Empty Parking Lots, Empty Toy Bins

This is the time of year when many people find themselves picking paper angels off of trees and striking out to buy for a child who will otherwise go without holiday presents. It is a time when we pack shoe boxes with toys, drop new toys in collection bins, send money to local charities and deliver non-perishable food to the food bank. This is supposed to be a big time of year for non-profits.

Sadly, the toy collection bins I saw while out this morning were empty. They were empty when we entered the store and empty when we left. I've heard and read reports of local food banks with empty shelves. Last week when our family made a delivery to the local Christmas Bureau we saw a sign posted outside saying they were not taking anymore applications. There simply aren't enough donations to help everyone in need.

Mismanaging risk

After 30 years in business, I know a thing or two about risk. For example, I know that there are two fundamentally different kinds of risk: rewarded risk and unrewarded risk. The former is smart business strategy, the latter is more or less stupid.

"Trimming" a Budget at ElectriCities, the only place in America adding staff and giving big raises

I find it hard to believe that ElectriCities can say with a straight face that they are assessing all positions for critical needs and trimming their budget when they add staff - lobbyists, communications, temporary secretaries - and still give merit raises and have parties. Unbelievable.

The $73/Hour Big Lie

We've all heard it spewed from Republican mouths, how Detroit car makers pay $73/hour to their workers. That's why we can't compete with Honda and Toyota. This NYT piece shows how that argument is putting your head in the sand, ignoring the reality.

So here’s a little experiment. Imagine that a Congressional bailout effectively pays for $10 an hour of the retiree benefits. That’s roughly the gap between the Big Three’s retiree costs and those of the Japanese-owned plants in this country. Imagine, also, that the U.A.W. agrees to reduce pay and benefits for current workers to $45 an hour — the same as at Honda and Toyota.

Do you know how much that would reduce the cost of producing a Big Three vehicle? Only about $800.

Obama's Likely Choice To Head EPA: Right Time, Wrong Person

With the possible exception of the Justice Department, the Environmental Protection Agency has seen its effectiveness, credibility and mission wither more than any other Executive arm during the administrative nightmare of the last eight years. Respected environmental experts and scientists have seen their findings and recommendations marginalized, edited or downright ignored. In cases where the data was simply too strong to ignore, the Bush administration took the back-door route by concurring, and then selecting wide swaths of industry to be exempted from any corrective actions resulting from said studies.

Bob Etheridge Appointed to Powerful House Ways & Means Committee

The N&O is reporting that Congressman Bob Etheridge (NC-02) has been appointed to the powerful House Ways & Means Committee. He's the first North Carolina Democrat to be appointed to the committee since the 1950s.

Etheridge may not be the favorite of many liberals, but he has earned the respect of his constituents and his colleagues. I can't think of a better time for North Carolina to have representation on this particular committee.

Congratulations Congressman Etheridge.....and thank you.

Staring Unflinchingly Into the Abyss

I'm encouraged that BusinessWeek concurs with my opinion regarding our economy:

The great job bust of 2008 is being felt keenly in communities across the U.S. Few may be suffering more than Greensboro, N.C., one of the South's most scenic and livable cities and no stranger to disruptive economic change. Greensboro's local economy has been stress-tested by global outsourcing since the early 1990s, when jobs tethered to its two once-dominant industries, textiles and furniture, began to move to Asia.

Of course, anyone who's been paying even the slightest attention around here knows this quite well. Do not miss the comments. Hat tip to Ed Cone.

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