Monday, December 28, 2020

It's Past Time to #ENDLOCKDOWNS

     So much damage had already been done. Not by this thing called Covid but by our reaction. According to Yelp.com's Local Economic Impact Report more than 97,966 businesses have permanently closed during the pandemic. It's also affected black owned small business at a greater rate. Nearly twice as hard as non black owned businesses according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

     As business owners try to find creative ways to stay in business, hopefully making enough money to keep employees employed. Believe it or not small business owners care about their employees. They work next to them everyday. They are not just a number in the human resources department they know them personally. They know their families in may cases. They also have expenses that occur every month no matter if you are open or not. 

     "I'm not sure we know what we're doing," San Mateo County Health Officer Scott Morrow recently confessed but since March officials have made decisions that have destroyed small businesses, especially the restaurant industry and there is no end in sight. New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announced that as of December 14 and until further notice, there will be no indoor dining permitted whatsoever. Bill Gates warned that the coronavirus could be a risk until 2022 and added that “sadly” bars and restaurants will have to close over the next "four to six months." and recently Biden said the "darkest days" of the crisis are still to come. So many people yelling follow the science it seems this is one area we refuse to. The latest transmission data shows that only 1.3 percent of new Covid-19 cases come from bars and restaurants. Economic historian Phil Magness took a look at Google's mobility data. He found that the 7 non-lockdown states and the 7 most heavily restricted states + DC show that its the lockdowns, and not the virus, for the economic harm of the last 8 months. Even a Los Angeles County judge said such bans are "not grounded in science, evidence, or logic."

     This has been a stressful situation for small business owners. Most do not have the cash flow to just close down for weeks or months. Yes, many received money from the Payroll Protection Program but those payments are coming due soon and many have not received word on forgiveness and banks are still waiting on clarity on the process.

     Then these business owners go online and read comments from people who are angry that these businesses want to open. "People before profits" they yell. "How can you even think of opening when we have a global pandemic going on?" "You can always get another job!" Where are these people going to work if small businesses fail? Small businesses generates 43 percent of the private payroll in the United States. Sixty five percent of all new jobs over the past 17 years were created by small business. 

     What about the employees? We seem to be a country that wants to support our lower wage earners but our actions right now seem to be the opposite. Those who have employment who let them work from home seem to be the loudest about staying home. They don't miss a paycheck yet yell at those who want/need to work. Then these people who make less money are willing to go out and expose themselves to cook you food, bring it to your table or door, and stock your shelves for when you finally do venture out of the house.

     It is way past time to #ENDTHELOCKDOWNS. Business owners need to and have the right to try and earn a living. To try and salvage what is left of their business that they poured their heart and soul into. The employees need to be able to go to work to earn money to pay their bills and support their families. We also need to feel some sort of normalcy for our mental health. To see others and to have a purpose. Yes the virus can be scary. Especially to those who haven't been out working everyday like so many have been to keep supply chains going. The good news is, if you really are afraid of catching Covid in a restaurant or any other small business. You don't have to go. As for me, as I have been going out two or more times a week. I will patronize these places and tip well.           

Monday, December 14, 2020

WEAR THE DAMN MASK!

     I have a question for those who seem to like yelling WEAR THE DAMN MASK! Who are you yelling at? Starting in the middle of July Walmart, Kroger, and Kohl's all started requiring customers to wear face protection. CVS and Walgreens started July 20th and Publix started July 21st. Sam's club, Best Buy and Starbucks all followed close behind. Costco and Apple stores had required them since May. These policies by major retailers then pushed smaller local businesses to follow suit and require face masks. Nearly all businesses and public places required you to wear a mask by August first. In fact at the time Target implemented their policy 80% of their stores already had face covering policies because of local ordinances. Below is a list of all the states that had some form of mask mandate in place by the time the major retailers announced. Of course since then almost all other states do require face masks.  

     New Jersey (April 8), Hawaii & New York (April 17), Maryland (April 18), Connecticut (April 20), Delaware (April 28), Illinois (April 30), Maine (May 1), Rhode Island (May 8), New Mexico (May 15),  Massachusetts (May 26), Virginia (May 29), Michigan (June 17), California (June 18), Nevada & North Carolina (June 24), Washington (June 26), Oregon & Pennsylvania (July 1), Kansas & Texas (July 3), West Virginia (July 7), Ohio (July 8), Kentucky (July 9), Louisiana (July 13), Alabama &Arkansas & Colorado (July 16)

     In a July 17th article posted in The New York Times they found that in several national surveys at the time found around 80 percent of Americans say they wear masks frequently or always when they expect to be within six feet of other people. This was before most places required you to! The number at the time was short of the universal masking public health officials have asked for, but it was higher than the rates of mask use in several other countries, including Canada, Finland and Denmark. Still the mask police were on social media yelling about how selfish Americans are.

    A article in Men's Health from October 8th states the state with the lowest mask wearing was Wyoming at 65.6. I guess maybe we are yelling at them? Most states have over 80% compliance and many have a compliance rate of 90% or better. Massachusetts is the state with the highest number of people wearing masks, at 94.87%  This is followed by Maryland (94.18 percent), Rhode Island (93.5 percent), Connecticut (93.45 percent), and Vermont (93.31 percent). It seems to me we are doing really well at covering our faces. So who are we yelling at?

     The truth is it isn't about making someone wear a mask it's about the person doing the yelling. Sure some feel really helpless and this is a way for them to feel like they are doing something to help in this pandemic. But really, just like practically every post on social media it is to fill us with self importance. To see the likes and comments of agreement. I mean you have well over 80% or more of the population in agreement. Plus we tend to surround ourselves with only like minded people on our social media anyway. So keep on yelling WEAR THE DAMN MASK! so those likes just roll on in. I can feel that endorphin rush already. 




Saturday, May 16, 2020

No, We Are Not In This Together

I have grown to hate the phrase we are in this together. All one needs to do is read Facebook or Twitter for ten seconds and you will find out this is not true.

Once again the mentality has broken down to one of two sides. Open up or lock it down until we have a cure. Unfortunately locking down until we have a cure was never the goal and states keep pushing back the open date. That alone has frustrated so many. If you even try to discuss opening up you are accused of only wanting to make a dollar and don't care about those dying. I've read posts by people say you can recover from not having a job but you cannot recover from death. My personal favorite is, maybe if you knew someone who had Covid-19 you wouldn't be so quick to reopen. Both are insults. To suggest that someone does not understand the pain of loosing someone? That they haven't entered that into their equation about reopening is just absurd and when you tell someone you can recover from a job loss is totally dismissing their pain. That somehow because they are not dealing with death that their pain is not real. Well, shame on you!

One person's pain is not lessened just because you can point to someone who has it worse. Yes we do that many times to remind ourselves about the many blessings we do have but when it's done from a outside source it's a total dismissal of the hurt that person is feeling. We make a heart shape with our hands, we cut out paper hearts and hang them in our front windows and then we dismiss the suffering of our fellow man because it's not death?. In this together? We are as long as you think like me I guess.

There has been over 88,000 deaths in the United States at the time I wrote this. That is terrible. Each one of those people left a family devastated. I get it. We all know that. There is also been 33 million people file for unemployment. Behind each of those numbers is a family suffering. But they don't matter because....death. In the United Kingdom on average 2 deaths a week happen from domestic abuse. The three weeks following lock down? Sixteen. For each of those families they are experiencing suffering but they don't matter because...death. Financial ruin, doesn't matter. Depression? Substance abuse on the rise. Who cares...it's not death. 

A recent Kaiser Family Poll nearly found that half of Americans report the coronavirus crisis is harming their mental health. A federal emergency hotline for people in emotional distress had a 1,000 percent increase in April compared with the same time last year. A online therapy company called Talkspace reported a 65 percent jump in clients since mid-February. But we dismiss anyone who wants to get back to normalcy.

Normalcy is what keeps some people hanging on. The purpose of going to work all day can mean more than a paycheck. It gives many purpose. It may keep another from returning to the bottle he finally gave up two years ago. The convict who was released last year and finally found someone who would hire him but now finds himself out of a job. I could go on. 

But if all that doesn't grab your attention maybe this will. If mental abuse, and spousal abuse is on the rise then so is child abuse. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, which runs the National Sexual Assault Hotline, at the end of March there was a 22% increase in monthly calls from people younger than 18. That was at the beginning of the lock down! During that time 67% identified their perpetrator as a family member and 79% said they were currently living with that perpetrator. Now, with schools closed I wonder how many of these abuses are going undetected because teachers and administrators are unable to see these children and report these crimes. Instead, these children are at home, not even able to go to the local playground and are stuck with their abusers. 

So next time you sit behind your computer being the mask police and criticize someone who wants a return to normalcy of being cold and uncaring, I think you better look into the mirror. Quit dismissing others pain because it is real and it is being felt by millions. Use your energy to care for those people. If nothing else, stop with your constant bitching about everyone else. Your constant critical posts are not going to make you approachable for when someone does need help. You have already told them their pain doesn't matter because you know....death. 


If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:
•  Call 911 or your local emergency number.
•  Stay with the person until help arrives.
•  Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
•  Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

www.timolson.info

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Taboo Question

Can I ask a question that seems to be taboo? What is the plan for getting us back to work?  Everyday I am bombarded with social media posts praising teachers and medical workers for their efforts. As it should be. What I do not see is praise for us small business owners and the common worker for our sacrifice.

But before I go on let me make it perfectly clear that I understand that behind EVERY death because of the coronavirus there is a person, A mother, father, child, uncle or aunt. That there are people morning a death. My wife and I pray everyday for all those effected. We do not take those numbers lightly.

I also know that behind all the unemployment numbers there is a mother, father, child, uncle or aunt that is scared and worried. These are also serious situations that we cannot over look. Yet if you dare mention it you are accused of not caring about life. But the truth is at some point they had to push the life boats away from the Titanic in order to save those in them. If they let everyone in, all the life boats would sink and nobody would survive. I cannot imagine being in a life boat and looking at the faces of those who stood on the ship watching life boats push off.

Americans are great people especially during times of tragedy. We rise up and give of our time and money. Time after time we help those in need. I think that this time is no different. Americans are mostly following the shelter in place rules and are paying a price. Small business's have closed and are doing their best to retain employees. Many business have shifted from normal operations in order to keep their doors open. Restaurants who never offered carry out and delivery now do so. Some are using FaceTime to allow customers to shop from home. Automotive shops are picking up cars and bringing them back then allowing you to pay on the phone. Yes, many business owners have become creative and changed the way they do business almost overnight. These are also the business owners who are trying to keep their employees on payroll. Often dipping into their personal funds or taking on debt just to help take care of their business "family".

We don't mind the sacrifice. But the truth is we don't know what we are being asked to sacrifice. Are we being asked to give up a few weeks or maybe even a couple of  months of sales in order to save lives? I think most are okay with that. Or are we being asked to give everything we ever worked for? Are we being asked to give up our business's? Our livelihood? Are we to give up our homes and belongings? What is the plan and how much are we to give? Are we even being given a choice?

Yes the virus is real. Yes the number of deaths are real. But so are the unemployment numbers. We need to understand behind those numbers there is more than a financial toll that will need to be counted. The emotional toll will create a laundry list of unintended consequences. We have already had the suicide rate increase 33% in the United States since 1999. The highest since World War Two. Here locally domestic assault calls are on the rise. We can't let the life boats go down. At some point we have to push them away.

So again I go back to my question. We really need to know... What is the plan for getting us back to work? We need to have some hope.
 

Friday, March 13, 2020

Small Businesses Need You

Right now we are having a crisis on our hands with the Coronavirus. Whether or not we are overreacting is something to be studied at a later date but the fact is right now a lot of things are being postponed or cancelled altogether.

These cancellations may hurt some big businesses. For example I have seen how much some airlines stand to loose over the next couple of months. Most big corporations can take the hit. A lot of them are even insured for such a thing. But who isn't insured for this type of losses? The Uber driver who gets you to the airport. The porter who takes you bags. The local travel agent who booked your trip. The man or woman running a small kiosk at the airport. 

Self employed and small business owners cannot take the financial hit. We do not operate with large reserves and we need a steady stream of income to support our livelihood. When we close down even for a day the rent is still due for that day. The phone, insurance, heating and cooling, loan payments, taxes, and so on are still due. 

For those of us who employ people we need to make payroll and want to be able to keep those who work for us employed. We are the employers who actually care about our employees. They are not just another number in the payroll system.

Most small business owners are proud people. They work hard long hours and are the ones who give so much back to the communities that support them. They are struggling right now and most won't tell you how worried they are. They worried about loosing their business and are worried about supporting their families.

So, I ask you, to please help support your local small businesses. They need you more than ever right now. So many of these people have their entire life savings wrapped up in their business. They also have their heart in it as well. For so many of us our business is an extension if who we are. So buy something local. Maybe a gift card to be used at a later date. If they sell online make a purchase. Use a local service. If you know the owner, ask him/her how they are. Tell your friends about them, and let them they know they are no alone. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Death of the Service Industry / We Are Lazy

When I first started this blog post I was a worked up about the current talk of raising the minimum wage to $15hr. My business senses kicked in. I could not believe how many people seem to not understand basic economics. One of the dumbest arguments on the internet is if you cannot afford to pay someone $15 a hour your not running your business right. We will call this dumb argument #1.

Businesses have to compete. They must create a product or service that people actually want and sell it at a price people are willing to pay. A business can create a great product or service that people really want, but if they price it too high due to unrealistic labor costs then the consumer won’t buy it.
Somehow when we talk about tariffs we seem to understand this effect. News story after news story about how if you add a tariff to a item it will raise the price and make it harder for the consumer to afford but if you increase the labor somehow this won't have any effect on the price of the product or service? Where are these people getting this stuff? Of course that also leads to the second dumbest argument by the people pushing this increase. They always point to the Walmarts and the salary of the CEOs as proof that $15 a hour is possible.

Most people in the United States are employed by a small business. These small business' cannot afford these types of increases in labor. If you point this out they go to dumb argument #1.
Wages and benefits are paid based on the selling point of the product. A good part of this is determined by the skill level required of the employee. The higher the skill set required the more an employee is worth. It’s supply and demand, the same with any product. Increasing the minimum wage sets the selling point higher no matter the employees skill level.

The service industry will be hardest hit. Those business that are basically all labor and do not sell a product already have labor as their number one expense. Not only would service business see their largest expense increase they would also see an increase in matching FICA and Medicaid. Workers compensation is mostly based off of the amount of salary paid. Increase! Unemployment is based off of salary paid. Increase! And many service business insurance rates are based off of salary. Increase!
Let's face it there are a lot of services that would no longer exist if the price point became too high. People will clean their own home, stain their own deck, mow their own lawn.

But the argument that grinds me is that we believe we should be able to live comfortably and not have to work more than 40 hours in a week. How lazy are we? How self centered do you need to be to believe that you deserve a comfortable life for minimal work. Through out most of time people worked more than 40 hours to provide for their family. Many, like myself still do. Sixty hours a week can he normal for me. Sure I could work less but I would also make less money but I work my butt off to give my family a better life than the one I had. I NEVER thought it was the duty of my employer to make sure all my family's expenses were covered. That was my job and I would find a way to do it.

A high school student making $15 an hour on only working 20 hours a week is would be in the top 20% of wage earners in the world. When we fight for fifteen dollars a hour we are admitting we are lazy.

Take Edwardo. He worked in the main dinning room on our last cruise. He had been with the company for twenty one years. He left his family for seven months at a time working long hours just to give his family a better life. Seven months out at sea, two months home. He told us about how he had built a business back home and was employing people and now he would be able to retire from working on the cruise ship and stay home full time. This was a man who was willing to do whatever it took to provide for his family. He sacrificed so much and here we sit and claim... that you should be able to live comfortably and provide for a family on only 40 hours a week. 

Should everyone be able to make $15 a hour? Sure! I want everyone to make a lot of money and be rich. I want to be rich! But you need to learn a skill and work up the ladder. You don't get top dollar for entry level jobs. Nobody guaranteed me a basic level of income when I started my business. In fact worked below minimum wage for a very long time to build my business.  

If we ever raise the minimum wage that high, small business' like mine will most likely close. There goes six jobs times how many others that would do the same thing. Oh well, it really is my own fault, after all I just don't know how to run a business, or at least that's what they will say. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

When the Motivator isn't Motivated

A few years ago I published my book "Growing Up Nobody". In the book I was quite open about the struggles I faced in my younger years. The fact my dad suffered from mental illness and facing the death of both of my parents by the age of 24.  Because of this I have also had the opportunity to give talks and do many podcast interviews. I use this time to let people know that at times you can feel like your at the end of your rope but you can make it. Yes life can be hard but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just look at me!

But what if the motivator if depressed. Yes I have overcome a lot. Yes I am very blessed to have a great job that provides for my family and allows me to travel. Yes I have a beautiful wife who loves me greatly. I also have three wonderful children who, yes, drive me absolutely crazy but deep down wonderful people and make me proud. But that doesn't mean I cannot suffer from depression.

I find myself fighting Seasonal Depression most winters. This year has been one of the worst. So as you can imagine it becomes very hard to stand up and tell others that they can over come the opsticles in their life when you yourself are experiencing great sadness, lack of energy and feelings of hopelessness and loneliness. 

Over the years I have developed some things that help me get through. One is vacation planning. During the winter months I spend a lot of time looking for places to visit and plan our next vacation. This helps give me something to be excited about in the future. It gives me a feeling of today may be rough but look what is coming. It helps bring hope. Another is playing guitar. As I wrote about in a previous post, Daughters Daddies and Guitars I have recently been living out the dream of being able to play guitar. This also bring me joy to know that I have progressed far enough in a skill I have always wanted to learn to do it in front of people. 

I know that fighting depression isn't as easy as playing guitar. I spent a winter as what I call a functioning depressant. I went to work and then came home and slept until it was time to go to bed. It was a rough time. But I do believe that everyone has things they love and a lot of the time we do not get time to do them. Sometimes cost prevents us but more than not we just don't have the time or we feel selfish when we take time for ourselves. I know I do. But not taking care of yourself can take a toll on you not only emotionally but physically. Many professionals say that the lack of certain types of self-care is linked to all sorts of diseases and illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Taking care of yourself is not selfish. It is just the opposite. Taking time for yourself can help reduce feelings like anxiety, exhaustion and stress. When these are reduced you will be able to be more of yourself for the people around you. By you taking care of yourself, you are giving to them. 

It can be hard. So many people rely on you. That's a good thing. It helps give you purpose but you need to say no sometimes and go do that thing you want to do, even if it's just a long hot bubble bath. 

I understand this is not a cure for depression. In fact there are many types of depression and many need treatment from a doctor. You may even be given medication. Which is okay. There is nothing wrong with that. It's just another way of taking care of yourself. So if you find yourself feeling...

deep feelings of sadness
dark moods
feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
appetite changes
have sleep changes
lack of energy
inability to concentrate
difficulty getting through your normal activities
lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
or withdrawing from friends


You just may be suffering from depression. Talk to someone. Anyone. Especially if you have a preoccupation with death or thoughts of self-harm. You are worth it! 

This world can demand a lot from you. It's okay to say no sometimes. It's okay to take care of yourself. It's okay to admit you are suffering from depression and it is more than okay to get help. There are tons of us that fight the above feelings everyday. We stand next to you at the store or are in the car next to you. We struggle to. Even those of us that seem like was always have it all together and live wonderful lives. Sometimes even the guy who is trying motivate you! You are NOT alone.   

 Tim "Timo" Olson
www.timolson.info


Below are some common types. 

Major depression - People with major depression experience symptoms most of the day, every day. Like many mental health conditions, it has little to do with what’s happening around you. You can have a loving family, tons of friends, and a dream job. You can have the kind of life that others envy and still have depression.
Persistent depression - is depression that lasts for two years or more. It’s also called dysthymia or chronic depression. Persistent depression might not feel as intense as major depression, but it can still strain relationships and make daily tasks difficult.
Perinatal depression - occurs during pregnancy or within four weeks of childbirth. It’s often called postpartum depression. But that term only applies to depression after giving birth. Perinatal depression can occur while you’re pregnant.
Seasonal depression -  is depression that’s related to certain seasons. For most people, it tends to happen during the winter months.
Situational depression - clinically known as adjustment disorder with depressed mood, looks like major depression in many respects. It may be brought on by specific events or situations, such as the death of a loved one, a serious illness, divorce or child custody issues, being in emotionally or physically abusive relationships, being unemployed or facing serious financial difficulties. 


If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:
•  Call 911 or your local emergency number.
•  Stay with the person until help arrives.
•  Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
•  Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.