Many WA Voters Learn the Need for Fiscal Trust

April 21, 2015 –

While it’s important to remember a person is innocent until proven guilty, a 10-count, 41-page indictment of Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley is troubling.

It’s alleged Mr. Kelley stole millions of dollars in processing fees from home sales at his mortgage company, and that he lied under oath and evaded taxes.

Mr. Kelley was an unknown not too long ago. As a Democrat, he served in the state’s House of Representatives before he was elected as State Auditor.

Troy_Kelley.jpeg

Washington State Auditor Troy Kelley

His credentials are impressive. He had worked for the Department of Justice, a Fortune 500 company and he is an officer in the Washington National Guard.

Before Mr. Kelley came along – for 20 years – Washington state was truly enriched by a State Auditor predecessor: Brian Sonntag.

In addition to noting his sterling record of achievement as a fiscal watchdog of government, I interviewed him personally (for my news-media columns and a radio program before launching this portal). He was most impressive in the interviews.

Now, Mr. Sonntag is a Washington Policy Center Board member. The organization’s Web site (www.washingtonpolicy.org) accurately states it’s “an independent, non-partisan think tank promoting sound public policy based on free-market solutions.”

Thanks to Jason Mercier, director of the Center for Government Reform at Washington Policy Center , we learn that Mr. Sonntag has shed some light on the important role the State Auditor plays in auditing government agencies.

Without passing judgment on Mr. Kelley, Mr. Sonntag issued this statement:

“The founders of Washington State didn’t like or trust government very much. They established several separate elected offices. As an example of their populist bent they created a very independent office of State Auditor. Tasked with the responsibility to audit the accounts and activities of every government agency in the state, the Auditor holds small boards and commissions as well as large state and local entities accountable to the citizens they serve. Currently there are nearly 2,700 different government agencies that come under the scrutiny of the State Auditor.

The only real issue for the office of State Auditor is accountability. To make certain citizens have access to information so they can judge for themselves the performance of public officials and their conduct and decision making.

To effectively meet this responsibility the Auditor’s office must be above any reproach. From frontline employees to the elected officeholder there cannot be a hint of impropriety. Citizens expect, demand and deserve nothing less. Credibility is lost if there are questions surrounding the ability to be objective.

The Auditor’s Office (and Auditor) must be held to a higher standard because that is the office our state’s founders identified as the public guardian. The public’s watchdog that they can trust when it comes to transparency, accountability and openness.

This public trust is fragile. And when broken it’s not easy to rebuild.

The Auditor has a huge responsibility. But with that responsibility comes an opportunity to really make a difference. To act independently in the interest of the citizens who you work for. To put the public interest first. To make sure government’s doors are open. And to be worthy of this responsibility. That is how respect is earned. That is how the public trust is built.”

Thank you, Messrs. Sonntag and Mercier, and Washington Policy Center.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related articles.

“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” 

-Thomas Jefferson

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Should Google’s Privacy Policy Worry You?


Updated March 15, 2015

Despite much brouhaha, the new Google privacy policy has been in effect now for three years. Public officials around the globe raised concerns – including European Union regulators, the Japanese government and state attorneys general in the U.S.

Should it frighten you? It depends on your perspective. Fear is an option, of course. But should the policy panic you? Well, let’s take a look at the issue.

In essence, Google has been consolidating all of its privacy policies for its myriad of products into one policy. To summarize, the search engine is sharing user information internally – your habits on Google – among its various products and services to maximize revenue.

320px-Googlelogo

For example, if you watch videos on YouTube, your selection of videos will determine which advertisements you’ll see when searching Google.

Google will not share your information with any other companies.

My sense is that the privacy policy shouldn’t be a surprise to businesspeople for three reasons:

  1. Google is a giant in online advertising. (Disclosure: This Biz Coach portal uses Google’s AdSense for display ads on many of the pages.)
  2. Google is a leader in relevance. It was the first search engine to use algorithms – in part, to screen out frivolous Web sites – so users have been able to get the most germane results for their tastes and needs.
  3. Google is only following a practice that every major company is already using.

“As you use our products one thing will be clear: it’s the same Google experience that you’re used to, with the same controls,” wrote Alma Whitten, who is Google’s Director of Privacy, Product and Engineering.

“And because we’re making these changes, over time we’ll be able to improve our products in ways that help our users get the most from the web,” Ms. Whitten wrote in her blog.

Her three main points:

  1. Our Privacy Policy is now much easier to understand.
  2. Our Privacy Policy will enable us to build a better, more intuitive user experience across Google for signed-in users.
  3. Our privacy controls aren’t changing.

Google explains how you can turn off your search results – here’s an excerpt:

If you turn off personal results and stay signed in to your Google Account, you won’t see results personalized based on your Google+ circles (or suggested connections), Google products, or your search history.”

Again, it’s worth explaining that Google is only using software that all big companies already employ to sell more products and services. It’s called predictive analytics. Businesses use software to track your preferences to determine how they can pitch more products to you.

In a Biz Coach book-review column entitled,A Book That Will Improve Your Life, Business and Community,” the book’s author explains how Target uses software in predictive analytics.

Obviously, Target didn’t invent the practice. On a regular basis, for example, I receive promotional announcements from IBM trying market its software. So the practice is already widespread in business.

Further, if you’re using social media or seek publicity from the media, your privacy is already in-question.

The bottom-line: In the parlance of the quirky 1998 song,”Who Let the Dogs Out?” – it’s already too late to complain. Switch to Bing, Yahoo or any other search engine. But guess what you’ll encounter?

From the Coach’s Corner, you might also read:

Best Practices to Optimize Your Global Brand, Web Reputation — As you no doubt know, the digital age has brought new challenges and opportunities. Best practices are critical in order to maximize your Web presence and to manage your online reputation.

Google Details its New Reasoning for Best Web Site Rankings — The world’s most popular search engine has released detailed information on how it evaluates and ranks Web sites. Released in November 2011, the information is still critical for domain success. Ordinarily, for proprietary reasons, Google is a bit guarded when discussing its algorithm processes. But a blog post by engineer Matt Cutts was unusually informative.

Checklist: 14 Strategies to Rock on Google — Periodic changes in Google’s search criteria and algorithms have indeed hurt many Web sites. But it’s possible to bullet-proof your site’s prominence on Google by taking 14 precautions, which is worth your time and energy. Google has perennially owned about a 66 percent search-market share in the U.S. and a 90 percent share worldwide.

“Ho, there, foul monster! Cease the knocking at thy craven knees and prepare to do battle!”

Don Quixote (when he was about to attack the windmill)

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.  

Instead of Solving Budget Crisis, Wash. Politicians Threaten Integrity of Election Day



Updated Jan. 16, 2012


Washington state has a $1.5 billion deficit, and ample justification for implementing government and budgeting reforms.

But nearly two dozen lawmakers have something more important to do. They’re gaming the voter registration system in a disingenuous effort to win elections.

That’s right. They’re not addressing the concerns of most businesspeople and consumers – a balanced budget and government reforms.

But more on that later; for now, let’s address some background information in two examples:

Example No. 1. Perhaps you saw the May 30, 2011 headline: “Voter registration could be key to Obama in 2012.” The article indicated Barack Obama’s 2008 election hinged on his ability to capitalize on the nearly 15 million voters who were newly registered.

However, the article also mentioned that Democrats are looking at a major red flag – their party has regressed in terms of voter registrations in states won by Mr. Obama. Many Independents now disfavor Mr. Obama’s re-election. The upshot being he needs to attract more black, college students, Hispanic and women voters.

He has problems in at least three states:

  • Florida – 2.6 million voters haven’t declared their party affiliation
  • Pennsylvania – 500,000 unaffiliated voters
  • Iowa – at least 762,000 nonpartisan voters

The article indicated several cities are in play:

  • Philadelphia
  • Denver (site of the 2008 Democratic convention)
  • Charlotte, North Carolina (site of the 2012 Democratic convention)

And the newspaper report quoted Mr. Obama’s adviser, David Axelrod, who said voter registrations are a big priority for the 2012 election.

Example No. 2. Democrats are also worried about the Washington’s gubernatorial race. First the time in recent memory, Washington state Republicans have a solid chance to elect a governor.

Since last September, State Attorney General Rob McKenna has a six point lead in four polls pitting him against U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee. The polls include two by SurveyUSA, The Washington Poll, and Strategies 360 (D).

As of this writing, Mr. McKenna has netted $3.67 million in donations – $560,000 or 18 percent more than Mr. Inslee.

Disingenuous lawmakers

Fear by Democrats in a spirited competition to win elections is one thing, but it’s another to behave against the best interests of the electorate. A new development has failed to be adequately covered by the news media.

Twenty-three Washington House Democrats have introduced HB 2204, which would require the state’s 60 counties to accept voter registrations on Election Day after the polling is well underway – until 5 p.m. to be exact.

“What?!” you’re probably stunned. “Don’t voters have to register eight days before an election – not on Election Day?!”

Yes, you’re right.

Such a new law would have several ramifications.

It means the right to vote is no longer sacred. It games the voter registration system. It opens the door for voter fraud. It leaves no time to check the registration of new voters’ eligibility. It overburdens county election workers when they’re already straining to count votes.

Indeed, citing such concerns, the County Auditors Association and the Secretary of State oppose the bill.

Further, there’s a recent precedent to consider: Election Day registrations had 33.7 percent error rate in the April 5, 2011 election held in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin.

It isn’t too much to ask legislators to earn their pay. Stop trying to game the voter registration system.  Fix the budget and institute permanent safeguards for good government and balanced budgets.

Then, it will be possible for Washington to have a healthy climate for economic development and the creation of jobs.

From the Coach’s Corner, in case you’re not aware, state lawmakers have long failed to do their jobs.

The most recent example is featured in this column: Washington: A Balanced Budget Is No Longer Enough.

“You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.”

-Abraham Lincoln

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Terry Corbell is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services (many are available online). For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule Terry Corbell as a speaker, why don’t you contact him today?

Why the Sales Tax Debate Erupts in Washington State

Nov. 22, 2011

The buzz in Seattle and other Washington locales is over another attempt to raise taxes.  Yes, Gov. Chris Gregoire wants to raise $500 million via a temporary half-cent increase in the state portion of the sales tax to offset continued budget deficits to prevent more state government cuts in spending.

Either the Legislature could pass the increase providing it passes with a two-thirds majority in an upcoming special session. If it can’t, the Legislature can pass a referendum bill by the end of this year for voter approval.

Gov. Gregoire’s request also threatens to risk relations with Oregon and neighbors by repealing their sales tax exemption when traveling and shopping in Washington state.

Washington’s sales tax debate request follows four developments:

  1. Failure by public officials to practice good stewardship of existing revenue.
  2. Lack of jobs – nearly a double-digit unemployment rate.
  3. Businesses are struggling.
  4. Washington’s two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases – demanded by voters in four referendums.

No. 1 – the sales tax increase request is not a surprise to watchdogs in the wake of years of overspending. For years, analysts have been warning about public policies, including in this space as long as two-and-a-half years ago when this portal was launched (Analysis: Steps for Economic Success in Washington State).

Part of the problem stems from furtive policymakers and the failure to answer the right questions: Why Not Transparency for Good, Open Government in Washington State?

No. 2 – 314,700 people are unemployed in Washington state out of the 3.5 million-person workforce. In October, 4,600 jobs were created in government, education, health services, manufacturing and wholesale trade.

No. 3 – With many of the new jobs in government and education, it underscores the point about the state’s business climate. The tech sector in Seattle is doing well. But ask any business owner or manager if their companies are better off now than they were in 2006 before the recession.

No. 4 – It seems unlikely the Legislature will be able to pass such an increase, but will authorized a vote of the people thanks to I-1053, which was passed last year after the Legislature circumvented the three previous voter-approved referendums (I-1053: Critical to Washington State Businesses and Workers).

The Secretary of State’s timeline for the sales tax debate:

  • Dec. 30 – Last day for Legislature to pass tax referendum bill for March 13 election
  • February 10 – Military and overseas ballots mailed for March election
  • February 21 – Mailing of voters’ pamphlets begins for March 13 election
  • February 24 – Regular ballots mailed for March 13 election
  • March 13 – Election Day

“There will be plenty of time to debate the merits of the Governor’s tax proposal but one thing isn’t open for debate, I-1053 is working exactly the way voters intended by providing them the opportunity to ultimately decide this important question,” writes Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center.

He offers this proviso:

“To help ensure this opportunity continues in the future, if lawmakers are going to send voters a proposed tax referendum they should also put a constitutional amendment enforcing the four-time voter approved two-thirds vote requirement for tax increases on the ballot,” he writes.

“This would provide the public and businesses with predictability about whether this tax protection will exist from year to year and clarify whether or not the four-time approval of the voters for this policy was a fluke or actually reflects their consistent and ongoing desire for lawmakers to build a strong public consensus on the need for any proposed tax increase,” he explains.

Agreed – tax increases would be unnecessary if the public officials worked to improve the business climate and performed to voter expectations. Tax increases are never temporary in Washington and the economic environment isn’t improving.

From the Coach’s Corner, Washington state has budget woes and high unemployment because legislators don’t ask the right questions, such as What Do Small Business Owners Need from Washington State Policymakers?

“Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.”

-Will Rogers

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

Pilgrims of 1621 would be Aghast on Thanksgiving Today



Grateful for their freedoms, 53 pilgrims enjoyed the first Thanksgiving nearly 400 years ago in Plymouth, Mass.

They were survivors of the original 100 separatists from their arduous Atlantic Ocean journey aboard the Mayflower from Southampton, England.

Originally, their destination was Virginia, but they disembarked in Massachusetts. It was a severe winter.

But they survived with the help of Native Americans, who taught them valuable lessons – how to live off the land.

A year later in 1621, for three days, the pilgrims and Indians were able to celebrate their good fortune. Initially, it was a religious Thanksgiving.

Over the years Thanksgiving became an American tradition as an opportunity for gratitude – enjoying a plentiful meal with family and friends – all while giving thanks.

President Lincoln declared it a holiday in 1863 on the third Thursday of November. It was switched to the fourth Thursday during the 1940s.

So with the exception of some professions such as journalism, airlines, first responders and healthcare, it’s been a holiday.

But in the quest for profits that’s changed. Initially, it was just workers in retailing have to work Thanksgiving to prepare for Black Friday. That’s the day retailers start earning green in the holiday shopping season.

Retail Thanksgiving 

It’s one thing to be altruistic to serve Americans who need prescriptions for their illnesses.

But starting in 2011, the nation’s largest retailer, Walgreen, opened Thanksgiving for what it calls one-day-only deals to jump start its Q4 sales. For similar reasons, its competitor Rite Aid was open, too.

There have been many indicators many people can’t take advantage of such sales. We’re turning into a nation of haves and have nots.

My sense is that many fortunate Americans are missing some other important signs – they’re reminiscent of the Great Depression: 

  • We seem to have forgotten about America’s Hoovervilles. In pointing a finger at President Hoover for his inability to prevent economic chaos, Hooverville was a term coined by Democrats to describe the shanty towns of unemployed Americans. Old newspapers that were used to keep unemployed people warm were referred to as Hoover blankets. Worn out shoes were lined with cardboard and called Hoover leather.
  • In 1932, World War I veterans marched on the nation’s capital. Twenty-five percent of the nation’s budget had been swallowed by veteran benefits, but many veterans were destitute from unemployment. They demanded early payment for their benefit promised for 1945.
  • Economic hardship exacerbated by a drought, forced thousands of Oklahomans to seek a better future – dignity, jobs and land – by migrating to California.

For poignant visual reminders, see this photo essay.

Fast forward to today. Some 100 million Americans are either in poverty or close to it, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.”

Thomas Jefferson

We’re not talking about new immigrants. We’re talking about nearly 33 percent of Americans – most have high school or college educations.

Many can’t get a job or they’re under-employed. Many are baby boomers whose jobs disappeared in the new service economy. Others have suffered from deteriorating living standards and moribund wages.

It’s true many have not prepared for globalization and the digital age (Study: Unemployment Stems Partly from Deficient Worker Skills, Education).

But there are other reasons. Unlike the New Deal policies of Franklin Roosevelt, the federal government is a hindrance.

The trade deficit is out-of-control. So is the federal budget deficit.

 

‎Additionally, consider federal regulations. Cabbage, for example, is a commodity many will enjoy on Thanksgiving.

However, the U.S. government bureaucracy uses 26,911 words to regulate it.

Compare the cabbage example with the Declaration of Independence: A mere 1,300 words.

Or how about the U.S. Constitution and its amendments: 7,818 words.

But the above U.S. Debt Clock shows us the federal government won’t balance the budget.

Polarized nation

Politics – an infinite pursuit for power – stands in the way of prosperity.

Under Sen. Harry Reid’s “leadership” during the tenure of President Obama, not one budget was passed.

Their political party still stands in the way of a balanced budget and encourages attitudes of entitlement.

Seven million men in their prime – aged 25 to 54 – don’t have a job and aren’t even looking for work, according to published reports.

As a result of economic dysfunction, unproductive trade policies, waves of illegal immigrants and an unhappy electorate, Donald Trump was elected president.

The divergence of the poor and affluent is a huge threat. It’s a menace to our nation’s core values as expressed in our Declaration of Independence – because we’re failing to honor a legacy.

The pilgrims of 1621 showed us the way. They didn’t let politics and poor public policy disillusion them.

They found a way to exist harmoniously with their Native American neighbors, worked hard, practiced stewardship of their assets and reaped a bountiful harvest. That’s why they had reasons to celebrate for a happy Thanksgiving.

When will we have valid reasons to celebrate? Today, the pilgrims would be aghast.

From the Coach’s Corner, more food for thought on Thanksgiving Day:

Governments – from Cities to Federal – Dangerously in Debt — The U.S. economy has been slowly mending. However, the situation is bleak for governments at all levels. Why? High debt is dangerous and economic growth is dreadfully slow. This is best illustrated by the enclosed U.S. Debt Clock.

Like Nobility in the Age of Kings, Ruling Class Gets Trumped — Throughout history, there have been ruling classes in every region of the world. Noteworthy in Europe were the Dark Ages in which the ruling classes dominated ordinary, hardworking folks. That’s true for 21st century America. But like the Age of Enlightenment in the 1700s, America’s ruling class in 2016 is getting trumped by a voter revolt.

Are We Doing Enough to Cherish Memory of 9/11 Victims? — If we really want to cherish the memory of the 9/11 victims, we’re falling far short of the goal. Why? We’re not doing our best to prevent more victims of terrorism for two reasons.

Why a 1960s’ Beatles Protest Song is Still Relevant — Have you ever wondered why British groups like The Rolling Stones, The Who and The Beatles spent so much time touring abroad? To sell music for sure, but there’s another reason: Abusive taxes.

Memorial Day: What Would Abraham Lincoln Say Today? — Memorial Day is to remember the armed forces’ men and women who died to protect our freedoms. Some reflection on what Abraham Lincoln would say today.

“Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.

Thomas Jefferson

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.


President Obama Never Listened to Steve Jobs on Economy



Toward the end of his life, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs – widely recognized as a genius – issued a warning to President Barack Obama.

That’s one of the intriguing details in Mr. Jobs’ authorized biography, “Steve Jobs.” Messrs. Jobs and Obama met in a tense meeting for 45 minutes in 2010.

Authored by Walter Isaacson after 40+ interviews, the Simon & Schuster book reveals Mr. Jobs’ wife, Laurene Powell, scheduled the meeting with the president. It was held at a San Francisco airport hotel.

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.jpgAbout a conversation between the couple, the author writes:

President Obama was “really psyched to meet you” Ms. Powell informed her husband. The author indicates Mr. Jobs responded with anger – he felt the president should have personally asked for a meeting.

Mr. Jobs told the president that the U.S. needed to work for a warm, economic climate. Mr. Jobs explained why businesses build factories in China – fewer regulations and less costs.

The problem was that Mr. Obama didn’t get the message about jobs. Millions were created but most was only part-time and did not pay family wages.

Mr. Jobs also had harsh words for education – ineffective teachers were protected by the unions and principals were shackled in trying to hire good teachers.

The book portrays the genius, not surprisingly, as creative. His other attributes: sensitive, intense, and he had a temper.

When the new Android software seemed to be a replica of Apple’s, Mr. Jobs characterized Google as having committed “grand theft.”

He told author Isaacson: “I’m willing to go thermonuclear war on this.”

Yes, he was competitive.

“Our lawsuit is saying, ‘Google, you f—ing ripped off the iPhone, wholesale ripped us off,” said Mr. Jobs according to the author. “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”

Millions of his iPhone4S were sold as customers paid tribute to Mr. Jobs in lining up to spend an aggregate $1.2 billion. Being much respected the outpouring of affection and sentiment upon his death was to be expected.

In the last decade, only one other businessperson received such adulation – Wendy’s founder Dave Thomas. His folksy demeanor and strong advocacy for adopting children sparked massive sentiment for him. Upon Mr. Thomas’ death, Wendy’s sales skyrocketed, too.

Mr. Jobs’ biography is well worth reading.

As a business-performance consultant, I’m not in agreement with the universal adulation of Mr. Jobs as a businessperson because of his lack of vision in three ways:

  1. The offshoring Foxconn scandal concerning the production of Apple products. I don’t agree Mr. Jobs exercised enough leadership in in economic patriotism.
  2. At some point, Apple will suffer from a market correction because of security issues in Mac products.
  3. The goverment’s allegations of e-book pricing fixing.

But Mr. Jobs was a true genius on a lot of things including the economy — onerous government regulation of business and the creation of jobs.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related posts:

Has Security Bloom Fallen off the Rose for Macs?

Healthcare Reform – New Red Flags for Business, Workers

Is Higher Education Doing the Job to Prepare Grads for the Workforce?

President Obama Misses Mark Again, More of the Same 

“A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.” 

-Steve Jobs


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.



What Do Small Business Owners Need from Washington State Policymakers?



Updated Feb. 1, 2012


Washington state legislators are getting an earful from small-business owners. But will lawmakers listen in the 2012 legislative session?

Washington state’s small-business owners have voiced their concerns over six major public-policy issues, as a result of a Seattle-area conference held by respected think-tank Washington Policy Center (WPC). Their economic-related issues range from workers’ compensation to mandatory paid sick leave.

A detailed analysis was presented in a report to the Legislature.

“Nearly half of Washington’s work force is employed by small businesses,” said WPC President Daniel Mead Smith.

“These are the businesses struggling for survival right now, and they came to us with practical recommendations for how policymakers can make it easier for them to not only survive but grow and create jobs,” added Mr. Smith.

The conference held breakout sessions at Bellevue College.

“The result is a list of priority solutions, selected by small business owners, for solving the major problems with the state’s business climate and moving towards economic recovery,” wrote WPC Communication Director John Barnes.

Here’s the list of small-business owners’ issues:

Workers’ Compensation

  1. Revisit voluntary settlement agreement, as passed in the state Senate in 2011
  2. Do not raise rates for 2012 since L&I funds are in the black
  3. Increase the fraud prevention and investigation efforts

Unemployment Insurance

  1. Reform the displaced worker retraining program
  2. Implement a web-based portal to allow employers to access current claims data, including current contact information for unemployed workers (similar to the system used by the Department of Labor and Industries)
  3. Educate small business owners about the “shared work program”

Regulatory Reform                                          

  1. Review environmental regulations to ensure that Washington rules don’t exceed federal regulations
  2. Legislature should not grant general rule making authority to agencies, but rather be specific about rules to be put in place
  3. Legislature should listen to and follow up on State Auditor Office reports on regulatory reform (tie)
  4. Sunset provisions for regulations (tie)

Health Care

  1. Tort reform
  2. Limit the number of state-required health mandates
  3. Repeal federal health care law

Transportation

  1. Do no harm — don’t reduce lane capacity
  2. Protect highway tolls and taxes for highway purposes
  3. Make congestion relief a policy goal (tie)
  4. Performance-based spending on transportation (tie)

Mandatory Paid Sick Leave

  1. Legislature should not follow Seattle and should not enact statewide paid sick leave
  2. State should pre-empt local government regulations on labor laws
  3. Business impact statements on laws like mandatory paid sick leave should be required

“The conference was co-sponsored by Verizon, Regence, Wells Fargo, Walmart, the Puget Sound Business Journal, Berntson Porter and Co., Columbia Bank, the Washington Health Foundation, NCM, Associated Builders and Contractors of Western Washington, Baldwin Resource Group, and Noteworld Servicing Center,” Mr. Barnes indicated.

”More than 30 chambers of commerce and trade associations from around the state co-presented the conference,” he added.

This was WPC’s fifth conference hosted since 2003. Rarely has the majority of the legislators listened to small business. Let’s hope they start now for economic development and the creation of jobs.

From the Coach’s Corner, in the past I’ve written about the results of the WPC conferences. I’ve also voiced similar concerns in this portal’s Public Policy section.

“People try to live within their income so they can afford to pay taxes to a government that can’t live within its income.”

-Robert Half

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

President Obama Misses Mark Again, More of the Same



Sept. 9, 2011


President Obama is proposing superficial bandaids from political motivations that would accomplish little to solve the structural economic challenges afflicting the U.S.

America’s economy is barely holding together by pins and needles. It could tear completely apart with one more catastrophe. With its $447 billion plan, the Obama Administration has proven again it does not know how to stimulate growth in jobs. If the administration gets its way, a double-dip recession is inevitable — not economic recovery.

Yes, I’m all for roads and education. But I’m troubled. Why? My sense is that the administration is making recommendations for political reasons, and not economic patriotism. More on that later.

U.S. business has too little domestic demand for products. The list of concerns is long. America is no longer a manufacturing center. Television sets and computers are made in Asia. Cars and trucks aren’t selling.

Many big companies like General Motors are investing abroad and making more money there. Yes, ask GM about cars sales in China.

All of this means a stalemate in domestic job creation.

Extend unemployment insurance?

OK, 14 million Americans are jobless. Not to sound unsympathetic, but many workers are partly to blame by not adapting to the new digital age with new skills. There are countless unfilled jobs.

At what point does a helping hand become a handout?

Recessions weren’t kind to me. Long ago, my personal situation helped coin the phrase, corporate downsizing – 14 times. Yes, 14 layoffs. Yet, I always found ways for a sustainable income. It wasn’t always in my preferred industry. Sometimes, I turned to other sectors and got a sales job and worked my way back into management.

As a former mentor, famed broadcaster Del Sharbutt, once bluntly told me: “Every experience is a learning experience.” Reading between the lines, he was also telling me mental toughness was in order. What I eventually learned was that I needed an entrepreneurial spirit. Despite all the jobs, not to be gauche, but a CBS executive referred to my resume as a “rich background.” His comment spurred an even more intense entrepreneurial conviction.

That’s what America, American workers and the Obama Administration need.

The straw that stirs job creation – small business – can’t get credit and enough customers. Studies show most is not hiring nor will they for at least 18 months. Why? Again, there’s too-little domestic consumption.

Family budgets are strained. U.S. consumers are spending more but it’s more precious dollars on food and gas. Both are heavily imported. There isn’t any new drilling for oil and natural gas. So much of domestic consumer money is going abroad but it isn’t returning as a result of exports. The trade imbalance is still way out of whack.

Disingenuous spending

President Obama is calling for more stimulus spending. He apparently thinks spending another $140 billion on roads and schools will work. But my sense is that his proposal is aimed at benefiting the unions for political donations (see this EDITORIAL: How labor unions spend dues money).

Mr. Obama is showing he does not have Bobby Kennedy-like qualities (note this revelation: Dirty work between Obama, Teamsters). Do you recall the administration of John F. Kennedy when his brother, Attorney General Robert Kennedy, had his principled legal fight with the Teamsters in the 1960s?

Meantime, the president proposes to finance his proposed new stimulus with cutbacks in Medicare and Medicaid. It’s fallacious reasoning to think it’s best to spend more for union construction jobs while healthcare workers will lose theirs.

We already know about the devastation caused by his healthcare law. The majority of small businesses are apprehensive. Their workers and all patients face higher costs in their copayments and coverage.

Launching an infrastructure bank to lend money to local and state governments and financed privately?

Please. Government budgets at all levels are stretched too thin, as it is. Government credit ratings are backsliding. Doesn’t anyone remember the U.S. downgrade?

To expect these governments to repay the money isn’t productive, just as businesses fail when they borrow money just to stay in business. At some point, they have to repay the money, or else.

President Obama wants more business regulation – more government bureaucracy. Again, talk to the majority of businesses. You’ll get an earful.

He wants to tax the wealthy at higher rates. So how will they invest and hire workers? What’s their incentive to spend? The hospitality industry – from hotels to restaurants – is barely making it now. Sticking to the wealthy might make some people feel better, but it’s not a solution.

Payroll tax cuts won’t stimulate job growth and are a threat to future Social Security recipients for their retirement. The short-term benefit would be catastrophic for the long term.

There are more red flags, but you get the idea.

We waited weeks for President Obama to outline a new public-policy approach for economic recovery and job creation – in vain.

What we need is common-sense leadership and change from the White House, not politics. Remember the campaign promise? But nearly three years later, are we getting it? No, it’s more of the same politics. There’s no infrastructure being proposed for short-term or lasting recovery.

From the Coach’s Corner, instead of just complaining, this portal’s Public Policy section is filled with solutions.

“The problem with the federal government is that common sense is not necessarily common.”

– Terry Detrick

 

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Terry Corbell is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services (many are available online). For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule Terry Corbell as a speaker, why don’t you contact him today?

Federal Reserve Typifies What’s Wrong with Economy



There’s still a troubling schism in U.S. politics, monetary policy and management of the economy. The Federal Reserve finally stopped printing money in 2014, which only encouraged more bad monetary policy.

For another example, consider Bloomberg ‘s shocking expose: “Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2 Trillion in Loans from Fed.” Yes, $1.2 trillion in secrecy.

In a nice piece of forensic financial reporting – only made possible by a series of Freedom of Information appeals – Bloomberg reporters Bradley Keoun and Phil Kuntz revealed how the Fed secretly gave the financial institutions the outrageous loans totaling more than a trillion dollars in public funds. They examined nearly 30,000 pages of secret documents.

The reporters found the Fed furtively funneled $107.3 billion to Morgan Stanley, $99.5 million to Citigroup, and $91.4 billion to Bank of America. Nearly $300 billion – $298.2 billion in public funds were doled out from Aug. 2007 through Aug. 2010.

Moreover, the secret bailouts were three times larger than what was publicly acknowledged by the other controversial bailout, the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP).

That’s right. The $1.2 trillion was in addition to the $160 billion in the TARP bailout funds.

Ironically, in 2006, and  just before the secret loans, Bloomberg reported Citigroup and Bank of America garnered $104 billion in profits.

Fifteen of the borrowers were European banks.

These huge sums of money totaled 25 times more than the $46 billion loaned by the Fed just after the 9/11 crisis.

The Fed’s justification for the secret loans: To prevent a depression.

However, for a different perspective, consider:

“While the 18-month U.S. recession that ended in June 2009 after a 5.1 percent contraction in gross domestic product was nowhere near the four-year, 27 percent decline between August 1929 and March 1933, banks and the economy remain stressed,” wrote the reporters.

The big banks’ chicanery during that period helped cause the problem and the financial downturn – for dubious reasons, 38 percent in credit-card interest rates charged to small businesses and individuals – plus, canceled credit lines and denials in loan applications.

As a result of the resulting poor credit, many businesspeople simple do not qualify for loans. That’s the reason for relatively little in loan demand. In another article, I posed this question: Does the Federal Reserve Understand Small Business? The answer is absolutely not.

“It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

— Henry Ford

You might recall another Fed-bailout beneficiary was Goldman Sachs. Investors were shocked by a published report, Goldman Sachs CEO hires criminal defense lawyer.

Meantime, despite all this secretive wheeling and dealing, this business portal has repeatedly warned about the dangers from public policies and mismanagement as we head toward a double-dip recession.

While writing this piece, I received an email from a frequent reader who complains about the “ruling class” of public officials who continually tax and waste resources. He sent a link for an ABC News video that shows waste by the Fed. You won’t believe what you see.

So instead of sarcasm about presidential candidates who question the Fed and other sacred cows, let’s get pragmatic and take off the blindfolds. It’s time for sober discernment and productive action.

Mitt Romney had it right in the 2012 presidential campaign when he said he’d fire Ben Bernanke. Mr. Bernanke’s replacement isn’t any better. Common sense is lacking at the Fed.

From the Coach’s Corner, here’s more about the Fed’s poor stewardship:

Why Is Transparency Crucial at the Federal Reserve? — Furtive actions by the Federal Reserve show the need for a change to transparency. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke argued in 2012 that transparency would lead to a “nightmare scenario” in the Fed’s monetary policies. But many others, including me, feel the Federal Reserve has overtly overstepped its monetary authority.

Why Federal Reserve’s QE3 Didn’t Help U.S. Economy — The Federal Reserve showed terrible judgment in printing billions of dollars for cheap money. Among 314 million+ Americans, just a relatively chosen few — big investors — benefited from the Fed’s third edition in quantitative easing (QE). The Fed stopped its printing of money, but it’s too late.

“It is well that the people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

— Henry Ford

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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.

After Taking Us for a Ride, A Vacation Is Warranted for Obama



Aug. 20, 2011


Frankly, I don’t understand the brouhaha over the Obama family’s vacation, decadent or otherwise. Critics who called on President Obama to cancel his Martha Vineyard vacation have been misguided.

Aren’t they over-reacting?

True, the timing of his vacation could have been better. Much of the country is suffering. World markets are in chaos. A check of history does reveal other presidents have canceled vacations during similar crises.

The well-to-do location also raised eyebrows of consternation. For one thing, Martha’s Vineyard does not have racial diversity. Even the Tea Party has more racial diversity. More noteworthy, nor does Martha’s Vineyard have economic diversity. The average American cannot afford the $50,000 per week price tag of Mr. Obama’s favorite vacation retreat – not to mention the huge amounts of money paid for security.

In contrast, President Clinton went camping in Wyoming, President Reagan went home to split firewood, and President Roosevelt served hot dogs to the Queen of England. Those symbols of leadership inspired Americans during critical times.

The feeling of President Obama’s critics is that he advocates certain principles, but his actions speak differently. I concur.

By now, you realize the headline and lead paragraphs in this piece are facetious.

No, I’m not a Republican. Nor am I a Democrat. As a Biz Coach columnist, count me also as an average American with a Cherokee Indian heritage, an Independent and a champion of the underdog — someone who is deeply worried about the direction of this country.

The spending is out of control. The risk of a double-dip recession is quite high. So what do we get now? We get an ill-advised bus-PR gimmick with only hints about a new jobs plan.

Yes, Mr. Obama’s bus tour has really taken us Americans for a ride — an abysmal, bumpy ride. As a former columnist at Belo Web sites and one who supported his small-business platfom during his campaign —  a Biz Coach column followed by a press release — I feel betrayed.

Incompetent economic policies

Actually, since his inauguration, President Obama has been leading us astray. Instead of focusing on the faltering economy, he gave us a dysfunctional health law, which has been one of the reasons small business has not hired workers. He advocated a plan to confiscate your retirement funds. And don’t forget about his unproductive environmental policy in Cap and Trade.

As a result, a recent Gallup Poll indicates Mr. Obama has a 26-percent rating for his handling of the economy. Americans aren’t confident about his policies with good reason – the policies and Americans aren’t working.

His rhetoric has suggested he will deliver an effective policy to create jobs and to ease the onerously high unemployment rate. He’s been wrapping himself in the American flag – issuing an ultimatum to opponents to support his secret jobs plan. He implies opponents of his ineffective policies are unpatriotic. Sure.

His bus tour was another indicator of incompetence – the type of economic-policy ilk that Americans suffered under President Carter. To state Mr. Obama is providing leadership is in reality an oxymoron. His so-called leadership is leading us down the wrong road.

The two Darth-Vader looking black buses cost $1.1 million – each – from Prevost, a Quebec-based manufacturer. Reportedly, the Secret Service made the purchase. If I were Canadian, I’d expect my government not to miss a chance to buy Canadian. Likewise, as a U.S. citizen concerned about jobs, I expect this administration to buy American.

Yes, it’s true all White House vehicles are black. However, instead of being a source for optimism, the black-colored buses are a reminder – the black mirrors the economy and morale of most Americans.

Obama behavior fails to match goals

For a president who claims he’s concerned about jobs for American workers, he’s committed a terrible PR gaffe – economically, environmentally and patriotically.

To send a message about job creation, appropriate action is indicated. But it’s not happening. No one will convince me that American bus manufacturers are incompetent. There’s at least one American bus manufacturer that’s able to meet security requirements to protect a U.S. president.

In fact, a cursory search on Google reveals three interesting American bus manufacturers:

  1. Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns Forest River, a bus builder in Elkhart, Indiana – in business since 1903. Mr. Buffett just might have the resources to build such a bus.
  2. General Motors Ventures LLC is investing $6 million in Proterra Inc., a well-known manufacturer of zero-emission buses. Locations: Golden, Colorado and Greenville, South Carolina.
  3. How about American Coach in Decatur, Indiana?  Talk about a missed opportunity for PR. American Coach’s line of products: American Revolution, American Eagle, American Tradition and American Heritage. Any of the names would have been a PR coup of epic proportions.

(Note: If you work for a U.S. bus manufacturer excluded in this column, my apologies for my oversight. Please let me know. I’ll gladly add you to this list.)

One final example of Mr. Obama’s tone deafness: Not only did he miss an opportunity to put Americans to work building his buses, he missed another golden opportunity to show the No. 1 symbol of patriotism — the American flag.

There were no American flags anywhere on his buses. None.

So, I disagree with the critics of Mr. Obama’s vacations. I now believe he should enjoy long, decadent respites. When he’s not working, Americans are better off. They have a better chance of getting back to work.

From the Coach’s Corner, you might also wish to read Does the Federal Reserve Understand Small Business?  Here’s a menu of other public policy columns.

“A major source of objection to a free economy is precisely that group thinks they ought to want. Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself.”

-Milton Friedman

 


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.






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Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.