Monday, 22 February 2010

Teleworking

Teleworking? I realize it's a foreign concept for you folks from Bama...but a moment to introduce it to you. Basically....your boss gives you a laptop, and then he lets you work from home. Maybe one day a month, maybe two days a months, or perhaps even four days a month. In fact....your boss could even let you work every other day from home.

The neat thing about teleworking is that you really don't have phone calls interrupting you. You could spend two productive hours building a spread sheet...when it would have taken six hours to build it at the office.

The negative? Well...you just might sit there for eight hours....sipping coffee and watching Oprah.

After the big snow episode here in DC from two weeks ago...everyone kinda woke up from their management world and realized the impact of all of us sitting at home for four days. So there's a discussion that suddenly got dragged up across all government lines in the past week....maybe we ought to make a bunch of folks into teleworker-types.

Naturally...since the vast majority of us have PC's at the office....this means the Dell guy is almost weeping. This could involve a sell across various government agencies of 100,000 laptops.

Here's the kicker. Over an entire year...on average....we have maybe two days where snow or ice might be an issue. So we could end up spending alot of money playing out this teleworker game. On top of that....once all these guys get the laptop...why not set up a regular schedule where they all take one or two days each month to work at home? We could even call it an "Oprah-day".

The odds of this happening? I don't know. I'd like to think that we are all better off having folks appear in the office and answer questions face-to-face. It's hard to see this making things better in the end.

My Metro

About six weeks ago...the Metro here in DC (my subway and bus company)...came out to warn everyone of impending rises in the cost of tickets.

What they finally came to discuss...about three weeks ago...was no cuts in service and a 10-cent rise for about six months (more or less), then things would go back to normal. Everyone was fairly happy and willing to go along with this deal.

Today...we come to find out that this was not the final word on cost issues or a rise in daily tickets.

Here's the new deal...we will likely go from $1.20 which was the January rate...to $1.50 (a 30-cent rise). This is fairly hefty to most folks. A temp fix? Oh, I think we are past that point.

But hold on...we aren't finished with rising the rates. The airport shuttle...from $3.10 to $6.00. The bike locker fees? Going from $70 a year to $200 a year.

Oh, and there's a pretty fair hint that it's not a temporary thing...but a everlasting thing...with more likely to come in 2011.

So you'd sit there and wonder about some things. The Metro crew came out and said that $40 million of their 2010 shortfall could be fixed by a federal handout. Well...they admit that this was mostly an optimistic view, and really won't happen.

So where is the cost accelerator? Pensions and health care for it's employees. The Washington Examiner actually got them to admit it.

I sat there and thought of California and all its various problems. They will be bankrupt by summer unless the federal government steps in. Salary structure and pensions are what drove California to be virtually bankrupt.

Metro? At the current rate...I'm expecting one-way fairs to go from the $1.50 they hint of....to around $2.00 by the end of 2011. At that point, I'm better off to drive a vehicle to the Pentagon everyday...it'd actually be cheaper than Metro.

Here's the problem that occurs...why would you take Metro? You could see half of all current riders just give up. The issue starts to be...a giant system that requires hundreds of millions for salary, health care, and pensions...and they can't afford it. The whole Metro system....within five years...would likely collapse.

The Seven-Day Rule

Quietly...and you probably won't hear it except on the Business-related news...Citigroup has come out and said...at least for its customers in Texas...that it now wants seven days notice before you come in and empty out your account.

They give the warning because federal law requires it. Otherwise...they would have just posted it at the door and you would have been shocked at the note as you stood there.

The interesting thing here is that it was for Texas only but somehow got inserted into a national newsletter so everyone across the US thinks it's for them as well.

Those hints from Senator Snuffy, Representative Wanda, and the White House...that we've turned the corner...that the economy is improving...that banks are now safer...think again.

If you were living in Texas and had an account with Citigroup...it's a pretty sure bet that you are talking with your accountant...your lawyer...your neighbors...and you probably will empty out your Citigroup bank account within thirty days.

The possibility of a run on Citigroup banks nation-wide? That's probably something to think about as May and June come around. It is a huge hint that nothing about this economic mess is finished. If anything...we've moved to stage two where folks start to think in a radical sense.

Folks might even start thinking of clearing money from banks and putting it into safe deposit boxes, safes in their basements, or bury the cash in their backyard.

How Beck Came to Great Britain

Somebody made a decision to take Glenn Beck's hour...and export it to the UK. So in the past couple of weeks...Beck has been appearing on the UK Fox channel. There are various comments that you could make about this...but frankly...it's a business decision and likely to challenge a number of British folks.

So as this event unfolded...some folks in Britain decided it was time to get tough with advertisers...and ensure that it was a failure. So they went out and punched everyone who was advertised as hard as possible...convincing them to drop commercials on the Beck hour. This past week...these 'tough' guys patted themselves on the back and expressed a happiness over their successful efforts.

Normally...at least with the standard expectations of the past three decades...this would typically mean the end of the Beck show within a couple of weeks. If you can't make any real advertising money...you can't continue the show.

Needless to say...like a number of things that have occurred over the past twelve months...standard expectations are being tossed out. Rules for liberals and conservatives don't work much anymore.

What Beck's crew in the UK will do...is fill the Beck hour with ad's from other Fox-related shows...and basically take over the time slot. If you own the slot with the number one position...whoever is number two...can't expect great or profitable rates on advertising. And the same goes for number three.

The business guys at Fox know the deal. They've got Beck at the 5PM slot and he's got full control over viewership. For ever ten viewers that Beck has...the number two guy is lucky to have three viewers. And the number three guy is lucky to have two viewers. Their advertising rate for profits? Lousy. No one can walk in and ask for a raise if he's got lousy numbers. You're stuck in number two and can't ever advance for your career or your pocket.

You have to be a bit amused over the glee shown by the UK crowd and how they stopped the Beck advertisers. In their mind...Beck's show is finished on the air, and they've won. Two decades ago...it was logical and correct. Today? A World of Warcraft-like strategy has developed. Own the ground and make everyone respect as you are number one...even if you aren't making the real profit. The number two and number three guys are locked into their positions...and they can't advance.