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Archive for April, 2012

WHY JAPAN DROPPED THEIR CORPORATE TAX RATE

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 29, 2012

– Why are the tax rates of other countries going down, but not the United States?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

As high as American corporate tax rates have been over the years we could always count on the Japanese to post higher rates thereby making us look not too bad. Unfortunately, this all changed recently when Japan announced they were dropping their rates leaving America alone at the top with the highest tax rates in the world. Actually, most corporate tax rates in other countries have been retreating over the last ten years in order to attract talent to their shores and promote existing businesses. To illustrate, consider how the “Combined Corporate Tax Rates” have changed over the last decade in these key countries:

COUNTRY 2001 2011
Canada 40.5% 27.6%
Germany 38.9% 30.2%
Japan 40.9% 34.5% 2012
UK 30.0% 26.0%
USA 39.3% 39.2%  

Source: OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development), Centre for Tax Policy and Administration

Canada’s reduction has allowed them to escape the recession and resulted in boom times for the country. It is no coincidence that Canada’s drop in unemployment (from a high of 8.7% in 2009 to 7.2% as of March 2012) parallels a decline in the corporate tax rates for the same period (from 31.02% to 27.6%). Likewise, German manufacturing has grown and surpassed the United States as the #2 exporter in the world (behind China at #1). It should therefore come as no surprise that Japan finally followed suit in an attempt to unshackle business and encourage commerce.

What about America? It is highly unlikely corporate tax cuts are in the offing as the country is saddled with an administration who vilifies American business as greedy and corrupt. If anything, the President and his party want to raise taxes thereby stifling businesses from world competition. What about all of the corporate “loopholes” we’ve heard about? Actually, such deductions mostly consist of research and development, along with expansion of facilities, which naturally encourages business and jobs. Even after all of these “loopholes” though, American businesses pay more in corporate taxes than their counterparts in other countries. That is a fact regardless of how you spin the numbers.

The new #2 behind the United States is France with a corporate tax rate of 34.4% (36.43% in 2001), almost five full percentage points less than the United States.

As these other countries have come to realize, the world is a competitive place and you cannot succeed by taxing people and companies to excess. In fact, their message is simple: unshackle them from the tax burden and stand out of their way.

“Common sense told us that when you put a big tax on something, the people will produce less of it. So we cut the people’s tax rates, and the people produced more than ever before.”
– Ronald Reagan

For an interesting video on this subject, click HERE.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
UNDERSTANDING POLITICAL BRAINWASHING – how mind control is implemented in America.

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Posted in Economics, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

A TRIBUTE TO TYPEWRITERS

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 26, 2012

– In praise of the look, feel, and smell of a typed letter.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

I have been using a variety of computer word processors over the last thirty years and produced some rather fine looking documents using them, but for some reason I still miss the typewriter. Maybe it’s because you can quickly type up an impressive looking envelope or fill out a form; Yes, many organizations still use paper forms, particularly nonprofits. The look and feel of a business letter seems somehow more impressive when prepared on a typewriter, more professional and authoritative if you will.

Some people have an aversion to typewriters and generally dismiss them as dinosaurs in the office. I certainly am not of this opinion as we still have an aging IBM Wheelwriter 30, Series II in our office which we would never dream of losing. We don’t type a lot of letters with it anymore, but when we do, they still look first class. When compared to today’s computers, the keyboard is starting to show its age, but there is a crispness to the letters it produces as well as a smell, which I attribute to the printer ink and carbon paper which was used to make duplicate copies. In most companies today, you are expected to print an adhesive label to put on an envelope, which pales in comparison to an envelope with a typed address. It looks rather impressive with a touch of class, something you do not see much anymore in the corporate world.

I learned to type in Mrs. Weldman’s class during my junior year in High School. Most of us typed on manual typewriters where pressing a key forced a metallic arm to rise up and strike the paper with a letter. Only a handful of the students in my class were allowed to use the electric models which didn’t require as much umph in pressing the keys. Our teacher would often have us perform three minute tests to monitor our typing speed and accuracy. Repetitive exercises forced us to improve in both, e.g., “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” Because a typewriter is less forgiving than a word processor in terms of correcting mistakes, you tend to develop better typing habits. I’ve carried these habits forward to this day and consider myself a rather good typist (Thanks Mrs. Weldman).

Since then, I’ve used a variety of manual and electric typewriters, everything from the classic keystroke, to print balls with different fonts, to daisy wheels which spin to the desired letter and prints the character. As good a typist as I consider myself to be, I thank God somebody created correction tape and liquid paper. Letters produced using word processors may be easier to correct and have impressive spell checkers, but they somehow seem plain to me regardless of the stock paper you use or the variety of available fonts. There’s simply a feel to a typed letter that makes it seem more important. Maybe it’s because it takes more effort to create a typed letter, and by doing so it means the typist is more thoughtful of the person who will receive it. To me, it’s just plain classy.

I also go back to a time when I found the tickety-tack sound of the typewriters to be strangely melodic. I’ll admit a room full of typists clicking away could make quite a racket, but it also seemed to suggest to me some serious business was being conducted. It was like going into the nerve center of a newsroom where important stories were being written. It was quite invigorating. Now, when you go into offices where people quietly work away in the privacy of their cubicles, you wonder if anyone is awake. Somehow I miss the hubbub of business, it felt like something was actually happening.

Surprisingly, there is a bit of a Renaissance going on with typewriters these days as it has somehow become hip to be seen as a struggling writer who lugs a portable typewriter around. I think it’s an Ernie Pyle kind of thing. Nonetheless, there is renewed interest in typewriters and devotees are showcasing their classic equipment in museums, both physically and virtually on the Internet. One of the best I’ve found is Mr. Martin’s Typewriter Museum, be sure to check it out. I’m also told that because of their rarity, a typewriter repairman can now make a decent living. Who’da thunk it.

Like music, fashion, and the media, we tend to develop a close association with the technology of our youth. My kids probably have as much trouble understanding my fascination with typewriters, as I have with their smart phones. We appreciate the technology of our era. As much as I would like to believe I am digital, in all likelihood I am more analog in nature.

One last reason why I owe my allegiance to the typewriter; it was in Mrs. Weldman’s class where I first met my wife.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
WHY JAPAN DROPPED THEIR CORPORATE TAX RATE – Why are the tax rates of other countries going down, but not the United States?

Posted in Life | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

THE FOUR STEPS FOR AMERICAN SUBVERSION

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 24, 2012

– A warning from a former KGB agent.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

The premise behind Hitchcock’s 1935 movie classic, “The 39 Steps,” was not about a staircase, but rather a series of clandestine tasks to ultimately overthrow the government. It was an intriguing movie but as it turns out, it actually takes considerably fewer steps to subvert a government, four to be exact, at least according to Yuri Bezmenov, a former KGB agent. Throughout the 1960’s, Bezmenov served the KGB primarily in India where he spread Soviet propaganda and disinformation to the Western world. He eventually defected to the West in 1970 and settled in Canada where he lectured and wrote about the KGB’s techniques for subverting the West.

In 1985 he was featured in a television interview which is still available on YouTube. During the interview, Bezmenov explains the KGB’s activities are less about espionage in the classic James Bond sense (only 15%), and more concerned with “Ideological Subversion” (85%) which is used to secretly undermine the American government through psychological warfare. Key to this program is to change the perception of reality using subliminal brainwashing techniques over an extended period of time. As I’ve written in the past, people act on their perceptions of reality, regardless if it is correct or fallacious. They are not so much concerned with facts as they are in perspectives and self interests. By controlling the perceptions of people, they become more prone to make erroneous conclusions thereby simplifying the manipulation of the masses. The objective of the KGB program, therefore, is to program people into dismissing true facts as fallacious even in spite of the obvious.

As Bezmenov explains in the interview, there are four steps to transform the thinking and behavior of the population:

1. Demoralization – this is a process which can take about 15-30 years to perform (a generation). During this stage, the moral fibre and integrity of the country is put into question, thereby creating doubt in the minds of the people. To do so, manipulation of the media and academia is required to influence young people. As the younger generation embraces new values, such as Marxism and Leninism, the older generation slowly loses control simply through attrition. Again, true facts no longer matter during this stage, but rather creating perceptions are of paramount importance.

2. Destabilization – the purpose of this step is to change the status quo, particularly the country’s economy, foreign relations, and defense systems. The intent is to create a massive government permeating society and becoming intrusive in the lives of its citizens. This can take from two to five years to perform, again with the active support of academia pushing youth in this direction. Here, entitlements and benefits are promised to the populace to encourage their support. Basically, they are bribing the people to accept their programs.

Bezmenov claims after this stage is completed, the naive college professors are no longer needed and since they will undoubtedly protest government policies when they discover the truth, they will be disposed of quickly. He cites examples of this occurring in Nicaragua, Grenada, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.

3. Crisis – this is a major step lasting up to six weeks and involves a revolutionary change of power. This is where a cataclysmic event upsets and divides the country thereby creating panic among the citizens. Recent examples include the 2011 upheavals in the Middle East, most notably Egypt and Libya. To Americans, symptoms would include circumventing the Constitution and altering the checks and balances of government, and possibly martial law.

4. Normalization – the final stage is where the populace finally acquiesces and begins to assimilate communism. This can take up to two decades to complete.

Bezmenov claimed the first step, Demoralization, was completed well before his 1985 interview. In fact, the Russians were surprised how easily it had been performed. One clear indicator of the moral decay of the country is the decline of organized religion which, historically, has been a beacon for morality, but now it is in retreat. He also thought step two was nearing completion in 1985 but I believe he underestimated the rise and popularity of Ronald Reagan as president, which led to the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union in 1991, and the shift to the War on Terror following 9/11. Nonetheless, many would argue America is now realizing Bezmenov’s scenario in 2012, particularly as the November elections loom ahead. This means the third step is in the offing which has a lot of people frightened for America’s future.

Yuri Bezmenov died in 1993 never realizing his prophecy, and hopefully it will never come to fruition, that we will remain a free and democratic Republic bound to the U.S. Constitution. However, as Bezmenov reminds us, communism requires simple patience and perseverance to alter the perceptions of the people. The only way to thwart it is to practice due diligence and not let it go unchallenged.

“America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: its patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.”
– Joseph Stalin

“The press is our chief ideological weapon.”
– Nikita Khrushchev

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
A TRIBUTE TO TYPEWRITERS – In praise of the look, feel, and smell of a typed letter.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

WHY WE NEED POLICY MANUALS

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 22, 2012

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

“A policy is written to protect a company from those who break the rules, not from those who follow them.” – Bryce’s Law

In today’s litigious society, a Policy Manual (sometimes referred to as an Employee Handbook) is a wise investment for any company, large or small. Let me give you an example, back when we were developing products for mainframe computers, our staff blossomed to 25 employees, a small company no matter how you look at it. Like any startup company, our interests in the early days were on product development, marketing, and servicing our customers. As our company grew, we began to take on additional consultants, developers and clerical personnel. We then began to notice people taking advantage of our work environment, e.g., sick days, excessive doctor visits, people began to dress sloppily, they were spending too much time attending to personal affairs at the office, etc. It finally became obvious we needed a well written policy manual to bring conformity to our operations and protect the company from abuse. We thereby devised a formal Policy Manual, and had all of our employees read it and sign a statement they understood its contents.

Policy Manuals may be common practice in large corporations but it is also a shrewd investment for small companies. I am still amazed that a small business such as ours needed to develop a Policy Manual but I am certainly glad we implemented it for it has saved us on more than one occasion from frivolous lawsuits brought on by former employees.

Understand this, a policy is written to protect a company from those who break the rules, not from those who follow them. In our early days, when there were just a handful of employees, it was easy to monitor what everyone was doing and communicate our corporate position to them, but as the company grew, it added a new level of complexity to our communications making it harder to assure consistency in the conformance of our rules. An employer would like to believe its employees will maintain the best interests of the company. Regrettably, this is a naive concept as employees normally put their own personal interests before the company’s. If it was true, there would not be a need for a Policy Manual. A Policy Manual, therefore, is needed for those people who break the rules; for those who do not, it is a trivial concern.

WHAT SHOULD A POLICY MANUAL CONTAIN?

The manual should provide tightly worded descriptions of corporate positions. The following is a sampling of sections that should be included. Additional sections may be required due to the nature of your business.

Introduction:

* Introductory comments from a senior officer (e.g., President) specifying the purpose and organization of the manual.

* Code of Employer-Employee Relations – specifying the basic rights of both the employee and the employer.

* Optional – organization charts, business function charts, a definition of the corporate culture.

Employment:

* Equal Employment Opportunity
* Sexual Harassment
* Hiring
* Employment Agreement
* Orientation and Training
* Medical Procedures
* Probation
* Transfer
* Promotion
* Hours of Work
* Reporting of Time and adherance to defined methodologies.
* Temporary and Part-time Employees
* Termination of Employment
* Retirement
* Safety

Pay Practices:

* Salary Administration
* Performance Appraisals
* Bonuses and Pension
* Severance Pay

Reimbursement of Employee Expenses

* Travel
* Automobile Usage/Vehicle Care
* Customer Entertainment
* Meal Reimbursement
* Expense Account Guidelines
* Participation in Trade and Professional Associations

Employee Benefits:

* Vacations
* Holidays
* Lunch
* Health Services

Company Premises and Work Areas:

* Maintenance of Work Area
* Personal Property
* Solicitation
* Parking
* Security

Absence from Work:

* Attendance and Punctuality
* Short-term Absences
* Leaves of Absence

Personal Conduct:

* Behavior of Employee
* Personal Appearance of Employees
* Personal Finances of Employees
* Customer Relations
* Vendor Relations
* Personal Telephone Calls, Mail, and use of Internet (incl. E-Mail)
* Conflicts of Interest
* Confidential Nature of Company Affairs
* Intellectual Property
* Disciplinary Affairs
* Drugs and Narcotics
* Smoking

Miscellaneous:

* Maintenance of Personnel Records
* Updates (Log)
* Forms

It is not uncommon to structure the policies in accordance with a numbering scheme somewhat similar to a financial chart of accounts. Further, the Policy Manual should be prefaced with a Table of Contents which reference the section numbers. An index is also helpful.

When writing policies, keep the language simple, clear, and to the point. Your objective is to write policies in such a way as they may not be misinterpreted or leave anything to someone’s imagination. After policies have been written, they should be carefully reviewed by management and modified accordingly.

It is important to recognize that the policy manual is a legal document and ultimately represents a contract with your employees. As such, it should be reviewed by your corporate attorney.

IMPLEMENTATION

Policy Manuals are normally printed and bound and distributed to managers to review with employees. It is not unusual for companies not to allow such manuals off of corporate premises. Further, manuals are often numbered and assigned to individuals. The reasons for this are twofold: to control the whereabouts of the manuals and to assure employees have reviewed it.

Regardless of how the manuals are distributed, it is important to obtain a signed statement from each employee that they have reviewed and understood the policies contained in the manual. This statement should then be filed in the employee’s employment jacket for maintenance. In the event of modifications or additions to the policy manual, updates should be issued and employees acknowledge they have read it as well.

Although companies will typically print Policy Manuals, there is a movement underfoot whereby the Policy Manual is made available to employees via a secure corporate intranet. In this instance, there should be concern over unauthorized printing and distribution of the policies.

CONCLUSION

If you are going to the trouble of writing a Policy Manual, make sure that it is effectively implemented and enforced. There is little point in enacting legislation if you are not going to enforce it.

I have always found the necessity of a Policy Manual to be interesting. There are those employees who can conceptualize, take initiative, and lead moral and ethical lives. But there are also those who need to be told what to do. It is for this latter group that Policy Manuals were devised, not the former.

So, if you are a small company, should you develop a Policy Manual? If you find your employees require structure in their lives or if there is a possibility the company might be sued by an employee, the answer, sadly, is Yes. I cannot imagine operating a company in today’s litigious world without one.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP:  THE FOUR STEPS FOR AMERICAN SUBVERSION – A warning from a former KGB agent.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

WHY WE STILL DO NOT TRUST THE MEDIA

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 19, 2012

– And why we depend on others to filter our news.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

Regardless of your political inclination, there now exists a perception the main street media is not to be trusted as a source of valid news, that its integrity is kaput. Instead, news outlets are viewed more as a tool for political activism. In September 2011, the Gallup organization reported, “The majority of Americans still do not have confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly.”

In Gallup’s report, “Majority in U.S. Continues to Distrust the Media, Perceive Bias,” they found 55% of Americans have little or no trust in the media, while 44% of Americans have a great deal or fair amount of trust. These numbers were essentially unchanged from the previous year. The report added, “The majority of Americans (60%) also continue to perceive bias, with 47% saying the media are too liberal and 13% saying they are too conservative…”

I began to wonder how this 55/44 split compared to the country’s political and idealogical inclinations and found the following:

Gallup

       Political Party(1)        Idealogy(2)        Perceives bias
55% No Trust        36.0% Republican        40.0% Conservative        47% Too liberal
44% Trusts the Media        32.4% Democrat        21.0% Liberal        13% Too conservative

1. Rasmussan (Feb 2012)

2. Gallup (Jan 12, 2012)

This statistical comparison implies conservative Republicans are less likely to trust the press than liberal Democrats, but regardless of your political persuasion, I believe we have all become rather skeptical.

Back in the 1960’s we had less news venues, but more trust. Today, it is just the opposite; we have
24/7 news sources at our fingertips, yet we are skeptical of what we read and hear. Because of the large volume of news and a general lack of time to consume it, people tend to use filters to help wade through it. This is why we have seen the emergence of specialized news on television and the Internet whereby whole networks and sites are specifically targeted at a single theme such as entertainment, sports, military, local news, foreign affairs, etc. Whereas hour long television variety shows were at one time quite popular, they were all eventually replaced by smaller half hour shows specializing in a particular form of entertainment. A similar phenomenon is now happening with network news and newspapers losing ground to targeted news sources. To save time, people are going directly to the news that interests them and they can trust. Without such filtering, there is an inclination to abandon the news altogether.

Naturally, people will gravitate to those news sources that share their interests and they can trust, in a sort of a “birds of a feather” manner. It’s no secret that Democrats tend to tune in to MSNBC, CNN, CNBC and HLN, while Republicans tend to watch Fox News. Currently, Fox News dominates the cable news stations in the ratings which means they are perceived as a more credible source of news and information, at least to conservatives. In contrast, liberals are not showing the same devotion to the other networks that conservatives show to Fox which suggests they are either not finding what they want on those channels or have simply abandoned following the news.

The only form of political activism the main street media should be practicing is just keeping the public properly and accurately informed, without any spin or hype. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case and a naive assumption from the past. As evidenced by the Gallup Poll, people perceive news outlets as organs of political parties as opposed to independent organizations with unbiased integrity. News luminaries such as Edward R. Murrow, David Brinkley, Chet Huntley, Howard K. Smith, et al, who worked diligently to build credibility in their craft would be spinning in their graves if they knew the state of news reporting in this country today.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
WHY WE NEED POLICY MANUALS – A policy is written to protect a company from those who break the rules, not from those who follow them.

Posted in Media, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

THE LONG HOT SUMMER OF 2012

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 17, 2012

– A perfect storm for violence?

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

The National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a hotter than normal summer, particularly in the Southwest, Southeast, and Atlantic seaboard up to and including New York City and Philadelphia. Between the temperatures and a country bitterly divided over racial, ideological and socioeconomic (class) differences, we may be looking at the perfect storm for violence this summer. In many ways, it may be reminiscent of Watts in 1965, Chicago in 1968, and Kent State in 1970, three ugly chapters in our country’s history. If the 60’s taught us anything, violence can easily erupt despite the best intentions for peaceful and nonviolent protests.

Incidents such as the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, the Wisconsin budget battle in 2011, and the Occupy Wall Street movement give strong evidence of how contentious the issues are, the mood of the people, and the fragility of peace. Throw in a hot summer, high gasoline prices and unemployment rates, an election in the Fall, a sensational press, and you have all of the makings for a potential disaster in the next few months.

There are three flash points to watch out for: first, the Supreme Court’s verdict regarding Obamacare. Whichever direction it goes, one side or the other will not be happy which will establish the tone of discontent for the summer. The second flash point is the Occupy Wall Street convention scheduled for July 4th in Philadelphia. This is where thousands of people will descend on Philly to lend support to their general assembly which aims to draft and ratify a “petition for a redress of grievances” to be presented to the government for action. Although it sounds peaceful in design, it could easily erupt into violence if the movement takes to the streets where they will likely face a showdown with police. The GOP and Democratic conventions represent the third flash point, first in Tampa on August 27th-30th (GOP), closely followed by Charlotte on September 4th-6th (Democrats). The Tampa and Charlotte police departments will undoubtedly be prepared for demonstrators. Nevertheless, a large number of protestors could present a serious challenge to their ability to maintain law and order, particularly in a hot summer.

These three incidents can be anticipated and contingency plans prepared, but there also exists the possibility of an unplanned incident igniting violence, particularly if it is somehow racially or religiously motivated, such as the death of an African-American, Latino, Muslim or some other group. Also, a confrontation between two disparate groups could prove disastrous, such as between Occupiers and Tea Partiers, or black and white extremists. Inflammatory rhetoric may also produce problems, particularly in the areas of voter identification, immigration, race relations, and anything pertaining to class warfare. Consider the words of Rev. Al Sharpton, “So if you won’t get the jobs bill done in the suite, then we will get the jobs bill done in the street!” Then there is the matter of the New Black Panther Party who called for a $10,000 bounty on the head of the shooter of Trayvon Martin who went into hiding. Such examples are suggestive of a country moving away from the rule of law to anarchy.

Fanning the flames of protest is, of course, the media who realizes this makes for excellent political theater, and fills their coffers. A little restraint by the media would go a long way to maintaining the peace, but I cannot imagine this happening as the press has proven to be quite irresponsible in this regard.

You certainly cannot envy the burden placed on the shoulders of the police. We’ve come a long way from the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago where the police and protesters fought bloody battles. There have been many new techniques and tools developed for crowd control, and I tend to believe the police are smarter today, but if they are pushed too far by demonstrators, don’t be surprised if extreme force is applied to maintain control.

I will be the first to hope I am dead wrong in my prophecy, that cooler heads and peace will prevail, but frankly I think plans have already been set into motion to prove violence is not only likely, but inevitable. Let us hope this division of the American people is only a temporary condition and doesn’t lead to a an overall fracture of the country as in the days leading up to the Civil War.

It’s been 47 years since Watts, 44 years since Chicago, and 42 years since Kent State. To young Americans, these events are nothing but obscure footnotes in our history with little meaning, but to the rest of us who lived through this period, they are an important reminder of the dangers of violence. So, as we watch our thermometers go up this summer, let us hope we have the wisdom not to allow history to repeat itself.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
WHY WE STILL DO NOT TRUST THE MEDIA – And why we depend on others to filter our news.

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

“MAD” MANAGEMENT

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 15, 2012

– Some management lessons from 1961.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

One of the reasons AMC’s “Mad Men” television show is so popular is that it tries to authentically depict American attitudes and moods of the early 1960’s, including how business was conducted. Viewers find it fascinating how the Mad Men think, the priorities driving them, and how they interact with employees and customers. Recently, I was going through some of my father’s old papers back when he worked as Product Planning Manager at Remington Rand in New York City, the makers of the UNIVAC computer at the time. In particular, I came across a training manual entitled, “Creative Management Development” from 1961. Evidently it was used as part of a training class to groom managers for the company. Realizing this was from the same period and venue (corporate New York) as “Mad Men” I picked through the manual carefully to see the perspective of management back then.

The manual was rather thick and consisted of several sections featuring different lessons. In particular, I came across a chapter entitled, “Elements of Effective Supervision” which included the following:

“The most effective supervisor is the one who…

1. Delegates authority

2. Makes definite assignments and supervises by results

3. Minimized detailed orders

4. Uses low pressure

5. Trains subordinates

6. Does different work from that done by his subordinates

7. Spends his time on long-range rather than short-range problems

This is the pattern of what we call general supervision.

As superiors intrude on matters that rightfully should be handled by their subordinates, problems have a tendency to snowball. One subordinate described the situation this way: ‘As long as the boss gives us the right to make our own decisions, we cooperate with him. We report to him all the information he needs to answer to his boss, but the little things we don’t bother him with. But if he doesn’t give us any freedom we can make his life miserable. We can bombard his office with reports on everything we do. We can refuse to make a decision until we talk to him about it. We can stop saving his time by sifting the important from the unimportant and we can keep him on the run.’ “

Each of the seven sections were then explained in greater detail in the manual. The only problem I had between then and now was the distinction of supervisor versus manager. Whereas I tend to see a supervisor as someone working more closely with workers to assure work is performed properly, I tend to see a manager as more as a leader assessing priorities and plotting direction. Although the chapter referred to a “supervisor,” I believe they were actually describing the duties of a “manager.”

For some rather old management advice from over a half century ago, I found it rather refreshing and interesting. It confirms what we’ve been saying for years, that managers need to learn to manage from the bottom-up, not just top-down. Employees should be properly trained, empowered, and allowed to assume responsibility. In other words, managers should manage more and supervise less, which is just the antithesis of today’s micromanagement philosophy.

The management advice from 1961 is every bit as applicable today as it was back then, making it something we should reconsider. Maybe one of the reasons viewers find the “Mad Men” program interesting is because it represents a time when we were more concerned with results as opposed to political correctness. And maybe we wish we could actively participate in such companies as the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency where Don Draper is the charismatic creative director who knows how to make things happen. Maybe he attended the same training course with my father.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:  
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

Posted in Business, Management | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

THE HEALTH NAZIS – “NO SOUP KITCHENS FOR YOU!”

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 12, 2012

– Oh, oh, look out, government bureaucrats are at it again.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

A few odd stories have surfaced in the news recently which caught my attention, all involving the feeding of the homeless. Evidently there is a movement underway by local governments to curb donations of food supplies to soup kitchens. At first I dismissed it as an obscure story, but when I saw it recur in different places including New York, Philadelphia, Dallas, Nashville, and elsewhere, I knew something was underfoot.

Local departments of health have become concerned about the dietary requirements of the homeless and want to control their salt, sugar, fat and fiber intake. Their analysis of the soup kitchens contends the homeless are not getting the proper nutrition and, consequently, the Health Nazis have passed legislation prohibiting food donations thereby forcing a lot of kitchens to close their doors and turn the homeless away from their establishments.

Charitable organizations who have historically provided free food to kitchens are stumped by the legislation, including churches, synagogues, scouting, and other groups. Government do-gooders think they know better and want to expand the Nanny state by dictating the food to be distributed. This of course represents another instance of government expanding into our lives. Inevitably, a new layer of bureaucracy will be created to oversee soup kitchen operations and provide the necessary food, all at the expense of the taxpayers. Frankly, the general public is perplexed why the government is getting involved in this matter as it was funded by donations by people who see it as their civic duty to help those less fortunate than themselves. Instead of thanking them for their contributions though, the government appears bent on complicating their lives by mandating how they will help. In other words, the homeless have become pawns in government expansion.

This caused me to wonder, if I go to a restaurant and offer a friend a bite of my sandwich, would I be in violation of the law? Probably as I didn’t first check his socio-economic status and the nutritional content of the sandwich which undoubtedly will not be up to government code.

Frankly, this is another fine example of Parkinson’s law in government whereby, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, they are expanding their duties and responsibilities simply to look busy and responsible. In reality, they should just butt-out. The homeless probably eat better at the soup kitchens than before they were homeless.

All of this is just as ridiculous as another report I read from the United Kingdom whereby grade schools there have adopted programs prohibiting children from having best friends. Instead, they must all play together as a group. The intent is to prohibit the emotional distress of losing a friend in the event a child moves away or goes to another class. I understand a lot of English parents are becoming “emotionally distressed” themselves over the knuckleheads running the schools over there.

Don’t you just love government sanctioned Socialism?

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
“MAD” MANAGEMENT – Some management lessons from 1961.

Posted in Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 10, 2012

– How the Internet has altered the way we argue.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

Recently I came across a local news story having to do with road rage. Evidently, two men in their twenties got into a highway dispute in the wee hours of a morning which led to a physical confrontation whereby one man finally pulled out a gun to defend himself and killed the other person. The shooter has not been charged with a crime as he is protected by Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. This resulted in a firestorm of letters commenting on the story, most criticizing the shooter and claiming the victim was a really nice guy. Interestingly, most of the people springing to the defense of the victim appeared to be of the same age (in their twenties). Those who came to the defense of the shooter appeared to be older. This led to a rather toxic debate on the Internet with the two sides arguing which person was at fault in the incident. So much so, I got the uneasy feeling the issue started to become as ugly as the initial confrontation, maybe more so.

As for me, I felt it was an unfortunate incident but I certainly didn’t have enough information to form an opinion one way or another, just an article where the reporter pieced together a story from law enforcement reports. This is why I was surprised by the vicious discourse resulting from the article. Some of the commentators were familiar with the location where the shooting occurred, some claimed to know one or the other person in the incident, and others played detective or attorney. All had a definite opinion which they fervently argued, some even going so far as to attack anyone possessing an opposing opinion. I was actually more aghast by the comments as opposed to the actual accident itself. Obviously, none of them were present at the time of the incident, nor knew the sequence of events leading up to it, nor the evidence or testimony compiled by the police afterwards, yet they were hellbent on defending their position which struck me as rather strange. The same can also be said about the Trayvon Martin incident where the public became a lynch mob before allowing the police to complete their investigation.

Actually, these incidents typify how Americans tend to argue in the 21st century. It is not so much a matter of civil discourse anymore as it is spin, attack, ridicule, deceive, and assassinate character; a sort of “Sherman’s march to the sea” mentality where everything is destroyed that gets in the way of the person arguing. This approach has been facilitated by the Internet where it is easy to snipe at your opponent under the cloak of anonymity which seems rather cowardly to me. This is why I have always tried to maintain my true identity on the Internet as I am willing to stand by my words. You may not always agree with me, but you know where I stand on an issue.

In both my writings and pursuant correspondence I avoid saying anything I wouldn’t be afraid to say to a person’s face. I know a lot of people on the Internet who cannot make this same claim. I am also mindful of the old axiom, “If you haven’t got anything good to say about a person, do not say it.” As such, I do not engage in arguments where I know the other person is trying to bait me. If I were to take the bait and allow myself to argue in the gutter, I would lose my dignity and respect, which is something my opponent may be willing to risk, but I am not. When it is apparent we are at loggerheads, and we will obviously not change each other’s opinion or perspective, I simply drop the matter recognizing it is futile to continue. In other words, a lot of people need to learn when to “let it go.”

Understand this though, my way of arguing is considered old school. Today’s Internet savvy kids do not possess this school of thought and, consequently, do not abide by any rules whatsoever. As far as they are concerned, all is fair in love and war, and show no restraint in their arguments or ethical compunction. Somewhere along the line we have forgotten that arguments are a very personal form of communications. We can either do it with a little style and respect for the other party, or simply go for the jugular. Unfortunately, the era of gentlemanly debate ended with the 20th century. It may be considered a bygone era, but we didn’t have quite as many Road Rage incidents back then either.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
THE HEALTH NAZIS – “NO SOUP KITCHENS FOR YOU!” – Oh, oh, look out, government bureaucrats are at it again.

Posted in Social Issues, Society | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

HIGH TECH PICKPOCKETS

Posted by Tim Bryce on April 8, 2012

– Keeping your hand on your wallet will not help either.

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To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, click HERE.

An interesting technology that is gaining momentum among consumers is Radio-Frequency IDentification (RFID), and it is something we all better start paying attention to. Actually, RFID is an old concept allegedly resulting from our military and espionage efforts in WW2. It involves the miniaturization of radio transmitters to send signals for a variety of purposes; e.g., does anybody remember the transmitter James Bond hid in the heel of his shoe in the movie “Goldfinger”? RFID has come a long way since then, and has been reduced to a tiny computer chip about the size of a grain of rice. This of course means it can go just about anywhere and opens some interesting possibilities for commercial use. It is now implanted in animals to identify them, in highway toll collection devices, in passports and company identification cards thereby allowing security access to facilities. Consumers though need to pay particular attention to how RFID is being implanted in credit/debit cards, for this conceivably opens Pandora’s Box to identity and financial theft.

I recently saw an investigative report by WTHR-TV in Indianapolis who discussed the ease by which criminals can steal your credit/debit card information, thanks to the RFID chip. Unbeknownst to consumers, new RFID cards have slowly been replacing expired traditional plastic cards. They may look the same, but they certainly are not. Such cards are intended to speed up purchase transactions simply by waving the card at a reader as opposed to swiping it through a machine. Many people, including yours truly, didn’t realize we already have the new cards. On some cards, the chip is visible, but most are hidden from sight just below the plastic surface. However, if you have a symbol on your card which looks like radio waves )))) or if it says “payPass”, “Blink”, or “payWave”, then in all likelihood you have the chip.

According to the WTHR-TV report, it is relatively simple to purchase or assemble an RFID reader, wave it near an RFID credit/debit card and thereby illegally obtain the card’s information for criminal use. In other words, no physical contact is required for the criminal to pick your pocket, only near contact to receive the transmission signal from the chip. The ease by which this can be done was rather startling to consumers in the television report who see this as a genuine threat to their finances.

The credit/debit card companies contend security is not a problem, but the WTHR-TV report made a skeptic out of me. It then becomes a question of how to protect ourselves. Theoretically, the radio waves can be blocked if the cards are wrapped in aluminum foil. There are also companies like Identity Stronghold who are now selling specialized wallets and other devices to secure your card.

In the television news story, the reporter indicated a consumer can request non-RFID cards from their companies, however I found this to be easier said than done. I discovered the RFID chip on one of my cards (I don’t want to say which) and so I called their Customer Service department to request a new card without the chip. I explained my situation to the Customer Service rep who said he would look into the matter and take care of it for me. About a week later I received a form letter from the company informing me I was ineligible to get a non-RFID card, and if I had any other questions, I should call them back. Believe me, I called them back, and I wasn’t too pleased doing so. I made my displeasure known to the first Customer Service rep who quickly passed me on to a supervisor, who passed me on to a higher level supervisor named “Jane” who patiently listened to my predicament but claimed not to know anything about this security problem. I began by telling her I hoped it wouldn’t be necessary for us to part company after +20 years using their card. Remaining cool and calm under pressure, Jane assured me she would look into the matter and resolve it for me. However, while talking to her I got the uneasy feeling Jane was acutely aware of the problem but was handcuffed in terms of solving it. It seems the credit/debit card companies are bent on having everyone use the new RFID cards. As of this writing, I still have not had the problem resolved.

Fortunately, I discovered on the Internet a rather simple and inexpensive way for solving the problem, either by simply drilling a hole in the chip or banging a hole into it with a small screw or nail. I’ve got a feeling though, this is something the credit/debit card companies do not want to see propagated, but if they are unwilling to replace the card, what choice does the consumer have?

It is not so much that I am against the RFID card, as much as I see it as another example of a technology solution that wasn’t properly thought through, and the consumer will inevitably have to pay for the snafu. If the credit/debit card companies are truly committed to this technology they better be working overtime to correct this breach of security. Otherwise, I will likely not be alone in returning my card to “Jane.”

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
timbryce.com

Like the article? TELL A FRIEND.

Copyright © 2012 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.


NEXT UP: 
JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS – How the Internet has altered the way we argue.

Posted in Life, Technology | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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