Category: Digital Business


“Liberals believe America is not good enough for the world; conservatives believe the world is not good enough for America.” – Washington Post Columnist Charles Krauthammer

“I do think that America was born with a birth defect; it was slavery.” – Stanford Provost Condoleezza Rice

After losing two world wars and killing 6 million Jews during the Holocaust, Germany has been struggling from Zero Hour 1945 to the present with its horrendous history. The Germans have a special word for it – die Vergangenheitsbewältigung — or dealing with this past.

Does this 25-letter-jaw-breaking-compound-noun also apply to the nearly 250-year history of the United States of America?

After listening to so many Baby Boomer colleagues and friends complain about “this country” for years-and-years, who could blame Almost DailyBrett or any other American with a sense of patriotism for thinking that we have to deal with our past? The question is, how?

The sun never set on the British Empire and Britannia indeed ruled the waves. Look at the mess they left to dozens of these former colonies, and yet English is the world’s Lingua Franca. The scoresheet for the United Kingdom over the years is … mixed with a positive lean.

Have Americans ever been perfect? Are we perfect? Will we ever be perfect?

The responses to all three of these questions are the same, and obvious. The answers are, “no.”

Perfection is an impossible standard for any nation to achieve, including the USA.

Is the answer to these fallibilities – slavery, expulsion of Native Americans, Japanese internment camps – to truncate the teaching of American History? Is revisionist history to the downside inevitable?

There is an ongoing – and maybe never ending fight over whether and how Advanced Placement (AP U.S. History) should be taught, and more to the point: The level and extent of negative reinterpretation of American history.

For example, McGraw Hill stepped in deep doo doo when its history books described a migratory path of millions of “workers” from Africa. Err … they were slaves.

A related question has been raised among the 21+ would-be Democratic presidential nominees (i.e., Harris, Booker, Warren, Castro): Should we pay reparations (particularly slavery) to those who were wronged by America?

If so, where do we start? What precedent are we setting? More importantly where do we end? Can we end? Which descendants of those wronged should we pay? How much should we pay?

Should we apologize for being … Americans? Should we stop embracing any and all red, white and blue patriotism?

The Vietnam War Is Over; Get Over It

The helicopters took off from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in South Vietnam on April 30, 1975 or more than 44 years ago, if you are keeping score at home.

There are those who cannot or will not get this unfortunate period of American history out of their systems.

Almost DailyBrett has noted that way too many of these tortured Baby Boomer souls do not like their country, and take issue with America being labeled as an exceptional country.

They point to socialism in Denmark, Norway, Sweden – all monarchies – as “happy little countries,” suggesting America should do the same.

Some of these people actually teach at American universities and schools and harbor reservations (putting it mildly) about the positive side of American history. But wasn’t the first act in U.S. history a rebellion against authority, telling what England’s King George III what he could do with his royal scepter?

Didn’t America fight a bloody Civil War from 1861-1865 to eliminate slavery? Didn’t Abraham Lincoln’s 13th Amendment end slavery once and for all?

And wasn’t it America that played a monumental roll in terms of blood and treasure to end Nazi and Fascist tyranny in Europe and the Pacific?

The United States was the first and to this date the only country to put a man on the moon. It was America, which gave the world Silicon Valley and with its pioneering entrepreneurs with break-through innovations that made the conveniences of our digital world possible.

And let’s not forget that America defeated Communism and made our imperfect world, safer.

Almost DailyBrett championed a bi-partisan action – one can dream – to add Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (won World War II) and Republican Ronald Wilson Reagan’s (beat Communism) busts on Mt. Rushmore.

With all due respect, what has Denmark given to the world? Hans Christian Andersen and The Little Mermaid.

If the royalists in Norway, Sweden and Denmark wish to examine their collective navels in the sauna, who are we to stop them? It’s their humble collection of socialist monarchies (not an oxymoron).

Those who don’t like America and never will, have the freedom of movement. Almost DailyBrett will happily visit them in Scandinavia … in the summer.

America can learn from its past. When it comes to America’s over/under, your author will take the “over” in a nanosecond.

The United States of America remains an exceptional nation. No amount of revisionist history can change that fact.

https://nypost.com/2017/01/22/why-schools-have-stopped-teaching-american-history/

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/the-history-class-dilemma/411601/

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/who-should-decide-how-students-learn-about-americas-past/385928/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/04/12/support-reparations-grow-so-does-pushback-some-black-americans/?utm_term=.427e54c28480

https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/charles-krauthammer/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4d651db9a0c6

https://thehill.com/homenews/news/332307-condoleezza-rice-says-america-was-born-with-a-birth-defect-slavery

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/roosevelt-and-reagan-for-rushmore/

”I could say … that I ran a small grocery store on the corner (e.g., State of Arkansas), therefore I extrapolate that into the fact I can run Walmart. That`s not true.” – Ross Perot debating Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton and President George H.W. Bush

Perot labeled Clinton’s 12-year public sector experience as the chief executive of the “Natural State” as “irrelevant.”

The famous 1992 debate exchange reminds Almost DailyBrett of today’s deep-state/elite media practice of automatically and terminally disqualifying anyone aspiring or even holding the presidency – including the present office holder – who does not have public sector experience.

Public sector über alles?

Some have suggested that seven-year South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg, 37, is more qualified to run the nation than billionaire entrepreneurs, who build, create breakthrough products, employ thousands and manage global business enterprises.

Let’s see, Mayor Pete’s South Bend has a $368 million city budget, 1,285 employees and 101,168 residents including thousands of Notre Damers who need their garbage picked up and their streets swept.

Okay …

In contrast, the $9.5 billion, The Trump Organization LLC, is the 48th largest privately held company in the world. Trump and his family manage 500 affiliated property development and marketing companies with 22,450 employees operating in 25 countries.

According to the New York Times, Trump’s business has been required to take losses and declare bankruptcy from time to time. Phil Knight in his book, Shoe Dog, recounted how Nike almost went under … nine times.

How’s Trump doing today? How’s Nike doing today?

And then there is Starbucks founder and chairman (political villain) Howard Schultz.

Sorry Howard … you can’t play this (presidential) game either … even though you created and turned Starbucks into the largest coffee roaster in the world. Let’s see … the company reports $24.7 billion in annual revenues, manages than 27,000 stores and hires 277,000 baristas et al. around the globe.

Kathleen Sebelius vs. Jeff Bezos For CIO

All kidding and snickering aside, the political class seemingly would rather hire as its CIO Kathleen Sebelius with her infamous crashing Obamacare website with its pathetic non-working calculator.

Conceivably the alternative would be private sector Amazon with its track record of successfully and accurately processing 1 million digital transactions per hour.

The millionaire Bernie and Elizabeth types rail daily against billionaires (i.e., Trump, Schultz, Knight, Bezos …) and their privately held/publicly traded corporations (i.e., Starbucks, Nike, Amazon), seemingly as the sources of all that is wrong in the world. The Massachusetts senator even talked about breaking up the most successful and useful of these companies.

If digital retail pioneer Amazon was forced to breakup, wouldn’t the company in an aw shucks moment, simply spin-off Amazon Web Services (AWS)? Considering Amazon’s marketing for AWS’ cloud services capability, don’t you suspect Jeff Bezos and company are already thinking about AWS as a separate publicly traded company?

How about the prospect of (NYSE: AWS)? Victory for the government? Victory for investors? Whattyathink Elizabeth?

Wasn’t there a movie actor/union president, who with the exception of a stint in the military, never spent a nanosecond in the public sector and became the governor of the largest state in the union, California?

How did that experiment turn out?

Not only was Ronald Reagan wildly popular in blue state California, he was one of our greatest presidents and the only one to ever hold a union card while serving as the nation’s chief executive.

Which Is More Important: Public or Private?

For Almost DailyBrett, your author served 14 years in the public sector (i.e., California press secretary and Central Washington University assistant professor). The same four-decade career also included 25 years in the private sector (i.e., LSI Logic Corporation, Semiconductor Industry Association, Edelman Public Relations, newspapers).

Which sector was more important in the development of your author’s institutional knowledge base?

Don’t know. Inclined to conclude that both are nice to have, and each is equally important.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1992-10-20-9204050015-story.html

https://money.cnn.com/2016/12/15/investing/trump-organization-48th-largest-private-company/

https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=344985

http://www.city-data.com/city/South-Bend-Indiana.html

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/13/politics/bernie-sanders-millionaire-book-sales-tax-returns/index.html

 

 

“Not only had @realDonaldTrump become a mass-media juggernaut, but Twitter had for the first time become a primary outlet for the views of a major American politician. With Trump’s election, the transformation was complete: The social network had become the new public square.” – Nicholas Carr, POLITICO

Without a shred of doubt, nothing on this planet drives the media crazier than Twitter use by one Donald John Trump.

Within the friendly confines of 280 characters coupled with the always-on powerful bully pulpit of the presidency, Trump can set the agenda and be a part of any breaking story regardless of subject.

Wait.

Under Agenda Setting Theory, the big masthead media (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post) supposedly establish the agenda about what grateful everyday Americans should be thinking about.

As they say in political circles the big mastheads have been, preempted.

The very dragon they are attempting to slay, is spewing counter-punching fire right back at them any time, all the time.

“Beware of the overnight tweet.” — CNBC NYSE reporter Bob Pisani

Most of the Trump Tweets are … provocative (outrageous?) and thus are newsworthy. The ensuing conversation is about Trump, always about Trump.

Does the sun ever set on Donald Trump’s Twitter account?

With the Müller Report destined to be a non-factor by the end of this year – let alone next year – the media/entertainment elites in Manhattan, within the confines of the Beltway and Hollywood are facing the prospect of a re-elected Twittering Trump.

Columbia Journalism Review worries about whether journalists are correcting all of Trump’s tweets and statements.

Will they eventually interrupt Trump during the State of Union, the same way MSNBC’s Brian Williams cut off Senator Lindsey Graham?

When it comes to always telling the truth, nobody does it better than Brian Williams.

Will the media at some point — kicking and screaming — be forced to stop pretending the no-further indictments/actions Müller Report is the death knell of a president they detest (putting it mildly)?

Even though they torched Joe Biden’s last days as a non-candidate, will they line up behind him if he somehow captures the Democratic nomination?

Whoever emerges as the Demo nominee, will be their standard bearer.

The Never-Ending, Always-On News Cycle

Campaigns are not happy places.

Familiarity always breeds more than contempt.

Sleep is a precious commodity, and there is never enough to go around.

There was a time when there was only one news cycle per day.

As Almost DailyBrett commented two years ago, White House “death watch” is not what it used to be. Translated: Reporters stationed in the White House briefing room while the president sleeps were Journalism’s answer to graveyard shift. No more.

Trump’s nocturnal tweets (does he ever sleep?) have changed the game. Just ask Wall Street.

Every campaign in the 2020 cycle will have to compete effectively in a digital-is-eternal atmosphere with a minimum of sleep. With digital social media – particularly Twitter – every campaign and every media outlet is an always-on, 24-7-365 wire service.

Trump tweeted (fill in the blank). Respond within the fewest nanoseconds possible.

Biden tweeted (fill in the blank). Democratic rivals answer within the fewest nanoseconds possible.

Bernie tweeted what? Man or Woman the Twitter barricades!

Almost DailyBrett remembers the days when wise pundits (oxymoron?) lamented about how policy debates were being reduced to 30-second bites.

How about 280-character tweets? Used to be 140 characters.

With more than 20+ would be Democratic nominees, how many pithy responses will immediately jump from their keyboards. More to the point how many mistakes, which can’t be recalled, will emerge from these Twitter accounts?

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” – Vince Lombardi

Even though early Baby Boomer Trump is 72-years-young, he seems to have the energy and stamina to keep the Twitter stream coming, even accelerating and intensifying the flow. There are no signs of fatigue.

Will the next president (or the same president) be the one who best utilizes the Twitter characters? Should social media be the penultimate factor in determining who will be the leader of the free world?

Let the Twitter debate commence.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/01/26/donald-trump-twitter-addiction-216530

https://www.cjr.org/covering_trump/twitter-media-trump.php

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/death-watch-aint-what-it-used-to-be/

A “memorable” $211,703 Porsche or Land Rover?

A “visible” $86,423 Rolex?

And let’s not forget the applicable taxes on these two giveaways: $179,977 and $38,005 respectively.

For those scoring at home, Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) provided $516,108 in goodies to one man: newly minted co-CEO Keith Block, 57.

The Salesforce.com Compensation Committee justified the corporate largesse in its proxy statement filing:

“In this case, the committee approved this award because it believed that recognizing Mr. Block’s leadership and success in achieving company goals was warranted, and that doing so in a memorable and visible way would be motivational not only for the executive, but for other employees who observe exceptional performance being rewarded in exceptional ways consistent with the company’s philosophy of paying for performance.”

Paying for exceptional performance?

Does Block walk on water? Does he change water into wine? Does he dole out loaves and fishes to feed the hungry?

Before being named co-CEO last August, Block was already earning $2.3 million annually in salary and bonuses (not including stock option exercises) as the company’s vice chairman, president and chief operating officer.

Almost DailyBrett extensively researched and taught the relationship between fiduciary responsibility (doing well) and corporate social responsibility (doing good) as a master’s student at University of Oregon and later as a PR professor at Central Washington University.

Your author also served as the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic (NYSE: LSI) for a decade including preparing 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K news releases and regulatory filings for financial media and the SEC.

More to the point, Almost DailyBrett is a long-time Republican, free-enterprise supporter, and up-to-now a more than satisfied shareholder of Salesforce.com founded by fellow USC alum Marc Benioff.

Let’s state here and now: giving away a cool car and groovy watch (plus paying related income taxes for these two goodies) is inconsistent with Salesforce’s fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders … including not trying to be SaaS-see,  yours truly.

God help the company’s corporate PR department.

Ready to make chicken salad out of chicken feces?

How do you defend the indefensible? How do you stand-up on behalf of the untenable? Did the Compensation Committee discuss its decision with the PR types before giving away a Porsche and a Rolex to Monsieur Block?

And where is Salesforce.com located? San Francisco.

Do you think Bernie, Kamala or Elizabeth supporters residing in the Sodom and Gomorrah by the Bay are going to seize about this outrageous caper as an example about everything wrong with corporate America?

Occupy Salesforce?

Publicly traded corporations (e.g., Salesforce) provide the products we need (e.g., enterprise software), employ millions (e.g., CRM, 29,000) and provide a return on capital to millions investing in their retirement, health care or children’s education.

Buy-side (i.e., mutual funds, retirement systems) and sell-side (i.e. Goldman, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley) institutions hold 82 percent of Salesforce’s 774 million shares outstanding.

In contrast, Almost DailyBrett is a lowly Charles Schwab retail investor with 300 shares.

If your author threatened to sell all of his shares because he is upset by the Keith Block giveaways, would company even notice, let alone care?

Heck, your author’s holding is a friggin’ corporate rounding error.

Salesforce has demonstrated by its regulatory filing temerity, it really doesn’t take fiscal stewardship and fiduciary responsibility seriously.

Actions speak louder than words. The perception and reality both stink.

No carefully massaged explanation and no amount of corporate social responsibility (CSR) – including calling for local tax increases to take care of the homeless – are going to change the undeniable fact that giving away a luxury car, a costly watch and paying the related taxes for one lousy executive … is wrong.

Dead wrong to be precise.

Almost DailyBrett editor’s note: According to Business Insider, the company did not disclose the exact make or model of Keith Block’s new car and watch. However, an educated guesstimate was made by the digital publication based upon the disclosed sales prices and related tax payments for the two luxury items. If the company actually bought Block a Lamborghini instead of a Porsche, your author will accept personal responsibility for the egregious mistake.

https://www.businessinsider.com/salesforce-ceo-keith-block-car-watch-2019-4

https://www1.salary.com/Keith-Block-Salary-Bonus-Stock-Options-for-SALESFORCE-COM-INC.html

https://www.salesforce.com/company/leadership/bios/bio-block/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

 

 

 

“The news blindsided many liberals — particularly those with an ambient knowledge of Rachel Maddow’s nightly monologues on MSNBC.” – Amy Chozick, New York Times

“The 3 biggest losers from the Mueller report in order: the media, the media, the media.” – Rich Lowry, National Review

Trump won. The liberal media elite declared … “victory.”

The two-year hunt by oppositional journalists for WMDs came to an end. It was a dead scud.

The long-awaited $25 million Müller Report didn’t quite read the way they wanted. It was a dud.

Ahh … Rachel Maddow can rewrite it for you.

Chris Matthews is tan, rested and ready.

As they say in politics … “When in doubt, declare victory!’

The Atlantic’s Franklin Foer declared the Müller report a great success, but no one seems to be clapping in the tony enclaves of Manhattan, Inside the Beltway or in Hollywood.

Let’s see how do Oppositional Journalists proclaim unmitigated victory? Has the comb-over dragon been slayed?

Our ratings are up (e.g., MSNBC … even CNN). Our print and digital subscriptions have soared (e.g., NYT, WAPO). They generated a combined 8,500 Russia probe stories to prove their point.

Almost DailyBrett remembers a time when objective journalists didn’t seem to care about their respective employers buying low and selling high.

Former FBI Director Robert S. Müller III was going to be the savior of the Republic. Let the impeachment proceedings begin!

Stephen Colbert still generated late-night “comedy,” but deep down inside … it’s painful. It has to hurt.

As Yoga Berra once said: “It’s like deja-vu all over again.” For the folks at CNN and MSNBC, it was a replay of November 8, 2016, even though some are now asserting a “cover-up” (e.g., MSNBC’s Joy Reid) and “obstruction of justice.”

Spin Control by the Media, For the Media

“They let all the normal rules of balanced reporting fly out the window as they competed with each other over who could land the biggest Pulitzer prize-winning Trump/Russia sucker punch that would KO the President they loathe.

“Only it turned out they were all punching thin air.” – Former CNN anchor Piers Morgan

“We are not investigators. We are journalists, and our role is to report the facts as we know them, which is exactly what we did.” – Jeff Zucker, CNN president

Walter Cronkite just turned over in his grave.

Almost DailyBrett has long advocated a return to the days in which political reporters were not serving as the Praetorian Guard for the progressive socialist left/Democratic Party.

Your author yearns for the days when most reporters/correspondents could claim the virtue of objectivity, and still pass the giggle test.

Yet as the ink dries on the Müller Report and President Trump basks in the glory of no collusion with Russia/no further indictments (not to mention media darling Michael Avenatti being led off in handcuffs for his $20 million blackmail attempt against Nike), the elite liberal media is resetting its bearings on electing a Democrat in 2020.

The question that must be asked: Have they learned anything from 2016?

Will they continue to arrogantly use the print and digital pages of the NYT and WAPO, let alone CNN and MSNBC, to denigrate the millions that work and live in the red states?

Remember the “Basket of Deplorables”?

The 12th Amendment (e.g., Electoral College) of the U.S. Constitution is NOT going to be amended/rescinded before the 2020 election, if ever.

Red states must be flipped for Bernie (or a reasonable facsimile) to become the 46th president of the United States. How many in Iowa, Ohio, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania etc. follow liberal media talking heads and angry columnists?

In many ways it seems the elite liberal media types are talking to each other and preaching to the choir.

Democrats know they can only win California’s 55 electoral votes once regardless of the margin of victory. Hillary prevailed in the Golden State by 4 million votes. She only needed to win by one vote.

The liberal media elites will demand that red state voters change, and see the wisdom of social justice warriors commanding and controlling their lives through a greatly empowered government.

Almost DailyBrett suggests a little exercise of humility at CNN and others. If so, maybe the struggling network can return to the days of Bernard Shaw asking the tough question … even to the Democratic nominee at a presidential debate.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/25/business/media/mueller-report-media.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/03/mueller-report/585631/

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/03/22/chris_matthews_why_was_there_never_an_interrogation_of_trump_how_can_mueller_let_him_off_the_hook.html

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6847671/PIERS-MORGAN-Mueller-report-shows-collusion-disgraceful-hoax.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_7wPf9geSM

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/02/15/oppositional-journalism/

“Can’t decide whether you are a Democrat or a Republican …”

Bless these two students, who on separate occasions, refreshingly relayed their puzzlement to your author.

Almost DailyBrett does not believe that classrooms should ever be the venue for the indoctrination, let along the formation of young warriors in the fight between noble socialism and evil capitalism.

Gee … maybe … just maybe these students are smart enough to make up their own minds on these issues?

Even though long-time Almost DailyBrett readers and contemporaries know or at least suspect your author’s political predilection, it was rewarding to know at least some of my students weren’t so sure … and that is how it should be for all professors or instructors.

There seems to be a contagious disease among tenure-track or tenured academic types (e.g., professors and instructors) that university students are there to endure for hours on end their personal political pontifications and bloviations.

Is that why students are taking out loans averaging $30,000 each, waiting tables or asking mom and dad to dig deep … real deep … for their college education?

Don’t think so.

Buy Low, Sell High

As Almost DailyBrett fondly looks back to more than five years teaching public relations, integrated marketing, corporate communications and investor relations, one particular moment always brings back tears to the eyes.

More than 30 of my Central Washington University PR students chanted in unison … “Buy Low, Sell High!” … at my retirement party.

Upon receiving the Central Washington University Department of Communication Faculty Spotlight Award, they gathered around me for a group picture. Your author will always remember this moment.

Isn’t Buy Low and Sell High the essence of capitalism, particularly publicly traded corporate capitalism?

The answer is “yes.” Keep in mind that buying low and selling high is easier said than done. More importantly this phrase is the backbone to the practice of fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the 54 percent of Americans investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds.

America’s investor class — planning for retirements, funding higher education for their children, opening up a new businesses — require accurate and complete communication about a company’s business plan, financials and simply … how does a corporation make money.

The highest expected communications professional compensation levels … usually in six figures … are directed to students adept at financial communications, who are studying at today’s schools of journalism and mass communication.

Almost DailyBrett believes wholeheartedly the purpose of universities/colleges is to prepare students to attain and sustain salaried professional positions with full benefits … and maybe even employee stock purchase plans (ESPP) and/or stock options.

Universities and colleges should be professional schools, providing students with lifelong learning skills and tools to succeed in our increasingly complex digital world … including beating artificial intelligence (AI).

If students wish to Occupy Wall Street that should be their choice, not their command.

By the way, how did that movement work out?

Students should always be fully aware of the imperfections of Capitalism. For example, watching The Smartest Men In The Room (Fortune’s Bethany McLean’s tome on the Enron bankruptcy) was required for each of your author’s Corporate Communications/Investor Relations classes.

In addition to the aforementioned Fiduciary Responsibility, a publicly traded company needs to complement this requirement with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Besides doing well, a company should be mindful of doing good … including giving back to communities, protecting the environment … that make success, possible.

Certainly, students can be taught to live in tents, recite cumbersome theory or rail at the world back in their own bedrooms at mom and dad’s house.

They also can learn how to decipher an income statement, a balance sheet, a cash-flow statement and to understand the significance and formulas associated with market capitalization, earnings per share (EPS), and price/earnings (P/E) ratios and related multiples.

Looking back at your author’s professorship, there is no doubt about political disposition. There was also a comprehension that students are to be prepared for the professional world, and many of these graduates have done well, real well.

And if a couple of students or more, can’t tell whether Almost DailyBrett or any other professor/instructor, drifts left or right that’s the way … it should be.

 

 

 

Ever wonder how Venezuela became … Venezuela?

Almost DailyBrett at one time expected that Amazon would announce Austin, Texas as the recipient of HQ2 with its estimated $50 billion total investment and upwards to 50,000 technology positions with full benefits.

As a major technology hub, Austin offers a well-trained workforce, the capital of a right-to-work state, no state income taxes, and politicians’ favorably predisposed to corporate capitalism. In addition, Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion, which is based in … Austin.

Instead, Amazon selected Northern Virginia with it well-educated workforce and proximity to the infinite wisdom emanating within the Beltway. The other choice, which raised more than a few eyebrows, was heavily unionized and über-taxed Long Island.

The original thinking was Amazon would be welcomed with the prospect of providing 40,000 real positions with annual salaries averaging $150,000 and full benefits – not strip mall jobs – and $27.5 billion in new tax revenues during the course of 10 years. Yes, there were $3 billion in tax incentives from the State of New and New York City and these are always controversial.

Let’s see $3 billion in exchange for $27.5 billion in new revenues and 40,000 direct high-paying positions, not counting all the indirect economic activity supporting Amazon HQ2 in terms of suppliers, vendors and utilities.

Buy Low, Sell High?

Alas the United States is a divided nation, not just Democrats vs Republicans … but more to the point: Socialism vs. Capitalism.

Some wish to punish Amazon and its wealthiest dude on the planet boss, Jeff Bezos, for pioneering digital retail, employing 613,300, generating $232 billion in annual revenues, and stimulating $798 billion in investor market capitalization.

Amazon was greeted to Gotham by a buzz-saw of those who disdain capitalism in favor of command-and-control socialism.

As a former gubernatorial press secretary, the author of Almost DailyBrett imagined what it would be like to be relaying really bad news to the boss – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – and answering the flood of media calls.

The alternative of a root canal is looking real attractive right now.

Ever hear the one about banging your head against the wall?

It only feels good, when you … stop.

Is Amazon Serious?

Is Amazon just firing a shot across the bow?

“It (loss of Amazon investment) would certainly undermine confidence in governance. You can’t empower anti-capitalist ideologues and expect the capitalists to embrace them. I still think they will work this out, because the embarrassment would be severe.” – Joel Kotkin, Chapman University professor of Urban Studies

“You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.” – New York Mayor Bill de Blasio

“Threw away” constitutes fighting words.

These provocative words make it more difficult for the City of New York and Amazon to “work this out.” Why did da Mayor challenge Bezos’ manhood (we know it exists) in the first sentence of his prepared statement, and then charge the company with throwing away an opportunity in the concluding sentence.

Hey Mr. Mayor ever heard of the words … “disappointed”? … “concerned? … “let’s talk”?

If New York bids adieu to 25,000-to-40,000 Amazon positions and $27.5 billion in tax revenues in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ congressional district, will those who are cheering today be demanding social justice from New York state and city tomorrow?

Even China with its brand of authoritarian capitalism figured out that buying low and selling high is the best way to provide prosperity for its people.

New York had the prospect of becoming a lucrative technology hub … but it “threw away” that opportunity.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/nyregion/amazon-hq2-queens.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alyyale/2019/02/13/leaving-long-island-city-what-losing-amazon-hq2-would-mean-for-nycs-future/#18d48f01127c

https://nypost.com/2019/02/14/de-blasio-amazon-threw-away-great-opportunity-in-nyc/

 

 

“I can understand wanting to have millions of dollars, there’s a certain freedom, meaningful freedom that comes with that. But once you get much beyond that, I have to tell you, it’s the same hamburger.” – Bill Gates speaking to university students

There are 25.7 million Google results of an image of a middle-aged dude standing all alone with his hands in his pockets.

He is patiently waiting in line for his cheeseburger, fries and a coke.

The maroon pullover guy is patronizing the original Dick’s (1954), which unofficially serves as a gateway to the upper class Wallingford neighborhood in Seattle.

Is the pale dude (gasp) … privileged?

What gave him the right to buy a “Deluxe,” fries and a coke in Wallingford?

Did his parents dote on him? Where did he go to school? Where did he go to college?

Did he ever invent anything of value to society? Did ever provide a living to people?

Did he ever give back to make our world a better place?

And if the answers to these questions do not meet communal approval – Privilege? Family? College? Inventions? Philanthropy? – should we as a collective society even the score in the name of social justice?

It may seem silly to some to have this public good discussion, and yet 25.7 million Google results are triggered in 0.28 of one second, when one inquires about the guy in the sweater standing all alone in line at Dick’s.

Our Obsession With Wealth?

How many billionaires — members of the three comma club — would stand-in line all alone for a burger and fries?

And yet there was Microsoft founder Bill Gates, 63, waiting in line at Dick’s on Sunday evening, January 13.

In our always-on digital imaging world, it did not take long for the celebrity dude doing normal things to go viral, generating stories and impressions about Gates and his love of hamburgers.

The latest estimates place his net worth at $96.5 billion. Couldn’t Gates simply buy Dick’s as opposed to standing in line for a burger? Where was his entourage? Couldn’t he feed the homeless with Dick’s burgers?

And how did he make that money? Did he take full advantage of his privilege? Did he inherit the money?

As many Almost DailyBrett readers know, Gates and the recently departed Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1975. Their entrepreneurial spirit and those that followed (i.e., Steve Ballmer and Satya Nadella)  resulted in the ubiquitous Windows operating system, X-Box gaming console, Microsoft Surface PC, Microsoft Cloud and so much more.

Microsoft is one of the three largest competing companies in market capitalization (share price x number of shares) at $814.5 billion, generating $96.5 billion in total revenues and employing 134,944 around the world.

After departing the daily operations of Microsoft, the guy in the maroon sweater with his spouse established The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The charitable organization bearing their names has given a reported $36 billion to date to alleviate third world poverty and suffering. They are without any doubt the most generous philanthropists in America.

And yet …

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” – Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

In her quest to become the 46th President of the United States, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed a 2 percent surcharge on net assets – not annual income – exceeding $50 million, and another 1 percent on billionaires.  Is Warren’s  “wealth tax” really confiscation in disguise?

There are questions about whether a confiscatory surcharge of assets – not an income tax – is permissible under the U.S. Constitution. This legal question is above the pay grade of Almost DailyBrett.

Having said that, your author must ask: Why do so many Washington elites want to punish achievement, service and philanthropy?

Some rationalize this obsession with wealth as a quest to reach some far-reaching social justice nirvana when the solution is the same-old tired remedy: wealth redistribution targeting those who provide great products, create jobs and give back to the less fortunate.

The answer always comes down to new and more burdensome taxes, but in Senator Warren’s case she calls for outright confiscation of assets. One thing is certain is the redistribution does not stop there. There will also be increases in tax rates, most of all the top rate from 39.6 percent, hiking it to 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent or beyond.

Once you have raised taxes and confiscated assets is that the end … or worse … is that just the beginning?

What’s next? Fees on stock and mutual fund transactions? Surcharges on bank accounts? Is the sky the limit?

How about a wealth tax/surcharge on Bill Gates’ hamburger?

https://www.geekwire.com/2019/billions-served-bill-gates-photographed-standing-line-burger-dicks-drive-seattle/

https://www.ddir.com/

https://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenews/article/Billions-served-Bill-Gates-photographed-standing-13539669.php

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/01/24/senator-warrens-plan-tax-ultrawealthy-is-smart-idea-whose-time-has-come/?utm_term=.251e17e49629

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/Investor/earnings/FY-2018-Q4/press-release-webcast

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/three-comma-club/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/taxing-uncle-phil-to-death/

https://www.businessinsider.com/biggest-projects-of-generous-philanthropists-bill-and-melinda-gates-2018-8

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/138248-the-problem-with-socialism-is-that-you-eventually-run-out

 

“Did the (Dodge Ram) company really just use Dr. King’s words about the value of service to sell trucks?”New York Times, February 5, 2017

The unfortunate answer was … “Yes.”

Did somebody … anybody … at Chrysler suggest that its Super Bowl LII advertisement shown to 103.4 million viewers (Nielsen Ratings) may not be the best idea? One would hope the executive management at Chrysler is not exclusively composed of yes men and yes women.

If a viewer watching next Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII advertisements takes a sip of tequila every time a cause marketing spot comes across the screen, would that person be smashed by half time?

Based upon last year’s Super Bowl and the trend so far this year, Almost DailyBrett will take the over.

Even weighing Chrysler’s public relations/marketing disaster last February, it seems the trend toward questionable cause-marketing advertising is growing, not subsiding.

Razor Blades and #MeToo?

“Razor blade commercials aren’t supposed to make national headlines, but these aren’t ordinary times. Last week’s Gillette commercial playing on the #MeToo movement became the latest piece of corporate messaging to berate and belittle men.” – Karol Markowicz, New York Post

For Almost DailyBrett, it seems the growing use of cause-marketing advertising with predictable somber music and societal images are mostly lame corporate attempts to attach product brands to a public policy push or cultural icon.

The question remains: Are cause marketing advertising practitioners, who recommend paying $5.1-$5.3 million per 30-second Super Bowl LIII spots to their corporate clients, playing with fire works in the forest with a company’s hard-earned reputation and brand?

Consider Nike’s cause marketing folly of tying its “Swoosh” athletic apparel to Colin Kaepernick, who in many quarters is persona non grata for taking a knee on the flag, the Star Spangled Banner and America.

Is Colin playing in the Super Bowl next week? Will he ever play again? Almost DailyBrett will take the under.

We all know that Chrysler was burned big time for attempting to link the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King’s sermons to the sale of Dodge Ram trucks.

Who thought this poor taste linkage was a good idea?

Ditto for Gillette tying razor blades to the #MeToo movement or Nike taking a knee on Old Glory.

Almost DailyBrett must ask: Were the ads submitted to focus groups (qualitative research)? What was the input of in-depth interviews from African-American respondents (Dodge), women (Gillette) and veterans and their families (Nike)? Was any random quantitative research conducted to validate or contradict the focus group reactions?

Tying the sale of muscle trucks by a publicly traded company to the words, works and deeds of a renowned assassinated civil rights leader/legend sounds risky at best.

The national response to boorish men continues to this day. Is Gillette taking a stand against the #MeToo movement? Hope not.

Does Nike management have a problem with the Star Spangled Banner?

Infamous Or Notorious Brand?

Defenders of dubious cause marketing ads, which draw justified rebukes, will predictably respond that millions of viewers now identify with the (tarnished) brand/product. They will piously state that nothing is worse than spending $5 million-plus for a 30-second spot and the viewers don’t remember the sponsor of the advertisement. Okay, but …

Your author is not carte blanche taking aim against all cause marketing ads.

For example, Verizon cleverly tied its wireless services to first responders running toward the flood, the fire, the earthquake … ensuring they receive the urgent call for their life-and-depth services.

What are Almost DailyBrett’s rules for cause marketing spots, whether or not they are intended for the Super Bowl of Advertising?

  • Appreciate that tribalism is rampant in America, and the warring camps simply do not care, let alone in many cases tolerate each other. Avoid taking sides (e.g., Nike). The predominant views in your locale (e.g., Beaverton, Oregon) are most likely not a reflection of the country as a whole.
  • Contemplate that movements are based upon redressing grievances. They have leaders. They have organizations. They have a determined cause. Don’t try to hijack a movement to sell your products (e.g., Gillette).
  • Invest in qualitative (i.e., focus groups, in-depth interviews) and random quantitative research (e.g. surveys). Don’t prejudge the results. If the respondents essentially question or even revolt against the proposed ad … don’t argue, don’t rationalize … drop it (e.g., Dodge Ram).
  • Embrace honesty with company management about the possible repercussions in terms of reputation, brand, sales, stock price, market capitalization, P/E ratio.
  • Consider that viewers are smarter than you think. They may not respond kindly to clumsy ads that attempt to sell trucks with the words of a slain civil rights leader. How about using puppies or horses to sell beer (just as long as no animals were injured making the ad)?
  • Know that cause marketing is overdone, and is almost becoming cliché. That statement does not preclude cleverly tying a relevant product (wireless communication) to first-responders (e.g., Verizon).

And most of all, follow the Almost DailyBrett Golden Rule: When in doubt, throw it out.

https://www.boston.com/sports/super-bowl/2019/01/24/super-bowl-ad-prices

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/nike-takes-a-knee/

.http://superbowl-ads.com/cost-of-super-bowl-advertising-breakdown-by-year/

https://adage.com/article/super-bowl/2019-superbowl-liii-ad-chart/315605/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/business/media/mlk-commercial-ram-dodge.html

https://nypost.com/2018/02/04/dodge-ram-under-fire-for-using-mlk-speech-in-super-bowl-ad/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/02/05/its-been-a-tough-year-america-these-7-super-bowl-commercials-tried-to-give-us-hope/?utm_term=.3dc3a75c7cc3

Tired of screaming talking heads?

Are you just done … with polemics?

Want real news that is more than 24-7-365 bashing of Donald Trump?

How about real-time information, which is 100 percent relevant to at least 54 percent of Americans who constitute the nation’s “investor class”?

Digging deeper one finds that 73 percent of those with bachelor’s degrees and above, and 83 percent of master’s degrees and above, own publicly traded company shares or stock-based mutual funds … many in employer 401K plans or IRAs.

Buy Low, Sell High!

With all of these stats in mind, Almost DailyBrett welcomes you to the best network on television: CNBC.

What ever happened to critics who proclaimed that around-the-clock Wall Street market coverage would never work?

They are the same naysayers who proclaimed that 24/7/365 sports wouldn’t fly when ESPN was launched in 1979.

How did either of these forecasts work out?

Just as ESPN’s proven business model fostered a plethora of imitators (i.e., Fox Sports, CBS Sports, NBC Sports Network), the same is true with CNBC, born in 1989.

Two years later, CNBC’s parent acquired Financial New Network. There was obviously moola to be made from those who care about global markets, particularly their NYSE and NASDAQ investments.

Never-shy-about-about-exploiting-an-opportunity, Rupert Murdoch, debuted CNBC’s major competitor Fox Business in 2007, including raiding CNBC for proven on-air talent (i.e., Maria “The Money Honey” Bartiromo, Neil Cavuto, Liz Claman …).

Fox Business now leads in the Nielsen Ratings for cable business networks, just as Fox News is on top for cable news channels.

Almost DailyBrett believes that competition makes everyone better, and contends that CNBC can take full advantage of the opportunity that comes from adversity.

Can’t Quantify PR?

Working for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) in the mid-1990s, your author as director of communications was interviewed each month on the chip industry’s book-to-bill ratio … or what is the relationship between the booked orders and the already billed orders.

One always wanted the former to be higher than the latter.

As a director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic, Almost DailyBrett booked our CEO Wilf Corrigan on CNBC whenever we had good news to report, provided the markets were open and trading.

One particular time our stock was trading at $86 per share when the interview began. Three-or-more minutes later (an eternity on television), LSI Logic shares had jumped to $89 per share or x-millions more in market capitalization (number of shares x stock price)

And who says, you cannot quantify effective public relations?

The direction of a company’s shares can head to the north, but to the south as well, thus resulting in the term for a stock being a volatile, “Dow Joneser.”

Recently saw a sell-side analyst explaining on CNBC why he downgraded Nike from a buy to a hold with a lower sales target … the stock sold off during the interview. That is the awesome power of an analyst being interviewed on a financial news network.

Almost DailyBrett contends from years as a loyal viewer that CNBC covers real news: What’s happening with global markets, consumer spending, newest gadgets and gizmos, trade wars, Brexit, Federal Reserve rate hikes or cuts/quantitative tightening or quantitative easing ….

Is CNBC perfect? Far from it. Yours truly rolls his eyes whenever yet another report focuses on East Coast dino-tech legends General Electric (GE) or Itty Bitty Machines (IBM). The former is Sears in drag, and the latter is just a few steps further back on the same bridge to nowhere.

Having said that, there is a healthy consistency that comes from Bob Pisani from the floor of the NYSE and Bertha Coombs from the NASDAQ.

Who can avoid smiling when Jim Cramer is throwing bulls and bears on “Mad Money?” David Faber (a.k.a. “The Brain) is always solid with his reporting.

Carl Quintanilla, Morgan Brennan and John Fortt are especially credible with the coverage of technology to start the day. Wilfred Frost and Sara Eisen put a capper on the trading day by hosting “Closing Bell” with Michael Santoli providing analysis of the just competed trading day.

If you want wall-to-wall about what is wrong with the relationship between Donald and Nancy, there are networks, which can provide you with all the gory details on a 24/7/365 basis. Go for it.

And if you can’t wait for another update on the no talent Kardashian family, CNBC is not your cup of tea … and never will be. Thank the good Lord.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/211052/stock-ownership-down-among-older-higher-income.aspx

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-amount-of-americans-not-saving-for-retirement-is-even-worse-than-you-thought-2017-02-21

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/08/business/economy/stocks-economy.html

https://www.cnbc.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNBC

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markjoyella/2018/10/02/lou-dobbs-maria-bartiromo-lead-fox-business-to-big-ratings-win/#4e449fd924bf

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/12/20/how-fox-news-keeps-on-winning-the-ratings-war/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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