Tag Archive: Beatles


“You say you want a revolution; Well, you know, We all want to change the world; You tell me that it’s evolution; Well, you know, We all want to change the world.” – The Beatles, Revolution

Sometimes it’s hard to provide PR advice to an accomplished hombre, who is 74-years young.

What do they say about: “Teaching an old dog new tricks”?Bernierevolution

Now before you accuse Almost DailyBrett of making aspersions about seasoned citizens, please weigh the fact that your author is on the cusp of this rarefied age group.

This particular epistle pertains to Senator Bernie Sanders (S-Vermont) not once — but actually twice — invoking a call for “revolution” during the course of his losing debate performance against Hillary Clinton, October 13.

And then this past weekend, Sanders doubled down on his summons for a citizen uprising with an airplane pulling the following streamer: “REVOLUTION STARTS NOW! FEEL THE BERN!”

The Saturday event was the annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner in first-in-the-nation caucus state, Iowa, to be held next February. Hillary Clinton brought along her beau, Bill, and conceivably he brought along Katy Perry.clintonsperry

In contrast, Bernie invoked visions of a Great October Socialist Revolution. Wonder what he will do for kicks on November 7? Are TJ and Old Hickory turning over in their respective graves?

Why even assess Bernie’s call for “revolution,” when conventional media wisdom points to Hillary winning the nomination in a cakewalk? Maybe, there’s something out there, which cannot be taken for granted, no matter how many times the word “inevitable” is employed. And that is the fact that the folks in retail states, Iowa and New Hampshire, are notoriously fickle, similar to herding cats.

What will actually happen in February, four months from now (a political lifetime), is not preordained. Let’s ask: Why is Bernie still conjuring up visions of Great Leaps Forward, little red books, collective farms, re-education camps and all-expense-paid, one-way trips to Siberia?

Honeymoon in the Rodina

Leave it till tomorrow to unpack my case; Honey disconnect the phone; I’m back in the U.S.S.R. You don’t know how lucky you are boy,” – The Beatles, Back in the USSRcoopersanders

CNN’s anointed Wunderkind Anderson Cooper rubbed a few liberal … err progressive raw nerves with Bernie’s disciples when he asked during the debate whether Americans would actually elect a president, who honeymooned in the bucolic Soviet Union in 1988.

In response, the Daily Kos harkened back to the McCarthy-era (not Eugene) memory lane accusing the Clinton News Network anchor of “red baiting” Bernie about how he took his then-new bride, Jane, on a honeymoon beside the banks of the Kotorosi in Yaroslavl.

How romantic: hearing the balalaikas ringing out; keeping your comrade warm.

Cooper’s question envisioned a potential Republican attack ad against Sanders, which could “write itself,” conjuring up his support for the Sandinistas, opposition to capitalism and the couple’s romantic honeymoon behind the Iron Curtain.yaroslavl

Sanders didn’t even blink, pivoting to his tried-and-true attack on the system being “corrupt” and “rigged” against the middle class. Later he boldly called for revolution.

From a public relations standpoint does “revolution” work in Iowa and New Hampshire, let alone South Carolina and Nevada? Is Sanders a P.T. Barnum press agentry circus act with an aerial streamer buzzing overhead? Could he actually win the Democratic nomination and if he did, how could he put together a coalition that leads to 270+ electoral votes?

Asking Sanders to comb his hair (as opposed to the Donald Trump comb-over) is probably not in the cards. How about toning down the rhetoric, but not enough to aggravate his always excitable followers? What did Nixon say about running to the poles in the primaries and to the center in the general election? Sanders is taking the former to the extreme.

This exercise brings us to the heart of the question: Can one actually provide public relations, branding and reputation management to larger-than-life personalities including Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Bernie Sanders?

Trump doesn’t seem to care what you think or say about him, just as long as you are thinking and talking about him 24/7/365. Be sure to spell the name right.

Ketchum Public Relations shamelessly received at least $55 million in fees from Putin’s Russia even as the dictator occupies the Crimea, his compatriots shoot down jet liners and props up an evil despot in Syria. Ketchum is way past the point of worrying about selling its collective soul (not referencing the band). That relationship was terminated by Russia this past March.

Back to Bernie: Is there a pragmatic bone in Sanders’ body? Does he really think that Revolutionary Democratic Socialism will sell in Peoria? His message may have a chance in Berkeley, Santa Cruz and Portland, but alas for Sanders there aren’t enough of these collectivist societies to propel the senator to the White House.

Pass the borscht.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clinton-sanders-rally-their-iowa-supporters/2015/10/24/ce6b1216-79d3-11e5-a958-d889faf561dc_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/clinton-sanders-rally-their-iowa-supporters/2015/10/24/ce6b1216-79d3-11e5-a958-d889faf561dc_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3l_2m8l8Aw

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

http://russiatrek.org/yaroslavl-city

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/09/07/the-politics-of-inevitability/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/12/the-silly-season/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/23/russia-doesnt-give-a-particle-about-public-relations/

 

 

 

 

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Upon announcement of his induction into the University of Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame Saturday night, the sellout crowd at Autzen Stadium gave Nike founder and über-UO donor Phil Knight a standing ovation.

The 99 percent were cheering, rather than jeering, a member of the despised 1 percent.

Class warfare and jealously were shelved for at least for a nanosecond or two.

And what ever happened to “Occupy Eugene,” let alone “Occupy Wall Street?”

The reason for the outpouring of appreciation was obvious: Never in recorded history have so many UO students, athletes and alums owed so much to one solitary man. He has given more than $300 million (and counting) to the school’s Athletic Department, including $100 million to the UO Athletics Legacy Fund.

unclephil

Academically, he contributed the lion’s share to the $27 million renovation to the UO Knight Library. The name of his late father and 1932 UO Law grad, William W. Knight, adorns the 68,000-square foot University of Oregon law school.

Knight’s generosity is not limited to the University of Oregon as he gave $105 million to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he received his MBA. He has also directed $100 million to Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) for the Knight Cancer Institute, and most recently $125 million more to establish the OHSU Cardiovascular Institute.

In a society where we make so much of those who are “giving back,” why are we so insistent on “taxing the rich” (e.g., Phil Knight) to further grow the size, scope and gravitational pull of the federal government?

Is it fair to impose punitive taxation on successful entrepreneurs in which nothing is given, who have a great idea, and have the temerity to “Just Do It?” If one subscribes to the notion that the best anti-poverty program on the planet is a job, then $24 billion Nike is responsible for “stimulating” 44,000 direct jobs and oodles of indirect jobs. Investors have poured $43 billion into Nike’s market value, and the company has nearly $4 billion of cash on hand for future job-creating investments.

Back to our basic public policy question: Is it a swell idea to punitively raise the tax rate of successful entrepreneurs to make the government grander while retarding their investment and philanthropy endeavors? And will these additional revenues be used for deficit reduction or for more spending and borrowing (e.g. Solyndra II)?

If we agree to hike the highest federal income rate from 36 percent-to-39 percent, coupled with increasing the capital gains rate from 15 percent-to-30 percent, will these increases be sufficient to pacify the insatiable class warriors?

Consider that the top federal income tax rate was 70 percent under the “malaise” reign of James Earl Carter from 1977 to 1981. That rate sounds high and unreasonable (at least to some) until you consider the effective 98 percent rate under UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson in the 1970s. This level of confiscatory taxation even prompted the Beatles to write “Taxman,” and for the Rolling Stones to flee to France and record “Exile on Main Street.” See Almost DailyBrett https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/taxing-the-fab-four-exiling-the-stones/

Some will scoff at 98 percent taxation, but it happened in the industrialized country that shares a special class-warfare kinship with the United States. What is mind-boggling is the notion of one can earn $1 million and then only taking home about $70,000? Think of it this way, one could toil from January 1 to December 15 to pay the government, before starting to work for herself or himself.

Call me silly or naïve, but I humbly contend that we should be incentivizing entrepreneurs, such as Uncle Phil, to invest and donate and along the way create jobs. The static-scoring Keynesiologists will want me to stuff my dynamic-scoring “Laffer Curve” cocktail napkin where the sun doesn’t shine. They will demand that I and other like-minded individuals to simply accept the “inevitability” of “community” tax increases that foster more “investing” (e.g., code for spending and borrowing).

Wonder how many of those who were standing and applauding “Uncle Phil” for his contributions to his favorite university are deep down inside hoping our government gives it to him, and gives it to him good? I’m afraid that more than half of the stadium supports this exact policy.

As they say, “No good deed goes unpunished.”

http://www.registerguard.com/web/sports/28782173-41/oregon-hall-knight-fame-american.html.csp

http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-businessmen/ceos/phil-knight-net-worth/

http://www.forbes.com/profile/phil-knight/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Knight

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knight_Library

http://www.kgw.com/news/Phil–Penny-Knight-donate-125M-to-OHSU-170087396.html

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/608673-nikes-big-gift-phil-knight-and-the-university-of-oregon

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Maynard_Keynes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Laffer

“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least possible amount of hissing,” — Jean Baptist-Colbert, French Minister of Finances under Louis XIV.

“If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street. If you drive to city, I’ll tax your seat. If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat. If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet,” – George Harrison, Beatles’ “Taxman,” 1966.

The Beatles certainly were not the only hugely successful British rock-and-roll band to ever feel the heat of punitive taxation. Nonetheless, they were paying far more than their “fair share” for their musical achievements and the opening song of the band’s “Revolver” album was a form of open protest against excessive taxation and class warfare.

“‘Taxman’ was when I first realized that even though we had started earning money, we were actually giving most of it away in taxes,” said the late George Harrison, the Beatles guitarist. “It was and still is typical.”

For their chief competitors, the Rolling Stones, the crushing taxation in the UK in the 1970s forced the band to leave their homeland, England, to seek refuge in France and record the aptly titled “Exile on Main Street.” Like Napoleon Bonaparte on Elba, the Stones were forced into Mediterranean exile.

exile

The history of the Beatles and the Stones relative to taxation has direct bearing on the modern-day open debate on just how government is too much government and exactly how much taxation is too much taxation. The leader of the free world has called upon the rich to pay their “fair share,” but what exactly is the definition of fair share? And what constitutes “rich” in Obama’s America? The devil is in the details.

Is 98 percent fair? “Preposterous” you say? Not if you review the history of the United Kingdom prior to the rise of Margaret Thatcher.

The “progressive” tax regime of former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson was simply staggering, a top rate for income tax of 83 percent + a 15 percent surcharge on “un-earned income” (investments and dividends), bringing the marginal rate of 98 percent (no typo). Reportedly, 750,000 British taxpayers were liable for a 98 percent tax rate in 1974. Is there a fine line between taxation and almost total confiscation, and when is that line crossed?

In the case of the Stones, they were not only hissing like plucked geese, but fleeing the country…an option that is always available to the wealthy to escape oppressive taxation. The wealthy (at least for the time being) do have the means, and many times they vote with their feet or by means of air travel.

haroldwilson

Reflecting on the time, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman said in the band’s DVD “Stones in Exile” that if a band member made a “million quid,” he would be taking home only 70,000 pounds. “It was impossible to make enough to pay Inland Revenue.”

“I had to get out of the country to pay the tax that was incurred on me,” guitarist/song writer Keith Richards remembered.

Singer/song writer Mick Jagger was worried about fan reaction of the Stones leaving the UK for tax reasons, thinking that followers wouldn’t like the Stones anymore. “When you leave for tax reasons, it is not cool.”

But is a 98 percent tax rate cool? Is that paying your “fair share?” Let’s see the achiever gets keep two cents on every dollar, the government takes through a variety of taxing mechanisms the remaining 98 cents on that same dollar.

Extreme? You bet, but it happened. And it occurred in Mother England and it really wasn’t that long ago. As you know, there are some who want America to be just like Western Europe, but do they really support 98 percent taxation?

No one will ever accuse the members of the Beatles and the Stones of being conservative warriors for limited government and Lafferite low taxation to jump-start economic growth. The Stones in particular proved that the real wealthy or the so-called wealthy have options. They can move to lower tax states (e.g. Texas and Florida come immediately to mind) or even to other nations. They may not want to do it, but again they may not have any other choice.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stones_in_Exile

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Thatcher

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Wilson

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exile_on_Main_St.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxman

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Laffer

“No one every went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public” – Henry Mencken http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._L._Mencken

Virtually every Baby Boomer can remember purchasing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Band, circa 1967.

…and then Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Band on cassette (“A Day in the Life” sounded remarkably the same) until the tape inevitably broke.

…and then in the 1980s, Sgt. Pepper’s with a predictable marketing push was made available on CD (no more annoying scratches or broken tapes…or at least it was harder to scratch a CD).

beatlespepper

Fast forward to this week and we find out that the same boomers that bought Sgt. Pepper’s more than four decades ago on vinyl, again on cassette and still again on CD (which they may have already burned onto their iPod or MP3 player) can now download the same album or individual tracks from iTunes. http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-beatles/id136975

For those of you scoring at home, you have followed a Long and Winding Road for more than 40 years and Apple, the technology company not the record label, is now giving you the opportunity to buy the exact same music in the fourth different format. That translates into one format per decade (Can we accelerate this trend…hmmm?).

Wonder if someone will figure out how you can buy the exact same music in the fifth different format? Don’t bet against it.

Don’t get me wrong; I too am a fan of the Fab Four. Having said that I am still shaking my head about all the breathless Facebook and Twitter posts from my friends, colleagues and comrades and the plethora of related media stories about “finally” having the ability to download individual Beatles songs…the exact same songs that have been around for more than 40 years…off Apple’s iTunes website. http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-52951820101116

Why should we be surprised? Coca Cola and Pepsi taught us how to pay for what is nothing more and nothing less than free tap water (Dasani and Aquafina) just because it is packaged in easy-to-carry plastic bottles.

And who would have ever thought that we would be shelling out for three, four or five phones all at once? Someone is getting rich, but most likely it is not the “enlightened” consumer.

Besides the obvious redundancy, there is a certain sadness that comes from latent Beatlemania. The Beatles stopped touring in 1967, broke up three years later and of course, John Lennon and George Harrison, are no longer with us. So the band’s fans are left with just fading memories and the same recordings to be reproduced over and over again on whatever is the newest technology and then repackaged and remarketed (if there is such a word).

stonesconcert

An editor’s note is required here: I respect the Beatles. Having said that, I am a huge fan of the Rolling Stones www.rollingstones.com.  And yes I am guilty as well of buying Rolling Stones albums in multiple formats. The distinction is the band is still producing new material (e.g. “A Bigger Bang”) and the band reportedly will make plans in December for a worldwide tour with 67-year-old Mick Jagger strutting the stage; 66-year-old Keith Richards amplifying his signature riffs and yes, 69-year-old Charlie Watts playing the drums. The Stones will be rolling in their 50th year of existence.

“At a time when the French are griping about raising the retirement age to 62 these doughty senior citizens (Mick and Keith) are contemplating yet another world tour,” Schumpeter wrote in this week’s “The Economist.” www.economist.com S’il vous plait?

Do the Stones need the money? No. Are they assured their rightful place in musical history as one of (if not, the) greatest rock n’ roll band(s) of all time? Absolutely.

So why do they do it? Because they want to. And it will be a gift for all of us to share…You can’t always get what you want, but if you try some time, you just may find, you get what you need.

The recession of a lifetime followed by the gradual, mostly jobless recovery has been particularly brutal on follicly challenged senior PR professionals, some who even remember JFK’s assassination being announced on school loud speakers and the Beatles on the “Ed Sullivan” show.

Please don’t ask, “Ed, who?”

The crippling downturn that prompted corporate and agency chieftains to cut back on SG&A expenses in the face of declining top lines and deteriorating bottom lines, prompted many displaced high-priced communicators to put out their own shingle.

And yes, there is a certain glamour associated with being your own boss, setting your own hours and commuting from the master suite to your home office or the local upscale coffee parlor with a laptop under your arm. And with it has come a directly related cottage industry of IT professionals charging three-figures per hour to keep home laptops, monitors and docking stations humming along.

There is also the nagging reality associated with incorporating the business, indemnifying the business, finding the business, servicing the business, invoicing the business and nagging the business to pay you…followed by quarterly payments to the IRS.

LinkedIn.com http://www.linkedin.com is loaded with oodles of individual practitioners with impressive corporate sounding names and LLPs, but how many will actually survive? How will they compete against each other, internal communications departments, boutique PR agencies, let alone the big multi-nationals such as Weber Shandwick, Fleishman Hillard, Edelman, Burson-Marsteller and Hill & Knowlton?

The answer is that some will ultimately thrive in an improving economy, but most will struggle to simply pay ze mortgage. This brings up another question: Is there another way of turning adversity into opportunity?

Two weeks ago, I took the GRE…the dreaded Graduate Records Examination http://www.ets.org/gre/. Why would I put myself through weeks of masochistic prep work to endure 3.5 hours of essays, critical readings and verbal/math multiple-guess questions? The answer is there is another way of setting your own course than starting your own business.

Personally, I am contemplating mentoring the next generations of strategic communicators. At least four of my colleagues are now teaching at USC, Santa Clara, Arizona State and Michigan State respectively. Why can’t I do the same?

One of them chose academics in part because as the political editor of a major metropolitan daily he grew weary of “having to layoff my friends.”

My PR career has spanned 28 years, including service in the public sector, two trade associations, one publicly traded technology company and an international public relations agency. The purpose of this recital is not to boast but to ask a vital question: What am I accomplishing if I extend this track record to 30 years? Or 32 years? Or even 40 years?

I have been accepted to both the University of Oregon Graduate School and the Graduate School of the UO School of Journalism and Communication http://www.jcomm.uoregon.edu/. A huge decision faces me around May 1 and that involves picking up stakes and moving my lounge act from Northern California to Eugene, Oregon in time for the first classes on September 27. The goal is to receive a master’s degree in “Communication and Society” and eventually to serve as an associate professor/instructor in strategic communications.

Certainly, I have been repeatedly warned about the corresponding loss of income and academic politics; how they eat their own (e.g. you can’t teach at the school in which you received your master’s degree). After years of state government and corporate backroom wheeling and dealing, a little academic politics sounds like more of the same just in a different locale.

We have all heard the homage that “Those who can’t, teach.” To those who want to attach that moniker to me, I simply say, “Bring it on.” More importantly, can senior communicators apply our energies, knowledge and experience to helping the next generations of strategic communicators in this rapidly changing digital age? And how many more would like to join me in this (hopefully) noble quest?

We may look back years from now and realize that the economic downturn (being charitable here) was just the kick in the-you-know-where that many of us needed. It may prompt us to do what we want to do rather than what someone else wants us to do.

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