Friday 30 May 2014

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Graphic, above: Barbados - In 2012, the Barbadian government established a 12-member Reparations Task Force to be responsible for sustaining local, regional and international momentum for reparations. Barbados is reportedly “currently leading the way in calling for reparations from former colonial powers for the injustices suffered by slaves and their families.”  Source: The Independent. Courtesy of The Atlanta Black Star.


Hour One

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 1, Block A: Francis Rose, Federal News Radio, in re:  
Head of VA Resigns Amid Scandal over Veteran Care 
Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned after more than a month of battling criticism about access to care and tampering with official wait lists at VA health centers. 

Huffpo:  The VA's problems were not exactly unknown. More than a half century ago, a presidential commission on the VA, chaired by Omar Bradley, aimed to fix the department's "backward-looking" management style and urged "more positive leadership" on the VA's part. In 1993, a Blue Ribbon Panel acknowledged that wait times were "unacceptable" and the backlog "has created additional and unacceptable delays" for veterans. And in 2007, a panel headed by former Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.) and Donna Shalala, former Secretary of health and human services, concluded that the department's problems ran so deep that "merely patching the system, as has been done in the past," wasn't enough. Instead, they called for "fundamental changes."

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 1, Block B:  Kate Galbraith, Intl Herald Tribune, in re: For a Canadian Province, Gas Boom Presents a Conundrum.  As nations rush to ship vast new stores of natural gasacross oceans, the climate change implications of the fuel are coming under increased scrutiny.  Perhaps nowhere is the debate so intense as in British Columbia, a province in western Canada where there are plans to export large quantities of natural gasto Asia. Environmentalists fear that the production and processing of the gas for export could upend the province’s aggressive climate change policies, which include an emissions-reduction goal and an unusual carbon tax system.

If facilities to export the gas are built, they “will make it virtually impossible for British Columbia to meet its greenhouse gas targets,” said Kathryn Harrison, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia. For a province that has been a leader on climate change issues, she added, “that’s a huge change of direction.”

It is difficult to know exactly how British Columbia’s natural gas boom will affect its climate goals and policies, although the province’s government has promised to develop the resource in the most environmentally friendly way possible. What is clear is that British Columbia is a case study of competing priorities — determination to battle climate change on the one hand, and eagerness to take advantage of a job-creating energy bonanza on the other.  Six years ago, when the province began . . .[more]

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 1, Block C: Gene Marks, NYT, in re:  How Rod Drury Built Xero from a 'Small Set of Rocks in the South Pacific' into a Global Player  Even on a cell phone from nearly 9,000 miles away, you can feel Rod Drury’s energy. The co-founder and CEO of Xero, the cloud-based accounting software company that this year made it to the top of 2014’s Innovative Growth Companies list, Drury was speaking enthusiastically from his base in New Zealand about what led him and Hamish Edwards to found Xero in 2006.

“It always upset me that big, financial software was so hard to actually extract information from,” he said. “We began to see what was happening in the consumer web—that you could start to build these really neat, engaging web applications and not have to install software. Yet we weren’t seeing that innovation happen in small business. So to me, there was a very obvious opportunity.”

A self-described software nerd, Drury locked himself in his office at home for a few weeks and wrote an early online relational bit of accounting software. . . .  [more]  . ..  Xero is now one of the top 20 companies on the New Zealand Stock Exchange and is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange. There are offices in New Zealand, Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. (Edwards left the company in 2011).

Peter Karpas is CEO of North America and said that one of the things that has made Xero so successful is that employees are encouraged to ask questions. Top management shares with the entire organization exactly what it shares with the board, allowing complete transparency and conversations about every aspect of the company.  “When you look at Xero’s list of values, one of them is that we’re human,” said Karpas. “What I mean by that is that people can just talk to each other. We encourage that. We recently launched a program called ‘Meet Two,” where everyone in the U.S. office is now expected to meet two new people a week—one in the U.S. and one outside the U.S.”

“We run the business incredibly flat,” adds Drury. “I don’t even have an office. Peter’s just sort of sitting out there in the middle of the San Francisco office, and anybody can just come up and say, ‘Hi.’ There’s very little hierarchy. We try to keep the status out of it. We’re just real people.”  It’s a philosophy that extends to their customers, too.

“Small businesses are the biggest contributor to GDP in every country,” said Drury. “These are real people. We see their faces every day, we talk to them. If we can improve their business at a material percentage, that dramatically moves the needle. That translates to better schools and hospitals. So yeah, we’ve built and sold businesses before. We’ve made money before. This is our life’s work that comes together that can really help millions and millions of small business owners. We’re taking all of the stress out of doing the books and actually making it enjoyable." Innovators ask provocative questions that challenge the status quo. Rod Drury asked why small businesses couldn’t access their financial statement right when they wanted them. He asked how he could fund a business with no money. He asked how he could make the lives of small business owners easier. He and Peter Karpas encourage this same line of questioning in their employees. And it’s why Xero is likely to keep growing and keep innovating.

Key Part of Obamacare’s Small Business Exchange Delayed Again ;  Waiting Game: Why Small Businesses Won’t Hire ;  Bindo Raises $1.8M to Help Small Brick-and-Mortar Stores Go Online  ;  Trucks are saving the US economy  ;  How Wal-Mart and Google could steal young customers from traditional banks ;  Carville: Debunking the ‘pro-business’ lie ;  10 Mistakes Big Businesses Make with Small Business Owners*

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 1, Block D: Mary Williams Walsh, NYT, in re: Detroit Plan to Profit on Water Looks Half Empty  Cities and counties that have long bought their water from Detroit’s vast, aging system are teaming up to bypass the bankrupt city.

Hour Two

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 2, Block A:  Jim McTague, Barron's Washington, in re:  Head of VA Resigns Amid Scandal Over Veteran Care Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned after more than a month of battling criticism about access to care and tampering with official wait lists at VA health centers.  . . .  Resignation Friday: the Minister of Propaganda resigned immediately after Secretary Shinseki was obliged to resign.  Death of hundreds of veterans thus overshadowed by a celebrity hug with a president.  . . .  We're in real economic trouble [see list/litany]; the economy is on very thin ice. Guys predicting that it'll bounce back like a superball are talking through their hats.  JB:  General Winter – bane of Napoleon, among others.    We declared economic war on Russia; they can do the same to us. Were our economy much stronger it wouldn’t matter – but with  negative GDP number for the first quarter,, we've vulnerable.  Biggest threat to the economy is [cost of energy]. Now China will have the cheapest energy on Earth, will be able to [outproduce the US].  Investors can’t get a return on normal investments, so the stock market goes up based on Yellin's flooding [small parts of the economy]  with cash.  Monopoly money.    Lawmakers Turn Up Heat    Meet the VA's Acting Chief

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 2, Block B: Abby Goodnough, NYT, in re:   Hospitals Look to Health Law, Cutting Charity  Some systems have started scaling back financial assistance for lower- and middle-income people without health insurance, hoping to push them to sign up for coverage through online marketplaces.

Picture, left: Nina Simone; hear her sing.   See: Hour 2, Blocks C & D, Richard A Epstein. 

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 2, Block C:  Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution Defining Ideas & Chicago Law, in re:   The Case Against Reparations for Slavery (1 of 2)   Report from Chicago.  Note that this week, Sam Greenlee, author of the deeply influential, The Spook Who Sat by the Door, passed away on May 19, 2014.  He was born and lived for many years in Chicago; served in the US Foreign Service and spoke Bahasa Indonesia and Arabic; was an advisor and friend to Nina Simone; was one of the highly literate men of the Twentieth Century.

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 2, Block D: Richard A Epstein, Hoover Institution Defining Ideas & Chicago Law, in re: The Case Against Reparations for Slavery (2 of 2) 

Hour Three

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 3, Block A: Daniel Henninger, WSJ, WONDER LAND, in re: Harry Reid Hates the Redskins

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 3, Block B:  Salena Zito, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review & Pirates fan, in re: Voters Seek Middle, Want Results  Allyson Schwartz never understood, even in the waning days of trying to win the Pennsylvania Democrats’ gubernatorial nomination, how voters could possibly reject her candidacy.  Marjorie Margolis never got it either; she projected an entitlement to winning back the suburban Philadelphia congressional seat she held for one term more than 20 years ago. And in the days after her loss, she didn’t contradict media stories that her son’s in-laws, Bill and Hillary Clinton, didn’t deliver the race for her.

  A bit of a newsflash: The Clintons have absolutely nothing to do with Margolis’ failure to listen to what voters wanted.   Both women, part of the insider culture of Washington, D.C., were upended by moderate, pragmatic candidates who projected a strong work ethic, rolled up their sleeves at every campaign stop, and voiced a willingness to work outside the party machine to fix problems in the district or the state.

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 3, Block C: Max Holland, Washington Decoded, in re: Truth in a Lie: Forty Years After the 18½ Minute Gap  (1 of 2) On the afternoon of October 1, 1973, President Richard M. Nixon and his chief of staff, Alexander M.  Haig, Jr., slipped away from the White House and went for a rambling, nearly two-hour car ride through the Washington countryside.

    Nixon and Haig left the White House because they did not want to risk anyone overhearing them talk about a sensitive matter. Or perhaps they feared that someone might use remnants of the White House recording system, though it was supposedly disconnected, to capture their words. Given all the leaks to the press, and the exposure of just about every administration secret up to and including the existence of the White House tapes, paranoia wasn’t entirely unjustified.

    Just prior to this unscheduled outing, Nixon’s long-time personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, had come to the president in a panic. She breathlessly told him she had accidentally caused a four- to five-minute buzz subpoenaed tape she had been transcribing. And the recording appeared to be a crucial one: it encompassed meetings on June 20, 1972 between the president and his top aides, H. R. Haldeman and John D. Ehrlichman, on what was Nixon’s first day back in the White House since the Watergate break-in, which had occurred three days earlier.

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 3, Block D: Max Holland, Washington Decoded, in re: Truth in a Lie: Forty Years After the 18½ Minute Gap  (2 of 2) . . . which had occurred three days earlier.

    Nixon told Woods not to worry, as he didn’t think the specific portion of the tape she accidentally altered had been subpoenaed. Still, he immediately called Haig, according to Nixon’s memoir RN, and told him what happened. The two men then left the White House for their impromptu car ride.  Two months after Woods’s private admission, the discovery of an 18½ minute gap on that tape caused a national furor, second only to the public’s reaction to the Saturday Night massacre. Public disclosure of a two-toned buzz or hum that caused the gap in conversation supercharged calls for impeachment and finally unraveled the landslide electoral victory Nixon had achieved just two years earlier. It left the political landscape scarred, even four decades later, and plagued by culture wars that persist to this day. Nixon’s term could not have ended in a more devastating way for the office of the presidency or the nation.

    Yet more than 40 years later, the infamous gap remains one of Watergate’s . . .

Hour Four

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 4, Block A: Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana  ( of 4)

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 4, Block B: Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana  ( of 4)

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 4, Block C: Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana  ( of 4)

Friday  30 May 2014 / Hour 4, Block D: Neutrino Hunters: The Thrilling Chase for a Ghostly Particle to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe by Ray Jayawardhana  ( of 4)

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*10 Mistakes Big Businesses Make with Small Business Owners


For several decades now I’ve been back and forth between working on and building my own business, helping others build theirs, helping people manage small business, and, occasionally, helping larger businesses understand and presumably sell to smaller businesses.  So I watch and listen. And I see how big businesses try to reach the solopreneur, home office, and small businesses. And the mistakes they make. So here’s my list of 10 mistakes big businesses make with small business.

We’re not a market segment. Sorry, that would be nice, but no. Go back to your fundamentals and consider what makes a market segment useful for your marketing. Some factors in common, right? Same gender, same economic level, same town, same activities, same something. And what business owners have in common is only that we own a business; which probably means we’re more likely to be different than the same. Treating us as a group is like trying to organize anarchists. We’re solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, accidental or pushed entrepreneurs, and millions of us don’t even think of ourselves as entrepreneurs; we’re just self-employed.

We’re short on time and patience. We have a business to run. We don’t have time to research and study, much less to listen to you. Get to the point fast.

We care about quick and easy. Convenience really matters. See point #2.

We’re unpredictable about reading, media, and political preferences. Somebody told me once, in pontificating mode, that “to reach small business you have to advertise in the Wall Street Journal.” That’s not what I see. I think only a few of us read about business. Our politics are as diverse (and polarized) as in the rest of the country.

We hate red tape except when we love it. Give us a chance and we’ll complain like hell about government red tape and restrictions. There are large lobbying groups that supposedly represent us that constantly whine about red tape and regulations (I think they actually represent various political interests mostly, and use small business as a platform). But give us a chance to jump onto red tape to prevent competition, and we will. And give us easy ways to deal with red tape (like payroll services, for example) and we’ll love you.

We don’t sweat tax rates, but we really care what’s deductible. The whole tax rate thing is politics, lobbyists, and whining. Tax rates affect profits only, and profits are what’s left over after the deductions. So well love deductible expenses. If you want to unite us, put in more red tape on deductions, as they did with meal expenses a few years ago. Or crack down on travel expenses and conferences and cars. We’ll hate you.

We’re unpredictable about technology. Some of us love computers, smart phones, tablets, and office equipment. Some of us haven’t discovered social media and barely email. We’re about as diverse on that point as any random group of adults.

We don’t divide by generations. You can’t effectively divide us into millennials vs. generation x vs. baby boomers. I’m a baby boomer and I know some millennials who think more like I do about business than some baby boomers.

We like variable costs way better than fixed. Charge us more later after we’ve made the sale and have the money and we’ll pay it. Charge us fixed costs up front, whether we sell or not, and we’ll hate it.

We’re online. Point #7 notwithstanding, business owners want more revenue and that’s mostly online. Some of us love it, some of us hate it, but business owners who aren’t online are endangered species.

Do you want to go to the research and check out my data to see if it’s valid? Don’t bother. I’m a business owner. I don’t need to show you no stinkin' data.