Category: Entrepreneurs


“People who love to drive, love the car. Enthusiasts love the car. Automotive media love the car. Miata owners have an almost motorcycle-gang loyalty, with dozens of Miata clubs all over North America.” — Robert Duffer, Chicago Tribune, “Why Is The Mazda Miata So Beloved”

Talk about the ultimate first-world crisis.

Mazda quietly dropped the legendary “Miata” brand for MX-5.

MX-What?

Never in recorded history has a sports car touched the lives of so many people as the Mazda Miata introduction in 1989.

Thirty years later, the best selling roadster of all time (Guinness Book of World Records), Miata has stood the test of time with its reasonable price, 181 horses, 26 city and 35 highway fuel efficiency …  and most of all … it’s a blast to drive.

How do you spell fun in the sun? M-I-A-T-A.

For Almost DailyBrett, his little green chariot without pop-up headlights was purchased brand-spanking new in June 2004. It was love at first sight and the affair continues to this day. Some have suggested we need to get a room.

Can’t tell you how many times your author has garnered Miata envy from poor saps driving mini-vans with plenty of room for infant car seats.

Perhaps you should control your hormones?

Getting It Right The First Time

The Mazda Miata or MX-5 is going to be celebrating its 25th year of production. And there’s a reason for that. Very few times that you get something right, the first time, but this is a classic case of that.” — Jay Leno, “Jay Leno’s Garage,” February 2014

Jay Leno spoke in a glowing fashion about one of his two Mazda Miatas five years ago.  Fast forward to today.

Is nothing sacred? Is this Miata imprimatur disappearing act a sterling example of enlightened brand management?

As we wonder about the course of self-driving vehicles, Almost DailyBrett loves his Miata … it will always be his Miata … today, tomorrow and forever.

Can’t imagine a self-driving Miata. What would be the point?

Your author is not alone. There are 96 Miata clubs spread across America. The sports car keeps on selling, particularly in spring and summer.

Do you think there is a correlation between warmer temperatures and putting down the ultra-easy top?

The new MX-5 without any Miata branding looks like a sad Miata … a really sad Miata.

Remembering The New Coke Roll-Out Debacle

“Coke’s decided to make their formula sweeter; they’ve decided to mix it with Pepsi.” — Comedian David Letterman on the botched New Coke roll out

Coca-Cola came out with New Coke in 1985 without proper research about consumer reaction, and thus an unnecessary brand riot was born.

Mazda, can we see your quantitative and qualitative analysis, demonstrating that we wanted to bid adieu with the Miata name, and opt for MX-5?

No one asked Almost DailyBrett. 

If Miata owners wanted to drive a Mazda, we would drive a Mazda … let alone a Mazda MX-5.

If Corvette owners wanted to drive a Chevy, they would drive a Chevy.

A Miata is a Miata. A ‘Vette is a ‘Vette.

Simple, real simple. It’s the brand, stupid.

Miata owners love their Miatas. Competitors came out with the Honda S2000, Toyota M2, the BMW Z3 and the Pontiac POS (e.g., Fiero).

No dice on any of them.

Mazda management in Japan needs to understand that Miata parents control the brand.

As Robert Duffer in the Chicago Tribune, Miata owners/enthusiasts “love” the car. There are more than 100 Miata clubs in the United States and Canada combined. We are talking about the ultimate in “L” words.

Why get in the way of our public romance from sea-to-shining sea, across the fruited plain?

Mazda needs to understand the old, time-tested adage:

If something isn’t broken, don’t fix it.

https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/mazda-mx5-miata-history/

http://www.chicagotribune.com/autos/chi-why-is-the-mazda-miata-so-beloved-20140905-story.html

https://mossmiata.com/miata-car-clubs

Mazda MX-5 Miata

Selling My 2004 Mazda MX-5 Miata Was Remarkably Difficult, and Also Remarkably Easy

The beer stand at Oregon’s Moshofsky Center indoor “tailgate” party offered an intriguing choice last Saturday.

One could purchase a 16-ounce Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale for $10.

Or one could consume two 12-ounce Coors Lights (a.k.a. “The Silver Bullet”) for the same price … $10.

Here’s the question: What is more important … the quality of the beer or the cost of the suds?

Back in college we never blinked about the source of our fermented hops, water and barley, our only considerations were access and cost (e.g., Oly quarts for 55 cents).

Heck, we even tapped keg beer and consumed nothing but foam.

When contemplating this national issue, consider that Oregon is celebrated for its microbrew culture (along with Pinot Noirs and Cannabis).

Almost DailyBrett is a big fan of user friendly Mirror Pond pale ale with its smooth full taste, reasonable amount of malt and barley, and low alcohol.

But would your author … even for a nanosecond consider drinking two Coors Lights (24 ounces) for the same cost of one Mirror Pond (16 ounces)?

The real question: Was yours truly willing to make “love in a canoe” in the name of thrift?

“Life Is Too Short To Drink Cheap Beer”

The Germans are legendary for their beers, namely golden (helles) and dark (dunkles) lagers.

Das Reinheitsgebot or the German Beer Purity Law goes back to München 1487, five years before Columbus set sail for the New World.

Besides setting its protectionist standard for beer (e.g., no Silver Bullets in Deutschland), the Germans also coined the above phrase about life being simply too short to ingest Coors Light or any other Ausländer lager, let alone English ales.

For Almost DailyBrett, is his expected stay on this planet way too short to even consider … let alone drink … Coors Light regardless of price?

Mirror Pond pale ale is the anchor brand for Bend Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery, and favorably rivals Chico California’s Sierra Nevada’s Pale and Ft. Collins, Colorado’s New Belgium’s Fat Tire.

Admittedly, $10 is pricey for a one half-pint when you consider you can buy a “sixer” at your local supermarket for approximately the same price. One should also consider and weigh the ambiance of game day at Moshofsky with several thousand of your most intimate fellow Duck fans.

Isn’t Gemütlichkeit or being warm and fuzzy all over with kindred spirits the same whether one Mirror Pond or two Coors Lights are being carried and consumed?

That question is the essence of the dilemma. How many beers do most people quaff before, during and after a nationally televised football game (e.g., Oregon’s 17-7 win over Cal)? For Almost DailyBrett, the answer is typically two.

Okay, let’s rephrase the question: Two Mirror Ponds for $20 (32-ounces total) or two Silver Bullets for $10 (24-ounces).

Would your author actually Make Love In A Canoe?

Gasp, would yours truly consume two beers that are F…… Close to Water?

Alas, dos Coors Lights were the shameful order of the day in direct violation of the Reinheitsgebot, and everything we hold dear in America.

At least your author was not tempted by PBRs at any price or quantity.

When it comes to a race to the bottom, yours truly will only stoop so low.

https://www.coorslight.com/av?url=https://www.coorslight.com/

Mirror Pond Pale Ale

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

 

“Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: ‘We the People.’”

“We did it. We weren’t just marking time, we made a difference. We made the (shining) city (on the hill) stronger – we made the city freer – and we left her in good hands.  All in all, not bad. Not bad at all.” — President Ronald Reagan Farewell Address, January 11, 1989

President Ronald Reagan was not a first-person singular leader: I, Me, Myself.

Even though he was completing one of the most successful presidencies in American history and was justifiably entitled to take a bow, he still for the most part gravitated toward first-person plural even in his farewell address: We, Us, Our.

These vital pronouns salute the team that makes it happen, the linemen who protect the quarterback, the pit crew changing the tires in less than three-seconds, the people who write the emails, send the letters and form the coalition that makes a politician and a movement successful.

Donald Trump is an über first person singular type of guy, and that is his greatest weakness. He could learn from Heisman Trophy Winner Marcus Mariota, Five-Time Formula 1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, and most of all from Ronald Reagan.

Almost DailyBrett was privileged to devote two decades of his career, directly serving two first-person plural leaders: Former California Governor George Deukmejian and LSI Logic founder, chairman and chief executive officer Wilf Corrigan.

Did both of these overachievers have healthy opinions of themselves? Of course.

Did they have big egos based upon their proven records of self-made success? Naturally.

One was the most popular governor of California in the modern era; the other was a successful entrepreneur immigrant worth, $432 million.

But when push came to shove, it was about the people around them, the citizens and customers they served, the investors and their shares … we, us and our.

“I Have Returned”

Did you note MacArthur’s first-person singular is his most remembered quote, and his follow-up in first-person plural is forgotten?

Didn’t the collective strength of the U.S. Army and Navy facilitate MacArthur’s return to the Philippines?

MacArthur was later fired by President Harry S. Truman. Surprised?

Will Donald Trump be fired by the American people in 13 months time, despite a robust economy, no new military involvements in the Middle East (or elsewhere) and way too-far-to-the-socialist-left potential opponents? It can happen, but will it?

Under similar circumstances Reagan crushed Walter Mondale in 1984. Reagan won 49 states worth 525 electoral votes, capturing 58.8 percent of the vote. Mondale recorded his home state of Minnesota and DC for a total of 13 electoral votes, 40.6 percent of the vote.

Almost DailyBrett can state with impunity that incumbent presidents have decided advantages heading into re-election years (i.e., Obama, George W., Clinton, Reagan), but not certainty (i.e., Carter, H.W. Bush). Recent presidents with the tailwind of economic prosperity … “It’s the economy, stupid” … all were re-elected.

Your Enemies Will Always Be Your Enemies; Your Friends … ?

Having said that, Trump is his own worst enemy, and that is magnified by his first-person singular devotion on steroids.

Why couldn’t his own campaign quietly conduct opposition research when it comes to Hunter Biden being selected for the board of directors for Ukraine’s natural gas supplier – Burisma Holdings — while his father, Joe Biden, was vice president of the United States? This question is particularly magnified considering Hunter’s well-chronicled repeated problems with cocaine, and zero experience in energy.

For some reason, Trump decides that he … and only he … can conduct this oppo research directly with the leader of Ukraine … and as a result an impeachment proceeding was born. Will he join the ranks of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton as impeached presidents, but not convicted in the Senate (if it goes that far)?

The larger question is whether he pulls defeat out of the jaws of victory when his friends (e.g., high propensity Republican fidelity) are still his friends? Will his personal embrace of first-person singular (I, Me, Myself) trigger mistake-after-mistake, and his friends stop being his … friends?

Maybe a little more Reaganesque first-person plural … we, us, our … and some good old fashioned humility would do the trick.

Don’t count on it with this president.

https://www.azquotes.com/quote/551270

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/05/08/the-governor-who-changed-my-life/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

“There was no keyboard player on the planet more appropriate to support Jim Morrison’s words.” — Doors’ drummer John Densmore on Ray Manzarek

Having trouble negotiating the Pere Lachaise cemetery maze in Paris?

No problem. Just join the steady stream of rock n’ roll pilgrims traipsing the footpaths to pay their respects to Jim Morrison.

As one of those recent pilgrims (last August), Almost DailyBrett will go out on a limb:

Never has a rock n’ roll front man cast such a long shadow over his fellow band mates than James Douglas Morrison, and that includes Mick Jagger.

Jagger and Keith Richards are forever joined at the hip as The Glimmer Twins of the Rolling Stones. The combo of Jagger-Richards wrote the songs that will stand the test of time. The public not only expects, but demands that Mick and Keith stay together.

The magnetism, stage presence and voice of the so-called “Lizard King,” Jim Morrison, easily eclipsed the combined impact of guitarist, Robby Krieger, drummer, John Densmore and Doors co-founder (with Morrison) keyboards-bassist, Ray Manzarek.

Morrison died, way too young in Paris at 27 in 1971. The French never performed an autopsy, but what we always suspected … was most likely the culprit. One other member of the Doors, keyboard and bass player, Ray Manzarek, also passed away, just six years ago courageously fighting rare cholangiocarcinoma —  bile duct cancer — in Rosenheim, Germany.

Morrison was the legend of The Doors.

His presence and his lasting power are uncontested. Each-and-every day, people from around the world come to Pere Lachaise to take a glimpse at his relatively mundane tombstone, shoved into a tight space against the backdrop of larger memorials for unknown people. Doesn’t the memory of Morrison deserve better? Maybe not the Lenin Mausoleum … but better?

Manzarek was the sound of The Doors.

His keyboards ignited “Light My Fire,” amped up “Back Door Man,” propelled “Back Door Man” and powered “LA Woman.”  Manzarek’s keyboard solo on “Riders On The Storm”was arguably his best work. He happily described the writing and recording the haunting, yet beautiful song, in a recent YouTube video (see below).

The Doors Philosopher

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite.” — Poet William Blake’s quote that reportedly inspired philosopher Aldous Huxley’s book “The Doors of Perception,” and thus the name of the band.

“You don’t make music for immortality; you make music for the moment, capturing the sheer joy of being alive on Planet Earth.” — Ray Manzarek

If you were seeking out a perfect commentator to interpret the Doors’ phenomenon (100 million records sold globally from eight albums during eight years, 1965-1973), you couldn’t do better than Manzarek. Time-and-time again he nailed it, when it came to describing the Weltanschauung of the band.

Manzarek was outspoken without coming across as outspoken. His quote above brings a smile to your author, who has neither time nor patience for Oliver Stone’s 1960s fantasies and fairy tales.

Some immediately dismiss all psychedelic era rock n’ rollers as little more than drugged-out skeletons. Manzarek with his glasses and era sideburns contributed to this image. Yet there was more, much more with Manzarek.

Almost DailyBrett is not suggesting the Doors were angels (e.g., Morrison’s well-chronicled drinking habit), but the complexity of Manzarek should be admired and appreciated. Besides his undergraduate degree in economics from DePaul, Manzarek earned a M.F.A from UCLA. He married Dorothy Aiko Fujikama in 1967, the couple raised one son Pablo, and had three grandchildren.

The couple left Los Angeles behind, buying and renovating a wine country farm house in Vichy Springs (e.g., Napa Valley) in 2004. Manzarek’s incredible talent spanned music, writing and maybe a little architectural design as well.

Manzarek will never be a household name, let alone a legend. There are almost zero pilgrimages to pay final respects (reportedly, Manzarek was creamated). No one should doubt his contribution to the band he co-founded, his incredible talent and his thoughtfulness.

Manzarek was indeed … the sound of the Doors.

Home

https://www.sfgate.com/homeandgarden/article/Rock-n-roll-retreat-The-Doors-Ray-Manzarek-2798037.php

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

Are free dinners the same as free lunches?

Almost DailyBrett is simply amazed by the sheer volume of invitations received every day since the onset of his retirement.

There are annoying robocalls, carnivorous telemarketers, “personal” letters, informational packets, not to mention a slew of digital and broadcast ads.

Dinner for two at the nicest places in town … free of charge.

New “friends” wanting to lend a helping hand in managing your author’s investments, providing a swell place to take vacations year-after-year, distributing retirement savings or taking over residential equity and kicking-back crumbs month-after-month.

Why does one need a middle-man for your own retirement nest egg?

There is a thriving industry to provide Almost DailyBrett and everyone else with a spiffy “vacation club,” spending quality time annually with family (assumes one wants to spend more time with family).

“You deserve it.” How do you know?

Conversely, there is reciprocal industry to extract (for a fee) pigeons from foolish time-share contracts.

Too much time with the family? Too good to be true? Didn’t read the contract? It must suck to be you. Only we can help.

Buy a time-share, get out of a time-share … either way the Land Sharks win and you lose.

Somebody is making money and sad to say, it’s the salesmen/saleswomen.

These apex predators all have the gift of gab with wonderful smiles and they are all well dressed, hiding their dorsal fins.

They have a deal … such as deal … for you.

Their basic proven strategy: Get your derriere into a comfy seat with a nice drink (or two or three … ) and soon it will be time for the contracts … time share, annuity, reverse mortgage … all waiting to be signed.

Just affix your signature right here on the bottom line … muther sucker.

“Die And Go To Hell”

“We don’t sell annuities. I would die and go to hell before I would sell an annuity.” — Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments’ 60-second advertisement

Can’t forget the image of Leonard DiCaprio giving the middle finger to a vacillating on-the-phone investor in Martin Scorsese’s over-the-top plethora of gratuitous F-bombs, drugs and skin: The Wolf of Wall Street.

What value to society is created by time-shares, annuities, reverse mortgage sales dudes and sales dudettes?

Do they really care about their clients? 

As we grow more mature, there seems to be a mindset that retirees in their sixties … let alone older … are losing it upstairs. They are ripe for exploitation.

It seems that new friends are popping up here, there and everywhere. They are always ready to help. Trust us.

Almost DailyBrett detests the hard sell. The harder the push, the greater the personal resistance.

Your author gravitates to proven friends. A prime example is Charles Schwab, which has managed my retail investment portfolio for a generation.

Is publicly traded Charles Schwab (NYSE: SCHW) intrinsically interested in driving the top and bottom lines, consistent with its fiduciary responsibility to investors? Absolutely.

Schwab’s core business … providing a low-cost trading platform (e.g., $4.95 for equity, mutual fund and bond transactions) … may be a tad boring and predictable, but the client is provided with real shareholder value.

Didn’t CNBC’s Mad Money with Jim Cramer write a book entitled, “Get Rich, Carefully?”

Does anyone think he or she is going to get rich carefully with a time share, annuity or reverse mortgage?

Didn’t think so.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/hasta-la-vista-to-timeshares-annuities-and-reverse-mortgages/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/07/14/has-it-come-to-this-tom-selleck-and-henry-winkler/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/12/26/506-f-bombs/

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/timeshare-salesman-says-he-lied-for-a-living-062615.html

https://www.cnbc.com/mad-money/

 

“I’ve actually never met anybody who likes their health insurance company.” — Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts)
“And while Bernie (Sanders) wrote the bill, I read the bill. And on page eight — on page eight of the bill, it says that we will no longer have private insurance as we know it. And that means that 149 million Americans will no longer be able to have their current insurance.” — Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota)

If your author didn’t have bad luck 15 years ago, he wouldn’t have any luck at all.

In chronological order: there was the diagnosis of prostate cancer in 2004, my first wife died of stomach cancer nine months later, and to top it off … the brutal arrival of incurable (but today manageable) Valley Fever (e.g., fungus) came in 2006.

Fortunately, Almost DailyBrett was always covered by some flavor of Blue Cross … and that is true today.

At the expense of shedding any semblance of modesty your author earned his health insurance, waking before dawn for mind-numbing commutes and waiting hours for evening flights and confronting countless challenges in between.

The rapid fire series of bad medical luck with a new installment every year, each diagnosis had the potential to devastate your author financially … and yet there was thankfully health insurance, private-sector health insurance.

Any public discussion about eliminating my hard-earned Regence Blue Cross, particularly in the onset of my retirement years, is an absolute non-starter for yours truly. Your author will categorically state that he will not entertain even for a nanosecond, voting for any candidate who advocates taking away my Blue Cross.

Aren’t Democrats labeled by detractors as the “give-away” party, never as the “take-away” party?

Aren’t Democrats the “pro-choice” party, rather than the “no-choice” party?

Sorry Bernie and Elizabeth, Almost DailyBrett is one of the estimated 150-to-180 million Americans who would lose his or her private insurance with the onset of the “Medicare For All” elimination of private insurance scheme.

Think of it in terms of Monte Hall’s Let’s Make A Deal: On one stage is tried-and-true Blue Cross health insurance — the one that has served your author and his family since the 1980s — and on the other stage is … the door. What’s behind this scary door?

What we know for sure is that Blue Cross Blue Shield will be out of business. Private insurance will be nationalized. There will be zero “public option.” There will be only one option, the government, the same government that provides us with DMV, the US Postal Service (USPS) and Amtrak.

Sorry, you author does not want federally mandated Amtrak train wreck health care.

Insurance: A Necessary Evil

Even though insurance by its very nature is a negative product (you pay for it, but you really don’t want to use it), Almost DailyBrett actually likes his private sector insurance company, and wants to keep it. Sorry Elizabeth, this author does not concur with your sweeping ex cathedra pronouncement.

Bernie loves to point out that drug and insurance companies generated a cumulative evil profit of $100 billion (e.g., denominator). Question: What is the numerator? How many companies are we talking about?

Keep in mind that each of these publicly traded health companies has a federally mandated fiduciary responsibility to drive the top, and yes … bottom lines. Are we including bio-tech companies, researching cures for cancer, heart disease and other ailments? Are all of these companies actually making money?

The $100 billion number sounds just a little too perfect … to be real.

Bernie and Elizabeth want to give everyone federal health insurance, and only federal health insurance. No issue divides the Democratic Party more than the question of taking away private health insurance from the one-half of the nation, the 150 million-plus who earned and rely upon their private health insurance.

Ladies and gentlemen, we now have a new “Third Rail of Politics,” and Bernie and Elizabeth are shocking the nation with their draconian plan.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2019/09/13/transcript-third-democratic-debate/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/prostate-cancer-a-piece-of-cake-compared-to-valley-fever/

 

“To liberals, the US is not good enough for the world. To conservatives, the world is not good enough for the US.” — Pulitzer Winning Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018)

My dear wife Jeanne and your author walked 125 miles, an average of 6.8 miles per day, during the course of 20 August vacation days, spanning three European nations: Austria, France and Germany.

We even dared visit  Paris in Verboten August, and were greeted by beautiful weather, easy access to restaurants and virtually no lines for Versailles and The Louvre. Wasn’t anything and everything supposed to be closed for vacation?

One never missed the living Renoir-style impressionism of the sidewalk cafes in France and the beer gardens in Austria and Germany, and could easily come away with the conclusion that all Europeans are happy, content and satisfied.

Touring the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, visitors are easily impressed with the union of 28 countries, speaking 24 separate languages, and serving as the home of 512 million people working together — sometimes in harmony — as members of the European Union (EU). Europe for the most part recorded almost 75 years of sustained peace since the establishment of the EU, rather than being at each other’s collective throats.

And yet there are storm clouds that won’t go away easily, namely Brexit.

A plethora of higher moral ground activists point to Denmark, Norway and Sweden as “happy little” royal countries. They rhetorically pose: ‘Why couldn’t the US be more like them?’ Almost DailyBrett must reply: We rebelled against monarchy (telling King George III where to put his royal scepter), so why wouldn’t we automatically reject monarchy, even constitutional monarchy?

If the expressed goal is true socialist justice, then how can one accept all the state-sponsored extravagance being bestowed upon the ultimate winners of a biological lottery, those born into a royal family? Versailles in France and Neuschwanstein in Germany are vivid examples of monarchial excesses, which ended with the King Louis XVI being guillotined and Mad King Ludwig II mysteriously drowning.

And yet dynastic monarchy is still being practiced in the three aforementioned Scandinavian countries, plus Belgium, Netherlands, Spain and of course, the United Kingdom. If the social justice types complain bitterly about the top 1 percent in America, how can they tolerate the birth-right exclusive … 0.000000000001 percent … in Europe?

Certainly, America has its own issues particularly when it comes to personal health, namely obesity, Diabetes, Opioids and more. Does that mean the vast majority of Europeans are better when it comes to waistlines and personal health? For the most part the answer is, yes.

However, the collective European commitment to the environment and public health abruptly ends with smoking. The deadly habit and its directly related second-hand smoke is right beside you in Europe, literally everywhere.

The warnings on packs of smokes are not mushy as is custom in the states. Even a non-German speaker can easily understand Rauchen kann ist tödlich sein (e.g., Smoking can be deadly), and still one can easily conclude the filthy practice is alive and dead on the European continent (some reportedly inhale to stay skinny). Most likely, they will have beautiful corpses.

Visiting Strasbourg in Alsace Lorraine in France and Baden-Baden in Germany’s Baden Württemberg, it’s easy to reflect on how many times these French-German towns have traded management teams at the point of the bayonet, particularly the former. The Germans took control in 1871, the French took it back in 1918, the Germans again in 1940 and then the French in 1944.

Is there any place in America that has been the subject of that many repeated wars in the 150 years? The answer is an obvious, no.

Let’s face it, a huge reason why Europe has remained peaceful for the past three generations has been the continued placement of U.S. troops and weapons systems in Western Europe during and after the Cold War. Europeans should write thank you notes to US taxpayers. Time for Europe to pay up in the form of their required 2 percent annual GDP equivalents to fund the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, otherwise known by the acronym, NATO

The French in particular were notorious (read: Charles DeGaulle) for not acknowledging our leadership in the liberation of France. Thankfully, French President Emmanuel Macron, gladly speaking English, has pointed to the countless U.S. GI graves in Normandy and recognized our role.

Sorry to say, Denmark did not liberate France and end Nazi and Communist tyranny in Europe. It was the United States in the forefront … of course.

Some complain about the presence of US corporate logos all over Europe, particularly Starbucks, McDonald’s, Apple, KFC, Amazon, Nike etc. The same concentration of European brands is not seen (exception: legendary German cars … BMW, Daimler, Audi, Porsche) other than French cosmetics and Spain’s Zara.

Let’s face it, there is no Silicon Valley in Europe and the entrepreneurial venture capital culture is not the same, maybe with the exception of Germany’s business software provider, SAP or Systemen, Anwedungen und Programmen (Systems, Applications and Programs).

According to The Economist, America’s top five companies in market capitalization (stock prices x number of shares) are technology firms with an abundant focus on services provided. Together, they average 30-years of age, generate $4.3 trillion investor capital and trade at 35 times last year’s earnings.

Conversely, Europe’s top firms are goods-oriented were founded a century ago (i.e., Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever). Collectively, they worth less than $1 trillion (Microsoft alone is larger) and trade at 23 times last year bottom lines. When it comes to “unicorns” or innovative privately held start-ups, think USA not Europe.

In terms of market performance you can’t beat America’s NYSE and the NASDAQ … sorry Britain’s “Footsie,”France’s CAC-40 and Germany’s DAX. And if you want to tie up your disposable investment income for 10 years in government bonds, which guarantee a certain loss … Europe (e.g., 10-year BUND) is at your beckon call.

Buy high and sell low?

Having traveled to Europe four times in the last five years for holiday, and many times before for business and pleasure (no one goes to Brussels for kicks), Almost DailyBrett qualifies as a spirited Europhile. Having said that, your author is a proud American.

Denmark may be happy. Good for the Danes and their lovely harbor mermaid.

When it comes to changing the world for the better, there is no contest. Europe en-masse cannot compete against the U.S. when it comes to being truly exceptional. This reality may drive certain elitists crazy, but your author has to call ’em as he sees ’em.

https://beta.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/charles-krauthammer-pulitzer-prize-winning-columnist-and-intellectual-provocateur-dies-at-68/2018/06/21/b71ee41a-759e-11e8-b4b7-308400242c2e_story.html

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/tradition/g12797004/current-monarchy-countries-in-the-world-list/

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/g19733989/happiest-countries-in-the-world-2018/

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/09/12/the-economic-policy-at-the-heart-of-europe-is-creaking

 

 

 

Time is money.” — Founding Father Benjamin Franklin

“Time is money. Wasted time means wasted money means trouble.” — Shirley Temple

Very few things in life irritate Almost DailyBrett more than walking into a supermarket with 12 or more check-out lines, and only two are open.

Albertsons is a particularly notorious offender. The supermarket chain is essentially asking consumers to subsidize its cheapness by forcing customers to waste time in long lines.

Your author does not shop at Albertsons or any any other serial personal-time thief.

Some upscale supermarkets (e.g., Market of Choice) have checkers available at every checkout, but the prices are much higher.

Which brings us to the question du jour: What is more important: Your money or your time?

The cop-out initial answer: It all depends.

If one barely has two shekels to rub together, the answer is obvious … you stand in long lines, hopefully getting a better deal for your precious time.

If one has no financial worries with a steady salaried position, packed schedule or even is a billionaire entrepreneur, then time is obviously the choice.

What would happen if you have $100,000 in assets and $100,000 in liabilities (besides losing sleep)?

You are essentially running a precarious personal/family business. Naturally, one would want to grow the assets and decrease the liabilities. Does that mean opting for money over time is the priority? Or does that mean putting time effectively to work over money is the answer?

Everybody loves a deal. Right?

Think of it this way, no one goes on Amazon or eBay looking to pay full freight. Heck no, we want a bargain. We want the best bang for our cherished buck

Does that mean we wait in way-too-long lines to just secure a better deal? How about the pool souls who waited up-to-10 hours outside an Apple store, just to pay more than $1,000 for the Apple iPhone X?

Sometimes the questions comes down to return on investment (ROI). Is the “deal” worth the time? Is the time worth the “deal?” Is the time worth, paying full retail?

Infinite vs. Finite

“Time is more value than money. You can get more money, but you cannot get more time.” — Jim Rohn, author and entrepreneur

Well-run enterprises are constantly figuring out novel ways of saving customer time, reducing internal costs and delivering competitively priced merchandise.

ATMs have been a fixture for banks, conceivably since the Earth cooled.

Some supermarkets have self-checkout lines, allowing consumers with a minimum or no assistance to scan products, bag and pay, thus minimizing time.

Did you check out McDonald’s reaching an all-time high stock price of $221.93 last Friday? The fast-food leader accomplished this feat even as global markets were rattled with US/China trade uncertainty, Hong Kong tensions, and confusing public relations message by the Federal Reserve?

Investors detest FUD … Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt.

McDonald’s daily feeding of 68 million or 1 percent of the earth’s population (e.g., 75 burgers per second) has long been accepted by Wall Street.

What is new is McDonald’s commitment to customer IT, particularly self-ordering kiosks providing greater speed with the same expected Big Mac quality. Sorry Veggies, Almost DailyBrett is an admitted McDonald’s investor and consumer (NYSE:MCD) and has to call em as I see em.

When push comes to shove, what is more vital money or time?

Time cannot buy groceries or love. The legal tender whether it be greenbacks, Euros, Pounds Sterling, Yen, Yuan etc. is a necessity of life. One must possess currency.

If one manages his or her personal and economic affairs correctly, there should always be the ability to make more money during the course of a lifetime. The key as you author is fond of pontificating and bloviating is … Buy Low Sell High. Discretionary revenues should be intelligently put to work.

Money can purchase groceries and many times love, but can it buy time?

That’s the rub. Money conceivably can always grow (Keith Richards makes money when he sleeps … royalties).

Time is finite. There is no arguing the point; one has only so much time. That’s why Almost DailyBrett always hopes that “Time Is On My Side.”

https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-03-02-0130

https://www.businessinsider.com/19-facts-about-mcdonalds-that-will-blow-your-mind-2012-4#mcdonalds-sells-more-than-75-hamburgers-every-second-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

… and no one is there to read his posts, do they make any sound …

… and does anyone give a particle of bovine excrement?

Ten years ago today, Almost DailyBrett was digitally born by means of hundreds of keystrokes on an IBM compatible, WordPress and an Internet connection.

Drum roll: A grand total of seven souls (page views and/or unique visitors) ventured to read your author’s blog in the summer month of economic discontent,  July, 2009. The predictable and rhetorical ‘Why Bother?’ question was not far behind.

Your author’s life was changing. He was guided by the immortal words of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page:

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”  

Was my blog the commencement of my own, “Stairway to Heaven?’

Even though your author’s odometer was already showing mid-life mileage a decade ago, there was still plenty of fuel in the Miata. There was an acute need to move the personal brand to New Frontiers and yes, to decide on a new path and to change the road.

Since that pivotal day 10 years ago — July 21, 2009 — Almost DailyBrett’s 573 posts …

Garnered 520 reader comments …

Generated 162,373 page views …

Enticed 110,421 unique visitors …

Hailed from approximately 170 countries around the world.

It is humbling to contemplate the equivalent of a Michigan “Big House” with each seat occupied, spending some of their precious irretrievable discretionary time reading Almost DailyBrett.

Did some arrogant academic (redundant?) types suggest that Web 2.0 blogging is dead? Yes there are oodles of deceased blogs along the path — they all started with great enthusiasm and better intentions — but thousands of decomposing writers laying by the roadside should not be interpreted as the end of blogging, maybe just the end of the beginning.

Those Troubling Widowers

Looking back on Almost DailyBrett’s nearly 600 posts, there are wide variety of topics and themes, which constitute the Top 10 blogs:

  1. The Trouble With Widowers (This post keeps on giving each day even though it was composed in 2012), 18,990 page views
  2. NASDAQ: WEED (Predicted publicly traded marijuana companies), 14,653
  3. Farewell LSI Logic (What is and what should have never been?), 4,379
  4. The Decision to Pose for Playboy (Bared my opinions), 4,106
  5. Fiduciary Responsibility vs. Corporate Social Responsibility (Not mutually exclusive), 4,023
  6. Magnanimous in Victory, Gracious in Defeat (Easier said than done), 2,423
  7. Smile on the Lips Before a Tear in the Eyes (Joe Biden on horrific family loss), 2,247
  8. One Page Memo: Now More Than Ever (Makes more sense than ever in our digital world), 1,902
  9. Competing Against the Dead (She’s gone, and she is not coming back), 1,628
  10. California’s Rarefied Air Tax (April Fool’s blog; Don’t give Gavin any ideas), 1,050.

Your author would be remiss if he did not point out that his “About” page has drawn 1,071 page views.

Yes, a successful blog can pay dividends in terms of personal branding and the ongoing perception of accomplishment. Writing Almost DailyBrett certainly did not hurt yours truly in securing a tenure-track assistant professorship of public relations at Central Washington University at 59 years young. 

Total Douche-o-Rama

“This person is an idiot … Perfect for Ph.D candidacy.”

“This whole blog is an audition for a commentator position on Fox News.”

“Total Douche-o-Rama.”

These are just some of the nicer comments your author approved for posting on Almost DailyBrett.

After 10 years in the blogging trenches sending out rhetorical salvos and more than a few occasions receiving less-the-pleasant feedback and name calling, here are 10 hard-earned rules for blogging:

  1. No one was put on this planet to read your posts. A blog is the ultimate discretionary read. Someone is spending precious nanoseconds of their finite life to read your blog. Boring and lame does not cut it.
  2. Digital is eternal. The most important public relations is your own personal PR. Never blog when you are upset, sleepy and certainly not when you are intoxicated (Mark Zuckerberg’s character in The Social Network)
  3. Double Check and Double Check Again. The difference between “pubic relations” and “public relations” is one letter. The level of embarrassment is huge. Don’t rely on the Microsoft Spell Check. If the wrong word is spelled correctly, you are still personally wrong
  4. Employ Pull and Push (in that order) to Generate SEO/SEM. Juicy tags and alluring categories are irresistible to the Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing algorithms. Your blog should always be on page one following a Google search. Social media uploads are essential
  5. Write to Your Strength/Experience. Not everyone shares your interests. Some blogs will do better than others. Follow your passion. Accept that some blogs will barely register a blip on the rhetorical Richter Scale
  6. Be Provocative, Not Notorious. The last thing anyone wants or needs is another partisan rant on social media. Almost DailyBrett has a point of view (e.g., Buy Low Sell High),  but refrains from being another screaming talking head
  7. Avoid Overt Partisanship. In our increasingly tribalized society, your blogs are not going to radically shift public opinion.  Offer new ways to approach an issue. Who knows? You may move the dial just a smidge, and in our polarized world that is and of itself … an accomplishment.
  8. Buy Low Sell High. Offer a proven philosophy. Demonstrate through thoughts and example that economic freedom (albeit not perfect) is still the best way to provide for prosperity and in the end, the pursuit of happiness
  9. Have Thick Skin … to a Point. Don’t blog if you can’t take the heat. Inevitably, someone will not be pleased with your prose. Celebrate responses to a point. You do not need to accept slurs, profanities and name calling
  10. “Opinions Are Like Assholes, Everyone Has One.”  There are times when your personal experience (e.g., press secretary), if you are sure you want to share, maybe can help others. If so, a blog author can be closer to an angel as opposed to an ass ….

And as recommended by University of Oregon Journalism Professor Carol Stabile, write 15 minutes every day. Some days will be better than others. Blogging is a gift of the digital age. The ability to project your thoughts to all continents in mere nanoseconds was inconceivable before 1995. There is a great responsibility that comes with blogging, but an incredible opportunity as well.

Almost DailyBrett note: Even though he went to UCLA and received his B.A. in English (and eventually rose above this baby blue malady), the initial inspiration came from my forever friend and colleague Brian Fuller, editor in chief at ARM. The former editor of EE Times recommended blogging in general and WordPress in particular at a time when his advice made the greatest impact. The success of Almost DailyBrett is in part is attributable to Brian. Buy Low Sell High, my eternal friend!

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-trouble-with-widowers/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/nasdaq-weed/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/10/the-decision-to-pose-for-playboy/

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/magnanimous-in-victory-gracious-in-defeat/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/smile-on-the-lips-before-a-tear-in-the-eyes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/the-one-page-memo-now-more-than-ever/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/competing-against-the-dead/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/brianfuller24/

 

 

 

 

The Dow Jones closed for the first time ever more than 27,000.

The S&P 500 recorded a record close exceeding 3,000.

The NASDAQ passed 8,000 and has been in and out of record territory.

America’s economy has been growing for 121 months, and the bull market is advancing at a record pace.

The combination of rising markets, nearly 3 percent annualized GDP growth, record low unemployment of 3.7 percent, inflation under 2 percent and interest rates set to decline under 2.25 percent will not last forever … but these factors are here right now.

Three years ago, Gallup projected that 52 percent of Americans own stocks and stock-based mutual funds. That 2016 figure preceded the election of Donald Trump and the corresponding rises in the Dow, S&P 500 and the NASDAQ.

Gallup also recorded that 37 percent of younger Americans under 35 are invested, reflecting overall cautiousness by millennials.

Earth to critics of Capitalism/advocates of Socialism: America’s investor class is not 1 percent, but more than half of all Americans (e.g., 170 million).

Almost DailyBrett is convinced these investor class market participation figures are low, reflecting the residual impact of the 2008 recession. They do not take into account our robust economic expansion, record low unemployment and un pequeno inflation.

In 2007, 65 percent of Americans invested in stocks and stock-based mutual funds. Your author will take the “over” that market participation number has now reached 60 percent, and continues to climb.

Whether they are active or passive investors, these Americans constitute a high-propensity-to-vote investor class. They vote on America’s future (and their own) through their investments mainly of U.S. based large caps.

Will America’s investor class, those who own stocks and/or stock-based mutual funds decide a continued or new direction of the nation?

Some poor souls seem to correlate America’s investors with a Monaco-sized sliver of our population. Woe is to those who do not invest.

Socialism and its media allies assert that those with greater discretionary funds are more prone to invest in markets. Why do they believe this undeniable fact is a revelation?

While some prefer to make a racket protesting before the cameras in the streets, others … millions of others … are quietly investing in living longer, their health care, their children’s education and their happy retirement.

As they say on the airlines: “Put on your own mask, before assisting others.” These Americans with discretionary income have the ability to contribute to charities and donate resources to make America a better place.

With every key stroke on a retail trading site (e.g., Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, eTrade) or making another contribution to their personal IRA or their 401K at work, these hard-working Americans are quietly making a stand.

They proudly believe in buying low and selling high. They have the economic freedom to earn a profit.

They are economic freedom loving individuals taking direct control of their futures.

Almost DailyBrett wonders why these good decent hardworking overachievers are being vilified simply by putting their hard-earned, already taxed discretionary dollars to work.

America’s Investor Class is the Salt of the Earth and the Backbone of America, if you don’t mind a few metaphors.

Defending Economic Freedom

Why is “profit” such a dirty word to so many?

Doesn’t profit or bottom line mean a business … can stay in business?

Don’t jobs, opportunities, security and yes, tax revenues, alight from successful enterprises?

And yet Almost DailyBrett is becoming increasingly troubled by the onslaught against America’s investor class, and the war on economic freedom.

As we continue into the “silly season” of American politics, we hear proposals to raise tax rates to 70 percent or more, impose a 2 percent “surcharge” on assets, introduce a 0.1 percent tax on each and every stock, mutual fund and bond trade.

There are those who want to eliminate private health insurance for 180 million, provide taxpayer health care for illegal aliens, introduce an 18 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) to fund Universal Basic Income (UBI) for those who want to play video games all day.

Heaven forbid, but these silly season proposals could become the laws of the land. The more capital that is redistributed by a predatory government is less money for America’s Dreamers, the Investor Class.

Some complain about income inequality, when 73 percent of college graduates (B.A. or above) and 83 percent of advanced degree recipients (M.A., M.S., Ph.D) invest in markets. One can make a compelling argument that education leads to a separation between the haves and have nots of discretionary income and thus, the investor class.

Should we shut off access to education to achieve social justice? Or should we teach students to understand and intelligently invest in markets?

Almost DailyBrett believes we should adopt policies to expand America’s Investor Class and defend Economic Freedom.

The nearly 170 million members of America’s Investor Class are high propensity. They will vote in 2020.

Wonder which party and candidates will earn their votes?

https://news.gallup.com/topic/stocks.aspx

https://news.gallup.com/poll/233699/young-americans-wary-investing-stocks.aspx

https://www.financialsamurai.com/what-percent-of-americans-own-stocks/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/03/10/my-congressman-wants-to-double-tax-our-retirement/

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/newt-gingrich-trump-democrats-pelosi-mcgovern

 

 

 

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