June 2009


I’m an eBay regular, and recently discovered Mike. He is selling some accordians. And he is using YouTube in eBay to really help sell his accordians. But Mike is teaching all of us supposed marketing and social media hipsters a very powerful lesson. The medium used (you pick from your favorites) is merely a vehicle to communicate something authentic, real, valuable, with tangible information that the consumer can use. And he gives us a little something extra, his love of music. A song for you and me. If after watching Mike play his accordian, you are not feeling better, or smiling, then watch him again. Then go do something authentic.

Seriously folks, I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. Obama recently named John Huntsman, Jr. as Ambassador to China.

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Huntsman International has extensive business interests in China, so don’t expect any action on the part of our administration to pull back American jobs. Business as usual. We should all expect to see our trade policy with China continue to go downhill.

You may also find it interesting that Huntsman is suing Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank for backing out of a finance deal that would have provided $15 billion in financing for Huntsman’s acquisition by Hexion Specialty Chemicals last year.

California also just released the last listing of 30 chemicals they have deemed as potentially carcinogenic, or lead to reproductive/development issues.

If you want to have some fun, compare them to those found in the Huntsman Product List.

Now I have nothing against chemicals per se. The universe is a big chemistry set, after all, and we are made from the stuff we ponder. But any chance I have to hassle these dudes, I’ll take.

Unlike the higher education many sons and daughters of well off families receive at Yale, Harvard, and other bastions of ethics, Berea has been a remarkable beacon of how things can and should be done. However, since Berea does not charge for tuition, they have been especially hard hit by our fellow Americans greed on Wall Street and at Big Banks.

There are so many young people out there who truly deserve to get an education and break the cycle of poverty in which they have been raised. So, I’d like to propose that Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and Bank of America each pass the hat, and cough up some dough.

 

Also, do take the time to read a good article in the NYT regarding how Amherst College is learning from Berea.

I was recently struck by the incredible resiliency of Nature, during a short walk in our woods. And it led to some notes. I’ve added them to this post, as images.

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Mr. Goodwill Millions

Mr. Goodwill Millions

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I am a child of General Motors, so to speak. My mother worked all of her adult life there, retiring in 1987. My brother also worked and retired from GM, so though I cannot speak from personal experience from being “on the line”, I can offer perhaps a few observations. They might be of value to someone out there who is now reformulating their opinions regarding the demise of GM.

As a kid, growing up in Kokomo, Indiana, we had two main job providers. General Motors “Delco”, and Chrysler. Kokomo was a town of about 50,000 souls, and we had a good mix of whites, blacks, hispanics, even a few asians.

And Kokomo was a good place to be a kid, to be a grownup, to raise a family, and grow old. What made Kokomo unique in Indiana was the fact that so many were earning a living wage, living in their own homes, buying cars, putting their kids in college (and for most families this was a first, including mine), and resting somewhat securely in the reasonable notion that if you worked hard, and gave your best, most productive years to your plant, you could retire with some security, and some dignity.

Gosh, imagine that. As an American, having a simple wish. A decent job, providing a living wage and healthcare that provides for my family, with some degree of security. Henry Ford understood this, and also knew that the employees building Model Ts were the ones who would buy them. But only if they could provide for their family first.

Many are saying that GM and the American auto industry is a failed experiment in Capitalism. Well, if failure means that our largest industry can’t provide the above, well then I guess America is a failed experiment.

We didn’t see lots of crime, and though we experienced some racial tensions, it was moderated by the fact that whites and blacks were making good money, doing the same work, and all in it together. Togetherness was built into the fabric of the UAW.

My mom remembered the days when there wasn’t a union, and lived through the abuses of being a laborer for a large, powerful company. Sure, many will say the UAW helped destroy GM, but it helps to understand the misery and injustice that helped fuel the union movement.

We saw the theft of American jobs, outsourced to Mexico and China, by GM. My brother even remembers dismantling production equipment, knowing it was destined for China. Keep this in mind when as you watch the “new and improved” GM. It will be more of the same. This in a time when Mexico’s biggest export to America is poverty, and that of China, cheaply made goods relying on slavery.

GM could have a strong future if the Obama administration would hold true to the promise of making America stronger by bringing the jobs back here, where they were stolen from.

GM can produce great vehicles. Don’t let the likes of Michael Moore say anything differently. I’ve owned several, and though they aren’t a BMW, they also don’t cost as much, and they do the job. I once took a VW bug to a repair shop in Kokomo, and Walt, a german immigrant, drove an Oldsmobile. He said it made more sense to drive a domestic vehicle. Cheaper parts, and repairs. Mr. Moore thinks the car is dead, and the sooner we all take the bus or train, the better. Well that might be true if only for the fact that our infrastructure has been molded around having a car in every garage. Bring back decentralized everything. Bring back our towns. Knock down the Wal Marts, the Titanic Malls, and the chain restaurants.

Remember, companies like GM built the buses and trams that served us well, but quickly moved to destroy mass transit in order to sell cars. Pure profit.

And this single act changed the face of every town, large and sall, in our country. So now Obama and his team have the chance to show some real cohones and make thing right again. Work quickly to redefine our infrastructure in a way that blends smaller, efficient hybrids and electrics with a revived, workable mass transit system. Bullet trains shouln’t be a priority. Think about it. If people going to use a train to get to Chicago or LA, it means the train needs to stop at many locations to pick people up, etc. Trains are part of our future, but unless they have a way to stop and start along the way, thus servicing the common man, you’ll only see Joe Biden on it.

Have GM build a Prius clone. Clue to the folks at GM. Go out, buy one, reverse engineer, make better.  Repeat Ad Finitum.  Better yet, make it a Burning Man project. In fact, the folks at Burning Man should do a contest, of sorts. “Bring me a 100 MPG vehicle that is workable, and YOU get to light the Man”.  My bet is that you would have a prototype this year. Add solar panels to the top. Make one that is a wagon. Make one that is a funky cool Big Daddy Roth pickup truck.

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The Obama adminstration also has a funny way of doing business. They keep the folks that have floated to the top at GM, like Fritz Henderson, to run the show.

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Read what Mr. Henderson said regarding the bankruptcy, and you’ll hopefully understand just how clueless GM management is. Note that management is very, very different than leadership. Mr. Obama, I am a partial owner of GM now, and I’d like you to fire the entire executive team, and the board of directors, at GM. OK?

Speaking of worthless, did anybody else watch CNBC’s “Meeting of the Minds: The Future of Capitalism“, and get a little nauseous?

Is anybody else out there just fed up with hero worship in the business sector?

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