Monday, April 11, 2011

So, Now I read on-average, a book a week. Sometimes more. Sometimes less. Amazon has a phenomenal number of good books, used, for sale. My tastes run from paleo-archeology , Roman history, Economics, Politics of the past, American history, Chinese history, Silk Road and India. Why-? Because good books make reference to other people-other times-other places. Nothing happens alone and singular.

Amazon and have spurred a renewal my interests in music. Watching the whole industry evolve and adapt to the internet is educational. The big giants have had to scramble. Their music has become a commodity and following the laws of economics "Markets reward the low-cost provider" Buying used CDs allows me to experiment. I can risk some small dollars on an unknown but intriguing artist.

The internet continues to be a disruptive force, mainly for good. Some bad things happen. However, the world is not a safe kindergarten where the adults protect and assure comfort should anything go wrong. Americans, especially the Gen X, Gen Y and Gen z are a mix of brilliance at technology and using the internet. They are also incredibly naive about scams, falsehoods and betrayals of confidence. They get irrationally upset at any slight. IOW, they act much like the spoiled children they are. Such behavior is tolerable in a small child, unpleasant in an adolescent and wrong in an adult. The world is not a completely safe and nurturing place. Bad things happen to good people as often as good things happen to bad people.

Watching the antics of our "leaders" on TV is funny. They are very risk-adverse. They run for office promising to Lead. They claim that they are LEADERS and know the right thing to do. Once elected, too-often, they become sheep. They wait and wait for the "Judas Goat" (look-it-up) to come and show them the path out of the thicket. They ignore their campaign promises. They become petty, arrogant and officious when challenged....

The 2010 election brought forth a new crop -who, so far- seem ready to honor their promises and do what is best for the country. For too long we have had politicians who simply used the public purse to reward special interests. Nobody was paying attention. Polls continually showed that the electorate disliked Congress as a whole and even the President. But they loved -their- Congressperson...even when they had no idea what they did or even if they showed up. For many years my Congressman Tom Lantos, held the dubious award of being "The Most Absent Man In Congress". He had a safe seat. He voted the union line. They showed up before the elections to provide manpower for phones and driving the voters to the polls. They walked the neighborhoods and handed out signs and leaflets. ... The Republicans always had some token opposition. Most never polled more than 50,000 votes. But Lantos won in a slow walk. The entire country grew accustomed to such relationships.

Now we are broke. I studied business company's that filed bankruptcy as well as those who were successful. I interviewed the leaders of the failures and read their filings and interviews. Consistently, they said "we ran out of time." watching the fight over our national debt, it seems one side says "Quick-! we must change our ways" The other side says "No. Go slow. There is plenty of time. We don't want to upset everyone." what do out debtors say-? How much time will they give us-? will they buy our bonds as we pay off the old and borrow anew-?

Increasingly, people are seeing a round of inflation as the only way to pay off this mountain of debt. Devalued dollars will hammer lenders and reward those holding assets. Will the US do it-?
will This President and This Chief of the Federal Reserve use cheapened money to harm those who gave us their trust-? watching the rise in commodity prices, oil, gold, silver, copper, grains etc. The answer seems to be a resounding "YES-!"

Inflation will hit the wage earner hardest. The wage earner cannot raise the price of their services as fast as commodities rise. Their employers cannot raise their wages until/unless the public accepts the new pricing. Hard Times seem just-around-the-corner.

Good managers, good entrepreneurs anticipate the worst, hope for the best, and plan for the most-likely. Right now, I;m glad I have no employees or customers looking to me for answers or a plan. I have no clue how ths will play out.

The U.S.A. has never been in -this- position before. We have a huge government that costs more every day in wages, regulations, rules and infrastructure. Businesses cannot plan because they don't know what regulations will be coming. The new Congress has proposed a law that would require a vote by both houses of Congress before any rule with an impact over $100 million is enacted. It is a good idea. However, political appointees who are True-Believers will quickly write regulations that impact the nation in $90 million increments. Then they will flow like the cars on a freight train crossing the desert, one-after-another is quick succession.

we are n a mess and no clear path seems available. The large companies are now deemed Too-Big-To-Fail. This means that they are both a bulwark against government -and- a captive pawn of big government. Our future lies with the small and mid-sized companies. we need a more fertile ground for entrepreneurs to take The Risk of ther wealth and good name to fill a need with new products or services.

Rules and regulations cripple small businesses. It diverts scarce capital, people and management attention to comply. The government cannot do away with the oldest maxim in the marketplace; "Caveat Emptor". More rules, laws, regulations, and enforcers will not protect the fool and his money from a "Great Deal"... All they do is confuse and hinder the growth of skepticism.

All business relationships are ased on trust. Trust is earned slowly and destroyed quickly.
Good business managers know that they, like Caesars wife, must not only be beyond reproach but they must appear beyond reproach at all times. This applies to all levels of the company. Good Will is earned slowly and is worth a lot, especially in times of uncertainty and adversity.

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