Category: Digital Business


From a public relations and mass communications standpoint, we need to leave the past — most of all recriminations — to the mass media. Let them focus on the fact that we again slept at dawn.

Hint: They were sleeping as well.

We need to envision and more importantly, credibly and practically project better times in the future. We need to balance our justified health concerns with our economic hopes.

Will we have a national resurrection by Easter Sunday, April 12? Maybe? Most likely, not?

If not, the media will happily tell us how our loving optimist-in-chief somehow failed in the face of continued darkness.

And yet his approval rating continues to rise, and his score for handling the corona virus reaches 60 percent thumbs up against 38 percent thumbs down.

As Teddy Roosevelt (pardon the paraphrase from heaven, POTUS #26) told us in his famous 1910 speech to the students at Paris’ Sorbonne, it’s not Gloomy Gus or Negative Nancy who counts, or how the strong man or woman stumbles or how she or he could have done better.

The credit belongs to those who are in the arena.

We need more of those, who dare to suggest with credibility that yes life will get better. We are not eternally condemned to the boredom of our living rooms.

Some day we will standing in line for the barista, waiting for our beer or wine, actually ordering our food to a table in a restaurant … our hearts thumping with thousands of others, anticipating the first guitar riff or standing up for the kickoff.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a Fox News “virtual town hall” event on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak with members of the coronavirus task force in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, U.S., March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

It takes courage to stand up in front of this wall of negativity and suggest that life may be better sooner … much sooner … as opposed to later.

It takes moxy to purchase shares of best-in-breed stocks (i.e., Apple, Microsoft, Nike, NVIDIA, McDonalds, Starbucks …) as the markets refuse for weeks to stretch two or more positive trading days in a row. Volatility will eventually be tamed, most likely not now.

It takes compassion to swipe our credit card at our local coffee place, order books online from our regional bookseller, call for take out at our favorite Italian place. With our economic freedom maintained, we can choose who and how much to support.

They have been there for us. Isn’t time for us to be there for them?

It’s so easy to hunker down and to shut down for the “common good.” It’s harder to dream again, and to express hope.

We Need Good News

“Hope is believing good will come, even in bad times. 

“Hope is knowing that this too shall pass.

“Hope is knowing no matter how afraid we are, our higher power will be with us.

“Hope is knowing that we never have to be alone again. It’s knowing that “Time Is On Our Side.’

“Hope is giving up control. Hope is knowing we didn’t have control in the first place.” — Rolling Stones lead guitarist Ronnie Wood.

Almost DailyBrett believes there are more than a few, who have major problems with the United States and its world’s largest gross domestic product (GDP) at $21.99 trillion (prior to the impact of the Corona virus, COVID-19).

To them the USA needs to redistribute the pie, not expand it to offer more pieces for everyone.

The word “balance” seemingly does not exist in ivory towers on campuses, the deep state or in some media empires.

Until recently, climate change dominated. “How dare” anyone suggest thoughtful consideration of those who work and thrive in our world-best economy?

And now the little corona virus bugger has replaced the planet — at least for now — as the single most priority. Forget about producing products we use or compensating our employees. Allocating $25 million for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in DC is just so vital to beating this global epidemic.

As we debate looking for the positive versus being Gloomy Gus or Debbie Downer, we know two things for certain:

Teddy Roosevelt is forever enshrined on Mt. Rushmore.

No one will ever build statues to critics, including Negative Nancy.

https://www.nationalreview.com/news/id-love-to-have-it-open-by-easter-trump-hopeful-economy-will-be-revived-in-coming-weeks/?utm_source=email&utm_medium=breaking&utm_campaign=newstrack&utm_term=19820067

http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

https://news.gallup.com/poll/298313/president-trump-job-approval-rating.aspx

 

“I don’t hate anyone. I was raised in a way that is a heart full of love and always pray for the president.” — Speaker Nancy Pelosi responding to a question whether she hates Donald Trump.

“If Nancy Pelosi fears images of her ripping up the speech, perhaps she shouldn’t have ripped up the speech.” — Tim Murtaugh of President Trump’s re-election campaign

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

As a public relations counselor and message developer for eight years in gubernatorial and campaign politics, Almost DailyBrett would have advised Speaker Nancy Pelosi to maintain her high-ground advantage once President Trump refused to shake her hand prior to the Feb. 4 State of the Union Address.

The stories would be about Donald Trump, essentially walking over his own speech.

Instead Nancy stooped even lower, petulantly tearing up Trump’s speech before the President of the United States had even left the dais. She knew her actions — ripping up page after page — would be captured by the television cameras and by excited members of her own caucus, but they also wiped out her moral and image advantage over Trump for the evening.

Didn’t Michelle Obama once say: “When they (Republicans) go low, we (Democrats) go high”?

Worse yet is the ammunition Madam Speaker provided to the videographers and Meme-sters of Trump’s campaign and sympathetic political action committees. It’s amazing what talented people can do with Apple’s Final Cut Pro video editing or still frame software and a little time.

Sure enough a new video surfaced and was seen by 11 million+ with Trump’s gallery introductions of a black school child, a military wife being reunited with her stationed overseas husband, a surviving member of the Tuskegee Airmen … inter-spiced with images of Nancy … tearing up the speech.

Predictably Nancy’s political team went bat excrement, but the political damage was already done. The sequence was obviously altered, and the rightness and wrongness can be argued.

Here’s the main point: Why give political opposition manna from heaven?

Wouldn’t tucking the speech away and simply claiming victory in the form of moral superiority be a better course of action for Speaker Pelosi?

Do Nancy and Donald Hate Each Other?

“Are you (Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff) suggesting the president didn’t make those remarks or the speaker didn’t rip the speech?” — Andy Stone of Facebook

“What planet are you living on? This is deceptively altered. Take it down.” — Drew Hammill, speaker’s deputy chief of staff

The speaker’s office demanded that Facebook and Twitter pull the manipulated video. So far the two social media leaders have stuck to their internal policies and allowed the video to run its course.

Predictably Trump’s campaign is celebrating a made-for-television commercials windfall, which literally dropped in their collective laps. It easily beats Madam Speaker mocking the president in an earlier State of the Union address.

Before taking issue with Speaker Pelosi’s public relations counselors, Almost DailyBrett must ask whether she would even listen to prudent advice?

The same question can be posed for those who attempt to manage communications for Donald Trump.

With the advantage of political hindsight and looking back two weeks, Trump should have shaken the speaker’s hand, and Nancy should have simply put the state-of-union speech back into the presidential envelope.

Donald Trump won the evening because he delivered one of the best speeches of his career with CBS News reporting a 76 percent viewer approval of his prose.

What is the most important public relations of all? Personal public relations.

In a race to the bottom with Trump declining to shake hands and Pelosi ripping up the State-of-the Union address, Madam Speaker finished in first place.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nancy-pelosi-trump-video-state-of-the-union-turning-point-usa/

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/05/nancy-pelosi-lashes-out-at-reporter-who-asks-if-she-hates-trump.html

https://thehill.com/hilltv/what-americas-thinking/429148-president-trumps-approval-rating-rises-after-state-of-the-union

“Since my election, United States stock markets have soared 70 percent, adding more than $12 trillion to our Nation’s wealth, transcending anything anyone believed was possible — this, as other countries are not doing well.” — President Donald Trump, 2020 State of the Union

In our tribalized society, we are obsessed with dumping groups of people into buckets.

Even more to the point, we microanalyze targeted demographic groups (i.e.., women, men, black, white …).

We also record, register and analyze responses by psychographic groups (i.e., income, education, creed … ).

Almost DailyBrett must stop here and ask: Are we spending enough time considering America’s growing Investor Class?

“All of those millions of people with 401(k)s and pensions are doing far better than they have ever done before with increases of 60, 70, 80, 90, and even 100 percent.” And IRAs too, Mr. President.

Who are these people? Are they just the “filthy rich?” Are they just the 1 percent?

Or are they mommies and daddies, brides and grooms, anybody and everybody investing in their retirements, college tuition for their children, dream vacations or to start a new business?

In 1960, only four percent of all shares traded were directly tied to retirements. Today that retirement figure is 50 percent of all the stocks traded daily on the NYSE and NASDAQ.

Almost DailyBrett will once again pose the question: Who are these people? And are we as a society giving them the love they deserve?

According to a 2019 Gallup quantitative survey of more than 1,000 Americans, 55 percent own individual stocks or stock-based mutual funds for their investment portfolios including retirement oriented IRAs and 401ks … and even the few who still have pensions.

Yes stock ownership took a hit during the 2007-2010 financial meltdown, but the trend has stabilized with the tailwinds of a record bull market.

No Fees Today, Tomorrow, Forever

“Under any circumstances, putting an irresponsible, ignorant man who takes his advice from all the wrong people in charge of the nation with the world’s most important economy would be very bad news.” — Paul Krugman of the New York Times upon Trump’s 2016 election

Guess America’s Armageddon was postponed.

Since November 2016, the NYSE has advanced from 18,332 to 29,290, up 59 percent, the NASDAQ has increased from 5,193 to 9,508, up 83 percent, and the S&P 500 from 2,139 to 3,334, up 52 percent.

And how are markets behaving now with a dovish Federal Reserve, Impeachment done, Brexit over, corporate earnings better than expected, robust consumer confidence, full employment and the American economy demonstrating its best performance in five decades?

Even though there always the risk of the Dow Jones Effect (e.g., what goes up at some point will come down), we are talking about a calculated risk … less so by the members of America’s Investor Class, who pay daily attention to the markets and more precisely their portfolios.

The major retail investment firms (i.e., Charles Schwab, Edward Jones, E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, Robinhood … ) have all waived their trading fees, making it even easier for investors of all income levels to participate.

And for investors concerned about the environment, society and corporate governance, there are specific ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) funds.

Publicly traded companies have learned they must not only be concerned about fiduciary responsibility, but corporate social responsibility (CSR) as well. It is more than driving the top-and-bottom lines and projecting a reasonable future expectations (Doing Well), but it’s also being genuinely mindful of a company’s caring for its employees, participating in communities and safeguarding the environment (Doing Good).

To top it off, America’s Investor Class is served by reasonable regulation of publicly traded companies by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), which mandates fair disclosure. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), guarding against false advertising. And there is the Department of Justice, which prosecutes corporate crime (e.g., Enron bankruptcy).

And finally don’t these publicly traded companies make our products and services, employ millions and make our society more efficient? Apple puts a computer in our hands with its clever smart phones. Google is an instant encyclopedia of knowledge. Amazon is global shopping platform. Facebook allows us to keep track of friends and families.

If Something Isn’t Broken, Why Fix It?

Are global markets, perfect? What is?

Are the NYSE and/or NASDAQ playing fields 100 percent level? What are?

Is America’s Investor Class thriving and directly driving our consumer-based service economy? You bet ya.

Then why are there those who want to punitively impose federal taxes on each and every stock and mutual fund trade (i.e., Bernie and Elizabeth)? Who are they trying to punish? The real answer are the mommies and daddies of America’s Investor Class.

Yes, many of these investors are part of the upper class, and even the lower upper. The honorable senators need to appreciate the composition of America’s investor class also includes the upper middle, the lower middle … and each and every person who engages in dollar-cost averaging or continuous investing in both bull and bear markets.

America’s Investor Class puts its discretionary income into the nation’s best-of-breed publicly traded companies to pursue their dreams of happy retirements, highly educated children and/or bucket list vacations.

They matter. They vote. And they deserve our support … not dissing from always angry members of America’s political class.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/266807/percentage-americans-owns-stock.aspx

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2020/02/04/state-union-read-text-president-donald-trumps-speech/4655363002/

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/opinion/election-night-2016/paul-krugman-the-economic-fallout

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

“That’s one of the reasons why Trump kind of wants you to watch CNN instead of MSNBC. Because he knows on MSNBC no one will be defending him … Because we don’t bring on liars. I don’t bring on a liar. I won’t do that.” — MSNBC “Last Word” host Lawrence O’Donnell on Al Franken’s January 12 podcast.

It’s one thing to pretend to be fair and objective, when in reality you’re not. It’s another to remove all doubt, and …. be happy about it.

O’Donnell may have already raised arrogance to an art form, but does he really have to be gleeful about MSNBC winning the race to the bottom when it comes to fairness or to be more precise, the lack of fairness?

“One third of their (CNN) payroll loves Trump. So you’re guaranteed on any hour of CNN to a minimum one-third of the programming supportive of Trump. Some people on their payroll saying, ‘Here’s why Trump’s right.'” — MSNBC’s O’Donnell on CNN programming

O’Donnell was lamenting that CNN actually has guests that are one-third (really?) sympathetic to Trump, and will actually present why the president is right. The representation of both sides of the story does not exist on his “Last Word” and conceivably other MSNBC programs.

Almost DailyBrett must stop here and ask:

Are we reaching a new low point when not only are cable networks partisan (i.e., MSNBC and CNN, liberal, Fox News, conservative), but these media outlets blacklist any and all other voices who do not pass a sacred litmus test?

It’s not just a case in which viewers are selecting their own “news,” but they are not even being offered any semblance of any other point of view as a comparison … at least not on MSNBC.

The intensification of pro-Democratic bias/anti-Trump content on MSNBC as a counter to pro-Republican/pro-Trump programming on Fox News is paying off in terms of ratings (e.g., eyeballs) and with them, advertising.

According to Nielsen, Fox News Channel (FNC) won 2019 with a nightly average viewership of 2.57 million. MSNBC is second with 1.80 million evening viewers. CNN is third with … 1 million prime time viewers. If the world already has one MSNBC, why does it need another.

Whattyathink, CNN?

When Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally last week refused to answer a question from a CNN Capitol Hill reporter, calling him a “liberal hack,” the network anchors were shocked … yes absolutely shocked. Deep down inside they were oh-so-happy, but does that make CNN any more relevant as the third horse in a two-horse race?

What did former GE Chairman Jack Welch say about market share? You either want to be No. 1 (Fox) or No. 2 (MSNBC) … number three should be rethinking their programming focus (CNN).

No More Masquerades

“The media is so messed up. It’s disheartening to me. … CNN is biased to the left … They are indistinguishable from MSNBC.” — Megyn Kelly, former NBC and Fox News journalist

“As reporters, we masquerade as being objective. We masquerade as being neutral. We masquerade as being without bias. These things are not true, and they are unrealistic.” — Lara Logan, former CBS News correspondent

As a former cub reporter for two suburban dailies and as a public relations practitioner for three decades, Almost DailyBrett understands completely that reporters/editors/correspondents come to their respective jobs with a healthy degree of skepticism and preordained political views (e.g., overwhelmingly liberal).

The real question comes down to professionalism. Can a reporter/editor/correspondent/anchor keep their personal views out of their copy?

The best reporters can do that, but cable television in particular has literally 24 hours of programming to fill. Journalists are now charged with offering interpretation (e.g., The Commentariat) of the news. Does this duty inflate their own sense of worth, and lead to the absurdity of reporters interviewing … fellow reporters?

Are journalistic standards of professionalism, fairness and objectivity gone forever to the delight of advertisers and our two political parties?

As consumers of mass media, are we responsible for the news we receive?

The vast majority of us are obviously asking for media, which conforms to our political views. Are we surprised to learn that our nation is more divided than at any time since the Civil War?

Our polarized media is without doubt aiding and abetting our division.

Is there anyway to put the brakes to this ever spiraling journalistic race to the bottom?

https://deadline.com/2019/12/cable-ratings-2019-list-fox-news-total-viewers-espn-18-49-demo-120281

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2020/01/12/has-all-media-become-partisan-media/

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2020/01/25/megyn_kelly_cnn_became_the_thing_trump_said_they_were_indistinguishable_from_msnbc.html

The Pac-12 Conference needs a divorce, a final end to its slavery to ESPN.

Smug and arrogant ESPN does not even try to be fair anymore.

The only teams that matter are represented by their top five football Pharisees: Homers Kirk Herbsteit and Joey Galloway for Ohio State, and Rece Davis (Alabama), David Pollack (Georgia) and Jesse Palmer (Florida).

There are only four playoff spots and five major conferences, so someone is always going to be the odd-man out. And who would that nearly always be?

Certainly not a particular football factory in Ohio. And equally not teams suckled in the Cradle of the Confederacy.

Alas that means, the Pac-12 Conference is out in the cold again … only two appearance in six long years of the College Football Playoff (CFP).

Some have suggested expanding the playoff to eight teams, providing four more annual opportunities to expand the presence of the SEC. Some have offered the Pac-12 should reduce its conference games from nine-to-eight and schedule late season Southern-fried cupcakes instead (i.e., Clemson vs. Wofford, Alabama vs. Western Carolina, Auburn vs. Samford & Son).

Almost DailyBrett believes the left-coast schools need to embark upon nothing less than a Democratic Football Revolution, getting out of the College Football Playoff and bringing the Rose Bowl along for the ride.

Always The Granddaddy Of Them All

Let the Las Vegas Bowl in the new Raiders stadium serve as one of the six bowls that are rotated for the four/eight teams annually championed by ESPN for the playoff: Peach, Orange, Sugar, Cotton, Fiesta, Vegas.

The Granddaddy of Them All, the Rose Bowl, will retain its hallowed tradition of always hosting the Pac-12 champion (e.g., Oregon Ducks this year) and the highest available team from the Big-10 (e.g., Wisconsin). The winner will be the champions of the Rose Bowl, and that has always been The Deal and it always should be.

Sorry, last year’s Rose Bowl game between carpetbaggers Georgia and Oklahoma will be the final game ever for non-Pac 12 and Big 10 teams.

Almost DailyBrett contends the Pac-12 Conference should return to the days of a tried-and-true round robin. Every Pac-12 team will play ever other conference team (six at home and five on the road one year, five at home, six on the road next year).

Instead of a 13th game each year for two teams in a tarped empty conference championship game on a desultory Friday night, that game and the two conference divisions will simply go away.

Everyone will play 11 conference games and two non-conference games (i.e., USC and Stanford can maintain their respective ties to Notre Dame, Utah to BYU, Oregon State to Cal Poly … ).

Make The Pac-12 Great Again

“If a college football game is broadcast on a network no one can watch (e.g., Pac-12 Networks) is the game actually played?”

Commissioner Larry Scott needs to be shown to the door along with his $5.2 million annual salary, the largest by far of conference commissioners.

He “pioneered” Pac-12 Networks along with its inability to sign contracts, shutting out most conference fans from its programming. What’s the point, Larry?

By almost any measurement, the “Conference of Champions” is failing. The conference doesn’t win anymore. It enters into one-sided agreements (e.g., $3 billion with ESPN and Fox) for 12 years. Worst of all, the Pac-12 bargained away its authority to set the times for conference member home games.

Scott believes the answer may lie with 9 a.m. kickoffs … stadiums open at 7:30 am, tailgates at 6 am, team prep begins at 4:30 am, parking lots at 4 am, game day commutes at 2 am.

Does something sound wrong?

Alas, this horrible TV deal runs thru at least 2023.

In the humble opinion of Almost DailyBrett, the new commissioner of the Pac-12 (an adult next time, please) needs to insist that each school hosting a home game will not be a mere commodity. The conference’s purpose should be more than filling ESPN “programming” holes.

The conference will play its games on Saturdays … only on Saturdays … between noon and 6 pm (exception: 7:30 pm Arizona and ASU home games in late August, September and early October for obvious reasons).

Each game time will be determined before the season, allowing fans to schedule game days and university development departments and alumni associations to coincide fundraising with football.

The true round-robin format generates head-to-head tie-breakers, ensuring the Pac-12 champion will undoubtedly be the Pac-12 champion. There will be zero opportunities for cup-cake games to pad won-loss records. Pac-12 teams will each play tough schedules, and that’s the way it should be.

The ultimate reward and team goal will be playing in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day.

The hallowed opinions of ESPN’s homers and their predetermined “playoff” will simply … not matter.

https://www.liveabout.com/rose-bowl-scores-791218

https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/uw-huskies/pac-12-revenues-dipped-by-12-million-in-2018-while-commissioner-larry-scotts-salary-increased/

https://www.oregonlive.com/sports/2019/12/canzano-college-footballs-troubles-will-be-punctuated-with-more-empty-seats-in-pac-12-title-game.html

https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2019/jul/30/pac-12-after-dawn-washington-states-mike-leach-sta/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/is-tv-ruining-college-football/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/08/01/6-a-m-tailgate-parties/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/the-conference-of-champions/

 

“Maybe Tribalism is just in her DNA.” — Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs senior chairman, on Senator Elizabeth Warren

Who gets hurt if the federal government requires Warren Buffett to sell 6 percent (approximately $5 billion) of his $86 billion in wealth each year, every year?

A.) The “Sage of Omaha?”

B.) Middle-class investors attempting to grow their portfolios for retirement, their children’s education or that special vacation?

How about … both?

If Warren’s punitive wealth tax takes effect, Buffett will be selling his shares … lots of stock … not as a result of market conditions but because Washington D.C. redistributors mandate these stock trades in the name of the greater public good.

And who decides what is “the greater public good?

Warren’s punitive 6 percent wealth tax (unconstitutional?) exercise applies to all billionaires. There would also be a 1 percent levy for all Americans with wealth exceeding $50 million each.

Wonder how many in coastal blue states (i.e., Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, California, Washington … ) exceed that $50 million wealth figure? The vast majority of these households worked hard, invested wisely … and this is the thanks they receive?

How much money, which could be used for individual investment, would come out of our economy? How many shares will be forced sales in our public exchanges?

What are the unintended consequences of these arbitrary sales for those saving for retirement or their children’s education?

According to The Economist the cumulative impact of wealth taxes and many other planned hikes would constitute a cumulative 2 percent hit on our nation’s $21.4 trillion GDP.

Could a Warren Recession follow? Almost DailyBrett will take the “over.”

Selling Political Masochism In A Robust Economy

The debate that you have in America or Britain about taxing the super-rich just doesn’t exist here.” Janerik Larsson of Sweden’s Timbro

“Vilification of people as a member of a group may be good for her campaign, not the country.” — Blankfein on Warren

Almost DailyBrett has always contended that group masochism is a political loser.

Asking people to sacrifice their economic freedom, and to vote against their own personal and family best interests is a prescription for defeat.

The Economist reported this week that American retirees owned only 4 percent of all publicly traded shares in 1960.

Fast forward to 2015 and we find that retiree investments (i.e., IRAs, 401Ks, pensions) constituted 50 percent of all shares. Without doubt that figure sprinted even higher in the last four years considering the stunning continuation of the bull market.

Since November 8, 2016 (hmmm … what happened that day?), the Dow Jones has risen 52.8 percent from 18,332 to 28,015, the NASDAQ 66.6 percent from 5,193 to 8,656, and the benchmark S&P 500 47.0 percent from 2,139 to 3,145.

Should public policy compel American today’s and tomorrow’s retirees to sacrifice a significant slice of their financial future every year?

Shouldn’t we have the freedom to decide when to buy and when to sell? Does the government really understand the maxim: Buy Low Sell High?

Why should an ever-expanding  government go to war against achievers, and by doing so take direct aim at America’s Investor Class? Some see it as a socialistic assault on capitalism.

Let’s simplify the equation: Why should our government usurp our economic freedom?

Some will contend that we should all, chill out. Warren is floundering in the polls. She won’t win the Democratic nomination. Right?

Didn’t the experts say the same thing about Jimmy Carter? They were wrong, and years of economic malaise (i.e., double-digit inflation, unemployment, interest rates) and a crippling recession were the consequences.

Many in the political class point to Sweden as an socialist model for the U.S. to follow. And yet, Sweden has higher percentage of billionaires (e.g., founders of IKEA, H&M, Volvo and Spotify), and greater income disparity than the USA.

And yet Sweden abolished its inheritance tax in 2005 and its wealth tax two years later.

Hmmm … maybe we should look to Sweden for guidance.

https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/#b93a39d251c7

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/28/inequality-could-be-lower-than-you-think

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/11/28/in-sweden-billionaires-are-surprisingly-popular

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/11/14/lloyd-blankfein-mocks-elizabeth-warren-maybe-tribalism-is-just-in-her-dna.html

“You control the debt; you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.” – Actor Luca Giorgio Barbareschi as arms producer, Umberto Calvini, The International.

In the days of ole, one could buy a treadmill or an exercise bike and work out or employ it as a glorified laundry rack.

Now we have the recent Peloton IPO — (NASDAQ: PTON) — selling its bikes for $1,995 and treadmills for $4,000.

The key differentiator is streaming content (bike or aerobic instructor videos) for a recurring monthly charge of $39 or more. Peloton didn’t just sell a pricey bike and/or treadmill, they more importantly marketed a monthly obligation to a growing subscriber base … and that very well could include you.

The consumer bought high, and is paying even higher.

The stately The Economist reported the news and entertainment industry (i.e., Disney, Fox, ESPN, HBO …) along with major tech players (i.e., Apple, Amazon, Netflix) collectively spent $650 billion in the last five years on acquisitions and content, a sum greater than America’s oil industry.

For example the Mickey Mouse gang just unveiled Disney+ for only $6.99 per month (how long will that price last?), allowing binge watching of the Star Wars catalog to one heart’s content. The downside is another sliver of your financial independence given away for yet another monthly fee.

Sooner or later, the price of each kernel of streaming popcorn is going to add up.

They Have The Gravy, And You’re On The Train

During his Silicon Valley days, Almost DailyBrett was consumed by a litany of recurring payments (i.e., mortgage, utilities, taxes, insurance, car payments, credit card usage, mobile phones, cable, house cleaner, gym membership, pool maintenance, gardener …). In toto, all of these outstretched hands each month represented a seemingly out-of-control first-world dilemma on steroids.

Money was coming in, and going out just as quick each month. Similar to the IRS, each of the growing list of providers never forgot to remind your author of his annual/monthly obligations.

Even more than ever, our consumer-oriented economy (70 percent of the total) is predicated on enticing even more Americans to shell out an escalating amount of capital on a monthly basis, ensuring a consistent flow of money in one direction.

Hint: Someone is getting rich and it’s not the average Jane or Joe.

Some can avoid being “slaves to debt” to the bank (e.g., pay off your credit cards each month), but it’s way more difficult to avoid recurring annual (e.g., Amazon Prime or Costco memberships) and worse, monthly payments.

Let’s face it, some monthly outlays are unavoidable (e.g., utility payments). Most have mortgages or rent to pay every 30 days. Many have car payments. Even if you pay your total credit card bill religiously (which you should), it’s still a monthly obligation.

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t want to sound like a parent, but still must pose this question: How many of these recurring payments are absolutely necessary?

Shelter, food, power and water are essential to life. Most likely all or at least some of the above are financed/amortized through monthly payments.

Your author must ask, do we need a Netflix subscription on top of the cable bundle? We are already paying up the Wazzoo for up to and beyond 300 channels, the vast of majority we do not watch … and then we add on Disney+, ESPN+, Netflix and God knows what else.

And we are wondering what is happening to our money?

No Longer Driving The Top Line, How About The Bottom Line?

Follicly challenged Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and others of the species are retiring … and Gen Xers (hatched 1965-1979) are not far behind.

Let’s face it, for most Boomers their peak earnings days are behind them.

If you can’t grow the top line, then reducing the bottom line is a great idea. Can one seriously reduce costs and still live a comfortable happy life?

Do you still require a mortgage? Can you downsize? Can you rent instead? Can you move to a lower-cost state or community?

Is good weather (e.g., California) worth the mounting hassles, congestion, rising costs and always higher taxes?

Can you avoid car payments? How about fixing up your ride?

And most of all, can you build a stone wall preventing new monthly payments from wrecking your budget?

If you must binge watch, is there a free way to enjoy the same content without the monthly ball and chain?

Retirement experts preach avoiding second (or more) homes, subsidizing adult children and overspending.

At some point, that one more monthly expense may prove to be A Bridge Too Far.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/14/who-will-win-the-media-wars

“Official statistics no longer countered this (Ossies) group — who were disproportionately young, clever, female and ambitious — as East Germans.” — The Economist’s “Thirty years after the Wall fell, ” November 2, 2019

“From adversity comes opportunity.” — Former Notre Dame Head Coach Lou Holtz

When the Berlin Wall came tumbling down in 1989, more than 1 million Ossies took advantage of their newfound freedom from Communism, immediately heading to West Germany and for the most part … thriving. More than one-quarter of East Germans aged 18-30 moved to the west, two-thirds of them … women.

They recognized there were two paths to go by, but in the long run, there was still time to change the road they were on … especially young, clever, ambitious females.

For those 16 million-plus souls adversely trapped for 28 years behind the borders of stultifying-oppressive-surveillance state East Germany, there finally was an opportunity to leave, begin a new life and build a lucrative career. Many took this new road to affluent Bavaria, Baden Württemberg, Hamburg … and never looked back.

Is moving to a more promising venue, the catalyst for success and building wealth?

Only one way to find out.

“I’m in Favor of Progress; It’s Change I Don’t Like” — Mark Twain

Ever meet Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer or Gloomy Gus?

Their cups are always half empty. They impress upon you what they can’t do rather then what they can do. Their little rain clouds follow them wherever they go … and in the most cases … they don’t go anywhere.

They settle for status quo mediocrity or worse. And soon it will be late … too late in their lives to make a change for the better.

They will choose neither path, and the road will soon be closed for good.

Almost DailyBrett was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The former steel town is a great place to be … from.

Fortunately your author’s family was afforded the opportunity to move to Southern California. For Almost DailyBrett, Sacramento, CA, Portland, OR, Pleasanton, CA Ellensburg, WA and now Eugene, OR followed.

With each move came a change of scenery, variables, superiors, colleagues, subordinates, issues to confront and problems to solve. There were always vexing adversities and intriguing opportunities, and most of all challenges to overcome.

In their coverage of the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall earlier this month, most of the newsies focused on the disparity of those who reside and succeed in former West Germany, and those who remain mired in chronic poverty in former East Germany. For many, they could have moved to seek a better life, but for one reason or another … they didn’t.

Yes, there is income disparity even in a model European nation.

The story also needs to reflect the shift away from an agrarian economy, which is largely cosigned to the Stone Age. The following industrial revolution of Johnstown, PA is kaput. The world is now consumer dominated (e.g., 70 percent of the United States economy), digitized and service oriented.

Advantage women … particularly young, clever and ambitious women.

The service oriented consumer economy is right in their sweet spot. Public relations, marketing, advertising, event planning, local government, law, real estate, health care, hospitality … heck, even hardware stores … are dominated by the fairer gender or at a minimum … heading in that direction.

Can men, who once dominated the agrarian and industrial economies with their brute strength, ignorance and testosterone, succeed in this new service economy? Yes for some, but will they en masse? The evidence is not promising.

Not only have women passed men in terms of labor force participation, the same X-curve apply to women vs. men college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or above. And in the vast majority of cases, one must or want to move away from home to go to college. Universities and colleges should be a one-way ticket to independence, not back to mom and/or dad.

Graduates react after being recognized for their degree during the University of Wisconsin-Madison spring commencement ceremony ceremony at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wis., Saturday, May 16, 2015. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

If professional women were a publicly traded stock compared to an equity for professional men, Almost DailyBrett would not hesitate to invest in the growth potential of the fairer gender. As your author has always noted, stocks are a forward rather than a lagging indicator … women are leading, men are behind and the gap is growing.

The wind is clearly in the sails of professional women, particularly those who are brave and smart enough to recognize there’s still time to change the road they are on.

And when their ship comes in they will be ready to board and set sail.

Alas way too many men will be killing time, playing video games at the airport.

https://www.economist.com/europe/2019/10/31/germans-still-dont-agree-on-what-reunification-meant

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/the-night-the-wall-came-tumbling-down/

Welcome to America’s cul-de-sac: The Pacific Northwest.

There is no state in the nation’s contiguous states, which is located further away from a steady supply of stud football players, let alone media markets, than Oregon.

For the Oregon Ducks, geography could be an easy excuse. Instead, it is a challenge that must and is being surmounted.

Oregon has chosen to compete in terms of marketing, facilities, swagger and success.

Autzen Stadium is rocking on Saturdays, and yet there are some who cannot pronounce the name of the state correctly particularly those east of the Hudson and in bucolic Bristol, Connecticut. … It’s Or-ee-gun.

As a 30-year season ticket holder, Almost DailyBrett was rooting for the Ducks before it was cool.

Your author earned his bachelor’s degree in broadcasting journalism from USC and his master’s degree in communication from the University of Oregon. There is no game that tugs at the heart strings more than when the Ducks and Trojans come together as will be the case this Saturday at the LA Mausoleum.

The illustration of the GPS disparity (e.g., 858 miles) between Los Angeles, California and Eugene, Oregon cannot be minimized. Oregon is the home to 4.19 million souls. The Los Angeles area has 18.79 commuters.

Geography matters.

USC easily has greater access to more stud athletes within a 40-mile radius of its urban campus than Oregon has in a 400-mile radius of its college town setting. Historically, USC recruits and signs more decorated big men on high school campuses than Oregon.

What? Oregon is a 4.5 point favorite over USC in Los Angeles.

How can that be even remotely possible?

Oregon Chose To Compete

Can’t tell you how many times Oregon was confused in the 1990s with … the Beavers.

You can’t tell the difference between “The Jetsons” and “The Flintstones”?

The working pejorative by the lazy sports media was to simply lump the Ducks and Beavers together as … “The Oregon schools.”

Attempting to stay in the game with USC, UCLA, Stanford and Washington for a quarter or two was an accomplishment. If that was indeed the case, the next obvious question was … why bother?

Athletes in Oregon could not practice their game 24,7, 365 because of the state’s wet climate. The team would never prevail. Oregon would never win the conference crown. The Ducks would never go to the Rose Bowl. They would never play for the “Natty.” A Duck would never win the Heisman Trophy.

Whatever happened to all these modern-day Nostradamus,’ who uttered these ex-cathedra proclamations?

Since Almost DailyBrett first purchased his Oregon season tickets and made his initial donation to The Duck Athletic Fund in 1990, the Ducks have won six conference titles. They have played in Pasadena on New Year’s Day four times, winning two. They have competed in the “Natty” twice. And Oregon deity, Marcus Mariota, won the Heisman.

With each accomplishment, Oregon blew away each recruiting disincentive: Can’t work on your game, never will win, never play in a major bowl, never compete for the national championship, will never be in the conversation for the Heisman … let alone win the trophy.

Oregon Reign

It reigns in Oregon. It reigns big time.

Oregon is the ultimate overachiever, not just in football but men’s and women’s basketball and track and field as well.

What are the components of Oregon’s accomplishments?

Marketing: Oregon is forward-looking. Buy the stock. The school doesn’t concentrate on past tradition, but pivots off immediate success to project forward.  Oregon has identified its target audience (high school sophomore and junior studs) with fun football, cool uniforms, playing in ultra-loud Autzen Stadium on national television. The Ducks are cool, and everyone knows it (including those in Seattle and Corvallis). Maybe their images and likenesses of future Ducks will draw the attention of … Nike?

Facilities:  If you build it, will they come? Almost DailyBrett remembers the alumni tent in the gravel parking lot. That mental image was light years ago. Conservatively, Oregon has invested $15 million for the Moshofsky Center (indoor practice facility), $41 million for the John Jacqua (athletic academic support center), $68 million for the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex (football operations center) and $68 million for the expansion of Autzen Stadium.

Kudos for a huge assist from Oregon’s resident alum swoosh billionaire, Phil Knight.

Swagger: The Golden Era of Oregon football has returned. Former lineman Mario Cristobal has brought Alabama smash-mouth football with speed to the perceived soft Pac-12 conference. Cristobal’s energy is infectious. Every potential recruit coming to Eugene, leaves with photos of himself in Oregon football pads with the Nike logo prominently featured. Once again, Oregon is the hunted, not the hunter.

Success: As John Madden once said: “When you win, nobody can hurt you. When you lose, nobody can help you.” After the school’s best-ever results (46-7) during Chip Kelly’s tenure from 2009 – 2012, and recorded three straight conference titles, four BCS bowl games, Oregon fell back into the Pac. Coaching matters.

Oregon comes to the LA Coliseum this Saturday with the wind in its collective sails (5-0 in the Pac-12). The Ducks respect USC, but don’t fear the Trojans. As evidenced by the Washington and Wazzu games, the contest is expected to be close, real close.

One way or the other, Oregon will be competing for conference title on December 6.

Will our fine-feathered friends have a Rosey future? Expect the Ducks to compete like hell for Pasadena, because they can.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/01/02/the-conference-of-champions/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/rooting-for-oregon-before-it-was-cool/

 

“When are we going to realize in this country that our wealth is work. We are workers. And by selling this idea, ‘Hey man, I’ll teach you how to be rich.’ How is that different than an infomerical?” — Jon Stewart to CNBC’s Mad Money host and former Goldman Sachs hedge fund manager, Jim Cramer

No truer words were ever spoken.

During the course of his 2009  infamous viral dressing down of CNBC’s “Mad Money” Jim Cramer, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart took direct aim at the notion of get-rich-quick, particularly in times of an economic meltdown.

Some acquaintances of Almost DailyBrett have inquired and even critiqued your author’s daily devotion to CNBC, the repeated clicks on Charles Schwab’s retirement IRA platform, and the checking of the value of the Eugene, Oregon residence on far-less-than-perfect, Zillow.

Yours truly is a dedicated capitalist, devoted to maintaining and growing wealth under the banner of Buy Low Sell High.

Buying low and selling high generates … profits. Yes, profits. Sorry Bernie and Elizabeth.

Some vehemently argue that nothing-is-guaranteed Wall Street is more or less, gambling.

Almost DailyBrett disagrees with this conclusion, but clearly recognizes that gamblers are energized and engaged. No one plays poker and puts their chips on the roulette table and cavalierly accepts the verdict. They play to win the game.

As Herm Edwards said: “You play to win the game. Hello? You play to win the game.”

And more times than naught, gamblers lose. The staggering accumulated wealth and gaudy palaces along the Las Vegas Strip are monuments to the … losers.

Don’t investors want to win too? There are no guarantees on Wall Street. Invested money is placed at risk. Doesn’t that make Wall Street the greatest casino of them all?

Achieving the spread between buying at a lower price and eventually selling at a higher price is more … much more … than simply investing in a 401k or IRA and forgetting about it. ‘Ahh … just let the pension fund chiefs or the mutual fund managers worry about it.’ Don’t worry.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about your nest egg. Growing, caring and nurturing your tomorrow is a business. In effect, it is the ultimate business.

You want to ensure that you live a long and happy life, and that you expire before your money runs out.

The Wall Street crash of 2007-2010 is still fresh for most of us. Ten years later, we are enjoying the fruits of the longest bull market in American history with a record low, full-employment Department of Labor unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.

Time to put up our feet? Hell, no.

Manage Rather Than Be Managed

“Stewart had no special Wall Street knowledge, as he was the first to admit. What he had was a nose for a scam, and an uncanny ability to articulate what the rest of us were feeling.” — New York Times columnist, Joe Nocera

Recognizing that Jon Stewart is a comedian, not a stock market analyst or technician, he is nonetheless still right: “Our wealth is work.”

Part of the task before us is to understand completely a very simple question: How does a company makes money?

Please allow Almost DailyBrett to speak ex-cathedra: If you do not understand how a publicly traded company makes mula (e.g., McDonald’s makes hamburgers and feeds 1 percent of the planet each day), then you are gambling on a stock, not investing.

Remember posing this question to my classes about Bitcoin.

Some students volunteered that Bitcoin is a crypto-currency … whatever that means. “It’s been going up” (and down). Currencies are associated with countries (i.e., greenback, USA; Euro, EU; Pound Sterling, UK). What country backs Bitcoin?

Nada.

Therefore in your author’s portfolio, there is no place for Bitcoin or any other Ponzi Scheme.

Stewart publicly undressed Cramer because the former believed the latter’s network (e.g., CNBC) was not doing enough to protect retail investors, particularly those who were experiencing the daily assault on their portfolios between 2007-2010.

Most of us wish to forget that time, and yet we took the steps to manage our accounts and protect our nest eggs. We chose to manage instead of being managed.

Maintaining and building wealth requires us all to work, to stay alert, and have a healthy batting average when it comes to making our financial decisions.

Stay alert. Stay engaged. Stay the course.

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/iinzrx/the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-jim-cramer-pt–2

http://money.com/money/3982267/jon-stewart-5-best-money-moments/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/09/15/how-blue-cross-saved-my-bacon/

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