Who is Responsible?


That question begs another.  For what?

My answer is: For ANYTHING.

Take BP and the Deepwater horizon debacle…  Is it BP’s fault because they put it all together?  Is it the fault of Transocean because they owned the Deepwater Horizon and rented it to BP?  How about Halliburton, who poured the concrete that failed?  How about the regulators who seemed to be more agents of BP rather than regulators?

The last reports I saw says they all were!

We have three branches of government, in the federal and state levels, that are supposed to check each other.  The Executive runs things, the Legislative makes the rules for him to use, and the Judicial is pretty much a referee.  Two of them can cancel out the actions of the third, if they all work as they should.  For the budget battle to have been won it, would take budget bill to be passed by both houses, and then signed by the President..  So, if one house passes a bill, and the president OKs the concept, then why does it not get past Harry Reid in the Senate.  So either President Obama is NOT the head of the party, or Reid just wanted to embarrass the President, or they are working together to embarrass the Republicans…    So….  are we responsible because we elected these morons?

What about big business?  We have had house flipping, that contributed to the burst bubble of the housing boom, boards of directors who seem to vote each other obscene salaries, and then have to give large payments to CEOs that they should just fire for incompetence.  A worker who does not perform gets shown the door.  A CEO who does not perform get bonuses, and then a golden parachute out the door.  If the company fails what do the CEOs and Directors lose?  The biggest question would be: who are the real losers?  There you would have to say the employees and customers.  So when a company fails, is the government responsible for letting them fail?

If I have a company that is not making money can I go the the Feds and say “bail me out”?  NO..  I would NOT be too big to fail…  So,to be succesful you have to fail in a VERY BIG way.

There sees to be a lack of people with the integrity to stand up and say “I failed”.  What we wind up with these days is a large group of people who point at each other and say, “he did it, not me”.

I have an idea…  The Japanese used to have, and still might, a rather rigid idea of Honor, and the guy who failed often ended the problem with the use of a sword….

Maybe we could adapt that code of Honor, and the next CEO who drives his bank, cooperation, or whatever, down the toilet would get a choice: use the sword, to do the honorable thing, or we take away everything you have as well as what you have given to your family.

This would, again, ask the question: Who is responsible?

The answer seems to be : the poor.

What would Mr. Spock think?


Nimoy as Spock giving the salute.
Image via Wikipedia

It is almost 7:00 am as I sit here thinking about what I mean to say…  It made so much sense before I woke up, and now I try to remember just where I wanted to go..

I will start here.

There was an interesting book I read some years ago.  It was called something like “How I learned everything I needed to know about life from watching Star Trek“.  I don’t remember a lot of the book, I have read as much as half a book to realize that I had read it before, but I do remember enough to, I think, to get the idea.

I am not too sure about the times of Captains Archer or Kirk, but by the time of Captain Picard the world, in the Sense of the Federation, and Earth in particular, was a Utopia. In one episode of the Next Generation, when the security of Earth was believed to be threatened by aliens who could become anything they wanted, changelings from the Founders for those who watched, the President of the Federation makes the statement “I don’t want to be the known as the one who lost Eden”.

The show indicates, in several episodes, that , at least in the Federation, there is NO NEED for money.  In one the episode mentioned above Captain Sisko‘s father, who runs a restaurant in New Orleans, looks out the door and sees that the only people moving around were Star Fleet troops.  He is not worried about how much money he is loosing, only about what direction the government is going, and then again they are potential customers, but he gave no indication that he was worried about going broke.

I would seem that Gene Roddenberry envisioned a future where “Service to Others” was the motivational goal that people tried to attain.  They did not seem to say “me me me” there.

One train of that came from the Vulcan’s,  was IDIC, or Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations, that could be cut down to the basic, “it takes all kinds”.

In one book I read, I think it was by Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, who said that there are three important groups that a company must satisfy: the customer, the employees and then the stockholders.  The customers because they are the reason for the business, the employees because they serve the customers, and rude or unhappy employees can be known to drive customers away, and finally the shockhoders because they invest in the business so that the first two can be taken care of.  Now this is fine if the person in charge of the business only has to worry about the first two groups but this does not seem to be the way things go NOW.

So where are we now?

Well, the customer wants his products and will go to the place he can get the best price, like stuff “Made in China”, without having to worry about the living conditions of the people who make it, like stuff “Made in China”.  The employees want more for the simple reason that they have to be able to pay for what they buy this year, and of course they have a budget they HAVE to live by…. or go broke.  The stockholders expect dividends from their investments and if you let them control things they will want you to take from the first two groups so that you can give it to them, as they think they are the reason the store, or factory, is there.

For the average person following a budget is a must.  Sure there needs to be some borrowing, as not everyone is rich,and we have not gotten to that Utopia stage yet, so they know that if they don’t follow their budget, and go broke, the best they can hope for is the killing of their credit rating, and maybe bankruptcy, or they get everything they have worked for repossessed. It is not like they have their own Federal Reserve to print up more money whenever they need it.  So, since most customers are also workers they would like to have more and a good employer will try to keep them happy.

Investors invest, and then they want returns.  That often means that they push management to cut expenses, which will effect the Customers and Employees, so they can get THEIRS.

This might be called a FREE MARKET…  and in a sane world this would work out real well.  With the business taking care of the Customers and Employees, profit will follow.  The problem is that this is NOT a same world.

Lets look at the U.S. government as a business.  The stockholders are, basically, broken up into two main FACTIONS, each with it own agenda, who elect the board of directors.  The board tries to stay in office by telling their stockholders what they want to hear… and often, such as the recent debate over the debt ceiling, the board factions work to impress the stockholders about how  much better their faction is than the other faction.  The CEO, who is also trying to stay in power, may try to work with, or around, the board to get things done, or he might work in such a way that his faction can take over the board and follow their policies of power.  The harder they work to impress the stockholders the customers and employees are effected.

Lets look at this in the context of what Sam Walton might believe.  Take care of the customers, by providing a service, take care of the employees by providing them an enviroment that allows them to concentrate on providing that service, and you take care of the stockholders by giving them returns on their investment….

How does that work in real life?  I read a statistic that says %85 of the economy is driven by small businesses.  That means that %15 of the economy is driven by the large corporations….  The head of that small company knows that if he does not follow a good business plan he will go out of business.  The head of a large corporation know that he can get a large salary out of a company he runs into the ground, and that the board, if they figure out how bad he is, will pay him to leave, while an employee will get fired.  Does this sound like a good way to run a railroad?  It seems to work for those large companies who know that if they screw up they will be getting taken care of, though they might have to pay it back, while the small guy has his taken away…

This brings me back to the Star Trek world…  Do you think it is really a Utopian society, or was the Federation based on the U. S. Government and they just issued an unlimited credit card to everyone.  Maybe everything they buy had a little tag on it that says “Made on Romulus”.

Maybe the FREE MARKET is not as FREE as we think… Maybe we should think about how much we pay for THEIR profits.

In Whose interest?


 

I don’t know about how you view the Republicans, or Democrats, but the perception of them by some is that the Democrats are more Socialist in that they like to grow big government, while the Republicans like to grow Big Business.

Here in Florida we seem to have given control to the Republicans and Big Business.  What does this means to US?  They are trying to gut, or do away with, the Pill Mill Bills, regulations that govern many of the industries, out environmental laws, and even the progress we have made in the area of controlled growth.

Lets look at some of this.  Growth Management has slowly taken shape to try to prevent uncontrolled growth that would over tax roads, water, schools, hospitals, various services, and even keep so-called Urban Sprawl from taking place.  Years ago areas were required to come up with a Comprehensive Growth plan with designated zoning density for both urban and rural areas.

At onetime, in Sarasota County, there was an effort to put a building moratorium in place for 3 years.  The were a number of groups that pushed it, and several that said it was bad for business, such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Argus Foundation, which was an impartial think tank, they said, which was made up of Banks, Business, Builders, and Realtors.  I can see how impartial they might be.  Argus argued that we had the 2050 Plan that would layout future growth to the year 2050.  The only problem was that, in some people’s mind, the local governments kept voting to allow exemptions to zoning.  Sometimes they even overruled their own staff.  The Moratorium failed, and over time the voters got amendments passed that required super majority on the council rather than just a majority vote.

When the Community Affairs office came around it was touted as an effort to centralize development in Tallahassee in an effort to make development plans more consistent.  Others saw this as an effort to take away local control of growth and place it in the hands of people who might be more congenial to developers.

Rick Scott, and the Florida Republicans, are trying to do away with all the safeguards we have tried to put into place.  They say that we need to allow the builders to build more homes, and thus attract more Business.

Just after the Housing Crash North Port builders wanted to do away with impact fees, fees that would pay for the expansion if infrastructure, such as road, school, police, fire, hospitals, and others.  The claim was that the impact fees kept people from buying new homes.  They ignored unemployment, foreclosures, the unwillingness of bank to loan money, or even the glut of empty homes that was rapidly getting larger.  Sure it would be nice to put people to work building homes, maybe even filling them up with more construction people as many of them found themselves with out jobs.  An economy that is geared solely on construction can only expand by construction, and when the need for the product, in this case homes, crashes then you have too much product and lower prices.

The idea was to build more homes, fill them with people, and then attract business to open here.  Why not get the business in the area so that they could hire people who would then fill the homes we have, and then build some more once the demand is greater.  That might pull up the property values and allow some of the home owners to get out from being “underwater” where the house is worth less than their mortgage.

What if we let them build to their heart’s content?  Would the prices be higher than the homes around them?  Would this, by itself, drive up the prices of all those empty homes, or would it just contribute to the falling prices by adding to the glut of homes?

I don’t know but my guess it that it would NOT help!!

The Pill Mill Bill is an effort to curb Florida as a Mecca for illegal prescription drug sales.  It would, hopefully, allow the Doctors, the ones who care, determine if a  is over medicated.  Even some of the Drug Manufacturers are in favor, and it appears that the only ones against it, other than those people worried about the privacy of their prescriptions, are those who want to curb government regulation no matter who it might harm.

Industry regulation might not be perfect, I am sure of that, with all the laws that get passed, there are some that DO hinder business but, many of these regulation are for the safety of the general public.

 

Maybe we should take a closer look at some of the people who want to deregulate us, and figure out whose real interest they have in mind, it is likely that this interest is NOT OURS.

Thank you..

 

 

Bothersome Regulations… that hinder bussines.


The building's east side, with 40 bodies on th...
Image via Wikipedia

Last night, as I was trying to think of a way to discuss then new movement to do away with bothersome regulations, that hinder business, there happened to be a program on about just that kind of thing.  It was almost exactly 100 years ago, on March 25, 1911, that a fire broke out in the Asch building in New York and started a fire that would become know as the Triangle Fire, and would kill 146 workers, most of them female.  Max Blanck and Isaac Harris were in the Waist-shirt business and unhindered by most of today bothersome regulation that we have to suffer through today.  The building was considered fireproof, so they did not bother to put in sprinkler, not required by law, instead placing pails of water around the floors.  The codes, current at the time, did require three enclosed stairwells, to protect people trying to exit the building during a fire, but the architect was able to get permission to only put in two of the as the metal fire escape, which collapsed, would provide the third way down.

There was little, or no, oversight, about things, such as locked stair wells, oily floors, piles of cloth scattered around the floors, barrels of oil, emergency doors that open inward, hard to open when paniced people were pressing against them, or even access to the stair wells, there were boxes of cloth that piled around them, or any other thing that might require the expenditure of funds that drain money from their profit.

According to the show we saw last night, there was an elevator. It was an old type, manual, with an operator who was brave enough to help rescue almost 100 people from the floors.  He did this until the elevator could no longer return to the upper floors due to the weight of bodies that piled up on the its top as people jumped through the open elevator doors, to land on the roof of the elevator.  This weight eventually kept the elevator from being able to go back up.

Harris and Blanck are indicted and charged with six counts of manslaughter in the death of two of the 146 workers who died in the fire, though the defense was able to cast doubt on the testimony of witnesses, which resulted in finding of not guilty.  Later they would be able to settle a civil case with the payment of $75 per death.  This was a triumph for the  insurance company as families of the victims would not be able to afford the cost of a complete investigation.

For more information on the Triangle Fire.

I am fairly sure that the deregulation will not come to the level of taking us back 100 years but, remember that it often took events such as these to get those regulations forced into place in the first place because  that people like, Max Blanck and Isaac Harris, were more interested in profit than peoples lives.

That is just one aspect of this push to deregulate..  Something else to think about is this, think about jobs that have high training requirements, or just license, and what, for example, would happen if they were deregulated.

When you are flying, do you want to worry about how much training  the pilot has, or if he has had enough sleep.  Do we want to think about what might happen if an Air Traffic Controller is asleep on the job, as happened recently at Reagan Int. Airport, when two planes landed because there was only one snoring ATC employee in the tower?

There are hundreds of jobs, and bussiness, that require training and regulation.  We hear enough stories about regulators asleep at the switch, think Bernie Madoff, or BP Deep Horizon, with out having to worry about those regulation being done away with in an effort to make jobs.

Let’s Get to Work..?


Generic image of rick scott
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The results, of the election, are in and the new people are starting to “Get to Work”.

4 out of 10 Floridians made the choice to vote, and the results are going to start being felt.. soon.

When someone complains, in the coming months, you should ask them if they voted and then, if they had not voted you should explain to them that since they did not voice their opinion when it was important they do NOT have anything to say NOW. I sometimes hear people complain that the reasons they did not vote were that: one person was going to win anyway, it was not worth my time, or it was too inconvenient.

Looking at some of the recent elections, such as the 2008 votes I would have said that only real left wingers would have voted for Obama, and I would have been wrong. In this last election, here in Florida, I would have said that the obvious choice would have been Alex Sink for Governor, or Meek or Crist for Senator, I was wrong all the way down.

In the past couple of years some of Florida’s counties, and cities, have passed amendments that would make it harder for their local government to authorize increased density in zoning plans. Growth management is an important issue here, as developers want to make their money from building more and more homes, and the people want to have to have odd things like, roads that are not congested, homes that are not crammed onto little lots, or enough schools for the students. Impact fees were set up so that new homes would help to pay for these things. Rick Scott is promising, by appointing developers to office, to curtail growth management, and open Florida to urban sprawl.

Rick Scott plans to roll back all of the advances we have made here, and let the developers have free reign to cram houses everywhere, endanger our drinking supplies, the environment, and our beaches.

Make sure you let him know that you want to keep Florida Beautiful, uncluttered, and unpolluted.

Let us make sure that he understands that the infrastructure, such as roads, schools, water, electric, etc., should be in place before the homes are built.

I have seen the bay front, in Sarasota, change to look more like Miami Beach – Tacky.