We are seeing unprecedented changes in the Middle East. Egypt and Tunisia are being transformed, and now we are seeing similar occurrences in Libya. Needless to say these changes are going to have ramifications on the US for years to come. But if you really want to look at some potential radical change, don’t go east — but north to Wisconsin. Continue reading
This past month saw interesting press releases from two of the industry’s biggest equipment manufacturers – Xerox and Heidelberg. Of the two, Heidelberg’s concept of a mixed-media machine may have more of an immediate play; although ink jet may be the long term solution for print providers.
On an industrial relations note, there are some interesting things going on with unions in the public sector, where practically all of the unionization growth as occurred over the past 25 years. With states talking about cutting and restructuring, union leaders are becoming very nervous and are talking about unleashing $25 million to counter the efforts of the states – who are doing the right thing to protect their taxpayers. As most folks know, I’m not a proponent of organized labor. It’s not that labor should not have a voice. The problem becomes when compensation/benefits become institutionalized and when the business/government entity needs to make changes to survive, the labor institution would rather kill off the host. There must be a better way.
Speaking of jobs. The recent Republican budget proposal to cut $61 billion this year is an eye opener. Which raised a comment, a valid one, from the Dems. These cuts could represent upwards of 800,000 jobs. So one must remember that cutting the deficit/government spending will create some nasty side effects. Are we as a country willing to do what we have to do? Do the politicians have the moxie to do it? It could very well cost them their jobs.
And for you monetary/fiscal weenies (thanks for the article James), check this article out in WSJ’s Market Watch. I think the author addresses many of the issues which have created the imbalances between Wall Street and Main Street. Although I tend to vote red, I do have a concern with Congress’ un-willingness to deal with many of the issues which got us in this mess. I for one would like to see a new Glass-Steagall bill enacted – and we can thank our fellow Texan Phil Graham for the original bill’s demise.
I was reading David Wessel’s article in the Wall Street Journal this morning regarding the budget and his perspective that the big issues are not going to be dealt with properly. Big Issues?
“I’m waiting for the politician to get up and say: There’s only one way to do this. You dig into the big four: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and defense,” former Sen. Alan Simpson (R., Wyo.), co-chairman of a deficit commission Mr. Obama appointed, said Sunday on CNN. “Anybody giving you anything different…you want to walk out the door, stick your finger down your throat, and give them the green weenie.” Mr. Wessel looked up the “green weenie.” It was a plastic hot dog that Pittsburgh Pirates fans once waved to bestow good luck on their team and jinx opponents.
Senator Simpson, who I’ve had the pleasure of hearing in person several times over the years, has hit the nail on the head. We as a nation need to realize that all the discussion about taxing the rich and cutting budgets is just political posturing. We are attempting to live beyond our means, and that’s where President Obama does have it right – but we have to address all four of the Big issues – not just pick and choose the ones we like/dislike. So, let’s start by making a 10% across-the-board cut in all those Big Four and see where it takes us. In the long-term, us baby boomers will do fine; our present day seniors will survive; and our children/grand-children will thank us.
I was having a brief conversation with a friend of mine. He is a semi-retired banker with an expertise in small business and some history with printers. He made an observation which I found interesting. “No one is printing any more catalogs, brochures, annual reports.” He noted that he no longer sees car companies producing brochures, he’s receiving electronic annual reports, and he no longer gets a Sears or JC Penney catalog. Ergo print is dead.
Yet, if we look around as I observed in my last blog, print is still everywhere. It’s just being produced differently and through different channels, but he does not know that! Our biggest challenge as an industry is demonstrating our viability as an effective mass communication solution. We no longer compete with other printers – but with other media and changing perceptions. PIA Southern California’s most recent campaign, “Choose Print,” targets that challenge.
As I explained to my friend, print is still a very viable tool – but it’s just produced differently (on demand and short run print) requiring different equipment/technologies and there are still opportunities. And that brings up another point. If you’re not talking to your banker about your company’s viability and that print is not dead, you will face serious financing challenges when that time comes.
This past weekend I made an observation as I was travelling into downtown Dallas for dinner. There were a lot of signs/banners for the Super Bowl. This reminded me that there are probably a lot of other promotional pieces being produced for this event – brochures, point-of-purchase, tickets, flyers, etc., etc., AND, none of these products will be completely replaced by digital media – although FedEx office has introduced a way to make printing easier using mobile devices. Granted it might not be mass-production printing which our industry has grown accustomed to and loves (JC Penney Catalog), but it’s probably where we will see more and more opportunity for the entrepreneur and organizations who sees print as an opportunity and not a dead-end.
Oh, and don’t ask me who is going to win. Yes, those are two storied franchises with plenty of Super Bowl experience, but they don’t rate very high in the opinion of most folks who call Dallas/Fort Worth home. I’ll be wearing my cap with the “star” on it when I watch the game — and probably my #8 or #9 jersey.