Millennials have more at stake

While this title is painfully obvious, it cannot be overstated in this election. Everyone will be impacted by this election, but millennials will feel the brunt.

While both major party Presidential candidates are flawed, there is a clear light of day between Clinton and Trump, with her experience, competence, global relationships, temperament and toughness. On this latter point, Trump is a seventy year old petulant child when things don’t go his way or he is criticized, while his opponent weathers the storm.

Yet, three definitive comparisons need highlighting for all, but especially millennials – environment, economy and equality, the three E’s. The impact will have a lasting effect on our country and planet.

Environment: HRC and the Democratic Party have firm stances and policy positions consistent with the United Nations and every major science organization on climate change and man’s influence thereon. Trump is acquiescing to the fossil fuel industry with the rest of the GOP, going even further saying climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese to steal our jobs. He plans to tear up the Paris Climate Change Accord and roll back environmental regulations. Both actions should scare all of us, but especially are younger voters.

Economy: HRC has detailed plans about keeping the economy percolating and investing in our infrastucture, which will create jobs. UK based Oxford Economics joins other economic forecasters in saying Trump’s economic plans will likely cause a US recession, while Clinton’s will be neutral to positive in impact. Further, the nonpartisan Committee for Responsible Federal Budget and Tax Foundation model that Trump’s economic plan would increase our $19 trillion debt by $5.3 trillion in the next ten years, while Clinton’s would only increase it by $200 billion. Note both of these are in the wrong direction, but there is a 27x difference between the two candidates’ plans.

Equality: With aggravated hate speech and fear mongering, Trump has tapped into the worst part of the American psyche. No American has more rights than another and no less either. Yet, too many are being demonized and their rights and opportunities are being stepped on. Plus, their voices are not being heard. We are better than this and must be or we will harm our future. Clinton has fought for the rights of the disenfranchised here and abroad, especially those of women and children. And, her plans on investing in infrastructure jobs and education, improving Obamacare and increasing the minimum wage are representative of her focus on those who are disenfranchised.

To me, this election reveals a stark contrast to where we need to go. We cannot retrench on fighting climate change and environmental protections. We cannot avoid investing in our infrastructure and new technologies. And, we cannot forsake the rights of all of our citizens. It is my strong belief, that Clinton will also be a collaborative leader as evidenced by her work as a Senator and will work with both parties to get things done. Our millennials will bear the brunt if we don’t address these issues.

Two misconceptions need to be challenged

“Innovation is portable,” said David Smick, an economic advisor to Congressman Jack Kemp and Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, in his book “The World is Curved.” In essence, innovation will occur where it is welcome and the initial jobs will be created around it. We should not lose sight of this observation as we discuss our economic future.

Smick surprised many when he noted in his book the similarities in Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, who were the number one and three best job creating Presidents, in that order. They both loved global trade and hated deficits. And, they were known for their collaboration with Congress, even with an opposite majority in power. Collaboration is essential to getting buy-in and understanding of the problem and possible solutions.

With this context, we need to challenge some notions that do not tell the whole story and, as a result, could lead us down the wrong path. We need to look at holistic causes to problems, so that we can address them effectively. Our problems are not solvable by bumper sticker solutions, no matter how loudly and forcefully they are espoused.

Here are two of those simplistic notions and challenges to think about:

Immigration is taking jobs away. This is far too simple a statement. Our history has been built on immigration, who have tended to be hard workers and spawned a higher relative percentage of entrepreneurs. As noted in the famous play “Hamilton,” by Lin-Manuel Miranda based on the book by Ron Chernow, immigrants tend to work hard to make it in our country, as they did not have such opportunity from whence they came. Our economy actually flourishes more with immigration. But, as we look to better govern immigration, we should look at the whole picture. And, on the subject of illegal immigration, a concerted study of the impact of curtailing such on certain industries – housing construction, landscaping, agriculture harvesting, etc. – is critical as we move forward with better governance.

Global Trade is bad for domestic jobs. Global trade is actual good for a domestic economy creating more jobs around the world and here. The downside is companies tend to chase cheaper labor and always have, but an even greater threat to jobs is technology advances. A CFO said in the book “The Rich and the Rest of Us,” an employer will hire no one if he could make it work. Yet, what creates jobs more than anything else is “customers,” per Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist. And, more trade means more customers. When we look to better govern trade, we need to look holistically at the jobs created domestically versus the ones lost. The ill-fated Brexit decision failed to consider all of the foreign companies who have European Headquarters, distribution and manufacturing sites in the UK. These companies are now reconsidering locations should Brexit move forward.

Of course, we need to better govern immigration and global trade, but we must guard against throwing the babies out with the bath water. Let me close with three thoughts.

First, we cannot shrink to greatness. Retrenching from your global market share makes little sense.  Second, think of all of the foreign companies who employ people in the US like Michelin, BMW, Mercedes, Husqvarna, Doosan, Volvo, Nissan, etc. who do so to keep manufacturing near distribution of its goods to their customers. Third, as an example, Steve Jobs is the biological son of Syrian immigrants. Had he not been in America, would Apple exist today at all or as an American company?

We cannot govern off bumper stickers. Our issues are complex. People who tout such ideas are doing a disservice to the problem and citizens through false promises.



Man up, Little Donnie

While I am not a fan of former Alaskan Governor and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, she is the author of a quote she has not used with Donald Trump, but should. “Man-up,” is a saying that applies here, but that actually does a discredit to women. Little Donnie is being called this by me as he has acted liked a petulant child throughout this election. We have often seen tantrums from Little Donnie without much provocation.

Yet, his continuous rant about the election being rigged against him by the media and election officials reveals a modus operandi for this man. He is thinking like he tends to do when criticized, “It cannot be me, so it must be you.” The culmination of this petulant attitude came at the final debate last night when he answered moderator Chris Wallace’s question would he support the election results? Trump said he would have to “wait and see.”

Little Donnie does not like to lose, nor does he like to be criticized. What he may want to pay attention to is people are laughing at him, even in the audience, when he said “No one has more respect for women than I do.” I am sure he thinks that, but the last poll I saw said 70% of Americans think he did grope women and not just talk about feeling them up and kissing them without being invited. I don’t know how Americans feel about him walking in on beauty contestants while they changed clothes, especially contestants who are only age 15, but my guess is not well.

But, in addition to Palin’s line, President Obama uttered the most scathing comment that speaks volumes, especially if you have ever competed in team sports. At a speech earlier this week, Obama said to Little Donnie, “Quit whining and go out and earn more votes.” Teammates and coaches do not like whiners, plain and simple. Please forgive the use of a curse word, but if Little Donnie claimed about the game being rigged, they would say “Just shut up play, dammit.”

Little Donnie has been a poor candidate from the get go. He survived this far as the GOP did not bring out his many issues and history in the primary. They thought a sensible candidate would win one on one, but that strategy failed. Trump is losing now because of one person, Trump. I am hopeful the polls ring true after the votes are tallied. And, he will need to say these words, “I concede.”

Could your emails stand up to scrutiny?

As there continues to be a leak of emails from Hillary Clinton’s staffers and previously the Democratic National Convention as supplied by WikiLeaks, it begs the question could your emails stand up to scrutiny? Irrespective of the source of the hack, with the Russians being accused as the perpetrators, we are learning of various internal machinations of a political marketing engine.

These emails are on top of the emails she released to the FBI from her personal servers while Secretary of State. From the folks who have taken the time to go through the emails, they have found them to be monotonous, as most emails are. There is quite a bit of pedestrian stuff. In fact, one reporter who was not a fan of Hillary Clinton’s, said she became one by witnessing how organized she was and how much she devoted to planning.

Yet, with any mountain of emails, there are various things that come out, which range from sales messaging to, in the case, of her state emails, emails she should have noted and handled differently. She has admitted she has made a mistake in using your own servers, and has compounded them by not being transparent from the get go. That is due to an Achilles Heel of hers which is to be close-vested. I am sure a large part is due to being protective, as she has been vilified over time, in part because she is a strong woman.

But, back to my question. Would your emails stand up to scrutiny? If you were shown an old email or several that showed you at your worst, where you sent an email you should not have, would that make you a bad person? I once asked “who told someone years ago that it was OK to do something that turned out later to be unwise?” It turns out I was that someone, but had no recollection whatsoever.

Further, what if we saw the emails of a few more contentious legislators? What would Senator Ted Cruz, who is not known for collaboration, have to say in his emails? What about those of former Speaker John Boehner, who had to herd cats on the majority side to keep things from falling apart in Congress and could only get major things through when he involved enough moderate Republicans with the Democrats? What about Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, the poster children for how Washington cannot get things done?

But, what about those of Presidential candidate Donald Trump or RNC Chairman Reince Priebus? Now, those would have some quite interesting exchanges about the candidates and his campaign tactics. Priebus would have several on “what do we do about what Trump said?” What bothers me about WikiLeaks, is the emails are one-sided. Clinton is far from perfect, but is it fair to pour through her sausage making and not her opponent’s? I find this interesting as he is the one saying the election is rigged.

Just think about this as we see more stories from her emails. I am sure there are more less than flattering emails therein, but maybe we should just set them aside, unless and until we can see others from her opponent. I am open to comments.

Set aside the comments and let’s focus on his business history

I would like to set aside all of the bigoted, misogynistic, xenophobic, hateful and inane comments made by a certain Presidential candidate and focus on his touted main reason for electing him, his business record. Yet, to the contrary of his claims, everything one needs to know about Donald Trump and his lack of veracity as a candidate is in his history and it is not hard to find. And, I don’t mean his history of sexual harassment and assault using his own words corroborated by a growing number of women. I mean his business history, which is less sensational.

Let’s focus on two main things. How did he make his money and how did he treat people along the way? Trump touts his skills as a businessman, yet while he is a superb public relations and marketing person who has merchandised himself well, his business management skills and ethics are lacking. In fact, Trump’s history is one of exploiting people for money. This includes employees, contractors, customers and co-investors.

He does this by bullying, litigation or threatened litigation, stiffing people, renting his name to other developers so they can charge more, misrepresentation, and poor business decisions leading to business failures and six bankruptcies. Whether it is bullying or suing people to get them out of their homes, refusing to pay contractors like painters, electricians, dry wallers, landscape professionals, piano suppliers, etc., misrepresenting to people about the benefits of a purchase and using strong-arm marketing tactics, or just getting over leveraged with debt which led to the business bankruptcies and almost his own personal one, his track record is not exemplary. The latter was a key reason for the $916 million loss on his leaked 1995 tax return per The New York Times.

During the campaign, non-partisan and Pulitzer prize-winning Poltifacts has noted Trump has lied more than any other Presidential candidate by far dating back to 2007. But, this is not inconsistent with his history in business. Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked for him, noted in an op-ed piece several interesting comments as his reasons not to vote for his old boss. Two stand out to me. First he said “Trump lies all the time.” Second, he said Trump often uses the excuse of poor work to stiff contractors. Doing it occasionally is one thing, but this is his modus operandi. One contractor who appeared on a Virginia voter panel on PBS Newshour this summer noted “the word on the street with Trump’s companies is get your money upfront.”

The dilemma is he uses a lawsuit or threat of lawsuit as a weapon. These unpaid contractors who felt wronged would sue him and then he would countersue. His attorneys and his wealth would outgun and out wait his opponents and they would drop the case. Many would have to file for bankruptcy themselves, since the contracts may be for much of their income. It should be noted some of his attorneys would go unpaid as well. Per an article in USA Today in June, 2016, it was reported that Trump has had 3,500 lawsuits, which average to 1 1/2 per week over a 45 year career.

But, let’s look at two microcosms going on today which indicate how he operates as a business leader. First, his Foundation is under investigation for mismanagement and self-dealing. It has been reported in The Washington Post that he has used his Foundation to settle business litigation, contribute to the campaign of the Florida attorney general and buy portraits of himself. Plus, the Foundation has not been registered with the state of New York and maybe other states. The Washington Post found the illegal donation to the campaign and Trump recognized the wrongdoing and corrected it, but it was also incorrectly reported on the Foundation’s earlier tax return as being made to a legitimate entity for a Foundation purpose.

Second, he is facing three class action lawsuits with Trump University which will continue irrespective of the outcome of the election. The lawsuits are for alleged misrepresentation to students and seminar goers regarding his promised hand selection of the professors and the benefit of the classes. He also tried to stop the public release of a marketing playbook in court disclosures which revealed aggressive and strong-arm pressure tactics to buy the seminars. The latter is not illegal, but indicates how he exploits people through pressure sales. It should be noted the campaign donation to the Florida AG noted above seemed to be timed to dissuade her from adding impacted Florida citizens to one of the class action lawsuits.

Finally, one of the areas of greatest concern was reported in a Newsweek piece on his global business. Per this article, he has not done much due diligence on who he has done business with and they present some severe conflicts of interests, should he get elected. One business deal is with a man whose father launders money for Iranian officials. Another is with a man in South Korea who was jailed for embezzlement and fled to North Korea. He has had poor dealings with folks in India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. In fact, Turkish President Erdogan was so offended by Trump, he jailed Trump’s partner and said if Trump wins, the US cannot use their air base.

To me, these reasons paint a picture of a man who does not have a stellar business record to brag about. Yes, he can sell just about anything, but he has a hard time managing what he has sold. But, please do not take my word for it, as I have only compiled investigative research. I would ask that you do some digging. And, it will not be that difficult. You can start with the excellent reporting being done by The Washington Post, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Reuters, and PBS Newshour. What bothers me most is how many hard-working people have gone out of business or lost a great deal of income as a result of this man’s actions.


Fish on Friday – a few odds and ends

Although I am not Catholic, fish on Friday is not a bad thing to serve. In the South, all of the “meat and three” places serve fried fish as one of their main entrees. Of course, we like to fry every thing here, as it makes our sweet tea taste better.

Without any particular order, here are a few odds and ends to digest with your fish and chips.

John Stumpf, the CEO of Wells Fargo was forced to resign yesterday, effective immediately, after it was revealed their cross-selling culture led to employees setting up bogus bank accounts to meet extremely high sales goals. This fraud abuse was reported by more than a few employees over many years, but their complaints were ignored. These are not process improvement suggestions, these are “we are doing fraudulent things” red flags. By ignoring these complaints, Stumpf earned the right to be fired. A company takes on the personality of its leader. Apparently, his personality was to get me numbers irrespective of how.

I don’t know if Americans are paying attention to the Brexit train wreck that is occurring in the UK. The UK wants to negotiate a soft settlement, but the EU wants them to get the hell out. In an unheard of move, Japan released an open letter, asking for the Brits to move gingerly or not at all, as Japanese companies employ about 146,000 people in Great Britain and will move their EU headquarters from there to the main continent, if needed. The Brexit move was sold on false information, but one thing that was not discussed enough is all the business done in the UK because of the EU. As many smarter than me said a few months ago, if the UK leaves, it will be harming its economic growth for years and may result in Scotland and Northern Ireland electing to leave the UK and remain in the EU. It is not ironic that Ireland is seeing an uptick in Brits who are seeking citizenship and passports there, as reported by The Guardian.

Americans are making that same mistake as we talk about trade, as we have a significant number of major foreign employers who employ many Americans. Trade agreements are generally good for the global economies, but as they are evaluated, we must evaluate all aspects, including jobs created here because of them. The biggest culprit of manufacturing jobs declining is technology and it will only get worse. Training for new jobs is paramount, but job loss due to technology will become so significant, at some point, companies needs to evaluate whether it is better to have humans employed rather than robots. At the end of the day, people need money to buy things, so are you lessening your own market, if no one can afford your products?

Samsung is in deep do-do. Just before the Christmas and holiday seasons start, they released a product that catches fire when plugged in. And, when they realized their predicament, traded phones with their customers and those caught fire as well. Apparently, the smaller version of the new Samsung Galaxy 7 does not catch fire, but many will choose not to take that risk and buy an Apple I-phone or another product. It is bad enough that pilots are telling passengers to not turn on those Samsung phones when taxiing. Between the lawsuits and sales impact, this will be the gift that keeps on giving for several years.

Well, that is enough non-election news for now. Have a great weekend.


Beavis and Butthead (Trump and Stern)

The largest story of the Presidential election has been the release of an audio where Donald Trump spoke of using his star power to sexually assault and harass women. This audio should not be a surprise as it is not inconsistent with the man’s history of misogyny and sexual harassment which continues to this day. For Republicans who are only now realizing what the Trump Pandora’s Box looks like, they are likely very concerned about what other stories may come out of the woodwork.

Earlier today CNN broke the story about an audio which was made available of yet more conversation between Trump and Howard Stern, who has made a career with sexual jokes and creepy behavior with his radio show. On Stern’s show about the same time as the released audio, Trump revealed his penchant for barging into the Miss Universe dressing room as the contestants changed clothes. He said to Stern since he owned the franchise he could do what he wanted.

Per the link to a Washington Post article, a former Miss Arizona, one of the contestants has corroborated this story along with another report by BuzzFeed about a similar occurrence at a Teen Miss USA contest, which was reported by four contestants, some as young as age 15.

I don’t know about you, but I have a mental image in my mind of Trump and Stern as “Beavis and Butthead,” the two creepy cartoon teens who told potty jokes about women and then eerily snickered. I will let you decide which one is Beavis and which one is Butthead. I am not doing this to make light of the situation, I just want people to start becoming more aware of the persona of this narcissistic womanizer. Stern has always been a little creepy, so for Trump to go on his show reveals much.

I am quite certain there are far more stories about Mr. Trump like this. I would personally rather people to realize how he exploits people, in general, to make money, but those stories are not as sensational or disgusting as his using power to get his way with women, even teen age girls. “The Apprentice” tapes that are being discussed for possible release, we have been told are far worse than the audio released last Friday.

This man has been a horrible candidate from the outset. I started with the opinion that his candidacy was a joke, that this must be for publicity. But, with his success, it made me do more digging. The more I dug I realized he is worse than my initial impressions in how he has made his money and treated people along the way. The fact his followers hang on his every word is sad and frightening, as they represent the very people who he has screwed over his entire career.

So, I am hoping these more sensational recordings will be his Waterloo, as we Americans and citizens of our planet can ill-afford a Beavis or Butthead in the White House.