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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Common Sense

I highly recommend former Romney voters to read this piece:
Entrepreneurs and investors like me actually don't create the jobs—not sustainable ones, anyway. Yes, we can create jobs temporarily, by starting companies and funding losses for a while. And, yes, we are a necessary part of the economy's job-creation engine. But to suggest that we alone are responsible for the jobs that sustain the other 300 million Americans is the height of self-importance and delusion.

So, if rich people do not create the jobs, what does? A healthy economic ecosystem —one in which most participants (the middle class) have plenty of money to spend.
Also this:

With the more than $9 million a year Hanauer keeps, he buys lots of stuff. But, importantly, he doesn't buy as much stuff as would be bought if his $9 million were instead earned by 9,000 Americans each taking home an extra $1,000 a year. Why not? Because, despite Hanauer's impressive lifestyle—his family owns a plane—most of the $9 million just goes straight into the bank (where it either sits and earns interest or gets invested in companies that ultimately need strong demand to sell products and create jobs). For example, Hanauer points out that his family owns only three cars, not the 3,000 cars that might be bought if his $9 million were spread out over a few thousand families.
Something to think about.

More Walmart Stuff

Walmart has gotten a lot of attention this holiday season not for their great Black Friday sales but for their exploitative business practices.

Yesterday, the CEO of Wal-Mart went on CNN to talk about Black Friday. It was a fairly hostile interview, with Don Lemon (I believe) asking him questions about the protests, about opening on Thanksgiving, about worker pay, etc.

The CEO acquitted himself honorably and made several decent points. He justified opening on Thanksgiving as a service to the public. Understandable. He said they paid holiday pay. He said the Walmart leadership were on the job too, not just the proles. (I bet the stores with C-level execs on site were on their A game.)

But he also said some things that, upon reflection, justified the tough questions. He said something like, "50% of our workforce are full-time employees."

Um, if you wanted to dispel the notion that working at Walmart cannot provide you with a living, pointing out that half your workforce are part-timers is not helping. You run a full-time business with a half-time workforce? It's an implicit admission that you're embracing the whole McJob concept.

Which is why it's funny I saw this commercial:


The funniest thing is that it directs you to a website called theREALwalmart.com, that doesn't mention all the stock-buybacks that have enriched the Walton family heirs, doesn't mention the tax breaks and eminent domain rulings that have fueled their aggressive expansion plans, doesn't mention that half their work-force are part-timers making peanuts.

 Instead, they provide us with heart-warming stories like Kevin's:
I started at Walmart as a cart-pusher with a high school education. I've worked my way up to store manager, and through the Lifelong Learning Program, I got my bachelors degree in management in 2012.
That's just crying out for a "results not typical" disclaimer.

Truth is, companies that are stocked with talented people duly rewarded for their efforts, they don't need to run PR campaigns like this. Their employment policies speak for themselves.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Really?

So apparently the waitress who was allegedly denied a tip because she's a lesbian made the whole thing up. That's me, being a sucker. I still think restaurants should stop accepting tips, though. Not only will it prevent the asshole tip commentary, it will also prevent dishonest liars from hoaxing everyone on the internet.

The Weird Wild World of Pro Sports

Try as I might, I cannot fully hate pro sports, even though deep down, I really want to. As a business, it's mostly a scam. But as a cultural institution, I think pro sports are not only desirable but also kind of necessary.

But this is absurd. The headline says it all:
Andrew Wiggins would’ve been the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. Instead he’s working for free while NBA teams lose on purpose to get him.
But I think this unpacks it a bit better:
His draft position cannot improve, nor can his negotiating power, since the NBA’s rookie salary structure mandates the terms of his contract. Some will argue that a year of exposure at Kansas will increase his star power, but hop on over to the KU online store and you can already buy an official NCAA-licensed Andrew Wiggins replica jersey for $55; his name’s not on the back and he won’t see a cent from the sales, but his star power is doing just fine. Adidas is reportedly preparing a $100 million-plus endorsement contract for him, and Nike is ready to match it—but not quite yet, not until he declares himself a pro.

In the meantime, we’ll attentively track the “riggin’ for Wiggins” derby and smirk knowingly every time some guy in an expensive suit with a team logo behind him holds forth on “rebuilding” and “the long term.” And all the while we’ll do our best to ignore the fact that an 18-year-old kid has one billion-dollar business dining off his unpaid labor while another billion-dollar business deliberately sabotages its product on his (and our) behalf.
Wouldn't it be nice if a sportsfan doesn't have to do so much "ignoring of the facts?" I think so.

Finally Someone Who Gets It

Too bad, though, that it's a stranger on the internet:

For many of us, our workweeks are Monday through Friday. We have weeknights and weekends off, and so do most of the people we know. That makes it significantly easier to see one another, and to have gatherings of family and friends.

But if you work retail or other jobs that involve regular weekends and nights — and many of your friends and family do — it’s tougher to get everyone together. It’s hard to find a day when everyone is off and can gather together.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ode to Joy Flash Mob

What does it say about me that I hear Beethoven's Ode to Joy and instantly think of Die Hard?