Creative Solutions

Business - Not As Usual, Seniors, That's Life Comments Off on Creative Solutions
Apr 212008

Talk of the economy is everywhere. It's a major focus of the elections. It's at the top of everyone's head – especially those who have lost jobs – or are afraid they might lose their jobs. It's a major concern for those who have lost homes and are very much concerned about how they're going to get their children through college. And, it's a sore spot for seniors who are desperately trying to survive.

The common thread that runs through too much of the talk is, "Someone's got to do something!!!"

Well, that's true. But, who, I ask, can do that "something" better than you and me? There's so much work out there that we will never get it all done – not if we want to rectify all the troubles that beset us.

Why isn't it getting done? What's it going to take for us to get past all the negativity, pointing fingers and "can't" thinking? Every single person has the potential to make a difference. It doesn't matter if they're yellow, orange or purple. It doesn' t matter if they can only walk on their hands or peel onions. It doesn't matter if they smile pretty and have perfect teeth. And it doesn't matter if they know how to work on a PC  rather than a MAC. This old world needs every one of us.

it's time to start thinking creatively.

We have some serious challenges facing us right now (I think we can all agree on that). It's true, right now, many are feeling impotent. But, for every challenge there is at least one solution. Usually there are many solutions, each when added up can make a significant difference. We can find those solutions when we start thinking creatively. The solutions may not be obvious and they may not be what we expect. That doesn't matter.  What does matter is: Can we finally start thinking creatively and allowing everyone to contribute?

Open Letter to the President

Business - Not As Usual, That's Life Comments Off on Open Letter to the President
Jan 192008


Dear President Bush:

I watched with dismay your announcement for your tax relief plan. May I ask which planet you are living on?

It is very nice that you've decided to target 1% of our country's GDP to correcting the economic mess we're in. But frankly, I don't see what this is going to do? 1% is miniscule when we stack it up against the waste brought on by our involvement in wars that are draining our country's coffers and diverting funds that belong to the American people. Give us the facts, sir. Show us a pie chart that clearly shows what's happening to the other 99% of our GDP. Maybe then we can put things in perspective.

First off, we have an economy  where vast numbers of small businesses are closing their doors for lack of business, thousands of people out of work (some for more than 2-3 years) and many more thousands being laid off with each passing week. Our unemployment is at 6% now and rising.

You want to stimulate spending. But, sir, what are we supposed to spend?  With next to no income, even with no taxes, we don't have money to spend. Heck, we're at – and below – poverty level now. And, let's assume a couple hundred dollars actually wind up in the pockets of all those people who are out of work, trying to subsist on  SSI and welfare, and losing their homes to foreclosure. What do they do when that money's gone? And while we're at it, just exactly how long will it take this "immediately" program to take effect?

The American people don't want fish. They want the boats and nets to do their own fishing. They want — no they desperately need — jobs. And, not just any jobs, but jobs that pay a living wage comparable to the skill levels they bring to the table. Too many highly skilled workers – the ones who are lucky – are trying to survive working at minimum wage jobs because our corporations chose to move those jobs out of the country. And let's consider putting people reduced to part time jobs (in the interest of corporations eliminating insurance and other benefits) back into full time jobs so that they can look forward to something more than bare subsistence?

OK, so you are giving incentives to businesses to make major investments in their enterprises. Great. But what about making those companies accountable for hiring back all the people they laid off and creating new jobs? What about making it possible for the entrepreneurs and micro-businesses to sustain themselves and keep the jobs they've created for themselves…rather than forcing them to shut their doors and go to work for minimum wage for some corporation that is pocketing the vast bulk of the income? That's right. Where's the accountability to make sure that the funds go to the workers and unemployed? What about making corporations – and the government  – accountable for creating a viable structure that supports and encourages businesses to do business with local smaller businesses and entrepreneurs rather than creating another level of regulations and paperwork that ties the hands of those who want to provide goods and services that are so desperately needed? What about incentives to use real people to do work like answering phones – rather than using robots and recordings to do the work of real people? What about bringing back the jobs outsourced to other countries and giving American jobs to American workers?

What about making the federal programs designed to help get people employed? How about speeding up their processes…making them accountable for delivering solutions to the people they serve rather than just accumulating names in databases that give the impression they're doing something constructive when, in fact, the people in the databases sit idly by waiting for some hope that their number will come up soon.

Mr. President, incentives are great but they only put a bandage on a truly ugly wound. The American people at this point have nothing to look forward to. Too many have no jobs and too many are broken hearted about the oppressive debt this country is heaping on our young people. At the rate we're going, they're going to have debts so massive that they will never be able to dig out of the financial hole this country is digging for them. How many generations will it take to pay off the costs of this incentive, the costs of the wars you insist on keeping up, the costs incurred by laxity in terms of stewardship to our natural resources and the ecology?

We're well aware that the powers that be who make more in one day than most of us are earning in a month. But, really, if there's to be some relief and if we even hope to turn this country around, you've got to get past the corporate bottom line and realize that if the people are financially destitute, there will be no economy or bottom line to worry about. We can not spend what we don't have. More than that,  there's a whole lot more that needs to be done… We can not go out and "buy" and "spend" when we can't afford bare necessities for ourselves and our families.

Let's put it in perspective.  My father, an uneducated man who never finished 8th grade, was able to raise a family of 10. We weren't wealthy but we had everything we needed. Today, people can hardly support one child. In fact, check out the homeless shelters and see just how many able bodied single people with no dependents you find.

Where have you been, Mr. President?  Now, you are proposing an "immediate" relief package?  I don't lay the blame only on your head. You're surrounded by people who stand to gain from the condition we find ourselves in. But the only people that you all have been fooling are yourselves.

We average Americans have known for at least 5-6 years that this country was on the verge of financial disaster.  We could see on the streets that we weren't being told the truth. It will be generations before the American  people will be able to hold their heads high once again. It will take nothing short of a miracle — not a quick fix — to set things right.

Frankly, I can't wait until your term is over. Whoever follows in your footsteps will have more than his fair share of work just trying to un-do the messes you've created. We can be very thankful indeed that you can't have another term in office and can only hope that the next president sets the well-being of the American people as priority.


Jan 062008

Now that the new year is firmly planted under our feet, we’ll probably see a small quickening of activity around us. It’s going to be a slow go, if all the indicators we’re observing on the street are accurate. The market continues slow. Many are scrambling to get some balance. And bad habits are difficult to break.

But it’s election year….finally. Most often about six months before the big day we see a loosening up of the economy. Since the current establishment has little to nothing to gain from such a surge, it may not happen this time, but we can hope.

Meanwhile, we can start making a difference. It is true that there’s not a whole lot we ordinary folk can do to impact the bigger picture, but we can certainly make a difference in our corners of the world.

That means that neighbors can start taking an interest in working together. It means being more pleasant to each other and less ready criticize and participate in back biting. It means contributing to the common cause in condominiums, social groups and market places. It means recognizing that we can’t continue to expect everyone else to do the work while we sit back and criticize them. It means doing our part – taking ownership of how our piece of the world functions.

It’s not much different in business. Business owners, their employees, Federal Government and other organizations can make a significant difference without much effort – just as soon as they recall that the customers they serve are the source of their profits.  It means that we all recall that customers disillusioned and dissatisfied with inferior products and services find ways to go elsewhere or do without. A change of perspective will go far in the way we treat the people we do business with. 

In this economy it won’t take a heavy hand or manipulation to effect change. A simple smile and and effort to serve the common good – even go the extra mile –  will go far to building solid growth in all sectors. Forget trying to psychoanalyze and second guess your market…and stop treating people like numbers. People really do know what they want and need. They do comparison shop. And, most have learned to resist many of the marketing tactics designed to foster impulse buying — if for no other reason than that they have precious few dollars to spend frivolously.

It really isn’t that difficult to hold the door open for the other guy, to let them get in front of us in a traffic jam, or to stoop down and pick up a piece of litter tossed carelessly by someone else (or ourselves). None of these – or countless other small acts take more than a second or two. These really aren’t difficult to do. None of these acts will even make a dent in our harried lives…they certainly won’t make us late for dinner. But, oh! Imagine the impact, if we all participate.

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