Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Job Loss and Betrayal

More people that I know are out of work today, victims of a recession economy. This makes far too many people without a job or in danger of being out of a job. Their families and communities suffer when this happens, and it's happening to too many people. Add an ailing healthcare system (with close to 50 million uninsured), a failed housing market, a failed banking system, a dismal job market, and a lot of people are wondering what the hell happened to the American Dream.

When I was growing up, if you had a good education, were willing to work hard, and did a good job, that was all you needed to make it. You were assured of gainful employ that would sustain you and your family. Part of the reason was that business still had sanity. Executives were compensated on a reasonable scale, not as they are today, totally out of proportion with what they do or how the business is doing. Now executives gouge companies for millions, even while the company is sliding down the tubes. In the mind of many, this is equivalent to theft.

It is evident that the corporate world has failed. Greed has killed the golden goose of American business, where a future is sacrificed for next-quarter profits. Too much emphasis is placed on artificially-mandated numbers tied to dates, rather than actualities. In this insane numbers game, we're all losers. Except the ones who have made these new rules, because they're ripping us off.

Look at the latest banking scandal. Yeah, the latest one, not the Savings and Loan debacle of the 80's. Remember that one? There were supposed to be safeguards, blah, blah. Some present-day politicians were responsible for a good deal of that, but they keep getting elected. And in 25 years, nothing changed. Except we got screwed again.

So here we are, in a climate of fear. Lose your job and you lose your health insurance. How insane is that? Why don't other countries have this problem? Are we too stupid or too lazy or too paralyzed to do anything about it? Lose your job, health, and maybe your home, and you begin to question the entire system. As well you should. This isn't a good system, if this many people are suffering. We can do better.

This doesn't have to be. Hold the politicians in charge responsible—if they won't help, get rid of them. They're holding the reins that are strangling us, being bought off by big business. They've got a GREAT healthcare package- paid for by us. Let's take it away and give them what we've got, and see how long it takes for them to pass a good healthcare bill—24 hours would be my guess. The politicians are supposed to be working for us- they're our employees. But they're running the show, and the multi-millionaire club doesn't do much for us now, does it?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Inspiring You to Help

One of the most inspiring stories I've ever read is Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson. It is the story of how one man learned to do great things and help the world by building schools in remote parts of Asia. These areas also happen to be in regions influenced by religious fanatics, including the Taliban. His story shows that there may be hope for the human race. By simply doing simple things, he accomplished impossible tasks.

To see the pictures of small, underfed men carrying 80-pound loads uphill for miles over narrow trails is to know the worth of the human spirit. Because these men were building a future for the children of the village, by giving them a place where they could read and write, and move on to a better life. To read of Greg's story, about how he persevered through setback after setback is to learn what persistence is. And to see the results of what he and the people did is to know what triumph is.

Yet there is more, so much more. For what he has done is to teach peace. In the areas where he goes, he must avoid people with a vested interest in keeping people ignorant, because they need fodder for their religious strife. A person who cannot read and write, educated by extremists only and told what to believe, and who has little chance of making a better life, is a prime recruit type for terrorism. An education gives these people a vested interest in the future, and they consequently reject terrorism for the dead end it is.

Many of the schools teach girls for the first time. Their future before was to get married in the same or a nearby village, raise children, and rarely leave their area. Now they have a chance at an actual career, and doors open that never were before. Many become doctors and teachers, and return to help others in their village.

All this helping of people out of poverty and ignorance came about because of failure. That's right, the dirty word we don't like to discuss. Greg had a mission to climb a mountain in honor of his sister, and he failed to reach the summit. He stumbled into a small, out-of-the-way place where the people took him in and nursed him back to health, and he vowed to build a school to repay them. What would have been a nice tribute instead turned into a global movement, and an awareness of how to improve the world. When he saw the results of his actions, he did more. He realized he could make a real difference, and he has done so. His organizations Central Asia Institute and Pennies for Peace, have raised millions and positively influenced the lives of thousands. You too can make a difference.

I was fortunate enough to hear Greg speak when he came to our town. For a man who has met world leaders and raised millions, you expect something other than what he is: a plain man who speaks from the heart, with the power of love and peace behind him, and believe me, it does move you. Hearing him tell his story makes you want to be a better person. And you can. Check out some of the Helping Others links on my website: www.daletphillips.com

Make a difference…

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Don't Drive Your Customers Away

It seems some businesses work very hard to drive away customers, and it makes me wonder what is going on at the decision level. When customers leave, it's hard to get them back, and if they're unhappy, they're going to tell others, so the business loses even more. And yet, businesses often act as if they don't care. Then when they go bankrupt, they have no idea why.

One prime example is the recent demise of the large national car companies. For years they pumped out vehicles that gave them a large profit margin on a unit basis, but ignored the needs of the population at large, who demanded a different type of vehicle: safe, economical, durable. As long as they were making a profit, they were happy, but one day they were shocked to find they were losing money and had no way to stop it. Yes, there were a number of other factors, but their refusal to listen to their customers was a big reason they went downhill.

Our regional paper seems determined to go out of business as quickly as possible. They've been in trouble financially, so what did they come up with? A massive rate hike for the loyal subscribers! When I saw their price hike, I told them to take a hike, and let them know via online comments how dumb that decision was. I'm one of the people who thinks newspapers are important, and have been a subscriber for many years. But in tough economic times, some things become a needless expense. Their new rate was not worth it, so I cut my weekly delivery. I predict they won't last too long, but then again, that may be the plan of the people in charge. Either that, or they're terrible at business.

Our daughter took martial arts locally, and we knew the folks in charge. We've had a good relationship with them, and have provided some extra services and clients. Recently, they sent two emails: one saying we bounced a check to them (we hadn't) and the other was that they wanted a big payment. Now we understand there's a recession, and if money is tight, you may need to make changes. But there's a right way and a wrong way to do things. Rather than take us aside on any of the days we attended, they sent emails, which sounded a bit rude. Rather than take five minutes and communicate on a human level, they brusquely told us via messages to pay up or leave. Guess what they get? Nothing. Guess what we'll tell everyone in town? Don't go there. We've gone from promoters of their business to more unhappy customers, and that will cost them future business. We know of other people who became unhappy with them, and left as well.

Treat your customers well, and they'll remain loyal, and bring in more business. When they have a problem, work with them to fix it, treat them like they matter. Treat them like they don't matter, and you'll find yourself closing your doors someday. It's even more important to treat them well when times are tough. We, and many others, don't give our money to businesses that treat us badly. Sound business advice for tough times.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Hello World- Seeking agent

This is me, behind the technological curve, finally starting a blog. I do enjoy ranting, so here we go. Hope you enjoy the ride.

My first posting concerns getting a literary agent to sell my novel. I've completed the first book of a mystery series, and writing pros who've seen it agree that it's good. It takes about as much time to get your writing distributed on a professional level as it does to write it. Lots of research on which agents respond to queries, what they look for, particular formatting for submissions. It's a tough field, not for the faint of heart. There are only about 400-500 people in the U.S. who make a living writing fiction. It takes a lot of persistence, luck, and talent to make a go of it.

So I'll let you know how it's going. Someday you'll get to read a copy of A Memory of Grief, and my other books. In the meantime, I'll try to keep you informed and entertained with a variety of tidbbits.