Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The "Marginal Depression"

Long ago, we had the Great Depression, which is generally talked about in a very long and historic fashion. Historians write books on the period of America. Wannabe historians appear on TV and chat for hours over a topic which they might be mildly knowledgeable in terms of events. If a guy sits down today, and looks over the sum of events of the past decade….there’s more than a recession at work.

So I’d like to invent a new term to be used…..instead of the “Great Depression”, I’d like to refer to the current period of history…..as the “Marginal Depression”.

A “Marginal Depression” is when you do everything possible to paint over economic issues and invent various programs to hide economic uncertainty. You keep banks alive…when they ought to be failing. You keep people in houses, when the mortgages have failed, and you invent various tricks that just keep the original mess just out of sight. You take measures to increase tax revenue….to shift money from public expenditures via people or industry, to government expenditures.

A “Marginal Depression” is easy to explain. It’s not in full view. It’s not a talking point with the breakfast talk shows. It’s can’t be openly discussed because it’s not ‘great’.

The fact that a guy who is 68 years old has to work, and can’t retire….is never openly discussed.

The fact that a kid is told by his parents that it’s community college in the local area or no college at all….is never openly discussed.

The fact that you have to drive a car out to 150k miles or eight years….isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that you aren’t doing as much preventative maintenance on your car as you used to….isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that you buy your dress shirts now from Wal-Mart or a discount center on a routine basis, instead of Pennys or Sears….isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that Christmas gifts are economically planned out by some people months ahead of time….isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that you don’t worry about fixing the broke dish washer, and just start washing dishes the plain old fashion way….isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that you really hate the house you live in, but you can’t refinance it for a better rate, or sell it because of the under-water mortgage situation….isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that your usual seven day vacation is now limited to one three-day weekend at some regional hotel with a pool….isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that you gave up all your subscriptions to magazines and newspapers….isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that you finally replaced your old broke mower, with a used mower....because you really couldn't afford a new one….isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that you quit premium TV packages of HBO and Showtime…..isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that you discuss a major house renovation with the undocumented Juan, and not Larry the local guy that you usually turn to for major construction on the house…..isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that you only buy beer at the store when it’s on sale or near expiration, or discounted….isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that you now grill more hot dogs and burgers than steaks like you did five years ago…..isn’t openly discussed.

The fact that you’ve become a choosey shopper and won’t buy anything unless it’s discounted or you buy in bulk….isn’t openly discussed.

So, it’s the “Marginal Depression”. There probably aren’t any great writers writing on the topic, or wannabe experts discussing it on TV….but it’s a depression no matter how you perceive it.

The War Memorial Photo

Over the weekend here in DC....someone was standing at the right point of a DC war memorial, and there was this scene which they could not avoid taking a photo.  In the midst of the memorial....was an Air Force guy (in uniform), kissing a young lady.  The photographer felt that the young lady had been proposed to and this was this "magical moment".

Well....the photo has gripped the entire city and folks want to know the whole story, and the identity of the guy and gal.

I've looked over the photo, and question the proposal idea.  It just might be that the guy did a five-star date sequence and just decided to kiss the gal, in hopes that she responded.  Or it could be the good-bye kiss and he's off to Afghanistan for a year.  The thing is....you just don't know.

So sitting at some desk....probably in the Pentagon....is this Air Force officer who folks are looking at and asking if he might be the guy in the picture.  If it was me.....I might keep my mouth shut and just hope that this all simmers overs by the weekend.

With the way that things go....there will be an entire movie made over this one photo.

Update:  Well....the guy came forward....a Air Force Lt Col, and admitted that he and his lady were the two.  They had already been engaged for two weeks, and were just hunting down a spot for their wedding ceremony.  He didn't want any mention of things....preferring privacy.  So now....life can go on.

The Yellow Jacket

So for $125, you can buy this I-Phone case (a covering) that has these two unique features.

First, it acts as a 650,000-volt taser.  It surrounds your I-Phone, and when you hit the little button....you stun the heck out of the person attacking you.

Second, it has this back-up power deal....roughly twenty hours of power available for the I-Phone user.....if were willing to give up on the power taser capability and just use it as back-up power only.

So a guy looks at a gadget like this.  Handy, very easy to operate, and simple.  You can imagine Doug sitting back in the office.....taking a personal call on his I-Phone, and happens to hit the right button and throws 650k volts of power into himself.....laying him on the floor.  Mary, Joe and Hank walk in....seeing Doug dazed....and remove most of his clothing.  When Doug finally comes around ten minutes later....he's asking himself how he came to be there with just his underwear on.

To be honest, I just see the Yellow Jacket as being an awesome power to have, but highly dangerous and likely to be misused.  An upset wife, an angry secretary, or a revengeful girlfriend could all play into the misuse.  Heck, even your dog might go and pick up your I-Phone while it rings, and hand it to you the wrong way.....zapping you.

Success Isn't a Government Thing

“If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.”

-- President Obama at a speech over the weekend

Usually….when some guy starts a statement…”if you were successful...”, I’m tending to stop for a moment and ask what if you weren’t successful? What if you had marginal teachers in high school, of which half should have been dismissed as lousy instructors? What if the bridges and roads built….weren’t in your neck of the woods? What if the government took forty million in tax revenue from a company and gave it to some pitiful solar energy company who bankrupted the money in less than 100 days? What if success wasn’t measureable by some government official?

At the tail end of this discussion, I’d be wondering if there was a division of the government…whose sole function in life….was ensuring your success. Would they meet in Hawaii for conferences? Would they have study groups with business experts from Harvard University? Would they have some former Louisiana Senator in charge of the success department? Would colleges offer up classes in success…..so you’d be able recognize it when it finally hit you? Would some dimwit start to measure success….in some idealistic fashion that qualifies you were marginally successful, somewhat successful, fully successful, or overwhelmingly successful?

 Here are some basic truths in success in life:

 - Your success is utterly dependent on you, yourself. A bunch of folks can give you wisdom and advice….but if you can’t see through that, and make the right decisions….then none of that matters.

- The first idiot to stand and say you’ve been successful enough and you need to stand aside for another guy to have a chance….is the first guy you need to fire or terminate. He’s some loser with an agenda which has nothing to do with success.

- Failures in life can pave the way toward success. A guy with ideas will eventually make it to the top.

- If someone wants to talk about the government being involved in your success as a company…they might want to mention that the government might also be part of your failure as a company. Logic would dictate that.

- Finally, the last people on Earth to tell you something about success in business….is some political player. You might as well as ask a farmer about his vast knowledge in solar flares.