Political Expressions – Overused, Meaningless, and Debunked?

During the course of my day, I listen to TV and Radio shows that have politicians and pundits as guests. During the discussions I hear expressions which come into vogue for no particular reason and become so overused that these expressions become overused and with the passage of time they can lose their meaning. Let me address some of these expressions is a sort of tongue-in-cheek and sometimes serious manner.

Occupy Wall Street

It’s not an expression but I couldn’t help but throw this one in. They really need a different name so they can occupy anyplace they choose. How about the 99’ers. It sort of sounds like the 49’ers of the gold rush era. Besides, they’re not occupying Wall Street. This movement really needs to get it’s act together or it will fizzle out. You can’t keep asking people to cluster in a location for nebulous reasons. If they want to do things like we did in the 60’s then they’ll have to march in Washington. Whether you’re for or against them they need a name change. I propose the name 99’ers.

The Rich are the Job Creators

Really? I thought I worked for a corporation. Said corporation could be publicly or privately owned but in almost every case there are many owners. How many of us work directly for one rich person that would fire you if their taxes went up? So let’s try a different angle on this and see if we can figure out what the expression means.

Our economy is fueled by spending and investment. People invest to receive a return on their money and we use our salaries and investment income to purchase products. It’s a lot deeper than that but I think I’ve got the essence of it for my discussion. Let’s agree that rich people are the fuel that drives job creation.  These rich people are either “old money” or very smart (maybe both) and know how to make a dollar. Let’s start with the former. If it’s old money then the money is invested and a return paid on the investment. Maybe the money is in a corporation e.g. Ford etc whereby the original owners may have a piece of it. Large corporations are not run by rich families (as far as I can see) but are run by boards of directors and then CEO’s who determine the financial future of the company. Therefore, old money does not create jobs per-se. .Old money invests their money for a return on their dollar.

Now to the latter. There are those that are really good at figuring things out and have made quite a bit of money doing so e.g. Warren Buffet. They know how, when, and where to invest their money.

So let me understand. If either is taxed then they will refuse to invest their money and thereby cause the economy to slow down and therefore job creation flounders. Why would rich people do this? Because there is not enough money to go around? It’s too problematic to pay more in taxes? They have just enough for their expenses?

I don’t know the reason that rich people can’t pay more in taxes but it sure seems suspect.

The Arab Spring

Was there an Arab Spring? I missed it. The military controls Egypt, NATO took down Ghadafy, and in Syria they are still shooting citizens. It’s the same old stuff. So how long does this spring last? Where I live spring is 3 months. When does spring become summer? Will the Srab Spring last as long the expression or will the expression “Arab Spring” outlast the Arab Spring?

We’ve Got To Win the Hearts and Minds

This one really tickles me. You mean to tell me the general population didn’t want us there in the first place? We sent troops where they shouldn’t be? If it’s war then why do we care what they think? I suppose it’s really not a war then – is it? If it’s not a war then how do you explain casualties? Now that I think of it, have we ever won the hearts and minds of anyone? Is Afghanistan pro-American? Iraq?

I ask these questions rhetorically and I think if we stopped using meaningless expressions then we could really express ourselves better. Politicians and pundits should say what they mean and we would all be better for it.

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Those LinkedIn Groups Can Be Frustrating

I suppose you can tell by the title a rant is about to surface. How many of you participate on LinkedIn groups or any similar types of groups? Have you ever posted, seen your post displayed and then waited for others to respond only to find that your post disappeared somewhere in the LinkedIn void?

Recently, this happened to me so I got to thinking about it. Since this was the second time I  could recollect something of this nature happening I tried to see if there was a commonality to each of my posts. You see, I do believe others that post or the moderator of the group can see my posts as a bit edgy. There’s just sometimes I like to ask meaningful (at least for me they are) questions which cut to the core of the subject.  There’s nothing nasty or inflammatory in what I ask. In fact, some may consider my questions to be quite introspective and cause others to reconsider the subject matter at hand.

Mine was a simple question. I was curious how long those in the group have been unemployed. It is a support group for the unemployed so where better to ask?

My point is that I think trashing edgy questions doesn’t help with resolving the real issues at hand. It does sugar coat the real issues. I’ll close by saying that I believe group moderators can do as they please with the responses but should consider whether trashing anything that is a bit edgy really helps others or hurts them in the long run.

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Bank Lends to Unsecured Borrowers

Does the title sound familiar. The bank I”m writing about is the IMF. The IMF is the International Monetary Fund which is mostly funded by the US and run by the Europeans. The IMF lends money to countries. Now, with the Europeans experiencing financial difficulties and not enough money to bail themselves out they’ve looked to the IMF. Why to the IMF? Mostly because it is the only entity on this planet with enough money to bail our Europe.

The Europeans are stuck in an agreement that is called the European Common Market. Basically, they’ve banded together because there is strength – and now – weakness in numbers. Computers are as fast as their slowest component and the Europeans are as strong as their weakest link. With regards to the latter I’m speaking about Greece – maybe others in the future. So what’s a Germany that  has money to do? We can’t expect them to lend everything they have to prop up the European Union and keep those bonds our bankers have invested in solvent. The US through our Federal Reserve has already lent money to foreign banks as a bailout (Bank of Scotland) and with the US experiencing a budget crisis asking the Federal Reserve for more help is out of the question. Instead, the Europeans have turned to the IMF to bail them out.

The familiarity of this is it is similar to the way American banks lend money to homeowners that couldn’t pay back their mortgages. What’s to happen when, and if, the Europeans can’t pay back their bailout? How is this money being secured? In fact, how many people are aware that the IMF is preparing to lend Europe the bailout money?

Stay tuned as this one plays out and wreaks havoc on the stock market. First, the market will go “happy days” when the IMF lends the money and then as more problems arise in Europe, and the IMF has to spend good money after bad, the recession or depression will become even more apparent as stocks sink and only those that knew better make money on this deal.

Now the US will be tied in to the problems in Europe more intimately than we’ve ever been before.

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Republican Debate of 11/22/2012

I didn’t watch the debate. Frankly, I’ve heard enough. This must be the 15th debate or something like that. The stuff is piling high. Even still, I do like watching the Morning Joe program and one sound bite of the debate I found very interesting. Here was John Huntsman standing at the podium expressing his opinion about one of our wars. I don’t know which one because I didn’t watch the debate nor did I hear the question. All I could hear was Mr. Huntsman saying that it’s one thing to listen to the Generals but it’s another to blindly follow their advice because we listened to the Generals in Vietnam and we all know where that got us.

I was shocked that he didn’t get more play for that one sound bite. Maybe our journalists were afraid to highlight the sound bite and talk about it. It’s unpopular to say you’re not for fighting wars. I suppose you’re not supporting our troops unless you believe that more war is a good thing. I’m on the opposite side of the fence. I believe we keep our troops safe by bringing them all home and fighting wars that are not nation building or fighting wars that aren’t for some nebulous cause such as bringing democracy to some part of the world that doesn’t know what democracy is.

My generation is the Vietnam war generation. I marched in protests as many others did. I realize it’s not popular anymore but we did believe that keeping our troops safe meant bringing them home from a war we had no business fighting (Vietnam). For the record, I was drafted and ready to go to Vietnam. The summer of my high school graduation was teh inauguration of the volunteer army and I was not called. By 1973 (I think) we were out of Vietnam.

I knew others that went and it wasn’t pretty. They are the forgotten soldiers and should be credited for fighting in such an unpopular war. Wars are not antiseptic. Soldiers are injured and hurt and it affects their families and friends. Some come back and are just fine.

One day I was watching an old Star Trek episode. Two planets were at war. To keep things nice and pretty there would be a lottery. If your number was chosen you were placed in a chamber and were killed. Captain Kirk put an end to the lottery and forced both planets to face their fears. Not surprising that the war that lasted centuries came to an end.

Are we any different? We send drones and volunteers to fight wars that can be managed in other ways. Why? Because Generals tell us we need to do this and our politicians don’t want to be blamed for being wrong. So we come full circle with John Huntsman. Does he have a point? Who runs these wars? Our Generals or our President and politicians that are supposed to speak for us. So far we have had two undeclared wars – Afghanistan and Libya. Are we losing control of our ability to declare war by listening to Generals and allowing our politicians to fight undeclared wars?

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Who Watches Our Journalists

Has anybody noticed how the fifth estate has changed over the years? I’m thinking if I can go back 40 – 50 years the press was investigative and investigated Watergate and other issues of the day. These days it seems to all be in sound bites and there is nobody investigating anything.  In fact, the press parties with our politicians once per year at a special party for the National Press Club.

How could this be? What has happened over the years? It all started back in the Ronald Reagan years. Many reading this may not be aware that at one time journalists would write lengthy investigative stories. Journalists would also challenge the status quo by asking insightful questions and challenge the answers of our top politicians. It’s how we managed to extricate ourselves from Vietnam and almost impeached a president for crimes that came out of the Watergate hearings.

During the Reagan administration access by the press to the President and his people was limited to those that either asked the right questions or did not press the questions on the issues of the day. The Reagan administration realized that even our journalists, as high as their ideals may be, were paid to do a job. If they could not get access to speak to our most important politicians than whichever newspaper or magazine they worked for did not get a story. This was not a good thing for the fifth estate. So what happened? They learned to play along.

If you’re a newshound you already know that there is very little original news. Most journalists report from the press releases they are given by our politicians. Interviews with our politicians are kept cordial and very rarely is the interviewee pressed for information. Politicians know better than to place themselves in unfriendly territory where they can be “outed”. So we get pablum that we have to sift through for answers.

I’m ranting on this subject  because like every other mainstream American I’m simply tired of all the politics while we have so many problems ranging from our deficit to our job prospects. I see too much pandering to special interests and not enough “working for our country”.  We see the ninety-niners out there every day protesting. I think the average person is simply tired of all the intellectualizing and party politics and simply wants things to get done.

We can no longer depend upon the fifth estate to help bring to light what goes on in the halls of congress and the senate. I will write about these problems as I see them. You may not agree with me and my viewpoint but I am that average guy. The guy in the middle and in the middle we have many ideas. We’re just too busy getting by to protest and too poor to lobby and we just don’t have the time to work on these issues as we work 16 hour days with productivity at an all-time high.

Instead, I will turn to blogging to highlight the issues of the day that affect everyone.

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Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Can You Spot Opportunity?

I read quite a bit of motivational material. Two of the best books I’ve read were “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, and “Think and Grow Rich”. The former I read before the latter and was the first book I’ve read that expanded my belief in positive thinking. The latter is a classic and presently, I’m reading it for the fourth time. That’s one time after another. I am digesting the entire book and researching it. I’m taking notes and finding answers. I will say that if you do read “Think and Grow Rich” you will want to know what the secret Mr. Hill speaks of may be and there are many on the internet that think they have the answer. They’re close to the answer and some others will charge you for the answer; I can’t verify they actually have it because I didn’t purchase their work. I’m still researching but I believe I”m closer than they are with regards to Mr. Hill’s secret. Anyway, this is about “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”.

The book is written by Robert Kiyosaki who has parlayed this into a mega bucks company. Frankly, it’s OK by me. He figured something out and after reading his book (there are others) and going to his sales seminar on Real Estate (not the actual course just the preliminary buy-in part), I could see that it definitely was worth every penny. I couldn’t take the course because of my time committments. Now where am I going with this stuff? I’m not trying to write an advertisement for “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. What I’d really like to get across is the business mindset contained within the course.

Are you considering your own business? What is your business mindset? Can you spot opportunity? Here’s a perfect example. The speaker from the course held up a DVD and asked if anyone wanted this free DVD. People raised their hands. Hmmmm who would he pick? He asked again in a different tone of voice. The same people raised their hands again. Hmmm, who would he pick? One more time he asked in another tone of voice which signalled his intentions. This time somebody from the audience stood up, walked over to the speaker and took the DVD out of the speakers hand. What was the speaker trying to say? He was looking for the right mindset. Could someone spot opportunity and act upon it. Only one person realized the opportunity and acted upon it. Of course, the larger picture is that of showing the audience what an opportunity the Rich Dad education series may be. But…. in a smaller context, can you spot opportunity and act? We all like to believe that we could but that’s not always the case.

In business there are those that act and those that have “paralysis by analysis”. Which one will you be?

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Choosing Between a Franchise, Business Opportunity, or Go It Alone

The three most common ways to start a business is through purchasing a franchise opportunity, a business opportunity, or do your own thing. We are all pretty familiar with the latter so why would you choose one over the other. I chose a business opportunity and I’m glad I did. I”m not going to say one business type is better than the other but instead, I’ll talk about my experiences with each.

I started by looking at franchises. I went to the franchise websites like http://www.franchise.com and others. A simple google search will yield plenty of franchise results. What are franchises? They are in most cases successful businesses with a proven method of doing business. A franchise opportunity must also report to the government regarding the successes of their franchisees and the income producing capabilities of each. Franchises are chosen by franchisees because they have a proven business method and for those with no business experience that are seeking a business investment a franchise can seem promising. A franchisor, for the reasons mentioned, has an incentive to support a franchisee and help make him or her successful. Franchises are typically the most expensive form of opportunity and offer the least control of the business to a new business owner. A franchisee either does things the way the franchisor says or the license to do business under their name is revoked.  Royalties are paid to the franchise system and are used to support advertising, marketing, support staff, and more. A franchisee reports his income regularly to the franchisor to make sure royalties are being assessed properly. Sometimes, this makes specific types of businesses unprofitable as volume comparitive to competitors must be greater or you must sell at a higher price point to yield a profit. The competitors I’m speaking about are those in the same business as you that are not franchises and don’t  have the additional overhead.

A business opportunity is similar to a franchise. They are found on the same websites as the franchises so be careful to understand which type you are inquiring about. The big difference is that there is no explicit government reporting and their is no explicit support for the purchaser of a business opportunity. Respectively, with regards to the latter, the income projections should be reviewed very carefully as in some cases, they can be faulty and the you should inquire from others in the business opportunity regarding the level of business support they’ve received over the years. A business opportunity typically will have some measure of business support, you purchase all your equipment and fixings through them (it’s where they make their money), and their is limited training. Typically, they are not as costly as a franchise. I purchased a business opportunity and spun two businesses of it that I may otherwise have not been able to do under a franchise agreement.

If you go solo then you are truly on your own. Choosing this path is the most difficult for those that are not experienced. The SBA will typically dissuade you from leaving your day job until you’ve got your business going and it can support your lifestyle. Professionals such as doctors and lawyers etc. aside, unless you have a salable skill then starting in a business with no experience can be a daunting task. There are many “tricksters” out there that are happy to take your money and sell you on their service or product. It took me about two years to develop my relationships with my vendors. The first few that came through my doors were very happy to sell me what I couldn’t use. By the way, I purchased a signage business opportunity. From there I spun off http://www.tradeshowmoe.com for tradeshow displays and graphics. My sign shop goes by a different name.

Consider carefully and seek professional help from the SBA and other agencies that can consult with you regarding your idea.

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