PUBLIC ADVOCACY: Makes you think, plus worthwhile innovation

December 31, 2012

1. WSJ: 12/29/12. Dean’s list: Hiring Spree Fattens College Bureaucracy & Tuition. Proof finally, that the student loan program doesn’t need to exist ( my theory, not WSJ). A WSJ analyst, studied the salary and employment records of the University of Minnesota, from 2001 to Spring, 2012, , with the finding that 1000 administrators were added during this period. Their ranks grew 37% , more then twice as fast as the teaching corps and nearly twice as fast as the student body. ONE CAN ONLY WONDER WHAT’S happening at other institutions of higher learning? Perhaps if they curtailed administrative spending, there would be money left over for scholarships and teachers?

2. A great idea WSJ 12/29/12 SUBWAY’s APP FUTURE ARRIVES FOR SOME. There may be some kinks in the system, but the concept is quite useful. Anything that let’s passengers know when to expect their train is a positive. I saw those photos of people standing on stairs as they waited and watched for their trains, trying to determine which platform would be accommodating their incoming or outgoing train first. A+ for the developer and the MTA.

3. FRONT PAGE, NY TIMES, 12/30/12 HALFWAY HOUSES PROVE LUCRATIVE TO THOSE AT TOP; an example of Crony Capitalism and how it works. ” Millions paid in salary, finances of 2 non profits face more scrutiny in New Jersey. Federal Grants are paid to non profits , the money used to go to small for profit business; the grant is supporting half way houses, a ” good social idea”. The problem occurs when there is no Federal or State oversight reviewing the money dispersed and spent. THE NON PROFITS, ARE “Granted” the money. They in turn use the money to support themselves and their families and preferred for profit contractors. $500,000,000 has been granted to half way houses over the last decade. They’re talking about regulation now, but what about restitution of funds used for shell companies and relatives accepting millions out of state? How many prisoners were actually helped by this system? How many jobs were created?

4. LOL THE FINANCIAL TIMES12/31/12 : THOSE WHO MUDDLE THROUGH MAY INHERIT THE EARTH. ” Muddling through is a habit of accommodating and adapting to novel events that cannot be planned for in advance. ERIC HOFFER: stated, In times of change it is the learners who inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” HAPPY NEW YEAR!


PUBLIC ADVOCACY: What happened to the news?

December 29, 2012

1. In 1996, Bill Clinton, signed into Law, The Telecommunications Bill , with the stated objective , to provide for a pro competitive, de – regulatory environment, opening information technologies and services to all Americans. In actuality, it opened the airwaves, printed content and video, to major corporate players; Time Warner, Rupert Murdoch & GE, to name a few. This giveaway was the beginning of ” printing and airing all the news the media executives deemed acceptable for public consumption”. We entered an era of declining investigative reporting and news became entertainment.

2. NY TIMES. 12/29/12 A Newspaper on Cape Cod Apologizes for Veteran Reporter’s Fabrications. Karen Jeffrey had been a reporter at THE CAPE COD TIMES SINCE 1981. After the last article she wrote , Editors became suspicious about the people detailed in her articles. They checked social media, only to discover that dozens of articles included references to people who did not exist. Karen Jeffrey , though coming from a small town, is not an isolated case. REMEMBER JUDITH MILLER @ The New York Times! HER STORIES OF SADDAM HUSSEIN’S BIO CHEMICAL WEAPONS WERE inaccurate or simply false.

3. To increase the likelihood of ” good investigative reporting” scan the graduates of THE COLUMBIA JOURNALISM SCHOOL: THE STABILE CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM. Under the guidance of Prof. Walt Bogdanich, in 2008 a group of his students worked for 15 weeks, investigating the retiree benefits at the LIRR. The NY TIMES, published a front page article, revealing that 97% of LIRR retirees receive disability benefits. THE ENSUING SCANDAL GOT MAJOR ATTENTION. Ongoing investigations continue.

4. Taking a page from the NY Times, year end reflection: From Adrienne Rich 1983,” DREAMS BEFOR WAKING” , What would it mean to live in a city whose people were changing despair into Hope? You yourself must change it. What would it feel like to know your Country was changing? You yourself must change it. Though your life may be arduous new and unmapped and strange, what would it feel like to stand on the first page of THE END OF DESPAIR? HAPPY NEW YEAR!


Public advocacy: We can do that……

December 28, 2012

1. GLOBALIZATION IS AMERICAN COMPANY’S DOING BUSINESS GLOBALLY.
I hadn’t travelled in years and the Countries that I’ve visited lately, have become Americanized. In Paris, the cab drivers asked us if we liked McDonalds as much as they do? So the next time you want to hate French Fries, think McDonalds.

2. Foxconn held a major meeting with APPLE executives, with wide ranging positive effects for workers to be implemented during the year. NY TIMES 12/27/12 SIGNS OF CHANGES TAKING HOLD IN ELECTRONICS FACTORIES IN CHINA . Apple has tripled it’s corporate responsibility staff and has reached out to the advocacy groups it once rebuffed. To read the full article, read THE I ECONOMY; the road to reform. Meanwhile, cushioned chairs, significant wage increases and curtailed working hours are signs of reform.

3. ON LONGEST BULLET TRAIN RIDE CHINESE RIDE 1,200 MILES IN 8 HOURS. , NY TIMES BUSINESS 12/27/12. On one of the world’s largest and most ambitious infrastructure projects, a network of 4 north south and 4 east west routes will span the Country. Lavish spending on the project has helped jump start their economy twice. The hiring of 10,000 workers on each line has kept a lid on unemployment. IT HAS ALSO REDUCED AIR POLLUTION ! Win?

4. A Personal Passion, Art: The NATIONAL ACADEMY OF THE ARTS, NY ARTS by Paula Zahn, a look back at Will Barnet who passed away at 101 yrs. Born 1911. He moved to NY and worked at the Art Students League with Jackson Pollack. Nobody was making a living from 1930 till 1950, then Roosevelt created the WPA. Artists all over America were given large public works projects and the day of the Public Mural dawned. Perhaps major Corporations should adopt an Artist today? Civilization survives by the quality of its ART.


PUBLIC ADVOCACY: A SEAT AT THE TABLE DECIDING LAWS !

December 26, 2012

1. NY TIMES 12/26/12 Legal curbs said to hamper ATF in gun inquiries: sales registry barred; no permanent director of the bureau? NO ENFORCEMENT & NO REGULATION IS THE ACCEPTABLE FORM OF GOVERNMENT FOR THE NRA & CONGRESS. Under current law, the bureau is prohibited from creating a NATIONAL GUN REGISTRY? CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, THE AGENCY WORKS MANUALLY TO TRACK DOWN GUNS USED IN VIOLENT CRIME? No data base exists because that, too, violates 2nd Amendment Rights? Huh! If a well armed militia exists in my city, I’d like to know their identity ? Wouldn’t you? These narrow, restrictive interpretations of The Constitution benefit the few over the many!

2. Israel Is now considering allowing reform women to pray at any portion of the Western Wall they choose. A proposal is on the table to let all enter the Historic Monument for several hours each day, where they choose. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AN ENORMOUS GIFT FOR ME LAST YEAR. Faced with the two entrance solution, my grandson refused to leave me, so we visited the Via Dolorosa instead. ” THE TABLE THAT RUNS THE WESTERN WALL SHOULD HAVE A SEAT FOR EVERYONE WHO HAS AN INTEREST IN THE WALL SITTING AROUND IT.” Advocacy progress at work. Amen.

3. At the ” eleventh hour” no more FISCAL CLIFF, it’s now being called a Horizon or window of opportunity. THERE ARE 2 IMMEDIATE CONCERNS; 2% payroll tax increase and unemployment checks to 2 million may stop, but these can be reversed. So tinker on and get us to fiscal responsibility. Stop playing with our monetary system and our institutions, be constructive or be replaced? A new Congress is formed in January!

4. LOL. HUFFINGTON POST FRANK LUNTZ, GOP POLLSTER: The NRA isn’t listening with it’s proposal for armed guards at schools…AMONG NRA MEMBERS, 74% SAID THEY SUPPORT BACKGROUND CHECKS AS A REQUIREMENT FOR CONCEALED CARRY PERMITS. More recent polls suggest that the broader AMERICAN populace supports that and other gun control measures. So why is Congress unwilling to pass laws in the Public’s interest?


Financial advocacy 2012/ Thoughts for moving forward

December 24, 2012

1. Reading about Hedge Funds in The Sunday Times, to paraphrase, ORDINARY PEOPLE DON’T UNDERSTAND HEDGE FUNDS. BUT, THAT’s the point, isn’t it; NO TRANSPARENCY. Further along in the Business Section, Gretchen Morgenson Has A 2013 Guide to Better Behavior. It’s. worth remembering and requesting:

A. Make it Sting; in matters of criminal liability, the shareholders shouldn’t be responsible for fines and penalties attributed to the CEO and the Board. Follow the WorldCom Settlement , each Director had to pay 20% of their Net Worth as part of the Criminal Settlement. This occurred in 2005, what’s changed?

B. Wake up the Regulators: Regulators should be held to a higher standard. When they fail in their responsibilities , their should be consequences.

2. Bye Bye to the Big Board: The proposed sale of the New York Stock Exchange raises questions for regulators! The proposed Merger of ICE AND THE NYSE , would create one of the world’s largest DERIVATIVE MARKET OPERATORS. The promotion of Flash Trades , which remain, UN-monitored and un- regulated, would dominate the Marketplace. This puts individual investors at risk, because they can’t take advantage of price valuations, and it imperils the economy by promoting trading for trading’s sake! THIS MERGER SHOULD REMAIN A PROPOSAL, IT’S WORSE FOR INDIVIDUAL. INVESTORS AND PROVIDES GREATER RISK FOR THE ECONOMY. The market should become more transparent, not more opaque.

3. Financial Times. BOOM YEAR FOR ACTIVIST INVESTORS: Investment Funds that seek to profit by pushing strategy shifts at corporations have returned 25% to investors. The enlightened hedge fund owners are changing corporate governance , one firm has concentrated on Corrections Corporation of America / trying to persuade the ” prison operator” to become a real estate investment trust. ( Change it’s focus, change the population and goals)

4.LOL There’s hope on the Horizon. Maya MacGuineas, of the non- partisan Campaign to fix the debt, has been focusing on this problem for 15 years. That means, in doable terms, we might all be sighing in relief in just 7 years, since real reform. (Takes between 22-30 Yrs). Meanwhile, when Mr Bowles told his mother that he was working to fix the deficit, she stated that was fine, BUT ” DON’T TOUCH MY MEDICARE.”


A FEDERAL OMBUDSMAN/ FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE: A seat at government’s table!

December 23, 2012

1. In the early 1980’s , I was a VP @ BANKERS TRUST, my job was to understand and uncover the origin of a loss reported in the annual report. Bankers gave me Carte Blanche to hire a team of young people, recent college graduates, plus an AVP( assistant Vice President ) to oversee the group. I ASSIGNED THEM TO EVERY BACK OFFICE OPERATION CONNECTED WITH THE BANK AND THE LOSS. It was a daunting task: diligence, analytical thinking and perseverance paid off. We found the loss , instituted new systems and the Bank which never stopped doing business continued with better procedures and accountability.

I know cleaning up government agencies is a daunting task. SCATCH EVERY INSTITUTION AND WE’ll FIND WASTE, MISMANAGEMENT, USELESS REGULATIONS AND NOT ENOUGH COMMON SENSE, BUT THIS CAN CHANGE. THESE INSTITUTIONS CAN HELP OUR SOCIETY , AS DESIGNED. THEY CAN BECOME THE SAFETY NET WE RELY ON. We can reform government, by temporarily adding a layer of workers to assist in this process. It would be a win win for the country; providing job creation. Think clean air, a transparent market place, safer food, safer pharmaceuticals, better and more progressive research. The list continues. OR, WE CAN ALWAYS THROW UP OUR HANDS AND WAIT FOR THE NEXT GENERATIONS TO FIX THESE PROBLEMS.. OUR CHOICE TO MAKE?

2. A EUREKA MOMENT: AS CITIZENS OF OUR NATION, WE AGREE THE GOVERNMENT HAS RUN AMOK. CITY GOVERNMENT HAS AN OMBUDSMAN. WHY CAN’T THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT HAVE A CITIZEN BASED OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE BRINGING FORWARD CITIZEN’s CONERN’S AND SEEKING RESOLUTION? I ALWAYS SAID, THE MIDDLE CLASS NEEDS A SEAT AT THE TABLE, SEPARATE AND APART FROM SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS. CHARLIE MUNGER SAYS, “INVERT, ALWAYS INVERT”. WHICH MEANS, DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT, THEN DEVELOP THE STRATEGY TO GET THERE.

3. I would recommend a NEW POSITION AT THE “Cabinet level”, PUBLIC ADVOCATE Or OMBUDSMAN , representing and responsible for the requests of the people. This person, would have a dedicated staff , capable of interacting with all AGENCIES and developing resolution of citizen problems by helping to create BILLS OR REGULATION. The groups accomplishments could be followed on SOCIAL MEDIA OR THRU THE VAST SYSTEM OF COMMUNITY NEWSPAPERS. IT WOULD BE A WIN WIN FOR THE COUNTRY. JOBS CREATED TO CREATE A SOCIETY WE ALL WANT. WHAT DO YOU THINK?

4. LOL. I urge all my followers to respond to this suggestion. As a Small Business , I’ve thought we should have a ” seat” at the President’s table. SINCE THE TASK OF REBUILDING OUR SOCIETY IS DAUNTING, THIS IS A BEGINNING. INSTALL A PUBLIC ADVOCATE TO START THE PROCESS. THEN PEOPLE CAN BE ASSURED THAT THEY HAVE A GOVERNMENT FOR THE PEOPLE BY THE PEOPLE. It’s a beginning!


Some fun and let’s be real/ We are on the precipice?

December 21, 2012

1. NYC ARTS : NY ; The National Academy of the Arts Museum and School, has a dynamite show by women artists, exhibiting their paintings and sculpture. While, At the Metropolitan Museum of Art there is an interesting exhibit of photography; faking it before photo shop. Photos worth the visit . NYC ARTS. ON CHANNEL 13. Is ALSO AN APP FOR YOUR SMART PHONE! Highly recommended for culture buffs.

2.Then, Metro Focus Looks at the closure of 4 City Hospitals due to SUPER STORM SANDY. DR FINK DISCUSSES THE VULNERABILITY OF THE NYC HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS. STATING, WE HAVEN’T BEEN PREPARED FOR THE EFFECTS OF THESE STORMS. So many people left behind, the elderly, the handicapped , even relatively independent folks have difficulty walking down 23 flights of stairs. Worse, “marginal people ” in society have now totally lost their safety net; They no longer have health care or a place to go.

3. METRO FOCUS continues to examine the long term rebuilding that has yet to be proposed. CHRISTINE WHITMAN. comments that the loss of income in both NJ AND NYC will be enormous. The “mom and pop stores ” are already suffering and will continue to do so. When I was in downtown NYC yesterday, riding thru Water and Wall Streets, I saw an alien site; HIGH RISE BUILDINGS , TOTALLY DARK, BEING MARGINALLY POWERED BY EXTERIOR BOILERS AND GENERATORS. NYC EMPLOYEES, THOUGH LUCKY TO REMAIN EMPLOYED, ARE NOW DISPLACED INDEFINITELY, AS THE CITY DECIDES HOW TO REBUILD. NYU estimates there will be a 10% vacancy rate in commercial real estate in NYC. I Don’t hear anyone talking short or long term plans. Scientists spent years trying to convince the World that Climate Change is here. They were ignored, and now nobody is sure what to do next .

4. LOL. Forget fun, forget rebuilding They are all SECONDARY TO PUTTING OUR FISCAL HOUSE IN ORDER . It’s fool hardy to burden the middle class when the real money is in taxing flash trades, converting fee income to an income tax and taxing the Corporate Welfare State . Which brings me to:

The Last Laugh of the day? Just finished the NY Times : High Speed trade Giants to merge; The hedge fund Knight Capital Group, which controls 10-15% of trades in American Stocks, is going to merge with Getco, of Chicago, one of the leaders in high frequency trading. WATCH OUT , THE KNIGHT CAPITAL GROUP LOST $460 million last summer, after a “computer misstep”? One can only wonder, what happens when you increase your volume, your risk, and your losses? Who pays?


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