Monday, November 23, 2009

It's the (Lack of Jobs), Stupid!

The Job Summit in which the Obama administration proposed a few weeks ago is about as timely as FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Job Summit...really?

Of course the White House communications team had to formulate their own counter punch to the two Republican gubernatorial victories in Virginia and New Jersey. Remember, those were the victories that both Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) both chalked up to "big wins" for the Democratic party. There's spin and then there's spin.

Pelosi and Cummings made Bill O'Reilly's oft-coined 'The Spin Stops Here' mantra look, well - bold and fresh.

Ironically, the administration's hyper-focus on health care reform has placed millions of jobless Americans in harm's way. Despite obvious employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and stark evidence, both anecdotal and scientific, from economists of all stripes, the Obama team (Vice-President Joe Biden, notwithstanding), has jeopardized millions of people.

The Answer isn't Complicated

For decades, small business has been the incubator for jobs in America. It is that simple. Yet, despite nearly every expert, from billionaire Warren Buffett to Moody's Chief Economist Mark Zandi, small business has been left out in the cold.

To make matters worse, CIT, one of the largest lending groups in the US, filed for chapter 11 in October. CIT is to small business as the American Dream is to the 'Little Engine that Could.' Certainly, CIT is worthy of some Treasury department assistance - Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and AIG received help. Now, the companies that need it the most and would certainly have immediate positive impact on the jobs situation, are left at the door, much like Lehman Brothers was curiously left out.

To be sure, the job market is bleak and the unemployment level is at a mark not seen since 1982 - 1983. Reagan and his team back then jump-started the economy by realizing where jobs came from (hint: it's not from government). Not until entrepreneurs are given opportunity and "too big to fail" financial institutions actually "lend" money (money that the government doled out to them to lend), will the economy start to rebound from its anemic state.

For Rich and Poor

As of October, 2009, the unemployment numbers for African-American (15.7%), Hispanics (13.1%) and Teenagers (27.6%) are unsettling. Yet, it is also unsettling to visit a local unemployment office and see the number of people with Bachelor's and Master's degrees looking for a job.

According to the Labor Department, there are six people looking for work for each available job. This ratio is untenable.

A Job Summit sounds nice, however, it won't be helpful if it doesn't go beyond the ubiquitous invites of say: Bill Gates, the SEIU, CEOs of juggernaut companies such as Google and Apple and the Rolodex of economists that the White House will probably hand out RSVPs to.

The number one problem in the US is jobs. Hopefully, the administration, using a broad, bi-partisan approach, will think about tax credits for business, loans to small and medium-sizes businesses and an understanding that the TARP and stimulus money should be used to re-focus our energy on job growth.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Digital Diss - PDA Etiquette in Public

Remember the Seinfeld episode where George is at a funeral, but he's starving of hunger? So he finds the best moment to escape the funeral home proceedings to indulge in the culinary delights of the ubiquitous post-funeral buffet.

These are moments that, well, only George would find himself in. George is quickly admonished for his gastronomically-induced bad etiquette.

It is no surprise, then, that the behavior of today's users of Personal Digital Assistants - PDAs - is not too dissimilar to George's indiscretion. How many of us either use or work around BlackBerry addicts who have no sense of etiquette?

During one recent management meeting, my boss pecked away at his qwerty keyboard - while his own boss was delivering a highly important and confidential presentation to his staff. More disturbing was the fact that I knew what his e-mails were about. He was playing text tag with his mother who was supplying his ADDHD son up-to-the-minute correspondence about a flash flood back home.

Now, most reasonable people would agree that there are rare instances where BlackBerry contact is urgent; however, it is a general rule to notify the meeting's presenter beforehand because you "may have to use your BlackBerry" due to an ongoing crisis. Off course if that situation presented itself, one would exit the room and then conduct their alleged crisis communications in private.

So, let's take a look at situations where it is probably not a good idea to use your PDA.

  • Never text or use a PDA on a first date.
  • Never use a PDA during a job interview.
  • Never use a PDA at a funeral.
  • Never use a PDA when a waiter or waitress is taking your order.
  • Never use a PDA while you are steering a ferry, trolley, train or other public transportation vehicle.
  • Never us a PDA during intercourse with your significant other.
  • Never, ever use a PDA while in the presence of a Judge during your DUI hearing.
  • Never use a PDA while taking the LSAT exam - or any similarly important test.
  • Never use a PDA while you are in a confessional at your place of worship (the priest will invariably see the glow of your LED screen through the dividing screen).
  • Finally, never, ever, ever use a PDA while you are engaged in a fire-fight with the enemy during a military ambush.
In all seriousness, when one hunches over their BlackBerry or other device during a moment where undivided attention is a must (, you are telling those in your immediate circle that you could care less about them.