Category Archives: Policy

Not Everyone Should Vote

It’s nearly election day, and we’re told the most important thing is to just get out and vote, and the more voters the better.  Rock the Vote! Right?

But I don’t see how it helps for uninformed people to vote, if they don’t take the time to study issues, seek out facts and varied perspectives, and try to make an intelligent decision as you would about a business issue.  As in business, quality is more important than quantity.

People who don’t take time to understand issues and civics should not cast a random, uninformed vote.  I think for our society, quality decision making is going to help our nation more than just a high quantity of people checking a box without really thinking things through.

I am not saying that any adult should be prevented from voting – no one deserves the power to be in charge of “who’s qualified.”  Everyone needs equal voting rights.  In fact, I think it should be made more convenient to vote with longer hours and easy absentee voting, though I do believe some fair, free and easy voter ID should be required.

So should you vote?  If you answer yes to any of the questions below, I’d encourage you to stay home this election, spend some time getting better qualified, and make your vote count next time around.

  1. Do I not know the names of all my representatives and cannot pick them out of a lineup on sight?
  2. Do I rarely pay attention to news or political analysis?
  3. If I do pay attention to politics, do I listen mostly to sensationalist or “opinion” media from one perspective (right or left)?
  4. Do I just vote a party line without evaluating each candidate?
  5. Do I seldom pay attention to how elected officials are doing their jobs and personally behaving between election seasons?
  6. Is there nothing a representative from my preferred party could possibly do to cause me to vote for the other party, or do I give them a “free pass” on bad behavior out of party loyalty?
  7. Am I obsessed with particular politicians (positive or negative) and pay little attention to nuts and bolts policies?

If you answered yes to any of these, please just stay home and don’t vote. That’s the best thing you can do for America.

Of course, it’s your choice and that’s how it needs to be.

Vote with Care – and God Bless America!

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SURPRISE! Raising Wages = Higher Prices.

Chipotle just raised its prices in San Francisco 14%, exactly the same % as the raise in wages with the new minimum wage in the city. A popular chain like Chipotle has the option to do this, while most Mom and Pop restaurants and less trendy chains typically cannot raise prices.   They (we) just have to take a 14% hit.

There is no willingness of consumers to pay a little more so their fellow citizens who work in food service can make a living wage. Instead, “the dollar store mentality” rules with most customers. The lowest prices for the fattest burritos and self-throat-cutting “deals” drive sales. Thus, small businesses seem likely to lose out and possibly go out of business under the new inflationary scenario where operating costs rise but prices mostly cannot.

One lesson to be learned from Chipotle is great branding and marketing can help a business weather the storm.  Every business needs to give customers a compelling reason to look beyond the lowest prices.   Great marketing and branding can attract a high number of less price sensitive customers.  Volume plus profit margins equals survival in a time of rising costs!  This is something we are happy to say we’ve been able to help with for more than 40 hospitality locations.  Shoot us a note at A-List Marketing for a free consultation on how to beat rising costs and cheap customers.  It’s the only way to cover the ever rising costs in our businesses!

I liked this “Take Part” article about the Chipotle price hikes, as the writer seems shocked at basic economics.

Have a great day and enjoy every burrito! — TTBG

PS – I just want to add since I saw this – if you don’t tip because the minimum wage went up, you are a cheap ass.  You are not doing it on principle, you are a cheap ass.

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#MarriageEquality and #GunRights Show Us How To “Do the Impossible”

In 2008, Barack Obama met with a fundamentalist preacher during his presidential campaign, to state his opposition to same sex marriage.  The most liberal candidate in recent history felt supporting same sex marriage was politically dangerous just 7 years ago.  This week when the Supreme Court affirmed the right to same sex marriage was protected in the Constitution, it was the expected outcome.  And the vast majority of businesses, politicians and citizens saluted the decision.  The White House was lit in rainbow colors.  From Impossible to Inevitable in 7 years.

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I grew up in the country hunting, fishing and shooting guns.  Even in our conservative region in “the good old days” we still never imagined that all citizens would someday have the right to carry loaded weapons, concealed or open in holsters, in nearly every public setting.  Yet today every state is required by Supreme Court ruling to allow public possession of firearms, including concealed carry.  From Unthinkable to Unstoppable.

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What these two remarkable developments have in common is an organized, passionate group taking sustained political action.  In both cases, citizens mobilized into a political force over decades, raising money and more importantly wielding the votes to threaten candidates’ and politicians’ careers if they didn’t support and advance their issues.  Gay Rights and Gun Rights activists didn’t get discouraged or give up until they achieved their goals.  It’s impossible to deny the effectiveness of their determination.

American Citizens are almost universally disgusted with American Government.  This is one sentiment where the left, right and center actually agree!  But we typically say we can’t do anything about government waste of taxpayers money, inefficiency, bloat, bullying citizens, corruption, unethical behavior and other problems.  We say “that’s just the way it is” and it will never change.  Or we feel we can just vote in “our guys” without changing the rules of the system.  History shows that tactic does not solve the dysfunction.

Whether we agree or disagree with the hard fought triumphs of the Gay Rights and Gun Rights movements, their victories show this fatalistic attitude about improving our society is simply a cop out.  What’s more important than wise use of taxpayer dollars and the integrity of our leaders?  Citizens can clearly seize power if enough people care and put in a sustained effort.  We have the power to step up and make things better.

Do we just like to complain, or do we actually want to change our nation and world for the better?  Whatever you care about, don’t cop out and say it can’t be done.   This week’s Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage is just one example proving that’s not true!

As dysfunctional as our politics have become, Citizens in our Republic are still in control of our own destiny.  But in politics as in business, success takes hard work and persistence.

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Read more about how same sex marriage triumphed in Slate.

And check out just a couple of examples of how the open carry and concealed carry movement succeeded in legalizing widespread carrying of loaded firearms.

Amazing things can be done when people care.

— TTBG

 

 

My idea to end all SPAM texts and phone calls.

UPDATE 2-24-16: HEY somebody did it!

The FCC is considering new ways to cut robocalls and SPAM texts.

My idea is to go back to the old concept of collect calling. You could get a 900 number for your phone. When people call it says “the surcharge for this call will be zero if the person you are calling presses #1 within 20 seconds of answering the call, otherwise the charge for this call will be $9.99 plus tax. You can hang up now or charge will go into effect in 5 seconds at the time of the first ring.” This could not be blocked.  The phone company and the customer could split the proceeds from junk phone callers who don’t hang up fast enough.  If you charge a friend by mistake you’d have a couple of days to go online and reverse the charge.
For texts the texter would get 1 free shot and a warning. If the recipient does not respond to the second text they would be charged for that text and every text after from the same trunk system or IP.

PHONE COMPANIES PLEASE STEAL MY IDEA! I’ll be the first one to sign up.

Read what the FCC is considering here on Mashable. But I think my idea is best!  — Tim “TTBG”

 

 

 

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#EarthDay Is Not A Hippie Holiday

~~ If we don’t manage waste and our business assets responsibly, our business will fail.

~~ Same goes for humankind managing the earth’s resources. But the stakes are much higher – we only have one planet.

~~ Responsible waste disposal and resource management must not be partisan issues.

~~ Here is what some of our leaders have said about preservation of Earth’s environment over the years. Earth Day is not a hippy holiday, and concern over the environment is not a left wing cause.

“Conservation is a great moral issue, for it involves the patriotic duty of insuring the safety and continuance of the nation.” — Theodore Roosevelt

“As we peer into society’s future, we – you and I, and our government – must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for, for our own ease and convenience, the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage.” — Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they more than we will reap the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.” — Richard Nixon

“The preservation of parks, wilderness, and wildlife has also aided liberty by keeping alive the 19th century sense of adventure and awe with which our forefathers greeted the American West. Many laws protecting environmental quality have promoted liberty by securing property against the destrutctive trespass of pollution. In our own time, the nearly universal appreciation of these preserved landscapes, restored waters, and cleaner air through outdoor recreation is a modern expression of our freedom and leisure to enjoy the wonderful life that generations past have built for us.” — Ronald Reagan

“We need the tonic of wildness…At the same time that we are earnest to explore and learn all things, we require that all things be mysterious and unexplorable, that land and sea be indefinitely wild, unsurveyed and unfathomed by us because unfathomable. We can never have enough of nature.” — Henry David Thoreau

How I Felt (A Little) Better On #TaxDay.

~~ How much does the average person have to pay in taxes to cover the services each person enjoys in the USA?  It’s a complex question and I could not find a straight answer online.  This would be a good masters thesis for a college student.

~~ I can’t construct a scenario where each person does not receive at least $20,000-$50,000 worth of tax paid services each year, just thinking about the roads, rails, airports, the military, the police, fire protection, libraries, street cleaning, elder and disabled care, programs to protect social order, and even health and safety inspectors (much as we fear them in the restaurant industry).  What’s the value of living in the world’s leading nation?  I don’t know exactly but it’s up there.

~~ A Heritage Foundation report demonstrates that you have to be in the top 40% of the population in income to pay more in taxes than you get back in benefits.  If you can read their entire impressive report you should be promoted to Professor.  From their graphs it looks like the tipping point is around $20,000 in annual taxes.   Pay less than that and you are getting more than you pay for.  More, and you are subsidizing others (on average).  Remember, that is total taxes, so it includes sales taxes, property taxes and local taxes not just Fed and State.  Taking this approach the rich are paying the way for the poor which seems to be a great deal for lower income people.

~~ But the question of fairness can also be viewed in another way: what percentage of income is paid in taxes?  By this standard the poor are more burdened than the wealthy, particularly in the area of state, local and sales taxes.   In fact, by some estimates the poorest 20% of Americans pay 2x as much of their income in taxes as the richest 20%

~~ Here’s some varied perspectives from Pew Research, CNBC and Warren Buffett on the fairness of our tax system.  And where our tax dollars go.  Clearly there’s a lot of room for argument, and for more research.  Cue that masters thesis candidate!

~~ I have a hunch that for all but the richest, we may be getting a lot more for our money than we like to think!  At least that will make me feel better when I write my checks to the IRS.

~~ To end on a positive note, check out these restaurant tax day discounts and even freebies from around the nation.

Sonic-Tax-Day

 

 

 

 

Be Careful What You Wish For, Anti-Tipping Crowd

A Massachusetts Court ruled a Dunkin Donuts that has prominent signs saying that tips are not accepted can keep any money left on the counters and not give it to employees. Not my style of good morale management, but I can’t fault the court. If there’s “no tipping” than money left on the counter cannot by definition be a tip!
If you don’t like that logic than perhaps we are all better off preserving the personal touch of encouraging tips instead of taking another step toward a society with minimal human interaction.
As someone who earned the money to start out in life as a tipped employee, I say Long Live Tipping!
Read more here in Grub Street about this ruling.

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