Ultimately, I think this movement will die off simply because a mob of hobos and stray dogs is not a group you can negotiate anything with. Sure, there is general unrest and all the ingredients for an uprising and class riots exists in all parts of America, but unless there is something specific (like ending the Vietnam War) to rally around, it is just a mob. If you want this to take hold, you have to simplify.

Quickly. Winter is coming.

*Sorry for the pun. I know this is a serious topic and I knew better, but I couldn’t resist. Part of what I’m protesting is a general lack of humour, in good times and bad.

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Listen to the groundhog

Punxsutawney Phil being yanked from his comfy home by people who can't wait to know the future.
Punxsutawney Phil being yanked from his comfy home by people who can't wait to know the future.
I love Groundhog’s Day. It is a silly holiday that you can just hype up and people giggle at.

When reading a post from Chris Brogan today, along with my Wall Street Journal, The Waterboy and a healthy dose of Morning Joe, I’ve come to a conclusion about this economic mess. The economy prognosticators have it all right. And all wrong.

Here is why Punxsutawney Phil — that famous groundhog — is relevant to what is going on with this economy prognosticators right now and what we can take away from him. If Phil sees his shadow, gets scared and scurries back to his burrow, there are six, long weeks of Winter left. If he doesn’t see his shadow, there are only six weeks left of Winter. Yeah!

We can learn a lot from this annual holiday in Punxsutawney, PA, but accurately predicting the future is not one of them. The “Inner Circle” of Punxsutawney have figured out how to get thousands of people to visit their little town in a very cold part of the country in the dead of Winter and all the news media talking about them for a whole daily news cycle. They created a legend of a groundhog, dress up in top hats, hold this grand ceremony and declare the future of Old Man Winter!

That is all these economy pundits are doing. Nobody knows the future. The quality of the remaining six weeks of winter is not a function of a skittish groundhog or a proclamation made by a fraud in a top hat, but by the decisions you make with that time. Will you hibernate and wait out winter or go out and play with the snowflakes? The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

As I mentioned in my comment to Chris Brogan’s post:

My take on all this future stuff, however, is to look at future films of the past — even as recent as the 1980s. Nobody got the 16:9 television. Even when screens were larger, wall-sized, the 4:3 format still reigned.

For the astute reader, you may have seen the mention for the movie The Waterboy in my opening paragraph. At one point in the movie, (toward the end, you have to watch the whole thing) Coach Klein envisions his nemesis Coach Beaulieu with the head of a cute puppy, is no longer scared of him and adopts a new-found self-esteem.

The next time you watch Joe, Pat and all these other prognosticators on television predicting gloom and doom, envision them with the head of a groundhog.

Then, go make your own future. It will happen whether you wait it out or not.

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Obama uses a MacBook Pro?

What Obama's first day photo should have looked like
What Obama's first day photo should have looked like

This photo appeared in the Wall Street Journal and the NY Times. Probably others. Thanks Pete Souza, Official White House Photographer. I’m not sure if we can use these photos. Do tax dollars pay for the official White House photographer? Pretty sure someone will slap my paw if I’m wrong. 😉

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How we are all connected

Today, I heard from a long-time reader who emailed me just to let me know she was still reading and that she had been enjoying the blog ever since she first saw it.

Wow! Whenever I get an email like this, it is truly a humbling experience. Even though the DogWalkBlog gets lots of traffic, when a reader takes a few moments out of the day just to say she enjoys reading it touches. That is what blogging and Twittering and all this stuff is about; one touch, one moment.

I’m writing this immediately after looking at the pictorial spread in the Wall Street Journal. In a sea of 1.5 million people, photojournalists are able to pick out one genuine smile, one face full of hope and one little girl who gives her dad a “thumbs up” with an orange glove.

I aspire to be that lens. Always.

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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,

G.

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

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How to profit from stupid and sloth

I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. So do hundreds of my neighbors and I know exactly who they are.

The WSJ gets delivered to my front door every morning by a carrier with the Dayton Daily News. About a year ago, I noticed that the mailing label in the upper right hand corner of my copy of the WSJ was not me. It was a neighbor who lived in another part of the subdivision or worked at another business. 

So, I started saving these labels. Sometimes I would get my own label, but most days, I would get someone else’s. Eventually, I reasoned, I would probably get everyone who subscribed to the WSJ on my carrier’s route. I think I am right.

Now, I have a mailing list of neighbors with whom I have something in common. When I want to refer to an article in the WSJ that I think might affect them, I can send out a cheap postcard, with a URL to my blog to the list and I know they will most likely have read the same article as me.  And, they will most likely go to my blog, read, comment and maybe pass it along.

They may wonder how I got their name, how I knew they also read the WSJ. Or, maybe not.

Or maybe, they have been getting my newspaper and tracking me the same way.

Posted by email from rufus’s posterous

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Put the smart guys in charge, please

Susan Suess Kennedy wrote an article recently for the Huffington Post examining why Americans have such a disdain for smart people. A popular terms among the non-intellectuals and shallow thinkers is “elistism.” The undereducated white guys chant this, along with “drill baby, drill” (which I don’t really get as a mantra, but ok..) Here’s the puppy take on all this.

Way back in the good ol’ days of air travel (pre-1996 or thereabouts) getting on a plane was something that you did because you had really important business. You knew the rules (or got to know the rules quickly) ticket prices were high, but so was the expectation of flyer sophistication and service from the airlines.

At some point, the airlines thought it was a good idea to let anyone fly. They deserved to fly to see grandma, visit the new baby, etc. Ticket prices plummeted and the airports were suddenly overrun by people who really didn’t have a clue where they were going, what they were doing and had expectations of service that was far in excess of the price they paid for their ticket. The airline employees suddenly felt like a “babysitter” when they were hired as a trained air traffic professional. Things got surly and the service and profits plummeted straight to the bottom. In addition, the airlines and airports were so overrun with volume that it was easy for nineteen people to slip into planes on 9/11.

The same thing happened with the housing market. Days were the only people who were allowed to buy a home were those who could actually afford it. They saved their money, they worked hard and smart and they had at least 5%-10% down on a home. They bought a home that might have been a little lived-in, was probably too small and in an area that was not exactly their first choice. And buying that first home was tough as bankers made you sweat the details of employment history, credit history and cash. The money was real and it was hard-earned.

Then, along came a generation of people who deserved to be in a home, regardless of their credit history or income. The question was not whether or not it made sense to buy a home; the question was how do we bend the rules to get you in a home. And so we put a lot of people in houses that they did not work for, they couldn’t afford to buy and more importantly, couldn’t afford to maintain. In addition, we sent a message to all the home owners who did work hard for their homes that their work was just not that valuable. And now, as these $0-down, sub-prime folks are abandoning their homes in record numbers, they are kicking more dirt into the faces of the hard-working folks in the form of lower home values, higher property taxes and an economy in shambles.

The same thing happened with a college education. A time was only the really smart people who tested high on the ACT or SAT, had a solid GPA and could write a coherent paper got accepted into college. Paying for it was another matter, but if you were really smart, you either found a way or were given a way.

Now, colleges are more interested in being in the food service and housing businesses than the business of education. Most colleges will take any student who applies, but require they stay in student housing for their freshman and sophomore years. Their cafeterias are now stocked with branded food items from Chik Fil A, Burger King, KFC, etc. in addition to gourmet lunches and dinners. The dorms are lavish apartments starting at $3,000+ a semester, per student, sleeping four per unit. And every student there believes they deserve a college degree, regardless of how hard they work or the quality of their work.

And we get to the US Elections. On the one side, we have someone who is really smart and is a deep thinker. On the other side, we have a candidate who shoots from the hip, deserves to be President because he served his country for decades and it is “his turn.” Moreover, he has paired up with an “average hockey mom” and journalism major who doesn’t read newspapers, speaks plainly but incoherently and identifies well with the Bubba vote who is able to fly to Vegas for less than $100, lives in a house he can’t really afford, went to a college where he majored in drinking and works at a job for a company that really doesn’t produce anything of value. But, by God, she deserves to be VP!

Despite her dreadful interview performances with Charlie Rose and Katie Couric, Palin could win the debates tomorrow because she appeals to a growing audience that has become dumber and dumber, but more deserving. We have abdicated our need to know facts for sound bytes and slogans to chant. “Drill, baby, drill!”, “U-S-A, U-S-A” and statements like “We are all Georgians”, “Make the Wall Street fat-cats pay” and the oft-used “Main Street vs Wall Street.” We don’t know what these mean, we don’t really examine why they have meaning or even if they do, but they have a nice cadence and chanting them in a large crowd makes us feel a part of something.

We need smart people to start leading this country. We need to quit giving the masses what they want because they feel they “deserve” it. We don’t really have to look very far to see what happens to industries that succumb to the pressures of market expansion at any cost. Eventually, the industry dives to the bottom and crashes. Air travel, housing, education, credit cards, and soon to be the executive branch of the United States.

The office of President and Vice-president of the United States of America should be the hardest job to get in this country. The people who eventually get elected to fill these top jobs should be the best and the brightest, not the ones who can drink beer best with us or who can shoot a moose the best. We need to advance the country forward, technologically, politically, ethically and societally for the next generation of the best and the brightest, not drive the standards down to allow more people to participate. To borrow a phrase from TheLadders.com, if everybody plays, nobody wins.

It’s time to make being smart a thing of value again. We don’t need presidential and vice-presidential candidates mocking community participation, academic accomplishment, reasoned arguments and hard work as elitism. We need leaders who appreciate the value of human smarts and recognize that there is more power in a pen than a sword. Human smarts is the ultimate infrastructure of any society. When that is damaged and devalued, the society will eventually crumble, united or not.

After-post: If you have a chance and have read this far, perhaps you will read one more article by Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post Writer’s Group.

And this says more of the same, but a far better post than mine. Thank you, Deanie Mills.

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Eat dessert first

Wall Street Journal 2008-07-14 Michael WitteI read the Wall Street Journal. I have since I was a young puppy when I got my first job at Dog Pound, Inc. While my peers always flipped to the Money sections, checked the stock quotes, etc., the first section I read was MarketPlace. This is where all the “life” bits happened which drove the other parts of the paper, like stock prices, financial markets, etc. Its a bit of wisdom that most dogs get later in life when they figured out that “managing stocks and portfolios” is really wagging the dog.

Anyway, almost the entire WSJ today was gloom and doom about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the collapse of Steve & Barry’s, the feds seizing IndyMac, how to sell your home in a down market, consumer confidence at an all-time low. But, on the very last page, I ran into an article by George Anders titled “Buy Now, Don’t Regret it Later.” What a remarkable bit of wisdom!

It is a few hundred words and worth the time to read, but it all boils down to “take time out to pee on that bush, linger over the smelly thing, say hi to the neighbor dog…” Pay attention to the non-money things in your life as that is what will make it richer. Read the opinions, essays and Marketplace FIRST.. then, when you have time, read the gloom and doom on the financial pages.

The photo was shamelessly lifted from wsj.com and is credited to Michael Witte. If he complains about it being here, we’ll take it off…. but, I hope he doesn’t

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Hillary is going nowhere

As I was lifting my leg to relieve myself on the newspaper this evening, I noticed an article in the Wall Street Journal that said ‘Democrats look to life after Clinton.’ Well, that is an odd thing to say. Life after Clinton? Really?

Hillary Clinton may never become president, but she will become even more powerful than a mere president. She will become a power center where every Democrat that wants to sit on an influential committee or even run for president in the future will need to come and pay her homage and get her blessing. She will, ironically, become Ted Kennedy’s successor.

With Bill right behind her.

Just watch and see.

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