I have not paid much, if any, attention to the “debate” raging over US immigration reform. If I do, I immediately tune out, because I do not understand the issue.
Now, I do. Like everything else in human life, it’s all about money. Not money at the bottom, where immigrants toil in poor conditions for low wages at jobs Americans shun. This is about big money and big profits for corporations that make major campaign contributions to politicians. The key here is militarizing the border, which government contractors would accomplish and for which they would charge large sums. This is a back-up plan, in case the American government does not line their pockets with continued foolish foreign wars, or merely incremental income.
Of course, none of this would appear in the US media. One learns such things by watching/listening/reading media outlets that operate outside the Land of Profit, communication conglomerates, and wholly owned politicians.
I found this sentence in the following linked article in Time:
“Being able to eat out, at least once in a while, has for at least three or four generations, been part of the birthright of most Americans.”
My memory of eating out as a child (which resides somewhere in that “three or four generations”) was a Easter restaurant visit, paid for by me grandmother (I think). I did not feel disadvantaged, because we ate very well at home. Restaurants were like trips to Europe: people with money did that. Eating out was not seen as a birthright, merely something others did. I recall my first visit to McDonald’s (in Hartford, Connecticut), which replaced sandwiches made by my mother on trips to visit relatives in the South. My father’s dream was to own a restaurant, which I understood only later in life, and at which he failed. I still have not grasped his disappointment...or my mother’s. But, at least he tried. Now, I enjoy restaurant meals, to the point of having tried the best in the world and top addresses in many countries around the world.
I recall the advent of Friendly’s to my town, because I was already a regular patron of any and all other outlets within driving distance. In the beginining, I enjoyed only ice cream; food came laterI introduced my children to the chain; our first stop after landing (if on the East coast) from Germany was a stop at one of their franchise. My daughter still yearns for an orange sherbet cooler. At home, I try to replicate the kind of cheeseburger they “invented”: a grilled cheese sandwich, pulled apart, with the hamburger added. It’s okay, but can never be the same. I miss the Fribble, which started out as the Awful Awful, until Friendly’s was sued for stealing the name: the treat remained the same, proving that an Awful Awful by any other name is just the same. I have found memories of trips to Friendly’s in my mother’s tiny car. I will sorely miss visiting Friendly’s on my next trip (if I ever overcome my aversion to US airports).
Of all the changes that have occurred in the country of my birth, the demise of Friendly’s might be the saddest. I was unhappy about the sale to Hershey, because they bastardize many of the traditional favorites, but going out of business is a shocking blow.
Here is an example of a bad management decision--in my worthless and humble opinion.
Given that Germans are reputed to make the best cars, most Germans believe this. One indicator is lower market share of Japanese cars than in the United States.
Many believe that Opel is a German brand, but the marque is owned by General Motors. This name shows up only when a labor dispute is brewing or has brewed. This was true even during World War 2, when General Motors ran the business from Geneva, to avoid being criticized for profiting from a Nazi regime. But, that’s another story...
It seems that GM management has decided to move production of one of the main models out of Germany. Regardless of what reason is given, this is to avoid high wage and benefit costs in this country. Workmanship and quality are of lesser importance.
Management has not notice that Opel has been suffering from an image problem in Germany. Moving production to England will surely not help to improve this with German buyers. If less and less are buying a car made in Germany, why would sales improve by moving production to a country with an image for poor quality?
Once again, finance people made decisions and did not listen to marketing folks. After all, marketing is a cost center. No one seems to understand that marketing is what drives image, and image drives sales.
This is the simplest lesson in running a business (and living your life) that you will ever read.
You must have a good product, offer it at a reasonable price, make it available at a good location, and communicate its benefits to potential customers.
You must take in more money than you spend. At the beginning, cash flow is more critical than profit, but that must come at some point. (Of course, in personal life, this means not maxing it all your credit cards!)
You must set aside money to improve what you offer (in product, in place, and in people). Money should be spent only on things that have a direct impact on customers.
If there is any left over, then you can spend it on nicer things for yourself. But, the owner comes last and only after the business is healthy and the future is set.
The easiest ways to kill a business is for the owner to not have control of spending or to take out too much money. The fable about killing the goose that lays the golden egg applies here.
I found something that I wrote on the back of an envelope several years ago. I must have been thinking about the difference between my time as an officer and as a manager...
In the military, mediocrities thrive in time of war.
In business, mediocrities thrive in time of prosperity.
On the reverse side was another scribble. I'm not sure which thought came first, but they are related. I can't be sure that I did not copy it from somewhere.
Unlike politics, which thrives on it or business, which often tolerates it,
medicine permits no trace of dishonesty.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.