Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Where The Jobs Are...

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the percent of labor change from December 2007 through June of 2009. The problem with the numbers are the trends and the messages inside the data. The shrinking sectors are dominated by loss of jobs in manufacturing, building and production. All the areas where we "make" anything have been decimated and my belief is that those jobs are gone and not coming back. The auto industry has lost 35% of their jobs from the production of auto vehicles and parts. Do any of us believe those jobs are going to come back? When we start building cars again, the hope is that we will do so with greater efficiency and productivity, which in itself will keep the jobs from coming back. The bigger alarm in the data is the growing sectors being led by home and health care services (+8.6%), oil and gas extraction (+8.6%), Federal Government, except the US Postal Service (+6.5%), Ambulatory health care services (+4.8%), and offices of physicians (+4.1%). This just can't be right. We are gaining and creating jobs in the areas that are the ones that we are already bloated and trying to get back under control; health care, non-renewable energy, and government (read deficit and out of control budgets). This seems to be the worst of the worst, losing jobs where we need to be competitive and creating GNP and instead adding jobs into service and sectors where the cost of doing business is already strangling us. Add more healthcare jobs without understanding efficiencies and it will only take longer to dismantle the problems. I have supported larger government where I felt it was important to meet the needs of those who cannot (truly) take care of themselves. But, an inability to manage costs is not a good enough excuse to add more wood on the woodpile. We better hope that we we see the BLS chart flip upside down in the next 5 years or what was bad will become catastrophic.

Monday, July 20, 2009

When There Were Three..

Last night I watched CBS' tribute to Walter Cronkite. Not only did it remind me of how fast time and technology has moved but it also brought back many emotions from when I was a boy and my Father would gather my brother and me around the TV each night to watch the news together. My Father was in radio and television and we not only got the lessons of what was happening in current affairs but also we were instructed on how to ensure that our southern Indiana twang was eliminated so that we had the same accent as Mr. Cronkite. He represented the middle of the country without having to say that he was from there. With no accent at all he made everyone feel comfortable. It became ritual in our house to be at the TV when he broadcasted. Long before he retired we would handicap who would take his place; which seemed at that time nearly impossible to imagine. Would it be Eric Severeid (too old), Roger Mudd (too stiff), Dan Rather (too much of a field reporter, not an anchor). These were our conversations as we as listened for the nightly body count coming back from Vietnam and wrestled with the messages coming from the anti-war movement and later the Watergate trials. It seemed that we could not trust government so we trusted the media. There were only three people to trust after all and one of them garnered the most trust of all. This was when journalism had a code and you had to report, discern, write and justify to be able to say something. And so, Walter Cronkite became the one person we all could trust. It will never be that way again. There are too many talking heads and anyone can write anything they want and countermand enough to cast doubt on what anyone says. I am sure that there are those now who trust the government more than they trust the media. Scary. Walter Cronkite set a standard to gain his trust. He did this on the shoulders of Edgar R. Murrow and others before him. Today, few have a reason to stand on the shoulders of Walter. The nightly news is not watched by many and the soundbites that we receive are so far from the whole truth that we believe little of what we hear anyway. When there were three I know we didn't get the whole story and I know we didn't see the whole picture. But when there were three we sat at our televisions together and watched and discussed the news as a family and those memories will always make me have positive memories of Walter Cronkite.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nice To Do's Have To Stop

Late last year and earlier this year we read many accounts of the financial institutions who had received TARP funding, then sending their employees off on what appeared to be unnecessary boondoggle trips. In particular, AIG got slaughtered in the public perception because of an incentive reward trip for their salespeople who exceeded plan. As we all know, perception is reality for many so these things must be managed. But, I do find it curious that from the President on down we point our fingers at what we perceive to be frivolous private sector spending while we spend the taxpayer’s money on all kinds of programs that don’t seem to make sense. When you work inside of a company and you aren’t going to meet your financial plan, you begin cutting costs quickly and you kill unnecessary spending and expenditures. The government doesn’t do this. Today I read about the problems with recent space launch. Since we have gone into this recession I have watched multiple space shuttle launches occur. Can someone please tell me why when we are hemorrhaging money and reaching a trillion dollar deficit that we are continuing to launch the space shuttle? Is it because these space missions are instrumental in solving our priority problems; the economy, education, energy and healthcare? The government needs to start being practical and making some practical decisions that any of us would make if we were running our own business or household finances. We have to be willing to have the courage and resolve to tell the kids that we can’t go to Space Mountain this year, because we just can’t afford it. C’mon Congress. C’mon Mr. President. Let’s be practical for once and put away the impracticalities of launching space missions when we don’t have the money to do so. It’s a nice to do, not a have to do and we can’t afford the nice to do’s….at least not right now.