Browsing articles in "Editorials"
Jan 13, 2013

Silly Tax Package Still Enables The Rich

Now really.  Whose entitled in this country?  Not the poor who need food stamps and housing assistance.  Not the aging who need medicare and social security.  It’s the rich.  No f—ing doubt about it.

Today we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any country on earth:  now that is something that we the people can be proud of!  The last time we had this inequality it was 1928 and there were bread lines.

The top 1 percent of Americans own 42% of the wealth and the bottom 60 percent own 2.3 percent.  Seems fair, doesn’t it?  The Wal-Mart family owns more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans.  Good night John Boy.

Corporate profits are at an all time high.  After admitting his giant f–k-up, ever charming Jamie Dimond gave himself a big fat bonus.

Corporations paid just 12 percent of their profits, the lowest since 1972.  In 2005 one out of four corporations paid no tax whatsoever  – OMG, is this the 47% that Mitt was actually talking about?  Oh yes, and they collected $1.1. trillion in revenue.  While paying no taxes.  Quite a trick.  Actually not.  The rich and their lackeys in government have been working on the tax code since Eisenhower.

Mitt Romney’s favorite place, the Cayman Islands, allows corporations and wealthy people like Mitt to avoid more than $100 billion in taxes every single year.  There is now one five story building in the Caymans which is “home” to 18,000 corporations.  Poor them.  Living cheek to jowl like the American poor after all.

 

thanks to Senator Bernie Sanders for the facts in this post.  

Jan 13, 2013

Filibuster

A filibuster is a political delaying (or killing) tactic to block a bill.  As we all know by now, the Republicans in the Senate have used the filibuster almost as their daily bread.

The word filibuster comes from the Dutch “vrijbutier” which means “pirate”.  The current class of Republican senators have used the filibuster to pirate the spirit of our democracy and literally bring our government to a standstill.

Once upon a time, before Republicans turned it into a joke, the filibuster meant that the filibusterer had to stand on the Senate floor and talk the filibuster … for hours, not minutes.  Senator  Strom Thurmond holds the record for the longest filibuster:  he spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957.  He filibustered by reciting the Constitution, The Declaration of Independence and any number of government documents which ironically should have been interpreted to support the very bill Senator Thurmond was filibustering.

One source said that John Calhoun, opposing a bill offered by Henry Clay, filibustered for two weeks.  He must have had an army of supporters or spoken from a porta-potty.  This was the first major filibuster, occurring in 1914.

Other filibuster winners (are they in the Guinness Book of World Records) go to Alfonse D’Amato  (23 hours and 30 minutes on an important military bill in 1986).  Wayne Morse filibustered against the Tidelands Oil bill in 1953, speaking for 22 hours and 26 minutes.  Robert LaFollette filibustered a bill to permit the U.S. Treasury to lend money to banks during a fiscal crisis (oh we know about that!) — speaking for 18 hours and 23 minutes.

And, back to the future once again, William Proxmire filibustered a bill to raise the debt ceiling by speaking for 16 hours and 12 minutes.

Louisiana favorite Huey Long read from Shakepeare and cookbooks for more than 15 hours.

Claire Boothe Luce is reputed to have said:  ” They say that women talk too much.  If you have ever worked in Congress, you know that men invented the filibuster.”

Between 1840 and 1900, there were 16 filibusters. Between 2009 and 2010, there were more than 130.  After Republicans won back the house and Mitch McConnell announced that their first priority would be to see that Obama didn’t get a second term, filibusters were even more frequent.

These current Republicans, led by McConnell, have decided it is sufficient to let Mitch know that they oppose a bill for it to be called a filibuster.  No more need to talk.  And the current democrats are trying to fix this:  not to eliminate the filibuster but to force those who want to use it to talk, and talk, and talk.

Personally, I think they should have to read from Fifty Shades of Grey (which let me say I have not read), but since there appears to be a trilogy future filibusterers can pick up where the last filibusterer left off.  Because of the origin of the name, and what they are doing, I also think they should have to filibuster with a patch on one eye and a parrot on their shoulder (inevitably, with doo doo on their back).

 

 

 

 

Jan 10, 2013

Branding and The Boy Scouts of America

 I gave this speech to the Aloha  Council of the Boy Scouts of America late in the last century.  I am adamantly opposed to their exclusion of gays in their organization, but I am posting this because it is an excellent overview of the discipline of branding.

Aloha and good morning.  Derek Fortin asked me to speak on the idea of Marketing and the Boy Scouts of America image.  I want to change that a bit, and talk to you about Marketing and the Boy Scouts of America Brand Identity.  Image is a word that is often construed to mean something superficial — even phony.  But a brand, or brand identity, is something far more profound.   Brands are not products or the logos or the images that represent them.  Brands are the relationship that a person has with a product.  Boy Scouts of America is a very powerful brand, that has a very strong connectionwith its customers.  The relationship which the Boy Scouts of America customers have with the “product” that is Boy Scouts is based on belief in values, loyalty and one of the strongest principles of branding — a continuity of experience

Today, I want to talk to you about three things.  I want to talk to you about what a brand is and how important a strong brand can be to a product or an organization’s future. I want to talk to you about the brand that is Boy Scouts of America.  And I want to talk to you about what it means for you who are here today — the keepers of the Boy Scouts of America brand — to champion that brand effectively so that it can survive in the 21st Century.

First, I want to spend a bit of time explaining the idea of brand identity, and why brand building is important to the Boy Scouts of America.

We can all name the world’s well known brands — Coca Cola, McDonald’s, Nike, Marlboro.  The value of the Coca Cola name, for instance, is estimated at more than $33 billion.    That value does not lie in the taste of Coca Cola, but in the promise that it makes to its customers.  When Coca Cola did its research on New Coke — the overwhelming taste preference was for the sweeter version of the soft drink.  But the company had failed to take into account the value of its brand, and how inextricably that brand was linked with what is now known as Classic Coke.  A brand is not something that can be seen, touched, tasted, defined or measured.  Intangible and abstract, it exists solely as an idea in the mind of the customer.  And yet, it is often a product’s most precious asset.

How many of you know that Marlboro used to be a cigarette for women?  At that time—prior to 1954 — Marlboro was called a luxury cigarette.  With a non-filtered tip that kept tobacco off a women’s lips it was hardly a rousing success.  It had one fourth of one percent of the tobacco market which —as any of us know — hardly spells success.  When Marlboro changed its image to target men, it developed a brand that was strong, masculine and rugged.  It co-opted cowboys forever.  The company added a filter, but didn’t change much else: except the brand identity. Continue reading »

Jan 8, 2013

“Culture Fit” vs “Design Thinking”

Bloomberg Business has an article about the changes in hiring and what companies are looking for.  Big buzzword today is “cultural fit.” Fifteen years ago, Brook and I called that “living the brand.”

Southwest Airlines has long been asking pilots to interview in bermuda shorts for three days.  The uppity ones who need epaulets and fake medallions self-select out of the process.  The ones who are qualified to be Southwest pilots know that they will need to be on a team, haul bags and be part of the group.  That is living the Southwest brand.  That is today’s “culture fit.”

Evidently, Zappos will pay a person $4000 to leave after they have worked for a week and shown that the “don’t fit in.”  The sandwich chain Pret a Manager hires an employee for a day and then lets the other team members vote him/her in or out.

Culture fit can also be used as an excuse not to hire someone, as in the case of “I don’t like you,” or “you’re not like me, you’re not someone I would have a beer with.”  Both living the brand and culture fit assume employees can do the job:  the question being answered is “will you fit in?”

On the other hand, there is Ideo and its founder’s term “Design Thinking” which advocates throwing a problem to a brain storming session with folks from diverse backgrounds, with diverse degrees.

According to one HR manager, you need to look for people with diverse thoughts who will be “great for the company.”  If a hiring manager is searching for “who will we get along with,” they may not find that individual with “out-of-the-box thinking” that will move the company in a new direction, or solve a problem that has vexed the other employees.

The article notes that “culture fit” goes against the U.S.’s melting-pot ethos, and that companies with diversity in their culture have a better chance of success.  One University of Illinois study showed that companies with racial diversity posted 15 times more sales revenue than those which had more homogeneous staffs.

Another points out that you need to decide whether you are hiring for “the culture you have or the culture you want.”

Too bad we can’t interview politicians for “culture fit,” and that the reluctance to have diversity in our leadership working together makes us so vulnerable to decline.

 

Jan 6, 2013

Lazy Liberals of Hawai`i Nei

It is Congresswoman Hana-BOOsa, thank you very much.

The warm and fuzzy folks at FOX “news” sent some guy named Watters out here to find out why Hawai`i is so liberal.  Of course they edited the film to make us look liberal and stupid at the same time, interviewing a woman (among others) in a bikini who did not know what liberal meant.

Bill O’Reilly weighed in with more opinions that he doesn’t believe, saying that we have no hard working conservatives, only lazy liberals.  Further, he noted that Asians are “usually conservatives,” so liberalism in a State that is largely Asian makes no sense whatever.  So CNN interviewed some Asians who said that FOX “news” was not worth responding to and “I’m an Asian and I’m liberal.  End of story.”

O’Reilly and Watters could have had an intelligent discussion on the issue, but did not.  Big surprise.  Why would people who had been brought here to work the plantations (no fun whatever, very hard work) and then put in internment camps in World War II  not be liberal?    O’Reilly and Watters were also disturbed that whites were in the minority — which, actually, they aren’t — they are the majority of a bunch of minorities.  The burgeoning white population are haole from the mainland, who have happened on our beautiful islands and come back to make their home here. ( Many of these people are in the much talked about 2%, so I suggest we be planning to raise taxes on the rich.)

But I digress.  The anti Asian slurs by O’Reilly and Watters made our Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa put the gloves on.  She was rightly offended, and I guarantee you she is not going to let this die.

Maybe O’Reilly and Watters have figured out that Hawai`i has a lot to teach the nation in terms of living side-by-side with different people.   It is a state stolen from the Hawaiians, and built on the backs of Chinese, Japanese, Koreans and Filipinos.   Unions and liberalism grew up here because the Luna of the plantations and the “big five” haole companies did not take care of people the way they should have.

It is a state where people know about patience and live with comprise on a daily basis.  This is not to say we don’t have our power players or shifty politicians (not the ones we send to Washington) but Hawai`i and growing up here is part of the reason that Obama can be strong and also be a compromiser.  As they say in France (they do, according to Google)    “Mieux vaut prévenir que guérir” (“Better bend than break”).

We have sent several Buddhists to congress … and as one of our friends likes to say ” A Buddhist’s notion of patience is watching a boulder erode.”

That doesn’t mean they don’t know when to push it down the hill.

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Gloria. Circa 1955.



Gloria. Circa 2012.




Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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