Category: Employee Communications


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/

Ever wonder how Venezuela became … Venezuela?

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Low, Sell High?

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

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

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

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

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

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

It only feels good, when you … stop.

Is Amazon Serious?

Is Amazon just firing a shot across the bow?

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

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

“Threw away” constitutes fighting words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

“Nancy Pelosi needs to come back from Hawaii. Less hula, more moola for the Department (of Homeland Security) and Customs and Border Patrol, funding our border security.”  — Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway

The optics were awful.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi headed to Hawaii for resort time at the $1,000-to-$5,000 per night Fairmont Orchid, while the U.S. government was partially shut down.

In contrast, President Trump cancelled his Xmas and New Year’s planned vacation time at the Mar-a-Lago resort.

The story was covered by Fox News and the New York Post among others. For some reason, the New York Times, Washington Post and the big networks did not report Nancy’s between Xmas and New Year Kona spa days on the Big Island.

Reminds Almost DailyBrett of the adage: If Nancy swam in the Pacific and the New York Times passed on the story, did she still get wet?

Despite the fact her ideologically aligned media gave her a Mulligan, was it smart public relations/politics for the honorable speaker to depart for “Spa Without Walls” Hawaii with the rival president managing les affaires d’état from the Oval Office?

The Time-and-Place Rule

Every president is roundly criticized for playing golf (e.g., Trump), shooting baskets (e.g., Obama) or bike riding (George W. Bush). The implication is that presidents should have zero hobbies or interest in staying fit, while also blowing off some steam.

As a former press secretary, your author would gladly confirm my chief executive is indeed playing golf, shooting baskets bike riding etc., and would question the political motivation of those who had a problem with these healthy recreational activities.

Having said that, Almost DailyBrett contends presidents and congressional leaders need to practice The Time-and-Place Rule. The rhetorical questions: Is this the time? Is this the place?

For example, first-time-around California Governor Jerry Brown, who opposed Proposition 13, immediately befriended Howard Jarvis and became a born-again tax cutter. He remained in toasty Sacramento that summer, and directed the state in subvening $4 billion to the state’s 58 counties.

His Republican opponent Attorney General Evelle Younger immediately left for Hawaii. The contrast could not have been greater. Brown working to implement Proposition 13. Younger basking in the islands. The predictable Jerry Brown negative campaign ads featured … you guessed it … Evelle Younger and hula music.

Younger never recovered from violating the Time-and-Place Rule, losing by more than 1 million votes in the fall 1978 general election.

“There Will Be No Hula Music”

Fast forwarding four years later, my boss then-Attorney General George Deukmejian had just won a hard-fought GOP primary for Governor of California.

When a reporter posed a seemingly benign question about his vacation plans, the Duke’s political instinct went into overdrive. “There will be no hula music.”

Translated, he was going to take a welcome vacation in California with his family. Hawaiian music would not played in his opponent’s radio and television ads.

George Deukmejian paid homage to the Time-and-Place rule and went on to win in November.

Did Nancy Pelosi violate the Time-and-Place rule? Yes.

Does it matter to her liberal media sycophants? No.

Does it undermine her faux concern for the 800,000 federal employees, who are not being paid? Yes.

Very few of them have the resources to listen to hula music real time, and enjoy the trappings of a $5,000 per night Hawaiian resort.

They would just like to have grocery money, let alone enough to indulge in a “Spa Without Walls.”

http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/ID/22833/Nancy-Pelosi-Vacations-at-Fairmont-Orchid-During-Government-Shutdown.aspx

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/nancy-pelosi-is-vacationing-at-hawaii-resort-during-shutdown

https://nypost.com/2018/12/30/kellyanne-conway-mocks-nancy-pelosi-over-hawaii-vacation-amid-shutdown/

https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/im-not-allowed-to-talk-about-that-nancy-pelosi-office-wont-comment-on-her-shutdown-vacation-in-hawaii

 

 

 

“I must be a mushroom because everyone keeps me in the dark and feeds me bullshit.” – Urban Dictionary

The rocket scientists at General Motors made the decision to close five factories in the United States and Canada, impacting 14,000 workers/15 percent of salaried employees. Meanwhile the GM truck production lines would keep on humming … in Mexico and China.

GM tenderly issued a Monday news results about these Ohio, Michigan and Maryland facilities/people … saying they will be unallocated in 2019.” 

Unallocated?

Hard to believe that any PR pro worth his or her salt could actually write these words, and with a straight face actually advocate for their approval with management.

Almost DailyBrett concurs with CBS Money Watch in its designation of “unallocated” as one of the worst corporate euphemisms ever employed, if not the absolute worst.

No one is laughing, General Motors.

Before going further, Almost DailyBrett will remind readers of the four tenets of Crisis Communications:

  1. Tell The Truth
  2. Tell It All
  3. Tell It Fast
  4. Move On

There is little doubt that GM’s corporate PR types toyed with the idea of dumping this dead-dog factory closure announcement on the ultimate bad news distribution day of any year – Black Friday or the second day of the long Thanksgiving Weekend.

Nice way for big bad GM to give thanks to its affected workers during the holidays?

Ultimately, the folks who used the ridiculous, twisted in knots verb – “unallocated” – couldn’t bring themselves to drop this bomb the day after Thanksgiving, so they opted for the following Monday, November 26.

And yet, there was the little matter of the resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, who carried Ohio and Michigan.

The Fifth Tenet of Crisis Communications

There may even be a fifth tenet of Crisis Communications: Never Blindside The Boss.

Could GM inform Donald Trump concurrently with the factory closures/14,000 layoffs announcement? Not a chance.

Even at the risk of a leak/premature disclosure, General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra had no choice but to pick up the phone and call the president this past weekend.

The alternative of the mushroom treatment, keeping POTUS in the dark and feeding him fertilizer, was clearly not an option. The resulting Trump tweets about being disappointed could well have reflected that he was furious, if he was not informed in advance.

In a series of wrong calls, give GM credit for getting this one right … there was absolutely no upside in blindsiding the president.

Seven Layoffs in Three Years

When the Internet Bubble burst in March 2000, the technology business – particularly semiconductors — crashed into the wall … and there were no skid marks.

For Almost DailyBrett’s employer, LSI Logic, we enjoyed a post-split share price of $90 in 2000, full-running factories, $2.7 billion in revenues, and about 7,700 employees.

Within three years, our stock price plunged to $3, we eliminated two factories, revenues sank to $1.8 billion, and our workforce was reduced to 3,900.

In short, we did everything we could … to survive.

Included in this effort was the issuance of seven news releases, announcing a cumulative series of job cuts and factory curtailments-closures (i.e., Gresham, Colorado Springs, Santa Clara). Eliminating jobs and closing factory gates does not get better with age.

We also instinctively knew there were certain audiences, who needed to be briefed in advance, preferably hours before the news release crossed the wires. Predictably, they (i.e., governors, city council members, county supervisors …) were disappointed, but they understood the economic imperative of our decisions.

The GM case is much trickier. The company received a $39.7 billion taxpayer bailout in the dark days of 2009. Is this “unallocation” of factories and people the way GM says thanks to America during Thanksgiving?

At least Mary Barra picked up the phone and called the big boss.

Can you imagine being a fly on the proverbial Oval Office wall?

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=treat%20em%20like%20a%20mushroom

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/worst-corporate-euphemism-ever-gms-unallocated-factories-a-contender/

https://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2018/11/28/General-Motors-layoffs-factory-shutdown-Lordstown-Ohio/stories/201811280038

 

 

 

Can Amazon’s HQ2 become … HQ1?

Did the Seattle Politburo go too far?

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you … Do they really want to Bern down Seattle’s competitive advantage?

Amazon employs 40,000 in Seattle (headquarters, roasteries and stores).

Let’s see an ANNUAL $275 Seattle employee head tax x 40,000 local workers = $11 million per year … just from Amazonites. Add in Starbucks, Nordstrom, Vulcan etc. and the per-employee tax reaches $48 million

The money  joins the $68 million already ostensibly allocated to fight intractable homelessness in Seattle.

But what inevitably happens when that amount of money is not enough?

As Mrs. Thatcher said: “The Trouble with Socialism is Sooner or Later You Run Out of Other People’s Money.”

Amazon already announced a short list of 19 American cities and one Canadian venue for its planned $5 billion, 50,000 new-employee HQ2 or Headquarters 2.

Are any of these venues threatening to impose a punitive tax on Amazon, just for the privilege of maintaining and hiring the best and the brightest?

What is the incentive to invest in Seattle, if entrepreneurial spirit driving, product producing, employee hiring multi-national, publicly traded companies are hit by its home town city council with the collective backs of their hands?

Let’s see, the State of Washington has no income tax. Seattle has a well-trained workforce.

The Great State of Texas has no income tax. The capital city of Texas has a well-trained workforce too. Austin is also the home of Whole Foods. Jeff Bezos and Amazon bought Austin-based Whole Foods for $13.4 billion last year.

Austin, Texas is on the short-list for Amazon HQ2.

Why can’t Amazon put Seattle in its rear-view mirror? The number one digital retailer/cloud evangelist could simply announce HQ2 (e.g., Austin) and the relocation of HQ1 (Seattle) in the same news release.

As mumsy always said: “If you are in a bad situation, get out of it.”

98 Percent Effective Tax Rate

Seven years ago, Almost DailyBrett wrote about how the UK was Taxing the Fab Four/Exiling the Stones.

Approximately 750,000 Brits qualified for an effective tax rate of 98 percent (no typo) including four from Liverpool and five more from London.

The Beatles responded by writing Tax Man as the first cut, first side of Revolver. The Stones left the UK for the South of France, and produced Exile on Main Street.

At a 98 percent effective tax rate, when does taxation stop and confiscation begin?

Surely, the Stones will never be mistaken for anti-tax warriors. Nonetheless, they demonstrated circa 1971/1972 that achievers can and will move in the face of excessive, unreasonable taxation.

Repealing The Tax … For Now

In the face of a potential referendum, which had already gathered 45,000 signatures, the Seattle City Council reversed course this week, repealing the punitive employee head tax on a 7-2 vote.

How often are tax increases, even so-called “temporary” taxes, rescinded?

The tolls for the Bay Area bridges were originally ticketed to be repealed once the construction bonds were retired. Try driving toward San Francisco on any bridge without first paying $5 or more?

Regardless of the employee head tax repeal, what message has the Seattle City Council sent to the entrepreneurial dreamers, innovators, and job producers who are located (or plan to locate) within the boundaries of the city?

The mere fact that the city council was willing and able to impose an annualized employee head tax $275 on each-and every corporate hire speaks volumes about how publicly traded corporations are viewed by Seattle local government.

Instead of welcoming and embracing entrepreneurs, they are essentially driving them away, their employees and their tax dollars.

Maybe Amazon will take a hint and announce the $5 billion, 50,000 new job HQ2 venue as not only the winning city, but also the new HQ1.

Will the last Amazon employee leaving Seattle, please turn out the lights.

http://komonews.com/news/local/seattle-council-repeals-homeless-head-tax-on-big-businesses

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/seattle-city-council-to-vote-at-noon-on-repeal-of-big-business-head-tax/

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/seattle-head-tax-amazon-starbucks-repeal-today-2018-06-12/

https://www.king5.com/video/news/local/councilmember-talks-on-repealing-seattles-head-tax/281-8158550

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/12/technology/seattle-tax-amazon.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/16/business/dealbook/amazon-whole-foods.html

https://www.batolls.info/

http://komonews.com/news/local/amazon-starbucks-pledge-money-to-repeal-seattle-head-tax

 

 

 

 

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