Thinking Long Term….

August 9, 2013

BezosThe Post, according to its own announcement of its sale for $250 million, has suffered a 44 percent drop in operating revenue over the past six years. Like other once-prosperous big-city dailies, it has been wounded by the defection of readers and advertisers to Internet competitors. No major U.S. newspaper now claims to have a business model that would guarantee its survival, let alone its success long-term.

But the “long-term” is where Bezos’ mind naturally likes to go, says Brad Stone, senior technology writer for Bloomberg Businessweek. Stone’s forthcoming book “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” will be out this October

SOURCE:  Bezos’ Weird Pet Projects Now Include Washington Post – ABC News.

I have been a fan of Amazon since its inception in 1994.  Jeff Bezos, who founded the company, was unlike almost everyone in the corporate world. The Wall Street Journal was constantly lambasting him because he seemed totally unconcerned the Amazon was not making a profit for several years. But as this article above states Bezos is one of those few corporate leaders who focuses on the long term.

Instead of making a quick and large profit Amazon he focused on doing things right for the customer and growth. I don’t believe anyone in the business world is as customer focused as Amazon. They simply do it right. They almost always exceed my expectations.

Most CEOs around today are focused on their future options. That is they want to show a big profit early, collect their stock options, and then get out with the MEGA-bucks golden parachutes.

There are a few fundamental reasons that American industry is losing it hold on the corporate world. One is the lack of long term thinking. Another is that the larger companies are stuck paying for an ever increasing medical insurance for their employees where their international competitors are not holding that burden. We are about the only country in the world that requires their businesses to take on that load. For the most part we learned our lessons about producing quality products in the 1970s and 80s but many are now falling back into low quality by accepting some Chinese goods made at extremely low labor costs and very thin quality.

When our companies finally start thinking long term and we recognize that tax payer funded health care should be a right not an entitlement to an ever increasing few, we may just find our way back to the top of the heap.

I’m not sure how Mr. Bezos is thinking that the Washington Post buy is good for the long term? Maybe he is looking more that their talented reporter pool instead of the paper product they put out on a daily basis.  After all, it takes grunts-on–the-ground to come up with all the stories and info in the on-line world.

ProsperityHousing is coming back. Banks are lending again. Energy is booming. A prominent Democrat argues that the U.S. economy is finally coming back to life

SOURCE: Is the U.S. Economy Coming Back to Life? – TIME.

Everything is great again in the USA!  The stock markets are booming. Banks are as profitable as ever and are now lending again. All the economic indicators are rising.  These are joyful words for us liberals and dreaded ones for conservatives during a Democrat administration.

Everything is great except for the fact that almost all of this prosperity is flowing into the hands of the top few percent in our country but thankfully it is also flowing into our pension funds. Most are in dire need of help. So, it is sort of true that a rising tide lifts all boats; it is just that most of us have leaky row-boats instead of mega-yachts.

Income and wages for most of us are still below 2007 levels and averages are below the 1970s level. Unemployment is still too high. The middle class continues to shrink. Will this condition ever resolve itself? I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.  It will likely take a decade or more for us to stabilize into a new norm for the average family.

  • All of us will have to get it through our thick heads that the good paying low skilled factory jobs are gone.
  • All of us will have to understand that a middle class job of the future will require more than a high school education. Stopping at high school almost assures you of a lifetime of hamburger flipping or other minimum wage job.
  • We will have to come back to a political sphere where the good of the nation takes precedence over a political party.
  • We will have to understand that in the world markets, requiring  U.S. corporations to pay for employee health insurance when the rest of the world depends on government to do that stifles job creation in this county.
  • We will have to understand that in order to raise our job skill levels higher education should not put our young people into massive debt when so many other countries provide free or at least heavily subsidized educational expenses. We have to realize that higher education should be a right to all instead of a privilege to a few.
  • We will have to realize that being in the middle class is not an entitlement but something to be obtained through diligent effort.
  • We have to understand that some things in life take years of putting aside a few dollars to afford. Instant gratification is just not sustainable for most of us. It puts us in a debt spiral that is almost impossible to escape.
  • We will have to understand that life is not always fair and that sometimes it even craps on us.

Everything is great again in the USA except……..

Life’s Frustrations…

August 7, 2013

LPBWI am a big fan of the TV show “Little People, Big World” about the Roloff family. The mother and father and one of the four children are dwarfs. I think I relate to them because I too face a daily handicap. I have watched the show since its origination I don’t know how many years ago.

What brings this to mind is the latest episode of the family where they went on vacation in Costa Rica. During their trip Matt, the husband who has some pretty severe physical limitation, struggled to keep up with the family but often times was unable to do so.  His frustration came to a head during a dinner that he and his wife, Amy, had during the trip. They have been struggling with their marriage of twenty-six years and this came to a peak during the episode.

I almost came to tears during their discussion as I could so relate to what Matt was saying. When our limitations get in the way of fully participating in life it becomes a very frustrating thing. My wife, bless her soul, almost always goes out of her way to make sure that I am included in group and family events and discussions. But there are times that I feel very isolated in life despite her attempts. I blame her for not being there for me when I subconsciously know that she has her needs too during these events. She has a life of her own.  Sometimes I become so selfish that I forget this.

I’m sure that all couples struggled at some times, and probably often times, during their marriages including my wife and me. I hope Amy and Matt are able to work things out. I have come to depend so much on my wife for so many things in the hearing world. She makes all my phone calls, appointments, and many other things.  I just don’t fully appreciate all she does for me.

Like Matt I get frustrated with life when things don’t go my way.  When I come across that waiter who asks my wife what I want to eat instead of asking me.  When I get sales clerks who walk away after they discover I am deaf. When my wife does her own thing instead of helping me. I know frustration is part of life and life is not always fair but that doesn’t always make the pain go away…

Rachel EvansWe want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

SOURCE:  Why millennials are leaving the church – CNN Belief Blog – CNN.com Blogs.

The above quote is from one of the bloggers in my Feedly stream. Rachel is a young religious blogger and author with a pretty large following of which I am one. The list above is part of a longer one about why so many young people  leave the church once they get out on their own.

I am definitely not a millennial as Rachel dubiously claims to be but I am certainly attuned to her list as many of the reasons I no longer attend a denominational service.

But this post is really intended to be about a mini-epiphany I had when I read this article. Almost everything on her list also could be said about the Republican party.  I’m not sure if this is a chicken/egg thing or an egg/chicken. Either way it means lost membership to the associated organization. I really mourn the continuing growing insignificance of both the church and the Republican party. I really want both to stay relevant in world today so I am hoping that eventually they will give up their stubbornness and destructive thinking and start listening to all the Rachel Held Evan’s out there.

Peace Talks…

August 5, 2013

Peace Talks

What would happen if we spent as much money on seeking peace as we did going to war?  I suspect the cartoon would be much different. It would be a fleet of Maseratis on the Autobahn instead of what you see above. I don’t know if peace would actually happen even with this reversal but wouldn’t it be interesting to find out?

Maybe we could say “if you don’t kill any of your neighbors outside your borders this year we will give you $80 billion” Even with that we would come out ahead…..

Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do…..

As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.

SOURCE:  Morf Morford: It’s NOT the economy, stupid | Red Letter Christians.

I am going to do a rare cross post here between two of my blogs. I am doing so because I think this post has a spiritual as well as general message.

While the referenced source above is about life being more than just money, this post is actually just about the description of the author.  Besides having a very interesting name the author of this post over at Red Letter Christians has very interesting look on life. I am proud to say I share his views of God and getting older. But I guess I am luckier than hs is in one regard. I still drink lots of milk. They tell me it is good for my osteoporosis. :)

I too am currently a free-range Christian and have been for a few years now.  I am no longer instructed weekly in what I am supposed to believe. I no longer feel I need to jump through all the denominational belief hoops in order to be a Christian. I can now believe that God loves all of us and not just those who believe as I do.  Instead I now tend to look at the Lord’s word from a more personal, some might say naive, view. From what I can glean from the Christian Bible I also agree that God expects more from us than almost any of us can imagine or at least willing to put forward.

One of the things that pushed me out of the last church I was in (that is besides being nudged out the door because I did not tow the denominational line closely enough and was probably asking too many question in adult bible classes) was their stubborn insistence  that they have it all figured out and everyone else is just wrong in one thing or another.  In that regard, I also proudly share the belief that  God knows more than they do, or everyone else for that matter.

One of the things that prompted me to start my blog over at RedLetterLiving more than five years ago was that I just grew less tolerant to pettiness of some mainstream beliefs about the current version of church. In these five years I have learned that I am by no means alone in those feelings.

Thanks Morf for reminding me what it is all about….

Pentagon officials say leaving zero troops in Afghanistan after 2014 would not be good strategy, but if Afghanistan doesn’t give US troops legal immunity, it’s the likeliest outcome.

SOURCE: Leaving zero troops in Afghanistan? It’s a serious option, Pentagon says. – CSMonitor.com.

Wouldn’t that be something. I think it would be a first in my lifetime that we didn’t leave soldiers after the battle is over.  We pay huge amounts of our taxes to keep our young kids in over a hundred countries throughout the world. For some reason we just can’t seem to get out completely when we get out.

Wouldn’t it be something to leave a country to its own fate instead of trying to intervene and force our will? We don’t need to be the policemen of the world. In reality it probably causes many more problems that it solves.  Why can’t we let people be responsible for themselves? I think it is because the very nature of many of us is to be quite fearful of the world. We simply can’t accept that others might want to go a different path that we want them to go.

Zero troops behind. I know our generals don’t like the idea but it sounds like a good idea to me. Maybe we should try it at least once in a while?

The Mob….

August 2, 2013

MobAt the center of this ring of geriatric mobsters is Bulger, 83, a still fierce figure despite the liver spots on his hands. Bulger is on trial in federal court for a string of crimes including 19 murders. Prosecutors say that some of his victims were strangled with those arthritic hands.

Bulger’s trial has entered its third week with a series of senior citizens describing the criminal havoc and reign of fear his Winter Hill Gang wreaked all over Boston with the help of corrupt FBI officials

Bulger trial is not just about organized crime and FBI corruption. It is also a glimpse into three decades of Boston’s old-school organized crime figures who controlled the rackets from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Source: ‘Whitey’ Bulger’s Once Feared Pals Now Geriatric Gangsters – ABC News.

The “mob” has been a source of fascination for all of us since the series of movies  “The Godfather” and before. That is for those of us who are not exposed to the actual mob itself. :)  I wonder how dominant they still are? I wouldn’t know. But it is kind of funny how they describe the trial of Whitey Bulger as taking place at a senior citizen’s center.

As most of you know the crime of murder, unlike most other crimes, does not have a statue of limitation attached so they can be prosecuted as long as the perpetrator is still alive. At least I don’t think they prosecute dead folks.  But it really is not funny thing the things this guy is accused of doing. He was a pretty vicious guy in his time and given that things don’t change that much he is probably still a pretty nasty guy who deserves to be prosecuted for his crimes.  I don’t know if there has been a movie made about this guy but I wouldn’t be surprised if one is coming after this trial…

Voting Districts….

August 1, 2013

During the last portion of my corporate life I was an IT guy. IT being information technology. For those of you who might not know what that is we basically, at least in my area, take data and turn it into information. The old saying goes “Drowning in data but starved for information”. If you want to get an idea of what that mean just Google about anything and watch thousands of hit come up. We IT guys took those thousands of hits and with some pretty sophisticated software narrowed it down to a handful.

Now that you got an idea of what IT is I will approach the most lucrative IT job around now and that is gerrymandering. Anyone that can take a targeted group of people and spread them around so that their vote becomes inconsequential can make big bucks in today’s world. Gerrymandering has become both an art and a science among both political parties but the Republicans seem to have it down better, especially in the southern states.

There are many articles around today that say that Republicans will control the House of Representatives for several years to come because they have successfully water down any significant opposition to their candidates chances of re-election. They have hired the necessary IT guys to tell them how to do it. Here is a very colorful election district map I came across when studying this matter.

Election Districts

 

Take a look at it and tell me if it makes any sense to you? Yeah, it would make a terrific picture puzzle but would serve no other useful purpose.  In order to turn the bias out of the election process we need to put some sanity into this process and quit jimmying it to produce the results we want.  Our right to vote is critical to our total existence as a free country. It is time to put some sanity back into it before it is too late.

Down on the Farm…..

July 31, 2013

Farm Bill

How did things get so out of whack in DC?????????????