Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Labor Confidence First

I have listened and read with great interest the debate on the Economic Recovery Act. It seems to me that we have missed the point once again. The Act started as a job stimulus plan and then morphed into lots of other things and now it has so much in it that no one feels good about supporting it. Seems that pragmatism gets lost in bill writing doesn't it? If we would stop for a moment and recognize that consumer confidence actually lags Labor Confidence (the confidence that I will have a secure job over the next 12 months with a wage that meets my expectations) then we would be spending our time and money on creating Labor Confidence first and consumer confidence second. Creating jobs is like motherhood and apple pie. It can't be argued against. We all would support, without a blink of an eye, a plan that for every dollar spent a dollar of wages was created. We might even support that for every three dollars spent a dollar of wage was created. What we have done is lost the line of sight to the issues at hand and then nothing gets done. I am more convinced than ever that we have to solve the labor and jobs issue first and the rest can follow. We can still get infrastructure built, etc. but only through the filter of jobs created. BTW, 4MM jobs created isn't enough. That only brings us up to parity with what we have lost. Our economy demands that we create an additional 1MM plus jobs a year on top of what we had before. We need a serious refocus on the issues. Let TARP monies clean up the bad assets and bad debt. Let's pass a true Job program that creates real jobs. There was a reason that FDR called it the "Works Progress Administration". It started with work that created works. That is how we create Labor us Consumer Confidence as the outcome.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Smell Test

I worked for a CEO who didn't always know exactly what the right thing to always do was, but when in that situation he would ask of himself and all of us on his team, to conduct the "Smell Test". The "Smell Test" was the test that if someone who didn't know why we had made a decision would hear of or see that decision, that person wouldn't say, "I smell something funny going on there". The "Smell Test" was 100% right, every time. This is what President Obama needs to do right now with the decisions he is making with the "exceptions" he is making with his cabinet appointments and the rules that he laid forth for himself and his team. I am disappointed that he feels, in these early, early days that he has to go back on the strictness of the rules he set for himself in the campaign and in his first week. to go back on those now, unfortunately, impedes his credibility as one who "wants to change Washington". These are tough Chief Executive decisions that he has to make. I have been there when I wanted to hire someone who I thought was just great, but in their reference check, there was a "catch" or something that was not right. Faced with the decision of "go forward and I am sure it will all work out" or "make the tough call now and cut bait", the right thing to do is to not go forward. If you do, the others on the team question your credibility and values. If you make the tough call and decline a person's candidacy, then you have raised the bar and set a new standard for everyone else going forward. I am afraid that President Obama is setting himself up for hurting his credibility as a leader. If the Senate has to make the call, then he gets doubly whacked as not being able to get one of his people through the Senate. President Obama, please use the "Smell Test"! From out here, it doesn't smell good on what you are getting ready to do. Of course Tom Daschle is a good guy, but he didn't pay his taxes on something that he should have known better. I can actually give a pass to TG as his tax issues were because of a funky overseas assignment, but for Daschle, these are things that every person who has services performed for them knows. And the people who were lobbyists, don't bend the rules. We are 300 million Americans strong, I suspect that there is someone else out there if you look a little harder to fill these positions who meet your high standards. Please President Obama, stand tall, make the tough call and don't add a new smell to your Presidency.