Friday, October 17, 2008

Where Do the Children Play?

Someone asked:

How does one, as CEO, lose billions and make millions?

Fund investors take run up money from the stocks and leave the companies trying to pay off the leverage. If the leverage isn't paid, they break it up into pieces and sell them.

Someone said to me that if I am better off today than I was eight years ago, I should vote Republican. The funny thing is, I am better off. By about 40%. My 401k has taken a beating but I am much better off. Why?

The last company I was working for was bought by a San Francisco-based investment firm. During the previous ten years, we had worked hard to bring our stock value up from about $4 a share to around $30. That is when the Board tossed out our President and replaced him with a fund manager from Wall Street. He brought his Harvard grad buddy in and they began to squeeze the company down to show higher profits on the books theoretically through cost reductions.

It sounds like good business. Why isn't it?

Where we had been careful and scrupulous in our bidding for work, they tossed the safety rules aside and had us pursue work we couldn’t do at prices we couldn’t perform. We won a lot of business that way. So when they began to look for buyers (the plan the board had from the beginning), on paper, we looked like a great buy or so the story went.

The truth was, our money in hand was cash from winning intellectual property lawsuits. The value was the patent portfolio, but the time was running out on that, so the cash in the bank was a lottery ticket we couldn’t play again.

So they squeezed. Result: while we looked good on the books, we had devastated our human capital which is the real engine of a business. There was no way we could perform.

Smart engineers and managers knew it and bailed fast. I was one of those. That company is now having to buy back parts of their contracts as their customers are becoming furious with their underperformance. The investors who bought them don’t care. They were buying the cash on hand and they took it out of the company at purchase.

So how do they do it? They descend on a company like locusts and hollow out the value while polishing the outer shell. It takes a while to notice this and people believe what they are told. This is why XBRL and other technologies are so important to achieving transparency.

Me? I went to work for a company run by sharp immigrants from Mumbai who’s company is also their passion. We stay lean, we stay smart, and we meet our deadlines with good technology. We work hard. We have a good time together. Our products save lives. We are proud of that.

As a result, I am better off. Should I vote Republican? Well, I won't vote Democrat and oddly, I AM a Democrat. Obama cheats and lies to win and just as the story related above, means matter.

Fried Chicken and Watermelon

Fried chicken and watermelon are the new left code words for race in this election. I've bad news for you. Fried chicken and watermelon are straight up southern food on many a table regardless of ethnicity. Add some pinto beans, collards (with fatback of course), corn bread, mashed potatoes and some fresh tomato slices to round it out and you have the meal that my colleagues from the land of the northern aggression would stay an extra day for.

Those of us who lived through the worst of racism in the 60s are innoculated against the attacks from the intellectual left that condescend to tell us what we think and feel to give themselves a smug sense of being superior.

They practice domination by belief in intellect and mystifyingly believe their souls are pure of the disease they so freely accuse the rest of the nation as passing to their children. Because politics swing hard from side to side, just as Bush guaranteed a surge to the left from the right, Obama is guaranteeing a surge to anti-learning, and that will be a far harsher penalty box.

As the twig is bent, people, as the twig is bent.

Obama showed his vulunerability early in the campaign when he patted his opponent on the shoulder condescendingly for being the only 'white guy'. It isn't race. That is his cudgel and all the right can do is avoid it. He showed it in the debate with his smirking when McCain called him out for lieing about his past.

Obama is smugly intellectual and very thin skinned when challenged on it. When told he is wrong, you can see the blood rush to his head. This is the ObamaBot disease that infects his supporters and causes them to rage in the face of opposition.

They picked up on his cue of 'smarter than thou' and it is amplified by the notion that the only way George W. Bush could have been elected President twice was by the so-called "low information voters", a code word for "stupid" ganging up on the smarter and more deserving to judge.

Instead, it is they who should be judged for infecting the country with its most virulent strain of elitism.

If you want to take them down, show them for what they are: insecure and inexperienced pretend intellectuals, or in short smart-butt bigots.

Remember, their ranks are filled with intellectual pretenders trying to look and sound smart. Think about the kid in high school who wore fake glasses.

As for Sarah Palin who has been attacked by both left wing wackos and a wacko media, then mishandled, I say:

Keep reminding them of who you are and what you achieved, Sarah Palin.

You worked your way up from a small town girl all the way to Governor of Alaska. You didn't do that because you were born at the top of the social ladder, went to the best schools, got the highest grades, or were voted most likely. You did it the old fashioned way: you worked your butt off, you made your own luck, and when the time came to step up or step out, you put the elbow to your opponent and stepped forward.

They believe they are smarter like the kid programmer who believes because he can make a circle dance on a screen he should run the company. But it is the person who understands other people, who gets up earlier, who works later and who never quits, never surrenders and never gives quarter that runs the company. The values that made you who you are are the values that made this country the most admired and successful in history: hard work, decency, putting family first, and love of God as realized through helping a neighbor.

Remember that, Governor, and no matter how this election goes, you will still be a winner. Screw the speechwriters. They are not running. Screw the handlers. Their names aren't on the ballot.

Be Sarah. That has always been the winning move.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Thousand Glints of Light Hurt

Many years ago, Richard Nixon came to my hometown to begin his attempt to regain respectability in the face of his impending impeachment. I watched him speak from a tree across the parking lot noting the glints of light from tall buildings on the horizon as my brother and I took turns looking through an old detached rifle scope. When the elderly lady in the pink suit walked beneath the tree and whipped out a small walkie talkie and said, "No, it's just two kids with an old scope." I realized the meaning of those glints of light.

Gary Trudeau published his "Fritters Alabama" strip in Doonesbury about the event depicting one of the most modern cities in the South at that time as two coots in suspenders sitting on a broken down porch thus reinforcing the bigoted stereotypes of the left intellectuals about places they had never been. For me, it was the realization that the radicals of the Sixties that I had admired were in fact more bigoted than the people of my State who had become synonymous with the term during the Wallace years.

And during this campaign, I've seen the results of that undisguised bigotry. Obama supporters claim that their bottom up tactics have upended the Reagan Revolution and are putting the country back on the right path. Except that bottom up approach is not how he is winning.

The Obama campaign is cheating and Obama is lieing.

This election could have been about trust. Instead, it has become about fraud. As a result, an Obama win will be the beginning of a deeper penetration of cynicism and mistrust into the American psyche than even Bush managed ineptly. This time it is being done expertly and there will be hell to pay for it. Worse, anyone who tries to take a closer look and discuss it can see those glints of light and feel the threat from the far left.

The country swung far to the right extreme and now it is swinging just as far to the left. Neither extreme is healthy, so by our own hand, we will pay for our inability to evolve beyond these extremes into a nation moderate in all respects except our willingness to defend the nation. Instead, we have become a nation dedicated to self-abuse.

Good luck out there.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Economics For The New World Order: Argh Matey!

o Marxism: the belief that if I have the scalpel and book I am qualified to do brain surgery.

o Communism: the belief that if I need brain surgery, any surgeon can do the job.

o Socialism: the belief that everyone needs brain surgery.

o Capitalism: the belief that I can sell enough books and scalpels to enough surgeons that I can buy enough insurance to pay for brain surgery whether I need it or not

It is the theory of scarcity or in the new web version, no market where scarcity exists is interesting to an investor.

Except there are two scarcities that are more or less permanent: good ideas and talent. Then there is training but it is resolvable given talent. Good ideas appear to be at a fixed scale so these have become the treasure the pirates set their masts toward.

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