Friday, May 29, 2009

Say it ain't so, Lee?

Oh no! Don’t take Lee Iacocca’s car! I hope it was one of those boxy mini-vans his group was credited with inventing and bringing Chrysler out of bankruptcy. If that were the case, I’m sure Lee’s all to ready to go out and buy a real car. "if you can find a better car, but it" - Lee Iacocca

Well Lee, I think they took your advice. It is an ironic turn of events when Lee Iacocca, the man credited with saving Chrysler from Bankruptcy in the 80’s is now the victim of the company’s lack of innovation. I read his book (autobiography) and briefly scanned "Where have all the Leaders Gone?" While waiting on my wife at Barnes and Noble (or some other mass bookseller), I can tell you that this man was innovative. He was also very charismatic in his time. Who could forget the C’s? Curiousity, Creative, Communicate, Character, Courage, Conviction, Charisma, Competent, Common Sense and the biggest one of all, Crisis. Apparently Chrysler did.

It’s a sad day, when, dare I say it. Politics, and the UAW take down the very source of their wealth. I’m not going to union bash, there are plenty of people that can and do that already. However, I will point out that in the ‘real world’ many of us have taken pay cuts just to keep our jobs. I was recently with an organization that filed Chapter 11; we had 147 retail stores along the east coast an nearly 11,000 employees. When we went into chapter 11 for the 1st time, we shuttered stores and markets, and those poor workers, that stuck it out on the promise of a payday were left holding the bag when the company decided to rescind the offer due to lack of funds. If they wanted their final paycheck, they needed to file a claim in bankruptcy court. Our CEO (very un-Iacocca like) was quoted with his famous last words; “It is what it is”. It certainly is, isn’t it Joe ;-) Our company emerged from Chapter 11 as a new company. Our assets were purchased at auction by a Hedge Fund manager who had no experience in our industry. Save the CEO and the founder, the majority of our Executives remained in tact. You know what happened? We didn’t change our business model to be more competitive. We kept marketing the same ways, selling the same ways, buying the same, etc…the only difference was a shrunken budget to try to do it all. Annnd then...We went into chapter 11 again less than 1 year later. I was fortunate to jump ship in May of 2008, the company no longer existed in any form after September 2008. No one got any form of payment, early retirement, or benefits package. This, my friends, is the real world.

Why the background on my former employer, simple, where was our bailout? We would never have asked for one, and our 11,000 workers were not union, therefore not organized to influence politics with their voting power, and not due a pay-off for future votes. (Did I say that out loud?) That, and all this happened under the Bush Administration, where you don’t bailout failing companies. AND you certainly do not invest in them. Companies fail for a reason; they are too big to afford themselves, no longer innovative, they refuse to change their business to accommodate the changing consumer, etc…

Now I’m hearing my tax dollars just earned us, as a taxpayers, 72.5% of GM shares…whoopty-doo. What a poor investment. What will be different when they emerge from Chapter 11? Will they make better cars, cheaper, and more efficiently? Nope…Anyone seen a do-do bird lately?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Rights, right?

If I say that the Prop 8 argument is about "rights" we would then be entering into a philosophical conversation, right? (It’s my blog, so I say yes) Right: So I begin with some questions: What are we entitled to, that can not be denied, and ultimately makes us all equal? Certain inalienable rights apply, and are truly constitutional. Like it or not, the US constitution was founded upon and drafted fully in the presence of men who firmly lived Judeo-Christian values. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…right? Is marriage an equality issue? Not at all, marriage is a choice rooted in religion, some would argue marriage was designed and is ordained by God. It certainly isn’t an inalienable right.

You may believe you can “choose” to be religious or not, and that choice has a specific set of guidelines you are to follow while calling your self religious. You can also "choose" to get married just as you can "choose" to be gay (save me the murky arguments about this undiscovered Gay gene, then why do people become un-gay? does the gene go away?). By making these choices, you are accepting some generally agreed upon operating guidelines, which are pretty well known. Choices are by no means rights, or constitutionally protected. If I chose to be married I let go of my ‘singleness’, I chose to be with my wife from this day forward forsaking all others, etc. If I chose to be gay, I accept that I may lose the opportunity to be married in a Church, I also chose to align myself with a minority group that can face adversity.

Here’s the deal: If we go around and label a choice as a right, then what happens when the choice sparks a new group whose choices translate into a new set of rights? Then what we are saying is, one’s rights are determined by the mere existence of any group that can rationalize choice, no matter how that group’s existence is viewed by the majority of society.

The homosexual community looks to challenge the definition of marriage by changing it from 1-man and 1-woman into 2-people; ironically by doing that, they in fact still leave a definition that would be an exclusion to any 3-people who want to get married. However, ask a homosexual group about it’s stance on that subject and you will hear that it is not valid. Where’s the tolerance for polygamist groups ;-) Laughably, the thought of 2 or more nagging wives is amusing…but that’s another rant for another time. I personally could not afford more than one wife, think about the unimaginable increase in toilet paper usage…but I digress.

How is it that a one group can change the definition for their subset, but not for others that want a more liberal definition taken into consideration? This is precisely why religion and politics are kept out of public schools; a subset of individuals can not monopolize rights that are certain, with rights that a particular group chooses to adopt. Poor kids are confused enough with high school stuff, like proms (ever try pinning a boutonniere on yourself?) Again, I digress.

It begs me to ask; where does it end? If everything is ok, then what is no longer ok? Society is not obligated to offer every single amenity offered to any individual to all individuals.

Unfortunately, this is what happens when we become all too “politically correct”. When we lose our moral compass, stop listening to tried and true principles of our faiths, our founding forefathers, and begin to follow our hearts rather than our minds. Let’s be honest with ourselves, “All progress begins by telling the truth” –Lou Cassara.

At the very least, look at your history book and begin to analyze the fall of Rome. People relied on the government for all of their services, and grew increasingly dependant. Government was so big it could not afford itself, nor afford to protect itself, and then…you get the picture.

I have grown weary of everything having to be politicized. Hence my lack of blogging lately. This moral and ethical argument is a non-point anymore; laws are created to favor the majority viewpoint. Politics are played to sway groups to form a majority opinion. The tool is the media and he with the bigger wallet (translated to media buying power) usually wins. This is how you force a minority “issue”, regardless of its moral and ethical standing, into a popular opinion contest.