When you find out you will die, thats when you decide to live. – tagline from the upcoming movie, Veronika Decides to Die
Happy St. Patty’s Day, and if it still is wherever you are, you can take off that silly green shirt or even those horrific plaid green pants! Yes I do own a pair of lime green ones for special golf occasions. I do think that the Irish probably get together and laugh at all of us for wearing all these shades of green. I mean, look at me! Asian guy, who needs to work on his tan and wearing this pale green oxford shirt. Not a pretty look! You’d definitely need to down a few beers to look at me in this shirt.
Speaking of “Green”, it sure is getting expensive to be “green” In fact, it sure is costing more. In San Francisco where we pay for the highest gas prices in the continental US, we are thinking of adding another tax to drive more people to alternative fuel usage and to drive less. Gas prices incidentally are already high due to taxes to pay for roads and better fuel emission standards. We already pay more for our Green compost boxes which in our household seems to be getting more full and stinkier than the regular trash bin and the “recycling” bin which seems to get no love anymore. Part of that is because we no longer use paper bags at the grocery store and we have seriously cut back on our use of the printed media. Speaker of the House (and my former neighbor when I was a kid), Nancy Pelosi, is trying to save our local newspaper from bankruptcy. I hate to break Mrs. Pelosi’s heart (yeah, that’s what I called her growing up) but we have to let go. The online newspapers are here and in much the same way that “television killed the radio star”, newspapers are being overcome by the internet where we cannot wait for the printed word as by the time it reaches us, it is old news. Hey it won’t hurt to save a few trees either.
I think government is learning a hard lesson these days. In fact, I think the economy is teaching us all a big lesson. I have always been a big believer in business and trusting the efficient markets and the bright people who run corporate America. Well obviously that has changed eith the way senior management have run some of our largest institutions into the ground. Now on the other side, here is government saying that they can help save these organizations and regulate them yet we are now overrun by the outrageous scandal of the AIG and its executives who have taken the money we provided to them from taxpayer money and are rewarding their executives. Obviously governmentis not prepared to regulate the behavior of our corporations even when they own 80% of them. Human nature just can’t be controlled to that extreme and the power of the people is too powerful. It requires leadership of incredible proportions. For those who know the “Myth of Sisyphus” who was condemned to push the same rock up a hill over and over again I can only imagine an avalanche chasing Barack Obama and Timothy Geithner down a hill.
Business is just too tough for the government to try and regulate. I look at one of my current businesses where the government were unable to regulate (and I’m not sure they could have stopped it) the free downloading of music. What did this do? It ruined the royalty income of many great performers who wanted to sit back and earn their royalties from every sale of their albums and CDs. They say that an artist would earn a dollar from every album sold but yet today they get maybe $.10 when someone legally downloads a song but nothing when they share it with their 10 friends for free. So what this has done is it has forced many performers to keep touring instead of retiring. Concerts used to be less than 15% of an artist’s income while album royalties made up over 75%. Now it is just the reverse. The only thing is that I don’t know if I still want to see Styx or Air Supply anymore. To put it to comparison, Michael Jackson was the greatest of his time in the ’80s and when you compare to U2 the numbers are staggering. In his day, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” alone sold over 110 million copies (not to mnetion his other 11 other studio albums) while U2, undoubtedly the greatest rock band of today, has sold 145 million in total (12 albums).
So now that these artists want to go out and sell tickets on tour, governments are now listening to the consumers who feel cheated by the high price of tickets. These are the same consumers who are getting this music for free because the governments failed to regulate their illegal downloading and copying.
Yes, tis a vicious cycle and what is scary in times like this is that everyone is forced to think about themselves first and others second. Everybody holds on to what they have and supports issue that help them get back to where they feel most comfortable. it is definitely all abot the “green” money.
So how do we get out of this? I don’t have any great solution. Yes I went to a great business school and even had 2 Nobel Laureates in Economics as professors, but this recession is bigger than any one of us. We do all have to suck it up and work together.
Yesterday I heard the head of the Fed say that the recession would be over later this year! I just can’t see it. Until we all regain our money lost in our pensions and 401Ks, we all feel more comfortable about our jobs if we still have them, and our faith and trust in our financial system is restored, there will not be a recovery. What are these people thinking?
My best solution? Well I’d recommend a universal 4% interest rate. It would put homes in range of those who can afford it. Those people who have money and equity in their homes can take on some debt and throw that back out into the economy as well. I think the current solution to the mortgage problem is not a big enough move and only helps those in trouble today and it may not help them for good. It just postpones the inevitable. Those who lost their jobs and are having problems paying their current mortgage will still have a problem tomorrow without a job. The problem with my solution? Well the banks will lose some income as their margins are reduced on their profitable mortgages. They’ll likely start charging more for other services and other debt such as credit cards. …….ah yes, “the greening of America” . I think Kermit the Frog must be rolling around wondering what is going on here!
Which leads to probably the last line of this rambling blog entry….What the heck is he thinking about that quote at the beginning? Well I’ve been writing recently about how my wife has had some great motivation. It just made sense to me although it really had nothing to do with this post. The tagline by the way came from a movie that is coming out. Last year before my wife was diagnosed with cancer we happened to be out for our anniversary at a cool hotel in New York called The Hotel on Rivington (Thor). We happened to be there the same night of a closing party for the filming of a the movie, Veronika Decides to Die. The hotel was closed only to guests and the party. Somehow I got caught in the elevator with the cast and swept into the party. I did write a review of the hotel. Well today, I just saw my first preview advertisement for the movie, so I thought I’d research it and found the tagline for the movie.