Posts Tagged ‘Economy’

The Official State Greeting Finally Rings True: It’s a great day in South Carolina

July 9, 2015

Like the old song says, “What a Difference a Day Makes”. Here in Columbia, SC, despite expected high temperatures of 100 degrees, there seems to be a welcoming breeze in the air. People are walking around with shoulders thrown back and heads held high, proud to no longer be the laughing stock of the nation, nay the world. They’re smiling and nodding at people they meet on the sidewalks as if to say, “we did it!” People are pulling out the South Carolina t-shirts and bumper stickers, and once again displaying a sense of pride in this great state. Why the sudden change in attitude? Well at the heart of the matter was a taunting banner that mocked passersby daily. You can read all about it for yourselves right here.

 
Sadly it took the evil massacre of nine people as they worshiped in church to once again thrust the matter into the limelight. And thankfully the deaths of those precious souls were not in vain. Their deaths were the catalyst for something that thousands marching over the years could not accomplish. The South Carolina Senate as a whole is to be commended. They immediately got to the crux of the matter and surprised everyone with the quickness of their decision to have the offending banner removed from the state house grounds. The members of the House of Representatives battled it out, and after over 13 hours of merry-go-round tit-for-tat antics, they finally cast their collective vote to remove that banner. There were several standouts in the House debates, and I would daresay they were a big part of getting the matter resolved:

Best “Had it up to Here” Speech Ever!

Representative Jenny Anderson Horne
In the true rebel spirit, tempered with compassion, Horne broke it down to where
It was cystal clear. She challenged her colleagues to either put up or shut up with the war cry,
“You either care, or you don’t care!”
(Video Credit: YouTube)

Best “I Withdraw my Amendment Speech”

rick quinn
Representative Rick Quinn
His recalling of his own amendment opened the
door to the first glimpse of hope in the
13-hour debate.
(Photo Credit: Quinn’s Twitter Page)

Best “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” Spirit

Gilda Cobb HunterRepresentative Gilda Cobb-Hunter

In the face of ridiculous and pointless objections,
she refused to give up hope. She kept the group focused,
took every opportunity to call for a vote for a bill
to be passed removing that banner from the
state house grounds.
(photo credit: Cobb-Hunter’s Twitter Page)

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Student Loans: They’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse, even though you probably should

May 28, 2015
Student loan debt can end up having a death grip on many of our young graduates. (Photo Credit:  www.flickr.com)

Student loan debt can end up having a death grip on many of our young graduates. (Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com)

Student Loans. These two words can strike fear into the hearts of everyone from the newly graduated entry-level employee to the CEO who has been with the company for 25 years. Why is this? Because chances are they both are making payments. Sounds farfetched? Well it is not. The student loan gang has resources that make mob organization collections seem like Avon ladies ringing doorbells to pick up their money. No matter how many years have gone by, no matter how many times you’ve moved, changed your name or entered an FBI witness protection program for an unrelated matter, the Student Loan Mafia (SLM) will find you. They won’t break your leg, but the incessant calls can make you feel like banging your head against a wall.

Let me backtrack and say that student loans have seemed like a Godsend to many, including myself, who might not otherwise have had the opportunity to pursue a post graduate degree. For that I am eternally grateful. But if I had known then what I know now, I would have never taken out one of those loans. I would have worked, saved up some money and then taken one class at a time, paying cash, until I obtained my degree.

However, for many of us, the lure of that money paying for classes gave us the opportunity to fully focus on our studies and exams without having to concern ourselves with grueling work schedules. And truth be told, after the loan check came and the classes were paid for, there was usually a little something left over to get a few groceries to eat and gasoline for the car. Okay, looking back it was a pretty sweet life.

Then came the big crock at graduation. The Secretary of State of Georgia at the time gave a riveting speech that had us believing the job world would welcome us with open arms because we’d furthered our education. She said, “You will find that your degree will almost immediately command $10,000 more onto your salary.” Strange that I can remember her quote so vividly after 11 years, but there are two reasons for that. One, we believed her and it had us graduates cheering wildly and bursting with hope. And two, it’s vivid because of the betrayal I felt when it never happened, at least not for me, at least not yet. I can’t help it because like the saying goes, hope springs eternal, doesn’t it?

Back to my original point of this post which is the stress the SLM puts on people. There should be some kind of clause written in the student loan contract that allows the loan to be forgiven if you come out owing $100,000 and most starting salaries are around $26,000. That’s just way too much of a disparity to be reasonable. The poor graduate ends up skipping the rent every other month in order to pay the loan. It becomes a vicious cycle as the next month it is the car payment that is passed over in lieu of paying the SLM. The collectors, who probably owe loans themselves, are desperately cutthroat in their attempts to solicit payments. Now to be fair, they do give you six months after graduation before the first payment is due, but sometimes it takes long than that to secure the kind of salary that can handle those payments.

These things being said, the SLM does have a right to be paid. Anyone raised with any sense of right and wrong knows that if you borrow some money, the correct thing to do is pay back what you owe at the agreed upon interest rates. So it’s just something that I and other SLM debtors will have to deal with until we make our last payment.

P.S. Congratulations to all of the graduates this year. Keep all of your options open and before you put ink to paper to take out a student loan, please consider the military, Peace Corps and other ways to finance your education. There are also professions like teaching, firefighting and others that will pay off your student loans if you work for them. The possibilities are endless. Your accomplishment in obtaining your degree is to be admired and, despite my rant, is something that you should always be proud of. Enjoy your day and bask in the celebration.

The real reason stores are afraid to close on Thanksgiving and what it means to employees

November 19, 2014
The real winners (Photo Credit:  en.wikipedia.org)

The real winners (Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org)

Costco Statement:

“Our employees work especially hard during the holiday season, and we simply believe that they deserve the opportunity to spend Thanksgiving with their families.”

This notice has got to be one of the most beautiful and touching corporate statements to ever have graced the world of advertising. Many companies claim their employees are important, but do not show it in such tangible and public ways. I’d like to commend Costco and other stores who have decided to take this stance.

If you don’t like it, stop working retail

This is the cry of many in answer to employees who dare ask for holidays off to spend with their families. Well my friend, this is far easier said than done. Everyone working in retail is not there because that was their dream career. Not to diminish in any way the importance of those in customer service positions. There are stars in every field and I have been waited on in stores by some sales associates that are clearly operating in their gift. I left the store feeling like I was a valued customer and my allegiance was sealed.

However, we must admit that some of us work in retail simply because we need to. In this economy, you can see three cashiers in stalls right beside each other. They are all making the same salary, but one has a GED, one has a Masters degree, and one has a Ph.D. Some people are forced to take what they can get until they are able to find something in their field. This is not to say that we will not give it our all. We are there to do a job and determined to be the best at it that we can possibly be. It still doesn’t mean that we want to spend holidays there.

Hospitals and restaurants are open

Yes they are. But people need medical care at times that may fall outside of the parameters of normal business hours. And people require food to live. The critical difference is that as pleasurable as shopping is, it is not a necessity, and should not be treated as such. We all commend the people in essential positions such as police and fire personnel, those in the armed forces, etc. Department store employees, in my opinion, do not fall into this category.

How can this issue be resolved?

1. For one thing more companies can emulate large organizations like Costco (number two retailer in the whole nation) who seem to have their employees’ best interest at heart. Businesses like Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby extend this same care to their employees by closing their doors each and every Sunday so their employees can have a day of rest to spend with their families. This is unbelievably awesome as a business model.

2. Corporations should not let fear make them estrange their employees. Some stores are scared that the profits they would lose by being closed on a Sunday or on a holiday might cause them to go bankrupt. Not so. Again Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby are actually turning a profit, and not surprisingly, have a lot less turnover than jobs that put opening earlier on Thanksgiving over family values.
3. If a company feels that they absolutely must open on holidays, please have the decency to give workers a choice. It seems most of the tension arises from people being forced to work. In almost any schedule, there should be a little wiggle room.

  • The first thing a supervisor should do is let it be known that holiday pay is available.
  • Then canvass the team and see how many people are available and want to work. If the big boss mentality could take a back seat for just a moment, managers would be surprised at how many people might actually sign up to work for an extra time and a half per hour.
  • If this has been done and there still is not enough coverage, close the store. If a shutdown is not a feasible option, then start the manhandling in a fair way. Require the employees with the lowest seniority to work, and then two-step your way up to demanding the long time employees show up. Handle things in proper order.

I cannot stress how important it is for supervisors to be sensitive to the needs and desires, when possible, of their workers. There’s a reason old adages like “you catch more flies with honey than vinegar” have lasted for centuries, and some of these sayings should become a staple in business management curriculum.

Kudos once again to business giants like Costco who are leading the way in putting the human back in human resources. Be good to you employees, and your employees will be good to you. They will be more content and more apt to bend over backwards to present the company in the best light, which will reflect in their customer service, which will keep people coming in your doors to spend money. Yes it will become a cycle, but a cycle of the best kind.

Finally, as a corporate leader the only truly ethical way to decide if your stores should be open on a holiday or a Sunday is to mirror your headquarters office. Of course employees will resent having to be away from their families on Thanksgiving knowing that if they dialed the corporate offices, they would get a recorded message that the offices are closed in observance of Thanksgiving.

***Bottom line company owners, if corporate is going to be open, keep your stores open. If you have decided that your corporate headquarters will be closed, well for the love of everything that is not hypocritical, close your stores. And please support stores that support their employees. Click here for a list of companies that have chosen to take the high road this year.

Don’t regret the choice you didn’t make today; exercise your rights and power by voting

November 4, 2014

 

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Please be sure to vote today. Your choice of candidates is your business once you are in the booth. But the world, your country, your community, your family and your conscious need you to participate to make the process work. Yes, your one little vote will make a big difference. Again, please vote today.  And remind your friends.

Need to find out where you vote and get directions?  Click here to find out where you vote and get directions. You can even call your polling place to find out how to get a free ride. Let’s all be doers, not just complainers. Have a Blessed day and make a difference in your community.

 

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The Economy Stole My Ferris Wheel!

October 22, 2011

This is the week of the South Carolina State Fair.  As a matter of fact, tomorrow, October 23, 2011, will be the last day.  I’ve been scrimping, and saving and seeing which bills I might be able to delay, but all to no avail.  For the first time in years, it seems that I will have to miss the fair, and the caramel crunch of a glazed candy apple, due to the more powerful economic crunch. continue reading more