Thursday, February 26, 2009

If government in the US wants to grow mass transit, why does it create difficulties?

In the parts of the USA which have decent rail service ridership has been declining. Yet, in many parts of the North-East there is a several year waiting list for parking spaces. The system grew in the "Mad Men" days when families owned one car and the wife dropped the husband off at the train station. Now, each spouse has a job and a car, so parking at the train station is essential. Many want to ride the train, but there are few multi-story structures, which would also make travel easier in bad weather. So all those on the waiting list for parking permits are forced to drive to work even though they would rather take the train.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Paying for content

People have become used to getting news and commentary free. Commercial TV, and now the Internet has allowed us to get most of what we want for nothing. Yet, there is a cost to gathering and editing the news. While a few publications, such as the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times have managed to get payment for access, this is rare. NPR manages through donations, but only a few its listeners actually contribute. The idea of micr-donations may catch on. With the ability to donate pennies simply and cost-effectively, services such as Kachingle may catch on. If we want to continue to get real news, as opposed to self-serving commentary, it may have to.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Inefficiency in organizations is growing

I do not believe that inefficiency is the property of government alone, but an example I recently encountered illustrates how it happens. A friend had his car towed while illegally parked. Ok, so an expensive inconvenience in most cases, but far worse in this.It turned out that the car was registered in his late father's name. Since the will had not cleared probate, title could not be transferred. Since the title was not in his name, the car remained in police custody while storage fees mounted. He could not get the car because inflexibility in the system would not allow it. All involved told him that the car was clearly his and he was caught in an unusual situation, but no one could help.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Saving your way to growth

While it is reasonable to cut costs when profitability is down along with growth, I see companies which are profitable, but where growth has slowed, cutting costs. This would seem to virtually ensure continued slowing of growth, yet they keep doing it. It seems to speak to a sense of panic among corporate executives.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

If you want to be viewed favorably by history be on the side of change.

Looking back, reactionaries are often despised or laughed it. Whereas those who support or fight for the more liberal changes are regarded as heroes. Where are those who fought for Prohibition, vs.those who fought for wider suffrage? Where are those who fought for internment of Japanese-Americans without trial, or supported the Palmer raids? Yet those who fought for peace, liberties, education are regarded positively.

Even if we disregard any value judgment, it implies that if you want to be remembered favorably, be progressive and support change.

Do the "haves" yet understand recession?

The USA, and the world, is in a recession. Yet, I wonder if many of the leaders really understand that. In the town of Weston, CT, the proposed new education budget is up 2.62% while the expected state contribution will be down 15%! Since even in affluent towns residents are losing jobs and income, how realistic is that. This is happening in the neighboring towns too.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The value of FENG and other networking group

This evening, I went to a meeting in CT of the Financial Networking Group. About 50 people attended this chapter meeting. The attendees were all senior financial executives. The first part of the meeting was devoted to each person delivering a 90 second "elevator speech" about themselves. While this is essential to anyone in a job search, it is critical for anyone who ever needs to tell a stranger about themselves in a short and interesting way. As is normal at any meeting, many of them were weak and unclear. However, coaching was provided by the organizers of the meeting so that members can get better and better. There was a genuine recognition that the group as a whole would get stronger if each person helps another.

There was a short presentation by George Bradt, founder of PrimeGenesis, and leading expert about "onboarding" - the process of successfully starting up in a new job. The Obama Presidency was seen as a good role model because of the extensive preparation prior to the inauguration. Given the shorter and shorter time jobs last, this is an essential component of any executive's skill-set, and George did an excellent job of explaining it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Can the incidence of tax fraud be as high in general as it is among political appointees?

From Timothy Geithner to Tom Daschle, and now Nancy Killefer, the incidence of tax fraud seems unusually high. I would not dream of hiding income, yet, it seems to be common. Is this the American way, and I just missed the memo? Sadly, I believe that most Americans report their income honestly and see payment of taxes as civic duty. When among those who do not are those who seek to lead the nation, I am disappointed.