Sunday, February 22, 2009

Everybody Hurts

Barack Obama says that "only government" can shake the country out of the recession. Ronald Reagan said that the government does not solve problems, it subsidizes them.

Al Gore said that we can't wait for someone else to solve the global climate crisis. We need to act and we need to act now. Rush Limbaugh says that despite the hysterics of a few pseudo-scientists, there is no reason to believe in global warming.

Thomas Jefferson said that if Americans ever allow banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks will deprive the people of all property until their children will wake up homeless. Dan Quayle said that bank failures are caused by depositors who don't deposit enough money to cover losses due to mismanagement.

When the day is long and the night, the night is yours alone,
when you're sure you've had enough of this life, well hang on.
Don't let yourself go, everybody cries and everybody hurts sometimes.

Thomas Jefferson also said "never put off till tomorrow what you can do today." Ben Franklin (among others) said that "haste makes waste."

William Penn said that people who do good for good's sake seek neither paradise nor reward, but are sure of both in the end. Clare Boothe Luce said that no good deed goes unpunished.

George Bernard Shaw said that there is only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it. Mahatma Ghandi said that God has no religion.

Sometimes everything is wrong. Now it's time to sing along.
When your day is night alone, (hold on, hold on)
if you feel like letting go, (hold on)
when you think you've had too much of this life, well hang on.

Robert Frost said that good fences make good neighbours. Winnie the Pooh said (to his best friend Christopher Robin): If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. i'll always be with you.”

Everybody hurts. Take comfort in your friends.
Everybody hurts. Don't throw your hand. Oh, no. Don't throw your hand.
If you feel like you're alone, no, no, no, you are not alone.

Maybe we can all just agree to disagree. I think someone once said that the salvation of mankind lies only in making everything the concern of all.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Bob Costas Affect

A-Rod got caught with his hand in the cookie jar.  Or as Bob Costas points out, someone ratted him out.

So, A-rod says he is sorry.  Says he was young and foolish. Says it hasn't happened in five years and will never happen again.  Yankee haters are up in arms, as are many baseball purists.  Bob Costas is all open arms.  He says: I hold zero animosity towards Alex Rodriguez.

Bob Costas says the people who leaked the names are the ones who should be penalized.  Bob says they broke federal laws and should be held accountable.

Have I ever mentioned that I love baseball?  I love it so much I want to marry it.  And I am so very tired of all the nonsense that has been going on for the past decade.  Like most true baseball fans, I just want to watch the game.  I want to watch the boys of summer out on the field doing their thing.

But just like everything else in America these days, drama rules. And the media sucks it up.  Then the parasites show up to feast on the bodies.  Then the buzzards show up to feast on the carnage.  And then we move on to the next drama.

For the record, though I have tremendous respect and much love for Bob Costas, I disagree with him (I think).  Everyone involved is equally culpable. The players who took the steroids are responsible for their actions. The union who didn't protect their players are responsible for their actions (or inactions), the commissioner of baseball is responsible for this entire mess that continues to unravel like a Spalding baseball punished by Roy Hobbs.  And yes, the people who leaked the names and the media who jumped all over it are responsible for the feeding frenzy.

And to what end?  The players will continue to play.  Fans will continue to boo and cheer. Baseball cards will continue to sell. The season will go on.  It will all just be a little less innocent than it once was.  

And yeah, the bloom has been off this rose (no Pete pun intended) for some time now, but baseball continues to be an important part of our history.  If I may be so bold as to borrow the words of one fictitious Terence Mann:

The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.

So can't we just leave it alone?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Um, I Told You So!

Last month, almost to the day, I wrote this in my blog post:

I am going out on a limb and making a prediction: Retail sales in January 2009 will be up. Despite all the incredibly harsh weather and the absolute uncertainty. Despite the transition at the White House. Despite the inability of so many Americans to land a job or secure health insurance or refinance their mortgage loans. Things are going to get better... starting this month.

And today, the Commerce Department released retail sales numbers for January.  And here is what CNN Money is reporting now:

Retail sales unexpectedly rose in January, after six straight months of declines, according to a government report Thursday that raised skepticism among economists.

There are two important things  to take away from this:

1. Retail sales rose in January.  Of course they did!  Everything was on sale and people had some holiday money to spend and at the end of the day, consumers consume. Duh.

2. Economists are skeptical. Of course they are!  Six months ago these same economists were skeptical that we were in a recession. Double Duh.

I am sure President Obama is right; it is going to be a belt-tightening year for a lot of people. So we will all work a little  harder, save a little more and spend a little less. And economists will continue to be 6-12 months behind the times. And life will get better, as it always does.

But hey, what do I know about anything?  

The sky is falling... just not on me!

Monday, February 9, 2009

By All Means, Let's Make the Economy the New Whipping Boy

I just received my afternoon update from Crain's Cleveland Business and see that:


Well, thank you very much for that insightful story.

Of course, this is one of a thousand stories I've read since the start of the new year that blames the economy for every bad thing that is happening in the United States.  And two thoughts keep going through my head (which is two more than I can usually handle):

1.  Is the economy really that bad?
2.  Is there something else at play here?

According to that Crain's story, "... the entire marketing/communications industry is reeling."

Really?  Because I'm just not seeing it. Plus, whoever wrote this story did not bother to attribute that MASSIVE fact to any particular source.  Idiots.

So, maybe it is the economy that is forcing cutbacks and layoffs.  Or maybe some organizations are seeing the recession as a "get out of jail free" card (unload that unwanted human inventory while the loading zone is clear).  And maybe the media is adding fuel to the fire by not looking a little deeper into what's really going on.

I can not speak for every industry in every market, but I can speak for my business in my industry.  And business is good.  We are working very hard and we are delivering exceptional value and we are quite busy.  We have not seen any clients (at least nothing out of the ordinary) cutting back on budgets and spending.

We are seeing a greater demand for accountability, but we like that.  Clients aren't satisfied with confirmation of deliverables and results, they want analytics and metrics that testify to the return on their investment.  And we like that too.

And as I look around at my rather large circle of friends, I am not aware of anyone that has lost their job in the last year.  No blue collar workers and no office workers.  No young employees and no seasoned pros.

I am not saying that the whole thing is a scam.  Maybe all of my friends fall into the Outliers category.  I am simply pointing out that it seems like we ought to  be  just a little more careful. We shouldn't be so quick to pull the trigger on blaming the economy for everything that isn't quite right these days. 

Maybe there is more to the story. Maybe we've already turned the corner on this recession (which 9 months ago no one would admit we were in) and things are getting better.  Either way, I truly believe we need to look at the current economic situation as a wake up call to apply some elbow grease and put our noses to the grindstone and get busy.

Because all this talk about the recession is starting to scare the kids.  And I would think that having Al Gore telling the kids that the world is coming to a fast and furious end would be more than enough right now.  So what do you say?  Let's ease up on the economy.