A recent study really rattled some cages in Washington. The study found that allowing our illegal immigrants a path to citizenship would create a fiscal burden. The premise being since so many of our illegal immigrants are low wage earners, they would use government subsidies at a rate much higher than what revenue they would generate in taxes. An interesting finding and a rational concern, which in turn has many staunch conservatives saying that immigration reform is not something to be dealt with at this time. What a bunch of hooie!
Yes, this is an issue — but it really says a lot more to the financial imbalance of social entitlements and taxation in this country (ooo, did I say that out loud?) Is the solution ignoring 10+ million individuals? The longer we ignore this situation the higher the likelihood that we create a permanent caste system. Are these folks going to be the infamous “unwashed” of North America? The land of immigration and opportunity?
Let’s get our big boy pants on and accept that the underpinnings of our country is immigration. The argument that they broke the law and should be punished is lame. Employers — you and me — who hired them broke the law and created a LARGE back door to permit cheap labor to enter this country. So, let’s take the moral high ground and accept that the majority of these individuals, no people, are not going anywhere. Their children are growing up as Americans and will help our country re-vitalize itself itself into the future. Let’s tell our representatives in Washington to be leaders and deal with this in a moral and positive manner.
I do agree that our illegal immigrants shouldn’t be granted instant citizenship — but it shouldn’t take 13 years. Should we ignore our porous borders? NO, but building fences is not the way to handle this — it needs to be done by establishing a variety of workplace programs similar to the “bracero” program of the sixties; the enforcement of existing laws — which means solid ID checks — and penalties for employers who ignore these laws. The sooner we get these folks out from the shadows the better it is for us as a country — and help remind everyone that we live in the land of opportunity.
I was reading a Businessweek article recently about one of my favorite non-Texas politicians — Massachusetts’ Susan Collins. Over the years she has been a supporter of interest important to our industry and an extremely well-balanced politician.
The article was about Collins and the position she was taking about gun legislation — no I’m not going there. What picqued my interest was a comment in the article from an opponent of her position, “The language isn’t that bad, but it’s a slippery slope. You do this and then one day it will be Chuck Schumer’s language, and then it will lead to the government confiscating our guns.” Slippery slope — that’s a phrase I think creates unwillingness to rationally discuss positions which need to be rationally discussed.
The fear of letting the “camel’s nose under the tent” and subsequently having to deal with a spitting, smelly, ugly animal in our living quarters too often keeps us from being creative. What may look like a slippery slope in fact may be a rational decision which needs to be made for the betterment of everyone. No, I don’t want the camel in my tent, but I’m willing to discuss the value of having him close by in case I need to ride into the desert.
Last week’s good news was celebrating the achievement of the companies which won “Best of” recognition at this year’s Graphex Awards Competition. It was recognizing Chuck Chalifoux and the role that he has played in not only establishing ColorDynamics as a “player” in the industry, but as a person and industry leader. This coming week, Kansas City’s print community will band together to celebrate its top print providers and recognize Mike Magerl (Trabon), Stewart Beldin (Valassis), and Barry Wilson (Pittsburg State University) as significant contributors to the industry. Good stuff.
Last week also had the U.S. Senate moving the Marketplace Fairness Act one step closer to being real legislation. Bad Stuff. Although the legislation has some positive aspects for the collection of sales tax for the 50 states, it creates a major burden for the folks collecting sales tax. Think direct mail. Think 4,000 different taxing districts and collecting those taxes. The legislation still has to get to the House, where it could meet its demise, but this bill is getting legs.
And the Ugly. The Patent Troll (non-practicing entity in legalese) has moved out from under the bridge and is now making forays into our industry. Sadly, these individuals have twisted our existing patent laws so they can attack users of technology and blackmail them for licensing fees. Defending these actions can sometimes be more expensive than paying the “toll.” As our industry becomes more and more dominated by software technologies, it is incumbent that our legislators revisit our existing patent laws – and given the types of dollars in legal and licensing fees generated by these critters (estimated to be $29 Billion in 2011), it’s not going to be an easy fight.
Boston, MA and West, TX are now linked because of the occurrences of this past week. One the birthplace of the American Revolution and a city with a sea-based culture. The other a rural town in the rolling plains of north-central Texas which is regionally known for its rich Czechoslovakian culture. One a city of millions which was literally terrorized by two young individuals who saw no future in their lives. The other city nearly destroyed because of what was more than likely an industrial accident and a victim of its need to grow and provide for its citizens.
Our society is now in the intense stages of “How did this happen? and Why?” Fueled by our ability to communicate 24/7 instantly across all time zones, we need to be wary of the resulting feelings of fear and anger from these two incidents.
We can not afford to be fearful of potential terrorist activities and possible accidents of technology. We should not turn our anger against other individuals and begin demanding laws/regulations/retribution that can impinge on our civil liberties. All we have to do is look at the knee jerk reaction America had during WWII and how it affected our Japanese-American citizens, or the temperance movement and the resulting years of Prohibition.
Yes, we need to determine why these incidents occur, but let us understand that on these issues or any future ones (and yes, there will be future ones), we have no room for anger or fear in our decisions. So, as my counselor wife says to her clients when they’re frantic — “Stop and take a deep breath. Relax. Step back emotionally and then think through your decision and its ramifications.”
I live in the City of Plano, Texas and we made the local TV news last Wednesday over how print was used by the city. It all started after 100,000 brochures were printed and mailed to citizens about an upcoming $90 Million bond election. Critics were upset about the money which was spent. “It’s 2013. I think everything should be electronic,” said Kenneth Carlson, a Plano taxpayer. “If you want to get the publication, there should be an e-mail signup on the city’s website.”
Herein lies one of our industry’s challenges — do we get an opportunity to get in front of tens of thousands of TV viewers and talk about the Power of Print? That one of the most effective ways to drive individuals to your website is print? Fortunately, some of the city officials understand the Power of Print. ”To inform the citizens of a $98 million bond package, and you’re only spending $30,000? To us, that’s a good investment,” said Plano’s budget director Karen Rhodes-Whitley.
Needless to say, I will be voicing my opinion with the City of Plano and with Steve Stoler who wrote and edited the story. We constantly need to be reminding EVERYONE about the value of print. As B.J. Irvin with the PIA MidAmerica staff states, “What would happen if everyone woke up tomorrow and print was not around. Your prescription drug bottle wouldn’t have a label. Your box of cereal would be just a box, and how would you use your TV remote?”
Spread the word!
President Obama rolled out his long-awaited budget today and had both the left and right upset . . . maybe that’s a good thing. Regardless we have a long way to go, but in this discussion there’s a lesson why government doesn’t run like a business.
The “big picture” economists in Washington like to talk about debt in relation to GDP and don’t want to get mired into the detail of how money is spent or collected. It’s all good as long as you get what you want and the deficit falls within a certain range (about 3% of GDP) and growth in the economy is occurring. Where’s that number right now? It’s projected to be about 5.3% in 2013 — and Obama’s plan would bring it down to 4.4% in 2014. And if there’s good economic growth, that number drops dramatically. And here lies the reason why the deficit doesn’t bother a lot of folks in D.C.
It’s all about the top line, and since we’re only talking about a few percentage points, it’s no big thang. And we don’t need to discuss the TOTAL amount of debt (which as a percentage of GDP is only second to the amount of debt we incurred in WWII) or how we are going to bring that back down to historic levels. Because once we get everything headed in the right direction, our economy will grow and the numbers will take care of themselves.
So, if we are a decision maker in Washington, all we have to do is find a way to grow the economy. We can then spend like drunken sailors and get re-elected, and life is good.
Over the past few years, I have been wondering why do companies want to go public? Yes, the biggest reason is capital to grow the firm, but more and more it’s about creating wealth for a small group of folks — and I don’t necessarily have a problem with creating wealth. Yet, I wonder if that’s the only reason why some firms get created — but that’s a blog for another day.
No, my question is this. Do the company’s creators realize how much they give up in controlling their company’s destiny when they go public? Ask anyone who has worked in the publicly held world and you quickly realize that EVERYTHING is measured on three-month cycles — and maximizing this year’s earnings. In my mind that’s not always best for the customer AND the company (and I include the employees as part of the company.) No longer does providing a product or service that consumers desire or value the most important company goal. The development of employee pride in producing that product and service becomes secondary to “did we beat our numbers.”
What we’ve seen in the past twenty years is the creation of wealth for a handful of individuals and Wall Street — who more than ever are influencing decisions company CEOs make to keep their shareholders happy. And who are those shareholders? It’s no longer the individual. It’s large institutions and massive funds that are constantly beating the drum of “beat your earnings forecast for next quarter.” Folks, the system is out-of -balance.
And that’s one of the reasons I applaud the move American Greetings is making (and hopefully Michael Dell will pull off) to go private. AG has been getting flack on Wall Street because it can no longer produce the numbers it did in the past, BUT it still has a massive market of consumers who want to use printed greetings AND it’s profitable. In the 12 months ended in February it reported $57.2 million in profits on $1.7 billion in sales. Granted it’s not as profitable as it was in 1998 when sales were 29% higher and profit margin more than double — but that’s true for many companies in the US regardless of their industry.
AG needs to reshape its business model — and it has already started that process — but it needs to make long-term decisions. Decisions that go against the concept of “we must make next quarter’s numbers.” So, hooray for American Greetings, and I for one hope that more companies follow suit. The over-riding goal of a company should be providing an outstanding (and desired) product/service for it’s customer. The secondary goal should be creating wealth for its principles and company partners (suppliers/employees). Wall Street should not be in the mix.
Here’s the question you must ask yourself — Is your company relevant to your customer? What does your firm offer that your customer can not do without?
Think about this. You are out searching for a new car, and you visit 5 dealers. Each car has a motor, a warranty, four wheels and they all look alike. Even the colors are the same — black. How will you select dealer A over B? If all the cars look the same — and there is no real differentiation, what’ s left? Normally it’s price. That’s fine if you’re selling cars — but if you’re in the printing business it’s different. Or is it?
There used to be the triangle adage in the industry. You had service, price, and quality, but you could only provide two sides of the triangle if you were going to be a profitable printer, and that’s how you would differentiate yourself. Although there’s still some truth to this equation, reality is that buyers expect all three — and in many cases printers do provide all three. So, we’re back to question asked in paragraph #1. What differentiates your firm from the guy around the corner, on the internet, or the guy across the sea? Can your sales team articulate the difference? Does your customer care?
Sunday, March 30th. 7:00 p.m. CST.
For the unwashed, the above date signifies something to baseball fans — especially Texas baseball fans. It’s the date/time for the first game of the season. The Season Opener, and it will be played in Houston. The Houston Astros against the Texas Rangers.
OK, that’s nice you say — it’s a baseball game. NO IT’s NOT! It’s a game of historic importance — or at least to baseball fans. It’s the FIRST time the ‘Stros have played in a season opener and it’s the FIRST time the Rangers and Astros have played each other on the first day of the season. And what makes it special for many baseball fans is that Houston is one of the few teams which was moved from one league (National) to the other (American) to create a new competitive link. Now, whether it will work out like MLB would like it, who knows. But all I know is that it’s time to – - – PLAY BALL!
I hope you were sitting down when you read the headline, but it’s true. The move to five day delivery, whether we like it or not, is necessary. USPS has to reduce its operating costs because the market has changed. The status quo is no longer the new norm – but the bureaucrats in D.C. don’t get it.
On Friday, March 22, the Washington Post reported, “The Government Accountability Office said Thursday that the current stopgap budget requires the Postal Service to maintain six-day delivery. GAO counsel said the same rule would apply under the funding plan Congress approved Thursday. Lawmakers who oppose five-day service applauded the GAO report, saying it proves that the Postal Service must continue delivering mail on Saturdays.”
Fortunately, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) are putting up a fight and telling USPS to move forward. For the long-term health of our industry, we also need to backup the USPS. It may not be the easy thing to do, but it’s the right thing to do.