Thursday, January 26, 2012

Civility costs little but Incivility Will Cost Us Our Country

NYT Reader Comment to January 26, 2012 article "With Audiences Encouraged to React, Primary Debates Seem More Made for TV 

  Like it or not, it is not 'Morning in 1984 America.' Like it or not, America has been making money 'on the float' since the early 1970's when we went off of the 'Gold Standard.'
   Culturally we live in a 'Jerry Springer' mentality, media and ratings driven, instant gratification, either/or, got-'cha, Red Carpet seeking, short-term solution, 'Kartrashian,' non-tolerant, uncivil, mean girl, populist society.
    All 24 hour news outlets push their own fortune telling, fear mongering agendas with loud background bells and 'whooshing' sounds, so we will raise our heads for their ratings.
   All the 'Talking Heads' interrupt their guests, and the loudest person in the room is perceived to be the smartest person in the room.
   NBC purposefully censured their audience last week to make the Republican debate as boring as possible. Inversely, producers should not dishonestly pump up and prime their audiences, but again, it is no longer 'Morning in America.'
   Populist perception and polls are instantly perceived to be everything, and yet, amount to a vapid nothing.
   America is the 1% of the world, with our massive earning potential and great wealth as compared to how 75% of the rest of the world lives on less than $2 per day.
   How many of us cook dinner for a needy neighbor once a week, tithe our Church, and give locally to local charities? Why are we so lazy that we think any federal entity will solve all of our 310M problems? Civility costs little to learn but incivility will cost us our country.   

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Smarmy, Smart Aleck Snap Judgements and Small Business

   Last weekend over the holiday, a dear relative's jewelry store was robbed. A professional gang of thieves rivaling the movie "Oceans 11" cleaned out this small business owner.
    They broke the lights and surveillance cameras outside the store, cut the electricity and cut the shopping center's phone lines so the store alarm would not go off. Then they pried, sawed, cut, clipped and wedged their way through 2 back doors and a huge iron gate to get inside the jewelry store.
   Once inside the store, the first layer of security kicked in. Thick black smoke permeated the entirety of the store. The thieves waited it out. After the smoke cleared, they removed dozens of trip wires that if tripped on would have caused them to fall into about 50, 10' boards on the floors with 4" nails sticking up out of the boards. These criminals then methodically took up all the boards and piled them neatly up against the edges of the floor of the store.
   Then with high powered, specialized saws, these thugs cut through one 6' tall, large safe with 3 doors and concrete between each door. They also cut into two other smaller safes with these saws.
   These criminals then took the time to hunt, peck and pick out from each display case, every diamond ring, pearl necklace and silver bracelet in the store and pitched each little white and gold display box onto the floor. They must have had a "spotter" across the street as each of the 15 or so display cases had three shelves of merchandise.
   By coincidence, my relative drove by the store apparently on the very evening of the robbery, and all appeared fine, but he did not stop to go inside the store as his wife was with him and they were on their way to a family holiday party. Small miracle.
   When our local paper and local TV media covered this story, they did not focus on the fact that a professionally organized and expertly equipped gang of thieves took what was not theirs. They did not focus on the blessing that no one was killed or injured. They did not focus on the fact that a small business owner and generous contributor to the community for 25 years may now have to close his very popular "Brick and Mortar" jewelry store. They did not focus on the 4 employees who were now each out of a job and the impact their job losses will have on their families. No, the media kept focusing on one perceived negative.
   Because of an armed robbery attempt 17 years ago and great difficulty with a very small claim a few years ago, the owner was forced into a difficult decision: re-new his very expensive insurance (which as those with business experience know, insurance policies may or may not pay off), or be forced to let-go employees, cut employee health insurance coverage, cut hours, cut services, etc.
   Insurance for this small business had become increasingly and so exorbitantly costly, the "Cost of Sales," (yes, it is a Retail formula), was not high enough to reach the desired, small profit margin, so the owner could no longer afford an insurance company policy for his small business.
    The owner, not wanting to lay off employees, especially in today's economic environment, chose instead to install the three aforementioned levels of homemade security, keep his alarm system, and keep all his employees employed.
   How many other small businesses in this country have suffered the same scenario and have been forced into this same difficult decision?
   Next, came the "Top Commenter" under the "Comments" section below the article in the local paper and comments on Facebook and the Bloggers. Some snipped off their smart aleck, smarmy words on the seemingly anonymous Internet with their quick quips and snap judgements having limited snippets of information, never having spoken to the owner and never having shopped in the store. Apparently, their motivation is to appear as though they are the smartest, wittiest, sassiest, most popular persons in the room.  
   Isn't the press supposed to first fully know all the facts, speak with all sources, weigh each fact carefully, then objectively and judiciously report? Is the world so fast now that some in the press have to jump to snap judgements? 
    Then, these uninformed, either/or, black or white, jaded, negative attention seekers, bail out and move onto the next hit story and running victim. The next snarky snap judgement.
   My college Freshman year handbook test boiled down to 4 words: Ignorance is no excuse. Well, one "Top Commenter" said: "He (the owner) deliberately gave up insurance and (inside store) security cameras--he created this reality and now has to live with it." They later commented it was: "easy to keep insurance." Deliberately? Easy? Really? Life is rarely so simple.
   This "Top Commenter" looks from the Profile photo on Facebook to be quite young. Certainly not old enough to have owned and run a small business for 25 years, 6 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, and 16-18 hours a day during holiday seasons. This "Top Commenter" most likely has not had to meet payroll or pay payroll taxes, local taxes, state taxes, federal taxes, rent, lights, CAM charges, or worry.
   Worry if you'll have a good Christmas season so you can re-new your lease. Worry about an employee who is having a hard time with their family. Worry about meeting payroll during slow weeks. Worry if you will be robbed again when inside the store. Worry if the trash was emptied.
  Well, I have one quote for the quick to judge: Judge not, that you be not judge. For with the judgement you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get," Matthew:1:1-2. see article: "Burglars take $2M in inventory from Henrico jeweler" ,"Top Commenter" comment, January 6, 2012