Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

The Real State of the Union. Mr. President, I suggest for you: Flowers.

By: Daniel Becker

Well, it’s that time of year again. The State of the Union. And the state of my business. So far, from what I’m reading regarding the expected content of the address by President Obama, I think I’ll just practice my playing as I usually do on Tuesday nights. Really? What’s the use in listening? We have a person  who heads a company that is noted for pushing the off shoring concept of growing America via their prior celeb CEO, Jack Welch as Obama’s pick to head up the committee that is going to figure out how to boost job creation? And we wonder why this country can’t regain the glory days of accomplishment and prosperity. Actually, I don’t wonder. I know.

Though, I see Welch has had a change of heart? At least as it relates what a business should prioritize.

“On the face of it, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world,” he said. “Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy…your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.”

Oh sure, after he got his.

Let’s get to it.


2010 started off looking hopeful for Fontana’s Flowers. We were up 1.5% for the first quarter, then April came. Off 17% even with Easter. By the end of June we were back up again 1.5%. So, I figured we had at least hit the bottom. WRONG! July came, off 21%. August came, off 20%. Every month since June as been off. It produced the following picture.

I guess we are hitting the bottom finally. It’s only been 5 years.

Now, before I start hearing about how flowers are a luxury, what does it say about a nation’s economy such as ours when a simple luxury that has the power to :

When women were given flowers, they always responded with a ‘real’ duchenne smile, and reported more positive moods three days later.

When men or women were given a flower, they responded with a duchenne smile and engaged in more prosocial activities (compared to control conditions of being given a pen or nothing).

Flowers given to elderly people resulted in more positive mood and improved episodic memory!

The researchers also reported other “unusual emotional displays that they were unprepared to measure,” (4, p122), including:

Hugs and kisses.
Invitations to participants’ homes for refreshments.
‘Thank you’ cards and letters – some with photographic evidence of the continuing beauty of the bouquet.

As they sum up – “In many years of studying emotions, we have never received hugs and kisses, thank you notes or photographs, not even for candy, doghnuts, hats, gift certificates, or direct monetary payment; flowers are different.”

…is not affordable to the masses? It says we are an elitist nation in the ugliest meaning of the word elite. I think considering the nation’s psyche, these pictures sum up the proper scientific based response to such ugliness.

Again, what does it say about our nation’s priorities when the masses can no longer afford such a simple luxury which has so many benefits that frankly, we need to experience desperately.

Back to business. There was a reason in part for our second half results. It was the stimulus programs of “shovel ready” projects. Seems many were not really shovel ready. Instead of having proper engineering and surveying performed, they went for quick and simple. This left me with 3 months of traffic issue powerful enough that even the big box stores were hampered. However, my “small business” is left with the following:

What you are viewing is a new, never existed prior, 6 ft wide concrete side walk that is 2.5” above my pavement and within 9 ft of my foundation. This might not be a problem if it were not for the fact that this new sidewalk leaves my foundation only 1/2” above the side walk. Can you say “gutter”. I am told, and I’ve tried, that I have to live with this. I also have to live with the curbing being 5” high, which means instead of having an easy in/out parking lot that was cut short when they originally widened the road, I have one that acts like a one way street. And, to add insult to injury, they stuck a “Tow Zone, Snow Route” sign exactly right where one backs up as they attempt to leave the left end of the parking lot.

Have I given enough to this “recovery” yet?

Back to the Real state of the Union. Here is the all telling picture.


As you can see, account sales are still trending down. Cash sales are leveling off, but the all telling credit card sales is rising. Are people using plastic as they become more digital with their money handling or are they spending on credit? Is it real money, or are they trying to buy a little happiness today for a headache tomorrow?
Personally, and I’m speaking to you President Obama, I still need customers, with money so that I can partake in your job growing desires. Mr. President, considering all the problems you want to solve, and what the science suggests, I would think you would want my business to have all the customers it could handle. To steal a phrase: A vase of flowers on every table. It speaks prosperity, it speaks peace, it speaks harmony, it speaks re-election. When people are able to buy flowers again, Mr. President, you will know that you and congress have set this nation on a real foundation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Or, you can talk all flowery about job creation to me while I look at your new head of the “President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness” CEO who heads the company that lead outsourcing and the shift from making money via manufacturing to making money from money.

For you President Obama. 


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Prepping for the State of the Union address

By: Daniel J. Becker

With the state of the Union coming up and the current national attention having been drawn toward the question of the nation’s personality via reality mimicking Hollywood (God, that slap in the face hurt bad, assuming you felt it) I want to try to get us ready for the presentation by reminding people that drama can not be the end all and be all as motivation. We truly need to acknowledge the vastness between policy including policy statements and implementation and the living experience post policy.

Last year I posted my state of the union opinion based on real world small business experience.  Well, I can tell you, it’s not any better. I’ll get to that in the next post. Let’s just say, I got to experience the down side of the “stimulus” first hand. No, I’m not against stimulus, just poorly implemented stimulus.

In the mean time. There has been much discussion regarding the degree of leftyness of President Obama in the last 2 years. I asked in ’08: Obama, Is he or isn’t he….real?  In that post I drew on some statements President Obama made pre-election regarding policy positions. You should go read the comments. It’s kind of a “how wrong/correct were we” experience.

I want to focus on just one statement by President Obama from that post keeping in mind the concept of the “state of the union” address:

I will invest $150 billion over the next decade in renewable sources of energy to create five million new, green jobs – jobs that pay well and can’t be outsourced; jobs building solar panels and wind turbines and fuel- efficient cars;…

Great policy idea. Stimulus, jobs, hits the climate change thing, gives purpose and a direction for say our education system. Kind of lefty on the leftyness scale. However, there has always been rumblings that I’ve read and thought regarding greening our economy and jiving that with globalization and outsourcing. Well, we got our answer. It’s not jiving. Or should I say, it’s jiving just fine considering our current economic industrial policy?

Solar Panels Jobs Go to China

BEIJING — Aided by at least $43 million in assistance from the government of Massachusetts and an innovative solar energy technology, Evergreen Solar emerged in the last three years as the third-largest maker of solar panels in the United States.

But now the company is closing its main American factory, laying off the 800 workers by the end of March and shifting production to a joint venture with a Chinese company in central China. Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China.

Even though Evergreen opened its Devens plant, with all new equipment, only in 2008, it began talks with Chinese companies in early 2009. In September 2010, the company opened its factory in Wuhan, China, and will now rely on that operation

Let the excuses begin. In the end, the reality of the state of the union is that it’s not good in all aspects of it’s health. As I asked in “Is he or isn’t he…real”

If the change we wanted was not to be bull shitted anymore, and the one I’m listening to is talking “change” using lingo, presenting policy plans of what I want, was I wrong to think they were talking no more bull shit?
Which brings us back to reality mimicking Hollywood. It is not just the issue of violent rhetoric. No, no, noooooooooooo.

Do you know what happens to a person when they can never get a straight, a no hidden agenda answer from the one(s) they count on? They go nuts.

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