Jul 01

Patrolling for Rats

Today, July 1, 2015, the fine state of Indiana becomes what some people in the anti-union movement are referring to as a “free state.” This is in reference to the fact that as of today, Indiana’s “prevailing wage” laws are history. The hope of course is that this will boost the state’s economy by creating job growth and development. As was mentioned in last week’s blog, the anti-unionists are now targeting other Midwestern states. In Illinois, recently elected governor Bruce Rauner has announced what he calls his “pro-business, anti-union agenda.”

I’m not sure if the governor actually calls it that, but the press certainly does. I am a little confused about the semantics of this. Specifically, does pro-business automatically mean anti-union? Also, as touched on last week, this is a subject that absolutely fascinates me, and my conclusions about what this all might mean and how I feel about the ongoing struggle between the union and anti-union activists might surprise you. I actually intend to say more about this in the September issue of USGlass magazine, but for now, let me just say that I believe that the middle class, as we have come to know it (although many would say that it is rapidly vanishing), would not exist if had not been for the union movement in this country. I firmly believe this. Much more to come on this, and I will look forward to sharing my thoughts and opinions, but I do recognize that there will be those who will disagree … and I fully respect and understand that. More to come.

And now that I have mentioned USGlass and an article to come therein, I want to confirm that the story appearing in this month’s issue, “Big Al and Alvin,” is absolutely true and accurate. The world has become very small in many ways, and if you leave yourself open to it, life can be so incredibly interesting and connected that you just never know what might happen or who you might meet. And everybody has a story … some more fascinating than others, but every human being has a story. You just gotta take time to listen to it.

Can You Explain it to Me???

When I have pursued a loan, whether it be for business, a home mortgage or a new car purchase, one of the qualifications that must be met is my ability to pay the loan off in a reasonable amount of time. I well remember being told when I secured my first home mortgage that my loan payments could not exceed one-fourth of my earnings. Anything beyond that, and I would not qualify. The logic of this made sense to me then, and even though the percentages may have changed over the years, it still makes sense that a borrower’s ability to make payments in a timely and consistent fashion should determine their worthiness of receiving the funds in question. So tell me then, how does Greece, or Puerto Rico for that matter, get themselves in such dire straits with billions of dollars in debt and no practical, honest way to pay it off? And doesn’t anyone notice that subsequent borrowing is solely being used to pay the interest on previous loans while also increasing the debt load? These are small governments. The entire country of Greece doesn’t have too many more people in it than the metropolitan Chicago area, so how could they ever expect to pay off this these debts? The economy is just too small. Personally, I think we should track down the loan officers at the IMF and World Bank and hold them as accountable as the Greek government for the mess they have created.

And now that we’re on this line … when are we going to wake up in this country? You reach a limit where debt payment is simply no longer doable. I have known people who have said, “It was either feed the family or make the mortgage payment.” States and countries are in some ways just big families, aren’t they? Something’s gotta change!

The Rat Patrol

If you live in a heavily unionized area of the country, you are probably familiar with the giant inflatable rat that union organizers use to bring attention to someone who is not using union workers on their project. Such people are considered “rats,” and the guys who own and manage the big rat want the public to know about the unfairness of the owner or contractor involved. Most rats have a big sign next to them announcing the name of the culprit. Some passersby will honk and provide a wave of encouragement to the keepers of the rat, while others will honk and offer up another type of wave altogether. Regardless of where you might stand on this issue, are you not in some way proud of all of this? I am. Because you see, this is what America is about … the freedom to take a side and express yourself. Free speech at its best in my opinion. No violence … no governmental interference … no embarrassment or shame … just freedom of speech and expression. The picture below was taken at an Oak Brook, Ill. office site this morning at about 8 a.m.., three days before we celebrate our country’s freedom(s). In some odd way, the rat patrol makes me proud to be an American.  

The Rat Patrol

The Rat Patrol

 

You’re Working Too Hard … 

… but I think you already knew that. Now comes a report from the Department of Labor based on a recent survey that American workers increased their daily time on the job by almost 3 percent in 2014 compared to 2013. The hours worked by Americans on their jobs continues to climb. Maybe we just really love our work. Or maybe we are just worried about all that debt we have.

Marketing 101 – In Today’s World

The last time I sold a house and moved into a new one was about 20 years ago. After the contract was signed and plans had been made, I remember going to the Yellow Pages and looking for moving companies to get quotes. There were only a few that were considered, and ultimately one was selected for the job. Well, about 10 days ago, a “For Sale” sign went up in front of my home and the house also became listed (online, with appropriate information and such). In less than 48 hours, we started receiving solicitations from moving companies … electronically, by mail and by phone. A number of them reached out by phone and then followed up with a mailing piece. I’m telling you, if you are not marketing proactively and aggressively these days, you stand a very good chance of being left in the dust of those who do. I think in today’s world, the consumer does not shop for the supplier as much as the supplier shops for the customer.

The Sports Thing

How about those American women soccer players? Can you believe it? They beat China, then Germany (ranked first in the world), and now they will meet either Japan or England in the World Cup final. Many had written them off, doubting they could get past China and totally convinced they would fall to Germany if they did. Well, they won by shutouts in both games, and the game against Germany was as physical as it gets. I am not a big soccer fan, but I’ll be watching Sunday (7 p.m. EST).These gals are for real.

The Quotable Thing

This week’s is from Amy Newling (Allstate) and while the author/originator is unknown, I like the quote. And it is deadly accurate.

“Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear so bright until you hear them speak”.

Have a Wonderful Fourth of July Holiday – And Be Thankful for Your Freedoms

Jun 24

GIG Economy???

I’m always fascinated by new definitions or uses for old words, and just a few days ago, I was taken aback by yet another “word recycling,” if you will. Specifically, I heard a politician (and who can spin and recycle words better than those people?) use the term “Gig Economy.”

Now people of my age often associate the word “gig” with some type of performance – musical mostly, as in, “Hey dude, I got a weekend gig at the club playing with my band,” or, “I gotta gig at the lumber yard for the summer, then it’s back to school, man.” Yes, I am old school. Just ask my kids. Over time, the gig word kinda morphed into meaning a real job of some permanence. We also have come to accept and use the term gigabyte when talking about computer capacity. I always get confused on the actual numerical value of a gig, although I do know that more gigs are better than less gigs. But now comes “Gig Economy?” What gigs … I mean GIVES, with that?

OK, so here’s the deal. It is now estimated that a third of working millennials (18- to 34-year-olds) exist in the “Gig Economy,” meaning that they don’t look at their jobs as careers, but as gigs. Further, these millennials (a group that will soon become the majority of the country’s workforce) need to have multiple gigs in order to survive economically. Recent studies suggest that a third of all workers in this age group have two or more part-time jobs instead of one full-time job. This is going to have quite an impact on society I think, and perhaps it already has. I would like to discuss this more, but I need to wrap up this blogging gig in the next 30 minutes or so, ’cause my consulting gig needs some of my time, and this afternoon I gotta put in some effort on my glass-measuring gig also. Sorry. Just the way it is.

The Union Fight Heats Up

In just a few days—next Wednesday, to be exact—the state of Indiana’s prevailing wage laws will become history. Those who championed this cause claim that this will generate more jobs, cut government costs of doing business and bring taxpayer’s some financial relief. The anti-unionists are now targeting Michigan and Wisconsin, although some consider Illinois another possible target simply because of the current governor’s attempts to eliminate prevailing wage legislation, as well as the fact that the state of Illinois is in such terrible financial condition, losing jobs (and population) to states that have jobs available. This is all quite fascinating to me. I have followed this subject (on both sides of the table) since I was in my late teens. My dad was at one time a union organizer, and while in college, I spent several months as a union steward. Later in my career I served as a union trustee and also chaired employer bargaining groups during union contract negotiations. The dynamics (and impacts) of all of this are quite large and very real. We’ll see what, if anything, happens next!

Jefferson & Lincoln

A couple of weeks back, I made the comment in this blog that I didn’t think a Jefferson or a Lincoln (our two greatest, in my opinion) could get nominated, let alone elected, in our current political climate. A couple of people called to talk about this and perhaps I was a little quick with my comment. Great leaders do tend to rise above the rest, and the neatest thing of all is that if either of these two were around today, at least, given our wonderful democracy, they COULD possibly get themselves elected. In other words, in our country, anything (within the rules) is possible. I have read quite a bit about these, two and I don’t think Jefferson would run in the modern era, but I think Lincoln would. And we could certainly use him!   

The Sports Thing

Last week, a friend of mine told me that after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, his 12-year-old son had tears in his eyes. He was a little surprised by the emotion being shown, and when he asked his son about it, the youngster said that he was sad because he wouldn’t get to see any more ‘Hawks games until October, and what was he going to do until then? You know, I actually understand the kid’s problem.

So now the highly praised St. Louis Cardinals are being accused of some questionable tactics relative to snooping on their competition. Is it me, or is every sport (other than hockey of course) now become tainted? Oh, and on the Pete Rose thing, I think he should be re-instated. Much controversy on this in the last several days/ and to me, gambling on games you are playing in (unless you are throwing the games to win a bet) is much less a problem than the drug users who are winning games because they have doped themselves up. Rose has paid for his crime and been disgraced because of it. Some of the drug-using current players have not (in my opinion) been properly punished for their deeds.

YES – I’m Doing it Again

Here we have yet another grandchild photo. This time of my youngest, Jillian Rush, taken at her recent ballet recital. I can’t help it. I love the grandkids and you gotta admit that she’s awfully cute.

 

Jilly  Jake 010

Jillian Rush … Ballet Queen

 

The Quotable ThingThis week’s quote was submitted by Patricia Kopf, via her sister, and it is quite appropriate for this blog, because it not only contains nuggets of wisdom but also the word “glass,” which I am regularly criticized for not talking enough about. Glass that is. Anyway, here it is …

“The intellect of the wise is like glass: It admits the light of heaven and reflects it.”     …Augustas Hare (writer)

Please Have a Wonderful Week Everyone

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