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Archive for the ‘economy’ Category

       I will play the devil’s advocate for a minute.  With all of the adulations for President Barack Obama and the intense emotional highs today of the American people…I couldn’t help but wonder about former President Bush and his wife Laura as they left the White House and all that goes with it.  Was the presidential leave taking a moment of relief or regrets?

        I am sure there has to be an immense sense of relief to shift the weight of the world ( actually the weight of the US) from President Bush to new President Obama’s shoulders.  That has to feel good to a certain degree.  The issues of the country are no longer his burden; and yet, I am sure there is a boat load of conflict going on his his heart and mind.

         It has to feel bittersweet to see all of the open welcoming that the Obamas are receiving at the moment when there are those who have made it clear that they couldn’t wait for the President Bush to leave office.  In fact, the last year of his term in office…there were reports that claimed that he had the lowest presidential approval of any president in recent memory.  That has to hurt. 

        Certainly Bush made mistakes in his governing; Obama says that there are sure to be mistakes in his administration as well.  That is just humanity.  What is notable is that when mistakes are made that they are acknowledged and corrected. 

         The grace of the American public had come to an end because of a multitude of crises and financial upheaval.  There was no more time to get back into the good graces of the American public.  In my mind, former President Bush has to have some regrets about some world events and some personal choices.  Those regrets include the fact that there wasn’t anymore time to correct the legacy of his presidency.  When it comes right down to it…the man and the position are blended with world events and political choices. 

        The presidential legacy that is left when one president leaves office and another takes the helm is often open to interpetation; some believe that in time, some of President Bush’s decisions will be explained and redeemed.  At this moment in time, because of the issues facing the nation….we dont have the luxury of time to do that analyzing now…we have work to do…as President Obama made sure we understood in his address to the nation.  

         President Obama’s legacy is yet to be developed.  Time is the lens through which we view the quality of a President’s service.

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     I don’t know about you…but, I find it heartbreaking that businesses here in the US are dropping like flies.  Today, it was announced that Circuit City has gotten the go ahead to liquidate their assets, since they were not able to secure a buyout or a refinancing plan.  

     Five hundred and sixty seven Circuit City stores in the US are involved; and, that means that over 30,000 employees are now going to be unemployed soon.  The thing is that the merchandise will now be liquidated and it will unleash an ongoing picking of the bones of merchandise; until that merchandise is sold off to help offset Circuit City’s debt load.  There are always those who will take joy or glee from someone else’s misfortune; or find a way to benefit from it.   Just this past week, Osama Bin Laden released a tape where he appeared to gloat at the United States’ financial chaos.  That just doesn’t sit well.

        I hate to even hear about liquidation sales.  In theory, I don’t like the fact that people will flock to those stores to get “great deals” that most of them really can’t afford; but, can’t seem to resist since the prices are at “rock bottom”.   Often, they really aren’t…it is all in the perception.  Still, those kinds of sales feel like vultures are picking the bones of a carcass on the side of the road to me.   

     I’ve often thought to myself…if all of those people who flock to those liquidation sales would have shopped there previous to the liquidation sales; then, maybe they wouldn’t have had to file bankruptsy, and gone out of  business in the first place.  That might be a bit judgemental…but, it is my opinion…nothing more.    On the other hand, the stuff has to be sold to “help” Circuit City meet the financial demands of their creditors.  Therefore, the liquidators are providing a service to the owners and operators that is badly needed.

          It is still sad though that the stores involved in these situations, often even look like skeletons.  They have the heavy environment of sadness and depression.  The workers that stay- -stay because they need every day on the job that they can get, in this economy; before having to pound the pavement looking for a replacement job or filing for unemployment.  The stores begin to take on the appearance of a person who is terminally ill; but, is fighting to survive no matter the cost.  The shelves are bare in spots and the products are often sold without their boxes or original packaging; and, off of display shelves…meaning they are sold as is…with or without instructions, adaptors, cords, or add-ons.  It is terribly sad.  Eventually, there is nothing left to sell but display racks, shelves, registers and lighting. 

     All in all…it ups the pressure on those trying to steer the economy of the US, as it struggles to regain a foothold on the slippery slope to financial stability.  This sad news will add another 30,000 job seekers to the already saturated job market…and, add burdens to those families who are fearful and struggling to survive the financial woes of our country.   It is bad news to those who hoped that 2009 would be the beginning of  a financial recovery period for those who are trying to earn an honest living.   I wish them well.

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     Five pirates from Somalia drowned after they left the ship that they had been holding for ransom for approximately two months.   The pirates small boat capsized and sank along with the money.   The ship that the pirates had captured was the Sirius Star and the ransom was for approximately $3 million dollars.  Three other alleged pirates spent hours swimming to land. 

       The pirates had to have been congratulating themselves about receiving that amount of money.  In Somalia, the people are very poor…most of them are living on humanitarian aid.  Many of these ships that have been targeted, by pirates, have been in this area in the Gulf of Aden.   Somalia is a country that has not had proper governmental leadership since the early 1990’s.  It must be awfully tempting to see all of these ships travel through the area loaded with multi-million dollars of  crude oil and not see it as a way to grab their share of the money for themselves.  Piracy has become a huge problem.

         Just this past week the United States Navy has announced that they will be utilizing an anti-piracy taskforce to combat the issues such as the hostage situations that face the ships that must travel through those international waters.

          Piracy in today’s world is not the piracy of the movies.  It is not some swashbuckling, romantic way to see the world.  It is quickly becoming a form of terrorism that attempts to hold the world of commerce hostage to pay up or be caught in the web of the pirates that feed off of the traffic that must pass through on their way to pick up and deliver merchandise from one nation to another. 

         One has to wonder, do the people who contemplate becoming pirates consider the possibility that they could end up on the bottom of the ocean right along with their stolen treasure?  Maybe some of the area nations could come up with a way to build up the infrastructure of Somalia so that the temptation to take from those who have so much would no longer look like a good way to earn a living to those who have so little!  Stealing is not a good option.  But those nations who are rich in natural resources could invest some of their money into those countries who seem bent on surviving any way that they can.

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      With 2008 behind us…and the new year stretching out before us…many consumers are trying to figure out how to hang on to what they already own and trying to stretch the money that they have to meet their obligations.  As you can imagine…getting consumers to go out and spend money at a time when job loss is at an all time high and debt load is always threatening to tip the balance of the family budget is all but impossible.

        An automobile company has taken a new tactic…in fact…probably setting a new standard for other automobile companies in trying to get the public to strengthen their confidence in the economy by purchasing a new vehicle.  All of the old tried and true tactics such as 0% financing and cash back refund programs are not inspiring the consumers to run right out and add to their debt load in such uncertain times.  Sales of new vehicles has fallen since 2007 quite dramatically.  Hyundai has tempted the public to purchase through a new sales tactic; one that sort of tempts people to extend themselves financially.

        This is fine and good as long as the consumer doesn’t over extend their financial obligations.  I suspect other automobile companies to offer something similar to increase their sales.  The deal is this…Hyundai is offering to take the vehicle back without repercussions under certain circumstances.

        If the vehicle purchaser should lose their job within the first year after purchase…they can return the vehicle and walk away from their obligation up to $7,500.  Or if the purchaser should become disabled or lose their income involuntarily, the offer is the same…they can walk away from the loan and return the vehicle. 

         One thing is probably sure…this will more than likely increase sales…but, one would hope that the lenders have learned a little something-something from the financial crisis and make sure that the consumers that they extend vehicle loans to are in a position to purchase without overextending themselves financially.  This absolutely can not be allowed to contribute to the negative situation that this country has found itself in.  One thing we do not need is to find that the new deal allows people to put themselves into deeper financial hardship that results in an increase of repo’ed vehicles.   Will this sales tactic inspire those in a position to purchase and add to the consumer confidence that businesses and governmental leaders are desperate to see?  Only time will tell!  What are your thoughts on the subject?

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       Thank God for the updates on the news…it has been officially announced by the National Bureau of Economic Research, that the United States is in a RECESSION!  No kidding, Who knew?  Just about everybody except those who should have known–like the people running our economy!!!  Duh!

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       People are funny; when things get tight…their fists often get tighter; but not always.  This year, like no other year in recent memory, people are hurting.  They are hurting in many areas financially.  Many have lost their homes, their jobs, their savings…along with medical coverage.  It is a difficult time for many in our nation.

        Most everyone has something that they have been blessed with that they no longer use.  Those things that you have been blessed with and no longer use just might be terribly useful to someone else.  Have extra blankets (or sleeping bags) in the closet or attic that you have no use for?  Someone else has need for them; donate it to a shelter, a church, or an agency that gives to those in need.  Don’t forget places like the Salvation Army or Goodwill.  Let’s challenge ourselves to find ways to have a positive impact on those around us.

         What about checking out deals, when you grocery shop, that make use of buy one get one free…then, donating that extra item to a food pantry?  In fact, things people often run out of and have a hard time replacing are necessities such as laundry soap, shampoos/conditioners, toothpaste, dish soap, toilette paper; when money is limited…having those things donated to a food pantry can really be a big help.  Maybe you have a baby or toddler that has outgrown their diapers or pullups…and you have a partial package left; donate it, don’t let it set on a shelf somewhere unused.  What good are those items doing sitting there collecting dust?

          Do you have warm clothes that either don’t fit, things that aren’t your style; or, perhaps you just have an extra set of clothes that you could pass along?  What about coats or boots, mittens or hats/scarves?  Items such as these are desperately needed in colder temperatures and climates.  The fall and winter weather is unforgiving if a person is not sheltered and dressed appropriately for cold temperatures.  Children and adults are both in need; so, please check your closets and storage areas for things that you are not using.

          Here is another idea; have you had a tree fall on your property that you would like removed?  Offer it to those who heat their homes with wood for free…just for the taking.  Wow…how wonderful to get it removed and bless someone else with the wood who could use it to heat their homes. 

          So you say…you don’t have anything physical to give.  How about donating your time or possibly a service like raking leaves/shoveling snow for an elderly person who you know isn’t able to do it for themselves?  Maybe you could offer to get their mail so they don’t slip on the snow and ice or offer to run some errands for them.  There really are so very many ways to help another person who is in need. 

          Think about the homeless who are living on the streets.  Do you perhaps have a shelter or tent that is not going to be used in the near future?  Can you live without it?  Find an agency or charity that will use it to house those folks who cannot or will not live in a shelter.  We have many veterans and run-aways who live under bridges and tunnels all around this nation.  Is a tent or a shelter from your basement or garage an ideal place to live?  No but, it may just keep someone safer from the extreme elements, temporarily, until they can get back on their feet.

           Are any of these suggestions going to cure the ills our nation is facing; probably not…but, it may just help communicate caring to someone who is feeling desperate and alone.  Think about what you can do to help someone who has it a bit worse than you and yours.  Your donations could mean the difference between life and death for someone; and it doesn’t have to cost you more than a bit of compassion for others!

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        How many of you have ever had knowledge of an emergency situation where someone is bleeding profusely?  Emergency training teaches to apply pressure; or, to use a tourniquiet to temporarily stop the blood loss.  It is no different with our financial crisis; yet, apparently in a move that goes against common sense…we are bleeding green…sending more and more money to problematic areas that are already bleeding out.

           What we need is a check and balance here…someone to triage…find out who we can afford to let go on to their great reward.  We can’t save everyone here financially speaking.  So, if we are going to attempt to try to turn the tide with this financial mess…we need to find the most effective way to pump money back into the economy in a way that is going to repair the situation.  Not prolong the agony.  Those companies that would abuse the help provided them should be held accountable.  The governmental leaders who are in charge should be held accountable if they fail to serve honorably; by not keeping track of the ebb and flow of the bailout plan.  It should be considered a crime to fail at accounting for each and every dime of the bailout money that does not produce a positive outcome on the economy.  It would challenge those who benefit from the rescue plan to strictly monitor the use of such money entrusted to them!

         Americans are angry about this whole situation.  They are struggling and there is no safety net waiting for them when they fail financially…so, their expectations of our leaders who are guiding the ship in regards to the bailout, are high.  Those expectations are not currently being met…and Americans have had their fill of leaders and organizations who abuse their power and influence over our society.  The impact of such irresponsible behavior is what has brought us to this place and time in history; it is unacceptable.

         Allegedly, reports have surfaced, twice now, on AIG as having pricey get-to-gethers since they have come knocking on the government’s door begging for bailouts to keep them from filing for a $150 billion dollar bankruptcy.  This is seen by many as an excessive fly- in- your- face disregard for the sacrifices that tax payers are taking on, by dolling out the $40 billion dollars that the treasury has set aside to help put AIG back in black.

          What is madness is that this kind of behavior seems to go without consequences except to the country as a whole.  We are drowning in poor choices, in excesses that failing business expect others to dig them out of.  If a small business owner took on that kind of attitude…there would be nothing but financial ruin in their future…not a reward of an all expense paid trip to a spa on the taxpayers!

           The average American is drowning as well.  There are no individual life rings being tossed to the middle class taxpayer.  We are being hit from all sides by the economy, taxation, educational funding, rising cost of living bills, home heating costs, gasoline, medical costs; and still, more and more people are loosing their jobs or their investments.  Home foreclosure is at an all time high.

           How in the world are taxpayers going to pay more to bailout anyone when they are barely keeping afloat themselves with the drain on their incomes?  If people don’t have jobs, they can’t pay taxes.  Common sense dictates that we examine closely where all of this bailout money is coming from; and, limit those who are benefitting from the rescue money. If some business or organization is not being fiscally responsible they should not then be given a blank check to continue the party.  

        This is not a free for all…We need someone in a position to regulate the flow of green; apply some pressure.  We are living in an unprecedented time of national debt…it just makes sense to be watching our bottom line.  There is nothing wrong with taking a little time to evaluate the situation and make an informed decision about the best way to tackle this mess.   Remember Russia and the collapse of their union?  Are we looking to make history as the next nation to collapse from the inside out?

          

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      I have been thinking about leadership alot lately and it’s direct connection to success or failure.  Leadership whether it is in government, business, organizations, religions, education or, in personal relationships is very important.  Not everyone can be an effective leader.  There are more followers than leaders; so it is extremely important to follow the right person. 

       Whether a leader is skilled in certain areas determines how successful his/her leadership is.  Leading is not for the fainthearted; you can’t please everyone or, be their friend.  Some of the decisions a good leader has to make are extremely unpopular.  You can have productive relationships though, that are built out of respect, authority, compassion and hard work.  Those who are under your leadership have to know that you are informed and that you respect & understand their sacrifice to get the job done. 

        A good leader knows how to inspire, how to instruct, how to encourage, and how to redirect someone who is misguided, ill informed, has a poor work ethic or is saturated in a poor attitude.  A good leader knows when to use incentives and when praise or recognition will be more effective. 

        I know our country is in the midst of some deep and difficult issues.  Positive and productive leadership has never been more important.  A good leader also recognizes when they are out of their league and seeks a higher counsel…someone who is an expert in the area of concern.  I hope that those who are taking the reins of government leadership in our country are willing to lead with proper education and guidance… it is not a failure to admit that you don’t know all of the answers; it is a failure to not be willing to be educated in those areas.  We have much to accomplish and overcome in a short period of time.

        There is a great new book out by Lee Iacocca on leadership called, Where Have All Of The Leaders Gone?  I recommend reading this one.  This book gives some great advice on leading.  It also gives a bit of background information on the automotive business. 

         With the financial crisis hitting our country and the obviously failing auto industry…Lee’s book is timely.  I suggest that the new President elect Barack Obama consult with Mr. Iacocca on any proposed government bailout loan of the auto industry.  There has been some criticism about President Bush’s alleged lack of response to the auto industry’s struggles.  Now, if the American auto industry fails to succeed…we all will suffer the consequences.  I think that we already have been …but, it is only going to get worse without addressing the issue in a real purposeful way.  They are many businesses and employees who will be affected in a trickle down kind of action if and when the auto industry hits the roadblocks. 

        It would be wise to remember that whenever one major industry fails it generally has a domino effect on those sub-supportive businesses that supply the chain of industry.  We need to figure out some answers before we are all out of jobs.  We must demand competent leadership and hold them to a higher moral & ethical standard of conduct.  We are tired of those in business and industry who are content to take the money at the top and move on when they get their rewards…not caring about the outcome for those under their leadership.  Enough of the high salary CEO’s (or politicians) who don’t look long-term at the consequences of their decisions and their actions.  Americans must demand success in our leaders because the potential impact of failure is unacceptable!

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      This is interesting news to me; and, not altogether unhappy news, it has come to my attention that as a direct result of the financial crisis in this country…we are all going to be receiving less junk mail in our mail boxes!  Isn’t that wonderful?  It is just sad that it took something of this nature to reduce all of these unwanted solicitations. 

       Now, I have to admit, i hate junk mail.  It piles up and seems to breed when I am not looking, before I can dispose of it.  I could build a miniature high rise building with the stacks of envelopes that I get each week.  It is frustrating, as my shredder is broken; and, many of those envelopes are attempts to get me to sign up for credit cards, home equity loans; and or, other means of putting me further and further in debt. 

       Hello people, where is the common sense here?  I hate getting those pieces of mail; because, if you open them up…they have multiple spots on the applications with personal name & address information.  As I said, without a shredder…i must hand tear them into small pieces so that no one else can activate them if they come across the applications.  That is highly annoying to have to go through all of that extra work because of no fault of my own.  However, it is necessary with all of those warnings that we all hear about on the news programs of identity theft.  It is too easy for someone with ulterior motives to make use of that private, and personal information they find inside of those envelopes that everyone tosses away.

        It also goes against my growing sense of green living.  There is no reason to slaughter thousands of trees a year just to bombard people with mail that they don’t want or need; which only ends up in landfills anyway.  I want to protect the environment and be a good steward of the world that we live in.   Let’s take a moment and compliment those companies that are cutting back on wasting trees and money by curbing the direct marketing sales envelopes that we all receive.  Thank you for cutting back, I want to encourage you to continue this practice even when the economy improves!   I admire your leadership in this area of your business (yes, i know you are mainly doing it to save money…that is ok…we both benefit).

         Of course, we all want the financial world to get back on it’s feet.  Let this small step of reducing unwanted mail be the first positive step in the right direction, as far as using common sense, in the business world.  I believe that the impact is far reaching.  I for one, appreciate the fact that I will get less unwanted mail.  How do you feel about the matter?  Will you respect a company for taking this step?

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      Now that the historic 2008 election for the President of the United States is over and Barack Obama has won…there will be great expectations.  Obama really ran on the platform of “change”.  As the agent of change…he will be watched and judged in a way like no other before him.  Everyone is expecting miracles; and miracles, is what this nation needs.  Families are looking for stability in their lives.

       As we have demonstrated to the world over the last few months…we have to get our finances as a country and as a world under control.  We must heal the breakdown of credit and the housing industry…the buying, selling and foreclosure of homes.  We must address the nations dependency on oil from foreign countries.  We must investigate and explore alternative forms of energy.  We must address the dwindling funding that forms the foundation of education in both lower and higher education.  We must find a way to insure those who have no medical insurance.  We need to apply some solutions to the social security flux which will drain the funds because of the aging population.  We must repair relationships with countries around the world that have been badly damaged over the last 8 years.  We must continue to protect ourselves and others who are under siege from terrorists around the world.  We must insure that our children have opportunities before them that children from other countries have. 

        I say we meaning, African Americans and all Americans, Democrats and Republics, conservatives and liberals, men and women…it doesn’t matter who you are…we are in this thing called life together…and that is how we have to approach solutions to the problems that we face as a country.

        With an unprecedented stacked deck of Democrats in the House & Senate, as well as a Democratic President, we will have great expectations from Barack Obama as leader of the United States. Republicans have taken the heat for the condition of the United States for quite some time…now it is time for Democrats to prove their worth as they lead our citizens.  

         Is President elect Obama up to the task?  He had better be…because it is unacceptable to think about the alternative; and, the impact it will have on this country if he fails at any one of the aforemented issues; as well as many, many more issues which are in need of major renovation to become healthy once again.

         Hopefully, we will not, in our zeal to affect change in this country, continue to attack the basic values of conservative America.  We are seeing escalating legal attacks on the defination of traditional views of marriage and family.  We have people who are determined to stretch the defination to include gay marriages as a legally recognized state of marriage.  There are those who seek to further liberal ideas such as legalizing marijuana and prostitution; or expanding the limits of abortion.  It seems that traditional values in this country are being turning upside down…what has been considered to be right is now viewed as wrong and is prone to challenge.

        There is some real resistance against such change, from those who consider themselves conservative; to fight and stand up to those challenges; by those who not only believe in a liberal view of rights and responsibilities but, those who seek to change how we govern ourselves regarding those issues.  So is Barack Obama up to the task of effective leadership of such diverse approaches to life?  Time will be the judge! In the meantime, citizens of the United States have a right to great expectations.

       

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