Tuesday, November 2, 2021

FREE ADVICE




During the last election I had someone confront me about my support for a certain candidate. This exchange happened where all good debates happen, on social media. Now I have never announced who I was going to vote for in public. Never had, never will. I have also never announced my support for a certain political party. They just made a assumption.

Yes my political opinion may lean one way and I'm sure most can tell which way it leans. But unlike so many I do not support a certain party. Never have, never will. They are both corrupt and I would not allow my name to be associated with either one. This has allowed me to look at all sides and to make decisions separate from what one party may support. 

Besides, I think it is unwise to get behind one party. Your thinking becomes monolithic and your thoughts are never challenged. You become locked into a prison of ideas. Never to explore other thoughts no matter how educated or open minded you may think you are. You are stuck supporting every idea like a sports fan supporting his favorite team. No matter how bad they play or even cheat you will support, cheer on and buy your team's merchandise. I also think the idolization of political figures like Trump and Ruth Bader Ginsburg is gross at best. They are our employees not superstars.   

Since I do not identify with a team I have not allowed any team to help form my personality. You will not find a blue wave on my profile or a MAGA hat on my head. No bumper sticker or profile frame  I don't define who I am because of some party and their beliefs and I most definitely do not allow people who belong to an opposing viewpoint to define who I am and what I am not because of their beliefs. I am like David S. Pumpkins, I am my own thing. 

When you become a fan of one party or "team" you are willing to support whomever they put in front of you. It is also why people were so quickly to jump to the conclusion that since I lean one way that I must support the candidate that leads that party. I can see why most would come to that conclusion. Because that is what they do. I do not. I will not sign my name to someone I do not believe in. I've even voted third party! Wild I know.  

Another reason why I do not share publicly who I support is I do not believe random advise about who or what to support is extremely helpful. In fact its probably more harmful. Nobody should vote a certain way just because a friend or relative tells them they should. I know there are families who will print out the names of all the proper politicians and pass them around. No, I want people to choose who they vote for by forming a educated opinion. Not to just get the win and defeat the other "side".  Plus choosing sides also means you are creating a divide. If you have chosen a side YOU are contributing to the division. You have set up a winner and looser situation. I want us all to win. 

Now this is where the problem comes in because I guess I'm weird for not just yelling "GO TEAM". I may just be a clown in the eyes of most but I'm smart enough to know that there are reasons why someone else might see the world differently than I do. Life experience, social status, economic status and many more reasons can come into play as to why someone may vote differently. (Although I believe usually it's the blindness of belonging to a team) Because of this I also don't see someone who may vote differently as evil like so many do. Remember when we used to love diversity of thought? I do and I am always willing to discuss what I know and also learn what others know. But sadly no one seems to want to be apart of that. No real discussion of ideas. Hear mine not yours. Just go for the win. "GO TEAM"

So if I won't dish out political advice I most certainly will not give out medical advice. I believe doing so is not only dangerous but very irresponsible unless of course you are a medical professional. Even if you are I don't think you should be randomly advising people on social media. But again so many people are willing to do just that. "Stop being selfish, get the jab!" I wonder how many people who yell about getting the vaccine would have claimed a year ago that your medical decisions should be up to the individual and their doctor. I wonder how many have moved so far they are okay with the mandates that prevent everyday citizens from participating in society. But today it is so common place to belittle someone about not getting "the shot" that I cannot read the comments on my favorite travel website without seeing someone being attacked over the vaccine. A place I used to go for light hearted conversations about destinations. 

A great example of the dangers is when people jumped on the anti Hydroxychloroquine bandwagon because of their political beliefs. Not science. Well, they claim it's science but they get their science from political figures and not from the CDC website or researchers at the Henry Ford Health System who found the drug to be somewhat effective. So now the keyboard experts on social media keep handing out medical advice. I will bet that most cannot name a country where Hydroxychloroquine was available over the counter. I'll bet they didn't know it was a over the counter drug in many countries! They just saw their favorite politicians blocking it's use. Political figures stopped doctors from using a trusted readily available drug because of politics. A drug that although may not have been a cure seemed to help at least some patients. But hey, "SCIENCE." 

Now we have people upset at the fact the there are those who are hesitant on getting the vaccine. I wonder why. Our politicians and media are the ones to blame. Both parties have claimed they would not trust a vaccine developed under the control of the other party. This includes the current president and vice president. (who are now trying to get people to take the very same vaccine) Go watch video clips from last year and see all the concern about a rushed vaccine. In researching for this blog post I watched the hosts of KTLA in Los Angeles talk about their concerns over a vaccine. (June 2020) We have the CDC lie to us from the beginning about mask use. Why, because they felt they needed to in order to get us to do what was needed. They didn't trust us. Now you have the CDC changing the definition of vaccine.  What the?! Then add the fact that according Pew Research only 20% of the population trusts the government to "do the right thing". No wonder people are afraid to get "the jab". They misinform us, lie to us, and if you even suggest you want to wait and do research, well. just ask Niciki Minaj.

Speaking of being hesitant against the vaccine, it is very high in the African american community. The fact is less African Americans have received the vaccine than whites, Asians and Hispanics. (as of Oct 2021) Why? Look up the Tuskegee experiments. We have also been telling them the whole system is racist for years and it was amplified 10 fold in the months leading up to the release of the vaccine. Now we ask them to trust the injection we want to put in them? I laugh when people make fun at others for being hesitant.   
 
But we have all chosen a side and do not question anything. We just start yelling what "our side" is telling us to yell without thought. Well, most of you do. I sit back and laugh at how ridiculous you all look because you jump on every bandwagon. I know who is going to share the trending hashtag and pretend that they have been a champion for that cause all along and within the week never share about it again. 

So how about this. Slow down. Learn some facts. Wait for more information to come out. Early reports are usually wrong. Wait until the trial. Don't join the witch hunt. Listen to the "other" side. Watch an alternative news source. Research before you post. Learn the subject well enough to educate others and learn how to defend your position without name calling. But most of all if nothing else, it is NOT your job to tell others how to live their life. Not even during a pandemic. Stop fighting with strangers and check in with the family on the couch next to you. Reach out to people you actually know. Support them and love them. As mother Teresa said, “The way you help heal the world is that you start with your own family.” But more than that, nobody asked for your opinion anyway. 


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.