Category: Employee Communications


There is no joy that comes from giving a student a “Falcon,” let alone three “Falcons.”

And yet as a former tenure-track university professor, one learned to always adhere to a carefully written and periodically strengthened (before a given term begins) class syllabus to ensure every student is treated and graded fairly.

If a student believes he or she has been wronged in the submission of the final grade, the first course of action is to appeal directly to the instructor. The second is to take the case to the applicable department chair, who will either sustain or change the decision of the professor. The third is a comparable appeal to the college dean with the same set of options.

And finally, there is the university Board of Academic Appeals. The ruling of this board is final for either party.

Almost DailyBrett was taken before the board in spring 2018 for three failing grades he gave as it turned out … to an African-American student. Even though your author is happily retired, he still has present-day reflections about this process.

Before proceeding with this epistle, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) provisions must be upheld. The student in question is not be named and will not be identified. For the purposes of this discussion, the last letter of the Greek alphabet — “Omega” — will be substituted to protect the student’s identity.

Sports Illustrated photo – Kevin in the end zone

Omega submitted a petition to the Board of Academic Appeals including accusing your author on multiple occasions of being a “racist.” My consistent grading reflected the fact the student in question recorded five or more unexcused absences during 20-teaching-days courses, plus not working with classmate teams. The result as prescribed in the syllabi, three failing grades.

These “Falcons” were not instances of “can’t” — Omega was a good writer, solid presenter, a talented graphic artist — but of “won’t.” Someone, who for whatever reason refuses to attend class and team meetings, when they have all the tools to succeed and thrive is particularly sad.

Almost DailyBrett totally rejects this hateful R-label and is proud of his lifelong record of working successfully with the African-American community. Your author always displayed proudly in his offices a 1976 Sports Illustrated photograph of himself with LB Rod Martin (left) and S Dennis Thurman (right) from the USC vs. UCLA game. The same image is on the home wall of history as this post is being composed.

In the end, your author’s grading decisions were affirmed by the Board of Academic Appeals, which is comprised of faculty members and students. The reason in my humble opinion (IMHO) lies with the tight consistent language in the syllabi — the language was identical — for all three classes. The same set of rules applied to all students, ensuring a level playing field.

What About Today’s Cancel Culture?

Another professor faced with Omega’s non-performance in his class, did not give the student a “Falcon.” Regardless of the strict language in his syllabus, the student was given an “incomplete.” That professor was not taken to the Board of Academic Appeals. Was he smarter? Is discretion the better part of valor?

Considering today’s permissive, fearful and intolerant political atmosphere, would Almost DailyBrett be facing suspension for giving three falcons to an African-American student? Would the Board of Academic Appeals be disbanded for sustaining a tenure-track assistant professor’s grading? Would your author be shown the door upon being accused of racism?

The likely answers to all three of these questions are … ‘yes,’ ‘yes,’ and ‘yes.’

Almost DailyBrett is ready to believe virtually anything in our new Cultural Revolution when the statue of Winston Churchill, who beat racist fascist Nazi Germany, is defaced, and arguably the greatest epic movie of all time, “Gone With The Wind,” is dropped by HBO.

When will the books be burned?

An effective Democracy must be a nation of laws and agreed-upon procedures. If these laws and procedures are inadequate for today’s civilization, they can be and should be amended.

But what happens to those who enforce the laws and the rules? What about those who go by the book or the syllabus? What about those who are merely accused of the stupidity of singling out individuals just because the hue of their skin? Do they deserve to suspended, terminated and put out to pasture just for doing their jobs?

As a retired professor and active blogger contemplates the specter of facing the music just two years ago, one must wonder what would have happened if spring 2018 was actually spring 2020?

Would the student in question be the focus of the university review or would your author be shown the door after being accused and doing his job?

Almost DailyBrett Editor’s Note: The term “Falcon” was first heard by your author during his USC undergraduate days, shortly after The Wheel was invented. It’s use in this blog in no way minimizes the seriousness of giving a failing grade to any student.

https://studentprivacy.ed.gov/faq/what-ferpa

https://www.cwu.edu/academic-appeals/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2020/06/11/leaving-on-your-own-terms/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2020/05/15/never-answer-hypotheticals/

“Yes, most likely.” — Boeing President and CEO David L. Calhoun asked if one of his airline customers will go out of business

Three little devastating words.

What is one of the Golden Rules of Public Relations? Don’t answer hypotheticals.

“What happens if the sun slams into the earth?

You can think we would all fry and die and the markets would close early, but you have the right to keep your thoughts to yourself and to deliver a boring response to a reporter, anchor or correspondent.

Today’s Savannah Guthrie asked Calhoun if an airline (e.g., one of Boeing’s customer) could go under, and he uttered those three little words starting with “Yes.”

Guess what? The entire airline sector took a dive (pardon the poor Almost DailyBrett pun) as well as one of their chief suppliers … that would be … Boeing. The company’s PR department reportedly tried to “walk back” Calhoun’s gaffe, but as they say … ‘You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

Almost DailyBrett must first ask: Why “Today”?  Why now?

Even before Covid-19 sell-off, the company was responsible for two Boeing 737 Max-8 failure airplane crashes. As a former shareholder, your author knows the airline passenger market is on its back. Boeing turned into a ‘sell.’ It’s still a ‘sell.’

What’s the “great” news to bestow to the aeronautics rocket scientists at Today. Considering that Boeing is the ultimate B2B (business-to-business) is Today’s audience, your audience? Wouldn’t CNBC, Fox Business, Wall Street Journal or even Aviation Week be more appropriate media for Boeing?

Your Mother Always Told You To Tell The Truth

So did Immanuel Kant.

A former Silicon Valley colleague made a valid point that Boeing boss Calhoun should be given credit for telling the truth, and nothing but the truth.

True, but Calhoun went too far. Questions about the financial health of each and everyone of Boeing’s airline customers should be left to the … carriers themselves.

What was the alternative (besides declining the Today interview request)? How about not responding to the question, simply acknowledge the interrogative, say you can’t speak for individual airlines and pivot the discussion back to Boeing. The technique is known as Acknowledge-Bridge-SOCO (Strategic Operating Communications Objective).

SOCO is the answer, which coincides with predetermined before the Today interview Boeing’s agenda, not the wishes of Mizz Guthrie.

As a former press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian, your author and our press office staff parried each and every hypothetical question. It was our rule. It was our political discipline.

Consider one of the many questions that we received about legislation pending in the state Legislature, and whether the governor would sign or veto a bill? Unless it was one of the rare cases in which the governor deliberately wanted to send a discouraging message in advance — the bill would be DOA — we implemented our sacrosanct rule about not responding to hypotheticals.

Reporters would often voice their displeasure, but our answer made sense … bills are often amended. They are shelved in committee. They fail on the floor of one or the other house. You can’t make a judgment on a bill if and until it reaches the governor in its final form.

In governance, it’s sound public policy to plan for the future — California 2010 project in 1987. The Golden State foresaw the equivalent of the population of the State of Illinois moving to California. That prediction turned out to be true.

Having said that, there is zero upside with thinking out loud in the on-the-record presence of a reporter. Unless you have the internal green light from your management to float a trial balloon, the practice of speculating about the future is inherently dangerous.

And if you do venture into the hypothetical minefield, mind your own knitting (one metaphor following another),

Calhoun’s greatest sin in the eyes of Almost DailyBrett was conjecturing out loud about the business future of one of Boeing’s customers. That’s the carrier’s prerogative and responsibility, not Boeing, the B2B supplier.

Boeing’s PR department deserves more than its fair share of blame for this gaffe. Today was a bad choice at the worst time possible.

Calhoun was not adequately media trained, particularly when it comes to never answering hypotheticals.

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/coronavirus-pandemic-could-force-major-u-s-airline-out-business-n1205036

http://www.boeing.com/company/bios/david-l-calhoun.page

 

 

“Play the radio, make sure the television — the, excuse me — make sure you have the record player on at night … make sure the kids hear words.” — Former ice President Joe Biden, Democratic Presidential Debate, Sept. 12, 2019

Record player?

Every day Wall Street is assessing, “The Cuomo Effect.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily Covid-19 briefings on the impact of the Corona virus on the most densely populated metropolitan area in the country are moving markets … mostly upwards.

Not only is New York the most impacted state as a result of the spread of the virus, it also serves as the venue for the NYSE and NASDAQ and not-so-coincidentally the major networks.

Almost DailyBrett is still mystified the White House’s Corona Virus task force never adopted the idea of holding its briefings during market hours (e.g., 9:30 am to 4 pm EDT), particularly earlier when remarks from President Trump, Vice President Pence, Drs. Fauci and Birx would have greatest impact.

In turn Governor Cuomo has been Mr. Carpe Diem. Each morning has been his turn to preach the gospel of Covid-19 response. Is there any wonder, where he acquired his oratorical skills? His father, the late Governor Mario Cuomo (1932-2015), electrified the 1984 Democratic Convention with his keynote address.

Your author fondly remembers reading Mario Cuomo’s 1982 diaries about his New York gubernatorial campaign. That was the same year my boss, George Deukmejian (another New York native), ran and won the governorship of California. The Duke also read Mario’s diaries. The same is true for former California governor Jerry Brown.

As a former public relations professor, your author is particularly impressed with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s presence, persona, pacing, command of the language and skillful use of PowerPoint. Almost DailyBrett has been waiting … literally for years … for politicians to skillfully employ PowerPoint, which has long been de rigueur for technology and academic presentations.

“You Know” Four Times In One Sentence?

“Um, you know, there’s a, uh, during World War II, uh, you know, where Roosevelt came up with a thing, uh, that, uh, you know, was totally different than a- than the- it’s called, he called it, the, you know, the World War II, he had the war- the the War Production Board.” — Joe Biden COVID-19 comments Friday, April 17 on CNN

During World War II, President Roosevelt established the War Production Board.

Eleven words. How tough was that?

The hyperventilating “WhatAboutism” crowd is already getting their collective knickers in a twist to identify comparable Bidenesque rhetorical wrestling matches with President Trump. The president is confident when he speaks … maybe too confident … while Biden struggles and struggle and struggles.

Your author would stop a student reaching for his … it was always a male … fourth “you know” crutch word in the same sentence. The Millennial was obviously nervous and maybe a little ashamed in front of fellow students. The job was to slow him down and help him concentrate on delivering a succinct understandable message.

That is the essence of communication.

The real question for today is could Joe Biden serve as Governor of New York, let alone President of the United States, and rally us in days of crisis? Yes Joe is from Del-a-where not New York, but we are putting this obvious point aside for the sake of discussion.

Joe … ‘I knew Mario Cuomo. Mario Cuomo was a friend of mine … and you are no Mario Cuomo’ … make that no Andrew Cuomo as well.

Could Joe Biden present Andrew Cuomo’s corona virus response briefings each day with anything close to the same presence and command? As mentioned Andrew is a skilled orator, but he will not be the Democratic nominee for the presidency.

The answer should be obvious. Joe Biden is not Andrew Cuomo … not even close.

Would the majority of Democrats opt to re-run the presidential primary season, if they could? You bet ya.

Some may point to Joe Biden’s adolescent stuttering. Some may remember Almost DailyBrett’s youthful stammering issue. These problems can be overcome with deliberation, preparation and confidence. The former is running for the presidency. Can he ever inspire or will he always struggle to find the next word.

You know?

https://www.businessinsider.com/joe-biden-record-player-democratic-debate-abc-houston-2019-9

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/05/06/what-about-whataboutism/

“One taboo after another has been broken. Not just the threat of fines or prison for ordinary people doing ordinary things, but also in the size and scope of the government’s role in the economy. — The Economist, The state in the time of covid-19, March 26, 2020

“Coming next is likely to be contact tracing, an effort track people exposed to the virus that could invade the privacy of all Americans.” — Dan Balz, Washington Post, Government is everywhere now. Where does it go next. April 20, 2020

“Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” — President Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address, 1981

The California beach City of San Clemente filled its popular skate park with sand because it was being used by … (gasp!) … skateboarders.

The State of Michigan banned nurseries and garden shops because mandated shelter-in-place folks actually wanted to plant their home gardens … believe it or not … with seeds.

It’s spring. Pollen is in the air. The flowers are blooming. The birds are chirping.

In these growing cases of governmental overreach, are these punitive actions public relations victories … or failures?

“For believers in limited government and open markets, covid-19 poses a problem. The state must act decisively. But history suggests that after crises the state does not give up all the ground it has taken. — The neoliberal Economist

The Economist proclaimed today’s global state of affairs after more than one month combating the Corona virus as the “most dramatic expansion of state power since the second world war.”

Reminds one of the Red Army “liberating” Eastern Europe at the end of the same war.

Almost DailyBrett maintains a healthy libertarian streak preferring carrots (e.g., effective public outreach) than stones (thou shalt not … ). In the overwhelming number of cases, Americans accepted wise counsel from doctors and scientists, and closeted themselves at home for weeks on end.

At the same time, pay checks and investment portfolios vanished in the face of the unprecedented shutdown of the world’s largest ($21.44 trillion GDP) free-market economy.

Now the storm clouds are showing signs of receding, people are ready to go back to work, particular those who are unemployed. They do not want to wait … and will not sit at home … until 2021 or (gasp 2022 ), calmly waiting for final FDA approval and widespread distribution of a covid-19 vaccine.

The “Highest Priority” Of Government

“The highest priority of government is the protection and safety of its citizens.” — Former California Governor George Deukmejian

“Government also has changed personal behavior, recommending and in some cases ordering people to stay home, practice social distancing and wear masks outdoors, in some places under the threats of fines and penalties.” — Dan Balz, Washington Post

It will come as no surprise that your author, who earlier served as a Governor Deukmejian press secretary, concurs with controlling the size and scope of government.

Without getting inflamed by all the political finger pointing and retributions associated with the containment of the Corona virus, your author believes there is zero doubt we will ultimately beat this little bugger, the evidence is already there. We have prioritized protection and safety.

The Deukmejian administration contended that government was indeed necessary, but we questioned automatic expansions and costs of government which make little or no sense (e.g., today’s high speed train proposal from god-awful Bakersfield to no-where Merced).

But when is too much government, too much? Why can’t citizens … not subjects … be treated as adults rather than children?

Almost DailyBrett concurs with stay-at-home and social-distancing gospels as long as they are absolutely necessary … on a state-by-state basis. Where your author gets out of the government über alles boat is when the orders are arbitrary and capricious, and become an excuse for arrogant petty tyranny.

There is a major difference between the word, “encourage,” and “prohibit.” The latter means Verboten.

Your author remembers vividly University of Oregon graduate school classmates openly stressing about the prospect of the federal government keeping tabs of their … library book checkouts because of the Patriot Act to fight terrorism.

Why would government … care?

What would they think about digital virus contact tracing by Big Brother?

The Mother of All civil liberties battles?

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2020/03/26/the-state-in-the-time-of-covid-19

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/2020/04/20/government_is_bigger_than_ever_what_comes_next_508525.html

https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/04/coronavirus-authoritarianism-is-getting-out-of-hand/?

“They (NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB …) want to get back. They’ve got to get back. We want to get back soon, very soon. We have to re-open our country again.” — President Donald Trump after a Saturday conference call with the major sport commissioners

The “easy” part was declaring a State of Emergency, and shutting down America.

The decision was difficult, but once made it was relatively easy to implement

At some point — not now — comes the hard part: Re-opening the stadiums, arenas, music halls, stock exchanges, restaurants, stores, businesses, corporations …

What? When? Where? Who? Why? and most of all, How?

How are we going to re-open America?

Will we simply lift the State of Emergency, and pick up where we left off? Don’t think so.

Will we wait until everyone is tested for COVID-19 antibodies?

Will we hang on until everyone has been vaccinated? 2021? 2022? …

How will we demand proof of vaccine or antibody testing without violating federal health privacy guidelines (e.g., HIPAA), and personal liberties?

Will we continue to quarantine the high-risk population, Baby Boomers and older?

Will the ‘All-Clear’ signal be given to X-Gens, Millennials and younger?

How does that square with equal protection guidelines of the 14th Amendment?

What criteria will we use? Can we accept that unanimity is impossible; there will always be those who disagree (particularly those with political agendas in an election year)?

Will there ever be an absolute “coast is clear” signal? You can be absolutely sure that opinions will vary, count on it.

And there will be attorneys too, in particular for this Almost DailyBrett author: Plaintiff attorneys … tan, rested and ready to sue anyone and everyone with deep pockets (e.g., NFL franchises).

The Complex PR Puzzle Facing Re-Opening Decisions

No matter how many public officials are consulted. No matter how many health experts provide advice. No matter, no matter, no matter ... somebody has to be first to re-open the doors, the turn-styles, the restaurant tables for overpriced seared sea bass with risotto.

Let’s say we don’t re-open until 2021 (e.g., Tokyo Olympics, UEFA Euro 2021 … ), there still will be a line in the sand. People will no longer maintain six-foot buffer zones. Most likely they will no longer wear face masks, except for football players and hockey goalies.

Can college and NFL football players block and tackle each other? Otherwise, what is the point?

Can fans, patrons return to packed-in-as-sardine stadiums? What if they are scared (Will their tickets be refunded)? What if they actually go to the game, concert, restaurant, store, shop … and get sick? Will they sue? How many? And for how much will they litigate?

An NFL team has the legal muscle and deep pockets to defend itself, but what about a mid-range college athletic department?

Your author is not an attorney, but is there an assumed liability that comes with handing over your ticket with the QR code face up?

Almost DailyBrett contends strongly that public relations practitioners should urge not only communication, but over-communicating.

There will be an acute need for earned media (e.g., digital and conventional media interviews) employing team owners, university presidents, chief executive officers and of course, health experts.

Ditto for paid media (e.g., advertising) with strong messages about getting back to work, and going to the game … safely.

And most of all every organization will be required to launch owned media campaigns (e.g., websites, blog posts, social media, signage, PowerPoint presentations, brochures and takeaways).

The more people are informed about the calculated risks they may take in waiting for the first guitar riff or standing up for the kickoff … the better for them and for the resumption of our economy and our way of life.

Bill Gates was amazingly prescient about the threat of microbial pandemics in his now famous 2015 TED Talk, which served as the forerunner for the crisis of the ten-thousandth of a millimeter in diameter Corona Virus.

Considering the wonderful work of Bill and Melinda Gates, donating a record $50 billion to their namesake foundation for health and education and to combat third world poverty, maybe he could serve as a major thought leader in negotiating the hard part, getting us back to work, into the stadiums, and back on campus.

Didn’t someone piously state that billionaires should not exist?

Ahh … the subject of another Almost DailyBrett post.

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/28995399/sources-trump-says-nfl-start

https://www.gatesfoundation.org/who-we-are/general-information/foundation-factsheet

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

 

“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/

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” — UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

If a private sector position with full benefits isn’t the greatest anti-poverty program ever devised … what on earth is?

In order to avoid saying she will raise taxes on the middle class for “Medicare For All,” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) is proposing federal confiscation of all pretax employer paid Medicare health care benefits for literally millions of working achievers.

Her plan will eliminate private health insurance for 150 million Americans or more, and nationalize the $530 billion private health insurance industry.

Isn’t the termination of $8.8 trillion in cherished pretax employer-paid health care benefits for millions of employees, the equivalent of a middle class tax increase on steroids? Keep in mind, the annual federal budget is only … $4.45 trillion.

Instead of Starbucks paying $20,000 for this benefit to each of its 291,000 employees for private insurance (e.g., Blue Cross, Kaiser …), the legendary coffee roaster would be compelled to turn-over a similar amount to the federal government. In turn, these employees would lose their Starbucks offered pretax Medicare benefits and choice of private health insurer, only to forced into government paid … and only government paid … DMV-style insurance.

The Bernie Sanders “Medicare for All” bill (which Warren supports) calls for a 4 percent federal income tax increase for middle class workers. In order to avoid saying she is raising middle class taxes, Warren proposes instead federal confiscation of pretax employer paid health care benefits.

“In practice this (redirection of employer-paid health benefits to the government) would be a tax on employment, which seems likely to hurt middle-class Americans.” — The Economist, November 9, 2019

Deciding which plan (Sanders or Warren) is worse is just as difficult as deducing which is better.

How about keeping and retaining private health insurance, and our ability to choose our own doctors, dentists and optometrists?

Almost DailyBrett has always exhibited a libertarian streak. If we empower our $4 trillion behemoth federal government to confiscate pretax employer-paid health insurance, and eliminate private health insurance for 150-million-plus souls, the obvious question is:

What’s next?

Tax On Billionaires

” … if she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us?” — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commenting on the spectre of a Warren presidency to the company’s 35,000 employees.

The public relations spin by Bernie and Elizabeth has focused squarely on the likes of Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jamie Dimon and Leon Cooperman, including Warren mocking the latter for his tearful concern about the future of our country.

Consider the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given $36 billion to fight third-world poverty. Does no good deed go unpunished?

The centerpiece of the billionaire vilification campaign is a 2 percent wealth tax on those with assets exceeding $50 million (how many folks in blue states California, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts … are included in this tax?), and 6 percent for those with $1 billion or more. We are not just talking about giving “two cents” (on each dollar) more.

How would the federal government determine the amount of wealth to be taxed and confiscated? When would it be paid? How much stock will needed (needlessly?) be sold (maybe even at loss) and how much will be immediately bought back? What’s the algorithmic multi-billion dollar impact on the 52 percent of the country investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds for their retirement or children’s education?

Is this tax, constitutional? Are we talking about double taxation? More to the point, do we want as a nation to empower … there’s that verb again … our massive government to punitively confiscate wealth and with it, achievement? How about a tax on lower upper class wealth? Ditto for a levy on upper middle class wealth? And how about … ? The possibilities are limitless.

Three European nations still impose wealth taxes: Norway, Spain and Switzerland. How’s Spain doing?

Eleven European nations have rescinded their wealth taxes: Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Sweden.

That’s right, wealth taxes didn’t work in Denmark and Sweden, why should it fly in Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin?

According to the stately The Economist, Warren’s all-government all-the-time programs include requiring Amazon, Facebook and Google to be regulated as platform utilities (before or after their breakups?), 40 percent of all board seats held by “public reps” (read, unions), bans on nuclear power and fracking, 75 percent lobbying taxes, 37 percent taxes on capital gains, and the imposition of taxes on unsold stocks (employing Enron-style mark-to-market accounting or MTM) … and the list goes on and on and on.

Warren supporters caution America’s Investor Class (52 percent of the entire nation) not to worry; her plan will eventually be watered down or not approved. If so … what’s the point?

Are Warrenites and Sandernistas supporting Republican control of at least one house to serve as a check and a balance to radicalism? Didn’t think so.

Some see Warren as a Socialist champion against Capitalism or buy low sell high.

Instead, Almost DailyBrett sees Bernie and Elizabeth as two peas in the same pod.

They are threatening our economic freedom. They will dip into our wallets, and deny us benefits and physician choices we already enjoy. The only winner? Big government.

Instead of wisely controlling the size and scope of government, some will be cool with a greatly empowered … there’s that verb again … carnivorous federal bureaucracy with even more power over our individual abilities to chart our own financial futures.

Be afraid … be very, very afraid.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/elizabeth-warren-wealth-tax-european-nations/

https://slate.com/business/2019/11/elizabeth-warrens-health-care-medicare-for-all-single-payer-unfair.html

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/10/24/elizabeth-warrens-many-plans-would-reshape-american-capitalism

https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/07/how-would-elizabeth-warren-pay-for-her-health-policy

https://slate.com/technology/2019/10/mark-zuckerberg-said-elizabeth-warrens-presidency-would-suck-for-us.html

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

Nike Becomes First Corporation To Secede From The Union

Company Calls For Nike Athletes To Not Salute American Flag, Sing National Anthem

BEAVERSTON, OR – July 4, 2019 – Fresh off its historic decision to suspend sales of Betsy Ross inspired Colonial American flag shoes, Nike today announced the world’s leading athletic apparel company has seceded from the United States of America.

Starting today, the company will only fly the Nike “Swoosh” at its corporate campus in the Portland metropolitan area.

In addition, Nike (NYSE: NKE) called upon all major sports leagues, including the NFL, NBA, MLB, and FIFA, to immediately cease the display of the American flag and the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner” at all sporting venues in which Nike athletes compete.

The company also encouraged its sponsored athletes to refrain from any gesture or action, which constitutes approval or respect for the red, white and blue symbols of repression, injustice and the culture of toxic masculinity.

Nike said it was making its July 4 independence declaration on behalf of its employees, shareholders, suppliers, distributors, but most of all its athletes, starting with the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) competing this coming Sunday July 7 against The Netherlands at the World Cup final in Lyon, France.

“We have designed a special kit for our soccer gals that drops any-and-all colors and logos associated with the United States of America to instead only include the iconic Nike “swoosh,” said Nike Chief Executive Officer Mark Parker. “Instead of red, white and blue, the Nike Women’s National Team (NWNT) will ‘Just Do It’ in specially designed sport jerseys, which are the same color as Megan Rapinoe’s hair.”

Nike’s eminently qualified empirical historian who sacrificed everything, Colin Kaepernick, recommended the company immediately pull from all store shelves the offensive American flag  shoes with their 13 stars and stripes weaved in 1776 by Betsy Ross. Kaepernick lectured Nike complicit management the flag was directly associated with all things wrong — past and present — about America.

Parker said management unanimously implemented this request, but also wanted to do more, much more. The company CEO said the Board of Directors determined that Nike athletes should no longer be compelled to stand at attention before the American flag or be forced to sing the national anthem.

“The best way to solve this problem was for Nike to strongly request to all sports governing bodies refrain from displaying so-called ‘Old Glory’ and playing the overrated “Star Spangled Banner,” said Parker. “We also decided to undertake the boldest patriotic step ever contemplated by any publicly traded company: We have declared our independence from the United States of America.”

Similar to Vatican City within the outer confines of Rome or Monaco enveloped by neighboring France, the company’s Beaverston campus surrounded by the United States of America will be the home of the world’s first ever corporate nation: Nike. The “Benjamin” will continue to serve as Nike’s official currency.

The Stars and Stripes will be lowered at dusk for the last time today, July 4.

Long will fly the “Swoosh” flag over the Nation of Nike.

God Bless Nike!

About NIKE, Inc.

NIKE, Inc., based near Beaverston, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of politically correct athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. The Nation of NIKE, Inc. subsidiary brands include Nation of Converse, which designs, markets and distributes athletic lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories; and Nation of Hurley, which designs, markets and distributes surf and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories. For more information about NIKE, Inc.’s declaration of independence and its decision to never again fly the American flag on the campus of its new country, please visit http://kaepernick.nike.com. Non-Americans can also visit http://news.nike.com and follow @NIKE.

https://www.gq.com/story/nike-betsy-ross-shoe-colin-kaepernick

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/nike-reportedly-pulls-betsy-ross-flag-shoes-over-concerns-from-colin-kaepernick-reports-today-2019-07-01/

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/jul/4/editorial-nike-disrespects-betsy-ross/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/act-four/when-racists-try-to-poison-our-national-symbols-we-shouldnt-just-surrender/2019/07/03/926a225e-9dcc-11e9-b27f-ed2942f73d70_story.html?utm_term=.c4063e96def0

This Independence Day, Nike Appeases America Haters and Dictators

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/culture-of-toxic-masculinity/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/university-of-nike/

 

“In the darkness, we found the light. Introducing a new era of electronic driving.” – Volkswagen’s new advertising campaign tagline

“Hello, darkness, my old friend; I’ve come to talk to you again …” – Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s, “The Sounds of Silence”

Is the best defense a good offense?

Is the most effective present-day defense utilizing a Baby Boomer anthem and harkening back to the 1960s with its brightly colored Volkswagen Beetles and (Hippie) Microvans?

After being rightfully bashed and bloodied starting in the autumn of 2015 for deploying defeat software to deceive anti-pollution testing of its vehicles (Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche), heads rightfully started to roll at Volkswagen AG corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

On the line with “Dieselgate” was Volkswagen’s brand, but also the reputation of Germany’s legendary designers and engineers. Consider, there is probably no nation on earth that prides itself more than Germany for its commitment to the environment (note the recent electoral successes of die Grünen).

The Volkswagen cheating scandal was akin to catching a falling knife. Using another well-worn metaphor, the shocking story has legs and has been running unabated for nearly four years.

The scandal started in September, 2015 when the U.S. EPA charged Volkswagen with using illegal (air quality testing) manipulation devices. A related Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation was launched. Volkswagen’s chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn was fired.

A continuous chorus of charges, fines, lawsuits, increased governmental regulation, falling stock prices and recalls mounted against Volkswagen and its Audi and Porsche subsidiaries. Last year, German authorities indicted Winterkorn on aggravated fraud charges.

Almost DailyBrett noted that Volkswagen did not follow to the letter the four basic tenets of Crisis Communications: Tell The Truth, Tell It All, Tell It Fast and Move On. In many ways Volkswagen management was just hoping this mess would simply subside.

Volkswagen management, employees, shareholders and even Kanzlerin Merkel and the German government had to confront the metaphorical Scheisse-Sandwich … you don’t nibble.

Back To The Drawing Board

At some point, the world’s largest automobile designer/manufacturer would have to go back on offense.

In doing so, Volkswagen realized it could not assume a business-as-usual approach.

Ultimately, Volkswagen appreciated that it has to acknowledge its wrongdoing, beg for forgiveness, and somehow, someway commence the hard work of rebranding … essentially moving on.

Volkswagen of America hired New York’s Johannes Leonardo advertising agency, and secured the rights to “The Sounds of Silence.”

The question posed to VW management: Can a major ad buy (part of a reported $2 billion campaign) for its 1:45 second spot featuring a Baby Boomer/Yuppie anthem make everything right in the world for Volkswagen?

In and of itself, the answer is obviously: no.

Almost DailyBrett has always believed that Volkswagen is engaged in a marathon, not a sprint. Volkswagen’s story, which began in 1937, deserves another chapter.

Americans are credited for being an understanding people. They will not forget, but are they willing to forgive and give … even a corporate entity … another chance?

The Johannes Leonardo creative, which debuted with the NBA Finals and the NHL’s Stanley Cup last week, is edgy as it literally starts in the darkness with a news announcer directly referencing the Volkswagen scandal.

One suspects that securing VW’s management approval for an open acknowledgement of moral failure was easier said than done. As Chairman Mao found out, the long-march back starts with the first step.

In our world of advertising bombast and overkill, it’s the extremely clever advertisement that stops the viewer in his or her tracks and commands attention.

The dark Sounds of Silence images convey going back to the drawing board. The result is the coming resurrection of the VW microvan … a concept vehicle for now … with the message the company’s environmentally friendly electric vehicle does not contribute to climate change. Volkswagen envisions 22 EVs (electric vehicles) by 2028, and becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

Volkswagen has stumbled for nearly four torturous years. The questions are with its new ad campaign and beyond: Has the company finally learned its lesson, and are we as consumers willing to forgive, while certainly not forgetting?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEvNL6oEr0U

https://www.fastcompany.com/90359361/volkswagen-aims-for-feel-good-redemption-in-new-major-ad-campaign

https://www.caranddriver.com/features/a27784322/vw-hello-light-commercial-column/

https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/dieselgate-timeline-germanys-car-emissions-fraud-scandal

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/15/business/winterkorn-volkswagen-emissions-scandal.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkiley5/2019/06/06/vw-goes-back-to-the-future-in-new-ad-campaign-to-put-dieselgate-in-rear-view/#1026a00d3aa5

https://www.vw.com/

http://johannesleonardo.com/

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