Tag Archive: Occupy Wall Street


“Do I consider myself part of the casino capitalist process by which so few have so much and so many have so little by which Wall Street’s greed and recklessness wrecked this economy? No I don’t.” – Senator Bernie Sanders

Ever wonder why there are so few in the street carrying pitch forks?

Ditto for nocturnal torch-light parades?

Maybe the answer lies in the fact that Wall Street added $3.3 trillion in market capitalization (share prices x number of shares) since November 8. Translated: Investors are more than $3 trillion to the better since the election.

Whatever metric is used, the stock indices are sharply upward to the right: The NASDAQ increased 28 percent since the election, the S&P 500 is up 27 percent, and the Dow advanced 20 percent.According to Gallup, 55 percent of Americans owned individual stocks, stock mutual funds or managed 401(k) portfolios or IRAs in 2016. That figure is understandably down from 65 percent right before the economic crash in 2007, but it has been steadily advancing since then.

Almost DailyBrett will go out on the limb, and will contend the 55 percent number has grown since the historic 2016  election.

Predictably, the Gallup survey revealed that 88 percent of American families making over $75,000 are invested in individual securities, mutual funds and 401(k)s and IRAs. More than half of those (56 percent) making between $30,000 and $75,000 are invested in stocks.

The survey also revealed that 73 percent with bachelor’s degrees own stocks, mutual funds or invest retirement accounts, and 83 percent with master’s degrees or above also are investing in these same U.S. markets.

When one takes a second to ponder that 55 percent of middle-and-upper income Americans are participating in stocks, mutual funds, 401(k) portfolios and IRAs, the conclusion is obvious: America now has an investor class that is growing in numbers and wealth.

What’s the alternative for those investing for their retirement, their children’s education or that dream vacation? Bank interest rates that barely keep up with inflation? Speculative real estate? Stashing gobs of cash under the bedroom mattress?

And yet there was an ill-fated movement to tarnish America’s markets, Occupy Wall Street.

And now there are efforts in a handful of progressive states to impose a 20 percent “privilege tax” on the fees of financial advisors. Hmmm … wonder if this tax will be passed onto investors, the very same people who are trying to fund their retirement or college for their kids?

Attacking The Cash Cow?

“ … You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the ‘Basket of Deplorables’. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it.” – Hillary Clinton.

“ … There are 47 percent who are with him (Obama), who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it … And so my job is not to worry about those people.” – Mitt Romney.

What do Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton have in common besides being guilty of lambasting literally millions of people in one unwise campaign utterance?

They both lost the presidency.

Winston Churchill once said: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Wall Street will never be perfect. The playing field has never been flat. Having said that, far more win with stocks, mutual funds, 401(k) plans and IRAs than lose. It has been upward to the right on a jagged line since 1929.

Maybe that is the reason why America has a more-than-half of its working age population investing in global markets. And for those investing, the six-plus months since the election has produced a record modern-era, bull market for any new president.

Granted, there will be those in the streets who bode ill for American markets, favor “privilege taxes” to stimulate more compulsory redistribution, and are maybe just a tad nostalgic for the mismanaged Occupy Wall Street debacle.

Do they really want to attack Wall Street and by extension America’s 55 percent and growing, investor class heading into the mid-terms of 2018 and beyond? Are these overheated rhetorical thrusts, smart politics?

If they relish in glorious defeat, they can insult America’s investor class to the content of their bleeding hearts.

They also should consider and ponder that America now has a new quiet majority, who fund their dreams with a simple click of the mouse while watching the tickers on CNBC.

http://www.gallup.com/poll/182816/little-change-percentage-americans-invested-market.aspx

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/01/statement-president-trump-paris-climate-accord

https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2017/04/26/millennials-and-investing/100559680/

https://www.wsj.com/articles/illinoiss-privilege-tax-proposal-forgets-citizens-right-to-leave-1495834522

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=5922&action=edit

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu101776.html

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/07/20/stuart-varney-trump-has-already-made-america-4-trillion-richer-with-just-six-months-in-office.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Well, I’ve got news for the bullies of Wall Street. The presidency is not a crown to be passed back and forth by you between two royal families.” – Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley

Let us wage a moral and political war against the billionaires and corporate leaders, on Wall Street and elsewhere, whose policies and greed are destroying the middle class of America.”Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” – Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill

Are the phrases “economic populism” and “social justice” not-so-clever disguises for a full-fledged War on Wall Street?occupy1

Is this another round of the disorganized/nearly forgotten desultory Occupy Wall Street movement now showered, deodorized and all dressed up to make it seem more palatable to the American public?

As we head into the 2016 presidential cycle, one needs to ask:

Is it sound politics, particularly for a general election, to directly take aim on a system in which 52 percent of Americans build their hard-earned wealth through the investment in stocks, bonds and mutual funds for an active retirement, their children’s college education, a second career or something grand on the “bucket list?”

Granted this slightly more than half figure is down significantly from the 65 percent of Americans owning stocks, bonds and mutual funds in the beginning of 2007, but that year was the beginning of the recession, downturn and economic malaise.

Some are questioning what happened to the middle class, but many are forgetting America’s burgeoning “investor class.” And with 52 percent of the public participating, it obviously applies to far more than just 1 percent of the American population. The more than half of all Americans owning stocks, bonds and mutual funds in 2013 could be even higher now because of the bull market.gender6

These are the people who invest in IRAs mainly with retail brokers in person or online (i.e., Schwab, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade, eTrade, Edward Jones) or designate a percentage of their pre-tax income in 401Ks with a percentage matching from their employer with taxes being deferred until retirement.

According to Gallup, they are for the most part college graduates as 73 percent of those with undergraduate degrees and 83 percent with graduate degrees invest in markets … that would be publicly traded companies on Wall Street.

Money Under the Mattress?

And why would they do that? Consider the alternatives:

How about under the mattress. How about no rate of return?

How about banks? How about 0.02 percent interest rates?

How about real estate? How about the prospect of underwater mortgages?

And you wonder why smart upper, upper-middle and middle class Americans with some disposable income invest in publicly traded American companies listed on the NYSE and NASDAQ, even though people can lose a portion or all of their investment? The answer is that Wall Street is the best game in town, and with knowledge, diversification, perseverance and a cast-iron stomach, literally millions of people build wealth by investing in our markets and our country.

“Unequal sharing of blessings” 

And what is the raison d’etre of these Wall Street companies? According to ERISA or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, passed by a Democratic Congress, publicly traded corporations are legally and morally mandated to drive the bottom line (doing well) for the benefit of their shareholders.

Guess that means they hire hundreds of thousands of Americans and make the products that people around the world want and need. That even includes the upscale coffee, tablets, earphones, cameras, laptops, mobile phones, social media software and operating systems used by Occupy Wall Street and made by (gasp) companies publicly traded on Wall Street.occupy2

Almost DailyBrett senses a disconnect, but does it matter in a party primary when the empty vessels making the most noise have near zero chance of winning the nomination?

Looking down the road to the fall of 2016 would a presidential nominee really want to be saddled with a platform that takes “issue” with major employers of tens of thousands, providing wonderful products and the prospects of solid rates of return for investors? That doesn’t sound like a winning prescription.

It may make the union bosses happy. It may re-energize those with the need to demonstrate just like they did in 1968, but does it make any political sense to attack, demonize and vilify the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg?

Does Wall Street in the wake of Enron, Arthur Andersen, Bear Stearns, Global Crossing, Martha Stewart, $6,000 shower curtains, “Race Together,” Bernie Madoff, GM and Chrysler bailouts, BP Deepwater Horizon, excessive executive compensation have major real and perceived public relations problems? Does Wall Street need better reputation management? Absolutely.

At the same time, let’s not lose sight of Corporate Social Responsibility (doing good) and the literally thousands of companies that work to protect the environment (e.g., Starbucks and Conservation International), address climate change (e.g., Tesla), help rebuild communities (e.g., Home Depot and Habitat for Humanity), combat cancer (e.g., Nike founder Phil Knight and Oregon Health and Sciences University) assist low-income children with difficult medical conditions (e.g., Southwest Airlines and Ronald McDonald House) … ehh … wouldn’t that be McDonald’s as well?

For those attacking Wall Street indiscriminately under the banner of “economic populism” aren’t they guilty of throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Maybe they should be drinking their own bath water instead.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/hillary-clintons-guilt-by-association/2015/06/04/bd836dc4-0b13-11e5-a7ad-b430fc1d3f5c_story.html?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/poll-who-can-get-ahead-in-the-u-s/

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/b/bernie_sanders.html

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/winstonchu101776.html

http://www.gallup.com/poll/147206/stock-market-investments-lowest-1999.aspx

http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/09/investing/american-stock-ownership/

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Public scrutiny of business is constant and intense, and in the past decade, disillusionment has grown over excesses in executive pay, questionable accounting practices, drug recalls, and moral laxity on the part of corporations.” — Paul A. Argenti, Professor of Management and Corporate Communication at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College

Should communication students be encouraged to work for publicly traded companies either from inside the corporation or providing external advice as a hired gun at public relations or advertising agency?

Or should these very same students be galvanized against the excesses of capitalism, demonstrating against Wall Street under the banner of social justice?

floodwallstreet

Are these questions mutually exclusive? Are you either for or against capitalism or for or against social justice?

These questions are magnified and intensified against the backdrop of underachieving employment, wage and real estate markets, while the NYSE and NASDAQ remain persistently bullish.

It appears this persistent economic scenario quite possibly will greet graduating students at least for the next academic year or two.

Examples of Corporate Excess

Finding examples of corporate excess is relatively easy.

Almost DailyBrett has joined the scads of other bloggers that take issue with seemingly brain-dead or just plain greedy antics by the leadership of large-cap publicly traded companies:

  • The author’s former company, LSI Logic, provided a seven-or-eight figure Golden Parachute to former CEO Abhi Talwalkar as he drove the 33-year-old specialty semiconductor designer into the abyss.
  • Spirit Airlines famously stiffed a decorated 76-year old, dying of cancer Marine veteran asking for a mere $197 refund, telling him literally to pound sand because he didn’t buy trip insurance. The carrier generously offered a partial credit, if he succumbed to the Grim Reaper before his flight.
  • October is right around the corner and that means (drum roll) even more corporate efforts to tie marketing bonanzas to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Both 5-hour ENERGY and “Buckets for the Cure” KFC have become global leaders when it comes to “Pink Washing.”
  • Largest corporate bankruptcy-ever, Enron, is the poster-child when it comes to corporate greed and wrongdoing. And yet there were innocent people who were just trying to do their job, including telling the corporate story, until they realized they too were being misled.

Considering these examples and literally hundreds more, it is easy to give a broad-sweeping thumbs-down to multi-national corporations. At the same time, it should be remembered that these companies make the products and provide the services that we use on a daily basis (e.g., Apple = Macs, iPads, iPhones, iPods). They hire and provide benefits to literally tens of thousands (e.g., Boeing, 168,400; Starbucks, 160,000; Amazon, 88,400; Nordstrom, 58,140), Microsoft, 55,455). They provide wealth-accumulation prospects for the 54 percent of Americans who buy stocks, mutual funds and bonds (e.g., America’s investor class), including 73 percent of college graduates, and 83 percent of post-graduates.

Profit Motive

One of the major beefs espoused by the Occupy Wall Street movement three years ago, and the Flood Wall Street demonstrators earlier this month, is that publicly traded companies are focused on profits. These statements are accurate, but it should also be pointed out that companies have a legal (e.g., Employee Retirement Income Security Act or ERISA 1974) and moral (e.g., Fiduciary) obligation to produce the best bottom-line return possible for shareholders. Failure to do so invites almost certain civil and possible criminal litigation against the companies and potential dismissal of C-level executives.

floodwallstreet1

As a master’s degree candidate four years ago at the University of Oregon, the author of Almost DailyBrett noted the unrestrained celebration of competitive advantage and buy low/sell high mantra at the business school, and the unrestrained embrace of social justice including redistribution of income at the journalism school.

It seemed that one would build a statue of Adam Smith, while the other would throw flowers at the feet of Che Guevara. One would urge students to work and advise corporate America and the other would implore becoming an activist, marching, demonstrating and hopefully not being arrested.

Which is the better option for graduating students in making corporate America, particularly fallible publicly traded companies, more responsive to communities, the environment and let’s not forget, its own employees?

Corporate Social Responsibility

Corporate social responsibility or CSR should not be seen as an oxymoron. The concept of doing good (CSR) should not be viewed as contradictory to doing well (fiduciary responsibility). Graduates of communications, journalism and business schools can and should emphasize the value of doing BOTH to improve the bottom line for investors, including employees, while doing good deeds for communities, the planet and the rank-and-file employees.

Certainly the likes of Occupy Wall Street, which never found a unifying message, and Flood Wall Street, which tied capitalism to climate change, have their First Amendment Rights to (preferably) peacefully demonstrate. These NGOs need trained communicators and message developers.

Conversely, graduates could also choose to work internally to make companies better. They can stand for both fiduciary and corporate social responsibility. They can advocate against excessive C-level compensation. They can take stands against Pink Washing and Green Washing. They can ensure that the public is provided with good products at fair prices and everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

And heaven forbid, if another Enron is in the offing, they can courageouly tell the uncomfortable truth using their communication skills.

Is it better to be inside the corporation under the banner of capitalism or out in the streets (or in tents) calling for social justice?

There is more than one way to make corporate America better for everyone.

http://exec.tuck.dartmouth.edu/about-us/faculty/paul-argenti

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/22/flood-wall-street-arrests_n_5865468.html

http://nypost.com/2014/09/22/climate-change-protesters-flood-wall-street/

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/lessons-from-the-spirit-airlines-pr-debacle/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/05/02/evil-spirit-airlines/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/5-hour-pink-washing/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/shameless-5-hour-energy/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/buckets-for-the-cure/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/02/08/what-would-you-do-if-you-were-enrons-pr-chief/

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/06/03/adam-smith-vs-che%e2%80%99-guevera/

 

 

Quick question: To benefit society is it better to donate $1,000 to the United Way or buy about five shares in Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) for the same amount of money?

Earns Tesla MotorsUnitedWay

Before you answer, please be reminded this question is not about pure, unmitigated, unadulterated altruism of the giver or investor.

Those who contribute to non-profits (e.g., United Way is one of literally thousands) in many cases are doing so to generate a personal tax deduction, which not inconsequentially adds to the federal deficit approaching $18 trillion.

Conversely, those who invest in corporate shares are doing so in hopes that the stock increases in value, something along the lines of buy low, sell high. This action does not sound charitable in the least … but in some cases it may be just that.

To top it off, a successful buy-low, sell high-action triggers a profit and with it tax liability (either capital gains or personal income tax depending on the timing of the transaction). These transactions lead to greater tax revenues for the feds, states, counties and municipalities.

Back to the basic question: Is it for the betterment of society to donate to a non-profit rather than to invest in visionary companies?

The answer may be surprising.

Non-Profit vs. For-Profit

Certainly, the United Way is not the only non-profit doing good on Planet Earth.

And just as certain, Elon Musk’s battery-powered automobile innovator/manufacturer, Tesla, is not the only global company with a spiffy idea or two.

The Alexandria, VA-based United Way with 1,200 local offices with a reported $103.2 million in assets and $94.2 million in net income provides essential support services to the less fortunate nationwide…and that is as Martha would say, “A good thing.”

Keep in mind when these big numbers are being thrown around, some in power may try to dip into the till. That is exactly what happened in the 1990s when United Way CEO William Aramory defrauded the charity according to a 53-count federal indictment to the tune of $1.2 million. He spent six years in the slam.

The United Way appears to have fully recovered from the PR debacle, and has partnered with the National Football League and others to assist those who need help the most.

Many multi-national corporations have earned near universal disdain for excessive CEO compensation, selling sinful products (e.g., NYSE: MO or Philip Morris), practicing “Green-Washing,” “Pink Washing” or “Astroturfing.” No wonder there were protests/reactions from “Occupy Wall Street,” to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and many, many others.

And yet, there are companies that are sincere about maintaining both their fiduciary responsibility for shareholders and employees, and corporate social responsibility for workers, communities, regions and yes, the planet.

Companies on a Mission

“If you give a man a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you do him a good turn.” — Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie in her novel, Mrs. Dymond (1885)

University of Oregon business professor Michael V. Russo wrote Companies on a Mission about more than a handful of enlightened corporations that have demonstrated they can be good citizens, while pursuing a profit as mandated by fiduciary responsibility.

lohas

In writing his book, he said these companies doing good for communities and the planet were drawing interest from at least a portion of the LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) consumer market segment, estimated at 43 million Americans in the economic downturn year of 2009. Conceivably that number has grown as the economy continues its stubbornly slow recovery.

Are we daring to think differently in suggesting that investing in shares and/or buying the products of these forward-looking companies is the equivalent of teaching a man how to catch a fish?

And are we merely giving a man a fish, if we donate in a well-meaning non-profit. That’s exactly what Almost DailyBrett is pondering in writing this epistle.

Please send the slings and arrows my way.

NUMMI Comes Back to Life

In a recent 60 Minutes piece on Musk’s battery car builder, Tesla, and privately held rocket-ship innovator, SpaceX, CBS included footage of the once-shuddered/2010 reopened NUMMI plant in industrial Fremont, California. There are now than 1,000 workers building non-polluting Tesla battery-operated cars at NUMMI.

teslanummi1

 

Palo Alto-based Tesla employs nearly 6,000 (and this figure does not include in-direct jobs in the form of suppliers, partners, distributors, resellers, butchers, bakers and candle stick makers).

The $2 billion top-line and $456 million bottom-line company has attracted more than $26.7 billion in market capitalization or market value (based on the present stock price).

The key to building more of these vehicles, which do NOT contribute to climate change, are the availability of ion-batteries with acceptable ranges and reasonable price points. Tesla will soon announce the location(s) for its ion-battery “Gigafactory.” We can rest assured the Gigafactory or Gigafactories will directly employ hundreds and indirectly employ thousands more, using the tried-true indirect-to-direct employee ratios.

Bill O’Reilly once called Tesla a “game-changer” as the way we think of automobiles is changing. And naturally, Tesla is attracting competitors into this space (z.B. Bayerische Motoren Werke oder BMW).

Back to the basic premise of this exercise: Are there instances in which the purchase of stock shares in (gasp) a corporation do more for the economy and the planet than making the traditional charitable contribution?

That seems to be the case in at least one instance, if we dare think out of the proverbial box.

Almost DailyBrett Note: The author of this blog owns slightly more than 100 shares of Tesla. Readers considering investing in Tesla would be well advised to review Tesla’s financials, stock performance, analyst reports and maybe even consult a financial advisor. My knowledge of Tesla is based upon published reports, publicly available information/data and of course, the 60 Minutes piece.

http://www.unitedway.org/

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

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

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/04/02/only-in-america/

http://www.teslamotors.com/

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

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tesla-and-spacex-elon-musks-industrial-empire/

http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/give_a_man_a_fish_and_you_feed_him_for_a_day;_teach_a_man_to_fish_and_you_feed_him_for_a_lifetime

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

http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/07/17/tesla-motors-inc-california-is-back-in-the-race-fo.aspx

 

 

 

 

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

Former Republican Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee, is not exactly an Occupy Wall Street kind of guy.

If you talked to the honorable governor, he would certainly declare his unfettered support for capitalism and free-and-fair global markets.

So it is tad notable to hear the governor on his syndicated radio show Wednesday morning blasting (putting it mildly) Spirit Airlines for being ruthless, resolute and stubborn over a measly $197, and causing literally millions of dollars of damage to the 48-year-old airline’s reputation and brand.

If you have not already heard this pathetic story, a 76-year-old ex-Vietnam War Marine, Jerry Meekins, paid $197 for a roundtrip ticket from Clearwater, Florida to Atlantic City, NJ to see his daughter after her surgery. Meekins’ cardinal sin was that he did not purchase trip insurance.

meekins

Two weeks later, Meekins’ found out that he has terminal esophageal cancer and his doctor ordered him not to fly. He asked for a refund from Spirit. No dice. Non-refundable tickets are non-refundable tickets. The Spirit lawyers did not want to set a “dangerous precedent” by allowing a terminally ill vet with a bonafied doctor’s note from being refunded the gigantic sum of $197.

In “defense” of Spirit Airlines, they offered him a $197 credit for a future flight.

Hello Spirit Airlines. Is anyone home?

The man is dying. He has no future. His oncologist told him that he can’t fly…and you are offering him a $197 future flight credit?

They also promised a “partial” refund, if he passed before or during the flight. What will a deceased person do with his or her partial refund? I am not making this up.

Checking out Spirit’s website (NASDAQ: SAVE), we learned just yesterday that the airline earned $23.8 million in the first quarter, causing the stock to advance nearly 5 percent to $24.11 in today’s trading. And the airline that makes a nearly $24 million quarterly profit can’t refund $197 (a rounding error) to a dying man, who served his country?

Meekins was a guest on “Fox & Friends” Wednesday morning complete with on-air graphics: “Mean Spirit’ed,” “Spiritually Inept” and “A Plane Shame.” Veterans have organized a “Boycott Spirit Airlines” Facebook page with nearly 20,000 “likes” and counting. Spirit’s brand and reputation are being permanently mauled in cyberspace and conventional media right before our very eyes, even prompting Governor Huckabee to implore the company to practice some basic public relations.

Meekins even suggested this morning on national television that Spirit should take appeals to its non-refundable ticket policy on a case-by-case basis. Seems like the ex-Marine has more public relations sense than the Miramar, Florida airline.

What has happened is that Spirit Airlines for being so obstinate and doctrinaire has generated a self-inflicted crisis communications drill. If the airline’s chief executive officer, Ben Baldanza, will not overrule his flat-earth lawyers, then Misty Pinson, the airline’s director of Corporate Communications needs to resign sending yet another message to management, and at the same time protecting her own reputation and brand. Remember: the most important public relations are personal public relations.

Dropping the hydrogen bomb on an employer should only be used in extreme cases, particularly in our long-term depressed economy. I opine that this incredible caper constitutes an extreme case. By staying, Ms. Pinson runs the risk of being permanently labeled in the PR Community as being the overseer of the Spirit Airlines PR debacle.

spirit

There is a growing trend for perspective employers to ask job candidates if there was ever a time that she or he considered resigning from a job because of moral or ethical concerns. This is a tricky question and it was posed to me.

I responded in the affirmative because it was the truth. My employer for 10 years was about to lay off 600 employees on September 12, 2001. As we all know, something very significant occurred on September 11, 2001. I wrote about this close call in Almost DailyBrett’s “Going to the Mat?” Fortunately, our management made the correct decision and postponed the 8 percent Reduction in Force (RIF) for a week. Whew.

There are times when the lawyers dig in their heels, arguing legal perfection to management. Sometimes these evil spirits win the battle, while a company’s reputation and brand lose the PR war.

Thursday update: Spirit CEO Ben Baldanza dismissed as “irrelevant” statistics showing that Spirit has the highest rate of customer complaints, and blamed cancer victim Jerry Meekins for not buying insurance. Meanwhile, the number of “likes” on the Boycott Spirit Airlines Facebook page now exceeds 26,000. The number of “likes” was 700 just 48 hours ago.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/05/02/vietnam-veteran-overwhelmed-with-support-after-denial-refund-by-spirit-airlines/

https://www.facebook.com/Boycottspirit

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/05/03/spirit-airlines-outpaces-competitors-regarding-passenger-complaints-statistics/

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/the-exchange/spirit-airlines-dying-flyer-not-getting-money-back-160001321.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/going-to-the-mat/

http://www.mikehuckabee.com/

http://rebeccamurtagh.com/how-spirit-airlines-could-remedy-negative-pr-social-media-brand-backlash/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-spirit-airlines-could-remedy-negative-pr-social-media-brand-backlash

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/05/01/spirit-airlines-refusal-to-refund-vet-ticket-earns-it-f-in-public-relations/

http://www.bestweekever.tv/2012-04-26/spirit-airlines-refuses-to-give-refund-to-clearly-selfish-veteran-dying-of-cancer/

http://files.shareholder.com/downloads/ABEA-5PAQQ9/1842975577x0x564674/c03bf692-5432-44d4-afd9-eb4ecb293fe3/SAVE_News_2012_5_1_General_Releases.pdf

University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small. — Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

Three Crucial Questions for the President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf

Henry the K may be a tad too strong in his assessment about college and university politics, but behind every exaggeration is a usually a strong element of truth.

As I prepare to “defend” my MA project paper this week, I am appreciative of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication for offering me a Graduate Teaching Fellowship…it was an offer that I simply could not refuse. The fellowship is basically a free master’s degree, the provision of full-medical, dental and vision for my family and a small stipend. In exchange, I served as a teaching assistant for five quarters including lecturing at least three classes per quarter, which is invaluable experience.

Several of my colleagues have asked if I am contemplating going on and pursuing a doctorate in Journalism, my response: Let me defend my MA first; and I didn’t know that psychedelic mushrooms were still in vogue.

Looking back at the past 18 months, there are facets of the academic experience that standout in my mind, particularly for a middle-aged, Anglo guy pursuing my second degree 34 years after the first one (the average grad student is 29-years old).

● Are we instilling students to be social justice activists or are we preparing them to get a job? What is more important in the long-term? Blow-by-blow accounts of the epic “victories” of the Occupy Wall Street or lecturing students about return on investment (ROI), cover letters and resumes? You have probably already figured out by now where I come down on this point.

occupywallstreet

● Why do some students, teaching assistants and even tenured faculty absolutely detest Wall Street? On several occasions, I have been asked why I am creating a course called, “Strategic Business/Financial Communications.” The questions seem to imply that I am guilty of aiding and abetting corporate monsters. Certainly some antipathy to corporate greed and excessive CEO compensation is justified. At the same time, a large percentage of these very same social justice advocates are also part of the Apple cult (i.e., iPads, iPhones, iPods and Macs). Gee, isn’t Apple a multi-national enterprise (MNE)? Whatever.

● Even though completion of a second full-year of foreign language is required for a master of arts degree, I have to question why is foreign language study not recommended or downright discouraged by a professional school? Was ist los? Ich verstehe nicht.  I have no clue why this is the case. Learning to read, write, hear and speak another language makes you better at your language. Aren’t we learning how to tell the story and aren’t language skills essential to telling these stories?

● And while we are the subject of telling stories, why is there not greater emphasis on the analog skills of writing, grammar, style and editing? There is no doubt that the digital software skills of audio and video production (e.g. Final Cut Pro) and importing and cropping of photos (e.g. Photoshop) are increasingly vital, but written and verbal language skills are the essence of telling the story and telling it well. These skills are not easily offshored and outsourced.

● Even though I was pleased as punch to serve as a teaching assistant, I was stunned by the massive egos of a few, certainly not all, of my colleagues. There are some cases in which teaching assistants are injecting their personal political agenda and subordinating the course. There are other cases where they dominate a classroom with an outpouring of verbal diarrhea that would make a filibustering US senator blush. Didn’t your mother teach you to share?

foxhole

● What is the worst grade that you can give to a student? F? D-? How about an A- or even worse a B+? Get ready to climb into your fox hole and fix bayonets when you give out one of these grades. Expect to be told about how hard the student worked, how another instructor said the assignment deserved an A. And be sure to be prepared for an onslaught of negatives in your teaching assessment evaluation. Every quarter somebody gets me real good. It simply goes with the territory. As mumsy said, you can’t please everyone…yep they even put Jesus Christ up on a cross.

● Diversity is celebrated with one big exception. Let’s hear it for differences in ethnicity, culture, gender, and sexual orientation and non-Western creeds. The notable exception to “diversity” is those poor souls that harbor an annoying political disposition. It’s the one that believes that rapidly expanding government is not the automatic answer to all questions, wants to keep taxes reasonable, supports private enterprise and a strong national defense. You may have heard of these folks. No, I am not surprised. I went to school in Eugene. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have at least one registered Republican on a professional school’s faculty? What a novel idea?

Even though I humbly raise some issues that someone may consider to actually be important, I am thankful for the advanced degree, the opportunity to receive the Zertifikät Deutsch, to team on a ghostblogging research project and to receive an academic award for that same project.

As a friend who knew me from my Bay Area days and knows me now said, “You seem calmer and happier.”

I will buy into that.

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