Disconnected In a Connected World



The Break Up

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Today many businesses are disconnected in a connected world.  Corporations seek customers.  Potential purchasers can access concisely presented persuasive information.   Clients are sold products.  Support?  Some may be available sometimes .  Web pages are Marketing Tools.  No real relationships emerge let alone evolve.  Technology used serves the organization. Commerce has too little concern for consumer needs. Executives and enterprises pay less attention to what is authentically desired.  Conversation.  In the search for potential patrons companies ignore what is right in front of their faces and in their hearts; people are gregarious.  

Humans are social animals.  We each crave a connection.  Facebook and Twitter founders understood this.  The statistics overwhelming show this.  Yet, rather than embrace what is real, organizations opt for what causes a break-up.  

The results of ongoing research shows that organizations have begun to invest in social media, but barely.  Only those companies who respond to purchasers’ real lives seem to see a need for a truer Internet experience.  Most simply stumble into the medium blindly.  Few realize that what occurs in cyberspace is a conversation.  Hence, businesses, big and small, for profit and not, use sales and marketing approaches to seek loyalty or brand awareness.

Organizational budgets reflect a lack of understanding; America is “wired.”  Please peruse the profound truths evident in a recent Pew Research Center Publication, The Future of Online Socializing, Older Adults and Social Media or Gadget Ownership.

In relationship to the technology and the Internet, most relevant for many corporations is what The Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm considers the Top 10 Customer Experience Incompetencies.

Authentic interest and Interactions are near void.  Instead, reliance on the pitfalls is prevalent.  Frequently, corporate web sites, tools available to prospective customers, and current clients are marketing ploys.  Employees are not served much better.  At times, participatory platforms are accessible.  Yet, even these do not fully engage consumers.  Unknowingly, businesses build barriers when bridges need to be built.  Perchance, organizations will look at what is thought to be wise and wonderful, then, assess.   Why is it that conventional wisdom does not work well? In the World-Wide-Web  

Study: Companies invest in social media for loyalty purposes

August 31, 2010

A conclusion that can be drawn from overall survey results is that the use of social media as a marketing tool is still in the early experimental stage. “Marketers across all sectors are involved in social media,” said DMA Research Manager Yoram Wurmser. “However, after five or six years in the space, and growing social media budgets, marketers are still testing the waters to figure out what works, with the incentive to accelerate their efforts being driven by consumers’ rapid adoption of this trend.” In fact, research from Nielsen released this week shows that consumers are spending 43% more time on social media than a year ago, making social networking and blogs the top online activity followed by online games and email.

One of the key revelations from the research is that the absolute dollar amount marketers are setting aside for social media is low:

  • When asked what percentage of their company’s overall marketing budget is spent on social media, the largest group, covering 24% of survey takers, selected “don’t know”
  • 17% of respondents said they allocated only 1% of their annual marketing budget to social media
  • 16% said they allocate 4-5%
  • Smaller companies with tighter budgets are significantly more likely than large companies to say they spend almost 50% of their marketing budget on social media.

Another key finding reveals a lack of metrics for success differentiated by objective:

  • When asked to identify the most important measure of social media success, nearly two-thirds of respondents selected “don’t know
  • Of those who identified a measurement, the largest group, covering 20%, said engaging customers to respond and provide feedback
  • 65% of respondents said they’re not using any listening tools to monitor what their customers are saying about their brand

Organizations often adopt strategies that experts say offer near certain doom. Tycoons think “If they build it, buyers will come.”  Executives “Follow the leaders,” rather than distinguish themselves or recognize the unique world that is theirs alone.  “Blatant sales pitches” scatter the landscape . . . and lose sales as well as once loyal support.  “Social media is treated as though it were a one-way street, an island, or the work of lowly staffers.”

The Ten Harsh Truths About Corporate Websites are avoided.  Sales and Marketing departments are assigned a task that is not their specialty, rather than engaging in a conversation, they create a monologue.  Information Technology departments are seen as soothsayers rather than divisions that do well in the delivery of complex tools.  Organizations mistakenly believe their webpage is all about them.  Thus, a greater disconnect is established.  Disconnects and subsequent breakups between consumers and companies that do not genuinely communicate are common.

References and Resources; Reality of a Connected Customer, Client, Potential consumer . . .

Internet, Intranet, Extranet? What The F**k?

copyright © 2010 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Internet, Intranet, Extranet Defined

Might we delve deeper into the world of technology. The Ethernet, once ethereal now exists in every avenue of our lives.  We have heard the terms; Internet, Intranet, and Extranet.  Might do these mean to us personally and professionally? Perhaps, it is best establish a working definition for each of the platforms.  Countless experts have written on the topic, the features within the various systems, and the variance in use. Steven L. Telleen, Ph.D., Researcher and former analyst with Giga Information Group in Santa Clara, California explains the distinctions most succinctly. In The Difference Between Internet, Intranet, and Extranet Dr. Telleen writes, “Today I think of Intranets, Extranets, and the Web as collections of content. An Intranet is a set of content shared by a well-defined group within a single organization.  An Extranet is a set of content shared by a well-defined group, but one that crosses enterprise boundaries.” In an earlier observation, Telleen, stated, “The Web, in contrast, is an unlimited group.”  In his more recent characterization, that element is unchanged.  He does however, assert, “These terms may continue to evolve in meaning.”  

What is most true, and particularly evident in the Ethernet, change is a constant.

Change and Cyberspace Comes to the Corporate World


Today, in our travel through time and cyberspace, I hope you will appreciate, as I have come to; the study of electricity is analogous to the Ethernet.  Each validates the notion transformations are invisible to the human eye.  Turn a switch on or off and things happen.  Instantaneously, it would seem, if a toggle were moved in one direction the room is filled with light.  In another position, darkness pervades. An engine starts or stops.  Press the power switch on your computer, or click on your Internet browser, and the world (world-wide-web) opens up and lets you in.  We do not necessarily see what occurs; nay understand it.  Yet, our personal universe is altered.  

In commerce and cyberspace, change occurs in every moment.  Internet, Intranet, and Extranet conversions occur all around us and metamorphosis surrounds us.  Whether or not we are aware of these evolutions, the progression will affect us.  Indeed, it has.  Please consider your own corporation and communications within.  Electronic mails are ubiquitous.  Employees in your office likely scan, share, and collaborate on files.  Most companies have a website.  More have begun to acknowledge what is inescapable in modern-day societies, Facebook directs more online users than Google.

“Marketers must focus on social marketing in addition to traditional search, as customers have a multi-pronged way of finding information,” said Jeremiah Owyang, a Web strategist for the Altimeter Group, a San Mateo consulting firm with clients like Gigya. Mister Owyang went on to state, “The clear-cut channels of yesteryear are now an intricate set of connections.”  

As we all understand and live, presently, many of us “Go to Meeting” from the comfort of our homes, clothed in pajamas or jeans.  We “do lunch” at cyberspace cafés.  We talk through text or instant messages.  Colleagues in cubicles separated only by a few feet feel no need to leave their desks to make a statement, or request a file. Office workers prefer to send an electronic mail message.  

Communication through cyberspace is easier and effortless.  Yet, regardless of how we try to communicate a tone, the reader will interpret the essence through his or her own emotional reaction and respond accordingly.  Thus, the reality lives.  People relate to those they know personally, trust explicitly, and are friendly with, even if only on facebook.

This is the reason for the rise in Internet interactions.  The World-Wide-Web is a constant conversation unlike the Marketing monologue most businesses offer.  TurboTax has realized the strength of relationships off and by extension online.  This big business decided to dive more deeply into what reaps abundant dollars.

One of Gigya’s clients is financial software maker Intuit Inc. Seth Greenberg, Intuit’s director of national media and digital marketing, said the company is betting on social media to draw customers to its TurboTax Web site this year. The tax preparation program generates about $1 billion in revenue in the 10 to 15 weeks leading to April 15.

Half of TurboTax’s 20 million users are on Facebook and each has an average of 150 friends. Intuit is using social media to generate more buzz about the program through the sharing of product reviews and answers to tax preparation questions.

Greenberg coined the phrase “friend-casting” to describe how Intuit is using social media.

“We actually want our customers to be our best sales force, not us,” Greenberg said. “Enabling our 20 million-customer base to be a word-of-mouth army for us is much more interesting.”

Any of us might recognize as Mister Greenberg has: friends, family, and familiars talk. What someone we know says speaks volumes.  A recommendation, a referral, the thought that Mom, Dad, brother or sister might reject the services of a particular company because any of these individuals had a very bad experience, weighs heavily on the minds of corporate Executives.  Tycoons understand the tonnage known as brand awareness and appeal.

Weight of Brand Awareness, Brand Appeal, and the Affect in the World-Wide-Web


Moguls are mindful of the fact that each of us, in every walk of life is affected by the assessments others make.  No organization is exempt from public scrutiny.  Just as mothers and father search to find the best babysitter, our parents also model the need to evaluate a butcher, a baker, and a candlestick maker. Countless caregivers, before a baby begins to walk, will work to ensure that their child goes to the most celebrated school.  

An education company, a for-profit, public, or private institution must be concerned with what the customer base thinks.  Reputation is everything if a business expects to increase earnings, sustain salaries, and preserve profits.

Tycoons only need to imagine the influence of college graduates, parents, professional persons ages 35 to 54, who as of January 2009 represented a 276% growth rate amongst facebook users.  This percentage has doubled in a mere two-month period.

Moms and Dads, Grandmas and Grandpas, guardians, and even we, as individuals, prepare our progeny and ourselves for the finest education.  Our careers capture our attention from the time we are first asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” We wish to pursue the best and be the best from birth.  This is the reason that private schools test 4 and five year olds before an application to a prestigious program is accepted. The vast numbers who work to be Valedictorians speaks to the truth; be it for a business or a business school, a religious institution or an industry that works with private and religious school Educators, public opinions matter.

Hence, within a very short period of time, businesses, en masse, have built blogss.  Chief Executive Officers have also chosen to submit their thoughts words and muses.  Facebook and other “fun” and well-followed forums have served to expand Executives’ awareness.  Perhaps, this is why today, tycoons envision investments in Internet, Intranet, and, or Extranet applications.  Undeniably, the Industrial Revolution evolved into the Information Age and brick and mortar business have become far more mobile.  Today, we meet and greet our clientele through electronic mediums.

How did this happen?  Almost invisibly, advancements began behind closed doors.  The concept of global connectivity was first born in the August 1962.  It was not until 1972 three years after the formation of ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Network), a branch of the United States Department of Defense, that a research team successfully fashioned a computer-to-computer chat

By 1994, very little had changed with the exception of a report, entitled “Realizing The Information Future: The Internet and Beyond.” This document served as a draft for what would become the information superhighway. In April 1995, a true evolution occurred.

NSF’s privatization policy was terminated. The NSFNET Backbone was declared defunded.  Delphi followed by other commercial networks moved in.  Today, we are all connected constantly. If you doubt this, look at the numbers, as well as the reality you live.  Microsoft Corporation certainly has.

Who is online?  What do users do? How might Businesses Benefit?


A web-based company, YouTube, which in 2008 was only three years old, received 13 hours of uploaded video every minute!  Now, at the ripe old age of five, YouTube has 24 hours of video uploaded every minute!  In two short years, the number of uploads has nearly doubled.

In 2008, The Washington Post noted, “The site logs hundreds of millions of views a week.”  Can we begin to imagine how many people are online at YouTube at any given moment now that the site has grown even more popular?  Probably not.  Nor would most companies be able to comprehend the earning potential.  Nevertheless, what each of us likely know is that we have viewed a YouTube video or two.  Perchance, you saw one last evening on the news.  Indeed, you may have sent a tweet that said, “Wait until you see . . .” From January 2009 to February of the same year, in one month, Twitter grew 1382 percent!  

People of every age tweet.  Fastest Growing Demographic; women Over 55.  Men between 45 and 54 are not far behind.  Essentially, Facebook is Your Father’s (and Mother’s) Social Network. Still, neither may be your online home.

Perhaps, you are not amongst the 3 to 4 million that in 2008 used social network technology.  You may not include yourself in the later and greater groundswell of social media growth that occurred in 2009.  You possibly could not comprehend as Forrester Research reported in the Fall of that year, Number of Social Networking Users Has Doubled Since 2007.  

Indeed, this veracity has inspired Microsoft to integrate Social Media into its latest release.  In February 2010, banner headlines read, Microsoft adds social networking to Outlook.

The mammoth technology company has read the reports.  Microsoft moguls have acknowledged, businesses must think Tribalization.  They have tried and failed time and time again,  However, Microsoft has finally concluded they must fuse, or infuse the future into their business model.  Observers are reminded of the past; Microsoft came late to the Internet party.

Perhaps, you too, or your company’s Executives, might wish to evaluate the evidence Microsoft moguls appraised.  You may choose to be amongst the movers and shakers such as Bill Gates, who admittedly, ultimately realized, in what might have been one of those moments of verbalized frustration; it is wise to examine the energy that is electricity and the Ethernet.  

People-centricity, which more recently has become Microsoft’s mission, seems to have been born out of a recognition followed by abundant research.  President Gates’ insight might have been as my own.  Upon further investigation into Internet, Intranet, and Extranet applications, I had to acknowledge that one or each of these platforms are popular, preferable, and even, surprisingly, profitable.  After a quick scan of the statistics Microsoft’s most senior Chief Executive could have concluded as I did in an earlier time.  the question I most needed to ask was “What the F**K is Social Media?”

The answer, I believe lies in what was before and Only “One Year Later.” The Ethernet is electric.  To be effective, any Internet, Intranet, and Extranet system must honor the veracity visible in the numbers.  Please ponder the presentations.

Please stay tuned, or tune in again.  The next treatise on this topic will further examine the once unimaginable.  The Ethernet, just as electricity, is the essential element that moves modern-day civilizations, commerce and citizens worldwide.

References for Internet, Intranet, Extranet realities . . .

Capitalism; Dead, Alive, and Broken

Cptlsm

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

For but a moment, whilst the Group of 20 [G20] met in London’s ancient financial capital, ,”The City,” the roars of remorse, could be heard.  Words of woe had been whispered in hushed tones for quite some time.  Scholars spoke of various possibilities on occasion.  Whether Senior Economic Fellows from various think-tanks thought a system to be dead, alive, or near doomed, there was perhaps a bit of agreement.  “I see what you mean.  It is broken,” Economist Mark Thoma mused more than a year ago.  

The public screamed out in pain for decades; however, few cared about the cries of countless common folks.  Those who argued against principles that place profits before people were easily ignored for they had no power and less influence.  Much to the chagrin of corporate titans, even Economists warned; this could be the end of Capitalism.  Yet, until early in the day, only weeks ago, no one paid much attention to what has become a customary declaration for everyday workers.  Morning has broken, and Capitalism is shattered as well.  

America adopted and advanced a system that was unsustainable..  More than once, “systemic failures” revealed the folly of free enterprise principles.  Nonetheless, worldwide people were convinced to purchase damaged goods and premises.  Yet, as Journalist Professor, Robert Jensen contends, “most notably those in the business world and their functionaries and apologists in the schools, universities, mass media, and mainstream politics” do not want to admit that this is so.

Wanted; Dead or Alive

The evidence is everywhere.  What was a question rarely uttered, “Is Capitalism Dead?” has become a statement, or perhaps the dream of those who have been severely affected by this most devastating downturn.

Wealthy watch breathlessly as stock markets crash.  Banks fail.  Blue Chip companies crumble.  Foreclosures flourish, and people, those once thought prosperous, pour out onto the avenue in search of a job, or some sense of stability.

Perhaps, that is why, average citizens felt a need to break the silence, to speak of the broken Capitalist system.  In the shadow of powerful and prosperous Presidents and Prime Ministers, who gathered together for the G20 Conference, 4,000 demonstrators pleaded, not for pity, but for relief from a fiscal system that requires poverty.  

Frustrated and forlorn by an attitude that fosters further advancement of free market principles, at least in the United Kingdom, dissenters shouted in disgust.  It would not be wise to work within an economic structure that changed the global culture in ways that ultimately brought international institutions down.  

On a fateful day, early in April a young girl in the crowd, Aeyla Windridge pleaded.  I want “the death of Capitalism.”  The twelve-year-old spoke to what Heads of State had not for centuries.  “Capitalism isn’t in crisis, capitalism is the crisis,” so said another activist.  

Recovery, Reinvestment, and Rescue

Few of the principal players, those who represented the twenty participant countries were willing, or able to acknowledge the free market theory is flawed.  Most of the prominent Heads of State were, and continue to be, content with sanguine assessments.  Up to 85 percent of global gross national product comes from the shores of but a score of countries.  Eighty [80] percent  of world trade comes from these territories.  Americans, who might be thought of as the authors of Capitalism, saw and see no reason to change the status quo, at least not substantially.

Borrow and spend had worked well in the past for the superpower, or so the US government attempted to advocate.  While the President poses this philosophy cannot stand, America must move away “from an era of borrow-and-spend to one where we save and invest,” in the same breath, the Chief Executive who represents the country that gave birth to free enterprise, endorses the framework, just as those who preceded him did. (Please peruse the text What Ever Happened to Free Enterprise, By Ronald Reagan)

Capitalism, the Obama Administration states, was not the cause of the planet-wide monetary collapse.  Only greed, excesses, and a lack of regulations brought about the demise of the dollar, and the rate of exchange.  As he addressed other world leaders in attendance at the G20 Conference President Obama conceded, “the crisis began in the United States.  I take responsibility even if I wasn’t even president at the time.” However, Mister Obama contends all countries must be accountable for this massive macro-breakdown.  America’s Chief Executive proposes plans intended to strengthen a Capitalist structure.

In his April 4, 2009 Action to Address to the Global Economic Downturn, President Obama encouraged more regulations in an attempt to expand a consumer-based Capitalist theory.  With little regard for how the American way of life, which the President does not apologize for, cripples common, people throughout the world, Mister Obama declared.

“(W)e know that the success of America’s economy is inextricably linked to that of the global economy. If people in other countries cannot spend, that means they cannot buy the goods we produce here in America,  . . . if we continue to let banks and other financial institutions around the world act recklessly and irresponsibly, that affects institutions here at home as credit dries up, and people can’t get loans to buy a home or car, to run a small business or pay for college.

Ultimately, the only way out of a recession that is global in scope is with a response that is global in coordination.”

One is reminded of why, in earlier years, no one spoke vociferously of the crisis that is Capitalism.  Ordinary people were busy.  For centuries, regular folks worked day and night only to bring home a nominal paycheck.  Even in prosperous nations, people could barely afford to put food on the table.  People took trivial jobs just to secure shelter.  Millions felt forced to pursue professional paths that offer few rewards.  The only goal for the average Joe and Jane was to stay afloat.  Few have had the time or energy to protest their circumstances, or what the powers-that-be had and have imposed internationally.  Today, and in the past, worldwide economic slavery has sufficed.  That is until now.  

Lest the President and Prime Ministers elsewhere forget, in the States, and abroad, people are out of work.  The promise of an ownership society,where “people, from all walks of life,” would open the door of their private residence and say, “Welcome to my home” proved to be but a myth.  The pledge of plump stock portfolios for everyone through Capitalism was a claim never substantiated.  Contrary to the oft-voiced assurances, the American Dream could be achieved anywhere on Earth If people only invested in a free market economy, this current fiscal crisis has shown the world, words were but wishes promoted by the prosperous.

Regardless of how average people are punished by a fiscal formula that requires there be poor people, the current President intends to preserve the Capitalist principles that govern a global economy.  While Mister Obama may not profess a commitment to an “ownership society,” he too wishes to encourage people to possess what they cannot afford.  

Broken Beyond Benevolence

In contrast, more than a few Economists have begun to contemplate the wisdom of a system based on constant consumption.  Experts in monetary movements examine, What went wrong and, rather more importantly for the future, what did not. Other statistician who study the social science of fiscal affairs suggest there is ““Good Capitalism, (and) Bad Capitalism.”  Certainly, no matter the belief, with cause, “Capitalism is under fire.”  

William Pfaff, the author of eight books on American foreign policy, international relations, and contemporary history has pondered the depths of a paradigm profoundly broken. Mister Pfaff offers a perspective less limited than the simpler theories often presented by Administrations and Academics.  The  observer of intercontinental issues writes . . .

The essential question is, what capitalism are we talking about? Since the 1970s, two fundamental changes have been made in the leading (American) model of capitalism.

The first is that the “stakeholder,” post-New Deal reformed version of capitalism (in America) that prevailed in the West after World War II was replaced by a new model of corporate purpose and responsibility.

The earlier model said that corporations had a duty to ensure the well-being of employees, and an obligation to the community (chiefly but not exclusively fulfilled through corporate tax payments).

That model has been replaced by one in which corporation managers are responsible for creating short-term “value” for owners, as measured by stock valuation and quarterly dividends.

The practical result has been constant pressure to reduce wages and worker benefits (leading in some cases to theft of pensions and other crimes), and political lobbying and public persuasion to lower the corporate tax contribution to government finance and the public interest.

In short, the system in the advanced countries has been rejigged since the 1960s to take wealth from workers, and from the funding of government, and transfer it to stockholders and corporate executives.

There is ample evidence to support the author’s contention.  In 1970, the recipient of a Nobel Memorial Prize on Economic Sciences, Milton Friedman, encouraged an emphasis on corporate earnings. A culture that creates a vibrant community, Friedman insisted is counter to “The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits”

Decades later, his disciples of sorts, Presidents Ronald Reagan,  George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, each implemented plans that increased earned income for the influential and decreased available dollars for the already disadvantaged.  Policies designed to protect and promote an American entrepreneurial taxonomy, or Capitalistic interests, were proposed as a means to spread democracy.  Planet-wide, people and economic practices were transformed.

The second change that has taken place is globalization.  The crucial effect of this for society in the advanced countries is that it puts labor into competition with the poorest countries on earth.

We need go no further with what I realize is a very complex matter, other than to note the classical economist David Ricardo’s “iron law of wages,” which says that in conditions of wage competition and unlimited labor supply, wages will fall to just above subsistence.

There never before has been unlimited labor.  There is now, thanks to globalization – and the process has only begun.

The variance is vast.  Those who have possess so much.  The portion of population that owns little, have far less than even an average individual might imagine.  The wealthy cannot conceive of a life where food might be the most valuable commodity.  A world in which water is worth more than gold seems unthinkable to those who thrive in “civilized” communities,  Yet, this reality may come to towns in a Capitalist country.   Indeed, in some American communities, this truth appears today.

Nonetheless, agreements secured at the G20 summit ensure the adoption of a debt-driven American-style “democracy.”  An arrangement, in which all are not created equal, will continue to be the practiced and preferred economic system planet-wide.  People will once again forget assessments presented less than a decade ago.


Many of the radicals leading the protests may be on the political fringe.  But they have helped to kick-start a profound re-thinking  about globalization among governments, mainstream economists, and corporations that, until recently, was carried on mostly in obscure think tanks and academic seminars.

The reassessment is badly overdue.  In the late 20th century, global capitalism was pushed by leaps in technology, the failure of socialism, and East Asian’s seemingly miraculous success.  Now, it’s time to get realistic.  the plain truth is that market liberalization by itself does not lift all boats, and in some cases, it has caused damage to poor nations.  What’s more, there’s no point denying that multi-nationals have contributed to labor, environmental, and human rights abuses as they pursue profits around the globe . . .

(After a ten-year expansion of market capitalism around the world, as of the year 2000) The World Bank figures the number of people living on a $1 a day increased to 1.3 billion, over the past decade.

The extremes of global capitalism are astonishing . . .  If global capitalism’s flaws aren’t addressed, the backlash could grow more severe.

Indeed, the repercussions have been relentless.  Near a century of consumption, solely for the sake of profits, has weakened the world.  The current fiscal crisis reveals Capitalism was never the cure for what ails the people on this planet.  Persistent poverty, and the threat of increased insolvency, born out of a free enterprise system is an expense few, if any, can afford.  One need only look at Capitalism, and what it has wrought.  Acquisitive individuals may acknowledge one reaps what one sows.  Independently, or collectively, as a global community anyone might come to understand, “If my brother is poor, I/we too will suffer.  Ultimately, I/we will pay for the poverty I/we accept.”  

Without such a realization, and inspired by the spirit of an individualism that has flourished amongst free-marketers, people may, as President Obama proclaimed.  Worldwide, or here at home, we “want a return to that sense of dynamism and entrepreneurship that [has] been missing.”  However, it is not another glorious “morning in America.”  Nor is it a beautiful day in most neighborhoods.  Were the clouds to clear, globally people might avow, authentically, there need be an actual new dawn.  It is time to dream of economic structures that have never been.

The majorities in the States, and throughout the globe, are no longer silent.  Common folks have spoken.  Capitalism is broken.  It is not wanted, dead or alive.

Sources for economic and empathetic structures . . .

On The Issues

Iss

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Wherever Americans turn, they are asked the same question; what issue is most important to you.  If you could, what would you tell the President of the United States to do?  What do you think must be his priority, or the country’s greatest concern.  Television commentators turn microphones on citizens.  Radio announcers inquire; what does the audience think.  Newspapers poll.  Organizations count survey ballots.  Legislators look for constituent answers in electronic mailboxes.  Each attempts to usher in a new era.  They want the common people to help shape the discussion.  

Is the war in Iraq or Afghanistan the subject you believe he, or we should address first.  Do you have faith that Universal, Single Payer, Not for Profit Health Care would cure this nation’s ill?  Could education, or an equal opportunity to compete be the solution to our problems?  Must Congress restore the Constitution with the support of our Commander-In-Chief?  Might it be that Climate Change is our most pressing problem?  Civil Rights afforded to gays, straights, Blacks, Browns, persons, no matter their race, color, or creed certainly needs to be a serious consideration, as does the oft-identified issue number one, the economy.

Democrats say they will deliver solutions.  Republicans repeat the contention, they know what we should do first and last.  Independents insist neither political Party addresses their anxieties.  The apathetic feel there is no reason to participate.  Partisan politics polarize the nation’s ability to act.  

A few might muse; pragmatism may be the most powerful position.  Surely, the stream of replies to this issue-oriented inquiry will vary.  Each will test reason.  Yet, no lone logic will satisfy everyone within the electorate.  Thus, I submit  an inclusively that is more true for me.

Were I able to speak to the President of the United States of America, if I could stand before Congress and address what matters most to me, I would say there is no interest of greatest import.

For me, all issues are interrelated.  None can be considered more important than another.  Perhaps if people acknowledge that no man is an island we will become better as a world, as a country within a whole.  A lack of green technology starves the people and the planet.  Inadequate health care and education exacerbate the emptiness felt by any or all.  A hungry globe spawns war for dominance.  People want what they need.  Too frequently, individuals and nations are willing to fight for what they think is right, whatever will ensure their own existence.

Mother Nature is no exception.  As she struggles for survival, she does all she can to sustain balance.  Her cries unheeded cause greater harm.  Wounds, left unattended bleed.  The pus from these lesions spills out on Earthy beings.  If we the people allow any of our ills to thrive, surely, no one will survive.  

Please Mister President, do not ignore that we are one.  United we will stand.  If we divide the issues, we all will ultimately fall.

Sources for surveys . . .

The Free Market

StmlsPckg

copyright © 2009 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

A child shrieks.  Her fever is high; it has been for days.  As the time passes, her condition worsens.  Blood, sweat, and tears roll down the little girl’s cheek.  Her mother gently, strokes the tot’s forehead.  The loving parent, who lost her job a month earlier, knows there is little else she can do.  Spare dollars, she has none.  Change has not come.  Without health insurance or an income, this woeful woman believes she can only lean forward and say, “Honey, everything will be all right.”  The free market will take care of us.

The mother recalls the sentiment of her former employer.  Reluctantly, as the reality of the recession set in, he closed the shop he owned for more than two decades.  He tried to console his tearful staff and himself.  Sorrowfully, he said, “The free market will take care of us.”  

Would the free market care for a sick child or a workforce ill with grief?  Might the free market offer job insecurity, a benefit lost long ago?  Could or would the free market ever calculate the  number of unemployed and underemployed who do not appear in the statistics sited.  American society is economically sick.  Spare dollars, we have none.  Change has not come.

In America, an adult man cries out in pain.  Emotionally he is distressed, economically depressed.  Although he is highly educated, and was esteemed in his field, today, he too cannot claim to be gainfully employed, at least not any more.  Ego aside, monetarily he has lost it.  He never imagined he would be out of work, let alone for this long.  On the radio and television he hears, Republicans in Congress feel they were “left out” when the economic jobs bill was drafted.  He knows not whether to laugh or cry.  

“No one asked me if I might be included in decisions that directly affect my life,” the woeful, out of work mister muses.  “Left out?”  The man, who once made a six-figure salary, is now left out in the cold.  This once successful gentleman cannot pay his mortgage.  The bank has foreclosed on his home.  His future is grim.  Spare dollars, he has none.  Change has not come.

Yet, persons sheltered from a physical and financial storm speak of the extraordinary system that made America a superpower.  Those opposed to the stimulus package proposed by the President of the United States believe the free market will take care of us.  Nothing needs to be done.  The job market will improve some time soon.  This crisis is but a blip.

Information from the Conference Board, a global, independent membership organization that delivers knowledge about management and the marketplace, is but a sign of our current recession.

Two million job losses are predicted for 2009; 2.6 million were lost in 2008.  There is no need to worry.  For now, spare dollars, Americans have none.  Change has not come.  Nonetheless, we can be certain Centrists and those on the Right believe, “The free market will take care of us.”  

Those most affected by a long time lack of regulations, the people who did not benefit from a free market mentality, whimper, and wail.  For them, this economic crisis began near a decade ago.  Deregulation dominated and a monetary downfall was delivered.  Those desperate for change to come understand, citizens of what was once one of the wealthiest countries in the world, lost employer benefits years before they received a pink slip.  

Few average Americans have been able to send their children to college for decades.  Without constraints, the cost of a University education has increased 268 percent over the last thirty years.  

The housing bubble did not suddenly burst this past September.  The fragile foundation that held up the American economy was shaky long before the commercial real estate market felt the quake.

These common folks plead with the Administration.  They say, as they did during the two-year Presidential campaign,  “Spare dollars, we have none.  Change has not come.”!

Faces flushed with despair delivered their message this Fall.  They waited to vote.  When the free market did not take care of them, they elected an Administration they hoped would.  

Today, these persons wail.  The woe has worsened.  The White House hears their cries.  The new President asks Legislators to shed a tear for their constituents.  Each Senator and Congressperson swears they do.  However, some howl for voters who live in luxury homes.  Others sob for those who have nothing left.  Each declares; spare dollars, we have none.  Change has not come.

In quiet moments, anyone in this country might be victim to the inertia weighing heavily on Americans.  No one is sure what tomorrow might bring, monetarily.  Countless workers fear they may be next in an unemployment line.  Small business owners, squeezed, ponder the possibility of a financial failure  Even bellwether Blue Chip companies feel the pinch.  Dividend dollars will not be paid to investors.  More companies are likely to fail.  Reports are fifteen (15) Companies Might Not Survive 2009.

Throughout America, tears and fears flourish.  The free market has taken care of us all.  It is debatable whether a lack of government regulations has done this country well.  Indeed, those in Congress deliberate.

In the countryside, there is agreement; misery multiplies.  Most would say “There is no pain-free cure for Recession.”  Consensus amongst the citizenry and members of Congress could be, “It is time for all of us to tighten our belts.”  Americans now spend less, save more, and sob as they anxiously await relief.  

Wunderkinds on Wall Street maintain; “This too shall pass.”  Persons on Main Street are concerned that they, or their progeny, might pass before any evidence of prosperity is realized.  Centrists in Congress crouch in the corner.  They remain proud, possibly calmed by the knowledge that they can insist that the Administration must, as Nobel Prize recipient, Economist, Paul Krugman states be  “comforting [of] the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted.” Thus, “the Destructive Center,” also a term coined by Mister Krugman, will preserve the status quo, and stimulate a more catastrophic economic slump.  

In the name of the free market, more taxes will be cut.  Less regulations on businesses and banks will be realized.  Average Americans, in greater numbers, will walk to soup kitchens, sell trinkets that were once treasures, tend to loved ones who are injured, ill, and without medical coverage. Common citizens in the country will cry out.  Rather than hear the pleas of the poor and the newly impoverished, members of Congress, those who are well-off, the financially secure, and steadfast will say, “The free market will take care of us all!”

References for Recession . . .

Car Manufacturers Con



Automakers Return With A Plan

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Weeks ago House Representatives refused to award the auto industry a blanket bailout or even a bridge loan.  Policymakers insisted they must see a reasonable plan to revamp a business near bankruptcy.  The legislators set a deadline for delivery of the proposal, December 2, 2008.  This same date was reserved for another auto review; in Florida a delayed vote on emission regulations would finally be realized.  The two tales may seem separate; certainly, the cities where Congresspersons will meet are far apart.  Nonetheless, the sagas are inexorably connected.

As automobile manufacturers submit plans that advocate an eagerness to adjust to a new reality, at the same time they lobby the automobile sector, as they know it.

Consumers, taxpayers, may have already been critical of the industry; yet the question is, will fear of widespread job loss cause common citizens and Congress not to inquire as they might.  Is an anxious America too anxious to ask; have we not seen this house of cards, or cars, once before.  Did the car corporations not deal from the bottom of the deck in the past and might they again do us in?  The American people need only consider the dichotomy of two news stories.  On December 2, 2008, Big Three automakers try again for a bailout, and (Florida) State panel ponders stiff rules on car emissions.  

In Washington, this Tuesday, with hat in hands the automobile manufacturers submitted their plan to Congress.  The plea was as a cry of “mea culpa.”  In Florida, the Big Three forge ahead with a contradictory strategy.  They endeavor to delay a green development.

The car corporations Chief Executives prepare to sit on the Hill.  The perhaps duplicitous tycoons hope  to beseech lawmakers in the next few days.  Please forgive us they may whimper.  As requested, we have spent weeks away from the world of Washington.  The Big Three might tear as they proclaim the error of their ways and ask for forgiveness.  Corporate tycoons have been humbled.  Automakers state they will change their ways.  If the trio can obtain a bridge loan, they promise to be good, penny wise, and not pound foolish, if only given a second chance.

Admittedly, the triad say, our first attempt to explain the dilemma was a lemon.  They understand the reason the House of Representatives asked General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler to provide lawmakers with detailed plans on how they might use federal money to ensure their long-term survival.  For General Motors, Rick Wagoner, Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally, and Chrysler’s Robert Nardelli resigned themselves to the reality, twenty-five billion would not be forthcoming if the dole was used only to avoid an immediate collapse.  Today, December 2, 2008, the three declared would be a new dawn.  

The automobile moguls have abandoned the use of private jets.  The significance of what had became a symbol of corporate greed was not lost on the entrepreneurs who now pledge to be frugal.

For the return trip to Washington, Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally will drive to the scheduled Thursday hearing in a in a gas-electric hybrid vehicle.  General Motors and Chrysler Corporations released reports that their CEOs would not fly in personal planes.  The implication is business class was just fine.  Word is the auto-industry Senior Administrators agreed to a substantial pay cut.  The public is told two of the executives would work for a salary of one dollar a year.  A paltry one hundred pennies would suffice.  Sources do not mention the millions that these three might have spent, saved, and stashed away for years.  Likely, they have plenty of money, individually to survive.

Instead, talk is of strategies to sell off lines that do not do well or are no longer viable sources of income.  General Motors has arranged to put it Hummer division on the market.  Granted, that was done six long months ago.  Now, the car company considers the sale of Saab, or even Pontiac, and perhaps Saturn.

Ford’s management was able to secure a buyer for Jaguar and Land Rover.  Indian carmaker Tata Motors purchased the products earlier.  Alan Mulally, on Monday, mentioned he would acquire funds from the sale of another luxury line, Volvo.  The magnate also stated Ford Motor Company could survive if the recession were not as long and deep as some fear.  Deflation or Depression could wipe his company out, as could the connection to a failed General Motors or Chrysler.

What was not offered of on the federal Hill was that which occurred concurrently in the flatlands of Florida.  On the same day that the automakers expressed their woe, and willingness to be different, to the Congressional leaders in Washington, they attempted to thwart progress in The Everglade State.  As the manufacturers plead their case earlier in the District of Columbia, in Florida, the industry tycoons stood firm in their decision to maintain the status quo.  

The nation’s most important industry is putting its best effort into lobbying Washington and Tallahassee instead of designing and building cars and light trucks that help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avoid the worst effects of climate change.

The Big Three showed reckless disdain for the idea of new designs and the development of vehicles that used renewable energy.  Despite the concerns expressed by Florida Governor Charlie Crist and the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the automakers have actively worked against the adoption of clean car standards in the South East.

Thirteen [13] other States have thankfully assumed the same stricter California standards.  It is increasingly obvious that the people prefer to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from tail pipes.  Yet, lobbyists for the car manufacturers knowingly choose to defy the desires of the public.  The Big Three do as they have done for decades.  As they attest to their guilt, they work to undermine actual progress.

General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler turn to the federal government whenever they can.  In Florida, the trio requests, the people be patient.  The automobile-makers avow the citizens “should wait a few weeks longer.”  Industry leaders decisively declare Washington will impose stringent standards soon.  Again the words not uttered by the Big Three are the ones most worthy.

The federal standards the car companies are still waiting for, known as CAFE, have yet to be enacted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Instead, the headlines have all been about the car companies being rebuffed in Washington as they’ve sought taxpayer funds to cover years of bad business decisions . . .

The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) conducted a study of the proposed rules affect in Florida and found that consumers who purchase vehicles that are compliant with the standard spend less on gasoline on a monthly basis than the increase in their monthly auto loan payment.  This direct, short-term consumer pocketbook test alone justifies ERC ratification of the standard.

The CFA report also found that the clean car standard serves the long-term consumer interest because reduced gasoline consumption reduces the vulnerability of the economy to price shocks, enhances national security and improves public health and the environment

Perchance the automobile moguls are not as dishonest they appear to be.  They may be but blinded by a desire to recover from losses too deep to imagine.  Reports also released today, December 2, 2008, reveal November, sales fell drastically.  General Motors sold 41 percent fewer vehicles although they began a year-end clearance sale several weeks early.  The former industry leader sees the writing on the walls.  

The triumphant vehicle producer Toyota also suffered a 33.9 percent fall from grace.  The Japanese company that had long claimed glorious sales offered phenomenal incentives to purchase their wares.  Yet, still they were virtually crippled by an economic crisis.  Honda’s sales also declined, 31.6 percent.  Ford Motor Company fared only slightly better.  The corporation with “a better idea” lost 30.6 percent in sales.  Even the esteemed BMW [Bavarian Motor Works] said its sales dwindled.  The numbers were a startling 26.8 percent below what they has been in previous months.

While there is abundant reason to worry, and fear for the future, if Americans lose sight of what the Big Three truly do, consumers will again be duped as we were decades ago.  No cry or intent to change, can cast a new course.  Citizens and Congress could choose to invite a crucial conversation.  The people and policymakers might explain; had General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler come to the Chambers and said, we have decided to work with Florida lawmakers and secure stricter standards, perchance lawmakers and laymen would believe the trio intended to retool.  

Were the car companies to state and relate  a need to impose stiff regulations on the industry that had served them well, Americans might trust the sincerity of those who now beg for a financial advance.  Had the Big Three done more than ask for more dough, and sell-off the securities that tie them down, then, maybe the American consumer, taxpayers, could believe as the Chief Executives claim, there is a need to be benevolent.  Such assurances have not materialized.  Obstinate actions have.

It is said, the Almightily helps those who help themselves.  Perhaps, the public and policymakers might do the same.

Sources of sorrow, sales, and auto industry realities . . .

More on money




To view the original art, please travel to More on money

copyright © 2008.  Andrew Wahl.  Off The Wahl Perspective.

The economic meltdown continues. This week’s take, “Money Talks” (Archive 0834), is the latest in my dollar-bill series.

Back in seven . . .

Andrew

toon@offthewahl.com

Bailouts Blaze; Exuberance Explodes



Bailout failure ‘will cause US crash’

copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert.  BeThink.org

Never spend your money before you have it.

~ Thomas Jefferson

I, however, place economy among the first and most important republican virtues, and public debt as the greatest of the dangers to be feared.

~ Thomas Jefferson

Tis Sunday, September 28, 2008.  The weather is warm and word on the streets is warmer.  Fire from Hades, fervor, and fury heat the debate heard on the streets and in the halls of Congress.  Businesses fail.  Banks do too.  Bailouts are planned and these too falter.  Those in the White House are red hot with concern.  People in Treasury Department and within Secretary Henry Paulson’s office sense the burn.  Many fear they too will be scorched.  The flames are intense on the Hill.  Yet, on American avenues many feel, while inflamed by the rhetoric, chilled at the prospect that this immediate need for a bailout is but a hoax or perchance, just hype.

Citizens in this country have been lied to too often; particularly, the public believes, the current Administration has been irresponsible with facts and finances.  Candidates and Congress have delivered a fair share of untruths.  Tycoons, most accept, fudge the numbers.  Countless conclude, there is no one, in government, or in corporate offices, they can trust.  Hence, when confronted with the claim, American taxpayers must bailout Wall Street, most say, and what of Main Street?  What of me?

The electorate fumes.  Even the apathetic are steamed.  Big-businesses will receive bailouts while the poor wallow in economic waste.  What is a person to do?

History might tell us we can do nothing.  Rome burned and Nero fiddled.  That is often the case when people are provided with fruits of folly in hopes they might forget financial woes.  “The fundamentals of the economy are (still) strong,” is uttered to appease Americans and perchance, those throughout the globe.

Today, and throughout this week we might recall the recession, the correction that preceded the perceived bump.  The year was 1929, near four score ago.  The month was October, and the date was the 27th.  While America had realized many fiscal depressions in years prior, none was as the crash heard on that solemn Thursday afternoon.  Few expected what amounted to a sonic boom.  The smoke rose from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.  The fire on that day singed portfolios and people.  The rumbles and rubble reminded many of the ruins of Pompeii.  Some could not bear the high temperature of an explosive economy.

At first, economists and leaders thought this was a mild bump, perhaps merely a correction of the market, or in any case, no worse than the recession the nation suffered after World War I.

Numbers soon proved the optimists incorrect.  The depression steadily worsened.  By spring of 1933, when FDR took the oath of office, unemployment had risen from 8 to 15 million (roughly 1/3 of the non-farmer workforce) and the gross national product had decreased from $103.8 billion to $55.7 billion.  Forty percent of the farms in Mississippi were on the auction block on FDR’s inauguration day.  Although the depression was world wide, no other country except Germany reached so high a percentage of unemployed.

The poor were hit the hardest.  By 1932, Harlem had an unemployment rate of 50 percent and property owned or managed by blacks fell from 30 percent to 5 percent in 1935.  Farmers in the Midwest were doubly hit by economic downturns and the Dust Bowl.  Schools, with budgets shrinking, shortened both the school day and the school year.

The breadth and depth of the crisis made it the Great Depression.

No one knew how best to respond to the crisis.

Nor does anyone today.  On boulevards and in banks, citizen question why do we need a bailout for big-businesses.  What of the common folk?  Who will or has ever assisted the little guys and gals.  All these questions and more are apt.  Where were the regulators, and what ever became of regulations?  

No one wondered, not even those in the well-educated Middle Class when they could cash in on high home prices.  Few fretted when it was easy to secure a loan.  Brokers and borrowers could live in the lap of luxury when no one was watching the safe or our fiscal security.

It was fun, to burn billions, while it lasted.  Now, as Americans sit on piles of ash, once called McMansions or glorious abodes, too many millions weep for what they were happy to have wrought.  Credit card companies call and demand; they must collect on the debt.  Americans whimper.  “I cannot pay.”  My foundation, my funds were burned when all was set ablaze.

When life was good Americans bought the oratory from the Oval Office.  People purchased businesses, stocks, bonds, clothing, and any capital that could boost a sense of wellness.  Americans spent . . . it all, and on what.  Inflated images.  Irrational exuberance was contagious.  It spread as a wild fire in a forest full of tinder dry trees.  Yet, now the Bush’s are bare.  Everyone has his or her hand out.  “Alms for the poor” is not the cry.  “Alms for the rich is what citizens are told will help.  People read.

Bailout failure ‘will cause US crash’

The US stock market could suffer a devastating crash with shares losing a third of their value this week if Hank Paulson’s financial bailout plan fails, US Treasury officials have warned.  

By Tim Shipman in Washington and Edmund Conway ?

Telegraph

28 September 2008, 10:14AM BST

The financial system could face a meltdown of 1929 proportions unless US politicians succeed in their efforts for a $700bn rescue scheme, experts added.

The warning came as Republicans and Democrats met in Washington for a rare weekend debating session to attempt to seal agreement on the contentious plan, aimed at preventing a long-lasting recession in the US.

Officials close to Paulson are privately painting a far bleaker portrait of the fragility of the global economy than that advanced by President George W Bush in his televised address last week.

One Republican said that the message from government officials is that “the economy is dropping into the john.”  He added: “We could see falls of 3,000 or 4,000 points on the Dow [the New York market that currently trades at around 11,000].  That could happen in just a couple of days.

“What’s being put around behind the scenes is that we’re looking at 1930s stuff.  We’re looking at catastrophe, huge, amazing catastrophe.  Everybody is extraordinarily scared.  It’s going to be really, really nasty.” . . .

Peter Spencer, economic adviser to the Ernst & Young Item Club, said: “This is the time you have to bail people out and ask questions later.  It is very difficult to see how the US banking system would survive without that.

This has the potential to make 1929 look like a walk in the park.”

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said: “We hope sometime [Sunday] evening we can announce some kind of agreement in principle.  We may not have another day.”

Rebel Republicans – who see Paulson’s proposals as socialism by the back door – were warned they will be responsible for causing an “amazing catastrophe” if they continue to oppose the plans, which would see taxpayers buy up the bad debts of failing banks.  Instead they want an insurance scheme for banks, which would spread the cost to private enterprise.

Would it be that insurers could ensure, people will not do as they have done and ignore all cautions.  In the past, professors preached, “Remember the Alamo,”  Today, teachers beckon, “Recall the demise of American International Group (AIG),” an insurance company who fell only a week ago.

A person considered a prominent and extremely prosperous investor attempted to teach the world of what no one wished to see.  Early in May 2008, Entrepreneur, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman, Warren Buffett warned us the winds from the warm blaze would scorch all life on the planet today.  He said in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, we are in for a “long, deep recession,” “Perhaps not in the sense that economists would define it.  But the people are already feeling the effects.  It will be deeper and last longer than many think.”  

Sadly, Few heard him.  People were off shopping.  Most paid for purchases with fire.  Sales, while robust, were often transactions that led to greater debt.  For decades now, people have preferred to buy now and pay later.  Only now do Americans experience an economic pinch.

Awestruck by the economic wreckage, people ask why.  Why me?  Why now; and a few astute monetary masters say, “Why not?”  Economists wonder why is it that humans do not learn from history.  People look back after they are burned.  The question might not be what caused the fire or the frenzy.  That answer is easily found.  Humans, flawed and filled with the foible of avarice wish to accumulate what they cannot afford.  Perchance, the query could be, who or how often will people pursue a bailout?  When will debt not be an option and when will humans guard against avariciousness?

References for Fiscal Resources . . .